The Dieter Rams Game.

19 01 2010

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.
Copyright Dieter Rams, amended March 2003 and October 2009

These ten principles defined Dieter Rams’ approach to “good design”. Each of the hundreds of products he developed during forty years with Braun, was unerringly elegant and supremely versatile. Units were made in modular sizes to be stacked vertically or horizontally. Buttons, switches and dials were reduced to a minimum and arranged in an orderly manner. Rams even devised a system of colour coding for Braun’s products, which were made in white and grey. The only splash of colour was the switches and dials.

Rams’ objective was to design useful products which would be easy to operate. Yet he achieved much more by dint of the formal elegance and technical virtuosity of his work. Rams’ designs always looked effortless with an exquisite simplicity borne from rigorous tests and experiments with new materials and an obsessive attention to detail to ensure that each piece appeared flawlessly coherent. Dieter Rams remains an enduring inspiration for younger designers, notably Jonathan Ive and Jasper Morrison, who have acknowledged his influence in their work at Apple and Rowenta respectively.

Now, it occurred to me, in a daydreamy moment yesterday, that Dieter’s principles can be applied to all sorts of things.

I think it’s quite a good game. Try this for example. Replace the word ‘design’ with the word ‘government’, and then swap ‘a product’ for ‘legislation’. Like so:

Good government is innovative.
Good government makes legislation useful.
Good government is aesthetic.
Good government makes legislation understandable.
Good government is unobtrusive.
Good government is honest.
Good government is long-lasting.
Good government is thorough down to the last detail.
Good government is environmentally friendly.
Good government is as little government as possible.


Now ask yourself, according to Dieter, who clearly knows a thing or two, do we have good government and good legislation?

Thought you’d say that. I agree.



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