Industrial design primer

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A talk given by Ian Hooper to the Toronto, Canada IxDA (Interaction Design Association) chapter on May 16, 2011.

A talk given by Ian Hooper to the Toronto, Canada IxDA (Interaction Design Association) chapter on May 16, 2011.

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  • Birth of an Egg Cup: The 'What Industrial Design Means' display from the “Britain Can Make It” exhibition, 1946. Designed by Misha Black. It included a section called the 'benefits of good design', where he promoted good design as a force for social change.WHY DO I NEED TO KNOW THIS STUFF?Socrates said “A life unexamined is not worth living.” That is something that I do not think we need to worry about in this community. From the very beginning, interaction design – or whatever you want to call it – has been very self-conscious and questioning, even to the point of navel gazing. All those unending debates over labels…is it interaction design, information architecture, user experience design or human-computer interaction, for example…is a symptom of a new discipline that had no problems with self-examination. Yet at the same time, possibly because we are a profession that grew out of that wondrous information appliance, the computer, we seem to think that the problems we wrestle with are just as novel and uncharted. LESSONS FROM HISTORYThis is not an entirely new condition. The early history of industrial design shares many parallels with our own origins. For example, one thing I find striking about being an Interaction Designer is how few people I know (over the age of 25) who can say that they actually received an education in this field. We come from backgrounds in technical writing, library science, computer science, graphic design, quality assurance, anthropology and more. Similarly the early luminaries of the field, many of whom I will discuss today were architects, set designers, engineers and artist. It might also surprise you to know that in the early days, what we now know as industrial design was variously called Machine Design, Applied Arts, Product Design, or Commercial Design before the community settled on Industrial Design (first recorded use was in 1920 in the USA).Designing is an activity which often carries a certain responsibility that can lead us to ask such overwhelming questions such as “Do I have the right to make decisions which will significantly impact society or an individual?” and “What kind of changes are good/just, and for whom are they to be made?” (See Ivar Holm’s thesis “Ideas and Beliefs in Architecture and Industrial Design”Industrial design is an inherently value-laden profession. This is exemplified by the many compromises that must be reconciled to successfully realize a project. Historically industrial design has been dominated by the arts and crafts movement, modernism and post-modernism. Social, political and economic issues have always shaped the trends of industrial design.Modernism:Heroic, utopian, progressiveSimple, unified, pure, orderedEliminate symbolism in favour of ‘honest’ aestheticsLess is more; Form follows functionPost-Modernism:Less is a bore; Form follows emotion (Frog)Complex order of the wholeMulti-functional; symbolic elements (vestigial vernacular, popular, commercial culture)Ironic, conservativePROCESS INSIGHTThe large number of decisions and value conflicts that must be resolved by industrial designers, they will typically employ a number of tactics to reduce the scope of the problem. This includes staging or manipulating the information presented to clients, capitalizing on clients lack of knowledge of the design process and threatening to leave a project. The other main approaches are to rely on user testing (utility based decision procedures) or to create an initial frame to define the limits of the problem space (through imposing a defining metaphor, concept, or idea onto the design task).INSPIRATIONFind meaning and direction in what you are doing. Fit your field into a longer richer history of harnessing commercial output to the needs of real people. Build on the metaphors, values and symbols of our build environment to enrich the virtual world.THE FUTURE OF DESIGNIn a world of mass customization and augmented reality, the barriers between the physically embodied product or environment and the virtual product or service are quickly becoming less strict.
  • 1840’s Sir Henry Cole (designed first postage stamp, first Christmas card) designed manufactured goods under the pseudonym Felix Summerly. Also major proponent of design and organized the 1851 Great Exhibition in London.1920’s USA demand for low-cost mass produced objects was driven by the restless, never-satisfied ambition of post-WWI America.Machine Design, Applied Arts, Product Design, Commercial DesignAt first engineers resisted the introduction of industrial designers into and area that seemed to be their realm. From streamlining to clean-lining. The lessons of streamlining led to an ability to refine and minimize the design for efficient, unencumbered design. Also led to a strong belief in “design from the inside out” and a rejection of styling or decorating.Image is Norman Bel-Geddes
  • ARTS & CRAFTS MOVEMENTfine and applied or decorative arts are equalThe craftsman should have the same imaginative pleasure and freedom as painters, sculptors, etc.Properly designed objects should embody truth to materials and exquisite workmanship (quality)The role of the craftsman must be appreciated 1861 starts a business to realize the aims of the arts & craft movement
  • Theatre Designer
  • Served as an apprentice to Norman Bel-Geddes as a theatre designer
  • Architect trained – depression – too little work – turned to educationIntroduced America to modernist leaders Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Le CorbusierTomorrow’s House – invented the “family room”Herman Miller design directorFrom Oklahoma Modern: “George Nelson is probably best known for his modern lighting and  furniture designs. His bubble lamps are an icon of Mid-Century Modern design, and today are considered a requirement on the set of any trendy video shoot. But Nelson's influence reached well beyond home furnishings.His talent as a writer, educator and architect was well known before he became an accomplished industrial designer. In fact, when he became the Director of Design for the Herman Miller Company in 1945 he had not designed a single piece of furniture. But fortunately for us, that was not the case for long! “
  • Good design isn't superficial. It adds value. Design is not a result, it is a process – while it is convenient for us to call the end result our ‘design’, the design is really what you do, not what you get. To design is to generate, filter and select alternative solutions directed toward human beings. This last part is important. We evaluate a design based on its ability to meet a human need, and its contribution to the quality of life of the people who use it.I like this picture here of Matrimandir - the 'Temple of the Mother'. 'Mother' refers to the supreme Creative Force, the energy that binds Consciousness into the myriad forms of the universe. I like the aesthetics of it: the geometric symmetry and the way the richness and detail is revealed the closer you look at the building, but I also like the bamboo scaffolding on the side and the fact that local community artisans make the disks that clad the exterior. A great example of an appropriate design solution.
  • Richard Buchanan recommended Donald Schon, John Dewey and Erving Goffman
