Page 1

QUARTERLY OF THE INDUSTRIAL DESIGNERS SOCIETY OF AMERICA

FORM Eva Zeisel

n

showcase

n

who we are

spring 2012


FUTURE

THE

IS...

IDSA 2012 INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE . BOSTON 8.15.12 . PEOPLE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS

The Future Is... BOSTON 8.15.12 Get ready for a conference that ignites:

IMAGINATION. EMOTION. SENSES. PASSION. INTELLECT. CREATIVITY.

The Future Is... about US.

–Austen Angell, 2012 Conference Chair

Find out more and register: http://www.idsa.org/idsa-2012-international-conference


QUARTERLY OF THE INDUSTRIAL DESIGNERS SOCIETY OF AMERICA

spring 2012 速

Publisher Roxann Henze IDSA 555 Grove Street, Suite 200 Herndon, VA 20170 P: 703.707.6000 x102 F: 703.787.8501 roxannh@idsa.org www.innovationjournal.org

Executive Editor Mark Dziersk, FIDSA Managing Director Lunar | Chicago mark@lunar.com Advisory Council Gregg Davis, IDSA Alistair Hamilton, IDSA

Managing Editor & Designer Karen Berube K.Designs 3511 Broadrun Dr. Fairfax, VA 22033 P: 703.860.4411 k.designs@cox.net Contributing Editor Jennifer Evans Yankopolus

Advertising Katie Fleger IDSA 555 Grove Street, Suite 200 Herndon, VA 20170 P: 703.707.6000 x104 F: 703.787.8501 katief@idsa.org advertising@idsa.org

The quarterly publication of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), Innovation provides in-depth coverage of design issues and long-term trends while communicating the value of design to business and society at large.

Annual Subscriptions Within the US $60 Canada & Mexico $75 International $110 Single Copies Fall/Yearbook All others

$35+ S&H $17+ S&H


form 16 Form Is Function by Tucker Viemeister, FIDSA Guest Editor

43 The Formlessness of Form and Contemplative Biology by Steven Skov Holt, IDSA

48 Communicating Design 18 Design to Touch, Use & Inhabit Intent with Form: Visual Intelligence by Bill Moggridge, FIDSA by Jeffrey Kapec, IDSA 20 Bringing Form to Light: 52 Eva Zeisel Tribute Designing with a New Lighting Technology Additional Contributors: Ayse Birsel, by Michael McCoy, IDSA Scott Wilson, IDSA, Ross Lovegrove 22 FORM features by Karim Rashid 25 A Form Speaks a Thousand Words3 by Gregg Davis, IDSA 28 This Is Rhythms by Karen Gaylord

In every issue

32 Industrial Design and Its Education: Defining Its Visual Responsibility by Kathryn Filla and Martin Skalski 38 Hands & Minds by Hartmut Esslinger 40 The Transformative Power of the Design Studio: The Path to a Black Belt in Design by Peter Chamberlain, IDSA and Craig M. Vogel, FIDSA

Statement of Ownership Publication: Innovation Publication Number: Vol. 31, No. 1 Filing Date: 9/21/11 Issue Frequency: Quarterly No. of Issues Published Annually: 4 Annual Subscription Rate: $60 Domestically, $110 Internationally Mailing Address: 555 Grove Street, Suite 200 Herndon, VA 20170 Mailing Address for Headquarters: Same as above Owner & Publisher: Industrial Designers Society of America, 555 Grove Street, Suite 200, Herndon, VA 20170 Managing Editor: Karen Berube Issue Date for Circulation Data: 6/21/2011

QUARTERLY OF THE INDUSTRIAL DESIGNERS SOCIETY OF AMERICA innOVATiOn fOrm

fOrm

spring 2012

EvA ZEISEL

n

SHOwCASE

n

wHO wE ARE

spring 2012

14 The Designer’s Dilemma, Portfolio and Matrix: Feeding the Development Pipeline by Jim Kendall, IDSA

4 From the Executive Editor by Mark Dziersk, FIDSA

7 Design Defined by Allen Samuels, IDSA

8 Letters to the Editor 10 Book Review by Scott Stropkay, IDSA 11 A Look Back by Carroll Gantz, FIDSA 54 Showcase 64 Signposts by Alistair Hamilton, IDSA Ave. Year Single Total Number of Copies: 4,531 4,725 Paid/Requested outside county: 3,913 5,962 Paid in county: 0 0 Sales through dealers/carriers: 0 0 Other classes mailed through USPS: 298 313 Total paid: 4,092 6,275 Free distribution outside county: 0 0 Free distribution inside county: 0 0 Free distribution mailed through USPS: 0 0 Free distribution: 94 0 Total distribution: 4,186 6,275 Copies not distributed: 775 647 Total: 4,961 6,922

Patrons of Industrial Design Excellence investor IDEO, Palo Alto, CA; Shanghai, China; Cambridge, MA; London, UK; San Francisco; Munich, Germany; Chicago; New York Jerome Caruso Design Inc., Lake Forest, IL Masco, Taylor, MI Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH Webb deVlam Chicago, Chicago, IL Cultivator Altitude, Somerville, MA Cesaroni Design Associates Inc., Glenview, IL Continuum, Boston; Los Angeles; Milan, Italy; Seoul, South Korea; Shanghai, China Crown Equipment, New Bremen, OH Dell, Round Rock, TX Design Concepts, Madison, WI Eastman Chemical Co., Kingsport, TN Hewlett-Packard, Palo Alto, CA IDI/Innovation & Development Inc., Edgewater, NJ Lunar Design Inc., Palo Alto, CA Metaphase Design Group, St. Louis, MO Nokia Design, Calabasas, CA Smart Design, New York; San Francisco; Barcelona, Spain Stanley Black & Decker, New Britain, CT Teague, Seattle, WA Tupperware, Worldwide Charter Patrons indicated by color.

For more information about becoming a Patron and supporting IDSA’s communication and education outreach, please contact Dawn Hatzer at 703.707.6000 x119.

Cover photo: Shadow of an Eva Zeisel pitcher. Tucker Viemeister, FIDSA

Advertisers’ Index

Innovation is the quarterly journal of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), the professional organization serving the needs of US industrial designers. Reproduction in whole or in part—in any form—without the written permission of the publisher is prohibited. The opinions expressed in the bylined articles are those of the writers and not necessarily those of IDSA. IDSA reserves the right to decline any advertisement that is contrary to the mission, goals and guiding principles of the Society. The appearance of an ad does not constitute an endorsement by IDSA. All design and photo credits are listed as provided by the submitter. Innovation is printed on recycled paper with soy-based inks. The use of IDSA and FIDSA after a name is a registered collective membership mark. Innovation (ISSN No. 0731-2334 and USPS No. 0016-067) is published quarterly by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA)/Innovation, 555 Grove Street, Suite 200, Herndon, VA 20170. Periodical postage at Sterling, VA 20164 and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to IDSA/Innovation, 555 Grove Street, Suite 200, Herndon, VA 20170, USA. ©2012 Industrial Designers Society of America. Vol. 31, No. 1, 2012; Library of Congress Catalog No. 82-640971; ISSN No. 0731-2334; USPS 0016-067.

c2 2012 IDSA Conference 1 LaFrance Corp. c4 Lunar c3 PTI 9 Stratyasys

Far Left: Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse LouisRosenberg for Nervous System


from the editor

the form issue 4

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g


“Connecting users emotionally with a product is the new killer app, function is the new table stake.”

Michael Lozano

A

t some point everyone has experienced the idea or heard the adage that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” or, as explained by the iconic Scottish philosopher David Hume, “Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them.” So if beauty exists in our minds, how does that happen? The celebrated late art historian Rudolf Arnhem, author of Art and Visual Perception, said that it has everything to do with form and how we perceive it. Which then begs the question: What role does form perception play in our contemplation of physical products and their function? Maslow suggests that the most vital human needs start at the bottom of his famous pyramid and that the need for self-esteem and confidence is at the top of the same pyramid, far above the more important initial desires, say our desire for food and shelter. Of course, Maslow never met an iPhone. As knowledge work gives way to a creative age, it also appears that beautifully formed objects and the self-esteem we derive from attaching ourselves to them have come of age in a more meaningful way than Maslow ever imagined. Far from being the premium nonessential element, beautiful forms and answers may be the only way to survive in the automated and overly abundant product and service markets we experience today. Positive perceptions of form trigger the power of emotional connection that consumers seek in the offerings they buy and use, whether they are physical products, services, systems, software products or brands. Connecting users emotionally with a product is the new killer app, and in this regard, form rules and function is the new table stake. Said another way, the performance and function of products and services have reached such a high state of accomplished parity that beauty, both in physical form and performance/interaction-based beauty, now dictates the success or failure of products. Interestingly, in the same way, selection serves to propagate species. It’s a fact. Honeybees are drawn to the most beautiful flowers and fragrances first. Consider, for example, any tablet computer or e-reader device. As a group they are all fantastic and are all feature equal. Which one will endure? I would suggest that the one with the most beautiful form has the best shot. Beauty comes in many forms, and its importance is usually underappreciated. The author and poet John Keats once said, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever; its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness.” Tucker Viemeister, FIDSA is a designer who has always understood this truth. He is an advocate for beauty. This issue of Innovation celebrates his eye and mind, and all the work he put into guest editing it. Thank you, Tucker. —Mark Dziersk, FIDSA, Innovation Executive Editor mark@lunar.com INNOVATION SPRING 2012

5


from the editor

The World Stage The first-ever meeting of IFI, Icograda and ICSID was held in Taipei, Taiwan, at the 2011 International Design Alliance Congress. While attending I found myself in the middle of a new world view on design in a country that is dedicating, by some reports, one-sixth of its economy to changing the idea of “Made in Taiwan” to “Designed in Taiwan.” The Congress was designed as a dialogue between designers and nondesign stakeholders in a unique summit format. A nondesign expert presented a topic of global or social importance immediately followed by a panel of design thinkers from product design and graphic architecture who interpreted the talk and offered perspective. The IDA’s primary objective to become the global voice of design and an enabler of innovation was given a kick start at this event. I left Taipei with the idea that design’s future on a global scale is bright and in many ways is just now beginning. Icsid Icsid protects and promotes the interests of the industrial design profession, serving as a unified voice through which members can be heard on an international platform. www.icsid.org Icograda Icograda promotes communication designers’ vital role in society and unifies the voices of graphic designers and visual communicators worldwide. www.icograda.org IDA IDA is an alliance between Icsid, Icograda and IFI that advocates for the mutual interest of all the design professions. www.icsid.org/about/IDA.htm IFI IFI connects the international community of interior architecture/design in order to further the impact, influence and application of the design of interiors, promote global social responsibility and raise the status of the profession worldwide. www.ifiworld.org —Mark Dziersk, FIDSA, Innovation Executive Editor mark@lunar.com

6

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g


design defi ned

Information In 3D

D

into each new design in the form of the nonverbal—visual esigning is as much about creating and dislanguage (point, line, shape, color, light and shadow, texture, seminating new knowledge as it is about creating scale, mass, symmetry, space, time and composition). Each a new and finished product design. The Industrial design speaks of its unique purpose, place and value; of Designers Society of America provides the following definiutility, ergonomics, technologies, materials and processes; tion. “Industrial Design is the professional service of creating of manufacture, safety, use and misuse, longevity and more. and developing concepts and specifications that optimize For the end user, new knowledge is gained by observthe function, value and appearance of products and sysing a new design and translating tems for the mutual benefit of both nonverbal three-dimensional form into user and manufacturer.” I find this defiwords, ideas and information. What nition very useful and telling. However, ...the single most important the designer has learned by designafter 46 years of professional practice ing, the end user learns by observing and teaching, I would like to suggest objective of industrial design is and using a product design. If most or some additions and refinements. all of what the designer incorporated As designers, we are often preocto create and disseminate new into the design is perceived by the cupied with the physical products we design and are less concerned by how knowledge, not simply to create end user, information is successfully transmitted and translated. Learning we may affect an individual user and takes place once again for both the culture. That is, it is easier to focus beautiful objects. designer and the end user. on the design of a speedometer, for It isn’t only the beautiful form we should be concerned example, in terms of shape and graphics than on how a with. We should be concerned with how beautiful form speedometer design may encourage drivers to speed and, expresses and informs and delivers important information for some, to die. It is easier to consider the structure and about how users are to use, enjoy and grow from contact aesthetics of a dining room table than it is to consider how with our designs. We should be preoccupied with how our such an object, by design, may encourage conversation work affects and advances individual human understanding over dinner and family continuity over time. In other words, and behavior, and how we can influence an overall culture, we are usually preoccupied with the utility and form of our one person at a time, by design. designs and less able to consider and incorporate informaSo I say again, the single most important objective of tion, cues and prompts that may inform, direct, enable, industrial design is to create and disseminate new knowladvance and refine human understanding and behavior. edge. In addition, the single most important element in I have come to believe that the single most important industrial design is the individual designer, who has the objective of industrial design is to create and disseminate responsibility to learn and then share what is learned as a new knowledge, not simply to create beautiful objects. result of every new project and design. Designing is about making inquiry, and the result ought to be Perhaps our profession’s definition should read: the creation and dissemination of new knowledge delivered Industrial design is the professional service of creating and by our often nonverbal and visual designs to all who see and disseminating new knowledge through the creation of origiuse the things we create. nal designs aimed at optimizing the lives of individual users New knowledge is created as each designer works and advancing what it means to be human and enriching through the projects and problems posed by clients and oththe culture overall. We do this by creating and developing ers. As each designer works to gather and analyze informaconcepts and specifications that optimize the function, value tion, formulate problem definitions, conceptualize and visualand appearance of products and systems for the mutual ize concepts, assess and refine concepts, and document, benefit of both user and manufacturer resulting in original model and present new designs, the designer learns. That designs that clearly express, in physical and visual terms, a is, each designer creates new knowledge for him or herself product’s purpose, place and value. as a direct result of designing. What is learned is embedded

—Allen Samuels, IDSA allenall@umich.edu

INNOVATION SPRING 2012

7


letters to the editor QuarterLY of the industriaL designers soCietY of aMeriCa

Overcoming Barriers fashion design

n

the business of design

This digital Innovation may appeal to some and may be more cost effective than print and save trees, etc. However, I hate it. We have a library of Innovation magazines that we refer to in our firm. The digital version does not lend itself to group meetings. If I want to take it on a plane, I need to download it, and yeah that just is a pain in the .... Please bring back the print version unless you can offer a compelling argument, like the dues are going down or something meaningful. I feel that Innovation is one of the core pieces of IDSA, and going only digital leaves a lot to be desired. —Tor Alden, IDSA, hs-design

Nice job! Good idea. —Peter Wooding, FIDSA, Wooding Design Ltd.

I was very disappointed to see the digital version of Innovation show up. Always assumed it would happen eventually. It is apparent there was a lot of hard work that went into developing it for this format. Whatever the reason, cost reduction, environmentalism, speed, etc., I think it is bad move. Innovation was always a beautiful publication I enjoyed receiving, especially after paying my membership fee every year. I know, I know, my membership dues support other programs and benefits within IDSA too. However, at this point, I can read and subscribe to scores of other design websites and read digital content for free. Over the years, I have had so many nonmembers at my office pick it up off my desk and ask questions. I have convinced some to join IDSA because of it. I have written notes inside, cut out pictures, and saved back issues for reference. Finally, there is nothing like paging through a physical magazine and you never have to worry about an error message when you pull it off the shelf. We all get our digital fill everyday, so it is still nice to have some tangible things in daily life too. —Kelly Whalen, IDSA, Honda R&D Americas, Inc.

I do not like the digital Innovation. We should move back to the print version. It was one of my favorite parts of IDSA. —Chris Clearman, IDSA, www.ttigroupna.com

n

housewares

winter 2011

Editor’s note: We received the following letters to the editor in response to the winter 2011 issue’s digital-only format.

