10 Principles of Good Design
In the article, the author discusses the ten principles of "good design" as put forth by Dieter Rams. These principles are as follows: good design is innovative, makes a product useful, is aesthetic, makes a product understandable, is unobtrusive, is honest, is long-lasting, is thorough down to the last detail, is environmentally friendly, and is as little design as possible. The author goes on to discuss how each of these principles can be seen in action in Rams's work, both for Braun and in his other designs.
About Dieter Rams
Dieter Rams is one of the most influential industrial designers of our time. His work for the German company Braun in the 1950s and 1960s produced a design language that was deeply influential both inside and outside of the design world. His simple, elegant, and functional designs are as fresh and relevant today as they were 50 years ago. Rams was born in 1932 in Wiesbaden, Germany. After completing an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker, he studied architecture and design at the Werkkunstschule in Frankfurt. He joined Braun in 1955, where he rose to become head of design in 1961. In this role, he oversaw the design of hundreds of products, from electric shavers and calculators to radios and stereos. Rams’s design philosophy, which he called “Less but Better,” was a reaction against the excesses of Normanremont’s “More is Better” mantra. Rams believed that good design was about simplifying and streamlining products to their essentials. This philosophy is evident in his most famous design, the “Snow White” Hi-Fi system, which was composed of a simple white rectangular box containing a turntable, amplifier, and speakers In addition to his influential design work, Dieter Rams is also known for his ten principles of “good design.” These principles, which he first articulated in the late 1970s, are as follows:
1. Good design is innovative
In order to be a good designer, you have to be innovative and always bring new ideas to the table. This means constantly thinking outside the box and being open to new and unique ideas. He was an advocate for simplification and functionality in design. As an example, he designed the pocket radio, which was much smaller and more efficient than other radios at the time.
2. Good design makes a product useful
A good design must actually be useful to the consumer and meet their needs. It should be user-friendly and function in the way that it was intended to. This is because a well-designed product is easy to use and meets the needs of the user. A well-designed product is also durable and safe to use.
3. Good design is aesthetic
This means that good design should be pleasing to the eye and look pleasing in general. Aesthetics are important in design as it can affect how people perceive the product. Rams's belief was that good design should make a product more beautiful, and that beauty was an important part of good design. This is why he is often credited with helping to create the "less is more" aesthetic that is so prevalent in modern design.
4. Good design makes a product understandable
Good design should be easy to understand and use. The user should be able to quickly figure out how to use the product without getting frustrated. He gives the example of a knew Cutlery Set that he designed. The handles are ergonomically shaped to fit comfortably in the hand and the blades are made of high-quality stainless steel. The set also includes a serrated bread knife, a carving knife, a paring knife, and a steak knife. Rams believes that by making a product understandable, the user will be able to use it more efficiently and with less frustration.
5. Good design is unobtrusive
This means that good design should not be intrusive or in your face. It should be subtle and allow the user to focus on what they are doing without being distracted by the design. By this, he meant that good design should not call attention to itself – it should be seamless and intuitive. A good example of this is the design of the Nest thermostat. The Nest thermostat has a clean, minimalist design that allows it to blend in with its surroundings. It also has a user-friendly interface that makes it easy to use.
6. Good design is honest
This means that good design should be true to its purpose and not try to deceive the user. He believes that good design should be true to its purpose and not try to deceive the user. An example of this would be a heavy-duty flashlight that is designed to be used in emergency situations. The design should not try to make the flashlight look like a toy or something that is not meant to be used in an emergency.
7. Good design is long-lasting
It means that his designs are made to last for a long time, and they are not made to be replaced frequently. For example, his work on the Braun T3 television was based on the idea that it would last for 20 years.
8. Good design is thorough down to the last detail
In an interview with Fast Company, he said "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 user." I believe that good design should be thorough and cover all aspects, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. Good design is also about being respectful to the user and making sure that all their needs are accounted for. For example, when designing a website, all the elements should be well thought out and planned. The layout, color scheme, typography, and imagery should all work together to create a cohesive and harmonious user experience. Every detail, no matter how small, matters and can contribute to the overall success of the design.
9. Good design is environmentally friendly
Many designers are now trying to create products that are more environmentally friendly. Good design is environmentally friendly because it takes into account the entire life cycle of a product, from manufacturing to disposal. For example, a good designer might choose to use recycled materials in their products, or design products that can be easily disassembled and recycled at the end of their life.
10. Good design is as little design as possible
It simply means that the best design is one that is unnoticeable, which is why his designs are often considered "timeless". For example, his design for the braun coolicon fan is a perfect example of his philosophy in action. The fan is an elegant, minimalist design that is both functional and stylish.