Back in the late 1970s, Dieter Rams was becoming increasingly concerned by the state of the world around him – “an impenetrable confusion of forms, colours and noises.” Aware that he was a significant contributor to that world, he asked himself an important question: is my design good design?
As good design cannot be measured in a finite way he set about expressing the ten most important principles for what he considered was good design. (Sometimes they are referred as the ‘Ten commandments’.)
Here they are.
Good Design is innovative – The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.
Good Design makes a product useful – A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.
Good Design 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.
Good Design 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.
Good Design 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.
Good Design is honest – It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
Good Design 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.
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.
Good Design 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 life-cycle of the product.
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. Back to purity, back to simplicity.
An interesting article comparing Apple Design with Dieter Rams designs for Braun…
Braun vs. Apple: Inspiration Or Peculation?
“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs
Over the last week I’ve been working on the design of our new iPhone app! The little mascot for the logo is now complete after much refining and I’m now creating screen layouts as well as the icon designs. The icons draw their inspiration from the logo design as well as the simple, clean and purist, flat style of the new iOS which is being released soon, and which I’ve been using for the last 2 months so that I can familiarise myself with the new gestures and styles that apple is introducing.
Here is a sneak peak at my progress so far…
Yale University Press has released an iPad app version of Josef Albers’s influential book, Interaction of Color. Designed by Potion, the app features archival video of Josef Albers in the studio and classroom, videos of practicing artists, designers, and architects discussing how they use color, and 63 fully interactive plates.
Let’s Go Eskimo created this short documentary that provides a glimpse of what it is like to work in the creative industry. The idea was born out of their own questions and struggles on how to deal with things that may seem out of your control.
The themes focus on creativity, relationships, the pursuit of financial profit, and the many directions that designers find themselves intentionally or unintentionally taking.
I’ve always been obsessed with typography. I think it all started when I returned to Australia at the age of 7 and my english teacher suggested that I try to read every sign and label that surrounded me, in order to help me learn english faster. That’s when I started to really notice in detail signage, logos and all sorts of lettering that was everywhere. I think that because I looked at these forms from a visual perspective first and then tried to decipher their meaning into words, I began to be attracted to letter forms more than your average individual.
When I was in primary school my principal who was a nun gave me a lettering book which contained about 20 typefaces, all laid out in lower-case and upper-case. I spent hours tracing them and redrawing them and creating my own versions.
Over the years I’ve created a few but never really released them for use, since they are quite graphical and not really appropriate for text. That might be a personal challenge for the future!
Herman Miller is featuring a visually sumptuous series of videos that centre around the idea of ‘Why Design’. Various designers working across different areas provide their insight into why they design. I particularly like the work of Irving Harper who creates beautiful paper sculptures, which I will investigating further.