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10 Timeless Commandments for Good Design: Part II

This article is continued from 10 Timeless Commandments for Good Design: Part I published previously on ximnet.com.my.

“A designer who wants to achieve good design must not regard himself as an artist who, according to taste and aesthetics, is merely dressing-up products with a last minute garment.”
― Dieter Rams
Although Dieter Rams 10 principles of good design have been explained in great detail over the years, understanding their prevalence as we more quickly than ever begin to live in the future is fundamental to a better designed future.
6. Good Design is Honest

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Dieter Rams is an inspiration, which isn’t something new or unheard of before. He truly takes the responsibility for designing in its intended form. What I mean by this is that design is made with people in mind. More accurately, its used in order to help people and solve problems that currently exist among them. It was never meant to inflate a products value by ways of deceit or manipulation. Not only does Rams believe designing with honesty is important, but it is the designers job to breathe his integrity through and through into each of his works.
“Design should not dominate things, should not dominate people. It should help people. That’s its role.”
― Dieter Rams
In recent years, we have seen an outstanding amount of products and services that are in the end nothing more than unreliable. This is an important concept designers should vow to uphold in order to maintain the integrity of their work and do what designers are truly meant to do. Although some may say we live in a different world. That couldn’t be any more true and it is because of this that we shouldn’t design with the intention of stealing, manipulating, degrading, and most of all to promote the corruption of humanity. Not only does this go against the purpose of design, but it is wrong and unethical.
7. Good Design is Long-Lasting

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What Rams is trying to say is design with the future in mind. Producing a design that only follows fashion trends, fads, and things that may only be “in” for not even the latter part of a year will only make your job as the designer a lot harder. In order to ensure you approach every design while thinking about the future it may hold. Keep in mind that time destroys fashion trends. Nobody wants to put in all the hard work and effort only for your product to die all together. Dieter Rams cautions designers not to be fooled by today’s, “throwaway society,” and allowing its way into your mind and out into the world through your designs.
“I hate everything that is driven by fashion.” 
― Dieter Rams
Although it’s hard to design a product while thinking of what could happen in the next 50 years, that’s not quite what Rams is implying. Design as a discipline is focused on strategy, process, implementation, and making changes to your designs as they are deemed necessary over time. Although change may be necessary, any designer doesn’t want to be tasked with having to revisit the initial design stages in order to create an entirely new and different product due to negligence to allowing the product to focus on trendy appeal rather than functional reliability.

8. Good Design is Thorough Down to the Last Detail

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As many of you may already know, design is in the details. If any of you are anything like me than details aren’t the problem, but learning to move beyond the details is what pulls you back. It’s not that moving on is so difficult, but analyzing making sure the design choice I made was in fact the right one to make surely can make the hours fly on by without even realizing it. The point Rams wants people to leave with is that a design must be comprehensible in every respect, which means fretting over as many details as you can to ensure the design will be usable and functional for the people it’s intended for.
“ Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the user.”
― Dieter Rams
At the end of the day, remembering that the design being crafted isn’t intended to be used by yourself will allow you to separate from the project as a whole and truly make something both usable and beautiful. Just figure, you never want to leave any stone unturned assuming you know what the users may want just from intuition. Sometimes your gut feeling will be wrong, yet at others it might actually be right. Taking the risk isn’t worth all the time and money that would have been wasted if you were wrong. Have fun explaining that design choice to your boss when he comes for you. Not a conversation I ever want to have. My best advice is to stick to any tried and true best practices that have been shared by seasoned designers who have been in the field a lot longer than you have.

9. Good Design is Environmentally Friendly

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Good design not only helps the environment, but plays a critical role in environment preservation. Dieter Rams believed that giving way to ignorance when deciding to do away with mother nature would be the beginning to the end because without the natural systems in place, we likely wouldn’t survive. When you think about the environment when brainstorming it has a profound impact and if everyone took the consideration, the impact could be monumental. Not only does it conserve resources, but it also reduces the amount of both physical and visual pollution that defines the product in the end.
“There is a lot of bad architecture. What we need more is to look at how our landscape should look in the next decades.”
― Dieter Rams
Sustainability and thinking about preserving our environment is at the heart of any good design. Although it may seem as if designers may have been neglecting this consideration lately, it is both important and relevant in today’s world as our climate change is starting to become an issue faced by most. Not to be the burden of bad news, but climate change is real, and the sooner we all realize this the better off we will be. Without this consideration not only could human beings go extinct due to their own ignorance, but moving to mars would be plan B.

10. Good Design is as Little Design as Possible

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The phrase less is more may come to mind, but in the case of good design this couldn’t be further from the truth. Rams believed with design that less but better is the motto your aiming to achieve with every project you undertake. Some may shrug thinking this makes things a whole lot easier. Just be ready to be disappointed because this requires more thought, focus, and energy throughout the planning stages of the creative process.
“My goal is to omit everything superfluous so that the essential is shown to best possible advantage.”
― Dieter Rams
Taking control of an idea that contains too much is hard, but it’ll make things easier as you get further along in the product development process. Taking the time to think about different ways to make your design better must involve concentrating on what is essential aspects rather than what is superfluous. Dieter Rams brings purity to his designs by keeping his focus prioritized on the level of need each feature brings to the product as a whole and the person who might use it. Keep in mind that human beings are quite the unpredictable bunch, so sticking to making something simpler is always better.


Not only has Dieter Rams left a tremendous impact on the way design is practiced, but he truly is an inspiration to all those whose dreams are filled with one day becoming a designer. These commandments are by no means a crash course on how to make good designs, rather it is more of a framework to keep in mind as you think of what ideas to motivate and incorporate into each of your projects.
“My heart belongs to the details. I actually always found them to be more important than the big picture. Nothing works without details. They are everything, the baseline of quality.”
― Dieter Rams
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