Monday, July 4, 2011

Is this good design?

Poster designed by Bibliotheque.
Before complete brand integration, Dieter Rams feared the world was becoming “an impenetrable confusion of forms, colours and noises.” A very prophetic statement from the early eighties. 

Everything good is usually designed, but not everything is good design.

We have a tendency to influence each other. Brands fall victim to 'me too' design and strategy. Especially among like-brand competitors. We must always ask ourselves, "is this good design?" And, if it is not, how can it be?

Design is a cross-platform discipline. No longer does it only apply to artists drawing pictures. Writers, programmers, engineers, and strategists all must be fluent in design. Good design results from inspired collaboration.

Anyone creating anything should take a minute and familiarize themselves with or revisit the 'Ten Commandments' of design. Human-centered in philosophy, the thinking ventures well beyond art alone. Whether you create products, campaigns, or identities – this list thoughtfully explores why design should and does matter.

Dieter Rams: Ten Principles for Good Design

1. Good design is 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 emphasises 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 we use every day affect our person and our well-being. But 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 talk. 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 life cycle 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.
“I think that good designers must always be avant-gardists, always one step ahead of the times,” he said in a speech to the Braun supervisory board in 1980. “They should – and must – question everything generally thought to be obvious. They must have an intuition for people’s changing attitudes. For the reality in which they live, for their dreams, their desires, their worries, their needs, their living habits. They must also be able to assess realistically the opportunities and bounds of technology.” – Dieter Rams
For more inspiration, read Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams and check out Objectified.

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