The 10 Design Theses of Dieter Rams
Post from March 25, 2008 (↻ August 16, 2013), reflecting Jens the Artist in spe.
Moving up industrial design on my agenda and studying the work of German top designer Dieter Rams, who was responsible for the great design of Braun products for about 30 years, I considered it useful to have his design theses resurface:
- Good design is innovative.
- Good design makes a product useful.
- Good design is aesthetic.
- Good design makes a product understandable.
- Good design is unobtrusive.
- Good design is honest.
- Good design has longevity.
- Good design is consequent down to the last detail.
- Good design is environmentally friendly.
- Good design is as little design as possible.
I really like these “commandments,” as they’re sometimes referred to. They might remind of Edward Tufte’s work concerning information design and “data honesty,” they might also—hi, grandiosity—remind of my own definition of design, that good design needs to be durable, and that our industry suffers from bad design since we’re often dealing with decoration instead.
Design history and research of good design confirm that truly good designers rarely just ornament but focus on usefulness and usability. And making a product useful and usable never meant that it doesn’t need to be appealing. This still is, and will always be, one of the key lessons the hordes of fresh designers need to learn. That includes our industry, and their web and application designers.
“elegant, legible, yet rigorous visual language” - This is such a powerful statement at the heart of Dieter Rams that more often than not completely missed by most. His philosophy for good design is undeniably the core at which every one in our field does (or should) try to drill down to regardless of the amount of time it take (which can take a while). It is amazing when you look at our field in this manner how broad we truly start before we start to even touch on these design values that if achieved will bring undeniable success. I knew of these “commandments” before they were posted here but I never took the time to understand where they came from really. In any case these 10 “good design” standards should be ingrained in every designer in any application on platform.