Are you familiar with Dieter Rams? You probably should be.

It turns out this guy is the most relevant designer today. Yes, this guy. His name is Dieter Rams and he was the designer for the German consumer electronics company Braun in the 1960s.

Everyone talked about Mr. Rams back in 2008 when the iPhone came out. The phone’s designer, Jony Ive, was an unabashed fan of Braun’s products, and many sites even pointed out the similarity between Apple’s products and Braun’s.

Now that Jony Ive is in charge of Apple’s new software as well as its hardware, it’s fair that Dieter Rams will become important in ways we haven’t yet begun to understand. Mr. Rams believed that the best way to design was to take away anything unnecessary and make what is necessary as useful as possible. Here are his 10 principles for good design:

  • Good design is innovative.
  • Good design makes a product useful.
  • Good design is aesthetic.
  • Good design helps us to understand a product.
  • Good design is unobtrusive.
  • Good design is honest.
  • Good design is durable.
  • Good design is consequent to the last detail.
  • Good design is concerned with the environment.
  • Good design is as little design as possible.

If this isn’t up on the wall at every cell phone software design center, it should be. Certainly you can expect these rules to be followed with the upcoming iOS7, which is expected to ditch the myriad of textures and colors found in the current iPhone OS with something much more akin to the Windows 8 style, only much more useful.

Mr. Rams’ designs are beautiful in their simplicity, and they certainly don’t look like something from 50 years ago. Take a look at this tumblr. If these weren’t record players and transistor radios you’d swear they were products made this year.

This is exactly what Apple needs. It needs to take the current “minimalist” design practiced by Google and Microsoft and make it actually work, in ways that just make sense when you use the product.

Take a good look, friends, you might be looking at the future… again.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.