10 principles of design
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10 Principles of Design. Dieter Rams. Is my design good?. Good design is…. Is innovative Makes a product useful Is aesthetic Makes a product understandable Is unobtrusive Is honest Is long-lasting Is thorough down to the last detail Is environmentally friendly

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10 Principles of Design

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10 principles of design

10 Principles of Design

CSE 3345


Dieter rams

Dieter Rams

Is my design good?


Good design is

Good design is…

  • Is innovative

  • Makes a product useful

  • Is aesthetic

  • Makes a product understandable

  • Is unobtrusive

  • Is honest

  • Is long-lasting

  • Is thorough down to the last detail

  • Is environmentally friendly

  • Is as little design as possible


1 is innovative

1. 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.

TP 1 radio/phono combination, 1959, by Dieter Rams for Braun


What is innovation

What is innovation?

  • Has to be new in the field in question

  • Has to bring positive change

  • Has to add value to the previous design

  • Adds risks. Change always comes at a risk


1 is innovative1

1. Is innovative

What does it mean?

  • Design is about moving forward.

  • To be innovative one must examine their current surroundings and find potential ways to improve upon existing design.

  • Sometimes moving forward is risky.


2 makes a product useful

2. 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.

MPZ 21 multipress citrus juicer, 1972, by Dieter Rams and Jürgen Greubel for Braun


Hand dryer vs paper towels

Hand dryer vs. Paper towels

Which would you use?


Airblade vs paper towels

Airblade vs. Paper towels

Which would you use?


2 makes a product useful1

2. Makes a product useful

What does it mean?

When design gets in the way of the consumer being able to use the product effectively, it is failing.


3 is aesthetic

3. Is aesthetic

The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products we use every day affect our person and our well-being. But only well-executed objects can be beautiful.

RT 20 tischsuper radio, 1961, by Dieter Rams for Braun


Does it feel right

Does it feel right?


3 is aesthetic1

3. Is aesthetic

What does it mean?

Certain qualities create comfort, while others create discomfort. Make it feel right.


4 makes a product understandable

4. Makes a product understandable

It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it is self-explanatory.

T 1000 world receiver, 1963, by Dieter Rams for Braun


Design should be self explanatory

Design should be self explanatory

Designers have to conscious of not only what the product is, but what is says as an introduction.


4 makes a product understandable1

4. Makes a product understandable

What does it mean?

The object needs to be designed so that its form explains function.


5 is unobtrusive

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.

Cylindric T 2 lighter, 1968, by Dieter Rams for Braun


Preserves the ambience

Preserves the ambience


5 is unobtrusive1

5. Is unobtrusive

What does it mean?

All elements have to serve the design first and foremost and no other. Design alone shouldn’t be the focal point.


6 is honest

6. 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.

L 450 flat loudspeaker, TG 60 reel-to-reel tape recorder and TS 45 control unit, 1962-64, by Dieter Rams for Braun


Creating a bond with consumers

Creating a bond with consumers

  • A product should live up to its claims, and do what the user expects it to do.


6 is honest1

6. Is honest

What does it mean?

Design should not manipulate consumers with promises that can’t be kept.


7 is long lasting

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.

620 Chair Programme, 1962, by Dieter Rams for Vitsœ


Lasting solutions

Lasting Solutions

Design is a mental activity and there are two approaches when finding solutions:

  • The quick answer

  • The challenging answer


7 is long lasting1

7. Is long lasting

What does it mean?

Make products that last.


8 is thorough down to the last detail

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.

ET 66 calculator, 1987, by Dietrich Lubs for Braun


It s all about the little things

It’s all about the little things

  • Little things matter because to people, little things matter.

  • Small details often form the perception of the overall product.


It just works

“It Just Works!”

  • Phrase coined by Steve Jobs


8 is thorough down to the last detail1

8. Is thorough down to the last detail

What does it mean?

Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the user.


9 is environmentally friendly

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.

606 Universal Shelving System, 1960, by Dieter Rams for Vitsœ


Two perspectives

Two perspectives

  • Earth’s environment

  • Personal environment


Earth s environment

Earth’s environment

  • Don’t be wasteful. See principle #10

  • Don’t create visual pollution


Personal environment

Personal Environment

  • How does your design fit in to the life of the person using it?


9 is environmentally friendly1

9. Is environmentally friendly

What does it mean?

Be aware of where this product is going to be used and how it will affect both the user and surrounding environment.


10 is as little design as possible

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.

L 2 speaker, 1958, by Dieter Rams for Braun


Don t be wasteful

Don’t be wasteful

  • Anything that can be excised from your design should be (Same goes with code).


10 is as little design as possible1

10. Is as little design as possible

What does it mean?

Good design has to look past what is possible for what is required.


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