Dieter Rams's "10 Principles of Good Design"


Yes! I wish the world more valued service. As well as design.


It’s really shocking just how much of an impact he’s had on industrial design. Apple, OXO, IKEA, Sony. They all owe basically their entire aesthetic sensibility to him. Apple and IKEA explicitly so.


Your point, caller?


That’s an artwork, it’s not a design. Specifically, it’s not industrial design.
@cannibalpeas - It shouldn’t be shocking, a really good industrial designer should influence a wide range of younger designers, Jonny Ive has stated many times just how much he owes to Rams. But before Rams came the Bauhaus School of design, and their influence is shown in the work of Rams and Ive.
Love the name, btw. :grin:


That’s debatable. The creator of that image, Lebbeus Woods, was an architect - and his output is generally considered as such. (He also worked for the offices of Eero Saarinen, whose design role is established). Allegedly George Lucas considered Woods’ material enough of an industrial design inspiration that he based many of his creations on his work (AT-AT’s, Death Star’s etc.) - (although as far as I know this has never been proven, there are other Hollywood credits which have been, detailed on wikipedia).


My point, obtuse at best.
The answer to your query can be discovered by following the thread.
But… don’t do it on my account.
I don’t recommend it.

Some nice paintings though.


good design

is innovative

makes the product useful


makes the product understandable
– it (the product) explains itself


– not more than it really is.

long lasting

thorough down to the last detail
– respects the user

environmentally friendly

is as little design as possible
– less is better


I imagine that’s the sort of thing Douglas Adams would say about life. :slightly_smiling_face:


So, and perhaps I’m misunderstanding, but by these principles much of design through human history would be bad design because it adds ornamentation that doesn’t serve any function. Now I like minimalism as much as the next person, but to write anything off that isn’t seems a little dismissive.


I like my flashing rainbow RGB’s godamnit!

Perhaps that is a function?


Lovely video, especially the reminder that Rams introduced modular shelving. Those Vitsoe shelves are amazing, still are, too. The store still exists and you can send a photo of your room and they’ll design a whole system for you, of course at a price. But you won’t buy another set of shelves ever again. Great solution for books, records, electronics.

I’m all for minimalism, but was suprised to see he types with only his two index fingers. That’s a bad habit, Mr Rams! Trust me, Dieter, there’s eight fingers that can assist those sentences! You’ll get finger pain! Dieter, can you hear me! Put your palms at Start Position! Dieter, please!


Also, wonderful food pun that the leading mind behind minimal constrained design is literally named dieter.


Somewhere (wish I could remember where), I read that the tradition of painting the edging/trim elements of a house a different and contrasting shade from the main structure originated from the idea that it formed an important structural element, because it defined a barrier that unwanted spirits & supernatural forces couldn’t cross. (not unlike the importance of have good downspouts to re-direct other unwanted flows).

Function is one of those concepts that tends to be less and less distinct the closer one looks.


Arguably, “impress your neighbours/friends/enemies/relations/…” is a function.


It’s not that ornamentation isn’t pretty, or doesn’t have any function. “Pretty” can be soothing.

It’s that if a particular tool is getting most of its prettiness from clearly being good at something, people will ultimately find it prettier than the same type of tool that has gorgeous ornamentation.

A hammer that a carpenter sees they can trust will just be “prettier” to them than a shiny lattice-patterned hammer that breaks.

A car with ornate patterns won’t achieve the same level of “prettiness” as one that people feel is actually aerodynamic.


I agree that the most beautiful design is pointless if it’s functionality is poor. Heck, I used ThinkPad laptops for over a decade and many regarded them as ugly, but I regarded them as beautiful because they were well engineered.

But if I’m understanding the video correctly, it’s going a step further than form should follow function and saying that ornamentation above and beyond function falls short of these principles for good design. I get that that’s true in minimalist design, and clearly Rams makes beautiful minimalist designs. I just don’t see that these principles can be taken as universal. For example, I’m typing this sitting at a nineteenth century replica of a Louis XV desk that I spent three months restoring. It’s entire aesthetic is a work of art, but in no way does it implement the “as little design and possible” philosophy.

Or just have something to use that’s easy on the eye of the beholder. It doesn’t need to be about status. My best antiques are in my home office, and the only people allowed in here are me, my cats and my wife if she needs to get something from it (she has her own office and for both of us they serve as our private space).


He’s saying design should have an aesthetic, so he’s not saying “zero ornamentation above basic function”. Braun radios often had speaker holes in patterns that were chosen mostly to look nice.

If your beautiful desk enhances your surroundings, than it has this function of “enhancing your well-being” (his principle 3). If this aesthetic is best for you, it’s not bad for your life.

But any ornamentation over and above what is pleasing you in this way, is not “good design”, it’s extra, it’s something else.

For instance if your beautiful desk is so beautiful that people stop and stare at it when they enter the room, and you can’t write a letter at it because you can’t catch your breath, well, that means it’s very good at being a showpiece artistic achievement, but it’s not the “best design” for a workspace.

He pushed people to be simpler, as a principle, because people tend to over-flourish, and put hats on things. The hats may be undeniably pretty and exciting, but if they are not meaningfully connected to the actual use, they aren’t as good a design, specifically for the use.

closed #38

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