Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dieter Rams' 10 principles for good design

Earlier today a colleague directed me to a fascinating Gizmodo article connecting Braun's industrial design from the 1960s to Apple's industrial design of today. The article centered on the similarities in the respective design philosophies of Braun's Dieter Rams and Apple's Jonathan Ive and the eerie similarities between a number of the companies' products – such as that of the Braun T3 pocket radio and the Apple iPod.

But what struck me the most was Rams' design philosophy, "Weniger, aber besser" which freely translates as "Less, but better." This passion for "simplicity" and "honest design" is at the core of Rams' 10 principles for good design:

Dieter Rams' 10 principles for good design
• Good design is innovative.
• Good design makes a product useful.
• Good design is aesthetic.
• Good design helps us to understand a product.
• Good design is unobtrusive.
• Good design is honest.
• Good design is durable.
• Good design is consequent to the last detail.
• Good design is concerned with the environment.
• Good design is as little design as possible.

These 10 principles are applicable – indeed, critical – to any conscientious design, industrial or otherwise. As graphic designers, we should make these principles our canon. How often do interactive designers create websites that obfuscate, rather than help us understand? That are obtrusive and over designed? How often do brand designers create trademarks that are neither honest or "durable"? How often are any of us as innovative as our professionalism demands?

These 10 principles should be our standard – our guiding star. Such tenets have assured Rams and Ive a certain degree of immortality, at least as far as cultural historians and the MOMA are concerned. If their success doesn't make a compelling case for the utility of these principles, I'm not sure what could. FB


Anonymous said...

This is great info to know.

golf swing mechanics said...

An interesting, yet undoubtedly true list. What I find most difficult when working on my own projects is maintaining functional simplicity (as it relates somewhat to #10). It sometimes drives me nuts, as there’s a very fine line between too little and too much… but reaching that middle ground is key, and when it happens, everything flows together much more beautifully.

Dieter Rams is truly innovative, thanks for the awesome find!