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Dieter Rams Ten Rules for Design

Dieter Rams 10 Design Commandments

Less and More, The Design Ethos of Dieter Rams just opened at SFMOMA. We attended the show and met Rams who at 80 appears as elegant and timeless as much of his design. The exhibition elevates the stature of one of the great industrial designers of the modern era.  Rams’ importance compares to Achille Castiglioni of Italy or to Charles and Ray Eames of the US.  In the US Rams often flies under the radar, except in connection to a range of Braun kitchen products and a calculator that set the standard for elegant modern design in the 70’s. But hard-core designers have always revered Rams’ body of work, which includes seminal electronics, radio, audio visual, and related industrial design.

Braun ET88 pocket calculator
Compare Rams’ Braun 1958 T3 Pocket Transistor Radio and Apple’s first Ipod and you’ll sense his influence. Or compare Rams’ Braun ET88 pocket calculator to the Apple iphone. Jonathan Ive at Apple may be Rams’ most well known design disciple.

Rams’ design philosophy serves as a great benchmark for PUBLIC bikes. We’ve listed his ten commandments below with some footnotes. We’ve added one more commandment – good design should put a smile on your face.

Dieter Ram's Influence on PUBLIC Bikes

Dieter Rams 10 Design Commandments

1)   Good design is innovative.
Our bikes are not radical pieces of innovation. But we’ve taken the classic bike and made it an integrated system and visual statement including fenders, racks, and baskets.

2) Good design makes a product useful.
What is more useful than a practical everyday bike?

3) Good design is aesthetic.
Good form, color, feel, and simplicity are part of the PUBLIC DNA.

4) Good design makes a product understandable.
Nothing is hidden with our bikes – they are easy to use and understand.

5) Good design is honest.
No tricks or false appearances with our products.

6) Good design is unobtrusive.
We use light steel-frames for the demands of city riding.

7) Good design is long lasting.
We use high quality steel frames and forks and spec components that will endure as long as the aesthetics.

8) Good design is thorough down to the last detail.
We pay close attention to all the components and details.

9) Good design is environmentally friendly.
City bikes help reduce carbon emissions, reduce the number of cars off the streets, and make our communities safer for everyone.

10) Good design is as little design as possible.
There is nothing superfluous or non-essential in the design of our bikes.

We’ll add one for Dieter.

11) Good design should put a smile on your face.
A little color and play can help to bring more people to design and put a smile on many faces.


6 Responses to “Dieter Rams Ten Rules for Design”

  1. Duncan Says:

    Wow! Oh man.

    You had a chance to meet Dieter Rams??? I’m simultaneously *delighted* to read this, but also really bummed!

    What was he like? What did you discuss?

    If I had known the date and time, I would have driven up there to get a chance to meet him.

    I have always admired Dieter Rams. He’s one of my heroes actually and I’ve scoured the internet looking for any interviews of him which affords the opportunity to understand how he envisions the world at large.

    He is truly one of a kind, and I’d say one of my top five influences for sure.

    I’ve read his commandments many, many times, I almost wish it was a part of school curriculum like the letters of the alphabet, particularly in design school or urban planning. Think of what our world would be like to use and look at as well!

  2. Pat Says:

    Nice bikes. Has anyone ridden them in the rain? With that front fender it looks like you’ll be wet below the knees.

  3. Ron Russell Says:

    In my eyes, the gaudy stripes on the fenders of the latest Public bikes directly violate rule #10 in that they are completely unecessary, and unlike the products to which you are comparing the bicycles.

  4. Alex Says:

    there’s a faecbook fanpage that keeps me updated. http://www.facebook.com/Dieter.Rams

  5. Duncan Says:

    Thanks Alex! I never knew about that.

    I was just thinking how foolish Braun was to reorganize & gut the place, showing the best designers such as DR the door.

    Braun without DR is just a shaver/toothbrush company.

    I think if Dieter Rams had a PUBLIC bike it would be a D3 or D1, in Cream, classic, simple, direct, uncomplicated, modern, just enough gears to tackle a neighborhood German slope or two &gets the job done effectively, with the comfort of steel.

  6. Michael McGettigan Says:

    Actually, I believe Dieter would ride a Brompton M3L.

    –Michael McGettigan, Philadelphia

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