Dieter Rams is a German industrial designer who was chief of design for the influential electronic devices manufacturer Braun for almost 35 years. Rams and his team designed many iconic devices ranging from record players to furniture to storage systems.
Dieter Rams is associated with the memorable phrase “Less, but better”. He used graphic design, form, proportion, and materiality to create order within his designs. His work does not try to be the center of attention, rather he allows his work to become part of the environment through precision and order.
Here are his famous "Principles of Good Design":
1. Good design is innovative: Innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.
2. Good design makes a product useful: A product is bought to be used and has to satisfy certain functional, psychological and aesthetic criteria.
3 Good design is aesthetic: The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products we use every day affect our person and our well-being.
4. Good design makes a product understandable: Design clarifies a product’s structure and at its best, is self-explanatory.
5. Good design is unobtrusive: Well-designed products are like neutral and restrained tools that are neither decorative objects nor works of art.
6. Good design is honest: Good design does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
7. Good design is long-lasting: Good design avoids being fashionable so it lasts many years and never appears antiquated.
8. Good design is thorough, down to the last detail: In good design nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance and it should show respect towards the consumer.
9. Good design is environmentally-friendly: Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment, conserving resources and minimizing physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
10. 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.
Dieter Ram's work has been a big influence on others such as Jonnathon Ive, Senior Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple. Phaidon publishing released a new book on Dieter Rams in June, 2011 called Dieter Rams: As Little Design as Possible – with a foreword writen by Jonathan Ive.
Click below to watch a clip about Rams from Gary Hustwitz's film "Objectified."