Continuing my journey for answers and honing my craft, I’ve been reading a lot about Dieter Rams.
Anyone, in any field of design owes it to themselves to at least read and consider his 10 principles of good design. Also this book.
I may very well get these principles printed on a poster that I can take to every workspace I occupy in life. I’ll list them below.
1. Good Design Should Be 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.
2. Good Design 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.
3. Good Design is Aesthetic
The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on proplr and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful
4. Good Design Makes a Product Understandable
It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.
5. Good Design 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.
6. Good Design 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.
7. Good Design 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.
8. Good Design 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.
9. Good Design 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.
10. Good Design 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.
Obviously, at least the way some of this was written, it was aimed at industrial design more than graphic design. But great wisdom can be pulled from this an applied in every project for every client. Good design should be innovative. It shouldn’t feel tired, boring, run-of-the-mill. It should break ground, grab attention, inspire thought, and drive product interest. It’s sort of the difference between passion and laziness. 9-to-5 and ‘I’ll leave when the job’s done and not before.’
I won’t go through each item because you can read and draw your own theories, conclusions, and modifications to your own practices. I will, however, touch on numbers 8 and 10. Good design should ABSOLUTELY be thorough. Every stroke, ever tightly kerned letter, ever splash of color should have REASONING behind it. What does is psychologically convey? What’s the target audience? What are you trying to make the end user feel? Designs should be completely explainable without guesses and ‘just because’ excuses. It’s our job as communicators to do that very thing. Communicate and how well is that being done when directions are chosen that have no logic or calculation behind them?
As for number 10. Less is more. Those are words to live and die by. What makes more sense to you? Me? Anybody? A super wordy mish-mash of wording and images? Or something clearly and simply defined? You can be clever. Hell, you can be brilliant. And do it without beating around the bush. Let the product speak. Let the work speak.
I hope this is inspirational and thought-provoking for you. It will certainly always be that for me.