Steve Jobs and Dieter Rams: Cut from the same cloth


I put it to you that Steve Jobs was the Dieter Rams of the Internet Era.

Young Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs in his living room floor with the first "laptop" computer (1984) - Photo by Norman Seeff

“In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains of the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service. When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.” — Steve Jobs




Young Dieter Rams

Appointed head of Braun’s design department in 1962, Rams went on to create hundreds of iconic items that became instantly recognisable from his signature sleek yet rigorous style. "I think that design has a great responsibility for the future, and I’m always optimistic.”

“I have always observed that good design can normally only emerge if there is a strong relationship between an entrepreneur and the head of design. At Apple this situation exists – between Steve Jobs and Jony Ive…Apple has managed to achieve what I never achieved: using the power of their products to persuade people to queue to buy them. For me, I had to queue to receive food at the end of World War II. That’s quite a change.” — Dieter Rams

Dieter Rams’ Ten Principles of good design:

Good design is innovative.
Good design makes a product useful.
Good design is aesthetic.
Good design makes a product understandable.
Good design is unobtrusive.
Good design is honest.
Good design is long-lasting.
Good design is thorough down to the last detail.
Good design is environmentally friendly.
Good design is as little design as possible.


4 responses »

  1. Thanks for the mention, Karim! I have the utmost respect for your magazine and the projects that you champion. Your interest in design and humanity are noble, to say the least. I have a co-worker who was in the Peace Corps (Africa) and she has shared many moving stories of her work there.

    My interest in architecture and design is simple…the love of good design and how it contributes to the world by being both useful and beautiful. Even as a child I was fascinated with it, far beyond what a typical grade-school student should be.

    As the year pass, I am more and more convinced that the only way forward is through sustainability. We simply cannot keep making new things without taking their impact into consideration (whether it be impact on the environment, the community/culture or the industry itself).

    In the future (perhaps even the present), I see the ideals and sensibilities of the likes of Rams and Jobs coupled with the understanding and forethought of people like you and the others of Mezimbite to create a new era of design. No longer will design and sustainability be mutually exclusive — it will simply be the way things are.

    I see the future as more utopian than dystopian (with the former being forever immortalized in pop culture, I seem to be in the minority). This formidable combination of industry, ingenuity and integrity all comes from our understand of how we all connect in the puzzle of life: no one aspect is separate.

  2. Well Elissa, I don’t want to turn this into a Mutual Appreciation Society 🙂 but I so appreciated your comment on our magazine – and learned new things, such as the book by the author Dan Pink – whom I had never heard of and now feel I cannot do without…

    Forgive me, but I trimmed some your sentences just a touch in order to avoid “hanging words” – that is something I call merging the functional and the aesthetic – there are now nice clean sentences like the ones above in your comment here – but the meaning is not compromised.

    Please do consider contributing an article for us – I would love to see that on Mez Mag!

    We have some lovely articles coming up including one by installation artist Janet Echelman and one by Visting Fellow at Google, Jean-Baptiste Michel.

    And do please send me your personal email so we can be in touch.

    • Karim,

      You’re the editor, free reign is yours! I like to think that my grammar is up to snuff, but in the moment of getting it all out sometimes I fall short. 🙂

      I’m so glad to have turned you on to Dan Pink. I practically read “A Whole New Mind” in one sitting. It was very inspiring to me, coming from a very conventional background and working in an technology-driven town, I often feel that creativity is pushed aside for the sake of logic.

      I would be honored to contribute to Mez.I have seen both Janet Echelman’s and Jean-Baptiste Michel’s TED Talks. They are amazingly talented and smart (to say the least).

      I’ll get in touch with you off-line and we’ll move forward.

      Thanks again!

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