Dieter Rams, a German industrial engineer and designer introduced the notion in the 1970’s that obsolescence and sustainable development in product design was a crime. What Ram did then was to ask himself an important question, “is my design good design?” in which he then established ten principles for good design, also known as the ‘ten commandments’.Ram’s way of looking at product design and viewing it in terms of ‘less is more’ has certainly helped to influence the design of many products that we probably use every day without realising the consideration that has gone into their design.


When searching for principles of good design, Ram’s own principles are still widely discussed, therefore, let’s now take a look at what some of those principles are, and why they are still today considered essential in the construction of products.


Innovation in product design is key to capturing your market and making sure a product stands out for the right reasons. Technology especially offers many new and exciting opportunities to incorporate innovation into products, being a sector that is always developing and something we rely heavily upon in today’s society.

Another point to draw on when considering product innovation is that it won’t necessarily have an end. Innovative products will continue to grow and evolve in order to make it the best it can be. Cambridge Design Technology provide product design and technology development services to medical, scientific, technology and industrial companies and strive for innovativeness and creativeness in the products that they design, in order to ensure that the product meets the needs of the user in the best way possible.


Another one of Rams’ elements of a good product design is that it will be useful. A product may look appealing but if it cannot be used, it has ultimately failed in the purpose it was constructed to serve. If a product is designed to be useful, then this instantly increases our motivation to want to use it.

Innovation Insights blog published by Jeremy Finch looking at 3 keys to Enduring Product design also recognises that the purpose and our desire to use the product is an essential part of a good design. Finch says that products which have a solid use can gain value over time, particularly if positives associations and emotion have been made with using the product.


Before we pick up a product and determine its use, the first thing we will do when we see the product is to make a very quick judgement of what we think about it within a matter of seconds.

Therefore, what the product looks like is another essential principle to good product design, as even before we consider it in terms of its use, our initial thoughts on the aesthetics of the product have probably already influenced our opinion of the product.There are lots of things to consider when looking at the aesthetics of a product including the size, shape, colour, features of the product.


Another popular term often associated with Rams’ view of good product design is that it should be unobtrusive. The justification in this principle comes from the idea when a product has a function to serve, such products don’t have the need to be decorative.

In fact, it would appear that the simpler the product is, the better. One of the reasons for this is that if something is decorated with colour and frills, it is much easier to make an instant judgement about it. Yet a product that is perhaps more understated and neutral in design leaves it open to the person’s perception and imagination.

Thorough detailing

Any product that is designed well will ensure that every last detail has been considered in order to make it the best it can be.What can often make a product stand out is the fact the minor details have been dealt with to absolute perfection which can really help to boost the individuals’ perception of the design.

The minor details can often make the difference between a product which serves its purpose and one that improves the users experience of the product, therefore, a product that has been thoroughly constructed in terms of its detailing will instantly stand out from the rest because time has been invested in making the product the best it can be.

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