Good Design Is…


The amazing industrial designer Dieter Rams’ 10 Principles for Good Design should be pinned to every designer’s bulletin/Pinterest board. Mr. Rams, now in his 80s, defined great modern product design in the 20th century and continues to inspire today. iPod, iPhone, iPad anyone?


Dieter Rams T3 1957 transistor radio inspired Apple’s Jonny Ive’s design of the iPod. (source)
Apple iPhone Calculator App is a tribute to Rams’ design for BrAun’s 1977 calculator.
And how does Mr. Rams live? Beautifully, of course!
(credits and additional photos and article here)
Note the shelves in the above photo are Rams’ iconic 606 Universal Shelving system for Vitsoe Home.
So, meanwhile, as I ponder what good design is and Dieter Rams’ beautiful design work, I wonder how I reconcile this sleek modernity with these gorgeous images I’ve recently pinned to my “Inspiration” folder on Pinterest:
It feels like warring factions – wanting simplicity but loving deep colors, rich details and very, very pretty things.
Can they co-exist?

Rams’s Ten Principles of “Good Design”

Good Design Is Innovative— The possibilities for
innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development
is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But
innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology,
and can never be an end in itself.

Good Design Makes a Product Useful—A product is
bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only
functional but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes
the usefulness of a product while disregarding anything that could
possibly detract from it.

Good Design Is Aesthetic—The aesthetic quality of a
product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every
day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only
well-executed objects can be beautiful.

Good Design Makes A Product Understandable—It
clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the
product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s
intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.

Good Design Is Unobtrusive— Products fulfilling a
purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of
art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to
leave room for the user’s self-expression.

Good Design Is Honest— It does not make a product
more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not
attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept

Good Design Is Long-lasting— It avoids being
fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable
design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.

Good Design Is Thorough Down to the Last Detail—Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.

Good Design Is Environmentally Friendly— Design
makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment.
It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution
throughout the lifecycle of the product.

Good Design Is as Little Design as Possible—Less,
but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the
products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to

I guess, when it’s boiled down, good design for me is functional, self-revealing, timeless, long-wearing, and comfortable. Something to truly aspire to.

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xoxo Linda