The digital copy looks awesome! —Chris Parke, IDSA, Newell

So I just received the free digital copy of the winter issue. Is it my understanding that if I want a hard copy (whether I am a member or not) it will cost me $19.95! And that the next issue will be hardcopy again?! I maintain my back issues for reference, and although a digital copy allows easy search, I still prefer my hard copies for annotating, dog-earing, etc. —Jeff Farago, IDSA, Schneider Electric

This test was, and is, very poorly promoted. I had to search the IDSA website for some clue as to where I could click on the issue. Oh, finally found it, in 7-point type tucked up in the corner. Doesn’t our journal deserve a large permanent featured gray square on the home page? What did the nonmember subscribers think? (I guess it did save a considerable amount of budget money.) Sheesh! —Budd Steinhilber, FIDSA

The digital format worked great for me. Although I am familiar with Issuu and its navigation, it may be a bit challenging for those who aren’t as familiar with the site. That being said, I am not aware of a better online reading platform available. It’s unfortunate that Issuu is not compatible with iPhones or iPads, as many of us do our reading while traveling. Any plans to reach those platforms? Will this issue be available via print at all? My only concern with the all-in digital push is that it won’t reach as many readers. For instance, numerous people in our office receive the publication, but I tend to notice that Innovation only gets read when we put it on display in our kitchen/front office. Those that walk by get a chance to flip through and check out the articles. Without that physical form, the reach within the office may be rather limited. Usually when on the computer people are busy doing work and thus aren’t as prone to read the digital version. It typically tends to be when people are away from their computer, or taking a break from it, that they actually read Innovation. I like the fact that you’re going digital. It’s great. I think with iPhone/iPad implementation and an opt-in for physical copies you would be hitting the nail on the head. —Ryan Eder, IDSA, Priority Designs

8

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g


N OW I T H I N K I N 3 D. AND MY DESIGNS JUST KEEP GET TING BET TER. With our Dimension ® 3D Printer, I know my model will represent my idea exactly. And that makes it easier to improve my design with each iteration. Our Dimension is right here in the office, and that helps us get our products to market faster. The Dimension models we create are made in ABS, so they’re tough and durable. You can buy a printer for under $15,000, so they’re also really affordable. Overall, Dimension gives me an amazing sense of freedom—and creativity. Find out more at www.dimensionprinting.com/idsa4

Prices applicable in the United States. Additional options, shipping, applicable taxes and/or duties not included. ©2012 Stratasys, Inc.


book review

Walter Isaacson’s

Steve Jobs W

to creativity—and to do it simultaneously, alter Isaacson’s surprisingly rivetacross multidisciplinary teams, as a culture. ing docudrama details an amazing He also knew that he depended on the range of influences, contexts and creativity of others. In all Jobs’ eloquence, he motives that led one of the world’s best latwas only able to describe the next great thing eral thinkers—steve Jobs—to challenge the in relatively abstract terms. He needed others status quo with radically better solutions to to create, embody and deliver on his typically problems that most of us overlook as givens unquantifiable “insanely great” specification. in our modern world. People who care deeply He needed designers of all types to make his about what they do will devour this book. abstract vision real. In these pages there is more to learn about One of Jobs’ closest confidants and pervision and conviction, values and risks, and haps his truest partner in the pursuit of beauty success and failure in this one volume than is British-born industrial designer Jonathan any other book, class or mentor could teach. Ive. Ive’s personal relationship with Jobs was Designers who are passionate about based on a deep respect for the other’s very what they make, who care about the effect complementary skills. Isaacson describes Ive they have on the people, communities and as almost the interpersonal antithesis of Jobs. cultures they design for will want to study The job of art is Where Jobs’ knee-jerk reaction to anyone’s the lessons in this book. The single-minded pursuit of excellence and dedication to the to chase ugliness new idea was typically “that sucks,” Ive protected ideas as fragile entities that needed idea of making art in one’s work is simply nurturing before they were strong enough to unmatched by anyone or any company. away. weather the inevitable storm Jobs personified. From the very beginning to the very end, —Bono Through anecdotes about design process, Isaacson describes, both professionally and Ive displays a unique sensitivity to the emotional connection personally, the evolution of Steve Jobs’ complex, deeply people have with products. His drive to create designs that personal and intense relationship with the world. Switching enhance a user’s sense of self and need for self-expression like a binary computer from one end of an ideological specis extraordinary. Ive was able to give form to the feeling trum to the other, Jobs lived a life of impossible dichotomies that Jobs (and he) wanted users to have as they became that allowed a reality distortion where the seemingly imposempowered by amazing technology. sible became possible. As Ive allows you to find meaning in his designs, But don’t expect to like everything Isaacson writes. Isaacson allows you to find meaning in this biography. By Jobs’ wildly discordant behaviors are unexpectedly jarring telling stories about Jobs’ passion, you think about your and often repelling. Graciously, Isaacson takes a nonjudgpassions. When framing the way Jobs saw problems, mental approach to Jobs’ style and the conflicts it created. you think about the problems you want to solve. As he Watching Jobs’ psychological triumphs and defeats, readdescribes Jobs’ lack of control over critical success factors ing about friends’ admirations and disappointments, seeing early in his career and compares that to the total system hope for reconciliations crushed by a pure selfish disregard control he had later in his career, you think about ways you for others, the relationship you develop with the idea of can influence parts of the systems that affect you. Jobs is a roller-coaster ride. Yet even as your stomach This is the story of the ultimate designer: a person twists and turns, it is impossible not to admire this titan whose soul found expression in his products and in his of industry’s unwavering effort to build great things. Jobs company. It is also a reminder to see life as a learning jourunderstood that his superpower was his ability to bring intuney, building toward greater and greater achievement. ition and art to technology while bringing extreme discipline

—Scott Stropkay, IDSA scott@essential-design.com

10

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g


a look back

Why Are We Called

Industrial Designers?

E

ver since I became an industrial designer almost 60 years ago, I’ve had to explain to friends and parents exactly what I do. No one but us designers seemed to know. “So, you design what? Industrials?” was a typical reaction to my answer to “What do you do?” Because of our title, we

get confused with industrial engineers, who plan production processes, or with product designers, many of whom are engineers.

In the 1950s, we were confused with marketing and were mistakenly blamed for the unnecessary planned obsolescence of products. That same decade we were confused with stylists, who were accused by many of dealing only with the external cosmetics of cars. Some, I’m sure, wonder why we can’t have a title that better describes our specific function, like brain surgeon, jet pilot and patent attorney do. In the 1960s, when “industry” became a dirty word, some thought product designer would avoid association with it. But others, already expanding their activities into graphics, interiors, exhibits and architecture, felt that the title was too restrictive for such a multidisciplinary and generalist profession as ours. Others thought we should call ourselves product architects, hoping that might better identify us as the single individual controlling all product construction. The Germans introduced what many thought (and still feel, as evidenced by the theme of this issue of Innovation) was a perfect description of our profession: formgebung (“form giving” or, as defined in German dictionaries, “fashioning” or “molding”). Thus in 1969, the Deutsches Rat für Formgebung (German Design Council) was formed, establishing the Bundespreis Gute Form (Federal Award for Good Form) design awards program. But alas, since in the US we were already 35 years into the use of industrial design, any change became controversial.

Besides, by that time we were suffering somewhat of an identity crisis, and our title was considered politically sacred. In the mid 1970s, an IDSA-proposed organizational concept would have placed all design-related organizations (architects, interior designers, industrial designers, graphic designers, etc.) under an umbrella organization called the Design Society of America (DSA) in order to foster interaction among the suborganizations. However, political controversy erupted because some older IDSA members feared that our traditional identity as industrial designers would be lost. The DSA concept was promptly abandoned. In some cases, “industrial” did indeed become lost. In the 1980s, our beloved Industrial Design magazine, which had graced our drafting tables since 1954 extolling our accomplishments and culture, changed its name to International Design. Goodbye, industrial! Where did our title originate, some wonder? Someone theorized that in the 1930s, when our new field was founded, it was composed of an eclectic group of stage-set designers, fashion designers, graphic artists, museum directors, advertising artists, furniture designers, writers, artists and automotive designers. When these founders sought common cause in designing mass-produced industrial products, they arbitrarily abandoned their former specialty and agreed on the all-inclusive title of industrial design. Sounds believable, but it didn’t happen that way.

INNOVATION SPRING 2012

11


a look back

ID Defined Industrial design (ID) is the professional service of creating and developing concepts and specifications that optimize the function, value and appearance of products and systems for the mutual benefit of both user and manufacturer. Industrial designers develop these concepts and specifications through collection, analysis and synthesis of data guided by the special requirements of the client or manufacturer. They are trained to prepare clear and concise recommendations through drawings, models and verbal descriptions. Industrial design services are often provided within the context of cooperative working relationships with other members of a development group. Typical groups include management, marketing, engineering and manufacturing specialists. The industrial designer expresses concepts that embody all relevant design criteria determined by the group. The industrial designer’s unique contribution places emphasis on those aspects of the product or system that relate most directly to human characteristics, needs and interests. This contribution requires specialized understanding of visual, tactile, safety and convenience criteria, with concern for the user. Education and experience in anticipating psychological, physiological and sociological factors that influence and are perceived by the user are essential industrial design resources. Industrial designers also maintain a practical concern for technical processes and requirements for manufacture, marketing opportunities and economic constraints, and distribution sales and servicing processes. They work to ensure that design recommendations use materials and technology effectively, and comply with all legal and regulatory requirements. In addition to supplying concepts for products and systems, industrial designers are often retained for consultation on a variety of problems that have to do with a client’s image. Such assignments include product and organization identity systems, development of communication systems, interior space planning and exhibit design, advertising devices and packaging, and other related services. Their expertise is sought in a wide variety of administrative arenas to assist in developing industrial standards, regulatory guidelines and quality control procedures to improve manufacturing operations and products. Industrial designers, as professionals, are guided by their awareness of obligations to fulfill contractual responsibilities to clients, to protect the public safety and well-being, to respect the environment and to observe ethical business practice. —IDSA Professional Qualifications Committee, Carroll Gantz, FIDSA, National VP in charge, 1977–1978

12

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g

It’s true that a 1934 article about leading industrial designers in Fortune magazine, authored anonymously by George Nelson, confirmed and popularized the term ever since, but he did not invent it. The term was already in use by practicing industrial designers, such as Walter Dorwin Teague, since 1927. Jo Sinel claimed his business card used the term even earlier, in 1923. But these were exceptions to the rule. Even in 1927, when early industrial designers like Donald Deskey and Kem Weber formed an organization to promote their designs, they called it the American Union of Decorative Artists and Craftsmen (AUDAC), not “of Industrial Designers.” At the time, those were terms well understood by the public, and the style AUDAC members pioneered was well understood as being modern design. But the term industrial design was just not yet recognizable by the public. In the 1920s, of course, some practitioners specifically called themselves furniture designers, automotive designers or fabric designers, but generally, artists or designers working in industry were referred to as industrial artists, decorative artists or commercial artists. The work of these latter folks was called applied art, decorative art or industrial art, and the field was referred to as art in industry. These hyphenated artist titles were required to differentiate such lower-class artists from fine artists, who were regarded by academia and the public as of a higher calling. Even those creating arts and crafts were still regarded higher than industrial artists because the work of the former was often displayed in museums with their signatures, just like fine art. Ironically, industrial art also happened to be the title of shop classes in thousands of high schools across the


Photo courtesy Kathryn Filla and Martin Skalski, Pratt Institute

country, where (mostly male) students were taught the use of shop tools to handcraft household items, such as birdhouses, breadboxes and cutting boards. This new title was adopted by the Smith-Hughes National Vocational Act of 1917, and applied to similar classes that had previously been offered and known since the 1880s as manual training. Small wonder that industrial artists were now suddenly equated with manual labor, not with professionals like fine artists. One has to go back to the 19th century to find the origin of the term industrial design because it was then that the industrial revolution transformed America with mass-produced products. It was a time when industrialists, businessmen, entrepreneurs, inventors and engineers (then called practitioners of the mechanic arts) were heroes. Everyone wanted to get a good paying job in industry. Even artists, mostly women, were being sought to join the workforce in early textile, pottery and wallpaper industries. During the 1850s, schools called schools of design were organized in a number of cities to train these people. Most artists were called upon to embellish product surfaces with artistic images of nature or classical symbols, a practice then called ornamental art. By that time, some prominent artists, such as sculptor Horatio Greenough, had already recognized that functional products should be shaped into natural, organic and simple forms, rather than applied with nonfunctional decoration, ornamentation and embellishment. But such theories were universally unheeded. Ornamentation remained king, and artists produced it. By 1876, in writing about the Centennial World’s Fair in Philadelphia, Walter Smith, then director of art and educa-

tion in MA, stated, “Ornamental art is the fruition of industrial design,” first linking the terms “industrial” and “design” but implying that ornamental art was the sole purpose of industrial design. The Arts and Crafts Movement of the latter part of the century was more about quality handcraft than mass production, but English designer Christopher Dresser was an anomaly in the 1880s who designed almost modernlooking household objects, such as watering cans, teapots and chairs and who referred to his own work as “high-class goods of artistic design.” Yet many consider him to be the first practicing industrial designer because of his direct collaboration with manufacturers and marketing. In America, the term industrial design was legally defined in 1913 by Edward Moore, US commissioner of patents, who that year urged new regulations to protect the property of “industrial design, the distinguishing form of products that have marketable value.” It’s still not a bad definition of what we do, and much shorter than IDSA’s 345-word official definition (see left). Note Moore’s deliberate legal use of the phrase “distinguishing form,” which specifically describes the unique aspect of a product that is our professional responsibility. He could have called our work form design, the bedrock of our profession, but he did not. He called it “industrial design,” thus establishing the first legal precedent. In 1918, Walter Sargent, director of fine and industrial art at the University of Chicago, concerned about the international challenge of strong European commitment to global design leadership and the anticipation of rapidly expanding postwar manufacturing, stated, “The situation regarding industrial design in the US is improving, but so far as we can estimate ... we shall need after the war about fifty thousand more industrial designers than are now available or in training, and probably few can be imported.” He was a bit over the top—we still probably don’t have that many—but he did recognize that the US was ill prepared for foreign competition in mass-production design, a fact not realized by most American manufacturers until 1925 and most art schools until 1934. So when our founders adopted the term industrial design, not only was it not a new term, but it indicated a clear desire of its practitioners to be separated from traditional artists, a declaration that they embraced the industrial world on its own terms, not as mere decorative artists but as an integral part of the mass-production engineering/marketing/manufacturing process. They saved many manufacturers from oblivion in the Great Depression, and the design of unique forms is still our most significant and unique contribution to business success. This may not convince you that the title of industrial designer is a perfect description of what we do, but at least it may explain why its origin was not arbitrary or unfounded in history. Anyway, since we are sort of stuck with it historically, we may as well make the best of it, and perhaps even celebrate it as a unique and creative profession that is respected and embraced by industry. It could be worse. If it were not for our perceptive founders, we could still be called industrial artists and be producing ornamental art. —Carroll Gantz, FIDSA carrgantz@bellsouth.net

INNOVATION SPRING 2012

13


By Jim Kendall, IDSA jwkendall3@gmail.com Jim Kendall works for a manufacturer of multi-branded household appliances. For over 20 years, he has been applying a range of tools and techniques to close the gap between the myriad of fascinating (or crummy) ideas and valuable marketable products.

The Designer’s Dilemma, Portfolio and Matrix

Feeding the Development Pipeline

T

he dilemma for the designer is twofold: the future is unknown, complicating the evaluation of value for forthcoming products or product lines, and the product possibilities are infinite. Simplistically, the designer and producer should only work on ideas that bring value to the user and producer.

