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Post modernism In Industrial Design Student: Tom van t Westeinde Assignor: Johanna Kint Date: 5-6-2012


Table of content DIeter Rams 4 Harley Earl 7 Achille Castiglioni


Luigi Colani 13 DIY Design 2


Introduction The first lesson started with an introduction to our assessors’ work as well as some designers and their characteristics. Furthermore we got an extensive introduction to architecture and design using the two famous designers Gaudi and le Corbusier. With this load of information and inspiration the task for the second meeting was to research an influential designer from the past. The following pages are a representation of what I learned from the assigment as well as what as my vision on the designers I researched. In this way the assigment helped me getting more awareness of how design evolved in history and what the influence are on current day society. This learned my that with designing you can get inspiration from the past as well as to experiment with materials and shapes. Tom van ‘t Westeinde


Dieter Rams Background and vision

1932 - present

With my little knowledge about past designers I started diving into the German designer Dieter Rams for the first lesson. This designer, as well as almost any designer, started with studying architecture before he rolled into design. Strongly influenced by his grandfather, a carpenter, he went from designing for the architect Otto Apel, in 1953, to chief of design at Braun in 1961. First, he used his architectural skills to design exhibition sets and offices but soon he started to show his interest in designing products. Working together with tutors from the Ulm Design School he created his first product, the SK-4 Record Player. With this product Rams made the start of his own design language. The product got rid of the traditional materials and used the advances of technology to pay more and more attention to the aesthetics of the product. The use of metal and the chic and transparent lid of the device became the new industry standards for product design. He continued with designing technical highlights and not only the visual appearance but also the ease of use became an important point of attention in Dieter Rams’ designs. By improving existing products into user friendly modular objects while simplifying and arranging the interface he made it possible to combine parts of his products so you would use all the functionality there is. While continuing on improve functionality of audio products by innovative technology Rams also headed in the direction of furniture design. The “606 Shelving System” that Rams designed for the manufacturer Vitsoe goes even further into multifunctional design. This system is the ultimate representation of his well-known statement; “Less, but better”. By combining the maximum flexibility with the minimum number of components he created a long lasting, self-explanatory and timeless product. Through the years Rams, one of the most influential designers of the 20th century, kept designing technological dedicated products while keeping focused on his user. He kept adapting his products with color and make his products look even more compact and strong without making them obtrusive. With all the before mentioned principles of design Dieter Rams made a statement for what he thought was good design. 4

“Good designer must always be avant-gardists, always one step ahead of the times. They should – and must – question everything generally thought to be obvious. They must have an intuition for people’s changing attitudes. For the reality in which they live, for their dreams, their desires, their worries, their needs, their living habits. They must be able to assess realistically the opportunities and bounds of technology.” Dieter Rams

My Design For my first design I wanted to visualize the typical characteristics of a Dieter Rams design. When I looked to the shapes Rams used for his designs I thought of the basic shapes like circular en rectangular. I really like the way how he uses the contrast between these two forms and combines them to simplify and clarify existing designs and interfaces. I started with a rectangular beam and to make the contrast even bigger I made an oversized circle an glued it on the beam. With placing a circular stand on the underside the object could stand. Now the object made me think of a desk clock so I attached some pointers to it. With the idea of “Less, but better” I only wrote one number on the circle. Afterwards I realized that this does not fit the idea of functionality. It was better to create a mechanism that, while 5

the clock runs, only displays the numbers that you have to see so you could immediately see what time it is. I created this design out of foam board which of course would become metal if it would be manufactured. I use the two colored sided board to display the adaptation of Rams designing. As I described he created many design in white but changed some parts of it into black because of the user needs to make the design look even more compact and unobtrusive. 6

