Re-Braun

Back in the 1960s especially, Braun was among the very cutting edge in industrial design – they were the pioneer and the leaders that played a major role in defining and shaping conversations on aesthetics and design. Even today, modern design icons from Apple are still arguably very much inspired by the Braun aesthetics of the bygone era.

The Braun Prize is still very much a coveted prize for any design students in the world, though you’d have to admit, Braun itself as a corporation has faded somewhat significantly in its influence on the design world.

Industrial designer Joe Doucet noticed this issue, and took the initiative to start the speculative design efforts designed to reignite what made Braun great:

Doucet hopes the self-funded prototypes (presented to the manufacturer earlier this year) will help initiate a change in the Braun aesthetic, which, since Dieter Rams’ days as head of design, has “lacked distinction”. “It’s been 40 years since Braun was in the design museum,” says Doucet. “The products are still engineered very well, but there is no ethos. If you remove the Braun branding they could be by any other manufacturer.”

Here are his three speculative designs for a toaster, mobile phone and music player:

For me, I’d agree with the assessment that Braun has faded from design leadership in many (most?) of its consumer product segments. Perhaps they’ve decided that one-style-can’t-fit-all-demographics; perhaps no one could take on Dieter Ram’s hats. In any case, as I glance across the home appliances aisle now, it is difficult to pick out a Braun apart from its (imho) still very iconic BRAUN logo.

What do you think of Doucet’s proposals? Do they work for you?

[via iconeye]

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3 comments so far

  1. dt on

    Joe’s nailed it on the head with the brand. But personally, I don’t think his design solutions are working.

    Remove the Braun logo/brand, and you have any modern looking product from HTC, Apple, Philips etc.

    A damn good effort though, perhaps Braun should hire him, at least he would have a better look and understanding into the culture, business, brand values to better guide the design strategy.

  2. KK on

    Hi dt,

    Thanks for dropping by too!

    I’d slightly disagree with the point that these designs could’ve been also aligned with HTC, Apple or Philips.

    For me, HTC has been churning out some great industrial designs but not quite unified in design languages yet (looking at their phones many of them are great at an individual product level, but the bloodline between products aren’t very clear, unlike brands like NOKIA or Sony Ericsson with a more marked style).

    For Philips, I’d say this would be a bit too hard-edged and serious for them. Philips tend to be more curved around the edges, sometimes with dashes of color, to put in that element of human-ness.

    Apple – well, I can’t quite say Apple didn’t get inspired from Braun, so I’d pass on this one. 😉

    That said, I’d say the design elements on these concepts perhaps need to be slightly more unique and defensible though. Some of the shared elements that I see across the products: straight edges with very small R at the corners, white or light surface, iconic orange light ring with minimal text in the middle, purely round buttons and almost no color (the color only comes from the lighting). They make for a product with simple-and-clean aesthetics, but perhaps there’s still two or three more missing elements (that are more unique and definitive) before they can claim the aesthetic as their own.

  3. linyou on

    hmm i’m just wondering so what do you think braun is about?

    From above it seems like the argument is purely on styling and how it is not differentiating from the rest of the pack.

    Isn’t braun simply about no frills products that were well designed,manufactured and engineered? When you apply such philosophy, the outcome will naturally feel identical (thus the comparison with apple). This is design with logic.

    I think joe was more applying the philosophy than trying to style the products. He use touch sensitive buttons to minimize parts and in the process reduces chances of break down (while i’m not sure is that a gd idea in terms of usability). He looked into positioning of the toaster to derive it’s form (while i dun understand do you really need 4 slots = wasted coils etc).

    I mean i really wonder did Dieter Ram start off a project thinking i wanna make a damn sexy hi-fi. I think if you designed something to be used, users will definitely acknowledge it’s thoughtfulness.

    If you tried using motorola phones, you will understand what styling (differentiating) leads to. Looks great but a nightmare to use! I mean look at the car industry, due to the need to differentiate, they actually designed cars to look uglier than their top range pdts (simply look at vios man ahha)

    Isn’t a brief to design a better pdt good enough? Some say not possible in this era, but didn’t apple just prove all of them wrong?


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