If I had gone to school for design, no doubt I would have come across this famous quote from Dieter Rams, one of the most influential industrial designers of modern society. Alas, it has taken me this long to discover his wonderfully succinct description of what is also my own design philosphy: “Less, but better.”
Dieter Rams, as head of design at Braun from the early 60’s into the 90’s, created many of the iconic products of that era, including the record player, radio, calculator and juicer designs we are all completely familiar with today.
Johnathan Ive, designer at Apple, is a big Dieter Rams fan, and it has been pointed out that many of Apple’s products, from their computers to iPods, draw from and are very similar to Rams’ Braun objects. The calculator in the iPhone is almost a replica of the his famous Braun calculator.
In the 70’s or so, Rams began thinking about sustainable development. From Vitsoe’s website, for whom he designed furniture:
Dieter Rams was becoming increasingly concerned by the state of the world around him – “an impenetrable confusion of forms, colours and noises.” Aware that he was a significant contributor to that world, he asked himself an important question: is my design good design?
And so, his Ten Commandments for Good Design:
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.
Each commandment has an explanatory blurb to go along with it, too. Check it. Live by it.