Dieter Rams is a German industrial designer who has had a timeless effect on design. His influence can be seen in the iPhone in your hand, your bedroom clock radio and many other products available today. His style of design can be summed up by the phrase he uses, “Weniger, aber besser“, which translates as “Less, but better“.
The Ten Commandments for good design which he created can be applied to all facets of the design industry, he absolutely nails it:
- Good design should be innovative — It does not copy existing product forms, nor does it produce any kind of novelty just for the sake of it. The essence of innovation must clearly be seen in all of a product’s functions. Current technological development keeps offering new chances for innovative solutions.
- Good design should make a product useful — The product is bought in order to be used. It must serve a defined purpose, in both primary and additional functions. The most important task of design is to optimise the utility of a product’s usability.
- Good design is aesthetic design — The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products we use every day affect our well-being. But only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
- Good design will make a product understandable — It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it is self-explanatory.
- 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.
- 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.
- Good design is long lived — It does not follow trends that become out-dated after a short time. Well designed products differ significantly from short-lived, trivial products in today’s throwaway world.
- Good design is consistent in every detail — Nothing must be arbitrary. Thoroughness and accuracy in the design process shows respect towards the user.
- Good design should be environmentally friendly — Design must make contributions towards a stable environment and sensible raw material situation. This does not only include actual pollution, but also visual pollution and destruction of our environmet.
- Good design is as little design as possible — Less is more – because it concentrates on the essential aspects and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity
Dieter creates stylish products which are both functional and aesthetic, he has even been credited for influencing many of apple’s products. His work has been exhibited across the world and even if it was created years ago, still proves to be timeless. I type this as I’m wearing a Braun Watch designed by the man himself.
For more Dieter Rams inspired work, check out this Tumblr dedicated to his style