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Dieter and Ingeborg Rams foundation / rams foundation

In 1994, Dieter and Ingeborg Rams established a foundation that is committed to promoting good and meaningful product design. This is an approach which the designer Dieter Rams has been developing since the mid-1950s for himself, for the Braun company, for Vitsœ, for his students and, last but not least, for a broad public. His wife Ingeborg followed a very similar design path in her work as a photographer. In addition to freelance work, she took numerous product photos for Braun and Vitsœ.

The foundation initially had a modest budget and could only work on a small scale. The main focus since 2010 has been on building up a scholarly archive with the estate of Dieter and Ingeborg Rams, and in cooperation with the Museum Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt.

As of 2023, the foundation’s options have changed. Dieter and Ingeborg Rams decided in 2022 to transfer a considerable part of their private assets to the foundation. Since then, it has not had great foundation assets, but it is at least capable of operating. The foundation’s role is expected to be expanded in the future through other donations and cooperations. 

A new organisational structure consisting of a board and a committee chaired by Dieter Rams has further professionalised the foundation. It operates on an international basis under the name rams foundation. Ingeborg Rams did not live to see this new phase of the foundation’s development. She passed away in Kronberg in May 2022.

The rams foundation wishes to contribute, internationally too, to a discourse on possible fields of activity in industrial design. 

Duties of the rams foundation

The foundation’s duties are laid down in its articles of association. Besides organising design competitions and exhibitions, lectures, publications, and digital products relating to the founders and to practitioners and theoreticians of design who follow the design approach of the founder Dieter Rams, the archive is an important part of the foundation. In particular, the foundation’s goals should be realised through the following additional activities:

‘The academically sound examination and public presentation of the design activities of the founders Prof. Dr. Dieter and Ingeborg Rams, as well as the promotion of an industrial design that adopts a responsible attitude towards people and the natural environment.

This especially includes the promotion of long-lasting and resource-saving design concepts in theory and practice. Furthermore, the foundation aims to refocus, content-wise, the term ‘design’, which has become increasingly watered down.

The guiding theme ‘Less, but better’ of the founder, Prof. Dr. h.c. Dieter Rams, should also be the guiding principle of the foundation. Thinking about the relationship between product design and architecture, their potentially closer symbiosis in the future, is also the subject of the foundation’s activities.’

§ 2 of the articles of association, dated 30 September 2022
The photographer Ingeborg Kracht-Rams and the industrial designer Dieter Rams in the sixties
© rams foundation