Rams, Braun & Good Design
On any given day, you're unwittingly engaging in the world of good design (and bad). You wake up in you bed, you turn off your alarm to hop up to turn on your shower, then toast your bread for your morning breaky. Autonomously interacting with products designed for purpose.
It's inevitable that, every move you make, every breath you take, Good design will be watching you. In all seriousness however, since our ancestors stood up, products (tools) have been refined over and over and over again to bring us functional, beautiful products for everyday use.
Although there has been stunning design throughout history, "Good Design" principles are a relatively new concept. No one has described these principles better than Dieter Rams, Chief Design Officer and innovator for Braun.
Dieter Rams started out as an architect and interior decorator from the Wiesbaden School of Art. After working as an architect for a number of years, he was recruited to Braun.
One of Rams famous phrases was "Weniger, aber besser", translating as "less, but better", which was the starting point for the 10 Good Design principles.
According to Rams, "Good Design" as stated:
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 life cycle of the product.
is minimal – Less is more. Simple as possible but not simpler. Good design elevates the essential functions of a product.
Throughout his years at Braun, Rams created and helped in the development of innovative and unique pieces including: the S60 Razor, Various Hi-Fi Systems, Tabletop radio, T1000 short-wave receiver, ET 66 Calculator, HL Desk fan & T52 Portable Radio.
Rams summarises that Good Design provides the user with the idea that products don't need to & shouldn't be complicated or 'fancy'. A minimalist approach with intuitive ergonomics and comfortable feel will always be more desirable than a over engineered, statement piece.
It appears that the principles of 'Good Design' are back in trend with new products opting for the minimalist finishes and innovative features.
Sticking to these principles will always ensure that satisfaction with the 'things' around us will be maintained and quite frankly knowing that is... 'good'.