Whether you believe in a higher power or choose to refrain, there is one set of commandments you may as well stand by. Lower those eyebrows; this isn’t religious propaganda. We’re simply discussing the ten commandments of Good Design here! To many who revere design, they remain the gospel truth to this day.
H.C. Dieter Rams, a celebrated German industrial designer, voiced these Ten Commandments in a strike back against designs produced to facilitate solely economic ends. In the 70’s Rams announced that product design was soon approaching an obsolete state, and remained “an impenetrable confusion of forms, colours and noises.” He began to question himself, and eventually turned up with the commandments as a sort of benchmark to ensure sustainable development and a ‘less is better’ approach in the field of design.
One. Good design is innovative
Innovation is the key to human progress. Great ideas are both, inspired and an inspiration to those who happen to interact with them. Good design sees the need for innovation, but never mistakes it for the frivolous appeal of novelty.
Two. Good design makes a product useful
When you’re buying a chair, you’re buying a chair! You intend to use it, for the function it proposes, aesthetic is secondary. Any detail that conflicts with the chair’s ability to fully perform its duties as it was intended is definitely not good design.
Three. Good design is aesthetic
Walking hand in hand with utility lies aesthetic. An appealing design is one that is beautiful because of, not despite its base nature. The things that surround us, even if we don’t register it, affect our psyche. Aesthetics should ideally set the mind at ease – products that are beautiful, but aren’t up to the mark during use, are stressful to the user.
Four. Good design makes a product understandable
We have yet to meet an individual who is a huge fan of instruction manuals. A good product doesn’t need one; straightforward is the only way forward. Good design holds human need and experience at its core, thus must promote ease of use.
Five. Good design is unobtrusive
A product need not be a work of art but must serve as grounds for user self-expression. It must serve its purpose to the best of its ability, by holding a neutral, unobtrusive stance.
Six. Good design is honest
When advertised with false claims to the customer, there is no room to cultivate a relationship, which in turn hinders progress. Honest design tells the customer what a product is meant for and what it can achieve without advertising non-existent properties.
Seven. Good design is long lasting
This statement refers to two elements – the actual life-term of a product, but also the design’s ability to stand the test of time. It must be brilliant enough to remain an iconic piece long past other fickle style trends.
Eight. Good design is thorough down to the last detail
Good design calls for perfection, in every single aspect, no matter how small.
Nine. Good design is environmentally friendly
A vast majority of the world is harking on about conservation and environmentally friendly design – without actually contributing to it. Good design values the environment too much to be wasteful. It works its way around any shortcomings and looks to exist with as minimal environmental damage as is possible.
Ten. Good design is as little design as is possible.
Simplicity has never lost its appeal in this beautifully chaotic world – hence it being so hard to achieve. The ‘less is more’ philosophy pursues an uncluttered atmosphere, where ones mind might evade distraction.
This is a great framework to live by when one first forays into the contemporary world of design. But good design is all this and much more. It heightens your daily experiences in the subtlest of ways; makes you feel things and enriches your life. It is human centric and created to enhance even the most mundane moments – sitting before the TV, breaking into song in the shower, going to bed at night. Though they aren’t of the spectacular, life-changing variety, these are the hours that make up most of your time on this earth. Good design is that which helps make those moments worthwhile.