Ten Design Principles Worth Remembering

I was curious who was channeling Steve Jobs’ sense of style as I walked through the Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams show at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (showing through February 20, 2012).

Actually it’s the other way around. Jonathan Ive, Senior Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple is among those designers who have pointed to Dieter Rams as influential in their methodology.

Dieter Rams was born in Wiesbaden, Germany in 1932. He was head of the Braun design team for several decades and oversaw the design of more than 500 consumer products including coffeemakers, calculators, radios, and audio/visual equipment. His work can be found in many museum collections around the world. In the SFMOMA show you’ll see some models and designs never before shown to the public.

Rams’s products exuded his ten design principles.

  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. It emphasizes the usefulness of a product.
  3. Good Design is Aesthetic. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
  4. Good Design makes a Product Understandable. Make the product talk. It is self-explanatory.
  5. Good Design is Honest. It makes no promises that cannot be met.
  6. Good Design is Unobtrusive. It fulfills a purpose like tools.
  7. Good Design is Long-Lasting. It never appears antiquated.
  8. Good Design is Thorough Down to the Last Detail. There is nothing left to chance.
  9. Good Design is Environmentally Friendly. It conserves resources.
  10. Good Design is as Little Design as Possible. Less is better.

Rams said Apple is the only company currently designing products according to his design principles.

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