Dieter Rams: As Little Design as Possible – Book Design by Kobi Benezri
A book about Dieter Rams called for a functional and effortless-looking layout, that is, nonetheless, elegant and fully developed down to the last detail. The materials for starting a design concept for the book were a wide mix of studio product shots, press materials, scanned catalogues and drawings, portraits, and prototypes snapshots. We needed a layout that enabled us to organize the book as a story, where black and white archival images from the Braun era could go together in the same chapter with new full colour studio shots of Braun products. The text — laid out as a classic reading book, including footnotes and margin references to all image page numbers — was intentionally separated from the images allowing us to follow the story and create an order in the layout.
The text is printed on beautiful uncoated Munken paper, which holds the type nicely, as well as the black and white images. The colour images were printed on a bright-white coated stock.
The majority of the classic Rams-designed Braun products were featured endlessly in many publications. Unlike some of these publications, this book was not meant to be a “Catalogue Raissonné” of Rams’s work, but rather a document that tells the life story of this highly influential personality, with an understanding of its ongoing impact on today’s lifestyle, and the cult surrounding it, with its immense crowd of collectors, and Braun products constantly sold on ebay for hundreds and thousands of Euros.
Three commissioned photographic portfolios by the German photographer Florian Böhm, laid out in a continuous full bleed sequences, interrupt the book’s main layout. The first one is a rare glimpse into the Braun archive in Kronberg, Germany. This treasure-filled basement, under the currently Gillette-owned company, is one of the greatest reserves of Braun products from the Rams era. We wanted to show the archive as it is in a normal day — where these products “live” now —without styling the shots. The second portfolio was taken at Dieter Rams’s private residence, and was meant to serve as a portrait of the man. The photographer was instructed to work as an investigative reporter, and shoot the spaces and the objects in a very intimate manner, and include Rams himself in some of the shots. The third portfolio is a sequence of close ups of some of the most interesting and innovative details of Rams’s products.
A layer of sensory mesh is printed on the front and back covers, and the spine of the book. This unique technique resembles thermography, but allows for clear, almost transparent ink. Rams’s emphasise on materials, and their tactility, ranging from concave stereo buttons, through convex calculator smartie, to electric shavers’ grips, were the idea behind this cover element. The mesh is not seen clearly from a distance and the plasticy feeling of it in your hand is a subtle surprise.
‘Lettera-Txt’ by Kobi Benezri
Not long after the release of my monospaced font ‘Lettera‘, the requests for a proportional version started pouring in. I was worried that the character of ‘Lettera’ would not come across and ‘Lettera-Txt’ would end up being another plain sans serif. Very skeptical, I finally set out to try and draw it, and soon enough realized that I was onto something interesting.
The reversed ink traps from its older brother ‘Lettera’ did their jobs, and the early printouts already showed high legibility at any type size. The overall feel of the font did not resemble anything else. There was something weirdly beautiful about it.
‘Lettera-Txt’ seemed appropriate to the Dieter Rams book for its great readability in long texts, and its freshness despite its ‘normal’ appearance. In parallel to my work on the book, I developed ‘Lettera-Txt’ into a six cut family, and it is due for release by Lineto later this year as OpenType Pro, with extended Latin support, including Cyrillic.
Dieter Rams: As Little Design as Possible is a comprehensive monograph on the life, work and design philosophy of highly influential product designer Dieter Rams (b.1932). The book includes sketches and photographs of finished products; newly-commissioned photographs of Dieter Rams’s house and the Braun archive and a foreword by Jonathan Ive, head of design at Apple Inc.
The book – which will probably find its way onto every Rams enthusiasts bookshelf by the end of this year – is available from mid June 2011 but you can pre-order your copy from Phaidon’s website here.
Big thank you once again to Mr. Kobi Benezri for providing not only an exclusive, in-depth look at the book but also a detailed look at the soon-to-be-released typeface that the book is set in: Lettera-Txt. See what happens when you ask nicely? ;)
This post is tagged Books, Dieter Rams, Kobi Benezri