Thoughts on one of Dieter Rams’s 10 Principles of Good Design. I believe this. Don’t you? You must, or you wouldn’t be reading this journal which, with its gray-on-gray scheme and boxy layout, resembles the aesthetic ideal to which Dieter Rams’ designs cleave. A functionalist might quibble with the lack of contrast. A minimalist might quibble with the bars. A modernist might wonder if the 1970s-style logotype wasn’t a little too much.
The first thing everyone tells you about the New Canaan, Connecticut, house Eliot Noyes built for his family is that you have to go outside—outside!—to get to the bathroom. In 1954 architect and industrial designer Noyes made the separation of public and private life complete—bedrooms and baths on one side of an open courtyard, kitchen-living-dining on the other. “We used to tell our friends there was a tunnel from one side to the other,” says Fred Noyes, third of the four children.
If I were to write a romantic comedy set in Silicon Valley today, the opening shot would be of a sunrise—backlit against some pastoral piece of California coast, a man and a woman hold coffee, not hands. As the camera moved closer, you would hear their conversation and realize that this was not a morning-after ramble, but merely the first in a series of walking work meetings. In lieu of Starbucks cups, the not-holding hands would be carrying smartphones. You can imagine the rest.