Creating Valuable Ideas The vast number of product possibilities causes angst for designers. Knowledgeable designers will ask for constraints before trying to envision the future. Constraints are well known to producers and designers: limitations of time, shifting markets, user satisfaction, resources, technical ability, manufacturing capabilities, customer understanding and knowledge, to name a few. Even knowing constraints, designers can add or originate value for products in several creative directions, compounding the dilemma. Only ideas that maximize value should be explored and moved forward through the development pipeline. How do you know what is valuable? A limited balanced portfolio of ideas is the solution to the dilemma. This portfolio groups ideas by their development risks aligned with forward-looking paths narrowed by a cross-functional team. These paths can be categorized and subdivided depending on many factors: market needs, manufacturing line complexity, the investments required, etc. In general, future product ideas should fill a spectrum of possibilities grouped into five areas. Much like spreading risk in a financial portfolio, the designer or producer should spread the development risk among low-, medium- and high-risk ideas. The allocation percentages will vary depending upon a producer’s historic and current appetite for risk.

14

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g

1. Delay starting, 0–5 percent 2. Enhance current products through increased or decreased enhancements/interfaces to add value, 40–70 percent 3. Create adjacent (or related) products, 5–20 percent 4. Create new products that the producer has the capabilities to produce, 5–20 percent 5. Create new-to-the-world products—typically coming from research and development activities, 3–15 percent By placing all this information in the matrix, a producer or designer can evaluate if the portfolio is balanced to a level of risk acceptable to the producer. A balanced portfolio of ideas would include several ideas in each area, including the delay category, which tracks ideas that may not be ready for the development pipeline. It is critical that ideas are captured, clearly described, understood by the group, regularly reviewed and categorized. This categorization work should be done by a highly experienced, small, cross-functional team. Ideas should be captured and filed to make sure that they become the property of the designer/producer. Fully accessible secure databases with user-friendly search engines provide a preferred method of capturing this intellectual capital or library of ideas. The ideas are typically described in a variety of ways, including through text, illustrations, videos, prototypes, CAD


models, financial models and customer studies. Besides backing up the frailties of human memory, intellectual property can be rooted here. Additionally, ideas can be used to springboard into more ideas, rather than wasting time repeating ideas. Ideas can also be shared with other internal or external groups to enhance the speed to market and reduce the cost of idea refinement. Sometimes ideas run ahead of market or physical realities. The electric car is a product that has been in idea banks and prototyped for decades. Find the Value These databases are good practice, but the dilemma of too many ideas remains. Designers are skilled at bringing potential solutions to life through rapid prototyping, but the resources required are typically too scarce to envision all the ideas. To unlock the value, small cross-functional teams should review the ideas and rank them, ensuring that there are ideas ready to be put into the product development pipeline. Even taking the top-ranked ideas will create a list that will require more resources to produce than is typically available. One technique to further narrow the field is to use a Pugh matrix evaluation by assigning values to the parameters believed to bring value to the producer. These parameters need to be limited and well defined before evaluation of the ideas starts. Parameters may include: n Enhances or builds brand values n Manufacturable by the producer n Solves a customer problem n Shows preliminary financial returns n Can be put on the market within a given timeframe n Creates or enhances a sustainable product line The team can weigh each parameter. The parameters will force thoughtful discussion among the group and leave a trail of decision-making criteria.

Feeding the Pipeline The team needs to recommend development plans for the projects that are determined development worthy—feeding the development pipeline. The targeted list of programs will be derived from uncertain forward-looking knowledge. Supporting financial analysis and targeted market studies will build confidence in the selection of products to start in the pipeline. Keep the calculations simple, building resolution to the previous portfolio analysis and looking at the ideas from several angles, for example: n What could the product look and work like? n What are the potential markets and users? n What kind of returns could be realized? n What are the technology risks? The dilemma is solved when the designer/producer has done the difficult task of sorting through the ideas and produced a balanced portfolio of viable programs that are being worked. This is the reason to have experienced designers, researchers, engineers, businesspeople and manufacturing and marketing professionals as a part of the standing team. Their diverse viewpoints and persuasive arguments need to be presented about the value of the future state. The matrix of ideas creates a constant supply of ideas in which to wisely invest as the markets, technology and financial situations constantly shift. If the product ideas make it through the development pipeline and to market, success can be fleeting. Value is not always apparent and is certainly not guaranteed. Like a financial portfolio, you need a diverse spectrum of possibilities—possibilities that are ready to meet technology changes, market shifts, consumer appeal, competitor price cuts, new regulations, the unexpected and more. Own and nurture the idea generation mechanism that continuously develops and updates, and keep the focus on what’s next. n

Portfolio Parameter Evaluation

Weight

(1–100%)

Idea 1*

Idea 2*

Idea 3*

Idea 4*

Enhances or builds brand values

20%

3 0.6

3 0.6

1 0.2

1 0.2

Manufacturable by the producer

10%

3 0.3

3 0.3

9 0.9

3 0.3

Solves a customer problem

40%

9 3.6

3 1.2

9 3.6

3 1.2

Shows preliminary financial returns

20%

3 0.6

9 1.8

5 1.0

3 0.6

Can be put on the market within a given timeframe

5%

1 0.05

1 0.05

3 0.15

3 0.15

Creates or enhances a sustainable product line

5%

1 0.05

1 0.05

9 0.45

9 0.45

Total

100% 5.2 4.0 6.3 2.9

* 1 - Min / 3 - Better / 9 - Best

INNOVATION SPRING 2012

15


form

FORM IS FUNCTION

T

he computer is seducing humans out of their bodies. More and more of our time is sucked into the virtual (at home, in school and in the studio).

We designers are here to reaffirm the importance of the physical world. It’s not just what we experience—real stuff actually impacts our health and our climate. Realize is more than understanding truth. The soul of our profession is essential to life. If you deconstruct the word “de-sign,” it seems to mean “unsign,” or the “real thing,” not a symbol. Objective. Matters. This issue of Innovation is not about form following function—it’s about form being in the actual driver’s seat!

16

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g


By Tucker Viemeister, FIDSA tuckerviemeister@mac.com Tucker Viemeister has built design groups: as a founder of Smart Design (famous for Oxo “GoodGrips”), by opening frog design’s New York office, by establishing Razorfish’s physical design capability group, by developing Springtime-USA and recently as lab chief at Rockwell Group, where he built a small research and development team into a teeming interactive business. He is now president of Viemeister Industries, headquartered in NYC.

In our world of branding, finance and celebrity, real stuff is making a comeback—crafts, gourmet cooking, home brewing, Maker Faire, gardening. People want to make things— DIY. They are reshaping their bodies: pumping up at the gym or other augmentations with plastic surgery and Botox. Even Harry Potter needs a wand to make magic. Today more nursery schools are using open-ended block play to encourage children’s imaginations. The problem-based-learning trend in K–12 programs is not new; progressive education is essentially learning by doing. Design thinking is a root skill of science, medicine, music, interfaces, writing and design. According to Arnold Wasserman, “Enthusiasts say that re-creating education around principles of ‘design thinking’ is the essential first step toward building ‘World 3.0.’” Even business consultants have learned Larry Keeley’s and Tom Kelly’s lessons about innovation. “But if everyone can do ‘Design Thinking,’” Liz Davis of Les Ateliers in Paris rhetorically asks, “what makes designers special?” We designers create real stuff. This Innovation is a celebration of the essence of industrial design: form giving. Objects matter. There is a reason that they ground us and that form following function is about genuine needs. Designers put real things on the table, things that we can see, hold and feel. “Today as never before the consumer is design-conscious, and the appearance of a product has become an integral feature in its success or failure,” wrote J. Gordon Lippincott in Design for Business in 1947. Of course, everyone should be doing design thinking (it makes sense)—but we designers are the ones who give form to those ideas and solutions. We make the dreams come true. We translate new technology into tangible objects that people want and real places that people experience. We make brand strategies into real stuff that people grab, drink, drive and play with. Our work has the urgency of reality. It is more important than just good business: form is essential to human life. After all, we live in the real world where sticks and stones actually do break our bones. “The biggest issue with the B school design thinking craze,” Craig Vogel, FIDSA said, “is that it does not support the idea of making people functionally literate of design.” The pendulum is swinging back, pushed by real problems like climate change and pulled by computer scientists and user-interface designers who not only find inspiration in biomimicry but who want to create digital tools to support real communities and actual experiences. “The school and the culture separate the head from the body,” wrote Loris Malaguzzi, developer of the Reggio

Emilia Approach in The Hundred Languages of Childhood. “They tell the child to think without their hands, to do and make without their head, to listen and not to speak, to understand without joy.” Students today want to become industrial designers because they want to give form to their dreams—they want to contour cars, sculpt appliances, mold furniture, shape medical devices, construct spaces, model toys and make experiences. Learning how to make beautiful forms is being squeezed by nonvisual subjects that industrial design students need to learn. Pratt’s Martin Skalski and Kathryn Filla advocate a renaissance of industrial design’s core responsibility and its supportive pedagogy. Minds and bodies are unified: drawing and making forms with our hands are the basic ways humans teach themselves (especially designers). The 1959 article (reprinted here) about the City and Country School’s Rhythms program explains how physical movement teaches children important skills, just as 3D exercises teach design students to think. Fast Company may say that “the career of the future doesn’t include a 20-year plan,” but quality form giving is a craft that never goes out of style. As Harmut Esslinger’s teacher, Professor Karl Dittert, told him, “Renderings are nice, but models are magical.” Darwin’s Origin of the Species principle is all about the design-by-doing method (the natural selection system even works without any thinking). Survival of the fittest isn’t really about survival so much as reproduction (but that’s for another industrial design topic). This issue about real stuff is a reminder to knowledge workers of the supremacy of reality above thought. Practice over theory—we see the apple dropping but can only infer gravity. Ideas and dreams are strong motivators, but real objects exist in the real world where they actually affect reality—in fact they are reality (not what we wish it is). Truth. Entrepreneur Avi Telyas makes prototypes—instead of business plans. Descartes may have said, “I think therefore I am,” but Karl Marx came back with “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” That’s where we come in. Good industrial designers obviously think about what they are doing, but they know how to think better because they learned how to think by doing. We know what it means to create real stuff that people touch, use and inhabit. Like firemen, doctors and chefs, industrial designers put out real fires, heal real ailments and cook up tasty new things that make the world a better place to live. Form is function matters! n

INNOVATION SPRING 2012

17


By Bill Moggridge, FIDSA moggridgeb@si.edu n www.cooperhewitt.org/blog Bill Moggridge is director of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

Design to Touch, Use & Inhabit

W

hen I graduated from my industrial design program (at the Central School of Design in London) in

1965, I expected that my career would be spent designing mass-produced products, usually manufactured in metals and plastics. How surprising that the context of design has expanded so dramatically in less than half a century that I am now convinced that everything can be (and usually is) designed, from jewels to cities, including digital interactions, services, organizational change, social innovation, and on and on. This led me to leave “industrial” out of the description of my occupation, calling myself

I like the notion that we make the world better by giving form to ideas; it’s just that the form includes more than the physical. The iPhone is now ubiquitous, demonstrating that tangibility is inherent to the value of the device, enjoying the nimble touch of fingers on the surface to tap, stroke, pinch and flick. We can give form to the whole idea, including shape, structure, surface, color, interactive behavior, social consequence and implications for the sustainability of our planet. What do we mean by design? I like the 1969 definition by Charles Eames, “Design is a method of action” because “method” implies the commonality of process shared across

18

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g

Industrial Facility

only a “designer.”

Branca Chair designed by Industrial Facility for Mattiazzi

design disciplines and because “action” shows that design is about doing as well as thinking, making a difference, creating an outcome. An intriguing book called Usefulness in Small Things arrived on my desk recently, created by Kim


Peter Geunzel

Table, Bench, Chair for Established & Sons designed by Industrial Facility

Colin and Sam Hecht of Industrial Facility in London. When you browse through the pages, each item is interesting in itself as an object that has some special form and quality, but you probably haven’t seen any of them before. Seen collectively, these objects amount to a philosophy about design values and attributes, enhanced by a playfulness that is so laid back that it feels minimal. The subtitle of the book is Items from the Under a Fiver Collection. Sam Hecht has been collecting inexpensive things (the translation of “Under a Fiver” is less than £5) since 1994, finding inspiration in unexpected functionality, ambiguity, usefulness, quirkiness, local value or some quality that makes you stop and think. In 2008, the London Design Museum mounted an exhibit called “Industrial Facility, Some Recent Projects,” featuring product designs for clients, but also including a selection of items from Sam’s Under a Fiver collection. Since then the collection has continued to grow, and Kim Colin developed and designed this presentation of the material as a book. You can get a good impression of it from this online video: http://vimeo.com/31096872. Another perplexing question is the relationship between design and art; design is taught in the art departments of universities and a lot of designers would like to be thought of as artists. Hecht addresses this in his essay in the book, saying, “Art is a presentation of thought that makes you think. Design is a communication of thoughts that makes you use. Simply put, art cannot be compromised and design can never not be.” In the famous interview with Madame Amic for the “What is Design?” exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 1969, she asked, “Is design an expression of art (an art form)?” and Charles Eames answered, “The design is an expression of the purpose. It may (if it is good enough) later be judged as art.” You notice that both these ideas about how design compares to art are very broad in their coverage. Whether it’s a “communication of thoughts” or an “expression of purpose,” the authors claim that design is much more than

creating physical form. The communication or the expression can exist in any context or medium: If it’s an object it will include physical form; if it’s virtual it will include the interactive behavior; it may also include systemic structures and social implications. As designers we are concerned with the relationship between whatever “it” is and the people we are designing for, so we should consider the complete narrative from start to finish and from birth to death. The value of this holistic approach is demonstrated by the emergence of Apple as the most valuable technology company in the world. The iPods, iPhones and iPads are dominant because the physical form-giving of Jonathan Ive and his team of designers is closely coupled with the interaction design of the software, the graphic design of the packaging, the communications and Peter Bohlin’s delectable architecture for the stores. These elements are not only closely linked but also patiently developed with a consistent strategy year after year. Take the iPod, for example. Apple acquired SoundJam in 2000 and used it to develop iTunes, the program that allows people to manipulate music on their Macs. It was over a year before the first iPod was launched, allowing people to carry their music with them and easily synchronize with iTunes. Two more years went by before the iTunes music store gave people the chance to purchase their music as easily as stealing it, and again a couple of years went by before iTunes for Windows was developed and shipped. The patience to achieve this integrated systemic solution paid dividends for Apple in the marketplace and laid the foundation for the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. We’re back to the tangibility of all these touch-screen devices, demonstrating both that the physical form and the interaction design can be completely integrated with the audio design, screen appearance, animation and interactive behavior, engaging us as we tap, stroke, pinch and flick. Let there be many such tangible objects that we can design to touch, use and inhabit. n

INNOVATION SPRING 2012

19


By Michael McCoy, IDSA www.michaelmccoydesign.com Michael McCoy is the first recipient (with Katherine McCoy, FIDSA) of the Smithsonian’s Design Minds National Design Award for “affecting a paradigm shift in design thinking” and is the former director of 3D design for the Cranbrook Academy of Art. His work has been exhibited internationally, and he has won more than 200 design awards for his work in furniture, interiors and product design.

