History of Design and Craftsmanship

Dieter Rams Good Design is as little desgin as possible and the Simplicity in Bespoke Furniture

Dieter Rams Good Design is as little desgin as possible and the Simplicity in Bespoke Furniture

In the world of furniture design, where complexity often reigns supreme, the principles of minimalism and functionality continue to stand the test of time. Dieter Rams, a  German industrial designer, famously said, “Good design is as little design as possible.” This principle resonates deeply with bespoke furniture makers who work with solid wood, as it encapsulates the essence of crafting furniture that combines functionality, elegance, and the material’s inherent beauty. In this article, we’ll delve into how the principles of “as little design as possible” are embraced by bespoke furniture makers, focusing on the art of joinery as a testament to both form and function.

The Essence of “Good Design is as Little Design as Possible”

Dieter Rams’ design philosophy encourages the creation of objects that are stripped down to their essential elements, eliminating any unnecessary embellishments or complexities. This principle resonates profoundly with furniture makers who choose to work with solid wood, as it aligns with the innate qualities of the material. Solid wood is inherently beautiful, showcasing its unique grain patterns, textures, and colors. By adhering to the “as little design as possible” principle, furniture makers can let the wood’s natural characteristics take center stage, resulting in pieces that exude a timeless and organic aesthetic.

The Craft of Joinery: Form and Function Unite

The art of joinery is at the heart of bespoke solid wood furniture, creating durable and visually appealing structures. This craftsmanship plays a pivotal role in realizing Rams’ design principle, as it enables furniture makers to create functional and aesthetically pleasing pieces without relying on excessive ornamentation.

  1. Dovetail Joints: Dovetail joints are a hallmark of quality craftsmanship in woodworking. By interlocking pieces of wood with intricate interlocking cuts, furniture makers achieve a strong and durable connection. Dovetail joints serve a structural purpose and add a touch of elegance to the overall design. In adhering to Rams’ principle, these joints contribute to the harmony of the piece without overwhelming it.
  2. Mortise and Tenon Joints: This classic joint involves a projecting tenon on one piece of wood fitting into a corresponding mortise on another. This connection method creates a strong bond, ensuring the stability and longevity of the furniture piece. It remains discreet, aligning perfectly with the “as little design as possible” philosophy.
  3. Lap Joints: Lap joints involve overlapping two pieces of wood and securing them together. This joint can be particularly charming when used in the right context, highlighting the synergy between form and function. By focusing on the essentials, furniture makers ensure that the lap joint contributes to the overall aesthetic without overshadowing it.

Embracing Dieter Rams’ design principle, “Good design is as little design as possible,” bespoke furniture makers who work with solid wood align their craftsmanship with a philosophy that prioritizes elegance, functionality, and the material’s inherent beauty. The meticulous art of joinery is a testament to this ethos, demonstrating how form and function coexist harmoniously without resorting to excessive embellishments. Through dovetail joints, mortise and tenon joints, and lap joints, furniture makers create pieces that are not only visually captivating but also durable and functional.

In a world where excess and complexity can often overshadow the true essence of design, these artisans continue to craft furniture that honors the simplicity of Rams’ philosophy while celebrating the intrinsic allure of solid wood. As each joint seamlessly merges two pieces of wood, so does the “as little design as possible” principle seamlessly unites aesthetics and practicality, resulting in bespoke furniture pieces destined to become cherished heirlooms for generations to come.


I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.

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