Dieter Rams: Fifteen Questions

1. The first question is not if one should be designing something but how.

2. Is the product that we are designing really necessary? Are there not already other, similar, tried and tested appliances that people have got used to and are good and functional? Is innovation in this instance really necessary?

3. Will it really enrich people’s lives or does it just appeal to their covetousness, possessiveness, or ideas of status? Or does it wake desire because it is offering something new?

4. Is it conceived for the short- or long-term, does it just help increase the speed of the cycle of throwaway goods or does it help slow it down?

5. Can it be simply repaired or does it rely on an expensive customer service facility? Can it in fact be repaired at all or is the whole appliance rendered redundant when just one part of it breaks?

6. Does is exhibit fashionable and therefore aesthetically short-lived design elements?

7. Does it help people or incapacitate them? Does it make them more free or more dependent?

8. Is it so accomplished and perfect that it perhaps incapacitates or humiliates you?

9. Which previous human activity does it replace and can that really be called progress?

10. What possibilities for change, what scope does the product offer people?

11. Can the product be used in other, perhaps playful, ways?

12. Does the product really offer convenience or does it encourage passivity?

13. What does the expected improvement look like in a broader context?

14. Does it make an action or activity on the whole more complicated or simpler, is it easy to operate or do you have to learn how to use it?

15. Does it arouse curiosity and the imagination? Does it encourage desire to use it, understand it, and even change it?

From a talk given in 1980

First published in Dieter Rams: As Little Design as Possible 
Sophie Lovell
2011 | Phaidon | New York

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