Designing with a New Lighting Technology

Bringing Form to

R

arely is a product form created from thin air; usually it has a long and interesting history of influences pulled from design, art, architecture, culture, nature, technology and the designer’s own experiences. I believe it is useful for designers to talk about their form influences in the way that

blues musicians often talk about their influences and mentors. Stories told by designers about the development of their designs are not only historically valuable but also enrich the thinking and process of future designers. Designers love working with a new technology, especially when it opens up new form possibilities. Peter Stathis and I recently had that opportunity when we collaborated on the design of the new Humanscale Horizon Light. Peter and I have had a long relationship in design education and for years have continued a discussion about connecting design theory to practice. He was a graduate student at Cranbrook Academy of Art when I was director of the 3D Design program, and he later succeeded me as director. The Horizon Light is the first use of thin-film LED technology in a task light. It eliminates the hard-edged, multipleshadowed, glare-prone light common to conventional LED task lights. We both agreed that the thin luminous plane of light should be celebrated and floated above the desk in the most simple, elegant way possible. Since we shared so many views about design, and Peter had helped develop the new technology, bringing a prototype light source with him, the conceptual design of the light only took a day collaborating in my studio in Denver. We worked with paper and fabric models to determine the configuration, scale and proportion of our concept. I liken the experience to two jazz musicians getting

20

w w w . innovationjournal . or g

together for a studio session and intuitively understanding and building on each other’s ideas. Because the scale and the presence of the object in the space is so important, we modeled it physically at full scale to get the figural quality and proportions we wanted. A task light is not a fixed frontal object, but exists in threedimensional space as a dynamic composition viewed from different angles and often having its position changed in relationship to the viewer. Compositionally, you can think of it as a figure that is viewed against a ground, which may be a wall or office panel or a cluttered desktop; so physical full-scale modeling allowed us to quickly evaluate the design alternatives in real space. In determining the form, we drew on our mutual interests in modern design history and the competing philosophies of Platonic minimalism and organic form exemplified in two distinct approaches to form and interior illumination. Mies van der Rohe used platonic form in his architectural and furniture compositions and often used rectilinear ceilingmounted light sources. Eero Saarinen used organic form in much of his work (like the TWA Terminal at the Kennedy International Airport) and expressively organic ambient


Light light sources to illuminate the spaces. We joined the geometric forms of the rectangular lamp head and the circular base with organically shaped transitional surfaces interfacing with the platonic ball joints at the top and bottom of the support stem. The light illuminates the desktop with a rectangular light footprint but also illuminates the organic forms of the lens and base. Our goal was to make the operation of the light self-evident and intuitive. We used a tactile, shape-coded, illuminated dimmer switch so that it could be located and intuitively operated by feel in the dark, especially important in a bed-side application. The dimmer has a last-setting memory and dims down to a 1-watt nightlight setting. At its highest setting it uses only 9 watts, and the light source lasts for 25 years of normal nineto-five use. Mies van der Rohe famously observed, “Less is more.” In this case, hiding the wires and fasteners was “more” design and engineering work than letting it all hang

out; it was important to simplify the profile to reduce visual clutter in the workspace. The thin-film LED technology uses nanofilms to project an even, glare-free, rectangular-light footprint on the desktop and documents with no hot spots or light falloff. Since people’s desktops and documents are typically rectangular, we decided on a rectangular lamp head that would project an even smart-light footprint onto the reading material. The ultra-thin, glare-free lamp head allows colleagues sitting across from each other to maintain eye contact without a bulky lamp shade or pin-point glare getting in the way. We presented a highly evolved working prototype to Humanscale, who quickly agreed to develop, manufacture and distribute the light. Peter and Virtual Studio’s development work and Humanscale’s existing good working relationship with the most advanced LED manufacturer, who contributed enormous amounts of R&D to this project, moved the product smoothly into production and global distribution. The new technology, our longtime design relationship and the expertise of Humanscale made this a very satisfying collaboration resulting in an elegantly simple product that has won 14 international awards to date. n

INNOVATION SPRING 2012

21


By Karim Rashid www.karimrashid.com Karim Rashid is one of the most prolific designers of his generation with over 3,000 designs and over 300 awards. His award-winning designs include the Garbo waste can, Oh Chair for Umbra and interiors for the Morimoto restaurant in Philadelphia and the Semiramis Hotel in Athens.

FORM

D

esign is about evolving our culture and physical landscape. It is extremely consequential to our daily lives and can positively change the behaviors of humans. It is not about trends. It is not only about problem solving, and it is not about just form

or just function. It is about progress and the evolution of social human behavior. Form follows subject. The subject is what you must concentrate on in order to inform form. Form follows fluid is a metaphor for form being amicable to the human psyche, which form can be friendly, an extension of us, part of our natural landscape. In our new technological age, we see digitally inspired language existing with the realm of handmade art. Digital craft’s new forms and colors can soothe and inspire us more than the antiquated ornamentation, sculpting, styling derivates of the past. Technological tools inspire me to make forms as sensual, as human, as evocative, as sculptural as possible, but through new shapes that were historically impossible to make. These 3D blob gestures speak of our new spiritualism and the fluid data-driven phenomena of our information era. A new culture demands new forms, concepts, materials and styles. As we shift into the post-industrial age, products are becoming more personalized as varied expressions of specific cultures, corporate identities and tribes. Throughout history,

22

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g

shaping objects has shaped culture. Currently, industrial design has a responsibility to redefine these objects in society as a celebration of value and meaning, not as a celebration of surface. Designers develop forms that are informed through broader issues of changing cultural, social and political phenomena. n


form

24

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g


By Gregg Davis, IDSA g.davis@design-central.com Gregg Davis is the co-founder of Design Central, with members composed of researchers, engineers, designers and UX developers. He’s passionate about the crossroads between emotionally compelling and functional excellence in products, services and interactions. Educated at the Pratt Institute, he’s served as executive editor of Innovation, and he has taught and lectured in Taiwan, Korea, India, Chile and Mexico.

! M R O F

a picture speaks a 3 thousand words (take the mathematical advantage)

F

orm has a powerful role to play that cannot be underestimated and that speaks volumes to the world. In order for a product to engage, form must embody the entire essence of the product’s mission, from function to aspirations and connections to the brand. The steps to achieve success

Michael Lozano

are important and can make all the difference. 1. The form is a product’s embodiment, and it gives a multitude of cues on first glance. If it fails to connect, that’s the end of the story. Form wins hands down when it comes to introducing a product. Form is the front-runner that communicates through a host of obvious and subtle cues about what a product stands for. It’s the first impression, the instant read, the gestalt, the essence. The battle is won or lost in those initial seconds! It’s been said that people decide whether a website is worth investigating within the first 15 seconds. Can you tell the essence of something at first glance? If the form doesn’t let someone get it in that short time frame, it’s over. People may not stay long enough to interact with the product in order to learn the rest of what it offers. And as fast as the world operates today, with interconnected commerce from all corners of the globe, the opportunity for a design to get noticed and considered has been reduced to the bare minimum. Products and services that immediately connect emotionally with people have a chance. And those that don’t engage are severely disadvantaged. A picture speaks a thousand words. A form speaks a thousand words cubed (3D). If people have to spend a long time digging to learn what is inside and why it’s worth paying attention to, it has become too much work.

Consider how people respond to a person’s face, a smile or the eyes. Sincerity, humor, kindness, power, strength are all cues we might sense that can engage us to connect more. Conversely, a sense of confusion or disorder can lead to boredom and to a sense of discomfort that can push us away from a person or a product. As designers we are matchmakers. We try to connect what is possible with what people want. And the form is the powerhouse that sets the ground rules. 2. Conditions have changed in this more complex world. When industry first recognized the power of design, a primary focus was to give shape to a product’s oftenconvoluted components. Although in recent years the focus has expanded to incorporate much broader sets of building blocks, leaving less time for well-developed form solutions. Our job today involves increasingly expanding disciplines—research, engineering, brand, user experience and others—which can divide our time and reduce the powerfully crucial role that form giving continues to command. Formgebung, the German word for “form giving,” was coined to describe the almost life-giving character that design represented in the new industrial age of production. Only designers have mastery of that ultimate expression of a product’s mes-

INNOVATION SPRING 2012

25


form

sage to the real physical world! It is an amazing skill. While we can’t abandon these broader disciplines that are now on our newly expanded workload, taking the time to consider how to maintain the contribution of form is fundamental.

Michael Lozano

3. Nature programmed humans to be engaged by beauty, collecting and storytelling. Mankind has always been in love with things. Materialism was built into our brains from long ago for good reason. It’s like chipmunks programmed to save nuts for future needs. We too have been able to live long periods by collecting. Not just food, but shells, stones and other things that have beauty. Not everything we saved was useful; some were just beautiful, like beads. We traded these beautiful things we thought were worth trading, and they had value. We used them for adornment. It was design; it represented forms we loved. Storytelling is also part of us. A form tells us a story that we pay attention to. Brand tells us a larger story, one of collected forms and why they link together. Today we are programmed to love collecting artifacts that please us, either for beauty or usefulness or both. It’s not something to be ashamed of, but rather to embrace and guide us in positive ways. We won’t erase what is programmed into us; it was there initially for survival and is hardwired. Most of us today have things we love. And many are manmade and designed too. We may have been introduced to them by seeing them. Their form is the introductory handshake for many things. If the handshake isn’t good, the introduction can fail, and no further dialog ensues. Over, done, dead-ended. This connection to liking the beautiful, collecting things, and being engaged by storytelling is what gives us the magnetic pull toward beautiful products and their engaging forms.

26

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g

4. What is the product’s right to life? “What is its right to life?” was a blunt comment from a colleague. She adapted a heavily used phrase from one context and placed it right in the middle of our design discussion. It forced me as a designer and my business colleagues to cut straight to the chase in considering the goals for design and even the business plan itself. What she was explaining to us was if a form, its design, doesn’t introduce its mission from the start, you’ve lost the mission. You may never be able to recoup that opportunity. People’s eyes should be able to take in an impression that speaks a thousand words (cubed) and engages them to continue listening to the story within.


5. Fundamentals are the key power. As designers we can renew the essence of form as we broaden our scope of responsibilities. There is a new generation in business that is clued in. They understand that the power of design is not superficial, not a cosmetic wrapper, but is the intrinsic embodiment of the essence of what a product represents. These are a leading class of professionals who tap into the true power of design. That design is the only real master planner of a product’s DNA, and it sets the stage to create an experience that deeply satisfies.

MNML

6. Frequent prototyping refocuses the form and gains the stakeholders’ attention. Again. He who controls the last decision owns the final result. Designers have the best tools to create results that own the

outcome better than anyone, maybe with the exception of engineers. One of the most powerful tools is creating excitement through form. Embodying form qualities and explorations frequently, early and visibly allows all team members to take part in the energy and thinking that occurs. This heavy lifting puts designers at the center of the process. Making rough prototypes, mock-ups, form-factor explorations and all the stage tools in 3D that gain the gravitational pull around these form explorations will make the process come to life and will serve as the master of ceremonies. Use form and make a rapid evolution of the development process visible and interactive for your colleagues. It may be one of the most powerful shifts you can explore for successful work in 2012 and beyond. Invest in form and it will speak a thousand words (cubed). n

“The power of crowdfunding via Kickstarter allowed TikTok+LunaTik to go

from idea to global brand and to a very profitable company in only three month’s time. —Scott Wilson, MNML

INNOVATION SPRING 2012

27


form

City and Country School Archives

This Is Rhythms

I 28

t seems somehow impertinent, even presumptuous, to attempt to explain, describe or define Rhythms in one short article. I have come to see I have a tiger by the tail—that Rhythms is one of the most fascinating, complex and advanced elements in the City and Country program.

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g


Adapted from an article by Karen Gaylord that was originally published in 1959 by the City and Country (C&C) School in New York City. Rhythms was developed at the C&C School in the 1920s. Through movement, the children portray the new worlds they are exploring. According to the school, “They come to understand their own environment and to recognize their own internal rhythms. The program develops movement and coordination skills and enhances harmony of mind, body and spirit.”

In the first place, if C&C’s philosophy embodies self-discovery, development of the whole child and the flowering of individual creativeness, then Rhythms makes the most of it. As they say uptown, it is the concretization, actualization and finalization of that philosophy. Rhythms boils down to an attempt to encourage and develop the capacities of the human organism to respond, as an organic whole, spontaneously, creatively and purposefully to the environment around it. I’d call them classes in being and becoming, aiming at self-realization. Ruth Doing, who discerned and developed the original approach, taught it originally since 1922. Sylvia Miller came, first as her student teacher, then to teach some of the classes alone, finally to take over the whole job in 1939. Miller has written elsewhere that Rhythms should give to children “the experience in childhood of harmony in mind, body and spirit, an artistic integrity, a sense of proportion and an inner and outer balance that unconsciously colors and molds the very fabric of their lives.” Fundamentals Apart from the fact that it deals essentially with nonverbal experience, one of the things that makes it so difficult to deal justly with Rhythms in a short space is that it embraces so many fields in one: the rudiments, perhaps the basics of music, dance, drama, acrobatics, social studies. Its fundamental assumption is based on the theory that “the mind works rhythmically and that the body consists of nearly 400 organs of motion whose action is rhythmic ...” From this it follows quite naturally, as Doing has written, that “rhythm is fundamental and a system of rhythmic training should call into conscious activity this wealth of untapped rhythmic resource.” The basic techniques by which this resource is developed are big body movements to music (“the organic development of knowledge—through organic listening”) and use of rhythmic materials (such as balls, hoops, scarves, ropes, etc.) to stimulate and encourage freedom and creativity of movement.

Music Music is used because “it contains so many elements which find resonance in the organism, providing an effective experience in rhythm” and because it provides stimulation toward a controlled expression of the individual. It sets the emotional and physical environment. Therefore it has to be good music, played or presented well, and carefully graded to the emotional level of the child, neither trite, nor too sophisticated. The music used by Miller has been painstakingly collected over a score of years to meet just these requirements. The accompanist must also be able to follow the children. For it is a constantly interacting process. The music motivates the child—he responds. Out of his responses may come a new innovation and music must not only stimulate, it must cooperate. Techniques Doing saw physical coordination as a basic necessity for rhythmic development. She further saw in big muscle activity the basis of coordination. Therefore most specific physical exercises in Rhythms, such as cartwheels, somersaults, headstands and certain types of dramatic play, are intended to strengthen. One starts from the center of things and only gradually as the organism is ready, works out to the finer, more subtle details of technique. And as Miller says, “The rhythmic activities themselves—skipping, leaping, galloping, etc. ..., are also designed to give children agile and skillful use of their bodies.” Great care is taken to help the children through the “awkward ages” to keep them free and flexible through the times of most difficult growth. Says Miller, “The same principles are true of all age levels, but the presentation naturally differs as the child matures.” Expression All of the preceding does no more than touch upon the ABCs of Rhythms, the basic raw materials. And at that I have left out one, and by no means the least important. Besides the music, the exercises, the materials, there is the expression of living. The fact remains, however, that from the earliest days the children act out what they learn

INNOVATION SPRING 2012

29


form

important part of the group.” It comes about in various ways. “Sometimes from social studies or trips, sometimes from particular music or pure imagination.” There is an enormous difference, says Miller, between songs made up by young children in vacuo and those made up by them as they work, play or act. The former are too often stilted and forced, while the latter, though made up of subtleties of melody and rhythm that might make a musicologist shudder, are incredibly accurate, empathetic and right for what they are doing. At 13 the children learn social dancing, “all the basic steps to everything,” says Miller. And after a thorough groundwork has been laid, they are encouraged to feel that, rather than making it into a matter of routine “1-2-3,” this too can take its place as something creative, something to improvise and build upon. Relaxation Last of all, even as the children discover how to use their bodies, so also do they discover how to refrain from using them, how to let them rest and recuperate. They explore that difficult but vital and healing art—relaxation. Strenuous exercises or activities are always followed by a short rest period, and for this, too, there is music as well as specific “relaxing” exercises. I don’t know why I chose to list this aspect last since it seems to me that in the areas of action response and tension—for every person unsure of how to get started, there are three who haven’t the vaguest notion of how to stop. In the 20th century perhaps one of the greatest gifts we could give our children would be the conscious knowledge of how to relax. and experience in school and “abroad.” This may range from the IVs, who after witnessing the remodeling of a 13th St. building from the roof promptly and spontaneously began recreating it in the Rhythms Room (they hammered, they sawed, they mixed cement) to the plays, so often complete with original music, created by the older children. “Dramatic play,” says Miller, “affords the child an expression outlet of great power in which he can feel himself the complete artist, either individually or as an

30

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g

Conclusion So it is with Rhythms. And still I am not sure that I have been in any sense able to convey the wonderful excitement, vitality and importance of this program: the sense that for each child and each group it represents something different as they respond each in their own way to a challenge that invites them to find their own individual rhythm as well as the various rhythms of the world about them. n


“Digital generation of intrinsic form,

life inside industry. —Ross Lovegrove

INNOVATION SPRING 2012

31


form

Industrial Design and Its Education

Defining Its Visual

32

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g


kfilla@pratt.edu

n

By Kathryn Filla and Martin Skalski mskalski@pratt.edu n http://mysite.pratt.edu/~mskalski

Kathryn Filla is an adjunct professor at Pratt Institute where she teaches foundation and sophomore 3D abstraction and is the coordinator for that area. n Martin Skalski is a professor at Pratt Institute where he directs the transportation design program and teaches drawing, color theory, 3D abstraction and transportation design.

