by Jamie Bartlett 6 min read

Dieter Rams Glasses tribute frame made from matte black acetate

See the tribute frame

 

 

Side view of Dieter Rams wearing his round black glasses frame

 

He’s referred to as one of the most influential industrial designers of the 20th century.

Over half a decade, his career reshaped modern design to the point of ubiquity and global reverence.

Yet, his demeanour remains as understated and consistent as the design work for which he’s become so well known.

Having spent 42 years as head of product design at consumer products company Braun, you may well be familiar with at least some of Dieter Rams design work.

Clocks, radios, calculators, furniture and kitchen appliances are amongst his legacy. An enduring mantra in his unwavering approach to design.

 

“As little design as possible.”

 

Most famously, perhaps, are his unwavering guidelines which guided his impactful career.

What began as a set of three rules in 1970, later expanded into what has become known as his “ten principles of good design.”

It’s these principles that have become so well known amongst the design community, adopted and referenced by some of today’s leading design authorities.

Head of design at Apple Inc, Jonathan Ive or Kenya Hara from Muji to name but a few.

 

Young Dieter Rams wearing thick glasses with a flower hanging from his mouth

 

Dieter Rams glasses: the back story

During the redesign of our core collection of glasses, co-founder, Lucy Ross, was developing what was to be our updated range of round-eye frames.

Originally, we only had our popular full round-eye shape, the D-TRT which remains as one of our most successful spectacle models for both men and women.

However, following the success of the D model, it was a natural decision to expand upon what is an agreeably charming spectacle style.

The plan was made to introduce another, similarly styled glasses frame but this time with the inclusion of facets across the top of the brow.

Seen in the image below, you can see the early design stages.

 

Octagonal tortoise glasses frame lying on top of sketches

 

Five months prior.

Crowdfunding projects…

You ‘back’ them. Then you forget.

Months later, the thing you ‘backed’ arrives through your door as a reminder of your niche support, all those months ago.

But the Dieter Rams documentary project wasn’t one of them.

At least, not for me.

Amongst 5,110 die-hard fans, I had pledged my money and backed the Kickstarter project within hours of it’s opening.

It felt cult.

 

 

A poster about the Dieter Rams Kickstarter documentary

Aiga poster for the 'Rams' documentary screening in Portland, source

 

Filmed and produced by the esteemed film director Gary Hustwit, the Rams documentary was to be a preservation of Dieter’s design-archive, life and career.

Unsurprisingly, the project surpassed its financial target of $200,000. This sum funded the production of the first, and probably final, feature length film about my most favoured industrial designer.

 

Months later, I finally got to enjoy exclusive early access to the 'Rams' documentary film.

 

The Rams documentary was ready.

It was as every bit as good as I’d anticipated. Spanning the chronology of Dieter’s career, it covered his journey as a young product designer and his route to success Germany’s prominent consumer goods company, Braun.

As you’d expect, the film featured his most famous work, the Dieter Rams chair, the Dieter Rams tv, his radios, his Braun shaver and various kitchen appliances.

But as the story unfolded, documenting Dieter’s path, one thing remained constant for me.

His thick rimmed glasses.

 

 

Young Dieter Rams in a Jazz club wearing thick rimmed spectacles

Dieter Rams at the Jazzkeller club in Frankfurt 1955, Image source

 

Industrial designer Dieter Rams sketching at his desk wearing round black glasses looking at viewer

Dieter Rams at his work desk at Braun, circa 1960, Image source

 

Dieter Rams sittign back in his chair wearing round black glasses

Dieter Rams at his work desk at Braun, circa 1960Image source

 

Still shot of Dieter Rams discussing product logos during the Rams feature length documentary

Dieter Rams in his home studio in Germany, Image source

 

 

Vitsoe MD Mark Adams talking with Dieter Rams at a table

Vitsœ managing director, Mark Adams, speaking with Dieter Rams at the Leamington Spa headquarters, UK. Image source

 

 

Dieter Rams glasses over the years

To say these are Dieter Rams’ glasses would be entirely inaccurate.

Hence why we refer to them as a tribute spectacle frame.

Like the documentary, the resultant spectacle design is more an act of homage than a replica to what is a consistent attribute to Dieter’s appearance, and indeed his vision as a design icon.

