So, I am investigating ‘what makes good design’ – here’s what I came across in my research:
German designer Dieter Ram actually put together, what he considered, to be the ten most important principles of design. Lets have a look…
So that’s his view. He makes some good points, which I thought I would apply to my pizza leaflets and panic alarm:
If I go by Rams principles the panic alarm actually comes better than I thought it would/should. It pleases his principles of clarification, honesty and focus on the essentials. The big red button is what you press for help – it talks, it’s honest and it’s definitely not fashionable.
It does however fail on being a piece of thoroughly considered design because it is very obtrusive – it sticks out like a sore thumb. Some might argue that’s what you want from a panic alarm, indeed it is. This however is a personal, panic alarm. I would argue that it should be personal to the person wearing it. Would everyone be comfortable with it being so unconcealed? I know that that was an issue for my mum’s aunt – it gave her impedance but at the expense of a little bit of her dignity. She use to be very, very self-sufficient, very strong. Then she was asked to wear a giant plastic button round her neck, which signalled ‘I can’t really take care of myself anymore’.
My solution would be to look into the design of it. Strip it down to the basic chips and gadgetry. Work with jewellery designers and incorporate it into a watch or a pendant. Before I even get too caught up in my quick-fire solution I come across two problems already. One, it then interferes with Ram’s principle of ‘as little as possible’. Two, if someone found her would they know to press her watch to get help?
How important is it however that someone else should know to press it, I am inclined to say not very. They would just phone 999, the idea of the alarm is that if my aunt can’t reach the phone she can press it.
How important then are Ram’s principles? They champion minimalist design, which can compromise style. It’s a case of discernment because his points are not (and never could be) specific enough to cover everything.