Dieter Rams: The ten principles of good design

  • 29 Jun 2012

Braun vs Apple

I remember once hearing Bono, of U2, accepting a music award and reminding us that; "fashion is the enemy of good taste". That may indeed be true, but what a lack luster world we would live in if we all lived by that mantra. Good taste must certainly start by sampling all the flavours, all the way through the scale and distilling out the unappealing ones. 

Just as in nature, as Darwin observed, we constantly tweek things, trying it out. If it works, it stays. If not, well, you get the picture.

If you haven't heard of Dieter Rams you've certainly been exposed to products that have been either designed by or heavily influence by him.

Born May 20, 1932 in Germany, he is best known from his work with Braun (chief of design 1961 to 1995) but his influences can be seen in some of the most successful products of recent times. 

I quick look at comparing the work of Jonathan Ives of Apple and it's not hard to see where he might have drawn inspiration from. On the right you can see the Braun T3 pocket radio (circa early 60's) and Apple iPod. I'm not suggesting we dismiss the brilliance of Ives (and especially his collaboration with Steve Jobs) but merely to highlight that design is iterative and evolutionary and therefore must be governed by some kind of natural law.

As a side note, Dieter Rams penned his 'Ten Design Principles' to try and make sense of it all. For the most part, it certainly appears to work.

  • Good design is innovative
  • Good design makes a product useful
  • Good design is aesthetic
  • Good design helps a product to be understood
  • Good design is unobtrusive
  • Good design is honest
  • Good design is durable
  • Good design is thorough to the last detail
  • Good design is concerned with the environment
  • Good design is as little design as possible


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