606 Universal Shelving System Vitsœ designed by Deieter Rams in 1960.
606 Universal Shelving System Vitsœ designed by Deieter Rams in 1960.

No. 9
Good design is environmentally friendly,
Dieter Rams

Posted by Daniel Lignini,

Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.

Whenever someone hears about environmentally friendly immediately thinks about eco-friendly or sustainability, but is that the only thing that matters?

Designers are an integral part to the preservation of the environment. The way that designers — any designer, including but not limited to architects, product designers, car designers, fashion designers, graphic designes, etc. create can either be extremely harmful or helpful to the environment.

If things are designed with reusable materials, intended to be long lasting, and avoid trendiness that helps us to have a less wasteful and more healthy environment.

Let’s take Dieter Rams’ 606 Universal Shelving System as example of this. Rams advocates for design that conserves resources and avoids visual and physical pollution of the product’s environment. He applied this concept to his shelving unit in 1960 for Vitsœ, designing something timeless, movable and constantly evolving.

Vitsœ writes on its website: “The 606 Universal Shelving System is timeless; it moves with you when you move; and constant additions and improvements ensure that it always caters for today’s needs.”

This concept was so innovative at the time that even nowadays remains fresh. It’s genious. Rams’ design is compelling, long lasting and above-all altruistic. A life companion, nothing ephemeral, it breaks all market’s rules.

Designed in the 60s but without an expiration date, in fact, if you look at it looks just like as if it was designed yesterday.

image descriptionimage descriptionimage descriptionimage description
606 Universal Shelving System. Designed by Dieter Rams in 1960 and made by Vitsœ ever since.

Tidy up your life. Follow the story of two Vitsœ veterans who have had Vitsœ in their lives longer than many of our customers have been around. Director: Jared Schiller.

“I moved 26 times,” “and I always loved it.”
“Its good to buy something you could live you whole life with.” “Its not really a furniture, its something you use, and it goes in the background.”

I want also share with you this small extract from a Q&A interview to Dieter Rams taken from The Economist’s More Intelligent Life by Melissa Goldstein related to environments and Rams’ philosophy:

MIL: Your phrase “less but better” was initially read as an endorsement for purity in design. But it has been adopted as an environmental message about reduction and sustainability. What does the global community need to do to address that secondary message?

DR: We live today with a lot of chaos, and designers should concentrate on helping to lighten the chaos, including the noise. Nobody notices any more that we’re living with a lot of noise. We don’t register the chaos; sometimes, yes, when we are in the middle of traffic or running late, we discover that everything is chaotic around us. It’s London, it’s Frankfurt it’s Berlin—it’s what Corbusier used to say about New York in the ’30s: It’s a “wonderful catastrophe”. Now all our cities around the world are wonderful catastrophes. We have to think much more about what we really need: how often we need things and how many we need. If we want to stay on this planet 50 years from now then we have to take that more seriously.

MIL: For many people the chaos in the environment is mirrored in their own personal spaces, in the jumble of belongings. Is clutter ever a positive thing?

DR: In your personal surroundings there should be places where you have some disorder, so that you find the other places that are in order. Order with disorder—the contrast—can be sometimes fascinating. You have to have the difference; otherwise, you forget the feeling for order, for the necessary things.

More Intelligent Life, “The Q&A: Dieter Rams, Industrial Designer” by Melissa Goldstein.

Animation telling the story of Vitsoe’s 606 Shelving System. The film, entirely directed and animated by Airside, traces an individual’s life through their ever-growing Vitsœ collection of shelving and the contents they hold.

Dieter Rams: Ten Principles for Good Design

More Intelligent Life by The Economist

Comments are closed.