Creative Titans: Dieter Rams and the 10 Principles of Good Design

Dieter-Rams-Product-Design-Process

Dieter Rams is a German industrial designer and respected product design guru. With more than seven decades’ worth of design experience, he has earned a list of notable awards and accomplishments over the years, and is one of the most important designers in recent history.

While he never worked for Apple, his designs are said to be the inspiration for a number of the Apple products that we know and love today. In fact, Jonathan Ive has publicly acknowledged Dieter Rams as his inspiration.  In the 2009 documentary, “Objectified”, Rams claims that Apple is one of few companies who design according to his principles of good design.

Popular Work

Dieter Rams is most commonly known for his work with Braun, where he served as the head of design from 1961-1995. He has helped design useful, visually appealing gadgets for around the home.  Due in part to the user friendliness and look of Braun products, they became a household name in the 1950s.  While he retired from Braun in 1997, Rams continues to work with Vitsoe furniture designs today.

There have been a number of books published about Rams and his work.  His designs can also be found in touring and permanent exhibitions and museums around the world.  His 10 principles of good design have also been widely studied and used by designers and non-designers alike.

Design Strategy

Rams created the 10 principles of good design, which revolve around bringing simplicity and purity back into the product design process. His strategy and principles are built around the fact that good design is innovative, aesthetic, honest, long-lasting, unobtrusive, thorough, and environmentally-friendly. As he has so eloquently put it, his design approach is: “Good design is as little design as possible.”  Below are his fabled 10 Principles (from his Wikipedia page):

Good design:

  1. Is innovative – The possibilities for progression are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for original designs. But imaginative design always develops in tandem with improving technology, and can never be an end in itself.
  2. Makes a product useful – A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic criteria. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could detract from it.
  3. Is aesthetic – The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
  4. Makes a product understandable – It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.
  5. 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.
  6. Is honest – It does not make a product appear more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 consumer.
  9. Is environmentally friendly – Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
  10. 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.

Rams aims to make products that are useful and understandable, remaining functional, psychological, and aesthetic. He has stated that good product design “is a matter of balancing the esthetic content with regard to use”.

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Creative Titans: How Massimo Vignelli Impacts Your Commute

Massimo-Vignelli and Vignelli Associates Design Agency

Massimo Vignelli was born in Milan, Italy in 1931. He is a renowned designer who has created an impressive body of work in areas ranging from package design to interior design, and everything in between. Together with his wife, Lella Vignelli, he founded a design agency by the name Vignelli Associates, and designed The Vignelli Center For Design Studies.

Popular Work

Vignelli is responsible for a great number of nationally recognized logos, such as American Airlines, IBM, Bloomingdales, and more.  His work both through his design agency and otherwise has been published and exhibited throughout the world and has influenced designers the world over.  He has been recognized with an impressive range of awards and honors over the years and continues to be heralded as one of the premier influencers of the typography that we know and love today.

He is also responsible for designing the Helvetica font more than 50 years ago, and changing the way we look at typography today.  In fact, “Helvetica” is now a feature-length documentary about typography, fonts, and graphic design.  It stars none other than… wait for it… Massimo Vignelli!!  Two feature-length television programs have also been devoted to Vignelli’s work.

With all that said, his most popular and perhaps most enduring work still remains the NYC subway map, which was recently updated from the original version. The New York City transit system can be rather complicated, but Vignelli created a design that organizes the various lines into a clear, colorful map. His masterful work has influenced everything from transit map design to furniture design and impacts the daily life of commuters, designers, and the American public at large.

Design Strategy

Vignelli works to create unique designs that can remain relevant over time. Along with his portfolio of work, Massimo Vignelli, and his wife Lella, have been known to eat, sleep, and breathe design. They create effective designs based on three investigations in design, including the search for structure, specificity, and fun. “I strive to raise the bar a few inches, taking the commonplace and improving it,” Vignelli said.

Vignelli believes in following the Modernist tradition, which focuses on minimalism and the use of basic geometric forms. He subscribes to the belief that simple, but strong, design is the best way to remain timeless. As he so eloquently put it, “If you do it right, it will last forever.” This form of stripped-down design has become increasingly popular over time and continues to be used in print, online, and packaging design today.

Vignelli has published a number of works in the past and currently hosts master design workshops, speeches, and interviews both domestically and abroad.  He and his wife continue to work and inspire others.

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5 Designs We Love: Movie Posters of the 70′s

In our latest edition of 5 Designs We Love, we take a look at 5 classic movie poster designs. When we decided to focus on movie posters as a subject, it immediately became apparent that there are far too many great poster designs throughout the history of motion pictures to ever narrow them down to a list of just five. So we thought we would share some of our favorites, and separate them into individual categories.  Here are our favorites from the 70′s era.

