During the 1980’s Dieter Rams became concerned with how the world of design was evolving around him. Realizing that he was part of the problem (“an impenetrable confusion of forms, colors, and noises”) he set out to answer the no-so-simple question of “is my design good design?”
“Things which are different in order simply to be different are seldom better, but that which is made to be better is almost always different.”
The Ten Commandments of Good Design
1. Good design is innovative
It does not copy existing product forms, nor does it produce any kind of novelty for the sake of it. The essence of innovation must be clearly seen in all functions of a product. The possibilities in this respect are by no means exhausted. Technological development keeps offering new chances for innovative solutions.
TP 1 radio/phono
2. Good design makes a product useful
A 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.
MPZ 21 multipress citrus juicer
3. Good design is aesthetic
The aesthetic quality of a product and the fascination it inspires is an integral part of the its utility. Without doubt, it is uncomfortable and tiring to have to put up with products that are confusing, that get on your nerves, that you are unable to relate to. However, it has always been a hard task to argue about aesthetic quality, for two reasons.
Firstly, it is difficult to talk about anything visual, since words have a different meaning for different people.
Secondly, aesthetic quality deals with details, subtle shades, harmony and the equilibrium of a whole variety of visual elements. A good eye is required, schooled by years and years of experience, in order to be able to draw the right conclusion.
RT 20 tischsuper radio
4. Good design makes a product understandable
It clarifies the structure of the product. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it is self-explanatory and saves you the long, tedious perusal of the operating manual.
T 1000 world receiver
5. Good design is unobtrusive
Products that satisfy this criterion are tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained leaving room for the user’s self-expression.
Cylindric T 2 lighter
6. Good design is honest
An honestly-designed product must not claim features it does not have by being more innovative, more efficient, of higher value. It must not influence or manipulate buyers and users.
L 450 flat loudspeaker,
TG 60 reel-to-reel tape recorder
and TS 45control unit
7. Good design is long-lasting
It is nothing trendy that might be out-of-date tomorrow. This is one of the major differences between well-designed products and trivial objects for a waste-producing society. Waste must no longer be tolerated.
620 Chair Programme
8. Good design is thorough, down to the last detail
Thoroughness and accuracy of design are synonymous with the product and its functions, as seen through the eyes of the user
ET 66 calculator
9. good design is environmentally-friendly
Design must contribute towards a stable environment and a sensible use of raw materials. This means considering not only actual pollution, but also the visual pollution and destruction of our environment.
606 Universal Shelving System
10. Good design is as little design as possible
Back to purity, back to simplicity.
L 2 speaker
images via Vitsoe, text via Monoscope