Dieter Rams: Ten Principles For Good Design
The ten commandments of design.
- Is innovative - The possibilities for progression are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for original designs. But imaginative design always develops in tandem with improving technology, and can never be an end in itself.
- Makes a product useful - A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic criteria. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could detract from it.
- Is aesthetic - The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
- 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.
- 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.
- Is honest - It does not make a product appear more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
I Quit My Job, Ma!
“So we came to America for you to make backpacks?” That was the quizzical look my Vietnamese mother gave me when I told her that I was leaving my company and pursuing an unknown path to design women’s backpacks.
Of course, reaching that decision wasn’t easy. The soul-searching process doesn’t usually happen with the fanfare of epiphany, but rather through a bit of introspection, a heap of courage and a dash of craziness. I always wanted to start my own business and create something from scratch. If not now, then when?
For the last five years, I spent most of my time problem solving for companies as a consultant. Now was the time to be selfish. I decided to tackle a personal frustration that I’d experience for many years: create a functional and chic solution to carry my stuff.
The idea first came to me when I had a conversation I had with my doctor years ago. “You know, your collarbone is a bit misaligned…I think it’s because of your shoulder bag,” she said. Appalled, I realized that wearing a backpack with two straps was better for posture and equal weight distribution.
Fast forward a few years, and I found myself quitting a stable career and saying goodbye to client calls and cross-country commutes. I inhaled a renewed sense of freedom and clarity, as delicious as a Sunday afternoon nap. I started talking to friends and industry experts, organized a focus group of women, and began creating sketches and mood boards. I moved from research, to designing and testing concepts, to finally creating a product that I’m proud of.
The journey is only beginning—punctuated with moments of doubt and small victories—but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. So here’s to the women who dare to ask “why not now?” Here’s to the thinkers and doers. Here’s to building tomorrow, today.
Phuong, founder P.MAI