This vibrant geometric pencil sharpener brings some Braun inspiration to your desk!

“My heart belongs to the details. I actually always found them to be more important than the big picture. Nothing works without details. They are everything, the baseline of quality.” A stationery design inspired by Braun’s styling needs Dieter Ram’s words to revise his design philosophy, a way to look into the minds that shaped the face of modern industrial design. To channel the same philosophies, we have this Braun-inspired pencil sharpener, and let’s look at how it touches the design principles in every facet of its design.

Meet the Co-Box, an electric pencil sharpener, minimal and geometric by design that is a worthy addition to every design nerd’s desk. The design is a white square shape, accentuated by an orange circle, reminiscent of the button we would see on our Braun machines. The circle also acts as an entry point for your pencil. The shavings get collected in a transparent box, to be disposed of at your conveniece. The design history of our 20th century is filled with iconic design moments, each one a point in time when the object became a part of our everyday life, almost seamlessly – all because of the nature of their design. This sharpener encapsulates the same timeless spirit and just like you hang your favorite posters on your wall, every designer holds an object by their iconic design mentors on their desk.

Simplicity, excellence, and functionality – these are the pillar of good design, and maybe having this sharpener on your desk will remind you to stay decluttered in your design philosophy, the way Dieter Rams envisioned good design should be!

Designers: Yang Lei, Bryan Ding, Canaan Wen with Yifeeling Design

Braun and Virgil Abloh collaborate to celebrate 100 years of ‘Good Design’

Marking 100 years since the German company was first founded, and celebrating a century of changing the landscape of design and bringing Bauhaus art and German functionality to the world, Braun teamed up with designer, entrepreneur, and DJ Virgil Abloh to reinvent one of its classic products.

The product in question is the 1965 Wandanlage, a hi-fi audio wall unit that Abloh sought to update, turning it into ‘functional art’ that reflected Braun’s design values along with Abloh’s eclectic cultural and musical references from the past 100 years. In its 2021 edition, the new Wandanlage sports a beautiful chrome design that unites Braun’s love of the material (as seen in its 1960 SM3 shaver and 1961 T1 toaster) with Abloh’s hat tip to the glitz and the shimmer of chrome accents often associated with hip-hop culture through the later years. The design still reflects Braun’s ‘less is more’ philosophy, while the company also ensures that the original hi-fi audio remains the hero of the collaboration – and the technology still functions today as it did back in 1965.

About the collaboration, Virgil Abloh said, “I have always had a deep appreciation for Braun design. For the brand’s 100 years, I jumped at the opportunity to reimagine this iconic Braun product and challenge what we have come to expect from design. The “functional art” piece co-curated with Braun Design not only highlights the original function of the hi-fi wall unit that was the best audio of its time, but also the quality and durable materials that are built to last. As a creator, I continue to question how art is perceived in today’s culture. “Functional art” is a lasting legacy of the enduring power of good design that is simple, useful and built to last. In so doing, it advances the frames of design references beyond design ‘purists’ to broader audiences.” Abloh further describes his inspiration and this collaborative journey in the video above, shot at Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Farnsworth house.

Designers: Braun X Virgil Abloh

An image of the original Wandanlage sound unit from 1965.

From blending to steaming, this Dieter Rams-inspired modular kitchen appliance does 6 unique functions!

Kitchen appliances can quickly turn into collections of bulky hardware and tangles of wire if we’re not careful. Blenders, toasters, kettles, and steamers – the wish list is endless and there’s always a new kitchen tool that could be added to our carts, and then when it comes time to organize, forget about it. Modular kitchenware designs come in handy when we feel that we’ve reached our limits…or storage capacities. Finding inspiration in the design language of Dieter RamsBraun collection, ChenKai Zhang created renderings for a modular kitchenware concept that’s as familiar and practical as the iconic Braun appliance.

Zhang recognized several strong points in Braun’s design language, including its timelessness, efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and approachability. Zhang hoped to achieve a similar timeless feel for his modular kitchenware concept by attributing like-minded color schemes and construction materials to his product design. The clean coupling of stainless steel accents with a colorful coating of ABS plastic is reminiscent of Braun products and carries with it a sense of familiarity. With this combination of fresh, sleek display and a trusted construction process, Zhang developed his own interpretation of Braun’s approachable and timeless appeal. Zhang essentially universalized Rams’ mechanical design language to offset and charge one base component so that it can then provide power for other attachable kitchen appliances such as juicers, electric kettles, and blenders. Inside the base component, gear buckles, motors, and conductors all work together to either provide heating or power for the two mixing blades to run. The base component consists of a high-speed motor and a heating component to which users can attach and utilize most kitchen appliances. In order to take up less space in the kitchen, Zhang ensured that all of the kitchen modules were the right size to stack onto one another. Zhang also redesigned the spout for modules containing liquid by both flattening it, offering slower pours, and lengthening it for easy pickup.

