Less but better.
I made a goal in 2019 to read more design history, theory, and criticism. Tonight I read this book by Dieter Rams and it has definitely got me thinking about design, its purpose, and its role in the current and future state of the world. At a time when I feel like design seems to be centered around online echo-chambers and looking away from its roots and the condition of the world, I found Dieter Rams philosophy to be so incredibly refreshing and fulfilling. His call to action is something we all desperately need to hear.
Some favorite quotes include:
“Design for me is not about pandering to luxury buying incentives, but producing orientation- and behavioural-systems for a complex and complicated, yet simultaneously fascinating, open world. It’s about seriously considering how to make this world a place where we can offer a tomorrow worth living for everyone.”
“Good design is as little design as possible....it is the freedom from the dominance of ‘things’.....The contrary position is a design that strongly stimulates, that wants to draw attention to itself and arouse strong emotions. For me this is inhuman because it adds in its way to the chaos that confuses, numbs and lames us.”
“Design is in the first instance a thinking process.”
“Our living environment today is complex and polymorphic enough. I have always striven to counteract this chaos.”
“The lack of historic interest in many contemporary designers is, in my view, a weakness.”
“Far too much of what is man-made is ugly, inefficient, depressing chaos.”
“A reflection upon design that perceives and takes the realities of tomorrow seriously is sorely needed, yet hardly begun....in the future, the value of design must be judged by its contribution to overall survival.”
“In my experience, things that are different for difference’s sake are seldom better, but things that are better are almost always different.”
“It is difficult to improve morals. But it would be a tremendous achievement if we could improve thinking. Design is first and foremost a thinking process.”