Dieter Rams is one of the most influential designers of the past century. Chances are you’ve used a product Rams designed. Maybe an electric shaver, a calculator, or a record player. If not, you can thank him indirectly. Apple’s longtime head of design, Jony Ive, cites him as a seminal influence.

Rams was Braun’s chief of design from 1961-1997, and his maxim was “Weniger, aber besser” (“Less, but Better”).

Here are his 10 principles for good design:

Good design:

  1. is innovative.
  2. makes a product useful.
  3. is aesthetic.
  4. makes a product understandable.
  5. is unobtrusive.
  6. is honest.
  7. is long-lasting.
  8. is thorough down to the last detail.
  9. is environmentally friendly.
  10. is as little design as possible.

Here is how those principles play out in practice:
Vitsoe bookshelf.

Vitsoe Bookshelf by Dieter Rams
Braun Tone-Arm Balance.

Tone Arm Balance by Dieter Rams
Braun Pocket Calculator.

Braun Calculator by Dieter Rams

But if you think about it very long, the principles are really principles for living well. With just slight modifications, they read:

The good life is:

  1. innovative.
  2. useful.
  3. aesthetic.
  4. understandable.
  5. unobtrusive.
  6. honest.
  7. long-lasting.
  8. thorough down to the last detail.
  9. environmentally friendly.
  10. uncluttered.

It makes sense when you start to look around. There’s a movement underway. People are living more fully more simply. Weniger is indeed besser.