Renowned Braun industrial designer Dieter Rams says that the future of design is creating products that are more sustainable and less problematic for the environment. "We have to move away from the throwaway habit," Rams says, according to FastCo Design. "Things can, and must, last longer. They must be designed so that they can be reused." Rams is bothered by what he calls the production of arbitrary and thoughtless products and says that designers must take into account the protection of "not only our personal environment, but also our cities and our resources."
"Otherwise I’m not sure what the future of our planet will be."
"That is the future of design, to take more care of these basic elements," Rams says. "Otherwise I’m not sure what the future of our planet will be."
The interview with Rams, excerpted in FastCo, was done in 2008 but is only now being published in full. It comes from the director behind the design documentaries Helvetica, Objectified, and Urbanized, who says that he recorded over 100 hours of conversations with great designers and other minds in the design world, including Jony Ive, Marc Newson, Massimo Vignelli, Tobias Frere-Jones, and Paola Antonelli. Naturally, most of those interviews didn't make it into his films, so they're being collated into a book that seems like it could be a treasure trove for design lovers. The book was released last month.
In the excerpt, Rams frequently comes back to the point of sustainability. He remarks that he always strove to make "products that don’t age prematurely, which won’t become out of style." For Rams, that's an integral part of longevity — not simply making a product that can physically last, but one that can stylistically last. He also says that he'd like to see more design work specifically in the environmental sector, better integrating solar tech into architecture.
Rams interest in sustainability goes so far that he says he wouldn't be a product designer if he could do it over again, suggesting he'd rather work to improve the environment. "I believe, in the future," he says, "it will be less important to have many things and more important to exercise care about where and how we live."