An integrated interface of two aluminum switches, located on the design’s electric base component, gives users the option to either use a high-speed motor or a heater. Once decided, additional modular components can then be attached to the base component to prepare food items according to the chosen mechanism. In addition to the three modules mentioned, Zhang designed frying pan, steamer, and breakfast pot modules to attach to the base component for other options. The product design’s efficiency is attained through Zhang’s commitment to practicality above all else. This practical approach to design is shown through the modular kitchenware’s conceptualization phase. Moving through three generations of products, Zhang ultimately designed a modular tool for the kitchen that allows users to choose between six different functioning cooking appliances.

Designer: ChenKai Zhang

This Dieter Rams-inspired speaker lets you focus on the music and without any smartphone distractions!

This Dieter Rams-Inspired Speaker Brings the Simplicity of the 1950s to Bluetooth

Music is sometimes the only company you need, whether you’re listening to your favorite artist with your ears perked up beside the speaker or letting jazz fill in the background while you work. With quarantine, however, it can sometimes feel difficult to just let listening to music be an activity in and of itself. The list of distractions and temptations is literally endless – the timeline never runs dry. Instagram’s feed is ever-changing and endlessly refreshable, as another text message rings and more unread emails pile up, and Twitter has the latest and most accessible updates out there. But this new Dieter Rams-inspired Bluetooth speaker design encourages you to click the lock button and stow the phone away if only for a song.

The design’s concept is visually approachable and inviting, with a single speaker on the product design’s right-hand side, a roomier pocket for your phone on the left, and self-explanatory player controls on top. While the visual and compartmental design makes the music device easily portable, it also motivates you to end the constant scrolling and just enjoy the music. Since the speaker works with Bluetooth, the space to stow away your phone is more of a light suggestion than a prerequisite for operation. However, if you do decide to use the suggested space for your phone, the product’s design becomes user-adjustable. Since the speaker’s screen, which encases your phone, is transparent, that means you can transform your screen into a compact cassette or any other background, invoking your favorite musical memory within any room.

It’s admittedly hard to put the phone down when you’re spending a lot of time in the same space every day – the timeline isn’t the only thing that could use some refreshing. If anything, quarantine has awakened many of us to the relief that design can provide by reigniting in us simpler, warmer energy from yesteryear. Inspired by Dieter Rams’ widely-celebrated TP-1 transistor radio and phonograph, this new speaker design offers exactly that. The elemental structure and visually friendly presentation echo the early years of sound recording, back when listening to music was more coveted and less instantly gratified.

Designers: Linda B

This Dieter Rams’ Inspired Retro Gaming Console Is Power-packed With 21st Century Tech!

“Good design is as little 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.” said Dieter Rams.

The willful force behind the Functional Design Movement, German industrial designer Rams has created timeless products, with an aim to focus on their functionality rather than their aesthetics. Following his footsteps, Love Hultén has designed one of the most simple and clear cut retro gaming consoles I’ve seen: the R-Kaid-R SK-4. Though Rams’ list of ingenious pieces is long, Love Hultén has carefully taken their pick adding little sneak peeks of the SK-4 record player and T3 pocket radio, sending us on a trip down memory lane. While the gaming industry seems to be creating more and more products with an intense futuristic appeal, Love Hulten has decided to stick to its old school roots. They have taken it one step further by hailing Dieter Rams as their inspiration, including glimpses of his “Less, but better” ideology to their work.

Sleek, simple, with arcade-style controls, the R-Kaid-R SK-4’s looks may have a vintage appeal but its functionality is deeply rooted within the 21stcentury with its ability to store 10,000 emulated games! Accompanied by its own screen and a built-in speaker, the console closes up like a briefcase, providing us with a ‘playful’ travel-sized sidekick wherever we go! Add your favorite games through a USB, and you can hit the play button anytime anywhere, giving you access to your very own personal game library. A piece of good news for all gaming connoisseurs; you can go on playing for 10 hours straight before the R-Kaid-R SK-4 finally gets exhausted!

A total contradiction of its complex name, the R-Kaid-R SK-4 is a living embodiment of Rams’ design philosophy. Now we’re not sure if this personal tribute to Rams will ever be up for sale, but we do know we’d love to get our hands on it someday!

Designer: Love Hultén 

SK-4 Record player (1956) and T3 Pocket radio (1958), Dieter Rams, Braun.