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23-04-2005
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I think there are two main schools of thought on the form vs. function argument. A lot of designers at the moment choose aesthetics over function, sometimes to the extent that the product is almost unusable, like the Hot Berta kettle. They tend to embrace either extremely minimal, or slightly eccentric designs, sometimes with period/retro influences. They generally come from more art-based training and backgrounds and create very high-end products, sometimes without a great deal of thought about the need for them.

Then there is also a function driven type of designer, with more engineering based backgrounds, such as James Dyson. They try to produce items that solve problems, rather than simply look better than, or different to existing products.

I'm currently looking at university courses for industrial and product design, and, at least in Britain, there are 3 distinct routes that you can take. The first is engineering at a traditional university, maybe followed by postgraduate research into more industrial design based projects. The second is taking a product design course at an art college, with more emphasis on art and aesthetics.

The final choice is an industrial/product design at a traditional university. There are design and technology departments rapidly emerging at many UK universities, with courses that blend the two elements, as well as much more focus on design as a social science.

The third choice comes along with a new focus on training specifically for industrial design, where previously it was artists and architects. It places more emphasis on a product, with a need, designed to solve a problem. The problem needs to be solved, sustainably, and the designer needs to know about both engineering and aesthetics in order to be able design an item that is aesthetically appealling, but also to be able to design a product that will work, will survive daily use, will meet required standards, and can be produced using a suitable method. I see this as the way that designers, in the next few generations will be adopting more and more, out of necessity.

The designer has to be able to consider every part of the product, how it fits together, how each park works, and how each part is made, so that they can explain it to the engineer responsible for making it. They also need to consider the impacts of the product. The materials that go into it, do they come from a renewable source? Are they recyclable? The energy that goes into it. Is production energy efficient? Does the product use energy efficiently? There is the entire product lifecycle to analyse: Can it be repaired or reconditioned? Can it be recycled, and how easily?

Factors like function, production, sustainability and design for disassembly mean that modern, responsible designers have to know how a product will be made, and what it will be made of, in order to design it properly. Pure aesthetics cannot be enough for good design.

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23-04-2005
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I agree with the very last statement. However, pure engineering is not design, so why is it considered such?

The two should be combined, but I believe if you're going to be a designer, you might as well focus on aesthetics.

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23-04-2005
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Engineering involves design. An engineer will design a bridge, because he knows what can be done, and what will work. However, pure engineering is not design, but it helps design. It is a route that some people do take into design, along with additional training. In many fields of design it can give huge advantages, much more knowledge of mechanics and the properties and abilities of materials and constructions.

You can focus on aesthetics, but if you look only at aesthetics you'll never design anything truely great, a combination of both produce the very best products, those that become cult items.

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23-04-2005
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Then we both agree

I believe though, that a true industrial designer, must be an aesthete (as I said before). The designer should compromise, though. As you said, a balance.

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24-04-2005
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paullw, very good posts. i agree that sustainable design is inevitable--parts of europe are definately ahead of the us in terms of environmental policies. eventually, (i'm not sure how near future) it will become widespread thereby forcing designers, and design curriculums to change. my alma mater was one of the more strict followers of the bauhaus program, and in retrospect, i realize just how archaic it was. instead of filing steel blocks for hours on end, an ethics course and a manufactoring techniques course that focused on global issues would have been much more useful. in the end, necessity drives industrial design. i once had a teacher who asked us how someone in a third world country would go about constructing a chair if he only had practical materials, and he used the example of a large amount of rope. my teacher's answer was he'd probably do it in the most logical, most unelegant way possible out of necessity. but that, in the end, is better design than most grad student work because in that context it simply, directly solves a problem and is also aesthetically pleasing if you apply the principle form meets function.

anyways, you guys have to read design for the real world: human ecology and social change by victor papanek. it is incredibly informative, and surprisingly not as dry as one would assume, and it's only $16.50 at amazon. go buy it!

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24-04-2005
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forgot to welcome nemesis, and thank him for his thought provoking posts

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25-04-2005
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ok, i feel like i should post a bit from this book...

the following refers to a list of inhibitors that keep us from solving tasks in new and innovative ways. i singled out cultural blocks which are imposed on an individual by his surroundings.

