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Dieter Ram’s 606 Universal Shelving System: A Design Classic

I have recently fallen in love with Dieter Ram’s 606 Universal Shelving System, or shall I say, I have fallen in love again. Growing up in Germany in the early 1980s, I remember these in the houses of most of my parents’ friends. Now, I am finding that I am including these shelves in many projects on which I am currently working.

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One of the things I love about Dieter Ram’s shelving (apart from the sleek elegant aesthetics) is that they are incredibly practical. They  are the preultimate “kit” so you can totally tailor it to your needs and space and they can be easily reconfigured. They work just as well in kitchens, living rooms as they do in bedrooms and offices and even retail spaces as shelves, workstations, display cabinets, sideboards and storage.

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The only draw back is their cost. Like anything which is superbly designed and made, they are expensive. As I’ll be insist on taking them with me to my nursing home I’m planning on getting a lot of use out of them.

In the meantime, I am installing some in my office combining a workstation, drawers, filing unit and shelving and would love to do the same in my husband’s office, but he isn’t convinced. Growing up in Australian suburbia in the 1970s, he says the shelves feel too institutional.

Is furniture something you have for a life time or is that way too much of a commitment? Do you like the simple post-war aesthetics and practicality of Dieter Ram’s design or is it too austere for your tastes?

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