Brain Pickings

As Little Design as Possible: The Work of Dieter Rams

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Dieter Rams is commonly considered the greatest industrial designer of all time, a living legend whose principles of good design prevail as a timeless manifesto for the cultural, aesthetic and social function of the discipline. As Little Design As Possible: The Work of Dieter Rams is a fantastic new book by British design historian Sophie Lovell, titled after his tenth principle, “Good design is as little design as possible,” and exploring with unprecedented intimacy both his designs and his ethos, the creative process and the cultural legacy of his elegant, timeless work.

Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design.” ~ Dieter Rams

From the foreword by Apple design mastermind Jonathan Ive (whom Rams recently acknowledged for having accomplished something he himself never did), to the detailed sketches, prototypes and technical drawings of products, to the marketing for those products, to Rams’ legacy and impact on contemporary designers like Naoto Fukasawa, Jonathan Ive, Sam Hecht and Konstantin Grcic, the book spans an incredible range of thought behind the umbrella-concept we call “design” and invites a deeper contemplation of what it means to design better and live better, both as individuals and as a civilization that holds Earth’s future in its hands.

And lest we forget, a refresher on Dieter Rams’ “ten commandments” of good design:

  1. Good design is innovative
  2. Good design makes a product useful
  3. Good design is aesthetic
  4. Good design helps us to understand a product
  5. Good design is unobtrusive
  6. Good design is honest
  7. Good design is durable
  8. Good design is consequent to the last detail
  9. Good design is concerned with the environment
  10. Good design is as little design as possible

Design with the kind of thought and beauty necessary to honor its subject, As Little Design As Possible is as much a treat for Dieter Rams fans and design geeks as it is an illuminating piece of cultural history for “ordinary” people whose everyday lives his designs have touched in more ways than we realize.

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