Inside the Castle:

What Makes Good Design?

by Yuki Collins

Designer Dieter Rams at Vitsœ
Designer Dieter Rams at Vitsœ
606 Universal Shelving System
606 Universal Shelving System
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia.

When we talk about design, our discussions tend to be subjective and often depend on our feelings. Although there are hundreds of rules and techniques that we learn at design schools, it can be difficult to be confident in one’s own design since there is never an absolute answer.

For my first blog post, I would like to share a fundamental idea about “What Makes Good Design.”

Dieter Rams: 10 Principles for Good Design

Dieter Rams, who worked closely with Braun and Vitsœ in Germany, is one of the most famous/popular industrial designers. It is well-known in this field that Ram’s products and design principles had a profound influence on Apple’s minimalist design philosophy. When asking himself whether his own design was good or not, he formulated an idea of the ten most important principles for design.

Here are Dieter Ram’s 10 Principles for Good Design:

  • 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.

Although he is an industrial designer, Ram’s ideas for good design are universal. It does not matter if the principles are applied to designing shelves or websites. It is good for any kind of designer to keep these principles in mind. As a web designer, every time I draw a line in my design, I ask myself if the line is REALLY necessary and remember the phrase, “Good design is as little design as possible.”

Yuki Collins

By Yuki Collins

After a decade working at web design firms and a newspaper in Tokyo, Yuki brought her design and illustration skills to the United States. Her goal as a designer is to make people happy through her creative work. Yuki’s inspirations include books, craft beer, and the two cats that she loves!

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