Tucked away in Soho was one of our favorite exhibits on display during NYCxDesign: The Strong collection. On display at Vitsœ's NYC location, the exhibit featured around 75 items from Tom Strong's 250+ item collection of Dieter Rams-designed Braun products. Strong's diverse collection ranged from tabletop cigarette lighters to electric mixers, most of which were actually used by the collector himself. The pairing of well-loved objects and hilarious quotes from the opinionated Strong created a truly personal exhibit, a breath of fresh air from those featuring objects for sale. Needless to say, we felt like kids in a 1960s candy shop.
Braun packaging Remote control for the Atelier combination hifi system, Peter Hartwein, Dieter Rams, 1982-84. This example was branded ADS as they distributed in North America Phase 2 clock, Dietrich Lubs, 1972 SK4 radio phono combination Claritone model, produced for Canadian market, Hans Gugelot, Dieter Rams, Herbert Lindinger, 1956
Strong started out collecting stamps at a young age, but transitioned to collecting Braun objects during his time in the US Army. The first item he acquired was a T1000 radio, and the collection kept growing as Strong gained an appreciation for the day-to-day usability and durability of Rams' designs.
BM 12 shaver, Florian Seiffert, 1972. Look at that cute brush on the side! M 140 hand mixer, Reinhold Weiss, 1968 Strong noted to Vitsœ that he developed an obsession with grids in design school that carried over to his love of Braun packaging. (left to right) KTC/KC combination kitchen clock, Dietrich Lubs 1988; MPZ 1 juicer, Robert Oberheim, Reinhold Weiss, 1965
Through Strong's quotes littered throughout the exhibit, it became clear the collector appreciates Rams' attention to small design details. At one point, he calls out how Rams' kitchen appliances come apart in the right places for easy cleaning and how his controls '"told you quietly 'lift me' or 'push me'".
Enter a caption (optional) BP 1000 hair dryer, Robert Oberheim, 1983 Enter a caption (optional) (left to right) ET 66 calculator Dieter Rams, Dietrich Lubs, 1987; SM 31 electric razor Gerd Alfred Muller, Hans Gugelot, 1962 (2 razors on the right) T 52 radio, Dieter Rams, 1961 TG 1000 reel to reel tape recorder, Dieter Rams, 1970 Audio 400 hifi system, Dieter Rams, 1973 F 900 flash, Robert Oberheim, 1974
During his time at Braun, Rams found a way to clearly communicate the use of each product to the everyday consumer while keeping them beautiful enough to display in the home. Strong reinforced Rams' desire to make good design accessible to all by donating his collection to Vitsœ, who will soon move the entire collection to England where it will be permanently on display in Vitsœ's new building in Royal Leamington Spa.
Audio 2 hifi, Dieter Rams, 1964 Nizo S40 & S56, Robert Oberheim, 1968 HLD 4 hair dryer, Dieter Rams, 1970 HL 70 desk fan, Reinhold Weiss, Jurgen Greubel, 1971. The fan rests on the plastic stand when not in use. (left to right) Domino ashtray set, Dieter Rams, 1976; Domino lighter, Dieter Rams, 1976. If you're going to smoke cigs, do it in style.
The Strong collection exhibit closes today, but the full collection will be on display later this year in England. Learn more about Strong's story and his incredible collection here.