# Dieter Rams

“Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design.” — Dieter Rams

# 10 Principles of Good Design

Good Design

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

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

  3. is aesthetic – The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.

  4. makes a product understandable – It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user's intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.

  5. 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.

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. is environmentally friendly – Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.

  10. 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.

# Christopher Alexander

# The Timeless Way

A building or a town will only be alive to the extent that it is governed by the timeless way.

  1. It is a process which brings order out of nothing but ourselves; it cannot be attained, but it will happen of its own accord, if we will only let it in.


To seek the timeless way we must first know the quality without a name.

  1. There is a central quality which is the root criterion of life and spirit in man, a town, a building or a wilderness. This quality is objective and precise, but it cannot be named.
  2. The search which we make for this quality, in our own lives, is the central search of any person, and the crux of any individual person's story. It is the search for those moments and situations when we are most alive.
  3. In order to define this quality in buildings and in towns, we must begin by understanding that every place is given its character by certain patterns of events that keep on happening there.
  4. These patterns of events are always interlocked with certain geometric patterns in space. Indeed, as we shall see, each building and each town is ultimately made out of these patterns in the space, and out of nothing else: they are atoms and the molecules from which a building or a town is made.
  5. The specific patterns out of which a building or a town is made may be alive or dead. To the extent they are alive, they let our inner forces loose, and set us free; but when they are dead, they keep us locked in inner conflict.
  6. The more living patterns there are in a place - a room, a building, or a town - the more it comes to life as an entirety, the more it glows, the more it has that self-maintaining fire which is the quality without a name.
  7. And when a building has this fire, then it becomes part of nature. Like ocean waves, or blades of grass, its parts are governed by the endless play of repetition and variety created in the presence of the fact that all things pass. This is the quality itself.


To reach the quality without a name we must then build a living pattern language as a gate.

  1. This quality in buildings and in towns cannot be made, but only generated, indirectly, by the ordinary actions of the people, just as a flower cannot be made, but only generated from the seed.
  2. The people can shape buildings for themselves, and have done it for centuries, by using languages which I call pattern languages. A pattern language gives each person who uses it the power to create an infinite variety of new and unique buildings, just as his ordinary language gives him the power to create an infinite variety of sentences.
  3. These patterns languages are not confined to villages and farm society. All acts of building are governed by a pattern language of some sort, and the patterns in the world are there, entirely because they are created by the pattern languages which people use.
  4. And, beyond that, it is not just the shape of towns and buildings which comes from pattern languages - it is their quality as well. Even the life and beauty of the most awe-inspiring great religious buildings came from the languages their builder used.
  5. But in our time the languages have broken down. Since they are no longer shared, the processes which keep them deep have broken down; and it is therefore virtually impossible for anybody, in our time, to make a building live.
  6. To work our way towards a shared and living language once again, we must first learn how to discover patterns which are deep, and capable of generating life.
  7. We may then gradually improve these patterns which we share, by testing them against experience: we can determine, very simply, whether these patterns make our surroundings live, or not, by recognizing how they make us feel.
  8. Once we have understood how to discover individual patterns which are alive, we may then make a language for ourselves for any building task we face. The structure of the language is create bythe network of connections among individual patterns: and the language lives, or not, as a totality, to the degree these patterns form a whole.
  9. Then finally, from separate languages for different building tasks, we can create a larger structure still, a structure of structures, evolving constantly, which is the common language of a town. This is the gate.


Once we have built the gate, we can pass through it to the practice of the timeless way.

  1. Now we shall begin to see in detail how the rich and complex order of a town can grow from thousands of creative acts. For once we have a common pattern language in our town, we shall all have the power to make our streets and buildings live, through our most ordinary acts. The language, like a sea, is the genetic system which gives our millions of small acts the power to form a whole.
  2. Within this process, every individual act of building is a process in which space gets differentiated. it is not a process of addition, in which preformed parts are combined to create a whole, but a process of unfolding, like the evolution of an embryo, in which the whole precedes the parts, and actually gives birth to them, by splitting.
  3. The process of unfolding goes step by step, one pattern at a time. Each step brings just one pattern to life; and the intensity of the result depends on the intensity of these individual steps.
  4. From a sequence of these individual patterns, whole buildings with the character of nature will form themselves within your thoughts, as easily as sentences.
  5. In the same way, groups of people can conceive their larger public buildings, on the ground, by following a common pattern language, almost as if they had a single mind.
  6. Once the buildings are conceived like this, they can be built, directly, from a few simple marks made in the ground - again within a common language, but directly, and without the use of drawings.
  7. Next, several acts of building, each one done to repair and magnify the product of the previous acts, will slowly generated a larger and more complex whole than any single act can generate.
  8. Finally, within the framework of a common language, millions of individual acts of building will together generate a town which is alive, and whole, and unpredictable, without control. This is a the slow emergence of the quality without a name, as if from nothing.
  9. And as the whole emerges, we shall see it take that ageless character which gives the timeless way its name. This character is a specific, morphological character, sharp and precise, which must come into being any time a building or a town becomes alive: it is the physical embodiment, in buildings, of the quality without a name.


And yet the timeless way is not complete, and will not fully generate the quality without a name, until we leave the gate behind.

  1. Indeed this ageless character has nothing, in the end, to do with languages. The language, and the processes which stem from it, merely release the fundamental order which is native to us. They do not teach us, they only remind us of what we know already, and of what we shall discover time and time again, when we give up our ideas and opinions, and do exactly what emerges from ourselves.