Responsibility

M

aking form, the primary responsibility of the industrial design profession, is being subjugated by nonvisual areas. As a result, industrial design education has diverged from its primary mission. The following reasonings advocate for the renaissance of industrial design’s core

responsibility and its supportive pedagogy. Aesthetic Reasoning Making things, making visual ideas concrete in two or three dimensions as handcrafted, mass-produced or unique works of art, is basic to the human condition. The earliest extensions of the hand—tools, pots, ornaments and weapons—were instruments of touch. Human beings interact with forms every day of their lives. These forms make us human. Things seen and touched that make up the artifacts of a culture are the media by which archaeologists unpack the caliber of preceding civilizations. A sense of beauty or aesthetic value is a commonality among cultures throughout time. The visual world that surrounds us today and into the future is heavily dependent on and dominated by visual forms and experiences. The forms of our culture are a multitude: the car, the computer, the iPad, the hat, the table, the advertisement, the logo, the playground, the videos, the door handle, the LED lamp, the wheelchair and the grandfather clock. Examining the history of form making and the connections between the hand, eye and mind are relationships that reflect a synthesis of use, emotion and meaning. Emotional Reasoning Objects that people use in their day-to-day living are associated with emotions and behavior. We judge these objects and assign meaning and value to these forms. Forms generate feelings and reactions, ranging from the simple to the complex. Emotions and experiences are primary considerations for industrial design.

The psychologist Donald Norman, IDSA, an authority on aesthetics, emotion and product design, has researched this subject and states: “It’s all in the appearance. Shape and form matter. The physical feel and texture of the materials matter. Heft matters. Visceral design is all about immediate emotional impact. It has to feel good, look good. Sensuality and sexuality play roles. This is a major role of point of presence displays in stores, in brochures, in advertisements and in other enticements that emphasize appearance. These may be a store’s only chance of getting the customer, for many a product is purchased on looks alone. Similarly, otherwise highly rated products may be turned down if they do not appeal to the aesthetic sense of the potential buyer.” Apple Computer found that when it introduced the colorful iMac computer in 1998 sales boomed even though those cabinets contained the very same hardware and software as Apple’s other models, ones that were not selling particularly well. Automobile designers count on visual design to rescue a company. When Volkswagen reintroduced the classic Beetle design in 1993, when Audi developed the TT and when Chrysler brought out the PT Cruiser sales for all three companies climbed. The rationale for making industrial design a profession is found in the work that designers perform to integrate form with content—such as behavior, function, cost and materials—so that it yields aesthetic and cultural meaning for users. Paul Rand, a designer and educator, has stated, “The separation of form and function, of concept and execution,

INNOVATION SPRING 2012

33


form

is not likely to produce objects of aesthetic value has been repeatedly demonstrated. Similarly, any system that sees aesthetics as irrelevant, that separates the artist from his product, that fragments the work of the individual, or creates by committee or makes mincemeat of the creative process, will in the long run diminish not only the product, but the maker as well.” Industrial Design Reasoning The visual is what William Fogler, a distinguished professor at Pratt Institute, termed the primary responsibility of industrial design. “The only thing industrial design initiates is form.” Fogler’s words equate industrial design “with the forms of the personal objects and experiences that shape the days of a culture.” And further “all the other responsibilities of industrial design have their origins, their proof, their praise and their blame in other professions.” Embracing the idea that industrial design is exactly about the designing of forms gives the profession unassailable expertise in the one area that is not generated or defined by nonartist product development collaborators, such as marketers, design strategists, engineers, behavioral scientists, researchers, environmentalists or social scientists. When industrial design focuses its vision on the unique practice of creating form, its viability is clear. The major components of industrial design and product design are aesthetics, style, function, production and behavior. Style reflects cultural and psychological meanings. Aesthetics addresses universal concepts of beauty, and behavior considers the personal and cultural aspects of users. Function is the task a product or vehicle performs. Beautiful objects that we use in our daily lives make living more enjoyable. With concerns about the environment and sustainability, society must make products of higher quality in durability, function and aesthetics. Even if a product is physically sound, if it is aesthetically bad, it will not be cherished and will be quickly discarded. Before the industrial revolution, craftspeople made utilitarian products by hand. They trained for years under masters and over a relatively long period of time developed an aesthetic sensibility. Craftspeople had direct contact with the products that were made. They designed them, formed them, adjusted them, finished them, judged the results, sold them and integrated the purchasers’ reactions in subsequent iterations. With the advent of the industrial revolution, craftspeople with aesthetic sensibilities no longer made the majority

34

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g

of products. The Great Exposition of 1851 in London not only showed what manufacturing could do to produce vast quantities of inexpensive products, but ironically demonstrated that aesthetic considerations could easily be sacrificed in resultant manufactured products. During this period, Christopher Dresser, Owen Jones, William Morris and John Ruskin set out to clarify aesthetic principles for architecture, furniture and other utilitarian products. Although they were not dedicated to industrial manufacture, they showed that the ability to make judgments about the parts of a design that affect the aesthetic beauty of an object could be developed. The means to adjust parts toward a higher aesthetic could be learned and used to design more beautiful objects. Industrial design was a practice that enabled honed, refined and sophisticated forms to emerge from human hands, intellect and spirit. Like manufacturing in the 19th century, the forces for aesthetics are compromised and challenged again by the advent of computer-aided design and mechanized model making. Unlike craftspeople, those who designed for manufacture are a step removed from the actual making of products. Over the past 100-odd years, designers have developed strategies for stating the overall look or style and developing the aesthetics of products. The design process was essentially the same from the mid-1800s until the mid-1990s. To develop their product ideas, designers made drawings and models, which were then sent to be manufactured. Until the advent of computer-aided design (CAD), the design process started with fast two-dimensional sketches and relatively crude three-dimensional models. The designs were developed with even higher quality drawings and models over a period of time. The imperfections of the early sketches and models gave designers time to digest the subtleties of the surfaces, which allowed for the refinement of the aesthetics of a product during each step of the process. Until recently, automobile models started with indistinguishable piles of clay that were molded and carved by hand. The modeler had direct contact with the design. The computer brought another level of separation. The tactile connections to drawing and model making gave way to mouse manipulation and computer-driven prototyping machines. Initial drawings and models are of such technical precision and polish that it is difficult for designers to ponder the aesthetic flaws of their concepts as they develop them. Presently in the automotive industry, the design for a vehicle is rendered with a computer, and a clay or foam model is then


perfectly formed by a computer-guided machine. Designers must look at this perfect model, make aesthetic judgments about the surfaces and, in most cases, make changes on the computer. Even though in some cases work by hand is done on these machine-built models, the hand of the designer is far removed from the initial forming of the surfaces. Just like manufacturing challenged the 19th-century proponents of good design, today’s designers and educators must react to and deal with design on the computer. The new design systems mandate aesthetic training for industrial designers that goes beyond the training and rules begun in the 1800s. Industrial Design Education Reasoning Students studying industrial design must be challenged perceptually and intellectually as they learn a body of knowledge. A body of knowledge that nurtures student creativity develops competence in perception, communication, imagination, judgment, social understanding, problem finding, higher-order thinking and skills that involve mind, eye and hand comprehension. Three-dimensional abstraction is the observation, analysis and organization of visual elements

underlying art and design. Understanding and studying three-dimensional abstraction is an aesthetic practice and a basic core of industrial design education. The industrial design programs in colleges and universities have reacted to technological changes by de-emphasizing the core strengths of industrial design, aesthetics and form giving. The demands for computer-related skills have eroded the teaching of aesthetics even further. Presently many industrial design programs have fewer required courses focusing on the development of students’ visual talents for analysis, organization and creation of three-dimensional designs. If there is any nod to aesthetics, it is as an integrated part of product design courses. To acquire the visual literacy that will empower designers to function successfully, students must learn in domains that are richly complex, featuring cognitive operations such as visual analysis, interpretation and judgment. Skills of observation, problem finding, creative leaps and innovation are directly cultivated in the making of tangible physical form making. “The exercise of such higher-order thinking in design,” as John Dewey observed more than 60 years ago, “is as

INNOVATION SPRING 2012

35


form

profoundly intellectual as the act of solving a quadratic equation.” The theories of multiple forms of understanding and intelligence explained by Howard Gardner and cognitive scientists describe many different but related domains of mental functioning. Their studies reveal that artistic engagement is a mind-building experience. An intelligent eye must also be complemented with multiple perspectives that a general education in liberal arts and sciences, literature, history, science, social sciences, critical-visual studies, economics, sustainability, cultural studies and psychology can provide. The “intelligent eye” is further complemented by the concept of the “intelligent hand.” Acquiring cognitive abilities and learning relevant skills are components of higherlearning studies. These skills, drawing and three-dimensional abstraction are the critical intelligences needed in the design process. The sociologist Richard Sennett, in his book The Craftsman, writes about the principle that “making is thinking” as an extension of the progressive education maxim of “learning by doing.” Sennett goes on to say, “The craftsman explores dimensions of skill, commitment and judgment in a particular way. It focuses on the intimate connection between hand and head. Every good craftsman conducts a dialogue between concrete practices and thinking. This dialogue evolves into problem solving and problem finding. The relation between hand and head appears in domains seemingly as different as bricklaying, cooking, designing a playground or playing the cello.” In his book, Sennett also includes the architect Renzo Piano’s description of his working procedures: “You start by sketching then you do a drawing, then you make a model and then you go to reality—you go to the site—and then you go back to the drawing. You build up a kind of circularity between drawing and making and then back again.” About repetition and practice Piano observes, “This is very typical of the craftsman’s approach. You think and you do at the same time. You draw and you make.” Curriculum Reasoning The understanding of visual phenomena and its application is a field of discipline-based knowledge that students learn to understand over the course of four or five years in school and master throughout their entire lives. It provides students with aesthetic understanding and strategies for

36

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g

creating and shaping the objects in a culture. This aesthetic skill is the comprehension, organization and articulation of visual phenomenon into sensory forms. These forms, which have visual and tactile qualities, invite interaction and emotion. The ability to develop original and innovative forms applicable to product design are the result of this knowledge and core concepts. Forms created will change because they are being defined by contemporary language, new technologies, materials, processes, new cultures and behaviors. Individual visual sensitivity and self-expression learned through understanding aesthetics, style, drawing and manual skills foster the creation of a culture that is alive with memorable forms that are not black boxes but beautiful objects that are part of our day. Developing visual sensitivity, skillful procedures and craftsmanship is critical to the practice of industrial design. The educated industrial designer understands and manages visual complexity in a world that combines the real with the virtual, the sustainable with the obsolete and the ambiguous with the defined. Higher learning allows the individual student to explore and experiment. Designing with skills learned prepares the student not just for the immediate market but for future markets and new technologies and cultures. There are specialized programs in design management, design strategy and other areas related to research, the choosing of products to make and marketing. These


and other such programs are all related in that they do not conceptualize, develop and present the appearance of new products. That is the expertise of trained industrial designers. In order to excel, students graduating from any program must be at the very highest level of expertise in their respective fields. In order to carry out the major responsibility of industrial design, a curriculum for a major must give the student an understanding and control of tangible three-dimensional abstraction, drawing, model making and methods for conceptualizing new design ideas. The technology for manufacturing with the surface qualities of color, texture, pattern and gloss mandate advanced training in the aesthetics of that area as well. Two-dimensional design and the study of form and space give students aesthetic control and sensitivity over their designs, drawing gives them an efficient tool for noting and analyzing their designs, and model making gives them the experience of comparing their ideas to the look and feel of the object or place they are designing. Drawing and aesthetic skills generate ideas, insight and innovation and furthermore, strengthen critical thinking. This has been researched and verified by studies, including by Gabriela Goldschmidt, a professor of design reasoning, who writes, “Research, which compared skilled sketches to unskilled ones, showed that skilled sketchers (design students) reached significantly higher creativity rates for their synthesized inventive objects than their unskilled peers (psychology students). These results are in agreement with results obtained in other investigations that show that breakthroughs and creative leaps in the design process are often achieved while designers are actively engaged in two- and three-dimensional sketching. Most researchers agree that sketching is more than a memory aid whose purpose it is to record external images that are generated internally. Rather, inner representation in imagery and external representation in the form of sketching collaborate in an interactive process that allows entities like design objects, which do not yet exist and have never been perceived, to be conceived and brought gradually to completion through sequences of transformation and refinement.” She concludes that “cognitive strategies, especially those that hinge on visual cognition, are the key to the better understanding of design in general and design creativity in particular.” Computer-aided design and digital model-making machines are powerful systems. They make it more efficient to analyze and adjust the surfaces and surface qualities of conceptual products and places. The results of these systems are perfectly finished two- and three-dimensional graphics or forms and spaces. But without the aesthetic training and understanding of the limitations of these systems, designers and marketers get a false sense of aesthetic “perfection.”

