The influence of Friso Kramer (1922-2019) on me as a designer
Last week the Dutch designer Friso Kramer passed away on a respectable age of 96 years old. It struck me suddenly how big his influence was on me as a designer. Not directly by him, I never met him in real life, but through his work that is present everywhere in the Netherlands and through one of his younger collegue designers at Ahrend, Bas Pruyser.
I was lucky enough to work with Bas during my teaching years as a design teacher at the University of Applied Sciences in Amsterdam. Bas used to talk a lot about what he had learned from Friso Kramer during his design career. More important he showed what he learned and why Friso was so important for dutch design in general.
So what exactly is the influence?
Design to Solve problems
As a designer from designing in the 1950’s and 1960’s he wasn’t looking for design that just sold because commercial value. He truly designed to solve a problem, resulting in very functional designs without any commercial, styling bullshit around it. I see this functionality in my own work too. I like to dress up things, but always in relation to the functionality.
Clear and timeless design
A chair is a chair, a letterbox is a letterbox and lamppost is a lamppost. Friso used these archetypal concepts and changed these products into Dutch design icons of my generation and that of my parents. These icons are still going strong today. Friso Kramer’s Revolt chair is a design classic and if I think of a letterbox I think of the green plastic letterbox he designed. I cycled back home in the night under his lampposts when I lived in the Netherlands. He is everywhere. That alone shapes my ideas about good design. It should be minimal, clean and recognizable.
Learn to see
Bas Pruijser taught me to really look as a designer like Bas learned from Friso. I Learned to look how the sun or light drops on a shape/ product/ surface., how to describe exactly what you see when you look at something...over and over again. It shaped me in the designer I am today.
I am probably never going to match the successes of either Friso Kramer or Bas Pruijser when it comes to designing products. But I always remember to look, see, explore, record what I see as a designer and translate that in a clear and functional designs
It is great to have carefully crafted designs that have stand the test of time in today's world where everything is design, but nothing really is.
Thank you Friso Kramer for shaping my design mind.
Author: Jeroen Spoelstra
Pictures: The internet
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