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Image of display from Dieter Rams exhibition at Design Museum

I had a trip to the Design Museum to see the Dieter Rams exhibition this weekend.

I met Dieter when I worked at Vitsoe, who manufacture his 606 shelving system. He was charming, had a twinkle in his eye and a pencil in his hand. I remember him crawling under a compressed table to check a tiny detail. I remember feeling a little star struck.

This exhibition is all about the details. Design unadorned and understated. Rams’ back catalogue looks pretty modern to my eye. Lots of classic shapes I remember from my childhood, when his Braun products were ubiquitous and bought in Boots electrical department.

Apart from the 606 shelves I find his furniture a bit dated and easily datable, though. It’s not for me. Yet his products are the bees knees.

The exhibition design and graphics by Bibliothèque are really well delivered. Just enough and not too much intervention. Their design compliments the objects on show but doesn’t overwhelm them. Nicely judged object layouts, great oversized graphic treatments and a sense of peacefulness that allows the objects to be just, well, seen.

It is rare to see exhibitions these days where designers have been able to resist shouting louder than the exhibits. Case in point: the Identity exhibition at the Wellcome Trust, which I also saw at the weekend. Designed by Ben Kelly, it is a wall of unfriendly wood and green metal. There is no graphic signage to indicate where you are, what the narrative or user journey is. All you can see, everywhere, is the overwhelming structure. Oh, and slightly embarrassed people wandering around looking for the actual exhibition.

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