For designers to have control over digital processes, the three-dimensional CAD modeling and digital twodimensional drawing and rendering courses must contain exercises that give students a complete understanding of the promise and limitations of these design tools. With this in mind, the industrial design portion of a student’s education must build knowledge of the core mandate of the industrial designer: aesthetics, style, drawing, model making and problem finding. The basics of each of these skills are taught in specialized classes and then are integrated and increased in every subsequent class throughout their tenure. Product, transportation and environmental design courses are tailored for specific types of designs with skill building learned in the initial specialized courses. If executed successfully, the result of such a sequential education will be an industrial designer who is ready to bring forth products and places that will emotionally connect with the people who use them. Conclusion These reasonings present a direction for industrial design education. “Education” is from the Latin word “educare,” meaning to lead out; to lead out into the world with development of intelligences and skills, and an integration of form and content. This acquisition of knowledge empowers the student and future designer to create with insight, innovation and skill the design of everyday objects of a culture and ultimately to better society. Within the last few decades, numerous design forums and accreditation committees have promoted design awareness, effectiveness, strategies, educational goals and conjectures of future trends and visions. More than 20 years ago, in 1989, the Stanford Design Forum called for “the development of a new science of design to give mental and psychological form to products and environments whose impact is primarily ‘cognitive and immaterial’ and how to design for a world that is dematerializing.” A dematerialized world has not happened; perhaps in a thousand years from now, as science fiction writers say, we will jettison our bodies in a virtual world. However, who would want that! What human being would forgo the sense of touch, taste, smell, sound and sight; the creating with our hands, eyes and minds; the myriad forms that express the wonder of being alive? This is the wonderful promise of industrial design! The words of William Fogler perfectly define industrial design: “We are all less verbal and more like the creatures that live without words than the conceits of our time let us admit. Industrial design comes into our days and speaks with forms that measure our days. Industrial design has a dominant voice in the sensory meaning of our days. I ask American industrial design to recognize that the voice has consequences. Industrial design is the possibility of joy; it is not the coercion of words. Industrial design is a calling to sensory passion!” n

INNOVATION SPRING 2012

37


By Hartmut Esslinger h@frogdesign.com n www.creativeDNAaustria.com Hartmut Esslinger is the founder of frog, an entrepreneur and a teacher.

hands & minds

S

ince I can remember, I always wanted to create and make something. I could recognize any car, motorcycle or truck. (Yes, there weren’t that many models on German roads in 1948.) I drew them well, and I also tried to make models from bark and wood. After I spent vacations with my

relatives at the Rhine River and the North Sea, I added boats and ships.

ed my own shop under our roof. However, life became more My great luck was to grow up in a tiny village where my complex: My teachers didn’t care for creativity, and even parents had rented an apartment in a farmhouse. Georg though I was still an honor roll student, they scolded me for Gauss, the farmer, was also the village carpenter, which all the “senseless stuff” I did, such as filling notebooks with meant that there was a building next to the farmhouse with sketches of cars, bikes, ships and airplanes, a wonderful workshop. It was my paradise, for which I was frequently ejected from the and I became Mr. Gauss’ nightmare, until Ideas are the notes, classroom. When I then started to build he gave up and assigned me a small table with some tools. but model making is model airplanes—around the corner there was a true fanatic who also gave credit—and On the other side of the house was began to play American music, my parents the school: one class for all eight grades. I the orchestra. became concerned. For them, I was clearly went to the class at the age four because it —frog mantra on the path down into the gutter. It didn’t was the coolest place. Mr. Hahn—a highly help that as part of their business my parents met fashion qualified teacher, who had escaped the Nazis into our pietisdesigners, most of whom actually affirmed my parents’ fears tic enclave—in hindsight, was way overqualified; he later as they tried to make me into an “orderly German.” became the principal of a high school in Stuttgart. But then My mom began to burn my sketchbooks; my dad at again, he was our lucky break: Of the students entering his least funneled my energy toward toy trains. I had a large table class during my four “official” years, six of the nine students in my room, and aside from the trains and rails I built an entire qualified for high school and two went on to college: Klaus landscape with a village using paper, plaster, matches and Henning, a great painter and sculptor, and myself. Now, small things that I found in the junk buckets at a hardware why did Klaus and I make it as creative children when all store nearby. At 14 when I decided to start a rock ’n’ roll German educational models were—and still are—rational band, I got an electric guitar, which my parents regretted and rewarded logical traits rather than visceral ones? Well, greatly—due to lack of money I also had to build some instruMr. Hahn offered a deal: When your grades were great, you ments, like drums and a skiffle guitar, from wooden barrels had the freedom to do what you liked. So we learned like and cigar boxes. This led me to another culture clash, both mad—and we got the rewards. Mine was to build a scaledwith my parents and my teachers. It also didn’t help that I down fire truck and to decorate the classroom for Easter, built the power amps from Fender kits I found in secondThanksgiving and Christmas. Klaus sculpted animals—and hand shops. But despite all the suppressive circumstances, for Christmas, the Holy Family. All we had was wood, bark, including in the arts, I was happy outside of school. paper, clay and colors. And thanks to Mr. Gauss’ shop next In music, of all things, I had one great teacher: Arthur door, we were progressing well. And because my parents Kusterer. He was a retired composer and had been a great had started a fashion business, I believed that my world was pianist, including playing concerts at the Berlin Philharmonic perfect—but life had some surprises for me. with Herbert von Karajan. He could explain—in musical When I was 10 years old, my parents bought a live-in terms—that creativity is rooted in believing and doing, withbusiness house in the next little town called Altensteig. I also out leaving another choice. He let me play the blues, but passed the entry test for high school, which again was just also requested that I learn at least the basics of Mozart and across the street from our house. I also found two carpenter Beethoven. He didn’t respect fixed times for periods and shops nearby. But they resented me being there, so I start-

38

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g


always insisted that our weekly class would make us “Mensch,” better students and better people (although there is no direct translation from German). He also instilled self-confidence in us—the class was voluntary—by saying that if we do what we love and feel right about it, we will do well. Years later, after detours serving in the army and studying engineering, I told him that I finally had found my ideal profession. He didn’t know what design meant but liked what he saw in my eyes and said, “You know, I live in sounds, and now you live in shapes—be a hero ‘Siegfried,’ but be aware of the Hagens,” referring to the Nibelungen Saga where the hero gets murdered by being stabbed from behind. He saw creative life as a heroic journey—and when he died in 1967, the fulfillment of his life was greater than the sadness. Now, as a design student, all that had been wrong in my life was right. It was a bit like being in the political opposition for 23 years and suddenly being asked to take the responsibility to govern. I realized that 90 percent of my education at school had been a waste—yes, I loved history—and that the good things were the relationships and the ability to learn. And it helped a little bit that I had learned to interact with noncreative people, which is one of the major challenges most designers don’t pass (e.g., my client doesn’t understand). When I came to the Design College in Schwaebisch Gmuend, my first trip was to the model shop; it became my living room. It also helped that Professor Karl Dittert loved models. “Renderings are nice, but models are magical,” he’d say. And I also learned that I had a lot to learn. Design is not like model airplanes; conceptual thinking and practical shaping really go tool-inhand. Like Kusterer had said, “Notes written on paper only become music by an orchestra playing them.” This became the mantra of frog: Ideas are the notes, but model making is the orchestra. So my first investment in my design garage was in cool machinery, replicating the shop at my college—and also taking hints from the master model makers I worked with on the outside, like Paul Hildinger of the former HfG Ulm. It may sound nostalgic to go back to Apple’s Snow White project with its hundreds of models (Jonathan Ive still does it with great success and fun and so does Apple Software). But it may help to look at frog’s first breakthrough success: the WEGA SYSTEM 3000 launched at IFA Berlin in 1970. Due to a lack of time, Wega took my last design model for the advertising campaign and brochure—there were even traces of my sanding still visible. This was my fifth model of this TV, made from 20-year-old special wood (I went to a woodshop for cutting, but the spherical shapes were all made by hand), plaster (for the buttons) and lots of Bondo to smooth the

transitions. From the first idea to IFA was eight months—and the success changed everything: Wega grew by 500 percent until its acquisition by Sony in 1974, and I had established myself by “form follows emotion.” Then I hired Andreas Haug and Georg Spreng as my designer peers—they would become partners from 1977 to 1982—and Walter Funk as one of the best master model makers I ever had the privilege to work with. That was a good ratio: We designers designed and made quick models, and Walter created the magical touch. Together we all designed by shaping in the shop for Wega, Vuitton, Sony and Apple, just to name a few. And because I always believed in great tools, in 1984 I pushed frog into CAD and paid $1.4 million for four stations (VAX and Intergraph). But I saw CAD as a creative tool, not as a seducer. In the meantime—with prices coming down and processing power going up—young designers have turned into digital software junkies and really believe what they see on their screens. But it’s only the notes and not the music! How did this happen? My conclusion is that it wasn’t a change in people or clients, but in process! The problem started when we designers were allowed to claim budgets and then hand down only small amounts to model making. This resulted in seeing model making as an up cost that should be avoided. And the same goes to digital, where there isn’t enough playing and testing. I just want to mention frog’s Colin Cole, who established his great digital models for our first SAP project. For this reason, I re-established a small model shop during my six years teaching at the University of Applied Art, Vienna, and for the same reason, my new studio in Shanghai will have a perfectly equipped model shop—and I am extremely satisfied that my Chinese partners understand the true value of balanced convergence between digital and analog tools and processes. After relative early successes, the curse of digital tools is complacency, which leads to mediocrity. Because excessive TV kills creativity, creative excellence is vanishing. Just like the new material polystyrene slates (which could be easily glued with vinegar acid but made shaping radii really hard work) were the real cause for HfG Ulm’s boxy design language in the 1950s, our modern-day digital design software is the cause for zillions of repetitive and bland products. Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times is a déjà vu. My conclusion and recommendation: The way of design is only achievable with creative model making and experimental prototyping by the designer(s). Tools—both real and virtual—connect our mind with the real world. However, tools also define shape in such ways that their physical and usage limitations must enhance our deep involvement, forcing us to hone our required skills into simple and true mastership. n

INNOVATION SPRING 2012

39


form

The Transformative Power of the Design Studio

The Path to a Black Belt in Design

W

ith all the recent focus on design thinking we need to consider a few questions. Are we fully describing how designers think? Are we effectively describing how design professionals research, analyze and express ideas? There are many levels and types of design thinking,

and most courses that teach design thinking to nondesigners merely skim the surface. These courses do not represent the depth of design as it is taught in design schools and as it is practiced by graduates of design programs.

Chunrong Liu

Designers and design educators must articulate how design education and practice produce industrial design thinkers. This process cannot be conveyed in a meaningful way in a three- or five-day session. Design thinking has the ability to increase innovation in companies from strategic planning to product development programs. However, current programs for nondesigners must go deeper into the process to better harvest the core value of the design process. Using a martial arts analogy: most design-thinking programs produce white belts, at best, while design schools produce black-belt designers.

40

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g

Traditional vs. Design Curricula Liberal arts education relies on the use of lectures, and professors test knowledge gained by asking students to regurgitate the material in essays or multiple-choice tests. Science courses are primarily focused on lectures with labs as a less important complement. The concept of a design studio is built on a very different educational model. If you read the writing of several popular contemporary authors as well as other respected theorists in creativity and business innovation, it is clear that the design studio


By Peter Chamberlain, IDSA and Craig M. Vogel, FIDSA peter.chamberlain@uc.edu n craig.vogel@uc.edu Peter Chamberlain is an assistant professor of industrial design at the University of Cincinnati. He has worked in the rapid prototyping industry and for companies in transportation-related manufacturing technology in both Japan and the US. n Craig Vogel is an associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Design Architecture, Art and Planning at the University of Cincinnati. He is also a professor in the School of Design with an appointment in industrial design.

Students often interact with faculty on a first-name basis, critiques are held where everyone comments on the work of others, and the work of each student is always out in the studio during class and after hours for others to see and learn from. In all of Thomas Friedman’s books he has called for a new education model to develop a new type of person to thrive in the current global economy. Many of the attributes overlap the goals of a design curriculum. While designers often debate the role of art in our field, no one can deny the theories of John Dewey, who wrote brilliantly about the idea that creative expression is as much about the process as the result. In design studios, students learn how to value process as much as product and that design is not just a career but a way of life. Chunrong Liu

embodies all the core elements for innovative thinking and optimum team performance described in their books. Designers learn to see and express ideas in a way that allows them to evolve from quickly developed qualitative concepts to highly defined quantitative solutions. Researchers in cognitive perception are just beginning to develop the technology and methodologies to better understand this type of thinking. Brain-scanning technology combined with a new appreciation for empathic holistic thinking has great promise in helping to support the value in the approach used in design schools to teach students how to become innovative problem solvers. In his books Blink and Outlier, Malcolm Gladwell describes, respectively, the need to develop a gestalt awareness when looking at things (the ability to blink) and how focusing on an activity or topic for 10,000 hours gives you a level of mastery in that subject. Design studios provide a base for both those abilities. In Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner describes different types of intelligence, including spatial intelligence. Most education only focuses on linguistic and logical mathematical education. In design studios, students are taught to develop their spatial intelligence to visually analyze the world and to capture that analysis through drawing and modeling. Students then learn to develop early concepts into comprehensive representations of future alternatives. This idea of comprehensive futures is described in Herbert Simon’s book The Sciences of the Artificial. His belief is that design is the process of translating existing situations into preferred states. In Daniel Pink’s book Drive, the author makes the point that in the current service-economy employees need to be self-motivated, not thinking about an eight-hour day. Design students learn how to become intrinsically motivated and stop relying on a road map to an A. They learn through studios that design is not a nine-to-five job; it is about having a passion for the work. As businesses strive to create horizontal structures where management and employees work as equals, design studios function as horizontal learning environments.

In-depth: The Second-Year Studio Students in the industrial design program at the University of Cincinnati are members of a highly effective and organically structured experience, which maximizes creative freedom, optimizes skill development and produces thoughtful, wellrounded designer-citizens. The second year of the industrial design curriculum is a pivotal period in which the students begin to understand the full breadth of the discipline. The studios are a dojo, where students begin to develop their potential as innovative thinkers and doers, as they branch out into projects that are at once a natural progression of their foundation studies and a more discipline-specific focus on industrial design. It is within this period that students undergo their most marked increase in skills and perspective. However, they do not learn this within a traditional dissemination format. They are given the freedom to explore and to begin the development of empathic holistic thinking while continuing to sharpen their industrial-design-specific skill base. Instructors act more as coaches, providing support and information where needed. As a supportive framework around the main studio course, the Making of Things, Design Communication and Design Technology courses address the width of the indus-

INNOVATION SPRING 2012

41


form

trial design discipline and provide students with ample perspective and know-how. This framework acts as a rather deep and wide base upon which successive levels of the students’ trajectory through the curriculum rides. During the first term of the sophomore studio, students are engaged in two- to three-week-long projects that focus on developing form, capturing emotion and understanding the significance of basic mechanics and materiality. These projects provide students with the capability to manipulate 3D form to communicate a desired message, select appropriate materials and manufacturing processes, create realistic and engaging proof of concept prototypes, and deliver compelling and articulate design concept presentations. The combination of all of these abilities is necessary for the students to become truly immersed in the work, to begin to develop the perspective to understand the balance between the multiple forces that must come together to create a successful holistic design concept and to make informed decisions based upon this understanding. In the second term, students are asked to shift their focus to the target user as they learn to empathically consider the emotional, psychological and physical requirements of others by employing basic design research methodologies. In doing so, an important shift occurs in the curriculum and in the mindset of these increasingly innovative problem solvers. Although the students are still engaging in short two- to three-week-long assignments, they are now considering a significantly wider range of factors in their development of new design concepts—the beginnings of an empathic and informed user-centered design approach. There is considerable time, effort and rigor required to reach this level of development. Learning how to create and control aesthetic compositions, engaging positive and negative three-dimensional space, and communicating emotion through form and materiality actually heighten their ability to see and to achieve a sensibility to intuit more innovative and successful design results. They do not have Gladwell’s 10,000 hours under their belts (which at this point is probably a yellow belt), but they have much more than a few days’ worth of exposure and experience might afford. The third term of the sophomore industrial design studio series allows students to assemble all of their experience and perspective thus far in the execution of a longer, more substantial design project. As the students develop a

42

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g

power tool for a specific target user, they draw on all of their form giving, human factors, and materials and manufacturing understanding and techniques for application. The iterative development of design solutions flows from both their skill base in visualization and their sensibility that has been refined through previous projects. Creating Design Hybrids The design studio is the spine that introduces synthetic thinking to students and increases in scope and complexity each year. While it is clear that design programs need to constantly evolve to respond to the changes in social, economic and technical factors, designers need to better understand and articulate our core value. The design studio is an undervalued asset in the emerging field of design thinking. If you visit design firms all around the world, they are all upscale versions of the interactive dynamic introduced in the basic academic design studio. If design thinking is to reach its total value as a contributor to innovation in profit and nonprofit organizations, the concept of how it is to be taught to nondesigners must continue to evolve. Current programs meet the needs of business executives who want a quick infusion and have little time to spare. The focus is on how to improve strategic planning but fails to address how to deliver design value at the level of implementation. It is important to recognize that there are distinct levels of design thinking. As business learns about design process, it is essential to convey the message that there is difference between design awareness and in-depth design taught in four-year programs. We hope this article is a beginning in meeting that challenge. We both teach interdisciplinary project studios combining design students with engineering and business students. All three disciplines provide distinct and valuable insight in finding solutions for an opportunity. In every studio we teach one of the challenges we face is how to get business students and engineers to develop the sense of commitment and passion that design students bring to the table. Design students have more drive and blink better than students in other disciplines. Nondesign students become believers after one semester. Design graduate programs could play a major role in creating design hybrids if they could take the core of the studio sequence and integrate that process into a master’s program for nondesigners. n


By Steven Skov Holt, IDSA stevenskovholt@sbcglobal.net Steven Skov Holt is distinguished professor of industrial design at California College of the Arts (CCA) where he and his wife, Mara, have been teaching contemplative biology since 2008. Holt has been editor of ID magazine, co-founder of Parsons’ Product Design program, design visionary at frog design and chair of industrial design at CCA. In 2003, he received the IDSA Education Award.

