Dieter Rams Design Principles

December 11, 2018 / MASTER SIMPLICITY

Dieter Rams Design Principles

December 11, 2018

Sean Van Tyne Sean's passion is propagating great experiences and making life better.

International speaker, best-selling author and advisor, Sean is an industry leader that helps organizations on their strategy, operations and processes to deliver innovative solutions with best-in-class experiences to increase customer loyalty and advocacy that creates sustainable long-term revenue.

Sean lectures at the Rady School of Management, UCSD and is an Advocate for the Design Forward Alliance, promoting the values of design and design thinking for better outcomes in business, education, and government.

Sean is the author of Easy to Use 2.0: User Experience Design in Agile Development for Enterprise Software, co-author of The Customer Experience Revolution: How Companies Like Apple, Amazon, and Starbucks Have Changed Business Forever, and a contributing author for The Guide to the Product Management and Marketing Body of Knowledge (the ProdBOK® Guide).


Dieter Rams’s early awards for carpentry led to him training as an architect as Germany was rebuilt in the early 1950s. Rams joined Braun in 1955, where he quickly became involved in product design – famously adding the clear perspex lid to the SK4 phonogram in 1956. He was appointed head of design at Braun from 1961 to 1995. Rams led the design team that was responsible for many of the seminal domestic electrical products – and some furniture – of the 20th century. These are his principles for design:

Design…

  1. Is innovative – The possibilities for progression are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for original designs. But imaginative design always develops in tandem with improving technology, and can never be an end in itself.

  2. Makes a product useful – A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic criteria. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could detract from it.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Is honest – It does not make a product appear more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Is environmentally friendly – Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.

  10. 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 simplicity.

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Photo: Justin Gum

Sean Van Tyne Sean's passion is propagating great experiences and making life better.

International speaker, best-selling author and advisor, Sean is an industry leader that helps organizations on their strategy, operations and processes to deliver innovative solutions with best-in-class experiences to increase customer loyalty and advocacy that creates sustainable long-term revenue.

Sean lectures at the Rady School of Management, UCSD and is an Advocate for the Design Forward Alliance, promoting the values of design and design thinking for better outcomes in business, education, and government.

Sean is the author of Easy to Use 2.0: User Experience Design in Agile Development for Enterprise Software, co-author of The Customer Experience Revolution: How Companies Like Apple, Amazon, and Starbucks Have Changed Business Forever, and a contributing author for The Guide to the Product Management and Marketing Body of Knowledge (the ProdBOK® Guide).


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