For the next 10 days there will be a bonus article discussing each of Dieter Ram’s 10 commandments of design!

Today’s discussion is on “Good design is innovative”.

Firstly I think we should define innovation since in most peoples’ views it is the incorporation of the latest technology into a product. This is a common misconception though! Innovation is subjective. This means that it can include older technology or methods used in a manner not seen before in the target market.

An example of this is with my own project for Calon, a Welsh engineering group concerned with products to do with the Heart. They required a processor, battery and user interface designed to go with their latest project. In this case there were various forms of innovation involved. One was the inclusion of emerging technology in the form of a Lithium Air battery. This is the common view of innovation. However also included was all the processing and user interfaces being delivered via Smart Phone apps. Whilst smart phones have existed for a while, their usage in the controlling of medical equipment is considered innovative since it isn’t commonly seen.

When Rams was writing his theses on innovation he referred it to not copying any existing form, or anything for novelties sake. Whilst new technologies allow older ideas to be reproduced in new innovative ways.

If we look at examples of the first point in which forms are not copied, then a clear example of this being neglected is with the recent wave of tablet computers.

As is clearly shown in the wake of the iPad’s success the forms of the other suppliers have effectively copied it. This shows bad innovation in that there is nothing new being put to market.

Innovation is a very difficult criteria to measure due to its subjective nature. However, most people when faced with a new product that is truly innovative will know it!

Feel free to share your thoughts on the subject below!