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How to define design in 2022

What is good design? To help us define this, we can use a set of principles that date back almost 60 years. In the 1960s Dieter Rams, an industrial designer for Braun, introduced 10 iconic principles that were his framework to identify good design. The list included such principles as that good design is innovative, makes a product useful, is aesthetic, makes a product understandable and so forth. 

However, some may argue that we are in the midst of a cultural revolution. Emerging technology is evolving daily, ethics are a growing concern and design is overwhelmingly homogenous. We are also in a race between AI and humanity for control, and we still don’t know who will win, humans or robots. These are the cultural nuances that demand designers and creatives to evolve and rethink the principles of design.

Using modern terms and trends, let us rethink Rams design principles.

Authenticity
Design lets us be free to express ourselves as the humans that we are, which is imperfect. As more and more brands enable culture to show up authentically, the more we’ll feel safe to be ourselves. That is a good design.

Respectful use of design data
As a standard, companies mine, collect and store data about individuals, and culturally we accept this as true. Good design limits technology’s ability to operate autonomously. It puts users in control. They can modify, opt in and have complete control over how the technology handles their personal information.

The glamour of individuality
Design today becomes an instant extension of who we are as individuals (thanks social media). Individuals who express themselves in unique ways. Today, brands slap their logos on everything, so we all become ambassadors for their brands. Originality has gone by the way of quantifiable results before something even reaches the public. Good design is shepherded by brands that seek to enable culture to express itself uniquely and will ultimately stand out in the sea of sameness.

Good design is inclusive
Inclusivity and accessibility are truly the most important aspects of culture and humanity today. Good design can and should respect everyone.

Problem solving
We often see brands prioritise their needs over the needs of their users, without even knowing who their users are. To be relevant you have to be in the moment, you have to understand what culture and your users care about, and you have to understand how you can authentically participate and create something for them.

Mental health and mindfulness is considered
Today, we are a society of constant distractions. Good design allows us to find our flow state, and allows us to reconnect to the curiosity of the person sitting, standing, working or living next to you.

Cultural fluidity is a fact and in a constantly changing, moulding our relationship with design, readaptation and reunderstanding is crucial. Progress happens little by little, step by step, and my hope is that creatives can embrace culture’s newest mindsets with an evolved definition of what good design is.

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