What Dieter Rams’ ten principles of good design can teach us

Dieter Rams' radio: less is more.

Dieter Rams: less is more.

Industrial designer Dieter Rams has had a big effect on design today, especially through his work for BRAUN. A collection of Rams/BRAUN products recently went to auction with a minimum asking price of $450,000. The collection of 1,000 products, designed from between 1955 and 1985, demonstrates how the collaboration “managed to give technology a clear shape (form follows function),” according to BRAUN Design Collection dot com.

With decades as a product designer behind him, as website Vitsoe notes, during the 1980s Rams became concerned with “impenetrable confusion of forms, colours and noises” that was filling the world in the guise of design. In response, Rams began asking himself what exactly were the principles of good product design? He came up with ten. And, while times and product design has changed, for anyone interested in product design — whether for the home, for fashion, or for other industries, and whether as a creator or a consumer — Rams’ principles are still worth considering. Here is his list: Good design is…

Sleek and simple: Razor by BRAUN.

Sleek and simple: Razor by BRAUN.

Innovative.
Makes a product useful.
Aesthetic.
Makes a product understandable.
Unobtrusive.
Honest.
Long-lasting.
Thorough down to the last detail.
Environmentally-friendly.
As little design as possible.

It’s interesting that, since Rams created his list of principles, being environmentally-friendly has become a much bigger concern for product designers and consumers, with a rethinking across the board of the types of materials we use, and how much we use of them.

While there may be some emphasis on how products should look, taken together, Rams’ principles ask us to think about product as something more. Product, by its nature, is something that we live and interact with. it’s part of our lives, and, in effect, part of us. The design of a product is in the detail. It’s aesthetic, but, according to Rams, it should also make our lives feel less complicated. We like that.

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