“The Ten Commandments” by Dieter Rams

By Larry Latore

Most known for his work with the consumer electronics company Braun, Dieter Rams is one of the most influential industrial designers of the late 20th Century. His fundamental principles of good design aptly titled “The Ten Commandments” are for a designer, words to live by.

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.

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.

Good design is aesthetic
The aesthetic quality of a product – and the fascination it inspires – is an integral part of 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.

Good design helps a product to be understood
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.

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.

Good design is honest
An honestly-designed product must not claim features – more innovative, more efficient, of higher value – it does not have. It must not influence or manipulate buyers and users.

Good design is durable
It is nothing trendy that might be out-of-date tomorrow.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.

Good design is thorough 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.

Good design is concerned with the environment
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.

Good design is as little design as possible
Back to purity, back to simplicity.

Many of these principles, although stated for design, can be translated across all parts of our industry and all too often these fundamental principles get overlooked in the hurry to get the job done. So a note to everyone, take a step back and examine these principles with what you are producing. If it aligns, then you’ve done your job.

Source: http://www.vitsoe.com/en/gb/about/gooddesign

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