The

Formlessness of Form and Contemplative Biology 3D printing enables infinite growth variations, each one exactly the same but completely different: Hyphae Lamps Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg for Nervous System, 2011

INNOVATION SPRING 2012

43


form

“So we are drawn to the natural world,

aware that it contains structure and complexity and length of history as well, at orders of magnitude greater than anything yet conceived in human imagination.

�

— Edmund O. Wilson, The Future of Life

W

hen I first identified the blobject as a phenomenon to reckon with in the early 1990s, many in the design community were still unprepared for the revolution in fluid form that was to come. In fact, blobjects came under criticism almost right away for their apparent superficiality and

the simplistic form language they seemed to represent. But I found the opposite to be true. The more I learned about them, the more I believed that they reflect fundamental human attributes and primal psychological needs. After years of investigation, the material coalesced into Blobjects & Beyond: The New Fluidity in Design.

44

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g


Giving tangible form to the previously formless, human lifespan becomes raw material for a new kind of object: Age of the World Vases: France, US, Japan, Egypt and Russia, Matthieu Lehanneur, 2009

form, is inspired by the flux of life itself. On the quantum At its high point in the late 1990s, the blobject had become level, as Albert Einstein postulated, energy and mass are our generation’s go-to form language for the big jobs and indistinguishable (E=mc2, or energy equals matter times the the key projects. Its highly curvaceous shapes, exuberant colors, scalability, plasticity in form and material, affinity speed of light squared); space and time, as a consequence, for making immediate human connections and embodied are relative to each other, not two separate things. The optimism all spoke to the prevailing mood of the new millenbenefit of accepting this paradoxical condition is the recognium to come. Technology was leading the way forward, the nition that an object or system can simultaneously display future looked rosy, and the events of 9/11 and the Internet multiple, even opposing, qualities: flexibility, fluidity, motility, stock collapse were several years off. growth, expansion, transparency, camouAlong the way I couldn’t help but bio-logical flage, invisibility, weightlessness, interactivnotice that many blobjects took on the ity, gesture, seamlessness and emotional form of living things: When I squinted I saw the new master metaphor resonance. translucent cells and squirming amoebas, Formless form is exactly the right term articulated bones and stretching sinews, inspiration – life to deal with our expanding virtual world of sprouting plants and indistinct shapes that products, services and experiences. When were nonetheless suggestive of body parts, we are working in time-based digital inter—haiku on form #34 a medley of mysterious skins and tenuously active space, we don’t have to deal with controlled mutations. By the time the book was published the realities of material or gravity or any of the stuff of physin 2005, I was certain that the blobject represented the 21st ics and chemistry. But we do need lifelike reference points century’s first compelling answer to the question, How do and emotional connections in these virtual ecosystems of biology, technology, culture and emotion come together? increasingly intuitive software applications, made-up charNow, seven years later, the case can be made that the fluid acters and imaginary consumer goods. Biologically inspired and upbeat forms of the blobject—so alive in their dizzying thinking can provide those and can make our virtual worlds variety of organic shapes—also laid the foundation for the come alive. biologically inspired form revolution that we are just beginAlthough books such as The Whole Earth Catalog, ning to experience. William Irwin Thompson’s The American Replacement of Nature and Janine Benyus’ Biomimicry had influenced my Biology as the Master Metaphor thoughts about how design and biology could learn from for the 21st Century each other, the book that did it for me was Mind and Nature Biology, the science of life—with its emphases on interdeby the biologist Gregory Bateson. In this, his final book, a pendent cycles, constantly shifting balances and processsumming-up of the lessons of his life, he reflected on what based systems; with its bias toward both simple and he thought every schoolchild should know. Adults, too. extravagant displays of shape, texture, color and pattern; Things like the difference between order and logical type, and with its natural and easy relationships concerning all between the map and the territory, between number and manner of health, sustainability and ecological issues—proquantity, between beauty and ugliness, and the relationship vides both a ready launch pad and a willing scaffold for new between difference, threshold and information. design possibilities. Inspired by Bateson, my approach to design thinking What biology offers design first and foremost is a new in the time of formless form has become more elemental, way to think about form and form languages from opposite incremental and focused on curiosity as a necessary and ends of the formal spectrum. One is the nadir, the “design often overlooked precondition to creativity (e.g., innovadegree zero” of primordial organic formlessness; the other tion). I am coming from a position whereby the living is the apogee, the neo-Borgian state of complete systems world of biology delivers both immediate beauty, awe and overload, a complex, structured system of systems. The wonder and subtle, more poetic shades of all three that surprising connection between the two? Their formless manifest over time through observation, interaction and form—they both lack an initial definable form. contemplation. I call my approach contemplative biology, From discrete concrete objects to entire seemingly and I use it today as a way to think about form, critique uncontrollable systems, this new kind of form, formless and creative process.

I N N O V A T I O N sprin g 2 0 1 2

45


Organic stealth and parametric modeling results in curvaceous forms created from an interlocking system of spiky scales: Diploid Lamp, Andrew Kudless, 2009

Contemplative Biology as a Design Practice In order to practice contemplative biology, we need not be scientist-designers. But we do need to start reconnecting with the sense of wonder that we experienced as schoolchildren. As a child, I had direct experience with nature, lots of free time spent outside roaming around the banks of the Farmington River and the forests of the Nepaug Reservoir in rural Connecticut. These weren’t just after-school or weekend diversions. They were places where I found that curiosity turned into play, play turned into discovery and discovery ultimately turned into learning. Contemplative biology encourages us to take a conscious pause to carefully observe the forms and systems of the natural world—the colors, patterns, textures, details, functions, openings, enclosures, surfaces, appendages, structures and interactions therein. It also encourages us to see the whole organism, to see it anew with fresh eyes, to place ourselves in the position of being a kid again seeing the living world around us for the first time. If we can use our imagination in this way, we can see how profoundly anomalous (as a form) and unlikely (as a design) most natural organisms truly are. Look at a hippopotamus, a cuttlefish or

46

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g

a pelican as a designed object. Can you conceive of a creative process that would result in those three animals being the final form you take to prototype and begin tooling for? Or look at a bug. To see it anew, imagine that you are a visitor from outer space. Take the time to really look closely at it and puzzle it out. On the way, stop and enjoy the delights that you may have forgotten about as the machinery of standardized education wore you down and the pressures of adult life beat the enthusiasm out of you. Get inspired by the layered armor of the artichoke. Marvel in the kit of component parts that is the ant. Bask in the bioluminescent glow illuminating the jellyfish’s fluid and flowing anatomy. A stupid housefly’s head is a microscopic stainedglass-meets-a-Predator amalgam of jaw-dropping precision, a three-dimensional optic system that dominates the entire head with its jeweled fruit-like lens arrays. anticipation Now take it a step further. How might you faban embodied desire ricate that fly? Could you endless formless forms reverse design it? Could you co-opt a component or connection? Could you —haiku on form #5 double or quadruple the scale and still approximate the features within the prescribed dimensions? Could the lacy reticulated wings or the hairthin dimensionally unstable-appearing legs offer solutions to yet unimagined design challenges? Could you find a way to fabricate the housefly’s incredible iridescent compound eyes made up of thousands of hexagonal microlenses, each pointing in a slightly different direction? If you could, it might greatly advance surgical endoscopy; it might enable a new, vastly larger field of vision for surveillance and hidden cameras. And that is only the beginning. What astounds me, over and again, is that there are aspects of living organisms that we couldn’t begin to replicate today; certain “design features” of plants and animals that, even with our greatest efforts, we couldn’t duplicate, build or manufacture, perhaps couldn’t even conceive of. I’m blown away by the intricacy of form and material that the living world provides—and you will be too—assuming that we both stop long enough to really look. From a more technical perspective, I’m amazed by nature’s tolerances in manufacturing (as in its proliferation of valid eye-head-antenna combinations), its ability to regenerate missing or damaged parts (as in certain snakes


and lizards) and its use of deterioration as a positive part of its life cycle, and even death as a beneficial source of energy. Looked at from the perspective of contemplative biology, the “design details” of the flora and fauna around us offer examples of finely tuned craftsmanship, radical rapid-prototyping technology and ultimate waste management systems.

the science of life a way to talk about life ettore was right

Toward a Life of Biological Thinking Bateson, whose writing encouraged me so many years ago to think of biology’s lessons as part of design’s process, summed up his life’s work in a single simple maxim: Search for the pattern that connects. Since then, those six words have become my own mantra, applicable to my teaching, writing and design work, and by extension to my own life. The more I embraced a biological perspective as part of my creative process, the more it became part of my methodology for dealing with problems of all types (personal, business, financial, et al), and the less sense it made to keep a distinction between my professional designer concerns and those of everything else. With a contemplative, biology-based approach—to design, to life itself—we have a new opportunity to shift away from the 20th century’s impulse to dominate the environment, toward one of measured coexistence. Thinking and doing biologically will act as a catalyst to hasten the shift. But the transition can’t occur quickly enough. Contemporary society seems to be beset with drama and trauma; our position on the planet feels tenuous, as are the positions of many of the creatures and plant life we have dealings with. We may have mastered our environment through industrial and technological means—and in the process made everyone feel momentarily complacent—but we have wreaked havoc on the habitats and species of the world, including our own. It is time for prolonged introspection, close observation and full appreciation of the natural world for the profound lessons it has to teach us. It is time to engage in the search for formless form, the open-ended, flexible and expansive

—haiku on form #3

form that is found throughout the biological realm and that is revealed to us most naturally in deep contemplation—the close observation and intent study—of the vast offerings of nature. If one thing has become clear to me over the last decade, it’s that biology will be to the 21st century what physics was to the 20th century: the source of the era’s most transformative thinking and most powerful big ideas. The approach I call contemplative biology aims to restore a childlike, open-ended, formless sense of wonder and possibility that can sustain us both as designers and as motivated citizens of the world in which we live. Nature never stops iterating in the search for better solutions, and neither should we. n

An example of just how far contemplative biology can be taken to create new forms based on natural systems: Idea of a Tree, Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler, 2008

INNOVATION SPRING 2012

47


form

Communicating Design Intent with Form

Visual Intelligence

D

eveloping visual intelligence is essential for the designer and, perhaps, for other professionals, such as artists, surgeons, architects, engineers, astronomers, nurses, teachers and writers, whose work

requires perceptual reasoning. Visual intelligence is a sophisticated tool. It is seeing and understanding the underlying organizational pattern—or lack of—in a given situation and envisioning what framework might be created to solve the problem. Visual intelligence enables the designer to make primal sense of the world by understanding the structure of relationships and responding with usable context and content. This sensory skill makes it possible for the designer to create order, form, function, beauty, meaning and expression through structured relationships. It is what enables a designer to visualize profound connections that go unnoticed by many others. In the Industrial Design Department at the Pratt Institute, the foundational ideas of the Alexander Kostellow/Rowena Reed pedagogy are used to teach the core principles of seeing and understanding the profound basis of visual relationships and abstraction. I have come to appreciate this pedagogy as a practicing professional and as a teacher of three-dimensional design. This methodology can be a life-changing experience and often amazes students. It cultivates the cerebral cortex and produces a meaningful perceptual experience of the world that supports advanced abstract thinking and language. “I now see the world differently” is an exclamation made by many students after they experience a course in 3D abstraction.

48

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g


By Jeffrey Kapec, IDSA jkapec@tkdg.com n www.tkdg.com Jeffrey Kapec is principal and executive VP of Tanaka Kapec Design Group Inc. He graduated with honors from the Pratt Institute, receiving a bachelor’s of industrial design. He has been awarded over 40 utility patents (US and international) developing surgical instruments, advanced technology, consumer products and scientific equipment. He also teaches in the industrial design department at Pratt.

“It’s not what you look at that matters,

it’s what you see.

— Henry David Thoreau

It is a complex pedagogy that must be taught as a continuum over the course of three to four years. This teaching process cultivates in the student a progressive methodology for engaging two- and three-dimensional abstraction as a means of breaking through the barriers of predictable design outcomes. The educational experience provokes and subsequently provides the student with the basic tenets of harnessing abstract structural relationships, whether applied directly to form making for design or to the bigger issues of how elements fit together in the scheme of global relationships in areas of design, architecture, medicine, digital content, music, corporate management and whatever else matters for making the world a better place to live in. It is not just for making things look good or even beautiful. It is a matter of understanding and penetrating the very principles of structure, organization and relationships that can be applied to many disciplines, within and outside the design profession. For the young designers who choose to work in the classic physical form world or the virtual digital world, this education in visual intelligence will provide a profound reference for understanding essential matters as basic as good proportions, visual organization, contrast and complementary relationships. Child’s Play Abstraction and the sensory world of visual relationships embody more than the obvious connections that we intuitively relate to the creative fields of art and design. There is, in fact, a deep theoretical study that lies at the center of developmental cognitive science regarding visual relationships and abstraction. We are learning from the research of cognitive scientists that children as young as infants have

abstract structured representations of the world. They have intuitive theories, grammars, conceptual hierarchies and phonological maps. And by using them, children learn and create working structures for their cognitive development, piecing together the world in front of them one element at a time. They create abstract representations, based on concrete experiences, from the contingent evidences of their senses. This sounds a lot like a freshman or junior 3D studio class at Pratt. How can children induce abstract structure from contingencies? There are many pathways by which this is done. Cognitive scientists have shown that even four-yearolds going about their day discover new abstract variables, experiment to resolve observed causes and weigh their daily incoming perceived evidence against prior knowledge while using experimentation and play to make sense of the world. In other words, this process is written into our genetic code where it once enabled us to survive on a primitive level and now, thousands of years later, it enables us to grow, thrive and enrich in a technological world. And

INNOVATION SPRING 2012

49


form

to think that over the years we have been taught to grow up and move on from experimental child’s play! The hands-on experimentation process is an important tool for success, often leading to the proverbial aha moment when something is discovered that becomes an entirely new idea. Any profession would be well served by this tool. Many masters in art, design, architecture, medicine, science and music—Picasso, Einstein, Phillip Glass, Paul Rand, Charles and Ray Eames, Martha Graham and Igor Stravinsky, to name a few—have had direct experience learning the basic tenants of abstract relationships. In their learning environment they were introduced to the intellectual, abstract and technical components of their disciplines, which later served as lifelong tools for seeing what others do not see. The masters took their educational experience and changed a part of the world. They possessed the innate tools for long-term intellectual growth and vision. Not only did they learn the tenants of abstract visualization, they were able to harness it in their work. This is completely different from a skill-acquisition or knowledge-driven educational experience. One of the interesting educational aspects concerning Albert Einstein is that he attended an elementary school that followed the teaching method of the Swiss educator Johann Pestalozzi. It was a perfect school for Einstein. Pestalozzi believed in encouraging all students to visualize images, declaring, “Visual understanding is the essential and only means of teaching how to judge things correctly.” Given his early educational upbringing, Einstein believed in the sensory visual world. Actually, the visual understanding of concepts became a significant aspect of Einstein’s genius. At the early age of 16, Einstein used visualization when he postulated that the speed of light was