Quote:
...And in each society a number of taboos endanger independent thinking. the classic eskimo nine-dot problem, which can befuddle the average westerner for hours, is solved by eskimos within minutes, since eskimo space concepts are quite different from ours. professor edward carpenter explains how the men of the aklavik tribe in alaska will draw reliable maps of small islands by waiting for night to close in and then drawing the amp by listening to the waves lapping at the island in the dark. in other words, the islands shape is discerned by a sort of aural radar. we are sometimes confused by eskimo art, for we have lost the eskimo's ability to look at a drawing from all sides simultaneously. while living with an eskimo tribe some years ago, i received magazines through the post. i found that my eskimo friends would form a circle around me, while i looked at pictures or read. neither in igloo nor hut was there any jostling for positions. my friends could red (or view pictures) as easily and quickly upside-down or sideways as if "correctly" positioned by noneskimo standards. i noticed that those eskimos living in cabins would frequently hang pictures upside down or sideways. nonlinear, aural space perception imposes fewer vertical and horizontal limitations of the eskimos' world view.
now if that doesn't start to get you thinking about how beneficial it is to look outside oneself to make relevent design-i don't know what will

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25-04-2005
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Good design needs of stand the test of time. Good design never goes out of style, good design doesn't need an explanation either. Craftsmanship and durability are as important as the design itself as well. A very good point was brought up about things that need to break down easily, who wants a desk that doesn't fit in their doorway?

Anyway, industrial design is rather soul-less at most times. The first part of the word is industry and that conjures up images of mass production. Mass production makes me think about the first ergonomically designed, mass produced thing: the rifle with interchangable parts.

I'm still torn at what I can define industrial design as. Is the chair at Ikea industrial design, or is it the electrical conduit pipe my friends bend by hand to decorate their garages because they're bored?

Is it my car? Or the custom made exhaust system? The chicken, or the egg?

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25-04-2005
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March 11, 2005

New School

Call me old school,..but every now and then I get this feeling that I need some one to poke me in the eye….please……

Usually if I have to read another article by a journalist who in a fit of cathartic euphoria, discovers that great design can be had by regular folks…...ok now wait for it,………..without having to pay a lot of money!

Like some modern day version of Prometheus*, designers are forced over and over again to nod politely, suffer the witty observations and acknowledge anew the eventual epiphany that some companies, by using the skills of industrial designers, can create really good pproducts.....

We see this article quite a lot every time design goes new school…

Here's another one,…..someone please poke me in the eye the next time the profession as a whole appears to discover that strategy, research and defining the problem are the new direction for the growth and salvation of design. If Charles Eames was here today and you said to him, or to Ray Eames, or to George Nelson or to Jay Doblin ……"you know the design profession really needs to focus on the strategic front end of design before executing solutions"…..I'm fairly certain the response would be a raised eyebrow and a bemused stare.

Design goes New School, vs Old school thinking:

Which is better?……either can be a compliment or a condemnation….man, that is so old school …. or check out that vintage Land Rover,,,that is so old school,,,,,means exactly the opposite thing.

New school - metallics.
Old school - metal

The process of design doesn't really change at its core but the tools and the methods are definitely updating…faster than predicted. So I started thinking about what it means to think new and old school……
Old school: immense pride in the ability to manufacture, most predominant in the post-World War II era when we were obviously shifting industrial manufacturing resources into product designs. Economy was great, people were driving cars with tail fins that looked like rocket ships, and drinking martinis at lunch was perfectly common. It was really a remarkable period of exuberance and that carried into the 60's as well.

True old school story - A classic about the Raymond Loewy office in New York. In a reflection by the writer Ogden Nash, the story goes that about midday one Friday the man in charge of the drinking water coolers in the Loewy office removed the water bottles, empty or not, and replaced them with gallon containers of martini, which was then available in Loewy's preferred mixture and chilled as necessary on tap all afternoon. Now it goes on to say that there's some question about the story being true because they couldn't figure out whether he was mixing his gin 6 to 1 or 10 to 1……,

New school - Ikea,Sony,Target, okay, they're making great inroads in championing design, and we have a lot more choices. If you don't like what Wal-Mart has, there's a Target on the corner next to it. But if you don't like what they have, you can go to or go on-line and buy from Ikea or the Sony store. Here's the difference, you walk through a Target and you still have to look for what's really well designed. You walk through an Ikea or a Sony store and you have to look for something that isn't …

New school- the I-pod
Old school - the I-Mac

New school - product lust, saved a corporation.
New school - "meeting the design police," a pejorative term for regulating the use of all sorts of dimples and waves .

