Simanaitis Says

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LESS, BUT BETTER

THE NAME Dieter Rams was unfamiliar to me before I read an item in Style Magazine T of The New York Times, September 26, 2014. It turns out, though, that I’ve been using Braun products and Vitsœ 606 Universal Shelving for years. New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has 24 iconic designs by Rams in its collection. His 10 Principles of Good Design resonate with an earlier item at this website on Universal Design.

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Dieter Rams, born 1932, German industrial designer.

Dieter Rams is associated with the Functionalist school of industrial design, aesthetics summed up in his phrase Weniger, aber besser; less, but better. In 1955, Rams joined Braun GmbH, the German consumer products company, as an architect and interior designer. From 1961 until retiring in 1995, he served as Chief Design Officer at Braun.

Rams disciples include Jasper Morrison (of the Cappellini Lotus office chair) and Sir Jonathan Ive (Apple’s senior vice president of design and responsible for just about anything with an i name).

Says Rams, “Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design.” Here are Rams’s 10 Principles of Good Design:

1. Good design is innovate. It enhances new technology.

2. It makes a product useful. A good design fulfills a purpose.

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Door handle, 1989, for FSB, German home accessories firm. Image from http://goo.gl/MDPQWc.

3. It’s aesthetic. Beautiful things have positive effects on people’s lives.

4. It makes a product understandable. An intuitive design needn’t have an elaborate instruction manual.

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The Braun T3 Pocket Radio, 1958, set a standard for intuitive controls. Image from the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, http://goo.gl/l5959.

5. It’s unobtrusive. A neutral and restrained object leaves room for the user’s self-expression.

6. It’s honest. No unfulfillable promises are offered.

7. It’s long-lasting. Good design is the antithesis of throwaway.

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The 606 Universal Shelving System is sturdy and timeless. Image from Vitsœ, http://goo.gl/utbFhc.

8. It is thorough down to the last detail. Care in design shows respect for the consumer.

9. It’s environmentally friendly. Good design conserves resources throughout the product’s life cycle.

10. Good design is as little design as possible. Weniger, aber besser.

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The Braun PS 2 Stereo Turntable, 1963, has everything needed, and nothing more. Image from the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, http://goo.gl/MZVixq.

The principles of utility, intuitiveness and thoroughness coincide with precepts of Universal Design (http://wp.me/p2ETap-2d6).

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As its name makes clear, though, the goal of Universal Design is utility to people with the widest possible range of abilities, operating within the widest possible range of situations.

Combine the two design ethos, and things are aesthetic as well as physiologically optimal.

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Dieter Rams As Little Design as Possible by Sophie Lovell and Klaus Kemp, foreword by Jonathan Ive, Phaidon Press, 2011.

In the foreword to Dieter Rams: As Little Design as Possible, Apple’s Jonathan Ive writes of a Rams design, “It could not be better, simpler, clearer or more beautiful.” ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2014

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