A Reflection on Product Design

This post is my first ever and is part of my curriculum at Designlab’s UX Academy course.

When I first began learning about design not too long ago I was overwhelmed by the amount of information available on what “good” design is. Considering how subjective the topic is I think that is fairly normal. One article I read however discussed Dieter Rams and his “Ten Principles for Good Design”. His philosophy and thoughts on the subject really impressed me.

As a novice designer, I find his 10 Principles to be an excellent resource whenever I begin brainstorming for a new project. Even though Rams wrote his 10 Principles in the 1970’s they are still very relevant today. I find them applicable to digital products and a guide to creating “good” designs. If a product is designed in a way that adheres to all or at least many of the 10 Principles then chances are it is designed well. Evidence of this is easy to find with a bit of searching. This is a good example of some of Apple’s products that were inspired by the designs of Dieter Rams. While I know that many would argue that Apple does not follow all of the principles in question I think that many of their products are still a great example of good design. The fact that many if not most designers today work on Apple products is a testament to this.

Braun T3 pocket radio next to an Apple iPod

All in all, the legacy of Dieter Rams has greatly influenced the design industry in a positive manner. I sincerely hope that future designers will continue to pay attention to his 10 Principles and use them as a guide. Especially as I believe that Rams was correct when he stated that designers have a responsibility for the state of the world around them. This is something that is not taken into account as much as it should be by many designers. Today we live in a throw-away society which has little regard for sustainability and the environment as a whole.

I find that the following statement made by Rams in the 1970’s rings even more true today than it did then. That in itself is quite depressing.

“I imagine our current situation will cause future generations to shudder at the thoughtlessness in the way in which we today fill our homes, our cities and our landscape with a chaos of assorted junk.”

My hope is that with the ever increasing pace of technological advancement the lessons of the past will not be forgotten. Creating innovative, sustainable and honest products is key to our society’s future and a legacy we should strive to leave for future generations. As a novice designer that is one cause I strive to contribute to in my career.

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