In a throwaway world, core to Braun’s design ethos is a desire to create things of lasting beauty and enduring function.
We spoke to Braun’s designers about their inspiration and quest to create premium, desirable and durable tools and products. Mining creativity from the world around us is the key to this supremely functionalist ethos.
Braun is steeped in heritage. Founded in 1921 in Frankfurt am Main by Max Braun, the technological superiority of the products was soon matched by their innovative design and look. Few products make it to iconic status but as a mark of its excellence, the Museum of Modern Art has exhibited many of Braun’s pieces.
The simplicity of Braun’s design known as “functionalism” is supremely elegant and unfussy. Oliver Grabes, Director of Grooming Industrial Design describes the thinking behind the sleek, paired down products with two phrases. The first “Past Forward”, is an ultra-modern design style that pays homage to the brands heritage look and feel. That heritage is referred to as “Strength of pure”, Braun’s classic design style which centers on pure, minimal form.
Nature and nurture
This commitment to great design means creativity pervades the everyday life of Braun’s design team. “Designers are extremely visual people. We are inspired by everything we see. Subconsciously we are constantly analysing the world around us” says Grabes. “Great designers have great antennae. For example, I might look at the natural design of a leaf or a flower, and be inspired by that.”
The natural curves of sea smoothed and eroded pebbles, are echoed in the smooth, rounded surfaces of the Braun Silk-Epil 5 epilator. “The epilators ergonomic contours fit beautifully around the contours of the female body” explains Grabes.
Dr Martin Fullgrabe works in Research and Development for Braun male grooming. For him and his colleagues, the creative process is a mix of “brainstorming, play, discussion, and observation.”
Together they strive to keep that purity of design, even when approaching some of the highly complex elements found in the Braun Series shavers. “The device inside the Series 1 has springs floating on it. These springs are known as the oscillation bridge but the design came from thinking about the roots of a tree.” “Tree roots are of all different thicknesses,” he says. “The oscillation bridge we designed also has different thicknesses throughout. This spreads the stress across the bridge and avoids material fatigue.”
In his History of Modern Design: Graphics and Products Since the Industrial Revolution, David Raizman compares the Braun design look to fine art.
Fullgrabe explains that art inspired design features in the matrix pattern on the foil of the Series 1 shaver. “It owes its existence to the patterning you find on decorative mosaic wall tiles” he explains. As in the art world, the human form has also played a part in influencing some of Braun’s most stylish designs. Grabes describes how the trapezium shapes of the Braun Series shavers take their outline from the traditional proportions of a masculine torso with wide shoulders and a slim waist.
The dimpled rubber patterns on the shaver body are ergonomic and sculptural. They create a sensation of comfort and great grip. ‘It’s similar to the kind of grips you might find on a golf club or a tennis racket.” Grabes explains “That feeling of fit gives the user the feeling it is dynamic and interactive.”
The end result of this creative observation and download is a design ethic bedded in unobtrusive beauty, and a team bent on the clarity and functionality of great design.