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.
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 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.