“Ladies and gentlemen, design is a popular subject today. No wonder, because in the face of increasing competition, design is often the only product differentiation that is truly discernible to the buyer.” That this sentiment came from Dieter Rams comes as no surprise. What’s striking is the date of his remarks, delivered to an audience at Jack Lenor Larsen‘s New York showroom in December 1976. He ended on a cautionary note: “I imagine our current situation will cause future generations to shudder at the thoughtlessness in the way in which we today fill our homes, our cities, and our landscape with a chaos of assorted junk,” said Rams. “What a fatalistic apathy we have towards the effect of such things. What atrocities we have to tolerate. Yet we are only half aware of them.” The full transcript of this disturbingly prescient speech is now available online thanks to Vitsœ, for whom Rams designed the eminently modular 606 Universal Shelving System in 1960. The big occasion is the legendary designer’s birthday: he was born 80 years ago today in Wiesbaden, Germany. Celebrate by treating yourself to Sophie Lovell‘s masterful monograph Dieter Rams: As Little Design As Possible (published last year by Phaidon) or a gorgeous poster of Rams’ famous “Ten Principles for Good Design,” available exclusively from Fab.com.