Braun Tonarmwaage, 1962
Braun Tonarmwaage, 1962

No. 4
Good design makes a product understandable,
Dieter Rams

Posted by Daniel Lignini,

It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it is self-explanatory.

I was just about to talk about the T 1000 world receiver, designed by Dieter Rams for Braun in 1963 which is the one product that everybody use as example of ‘understandable’ design but instead I shall talk about The Tonarmwaage, literally ‘sound arm scale’ in English, was designed by Dieter Rams in 1962 a product that it is much more self-explanatory than any other Rams’ design.

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Braun Tonarmwaage 1962.

The hand-held device, one of the most scarce of all vintage Braun items, it is a tool for calculating the ideal balance for a stylus on a record player. A diminutive weighing scale for establishing the correct counterweight setting of a record player’s tonearm. Increments in ponds.

It’s arguably the perfect expression of Rams’ and Braun’s practical minimalism. It’s, in my modest opinion, the object that somehow sums up Rams design aesthetic.

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Braun Tonarmwaage packaging, 1962.

The object that somehow sums up Rams design aesthetic.

Curiously the Tonarmwaage was Rams’ piece of design featured on the cover of Wallpaper magazine in October 2007 when Dieter Rams was invited to guest-edit the magazine. The subject of Dieter Rams’ art-directed cover shoot, as one of their first guest editors, is one of the designer’s greatest yet little-seen designs for Braun, the 1962 Tonarmwaage.

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Dieter Rams: Ten Principles for Good Design – Readymag.

Das Programm and West Alnico Drive
Das Programm and Wallpaper

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