Harley Earl Background and vision

1893 - 1969

The strange thing with this designer, to my opinion, is that even though he was very influential for the start of automotive design he was lesser known than Henry Ford or Carl Benz. Born as a son of a coachbuilder Earl left his study prematurely to work at his father’s company that build custom car bodies. When that company was bought by a Cadillac dealer Harley Earl became director of the custom body shop. Impressed by the work of Earl, Lawrence P. Fisher let him design Cadillac’s companion marque, the LaSalle. Besides the designs Fisher also really liked the methods, including the clay modeling to form his designs. The success of Cadillac’s LaSalle convinced General Motors president Alfred P. Sloan to create the Art and Color Section for General Motors, with Earl as its first director. 7

Once active in one of the biggest car companies of the twentieth century, Earl had a hard time to convince the stubborn engineers and other executives, which were only focusing on functionality and cost, of his design approach. They probably were convinced after his first success with the Buick Y-Job. This car was the motor industry’s first concept car. This was the first step in Earl his user centered designing. By the use of a concept car the public reaction of design ideas could be determined. This principle was the basis of the pre-launch code of silence that Harley Earl and his design team used to create all the successful modern model changes. In this way all the new development that he added to the cars remained a surprise until the concept model came out. With this Earl and Sloan implemented the Dynamic Obsolence. This meant that people are pressured to buy a product again because of the limited useful life, so it will become obsolete and no longer functional after a period of time. This asked for the “Annual Model Change” whereby Earl tried to tie the model identity of a car to a certain year. The characteristics grew with every model. Starting with headlights and panoramic windshields he went from heated seats and turn signals to tailfins and many more. From the tailfins to the Chevrolet Corvette as GM first sports car he kept adapting on the need of his public. Using his innovative sense for popularity he saw that the small Japanese and European became in demand in America. The tradition of “Building Big Cars Forever” and make every model even lower, wider and longer had to come to an end to Earl his opinion but the GM company leaders dismissed this idea. By the time they realized how they had misread their consumers audience, General Motors found themselves in a downfall. All this made Harley Earl an auto industry legend who engineered for consumer demand/desire like no other. 8

My Design It was immediately clear that I had to do something with clay for this design. I also wanted to put something of his reputation in my design. For this I started with a black piece of wood. This represents the cars before the time of Earl. Cars were simple, functional and it could have every color as long as it was black, according to Henry Ford. Over this piece of wood I wanted to clay a shape that contained different things that illustrated Harley Earl as designer. On the front part of the sculpture I started with the headlight and the bumper. I also integrated the windshield and the tailfins. I did this in a way that it kind of forms over the wooden piece, as if Harley Earl is taking over auto design. However, I did not know that clay would shrink while drying so the other day my sculpture cracked and broke. I decided to do it again and try to even more implement the forms of Earl’s inventions. I started again with the headlight and bumper, but also formed the mudguard on both sides at the frond. Continuing I created the windscreen but this time I let it overflow into the tailfins at the back of the car. In this way I really tried to

envision the way how Earl designed cars. My design now is a representation of the 1927 LaSalle, the 1951 LeSabre and the 1959 Cadillac. As a finishing touch I painted it in a bright color to represent the evolution of color use.

“For art in industry is comparatively new. Only in recent years has the interest of manufacturer and user alike been expanded from the mere question of “Does it work?” to include “How should it look?” and “Why should it look that way?” Appearance and style have assumed equal importance with utility, price and operation. The artist and the engineer have joined hands to the end that articles of everyday use may be beautiful as well as useful.”

Harley Earl 9

Achille Castiglioni Background and vision

1918 - 2002

This Italian designer also had the intention to become an architect but did not even start this profession because there was little work for young architects in Italy. Instead of designing houses he joined his two brothers in their design studio. The brothers designed inter alia for Italian manufacturers who were experimenting with new technologies because they were rebuilding their business after World War II. These technological possibilities combined with the artistic tradition in the Italian industry made it possible for manufacturers and designers to collaborate en come to innovative products. Achille and his brother Pier Giacomo both enjoyed improving and redefining existing products as well as give an homage to the ready-made designs from Marcel Duchamp. They designed, for example, the Mezzadro stool, which was inspired by a tractor seat, and the Stella stool, which was inspired on a bicycle stool. These objects were based on visual indifference which reflects irony, humor and ambiguity. They