50

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g

always constant. By his early 20s, Einstein had visualized the concept of time travel and the theory of relativity, long before he ever proved it mathematically. Later in life he would write, “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination circles the earth.” I spent five years in independent study with Rowena Reed Kostellow in her fabled Saturday class. That studio experience, coupled with four years of studying industrial design at Pratt, changed my life forever. In the Saturday class, we spent hours in the studio analyzing and applying the principles of visual design relationships to our assigned projects. Thereafter, we often spent the remainder of the day going to museums or architectural spaces or attending concerts to see and understand how these principles were applied by the masters. Before this experience, I would look at a Picasso, Matisse, Saarinen or Eames design and experience just the surface, like a dry art history lecture. Or, if I listened to Aaron Copland or Duke Ellington, I would only hear sound. But after that learning experience, I started to reach below the surface where the structural relationships were waiting to help me decipher, see and hear. I also learned that this educational experience takes time to absorb and internalize. It cannot fully take root and bloom in one or two classes. It cannot be taught like a technical studio class. It is akin to studying music composition and theory. You must apply it over and over, question, experiment, fail many times and eventually internalize it before it becomes a lifetime tool. It is then a part of your cognitive DNA. Once students gain the power of the perceptual and analytical tools, they can go out and challenge the rules with confidence and insight. A Universal Language In our design office we have applied the principles of abstract relationships for every type of problem, for example, a user interface design to assist dermatologists navigating complex medical diagnostic protocols—a virtual world indeed. We recently developed one such system for body mapping multiple potential cancerous skin lesions on the patient. Physicians love the system because it took a very complex organization and navigation problem and simplified it into a set of visual hierarchies in which the architecture and visual language is clear, simple and understandable. The client has patented the system. Throughout my 35 years in professional practice, I have relied heavily on the educational experience gained


from studying abstraction and three-dimensional design to objectively present design problems and frame viable solutions for clients. Much like mathematics, the basic principles of abstraction can be a powerful and universal language for bridging the intellectual gap between all disciplines of thought. Our office is steeped in the realistic demands of technical execution in advanced medical technology as evidenced by the projects that we work on. We have to evaluate, choose and make recommendations for materials that will be implanted into the human body—and therefore subjected to FDA scrutiny and approval. We have to justify every design decision, on both form and function, that we make in our design development concepts, design inputs and design outputs. And these must be documented and recognized by the FDA as part of its new design directive standards. The choices that we must make are neither arbitrary nor subjective. They are very serious and have deep consequences. And because of that, we harness this visual language of abstraction every day for communicating design intent with form. What is so compelling is that when we use visual language, carefully expressed to convey design intent, our clients get it every time. Moreover, they respect us because we communicate grounded and logical outcomes. I have always been inspired by the work and teaching of Paul Rand, who once attended and later taught at Pratt. His work illustrates the best of what a designer can offer

to a client whether in two-dimensional, three-dimensional or other formats. Rand would always produce a functional, beautiful, clearly thought out solution for each and every design problem. When I look at his work, I see a designer who has cultivated visual intelligence. Rand believed in cultivating the process, the importance of understanding the abstract problem, “getting an idea, sketching, investigating all the aspects” and using the eyes and the hands to work out the “revelation or illumination.” This is exactly when the ideal solution emerges. This process cannot evolve without hands-on experimentation. For Rand, the hands were part of the pathway to the higher workings in the brain, the cognitive linkage. Students would ask Rand, “What is design?” fully expecting some complex outline of issues, but he had a simple answer: “Everything is design. Design is relationships. Design is a relationship between form and content.” He also stressed that design is a system of proportions, which means organizing the relationship of sizes. “Design is the manipulation of form and content. … Content is the idea or subject matter. Form is what you do with this idea. How do I deal with it? This is part of the manipulative aspect of design. … It is important to use your hands to solve problems; this is what distinguishes you from a cow or a computer operator.” Perhaps that is why, upon seeing an exceptionally elegant design solution that Rand had developed for him, Steve Jobs spontaneously asked, “Paul, can I hug you?” How often have we had that response from demanding clients? n

INNOVATION SPRING 2012

51


form

Hungarian designer Eva Zeisel worked in Germany and Russia before she escaped to the US. In 1939, Donald Dohner, head of the industrial design program at the Pratt Institute, met Zeisel and immediately recognized her talent as a designer (as opposed to a crafts ceramicist). He persuaded her to teach the class Ceramic Design for Industry. Dohner set up a fully equipped plaster shop on the street level of the engineering building. He even engaged Mr. Cazani, a retired veteran of the ceramic industry, as a full-time instructor in jigging, mold making and slip casting. She taught in the ceramic arts department until 1952. She received many honors throughout her life, including a one-woman show in 1947 at the Museum of Modern Art. In 1993 she was honored with the Rowena Reed Kostellow Award. Eva Zeisel: A Soviet Prison Memoir, compiled and edited by Jean Richards and Brent Brolin, is available at www.evazeiselmemoir.com.

Eva Zeisel 1906–2011

tribute was the first designer name I knew because she was my dad’s teacher at Pratt, and every night “She when I was a kid, we’d eat dinner off her plates—my mom’s teapot is making the shadow on the cover.” —Tucker Viemeister, FIDSA

“Eva’s pupils and their pupils will carry her energy.”

—Jaime Gomez

few years ago, Gerald Gulotta, Richard Hayden and I enjoyed a dinner evening with Eva at her home. She “Aasked us all what we had done in our careers. Richard said he had done the restoration of the Statue of Liberty. She said, ‘Yes, but what have you done lately?’” —Pamela Waters

“A friend. I will miss her.” —Bruce Hannah

a privilege to have been one of Eva’s students. Eva Zeisel encouraged us to ‘seek beauty.’ “What She defined beauty as ‘a love affair of the eyes with things.’ Yet Eva was a stickler for function and understanding production methods and their limitations. You were scolded if your teapot spout dripped or if you failed to consider undercut problems in the slip mold or if you didn’t take into account varied wall-thickness deformations in a very hot kiln. When she received the IDSA Personal Recognition Award in 1997 (at 91 years old), she still showed that feisty spirit, decrying those ‘designers who failed to seek beauty in the things that we make.’” —Budd Steinhilber, FIDSA, Pratt I.D. ’43

“How fortunate we were at Pratt to have had Eva on our faculty for 15 important years of her life. Her influence on so many students, faculty and alumni was awesome.”

—Tom Schutte, president of Pratt

bringing Eva some wild mushrooms—chanterelles, black trumpets—gathered from the woods around “Imyremember house. She cradled each gently and smelled each one as she selected the ones she wanted. Later she asked about upstate, and I said that Mike and I had a house together. ‘Who’s Mike?’ she queried. ‘My boyfriend,’ I replied. ‘We’ve been together for six years.’ ‘Oh,’ she said. ‘And how many boyfriends do you have?’ ‘Just one.’ ‘Hmmm,’ she replied. ‘Only one? That’s too bad.’” —Debera Johnson, director, Pratt Center for Sustainable Design

52

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g


53

TalismanPHOTO

INNOVATION SPRING 2012


showcase

Open Forum

come one, come all

“Simple. Playful. Wired.

Using the cable as a defining element, Express Mouse makes wired cool.

�

Microsoft Express Mouse designed by Microsoft Hardware User Experience Team & Carbon Design Group for Microsoft; www.microsoft.com/hardware; www.carbondesign.com

54 54

ww ww w..innovationjournal I N N O V A T I O N journal..or org g w


I N N O V A T I O N sprin g 2 0 1 2

55 The submitters pay for the submissions to this unjuried showcase.


showcase

“The power is in you!

Now train with it!

Joule GPS and Joule Cycling Computers designed by InForm Product Development for Saris Cycling Group/CycleOps; www.in-form.com

“The 12 Volt MAX* DEWALT Instruments bring sophisticated technology

and innovation to users on every jobsite.

12 Volt MAX* DEWALT Instruments designed by DEWALT Power Tools - Industrial Design; www.DEWALT.com

56

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g


“A men’s groomer with a dynamic

form language that emphasizes portable precision.

Greg Neumaier

All In 1 Grooming System designed by TEAMS Design for Remington; www.teamsdesign.com

“Intuitive ergonomic features

and a clean design reduce errors in the monitoring of cerebrospinal fluid drainage.

“Love ’em or hate ’em, white plastic stackable chairs,

Duet™ External Drainage and Monitoring System designed by Metaphase Design Group for Medtronic Surgical Technologies; www.metaphase.com

now comes a rocking chair version.

Monobloc Rocking Chair designed by Cooper C. Woodring, FIDSA; ccwoodring@cox.net INNOVATION SPRING 2012

57


showcase

“World’s thinnest 4G qwerty smartphone

designed with an ergonomically advanced and edge-lit keypad.

MOTO DROID 4 designed by Consumer Experience Design, (CXD) MMI for Motorola Mobility Inc.; danielle.mcnally@motorola.com

“World’s thinnest dual-core 4G smartphone delivering cutting-edge innovations in software, engineering and design.” MOTO RAZR designed by Consumer Experience Design, (CXD) MMI for Motorola Mobility Inc.; danielle.mcnally@motorola.com

“World’s first wearable GPS fitness tracker and intelligent music player all in one.” MOTO ACTV designed by Consumer Experience Design, (CXD) MMI for Motorola Mobility Inc.; danielle.mcnally@motorola.com

58

w w w . innovationjournal . or g


“First contact.” TP-Link G/N Gateway/Router designed by Whipsaw for TP-Link; whipsaw.com

“X-quisite.” Eton FRX3 designed by Whipsaw for Eton Corp.; whipsaw.com

“Good design cells.” Muse Cell Analyzer designed by Whipsaw for Merck Millipore; whipsaw.com

I N N O V A T I O N sprin g 2 0 1 2

59


showcase

“Bamboo Chair has a natural flexibility to conform to body weight, size and movement.” Bamboo Chair designed by ECCO Design Inc. for Herman Miller; www.eccoid.com

“Hive Watch bracelet showcases the latest thin-film e-paper display technology in a bold, minimalist package.

Hive Watch designed by ECCO Design Inc.; www.eccoid.com

“Natural, sustainable materials meet high performance audio engineering for an authentic look with premium sound.

Trenchtown Rock Destiny Collection Headphones designed by TEAMS Design
for The House of Marley; www.teamsdesign.com

60

w w w . innovationjournal . or g


“Skiff e-newspaper featuring pocket-friendly trifold touchscreen and paper-thin metal- backed e-ink display.

Skiff e-newspaper designed by ECCO Design Inc. for SKIFF; www.eccoid.com

“The Nest Learning Thermostat.

Technology should be about more than newest, loudest, prettiest. It should make a difference.

nest learning thermostat designed by bould design for nest labs inc; www.bould.com

“Type, surf, move or play,

the mode you need is just a shift away.

Toggle Multimode Touch Remote designed by Carbon Design Group; www.carbondesign.com

I N N O V A T I O N sprin g 2 0 1 2

61


showcase

“Breakthrough ceramic grill design with no fuss, pull-out ash drawer and electric starter port.� Kamado Professional Series - S designed by Metaphase Design Group for Vision Grills; www.visiongrills.com

62

w w w . innovationjournal . or g


“World’s most exciting new sports-technology platform—the first to measure linear and rotational accelerations of head impacts from inside the head.” BTX2 - Impact Sensing Mouthguard designed by Anvil Studios Inc. for X2Impact Inc.; www.anvil-studios.com; www.btx2impact.com

“The ergonomically designed Medtronic IPC™ takes the

clutter and confusion out of ENT surgery.

Integrated Power Console (IPC™) System designed by Metaphase Design Group for Medtronic Surgical Technologies; www.metaphase.com

“Touch screen technology, chain-

enabled expandability—linking USB storage with security and convenience.

USB+ designed by Radius Product Development; www.radiuspd.com

I N N O V A T I O N sprin g 2 0 1 2

63


sig nposts

New Default Settings

A

s an industrial designer I have spent most of my career thinking of form as physical shape, and how we perceive and react to it emotionally, aesthetically and psychologically. Things have been changing recently, and some of the fundamentals we were taught have been challenged. We learned that there was a sort of divine communication between object and human that was encoded into our DNA, an unconscious perception forged from carrying spears or hanging from branches in our past. A one-inch-diameter cylinder was the purest way to communicate graspable; a 20-inch-high platform was an invitation to sit. We just know what a lever is and, therefore, what a switch should look like. There is some kind of primal encoding that we could intuitively draw on to create forms that communicate with users. This in turn would make our designs intuitive and, therefore, easy to use. Then, one day, my five-year-old walked up to the TV eye-level to the logo at the bottom of the screen. Her shoulders sagged at the uninspiring grown-up content that was being broadcast. So she reached up, casually touched her index finger to the left side of the screen and irreverently swiped to the right to dismiss the show. Convention would suggest that a knob should be turned or a button pressed to respond to her wish. In the absence of any other indication of what to do, her reflex was to swipe, not to go look for a button or the remote. I contacted George Fitzmaurice, a pioneer of largescreen HCI and gestural user interfaces, and the current head of user interface research at Autodesk, to help me understand what was going on and what this meant to the next generation of user interfaces. I asked him if this was a blip, a special time or a natural pattern of evolution in the way we perceive objects and how to interact with them. He shared these thoughts: n The short answer is that we are seeing a natural pattern of evolution. Technology is finally catching up to research that was done many years ago.

Gestures have surged in popularity primarily on two fronts: “finger skating” on a input-display surface (like the Apple iPhone and iPad) and whole-body motion sensing (like the Microsoft Kinect). n Our expectations evolve. We get a bit more demanding. We want to do more customized actions with less effort and don’t want to repeat ourselves. Could it be that we have a little bit of an interaction diva inside us? So, what does this teach us about the use of design fundamentals versus breaking conventions? How important is designing to our intuition about how things work versus redesigning expectations and risking upsetting the inner diva? Fitzmaurice explained: n Design has to be grounded in something. Then you can tweak it. I don’t think we redesign our expectations, we evolve them. There is never a new system. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. There are new elements to a system, but the majority of elements and concepts have been leveraged from the past and already learned by the user. n In many ways, designers are flirting with the user. Designers wish their system to be a bit different than the rest of the pack: fun, visually appealing and a little bit of an enigma, but not too much. How we learn all this is also a big deal. The manual is being replaced with new-media help on devices. Our expectations are also rewired by what we see on TV and in movies. Tom Cruise gesticulating in Minority Report or John King analyzing electoral maps are subtly teaching us new strategies to try. Savvy advertisers are also baking the instructions into TV commercials, so we know what to do with our new purchases without even realizing we’ve been taught. Finally, Fitzmaurice reminded me not to forget about what is happening with natural language as input. It should be no problem for the little ones. They’re already giving their toys voices, so it will just be one less wonderful thing about childhood to unlearn! n

—Alistair Hamilton, IDSA alistair.hamilton@gmail.com

64

w w w . I N N O V A T I O N journal . or g


OUT OF YOUR MIND, DESIGN

Introducing the IdXtractor! A PTI Design original, the IdXtractor is a system we’ve been perfecting for over 25 years. It is comfortable and non-invasive, only takes minutes to use and provides a lifetime of essential data. Shared with the likes of flying cars and time machines, the IdXtractor is a virtual mind reader, capable of guiding your idea from mind to manufacturing. To learn more about PTI Design, visit us at teamptidesign.com

50900 Corporate Dr., Macomb MI 48044 | 586.203.4700 | teamptidesign.com


a new form of c ycle training

C r e at i v i t y t h at m a k e s a d i f f e r e n c e S a n f r a n c i s c o – C h i c ag o – M u n i c h – H o n g Ko n g w w w. L u n a r . c o m

Innovation Spring 2012: Form  

Tucker Viemeister, FIDSA, Guest Editor

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you