  • Dreyfuss: Study and consultation (the design brief) Meet with excutive, advertising, engineering, production, sales, promotion and distribution (the first charrette) Study of the market. Study the production methods. (Research & reflection) Sketching and modeling in close collaboration with engineering (Ideation / winnowing) Final candidate presentation (second charrette) Continued work on design integrating changes (Refinement) Release to manufacturingMethodology taught in “The Design Sourcebook” (Penny Sparke):Identify a Need. Identify a Need or Purpose in a given situation. Design Brief. Produce a short Design Brief. Tasks Schedule. List all major areas of work and allocate times and deadlines.Analysis of Brief.Look at the Brief and produce a list of research questions. Research. Identify and collate information only relevant to the Analysis of Brief. Specification. Produce a list of design requirements found from research relevant to the Brief.Generate Ideas. Generate a range of different possible solutions satisfying the Specification.Choose Solution. Produce a solution to the Brief using the Specification and your Generated Ideas. Develop Solution. Generate details necessary to make the solution. Make Solution. Produce the solution. Test Solution. Test your solution against the Brief and Specification. Modify Solution. List modifications to improve the solution's effectiveness. Evaluation. Evaluate the project against the Brief and Specification, giving recommendations.
  • Personalized Production:This is the story of transformation of materials from one form to another, more valuable form. Nearly all discrete parts are made using a series of steps or processes that, with few exceptions, fall into one of four groups:Casting or moldingFormingMachiningJoiningTraditionally, this processing was done by a skilled worker who would work on a small number of objects at a time. Think of the blacksmith who would manually form a sword or a horseshoe. In the craft tradition artisans develop great skill to create their products. This creative work was done with their own sweat (or animal or water power to some extent), so they would employ tools and techniques to improve efficiency and quality as much as possible. i.e. tracing, making jigs, step specialization. In time, the motivation to standardize quality (along with a way to control the economics of their industry) led to the creation of guilds. These formalized associations allowed certain trades to take a step towards full industrialization.The scale of these ‘cottage industries’ was typically quite small, with close connections between the tradesmen, merchants and consumers. The guilds did not maintain large inventories, they (mostly) sold locally and were able to respond to changing consumer tastes.Mass Production:Industrialization is primarily about the invention of the factory as a successor to guilds. The factory represents a complex social-economic system that combined financing, engineering, raw materials, transportation and supervised workers as they made a profitable product. Unlike the cottage industry of the pre-industrialized age, this was a system of surplus. The profits in the system lay in the surplus production that low cost energy (coal driven steam power) and raw resources (improved transport networks) made possible. The costs then are mostly in the upfront capital costs, so the drive is to increase production volumes to amortize the investment at a reasonable cost per part. This led to larger and larger volumes and even larger profits. Larger volumes need bigger markets. Bigger markets means middle of the bell curve – there is no room to cater to the long tail.Products become more generic to appeal to the largest common denominator. Think of hollywood versus independent film. Some people are not well represented in Hollywood films. Similarly the gains of industrialization were at a great cost. Society was forever changed, and not everyone liked it.The industrial revolution was a period of unprecedented social and economic upheaval. The Arts and Crafts movement was a reaction to this by social reformers and designers such as William Morris. The gains of industrialization were at a great cost to many individuals, and yet the resulting manufactured goods were often poor in design and quality. The adherents of the arts and crafts movement proposed that it would be better for all if individual craftsmanship could be revived-- the worker could then produce beautiful objects that exhibited the result of fine craftsmanship, as opposed to the shoddy products of mass production. The arts and craft movement was not wholly against industrialization. In fact it supported the use of automation to reduce the drudgery and tedium of production. At the same time, they understood the conflict between standardization and individuality, believing that a one-of-a-kind handcrafted object is generally superior to a mass-produced one, and the problem lies in defining what kind of design most benefits society. Art and life were meant to be fully integrated and a continuous experience. In the context of architecture and the decorative arts, the building and its furnishings were intended to form an environmental whole, ideally one executed by the same person. This movement, as a reaction to the industrial age was the ultimate expression of the romanticized, empowered individual. In the end the movement failed because mass produced products improved in quality and product complexity grew such that the average artisan could no longer compete.Personalized Production:The drive towards reduced inventory and flexible production culminated in the realization in the 1990’s that small changes in the assembly line can be introduced without any additional cost. The success of Dell at this time is a great example of this trend. Through robotic assembly, computerized part tracking and computer mediated connections with the consumer, a person can be directly associated with a specific instance of the product. So you can go online and build a custom Dell computer, or a make a Nike shoe with custom embroidery, get a Saturn car “built just for you”. In fact the car industry is a good example of the growing demand for customization. Long gone are the days of Henry Ford where a single model in black is sufficient for everyone. Despite the large number of models and broad options within those, the aftermarket car customization business is a $30 Billion industry – and growing. Despite the victory of industrialization over the arts & crafts movement, people still wanted choice and variety.However, mass customization is not the same as desktop manufacturing. Desktop manufacturing, Design to Order, Individualized Production and other contemporary production paradigms are creating new opportunities for consumers. It is going to allow, for the first time, a mass audience to be engaged in product design discourse and to produce physical items of great complexity at home with little training or expertise.
  • The technology of desktop manufacturing is often given to hyperbole with the popular press is filed with stories about people using a 3D printer to make a new coffee maker or cell phone on demand. A better analogy would probably be the fax machine in the 1960s. It existed and some people were using them, but they were complicated and unreliable. Today’s 3D printers still suffer from a limited range of material choices, many of which will deform or change colour over time, or are otherwise unsuitable for use beyond concept modeling. All objects created through this rasterized-reality require some degree of post-processing and finishing and even so, the surfaces cannot match the flowing continuous curves of an injection molded part.More important than the challenges are the steady stream of advances being made. The image shown here is from the Fab@Home project which aims to follow the approach of the PC revolution by creating low cost 3D printer kits for hobbyists. Similarly the RepRap project is building a 3D printer system that it hopes to sell for little more than the cost of materials (a few hundred dollars) and most impressively, the goal for their project is to make the machine capable of making all the parts necessary for its own construction. This will inevitably lead to better quality, more affordable Solid Freeform (SFF) fabricators becoming available to more and more people thus democratizing the production process.
  • Industrial design was born out of the development of the new technologies, economic and social changes of the early industrial revolution. It came of age in the economic crucible of the Great Depression.Interaction design was born out of the development of the new technologies, economic and social changes of the information age. It came of age in the economic crucible of the Dot-com crash of March, 2000.