Throughout his life, even as a young man, Dieter adorned many different styles and shapes of glasses frames. In the screeds of interviews and endless images of his work at Braun and later at Vitsœ, his choice of spectacles became very much integral to his utilitarian character.

Intentional or not, Dieter’s glasses are arguably similar to his design approach.

They needed to be straightforward, understated and most importantly, functional.

Most commonly, he opts for a traditional round-eye shape. Perceived as a traditional style, this shape had been worn for many years prior by the likes of Le Corbusier and Phillip Johnson and had already become synonymous as an architect’s glassesframe of choice.

Before making our tribute glasses frame, we acknowledged there is no single pair Dieter Rams spectacles. More so, a chronology of glasses from which we could observe and draw upon, showcased throughout Hustwit’s documentary.

 

Observing the simplicity and traditional aspects of his glasses, Dieter’s various frames have a quintessential aesthetic. One that immediately springs to mind when you visualise a pair of glasses.

 

And thanks to the D-model, we already had the basis for the shape we were looking for. But what truthfully inspired this tribute frame was the Dieter Rams London opening scene of Hustwit’s documentary.

Seen amongst the foot traffic on the busy London streets, the camera focused upon Dieter waiting at the traffic lights. Lenses lightly tinted, his frame was octagonal with facets across the upper section of the frame.

This set the basis for what became our tribute spectacle frame, the G-BLK.

 

Industrial designer Dieter Rams sketching at his desk wearing round black glasses frame

 

Dieter Rams glasses: the making of

At Banton Frameworks, we make our own glasses within our Glasgow-based workshop.

Until this tribute frame, we’d always self-generated our own eyewear designs for what is a concise range of handmade glasses styles.

But given the preservation of Dieter’s legacy and sense of finality within the documentary, mixed with our deep-felt admiration, we felt that this was a worthy source of external inspiration.

As seen in the images below, we’ve endeavoured to encapsulate the characteristics of the many Dieter Rams glasses frames he’s worn.

  • Round
  • Undersized
  • Snug
  • Austere
  • Faceted
  • Swept nose-bridge

 

Aerial view of Dieter Rams glasses tribute spectacle frame upon white table and magazines

 

Dieter Rams spectacles: Key points

In it’s own right, the colour black is a statement.

Some would say it’s a neutral. Safe even.

But when it comes to your glasses, matte black acetate is actually quite bold, especially if you have pale skin like me.

So if you’re looking for a small punchy glasses style, the stark colour of this dark acetate imparts that sense of studiousness you’d expect from a unique glasses frame such as this.

 

After all, this frame is a Dieter Rams tribute.

 

For the most part, the G-BLK is a round glasses frame. But what sets it apart from our other models is the characterising facet that intersects it’s browline.

Due to its roundish nature, this style is best suited if you have a long, narrow face shape.

  • £149
  • 8mm Italian acetate
  • Available with prescription lenses
  • Hypoallergenic PVD temples
  • Five chenier hinges
  • Traditionally pin-riveted
  • Made in Glasgow

 

Dieter Rams Glasses tribute frame made from matte black acetate

 

Shop men's

Shop women's

 

Dieter Rams poster hanging inside office

 

Dieter Rams – 10 principles of good design.

 

Mentioned above, Dieter developed a strong set of principles which he imparted and continues to lecture in his life-long approach to industrial design.

Needless to say, these commandments are as concise as you’d expect. They proudly overlook my desk, via the large Dieter Rams poster in our studio.

 

 

Good Design...

 

1. Is Innovative

The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.

 

2. Makes a Product Useful

 A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product while disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.

 

3. Is Aesthetic

The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.

 

4. Makes A Product Understandable:

It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.

 

5. Is Unobtrusive:

Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.

 

6. Is Honest: 

It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.

 

7. Is Long-lasting:

It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.

 

8. Is Thorough Down to the Last Detail: 

Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.

 

9. Is Environmentally Friendly: 

Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.

 

10. Is as Little Design as Possible

Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

 

 

Monochrome image of Dieter Rams wearing his thick rimmed glasses

 

Jamie Bartlett
Jamie Bartlett

Co-founder of Banton Frameworks.



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