Old school - modernism
New school - modern

New school - any publicity is good.
Old school - publicity is a double edge sword.
True old school story - By an associate of Raymond Lowey's regarding a visit in 1960 by Mr. Loewy to the ivory towers of International Nickel to discuss a design program with them. …"The potential fee was in the area of a quarter of a million dollars, which in 1960 was a considerable amount of money. Once we were seated Mr. Lacue (President of International Nickel) said, ‘before you begin we would like to show you this,’ and reaching into his desk drawer he took out a shirt cardboard to which was taped a newspaper clipping showing a car that Raymond Loewy had modified. The article had a printed comment that Loewy had eliminated many pounds of vulgar chrome from the design. I was stunned. I have no idea what Loewy said, but I can clearly recall the other voice saying ‘if that's your attitude regarding chrome how can you do a credible service to our company.’ We didn't leave with a contract, we left with our tails between our legs and we just left them hanging there."

New school story - Ring. "Hello Mr. Dziersk? I work for Candice Bergen's office in Hollywood and Joanie Mitchell just cancelled and she wondered if you could come out here tomorrow and talk to her about design." So I thought it was one of Elizabeth's (my wife) friends, you know, and I said sure, when would you like me there? They said, "can you be here at 10:00?" I said okay, how am I going to get there? They said "we'll have first class tickets waiting for you at O'Hare in the United terminal at 6:00, can you be there?" I said, fine, yeah.

Ten o’clock the next morning I'm in Hollywood sitting across from Murphy Brown and she says to me, the very first question out of the gate, "Mark, the Americans have always been known for having incredibly bad taste, the English call us necessary, but not vital, what's all this new interest in beautiful things?"

New school - promoting the profession
Old school - Streamlining or clean lining.

New school - Streamlining or clean lining
New old school - when industries are competing at equal price and functionality, design is the only differential that matters.

New school - incredibly tough competition
Old school - incredibly tough competition

New school - maybe it was the culture, maybe it was the space movement, maybe the war in Vietnam, but for design the 70's and 80's were very, very quiet decades with no real heroes.
New school - At a lecture at a business school in Chicago the other day, I asked these non-design educated people to do something for me before the talk, I said write down the three most famous industrial designers in the world today and they wrote down,..Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Henry Ford.

Old school - In the 50's or 60's if you said "who was the best industrial designer in this country?" People would tick off Loewy or Dreyfus or Teague like we now recognize George Clooney or Madonna
New school - function is out, form is in. This kind of demeaned the profession for quite a lot of people. On the other hand we had twenty pages in Time magazine, which encouraged a lot of people to become interested in design and what's happening now in this new modern movement.

New Old school -the new Golden Age of design.
New Old school - I've been an industrial designer for more than 20 years and my mother still doesn't know what I do. For a living…
Old New school -the orchestrated influence of negative space in a silhouette can make a form aggressive or passive.

New school - the camera, after you use it, you give it back to your photofinisher, they crack it open, they take the film out, develop it and give you the pictures. The camera goes back to the company, most of the internal parts are stamped and reused. All that plastic gets ground up, you add some virgin resin to the regrind and the next camera is molded from the previous one…… so that the camera's life is a closed cycle between the company and the consumer….
Old school - take credit for a design without acknowledging other participation.

New school - They catch you not acknowledging people who have worked on a design that wins an award, they take the award back
New school - Your shirt and slacks will very soon LAN connect
New school - A water glass in a restaurant will inform the wait staff that you need a refill.
Cool,….I guess in the end, I'm going with New School….
I have a lot of faith that "new school thinking" and this current generation of designers will create a new generation of design heroes…. The time is certainly right for a new school of important young designers to emerge in the field…..

Last story. In a class I teach at Northwestern University on the essentials of product design, I use an article from Fortune Magazine written and published in 1937 that introduces the newly minted and labeled profession of Industrial Design to the world. It's called Fish or Fowl? It's an article worth getting your hands on. I came to find out later that none other than a young George Nelson ghost wrote it. The same George Nelson who went on to become the famous Industrial Designer and design writer.

I ask the students to also read two recent magazine cover stories on Design and compare the content and tenor of the two…It is a striking contrast. The earlier article focuses entirely on the idea of design as a profession, such as Law or Medicine, that can change the face of businesses and introduce processes resulting in ROI -- the latter two, both an expose on cool stuff and cool people….. Now while some might think of Mr. Nelson as "old school." Here's what is interesting for me …when I read his article, I don't feel like I need anyone to poke me in the eye…..


