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Lifetime Achievement Medal: Dieter Rams


The Lifetime Achievement Medal honours an individual who has made significant and fundamental contributions to the design industry over their career. Dieter Rams was awarded the Coutt's Lifetime Achievement Medal, for a career which has defined an elegant, legible, yet rigorous visual language in industrial design.

Dieter Rams was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, in 1932. He was strongly influenced by the presence of his grandfather who was a carpenter. Rams’ early awards for carpentry led to him training as an architect as Germany was rebuilt in the early 1950s. Prompted by a friend, Rams applied for a job at the German electrical products company, Braun, in 1955. He was recruited by Erwin and Artur Braun following the death of their father and his job was to modernise the interiors of the company that was launching revolutionary electrical products. Rams became a protégé of the Ulm School of Design luminaries Hans Gugelot, Fritz Eichler and Otl Aicher.

He quickly became involved in product design – famously adding the clear perspex lid to the SK4 radiogram in 1956 – and was appointed head of design at Braun from 1961 to 1995. Together with his design team, he was responsible for many of the seminal domestic electrical products – and some furniture – of the 20th century. From 1959 Rams also worked designing furniture for Vitsœ, creating the world-famous wall-mounted 606 Universal Shelving System.

The dual career of Dieter Rams continued until his retirement from Braun in 1997. He remains convinced that the very best design can only be achieved by design teams within companies. He continues to work with Vitsœ to this day. In 1976 Rams famously drew attention to an “increasing and irreversible shortage of natural resources” asking designers to take more responsibility for the state of the world around them, calling for “an end to the era of wastefulness”.

Supported by Coutts.