Dieter Rams:
Ten Principles for Good Design


Dieter Rams is a German industrial designer closely associated with the consumer products company Braun.

In the late 1970s Dieter Ram asked himself an important question "is my design good design?” As good design cannot be measured in finite way he set about expressing the ten most important principles or what he considered was good design.

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Dieter Rams. Photograph by Abisag Tüllmann

Dieter Rams. Photograph by Abisag Tüllmann

Good design is innovative


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.

01

TP 1 radio/phono combination, 1959, by Dieter Rams for Braun

TP 1 radio/phono combination, 1959, by Dieter Rams for Braun

Good design makes a product useful


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.

02

MPZ 21 multipress citrus juicer, 1972, by Dieter Rams and Jürgen Greubel for Braun

MPZ 21 multipress citrus juicer, 1972, by Dieter Rams and Jürgen Greubel for Braun

Good design is aesthetic


The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products we use every day affect our person and our well-being. But only well-executed objects can be beautiful.

03

>RT 20 tischsuper radio, 1961, by Dieter Rams for Braun

RT 20 tischsuper radio, 1961, by Dieter Rams for Braun

Good design makes a product understandable


It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it is self-explanatory.

04

T 1000 world receiver, 1963, by Dieter Rams for Braun

T 1000 world receiver, 1963, by Dieter Rams for Braun

Good design is unobtrusive


Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.

05

Cylindric T 2 lighter, 1968, by Dieter Rams for Braun

Cylindric T 2 lighter, 1968, by Dieter Rams for Braun

Good design is honest


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.

06

L 450 flat loudspeaker

L 450 flat loudspeaker, TG 60 reel-to-reel tape recorder and TS 45 control unit, 1962-64, by Dieter Rams for Braun

Good design is long-lasting


It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.

07

620 Chair Programme

620 Chair Programme, 1962, by Dieter Rams for Vitsœ

Good design is thorough down to the last detail


Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the user.

08

ET 66 calculator

ET 66 calculator, 1987, by Dietrich Lubs for Braun

Good design is environmentally-friendly


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.

09

606 Universal Shelving System

606 Universal Shelving System, 1960, by Dieter Rams for Vitsœ

Good design is as little design as possible


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.

10

L 2 speaker

L 2 speaker, 1958, by Dieter Rams for Braun