*The character in Greek mythology who was chained to a rock and had his liver plucked out by an eagle only to have it grow back and repeat the process the next day and the next…over and over again as penance for angering Zeus

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25-04-2005
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air scooter--back to the future??




The AirScooter™ is a flying, helicopter-like personal vehicle that is planned to be made available for sale later this year. The price is estimated to be less than US$50,000.

Weighing less than 300 pounds and able to carry a load of an additional 350 pounds, the AirScooter runs on ordinary gasoline rather than expensive airplane fuel, and is able to travel about 2 hours at 55 m.p.h. on a 5-gallon tank, at heights up to 10,000 feet above sea level. Its ultralight weight means that no pilot license is required to fly one.

The light weight is made possible by the production of a new AeroTwin 4-stroke engine specifically for the AirScooter, designed by motorcycle racing engine specialists at Pearson Motor Co of New Zealand. Stability is provided by two rotors both set on a single shaft, which turn in opposite directions, eliminating the need for a tail rotor.

The craft is steered using only the hands on a motorcycle-like handlebar. Throttle up to gain altitude, turn left or right to rotate, and move the bars like a joystick to steer in different directions, including reverse.

Pictures and video of the new craft are available from the AirScooter.com website (http://www.airscooter.com/pages/airs...edia_files.htm).

HyperSonic Sound, or HSS®, has been called by MIT "the first big improvement in acoustics since the loudspeaker was invented 80 years ago". It represents a new way to focus audio in beams, rather like light is focused.

HSS works because sound of sufficiently high frequency above human hearing does not normally spread out like audible frequency waves. These waves can be projected onto specific individuals, causing them to hear a sound that appears to be emanating from themselves, while others around them hear nothing.

Potential benefits could include the reduction of noise pollution in public places. Announcements, instructions, and advertisements could be aimed at individuals, not disturbing their neighbors. People in the same room could all listen to different music without the use of headphones.

Crank up the volume, and HSS could also be useful to military or law enforcement agencies. HSS beams can be focused up to 500 yards away, transmitting warnings or temporarily stunning and disabling a person with non-lethal force.

http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Elwood_N..._for_invention

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25-04-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fourboltmain
Good design needs of stand the test of time. Good design never goes out of style, good design doesn't need an explanation either. Craftsmanship and durability are as important as the design itself as well. A very good point was brought up about things that need to break down easily, who wants a desk that doesn't fit in their doorway?

Anyway, industrial design is rather soul-less at most times. The first part of the word is industry and that conjures up images of mass production. Mass production makes me think about the first ergonomically designed, mass produced thing: the rifle with interchangable parts.

I'm still torn at what I can define industrial design as. Is the chair at Ikea industrial design, or is it the electrical conduit pipe my friends bend by hand to decorate their garages because they're bored?

Is it my car? Or the custom made exhaust system? The chicken, or the egg?
The chair at IKEA is industrial design, even though IKEA's designs aren't very original, most are copies of more expensive, higher quality versions. The pipes I wouldn't consider design simply because they didn't sit down in front of a drafting board or a computer and sketch out a plan, it is more of a handcraft. The car is industrial design, but only the visual part. The design of the exterior (the curves, the lights, the overall LOOK of the car - I would consider it an insult to industrial design in general if the bottom and hood of the car were considered design) and also the design of the interior - the seats, dashboard, etc.

That air scooter - do you think the "designer" gave a crap what it looked like? I don't..

Industrial design is not design if there are no aesthetics involved.

Thx for the article, travolta Very zen

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Last edited by Arturo21; 25-04-2005 at 04:58 PM.
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25-04-2005
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welcome. i don't think aesthetics are too important in the air scooters case...do you know how long i've been waiting for a hover board?? ok it isn't that, but the point is..aesthetically pleasing doesn't mean ultra slick minimal! if that was the case how boring would the world be! it certainly wouldn't be appropriate for every single product...if that was the case it would be sculpture.

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25-04-2005
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I never said ultra slick minimal...just..visually pleasing..

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25-04-2005
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Alas, my ride has arrived in the form of a superlight.

But Arturo21, the hood has everything to do with aerodynamics, as well as the bottom of the vehicle, some new cars have dimples on the bottom to reduce wind noise and reduce drag, letting the car hug the ground at higher speeds. And for the interior and engine to fit within the confines of a frame, the bottom of the car has a very intricate part in how the pieces work together and hold the vehicle in one piece.

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25-04-2005
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fourboltmain i really like the table you posted earlier


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