The underscore team got talking about design principles and “What makes great design” yesterday as our disco table flashed loudly…this really isn’t a metaphor, yes, come to our studio on the third floor and see for yourself.
Unsure if it was between the flash of red or green that our Head of Design Orlando (cum ex-design lecturer) brought up Dieter Rams.
Who is Dieter Rams? (*Gasp, horror!) Only the hottest thing since sliced bread (yes! that’s how far back he goes).
Sir Dieter Rams, as we think he should be known, is a German industrial designer closely associated with the consumer product company Braun and the Functionalist school of industrial design.
Within the 40 years of working at Braun, Rams produced and oversaw over 500 innovative products as Chief Of Design. Many of his designs are featured in museums throughout the world, so yes, he’s a pretty big deal in the design world…and idolised by our design team.
Sir Dieter paved the way for the three F design approach, “Form Follows Function” which is instrumental to design today. This principle has influenced all the ordinary and not so ordinary objects that exists in your house that’s likely sitting right in front of you as you read this.
Just Google “Dieter Rams & Apple” and you can see how his design principles have influenced Apple products. Infact, Rams has been Apple’s design inspiration, simply compare the humble calculator to the iPod and you’ll find copious articles and images just comparing both of these objects..
As Rams has quoted in the Telegraph, “designing “surfaces that were without apology, bold, pure, perfectly-proportioned, coherent and effortless”, he could equally be talking about the iPod”.
Rams introduced the idea of sustainable development and of obsolescence being a crime in design in the 1970s. Accordingly he asked himself the question, “Is my design good design?” The answer formed his now celebrated ten principles as follows:
Dieter Rams Ten Principles of “Good Design”
1. Good Design Is Innovative: The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology and can never be an end in itself.
2. Good Design Makes a Product Useful: A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product while disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.
3. Good Design Is Aesthetic: The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
4. Good Design Makes A Product Understandable: It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.
5. Good Design Is Unobtrusive: Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.
6. Good Design Is Honest: It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
7. Good Design Is Long-lasting: It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years, even in today’s throwaway society.
8. Good Design Is Thorough Down to the Last Detail: Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.
9. Good Design Is Environmentally Friendly: Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
10. Good Design Is as Little Design as Possible: Less, but better because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.
Now knowing this, will this change your approach to design?