Chapter15 - Materials aesthetics and industrial design 15.1...

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Materials, aesthetics and industrial design 15.1 Introduction and synopsis Good design works. Excellent design also gives pleasure. Pleasure derives from form, colour, texture, feel, and the associations that these invoke. Pleasing design says something about itself; generally speaking, honest statements are more satisfying than deception, although eccentric or humorous designs can be appealing too. Materials play a central role in this. A major reason for introducing new materials is the greater freedom of design that they allow. Metals, in the past century, allowed structures which could not have been built before: cast iron, the Crystal Palace; wrought iron, the Eiffel Tower; drawn steel, the Golden Gate Bridge, all undeniably beautiful. Polymers lend themselves to bright colours, satisfying textures and great freedom of form; they have opened new styles of design, of which some of the best examples are found in the household appliance sector: kitchen equipment, radio and CD-players, hair dryers, telephones and vacuum cleaners make extensive and imaginative use of materials to allow styling, weight, feel and form which give pleasure. Those who concern themselves with this aesthetic dimension of engineering are known, rather confusingly, as ‘industrial designers’. This chapter introduces some of the ideas of industrial design, emphasizing the role of materials. It ends with two illustrative case studies. But first a word of caution. Previous chapters have dealt with systematic ways of choosing material and processes. ‘System- atic’ means that if you do it and I do it we will get the same result, and that the result, next year, will be the same as it is today. Industrial design is not, in this sense, systematic. Success, here, involves sensitivity to fashion, custom and educational background, and is influenced (manipulated, even) by advertising and association. The views of this chapter are partly those of writers who seem to me to say sensible things, and partly my own. You may not agree with them, but if they make you think about designing to give pleasure, the chapter has done what it should. 15.2 Aesthetics and industrial design We have discussed the mechanical design of a product. But what of its appearance, its feel, its balance, its shape? Is it pleasing to look at? To handle? What associations does it suggest? In short, what of its aesthetics? There are many books on the subject of Industrial Design (see Further reading at the end of this chapter). You will find - it may surprise you - that they hardly mention the issues of functionality
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352 Materials Selection in Mechanical Design and efficiency that have concerned us so far. They focus instead on qualities that cannot be measured: form, texture, proportion and style; and on subtler things: creative vision, historic perspective, honesty to the qualities of materials. There is a view
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Chapter15 - Materials aesthetics and industrial design 15.1...

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