At Dembrane, we are building a number of tools to make it as easy as possible for large groups to learn about themselves and make decisions more democratically. To guide us, we are drawing on design principles like those of legendary designer Dieter Rams that have been around for decades, but as the youtube channel Design Theory points out, some of these principles have room for an update!
“I always emphasised that [the principles] weren’t meant to last forever. They should be updated.” - Rams
TP 1 radio/phono combination, 1959, by Dieter Rams for Braun
The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.
Don’t innovate for innovation’s sake.
A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasises the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.
Useful means different things to different people
MPZ 21 multipress citrus juicer, 1972, by Dieter Rams and Jürgen Greubel for Braun
RT 20 tischsuper radio, 1961, by Dieter Rams for Braun
It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it is self-explanatory.
Good design can also be intentionally mysterious or difficult to make mastery more satisfying.
T 1000 world receiver, 1963, by Dieter Rams for Braun
Cylindric T 2 lighter, 1968, by Dieter Rams for Braun
It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
Good design may also be fantastical - what is honesty in fiction?
L 450 flat loudspeaker, TG 60 reel-to-reel tape recorder and TS 45 control unit, 1962-64, by Dieter Rams for Braun
620 Chair Program, 1962, by Dieter Rams for Vitsœ
Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the user.
Leaving things to chance can lead to better designs. Micromanaging teams can lead to a mess. Good design, rather, is like good gardening.
ET 66 calculator, 1987, by Dietrich Lubs for Braun
606 Universal Shelving System, 1960, by Dieter Rams for Vitsœ
Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
To clarify, we do not want to minimise harm (eco-efficiency) - we want to maximise the good (eco-effectiveness).
Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.
Bauhaus stood for beauty born out of purpose and unhindered by mass production - not for minimal aesthetics that complicate usability, manufacturing or affordability.
L 2 speaker, 1958, by Dieter Rams for Braun