“Good design is as little design as possible.” Dieter Rams

Dieter Rams is an exemplary model of designing your world to fit your values. His designs embody this incredible idea that even the simplest utilities can be both beautiful and intuitive.

Design is everywhere you look: Functional, industrial, visual, typographic, interactive; it is in everything. The question is how effective is the design in solving a problem? At its core, good design solves problems without calling attention to its existence.

I unconsciously absorb and judge every little piece of design in my environment. From the functional to the aesthetic, I observe the whole package. For years, I pondered why I do this, almost willing myself to believe that I was crazy for doing so. I never came across anyone that spoke about design the way that I had always thought about design; nor had I encountered a perspective which succinctly distilled all of the chaotic, complicated things I feel for the design all around me. Never, that is, until I was introduced to Dieter Rams.

Listening to Mr. Rams’ blunt, yet artistic way of describing design and his absolute resolution about what makes good design made me feel whole. This dedication, this obsessive fascination with breaking down the design decisions in everything I encounter finally seemed less crazy. It felt more acceptable because I saw that it wasn’t just me.

In design, Mr. Rams says that form has no purpose without function; there is no point in beauty without utility. When solving root problems with design, it is impractical to start with the form as it becomes all too easy to lose sight of the function. The function, or problem being solved, must be at the foundation of every design decision. This guarantees success in the pursuit of a flawless user experience and “as little design as possible”.

Less, but better. In my career and in my life, my core objective is to design solutions that are so pared down, so streamlined, and so intuitive to the needs and priorities of the user, that the user never becomes conscious of the solution. This is the ultimate litmus test for any design. Stating the obvious, Dieter Rams’ designs are some of the most beautiful exemplars of this design principle.

Simplicity is both an art and artful. The “less, but better” approach to design takes skill and resolve to apply. Watching and hearing Mr. Rams, studying his work and how he applies his principles of good design both in and out of the industrial design world has influenced my own evolution in how I work and live. “Back to purity, back to simplicity.” This pursuit is powerful and liberating.

To Dieter Rams, I will always be grateful for who he is and how he sees the world.

Dieter Rams’ 10 Principles of Design

Good design is innovative · Good design makes a product useful · Good design is aesthetic · Good design makes a product understandable · Good design is unobtrusive · Good design is honest · Good design is long-lasting · Good design is thorough down to the last detail · Good design is environmentally friendly · Good design is as little design as possible