Ten principles form the essence of good design

In considering the question “what is the essence of good design?” Dieter Rams, one of the world’s most influential industrial designers and renowned for his product designs for household gadget giant Braun, concluded that the essence of good design is demonstrable by the presence of ten distinct principles, which can be summarised as follows:

Innovation

Just as the technology in every area of modern life continuously advances, evolves and improves, there is an unlimited scope for innovative design that enables the benefits of new technology to be maximised for the end user.

Usefulness

We buy products to use them. A product that benefits from good design will accentuate the usefulness of that product and will be free of aspects that in any way detract from, obscure or hinder the product’s usefulness.

Visual beauty

The aesthetic appeal of a product is fundamental to good design. We select products that reflect our own taste, styles and aspirations. Knowing that many of the items we buy, such as furniture or household gadgets, will be seen and used on a daily basis, aesthetics enhance both the attractiveness and usefulness of a product.

Intuitiveness

The ability to use something intuitively and without instruction because its design is unambiguous and easily understood is perhaps the defining characteristic of good design in modern technology. A simple self-explanatory interface between user and product can be an influential differentiator between products that perform similar roles.

Understatement

You might desire an artwork to be the focal point or dominant feature of a space, but by contrast good design lends functional objects blend in with and complement their surroundings. The chameleon-like ability to look good without dominating or altering the style of its environment is one of the hallmarks of a well-designed product.

Honesty

The essence of good design demands that an object should portray itself as nothing more and nothing less than what it actually is. The consumer does not want to be misled by design features that promise function but are, in reality, merely ornament. To paraphrase a popular advertising slogan, a product benefiting from good design “does what it says on the tin”.

Endurance

As evidenced by the contoured Coca Cola bottle, good design will stand the test of time. The holy grail of good design is to create something that is “timeless”; in other words something that transcends the fluctuating and ephemeral nature of current fashion, retaining its appeal and usefulness regardless of the passage of time.

Thoroughness

Good design encompasses attention to the smallest detail, omitting the margin of error and rendering an object fool proof and as near to infallible perfection as can be achieved.

Ecological sensitivity

Setting aside the aesthetic and functional attributes of a product, a good design will ensure that the manufacture and operation lifecycle of that product uses the least possible natural resources and creates the minimum pollution (whether visual, chemical or audible).

Minimalism

In good design, less is more. Simplicity rules over superfluous detail, giving a product its true identity and allowing it to speak clearly as to its role and function free from unnecessary and distracting adornment.

http://www.topdesignmag.com/what-is-the-essence-of-good-design/

 

Good design is an exercise in restraint. There is a natural tendency to add more features, draw more lines, sculpt more surfaces, load more options, etc with the belief that by adding “more” more value is provided to the consumer. A good designer is trained to refrain from the compulsion to add. The objective of good design is to reduce; reduce the amount of parts, reduce complexity, reduce waste, and reduce cost. Design is the ability to make clear a product or services purpose or message.

Society thinks that the role of a designer is to beautify through adding decoration, but the true role is to remove elements to reveal an idea only adding what is necessary to craft a story. The desire for a product or service to do all things leads to no one thing being done well. As a result it becomes difficult to use and the consumer will find another product that does the intended role better.

With a society that demands new and improved and loses interest in a matter of seconds designers jump at the opportunity to add value. Society has the misconception that “more” somehow equates to better. We have become hard wired to believe this. The difficult task for any designer is to be able to remove elements while still communicating value. To understand the essence of design is better put as the principle of reduction. Reduce to reveal value. But to reduce takes knowledge. To remove what does not enhance a message or idea and leave what does, takes understanding, skill and vision. And a good designer or studio must be able to show the client this vision and the true value it brings.

 

 

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