Dieter Rams at SFMOMA

January 11, 2012 by bryan

I love Dieter Rams, the brilliant industrial designer from Germany. In a perfect world he would be my Uncle Dieter and every Christmas dinner would be spent talking about good design and simplicity. We would sit in his well designed mid-century chairs, listen to Johann Sebastian Bach on his record player, drink der Kaffee from his Braun machine and discuss how less really is more.

Since this is only my dream and not my reality, the next best thing is enjoying the current SFMOMA show, “Less and More: The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams”, up through February 20, 2012.

There I can stare at his designs and ruminate on his quotes, and enjoy the knowledge that he shares with us all through his ideas and creations. Over the next few entries I will be sharing “Dieter Rams: Ten Principles for Good Design” and my own thoughts about his words. I think he perfectly states why I love my job and am passionate about design.

Good Design

1. Good design is innovative

This reminds me to always have hope. That we will continue to progress in both technology and design and in fact the two are essential to each other. In moments where design feels stagnant, I remember that there will always be more ideas and possibilities. That innovation will continue to move us forward. I think the development of tablets and apps in the past few years is a beautiful example of the tandem nature of design and technology. I get excited just thinking about what new ideas lay ahead in the future.

Good Design

2. Good design makes a product useful

I love when things look cool. When I see it on a shelf and I want to buy it just to see it on my shelf. But I never buy those things. I buy what I use and I use what I buy, and when the beauty reflects the usefulness - I am a happy man. When I build websites I am always thinking about what is useful and necessary first, and as design starts to detract from the site’s functionality, the design must be stripped down. I think that is why my most favorite designs are also the most simple ones.

Good Design

3. Good design is aesthetic

When I use my Bialetti stove-top espresso maker each morning, it makes me happy. The metal container and plastic handle come together to make me smile. I love the shape, the feel, the smell of the coffee as it percolates. The beauty of this simple design is how well it is executed. As I design logos, print work and websites, I long to create things for companies to make their lives easier and better. I want their clients' days to be brightened (in little ways) by the aesthetic quality of my work. If “only well-executed objects can be beautiful,” I strive to be a designer of beauty.

Dieter Rams (born May 20, 1932 in Wiesbaden) is a German industrial designer closely associated with the consumer products company Braun and the Functionalist school of industrial design.

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