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Dieter Rams Ten Principles for good design. ‘Is my design good design?’

Following a series of recent projects we found ourselves in a situation that I’m sure many designers have come across in the past. We found ourselves asking “what makes design, good design?”. It is too easy to get self involved within a piece of work and loose sight of the end goal or the principle message it is trying to convey. It would seem however, that many designers have come up against this question themselves in the past.

Dieter Rams, a German born industrial designer, became increasingly concerned by the state of the world around him, and in the early 1980’s asked himself the question we all ask ourselves: Is my design good design?

A difficult question to answer as good design cannot be measured in a predetermined way, Rams decided to put together what he considered to be the ten most important principles for good design. Reading through these, we still feel they are relevant 30 years on. They are as follows:


Good design is innovation

The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.


Good design makes a product useful
A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasises the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.


Good design is aesthetic
The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products we use every day affect our person and our well-being. But only well-executed objects can be beautiful.


Good design makes a product understandable
It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it is self-explanatory.


Good design is unobtrusive
Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.


Good design is honest
It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.


Good design is long-lasting
It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years even in today’s throwaway society.


Good design is thorough, down to the last detail
Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.


Good design is environmentally-friendly
Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.


Good design is as little design as possible
Less, but better because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

2011 top apps

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Top App releases of 2011, carefully selected by the Fiasco teamWe’ve seen a lot of changes this year at Fiasco. After moving studio and expanding our team, our focus now turns to 2012 and beyond. As we look to turn our skills to App development in the new year, here’s our roundup of the most exciting paid-for and free apps released this year for the […]

Ai for web design

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Bucking the trend: Adobe illustrator for web designThe newest member of the Fiasco team, junior designer and all round nice guy Tom, discusses his experience in working with Adobe Illustrator to create initial web visuals and the advantages and disadvantages of using the vector based program over the more traditional, pixel-pushing practice of Photoshop. “I was surprised to find that Fiasco Design […]

Short Cut Road

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Helpful Ai shortcuts that every designer should have up their sleeveWe all know how precious our time is as designers and anything that can help speed up productivity is a bonus. With this in mind, shortcuts on programs such as Adobe Illustrator are invaluable in speeding up your work rate and as a result bringing in more jobs and bolstering your portfolio. Luckily for us, […]

Winter Listening

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What’s on your winter playlist? Our top five recommendations are…As winter brings us dark studio nights and seasonal deadlines, you might find yourself searching for some music to help you through those long studio hours. When there is no room at the Spotify inn, there are still a few places of solace brought to you by the kind inn-keepers of the internet. Carefully selected […]

Inspiring design blogs

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A selection of our favourite blogs that continue to inspire us dailyWith a wealth of design news and inspiration available these days on the world wide web, we have decided to pick out some of our favourite online places to keep up-to-date with the design world and stay inspired. Banquet At times political and always intriguing Banquet is the blog of experimental type and graphic designer […]

Coca Cola task bottles

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Fiasco pitch for Coca Cola Vietnam. An insight into our processMore and more recently we have been approached by agencies and individuals to pitch for design work. We’re generally only to happy to oblige but never more so than when we were approached by Vietnam based design agency Rice Creative, who were looking to commission some illustrations for a Coca Cola project they were working […]

Art of Flight film

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Fiasco were invited by Red Bull to attend the Art of Flight premiere“It’s not the destination, it’s the adventure along the way” On Tuesday, we were very kindly invited to attend the premiere of Art of Flight, a new snowboard documentary from the Red Bull Media House. The good folks at Red Bull contacted us and asked if we would like to attend the screening at the […]

Hemmingway at the BFI Southbank talk

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onedotzero at the BFI Southbank with the industrious Wayne HemmingwayLast thursday Fiasco Designs’ Tom Morris visited the BFI Southbank as part of presentations for onedotzero’s graduate training program cascade. After presentations, we were treated to a keynote speech by the industrious Wayne Hemmingway followed by a debate chaired by Lynda Relph-Knight and including James Hilton of AKQA, Will Hudson of It’sNiceThat, Olwen Moseleyresponsible for […]

Christmas Gifts 2011

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Have yourself a pretty little Christmas, 4 promotional gemsMany designers and studios will face a time where promoting themselves becomes a vital part of work. As Fiasco Design look to do the same and with the ringing of sleigh bells in the distance we’ve collated four of our favourite promotional gems for a more visually discerning Christmas celebrant to enjoy. Hark! Songs for […]

Airside Studio

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An Ode to Airside. 14 years of success within the creative industry.It was with great sadness that we awoke to the news that London-based creative design agency Airside will be closing it’s doors after 14 years of success. From March 2012, Airside London will be no more as the team depart to pursue their own personal ambitions. Co-founded by partners Alex Maclean, Nat Hunter and Fred […]

WEDF Evening of Typography

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WEDF’s Evening of Typography at the prestigious ArnolfiniLast night Fiasco attended An Evening of Typography put on by the West of England Design forum at the Arnolfini. We heard in-depth talks from type designers David Quay and Jeremy Tankard. First up, Jeremy took us through his 5 year design process of Trilogy. From initial inspiration and research to his sketchbooks and even […]

Studio AKA screenshot

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Studio AKA at Encounters Film Festival. Philip Hunt talks“The process always starts with pencils and pens” Yesterday Fiasco joined a talk by Philip Hunt Director and Creative Director of the prestigious animation studio Studio AKA as part of Bristol’s annual Encounters Film festival. Famous for their always characterful animations in varied styles and contexts, for the likes of BUPA and LLoyds TSB and […]


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Tom Fiasco x onedotzero’s week-long graduate training program CascadeIn October of this year, Tom, the newest member of the Fiasco team was selected from over 200 applicants to take part in onedotzero’s week-long graduate training program Cascade. Here are a few words from Tom on his experience: “I was selected to be part of onedotzero’s training program Cascade. The award-winning program focussed on […]

Nightmare High

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Channel 4 Education officially launch Nightmare HighFlesh eating teachers, brain scanning machines, evil sky rockets and the most mighty packed lunchbox in the history of the universe all feature in Nightmare High, a new game from Channel 4 which Somethin’ Else and our brilliant collaborators at Player Three and Fiasco Design have been lovingly crafting throughout 2011. The game is designed […]