Dieter Rams: As Little Design as Possible

Sophie Lovell, Dieter Rams: As Little Design as Possible, Phaidon Press Inc., 2011

By omitting the unnecessary, says Rams, the essential factors come to the fore: the products become ‘quiet, pleasing, comprehensible and long-lasting’. However to arrive at products with this quality the designer has to travel a very long and difficult path filled with question, trials, discussion and experimentation. The product may be simple but the path taken to create it is highly complex for the ‘true’ product designer.


Classical Chinese Furniture

Marcus Flacks, Classical Chinese Furniture, The Vendome Press, 2012

The preaching daises of the Buddhist monks and the folding stools of the western nomads had a slow, but irrevocable effect on the Chinese… they ushered in raised level seating, eventually leading China to be the only culture in Asia to abandon floor seating.

Ming Furniture in the Light of Chinese Architecture

Sarah Handler, Ming Furniture in the Light of Chinese Architecture, Ten Speed Press, 2005

Most large beds have a canopy, which approximates the walls and roof of a house. Thus, a house within a house. The difference between them is not only size, but also function. The actual house has a floor to stand on. The house within the house was for sitting, sleeping, or making love and conceiving sons. Chinese beds are used for seating during the day and for sleeping at night.

The Soul of a Tree

George Nakashima, The Soul of a Tree: A Woodworker’s Reflections, Kodansha USA, 2011

There is a story in Japan of a young man from the country who went to the city and apprenticed himself to a woodworker. He was convinced that this was to be his life’s work, and his parents agreed. A simple fellow, he had great determination and capacity in his craft. Back in his village his parents awaited word of his progress. First a year, then another and finally a third passed, but still no word. The city was not so far, they thought. Why can’t he at least visit us? Then, after five years, an envelope arrived. Hastily opening it, they found no letter; all it contained was a long wood shaving, then feet long, neatly folded and perfect in every way, not a skip anywhere. The simplest of statements, it told all, like broad simple ink strokes in fine calligraphy. The father, immediately understanding, exclaimed: “Ah, my son has make it.” There was great joy in the household that evening.


Basically the woodworker is not driven by commerce, but by a need to create the best object he is capable of creating. Even if the object were to be destroyed when finished, the craftsman would still give the task his all.