Less, But Better – Dieter Rams

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The Man, The Legend, The Icon

Dieter Rams is a famous German Industrial Designer that is continually associated with the Braun brand and the functionalist school of industrial design. Although originally following a career in architecture and interior design he was pulled into Braun where he became chief of design after only 5 years, keeping the position until 1995. He states that his designs can be attributed to his inspirational grandfather who was a carpenter, a profession that Rams briefly left university to pursue an apprenticeship in. This flare for the practical aspect of design has resulted in Rams receiving countless achievements and awards for not only his designs but also his monumental contribution to the wider design community.

Dieter Rams Designs Collage

A selection of Dieters tantalising designs

Dieter has left behind a magnificent legacy, including a large range of Apple products that seem to have been inspired by his retro designs. His explanation of his own designs “less, but better” echoes his minimalist themes and offers an insight into his process of designing.

Dieter Rams, the inspiration behind Apple

What do these remind you of…?

In reference to his contribution to the design community, Rams highlighted 10 key principles to allow others to follow in his significant footsteps:

Good Design (according to Dieter Rams)…

  • Is innovative – The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technology is always offering new opportunities for innovative design.
  • Makes a product useful – A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy the users 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.
  • 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.
  • Makes a product understandable – it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.
  • Is unobtrusive – Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools, their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.
  • 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.
  • Is long-lasting – It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?

Following these designs principles, no design can go wrong regardless of what field or industry that it is in. Dieter Rams is one of 4c’s favourite design icons who has set the standard for design excellence and has paved the way for successful and effective designs for following generations. In short, he gets a thumb up from us!

In the words of Darth Vader – “the force is strong with this one”

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