Dieter Rams: Principles 8-10 for Good Design

January 30, 2012 by bryan

Part Three of Dieter Rams: Ten Principles for Good Design inspired by the show at SFMOMA, “Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams”, up through February 20, 2012. You can read Part One here and Part Two here.

Good Design

8. Good design is thorough down to the last detail

Sometimes we can get a little crazy about the details as designers. The exact color we want. The perfect amount of distance between each letter. The way a logo should always be used. We care about pixels and millimeters and CMYK and RGB and a bunch of other stuff clients don’t even realize. But that craziness is always keeping the client and their clients in mind. We create with precision and accuracy because we respect them and are looking out for future needs.

This is one of the main reasons I have loved Apple computers since I was a teenager. From the way they design a machine to the way the package it to the way they set up their stores, nothing is left to chance or arbitrary. Their thoroughness down to the last detail of where they put their power button is inspiring. I know, I know -- designers are so geeky.

Good Design

9. Good design is environmentally friendly

Designers are integral to the preservation of the environment. The way that car designers, fashion designers, product designers create can either be extremely harmful or helpful to the environment. If things are designed with reusable materials, intended to be long lasting, and avoid trendiness that helps us to have a less wasteful and more healthy environment.

When I design for clients, I always try to think about what is necessary to print and what can be conveyed via websites, social media and emails. I think it is important to avoid using unnecessary paper and ink, and when I do need to print items I use recycled paper and soy based inks, even if it costs more. It really is true what people say, “Every little bit helps.” You can read a magazine story that I was featured in about green printing at

Good Design

10. Good design is as little design as possible

“Less but better.” Words I live by. Each design decision intentional and necessary. My favorite outfit is a black shirt with dark jeans. My desk is nice and tidy. I like solid colors, simple typefaces, and clean architectural lines. Keep things simple. Keep things pure. Give me the essentials and I am a happy designer.

When I look at design from Scandinavia, Germany or Switzerland I lose my breath for a second. The design can be made up of two colors, one typeface and a few lines and it speaks to me. My eyes are simultaneously stimulated and at ease. I can concentrate on what I need to see, and it becomes what I want to see.

Did I mention to you that I love the way Dieter Rams thinks?

Dieter Rams (born May 20, 1932 in Wiesbaden) is a German industrial designer closely associated with the consumer products company Braun and the Functionalist school of industrial design.

Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams”, up through February 20, 2012. You can read Part One here and Part Two here.

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