also were inspired by everyday things and materials. This resulted in the Arco floor lamp, inspired by a street lantern and the Toio floor lamp inspired by a car reflector. This fits with the vision of Castiglioni that an object must restructure its function, form and production process. His interest in technology combined with his sense of humor resulted in the RR126. This modular product was meant to be a musical pet. Because the separable pieces of the high-fidelity device could be positioned in different ways, you could experiment with the facial characteristics and stereo acoustics. He also used humor in his designs for lightning. The Snoopy light that he designed with his brother was literally inspired on the cartoon dog with the particular shape. He said that it was one of his secrets to joke all the time. In his later life Castiglioni also taught for many years to communicate his way of designing. He taught designers to be responsible for their designs by analyzing and investigating the technology and materials for development and production. In this way he want to make designers aware of their Principal Design Component and strive in this way for a constant and consistent way of designing.

My design The first design I made for the Castiglioni assignment was a foam object. With this object I tried to represent the multi functionality in terms of readymade design. For this I created a shape that could have multiple purposes. I started with some sketches on the foam and then melted the form out of it. The form needed some refining by the means of sandpaper. After I got the shape I wanted I painted it dark red. Now my chair/couch/table was finished. Based on the feedback I got I was not satisfied about this shape. Castiglioni did not gave objects multiple functions, like Joe Colombo, but gave another meaning to an existing product. Besides, in terms of pop art the choice for dark red was even more out of place. So I decided to use another aspect of the vision of Castiglioni; Humor. I wanted to do something with that in mind so I started to think about ambiguity. Thinking about this I came to the idea of a rocking horse. This old fashioned object could be used as a light stand, bookshelf or any other object that fulfills a function as furniture. The essential part of it would be that you have

“Start from scratch. Stick to common sense. Know your goals and means.� Achille Castiglioni


to place it in the corridor. This has everything to do with the song “Er staat een paard in de gang� from a Dutch comedian. Literally translated the songs tells the story about a horse in the corridor. This song is so well know within the Dutch society so people who would see the object would like the song to the design. In this way I want to use the connection between a humorous song and a design to provoke amusement. 12

Luigi Colani Background and vision

1928- present Luigi Colani is a German Industrial Designer who designed with the characteristics of rounded, organic forms whereby the terms biodynamic and ergonomically-superior are a standard. After his first eduction of sculpture in Berlin he studied aerodynamics at the university of Paris. With this knowledge he became Head of New Materials at McDonnell-Douglas in California. Here he became an expert in aerodynamics and plastics to do high speed research. He won his first award with a car design; the “Golden Rose� for the Fiat 1100 TV while working in Paris. After his return to Germany he became the main designer at Kush+Co. In his furniture designs his preference for erotic, organic and rounded forms were very well expressed. After his work for various big companies as Boeing, BMW and Rockwell he travelled by invitation of the Japanese Industry to Asia. The people in Japan had respect for the way this rebel against functionalism designed. By designing both glasses, cameras for Canon or hundreds of other products, Colani had a huge influence on the product language of Japanese products which made him the number one industrial designer in 1984. In contradiction to the furniture few of his designs were actually produced for the market. Most of the designs he made for cars, trucks or trains were intent to be an aura of progressiveness and show the world how the future for that certain product would look like. In his career spanning over fifty years, Luigi Colani has designed an overflow of more than 5000 Industrial and Consumer products. 13

The things that inspired me for my design was the dominating rounded shapes and aerodynamics in Colani’s designs. For this I wanted to make a form that is streamlined, rounded, dynamic and maybe even a little bit erotic. I choose a material that is easy editable so I choose for foam. After sketching the form I had in mind I melted a basic form and worked on it with sand paper and files. I started with the basic form what for me looks like a futuristic car but when continuing I put more dimension in it. So with the rounded shapes I gave the design a bit feminine look, with the waist of Barbie. By filing certain parts away I gave it its streamlined look. When finished I painted it white because that gave it a clean and smooth look. If it was possible I would make the shape out of plastics because that fits better with the vision of Colani but I did not had the time nor the resources for that.

