Utilitarian Design is all around us and has been for decades. It is present in the toothbrush you use in the morning to the chair you sit in. Everyday tools have been interpreted and produced by designers all over the world and yet one stands out as resonating with early ideas of sustainability, minimalism and utilitarianism; Dieter Rams.
Born in Germany in 1932 Dieter Rams was fascinated by design at an early age. It led him to pursue studies of carpentry and architecture to ultimately become the head designer of Braun in 1955 and debatably one of the most influential industrial designers of the 1970’s. He observed the state of the world and concluded that it is now full of “an impenetrable confusion of forms, color and noises”. For him, current design was chaotic and way too axed on appeal versus function or durability. He questioned current methods of design and determined that a less but better.“Less but better” approach (Weniger, aber besser) on design would attenuate the noise, form and color confusion of the era.
The Ten Principles of Design
Dieter wanted to define “good design” but was aware that design is not finite therefore it needed to follow a framework of concepts. He was one of the first designers to raise the concerns of eco-friendly ideals as an important part of design. This thought process led to what is still known today by many to be the mecca of industrial design: The Ten Principles of Design: innovative, useful, aesthetic, understandable, unobtrusive, honest, long lasting, thorough (detailed), environmentally friendly and minimalist (source).
Each one of the 10 Principles of Design warrant an article given their significance, we encourage you to learn more about them here (source). We’ve summed up Dieter Rams design philosophy in two key concepts : SIMPLICITY and MODESTY, both important directions for sustainability and wellness.
Reducing to what matters most. There is a certain found confidence in being sure and having clarity on what matters most in one's life, as it permits us to mind our actions and head towards a more sustainable lifestyle. This has direct implications for focussing on the functionality of a product and then making sure that each detail serves a purpose, the beauty comes through in the art of simplicity.
Rams designs are all simple reflecting his personal values of not wanting to project himself in his design but rather placing an emphasis on their functionality. Making the design so that it does not attract attention but rather serves an important purpose for humanity’s everyday life.
Our Design Bible
Dieter Rams is responsible for over 500 innovative designs throughout his life. The influence of his work can be found in many modern brands such as Apple. Unfortunately some of the principles such as long lasting and environmentally friendly have not been followed through in our current state of constant gratification and fast fashion. The Ten Principles of Design have been an important guide for design here at BEDI, we hope to live up to these principles that were written decades ago yet relevant and necessary today more than ever.