Why Creatives Should Never Forget Dieter Rams’ 10 Commandments

Tried and true principles for the past, present, and future of good design

Dieter Rams is reveled as one of the most influential industrial designers of the 20th century, and his style is known to many around the globe. Although Rams’ work is held in such high regard among the design community, I pose to shed light on the importance and relevance of his widely known 10 principles of good design. Many of you may already know these guiding principles introduced by Rams as the 10 commandments used to inspire their design work around the globe, but they stand for something far more than just a framework for good design. Frankly, they are the basis for creating long-lasting solutions for problems that are experienced by people like you and I.

"A designer who wants to achieve good design must not regard himself as an artist who, according to taste and aesthetics, is merely dressing-up products with a last minute garment.” - Dieter Rams

Although Dieter Rams 10 principles of good design have been explained in great detail over the years, understanding their prevalence as we more quickly than ever begin to live in the future is fundamental to a better designed future.

1. Good Design is Innovative

Not only is good design innovative, but it also relies heavily on the advancement of technology in order to continue producing creative solutions that are truly innovative. Technology will always strive for advancement proving innovation day in and day out. Although technology may prove innovative on its own, it is through design that these innovative technologies are given the ability to meet the needs of people all around the world in ways we could have never imagined. Advancement in technology will never cease to amaze our most wildest dreams and it is in tandem that both technology and design innovate in order to make products usable, beautiful, and purposeful.

“ We designers, we don’t work in a vacuum. We need business people. We are not the fine artists we are often confused with.”

Technology and design are not only a team working together, but one that relies heavily on each other to produce mind blowing products and services that people have come to rely on throughout their lives. As technology and the ways in which products are produced continue advancing exponentially, innovation in these areas has come to be expected by users everywhere. This not only makes innovation in design possible but necessary both now and in the years to come.

2. Good Design Makes a Product Useful

The job of a designer spans far more than what people may think when taking a peek into our lives. Upon taking their first look, most aren’t too sure what exactly to make of it and there’s nothing wrong with that. The best way to think of a designer is to imagine a person that is obsessed with finding the beauty that exists among the chaos that is our world around us. Design is not only about making something aesthetically pleasing, but going beyond that and ensuring products have a true purpose of being crafted in the first place.

“ One of the most significant design principles is to omit the unimportant in order to emphasize the important.”

3. Good Design is Aesthetic

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This statement couldn’t be more true when it comes to the quality of good design. The aesthetics behind every design may not be the single most important aspect of a well executed design, but in the end can definitely make or break a product. The reason this is so important to design is because people use products daily throughout their lives and the way we interact with these products directly impacts our emotions and our state of well-being. Only designs that are greatly executed have the chance of truly being beautiful and a shot at bringing change about in the world

“ Having small touches of colour makes it more colourful than having the whole thing in colour.”

Although it is true that the beauty of a product isn’t the main focus of the designer, it is an integral part for sure. A product can be useful, yet beauty attracts people that want to use it and are happy while using it. In addition to usability, beauty too is key to crafting something that not only has a purpose, but motivates people to use it and integrate that product into their daily lives. Another thing to remember is that a product cannot be useful unless it too expresses beauty.

4. Good Design Makes a Product Understandable