“The earth is round, all the heavenly bodies are round; they all move on round or elliptical orbits. This same image of circular globe-shaped mini worlds orbiting around each other follows us right down to the microcosmos. We are even aroused by round forms in species propagation related eroticism. Why should I join the straying mass who want to make everything angular? I am going to pursue Galileo Galilei’s philosophy: my world is also round” Luigi Colani


DIY Design Background and vision

In general the DIY ethic refers to the belief of self-sufficiency by completing tasks yourself. This stimulates the idea of ordinary persons who can learn to do more than they taught was possible in the first place. Herewith goes the idea of the emancipation of individuals and communities through encouraging the employment of alternative approaches to achieve ones objectives. Victor Papanek was a designer who was a strong advocate of this social en ecological way of designing. In his book “The Green Imperative” he describes his vision on today’s consumers society. Starting with the statement of using less to save resources he focusses on how to buy fewer things, making decisions about what we need and giving a series of alternatives to bring down our consuming greed. As he sees it we work to get money so we can consume as distraction of our work. In this way human dissatisfaction results in needs and the desire to consume. With a huge variety of examples he explains how we should became more aware of our needs before we buy something. By using all kinds of questions like, “Do I really need it?”, “Can I buy it second hand?”, Can I borrow, rent, or lease it?” or “Can I even make it myself” he tries to create a higher form of self-esteem. 15

To my opinion Do it Yourself design in this way is trying to put us back in time. Besides the idea that I think that this economical point of view is almost stingy, I find that this way of living is very conservative. Altough I think that in terms of social interaction and selfdevelopment this idea really could work and even could be ideal, but therewith I think that this is also the downside of the concept of DIY. Because people are forced to communicate and collaborate with each other I think this could lead to unintended struggles because of differences in norms and values. So despite of this beautiful utopian vision I think that in this current society full of consumerism such an ideal view of life never could be implemented. This does not mean that I do not support self-enrichment through completing tasks yourself. A nice example for me is the website of Curbly. This website supports all kind of Do It Yourself activities in categories varying from cooking and crafts to furniture and arts. Doing small things I things in everyday life is a very good way to contribute to the DIY community. 16

For my design I got inspired by the direction of Human Centered Design. I connected this way of designing to the part were Victor Papanek talks about a learning experience through the way of a kit. In this way you understand more how things work and it provokes creativity. Because human centered design is based on learning with your senses and using your memory I thought of making a puzzle. This connects to the way of self-creation and using your creativity. To do something different I made a puzzle that you have to make blindfolded. Because of different textures on plates of wood you can combine the puzzle pieces in different combination so everyone can give it unconsciously its personal touch. I used different materials like textile, jute, plastics and glue. When letting people creating this puzzle I noticed that it is even more difficult than I expected because creating a puzzle without any visual input is really difficult. Al together I think this game is a good representation of how I see Do It Yourself Design.

References Vitsoe. “About Dieter Rams” Bekeken op 30-04-2012 BBH Labs Ben Malbon (29-06-2009) “Less, but better – an interview with design legend Dieter Rams” Viewed on 29-04-2012 Das Programm Viewed on 1-05-2012 Design Museum London “Dieter Rams” Viewed on 30-5-2012 Design History, Theory and practive of product Design B.E. Bürdek (2005) Birkhauser

Design Museum London “Achille Castiglioni” Viewed on 14-05-2012 CultuurArchief “Design – Achille Castiglioni, Biography” Viewed on 14-05-2012 Achille Castiglioni Official Website “Projects; Industrial Design” Viewed on 30-05-2012 Wikipedia “Harley Earl” Viewed on 07-05-2012 Harley Earl Official Website Viewed on 06-05-2012


Final Report Assigment DG403  

Report Post Modernism in Industrial Design

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