1. Jaws (1975)

Jaws one-sheet

From the subtle fish hook “J” in the title treatment to the not-so-subtle shark emerging from the depths focused on his unsuspecting prey atop the ocean surface, the poster for Jaws is “Iconic” to say the least.  While the proportions of the shark are almost cartoon like, the image feels completely realistic and believable through the masterful painting of artist Roger Kastel

2. Animal House (1978)

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The movie poster design for Animal House can really be summed up in one word… chaos!  And it fits the film perfectly. Not only does all the wildness and fun of Delta House depicted in Rick Meyerowitz’s illustration make you want to see the movie, but there are so many points of discovery from the film that it becomes one of those images that you have to look at a second time after watching it to understand them all.  Then you want to see it again.

3. Star Wars (1977)

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There are so many great poster designs for Star Wars, we could almost do a 5 Designs We Love just on Star Wars. However, we are choosing to focus on the original One Sheet by artist Tom Jung. The image portrays a much more glamourous and sexy depiction of Leia than we ever came to know in the movie and a muscle bound Luke we never knew either. The image effectively struck a cord in the imaginations of just about every child of the 70′s, immediately carrying them off to that “galaxy far, far away”. The most iconic element in the poster, also never seen in the film is the pose of Luke holding his light saber high above his head. This image of the design has become part of countless images, packages and logos ever since.

4. The Stepford Wives (1975)

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Not one you normally find on people’s all time favorite poster lists, but the poster image for the film The Stepford Wives is downright disturbing – and that’s what makes it a great poster. The movie about a group of submissive suburban housewives obsessed with housework is represented perfectly by a single image of a broken, emotionless woman. Long before the days of photoshop, the photographic image of a shattered woman made of fragile ceramic is very effectively executed.

5. Alien (1979)

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Another great example that sometimes less is more when it comes to creating a great movie poster design. From it’s simple title treatment to the quiet anticipation of what horror is about to emerge from the disturbing egg centered in the black of space, the poster does not say much but speaks volumes. Maybe most frightening of all is the tag line “In space no one can hear you scream”.

 

The “New” Factor

We’ve been doing our research. We’ve found that more and more brands are calling attention to their new look or variety by using the word “new” in various ways in their retail packaging design – in a bar, across a box, in a circle, you name it. Sure, it seems like the oldest trick in the book, but what we are finding is that some brands are creating their entire design around this word that they deem so important, or even going a step further and telling consumers what’s new about it on the design. So, the next time you are at the grocery store, see if you’re more likely to buy a product because it has the world “new “on it. But before you do that, take a look below at the different ways and places you’ll see this word used on a product design.

 

 

Some brands, like Pepperidge Farm and Fiber One are using what are called “basic interrupters” in their retail packaging design.  This means that the word “new” is not affecting the whole layout and design on a product, but is just a small call-out on the front.

 

Here are more examples of basic interrupters:

Here are examples of design altering call-outs. As you can see, the word “new” takes up the entire top portion of the boxes below, and utilize a completely different color than the rest of designed box.

Often times, when brands are creating a line extension or a new variety, they also want this called out by using the word “new.” Fiber One did this on the box design when they created their Nutty Clusters & Almonds variety.

 

Still, many brands want consumers to know exactly what is new or different about their product, so they make sure to explicitly state it on the design of the bag, box or package.

Quaker wanted consumers to know that even though the look of their bag changed, it’s still the same great taste of the mini rice cakes.

 

 

Schar however wanted consumers to know that they in fact did make the actual product better – it’s a new recipe this time that they are using to create softer rolls. And Ensure uses two tactics. Peach is a new variety, but they still want to reiterate to consumers that the Ensure brand in general is a good source of protein.

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New Look Throwback

Even though we have never heard of Lyons Cakes, their newly designed packaging caught our eye.

In reading more about the company in when they were founded and what they were about, the re-design will serve the company well. Take a look at the old packaging compared to the new:

The new retro packaging design explores and celebrates the brand’s rich heritage. The new look rewinds back to its famous history of teashops and its waitresses from the 1890s. (see photo below)

With a long-standing tradition for ‘proper’ cakes, the brand was renowned for its nippy waitresses serving up affordable tea and cake to the masses. Having lost its way over the years, the redesign focused on communicating the brand’s story in a relevant and contemporary manner.

“The new design gave us a chance to transform Lyon’s, rediscovering the wonderful heritage that made the brand famous in the early 1900s. We decided to hero the nippy waitresses at the heart of the teashops to deliver personality & heritage, balanced with a vibrant colour palette to create a sense of modernity for the brand.” Laurence Hunnex, Senior Designer, jkr. (source)

Lyons Cakes Origins

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