Hundreds of typewriter users worldwide will be very familiar with the designs of German Karl Clauss Dietel, probably without realising the portable typewriter they are using is Dietel’s work. I’m a case in point. Until an exhibition of Dietel’s designs opened at the Chemnitz Art Collections (Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz) at the King Albert Museum on Theaterplatz last week, and a 1974 Erika Daro 50/60 appeared in it, I had no idea Dietel was responsible for the no-frills look of so many of the machines I’ve been using in the past 24 years.
It’s understandable, then, that Diedel’s designs are considered today to be “German Democratic Republic classics”. They are said to be “outstanding works of Eastern European modernism that have an enduring appeal”, and that much is certainly true. They include, apart from Erika, Robotron and Optima typewriters, the Simson motorcycle and Diamant radios.