Transcript

  • 1. Industrial Design Primer
    An introduction to the production of everyday things
  • 2. Why do I need to know this stuff?
    Lessons from history
    Insight into well tested processes
    Inspiration
    Physical and virtual gap is closing
    Photo credit: www.vads.ahds.ac.uk
  • 3. A Brief History
    A history of people, not things (mostly)
    An arbitrary selection of practioners
    No contemporary designers
    Photo credit: James Vaughan
  • 4. William Morris (1834 –1896)
    “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”
    Independently wealthy, romantic and idealistic. Studied architecture, designed furniture. Best know for his textile patterns.
    Socialist political agitator. Believed that mass production and the industrial revolution were the reason for the problems in Victorian England.
    Photo credit: Rob Pongsajapan
  • 5. Norman Bel-Geddes (1893 - 1958)
    1939 New York Worlds Fair - General Motors Pavilion “Futurama”
    “Horizons” (1932) - depression and positivism
    Introduced streamlining & Art Deco style
    Photo credits: Michael John Gorman
  • 6. Henry Dreyfuss (1904 –1972)
    “Designing for People” & “The Measure of Man”
    Phones! Model 302, Model 500, Princess Phone
    Streamlined trains (20th Century Ltd.)
    5 point formula for good design:
    Utility and safety
    Maintenance
    Cost
    Sales appeal
    Appearance
    Photo credit: the-artists.org
    Photo credit: http://www.peterme.com
  • 7. George Nelson (1908-1986)
    A designer “must first make a radical and conscious break with all the values he considers inhuman.”
    Designers must be conscious of the effects their work has on humans and society.
    Design is “nothing more or less than a process of relating everything to everything.”
    Photo credit: NarisaSpauldingwork
    Photo credit Photo credit: J. Rex Brown (Oklahoma Modern)
  • 8. VICTOR PAPANEK (1927-1999)
    “Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change” & “The Green Imperative: Natural Design for the Real World”
    Anthropology and human needs as foundation for design
    • “Design is the conscious and intuitive effort to impose meaningful order”
    • 9. Form follows function, but…that is no excuse for austerity
    • 10. Advocated appropriate, sustainable design that is ethically grounded
    Photo credit: http://bikesandbeers.blogspot.com/ 2007/06/papaneks-3rd-werld-bike-cart.html
  • 11. Appropriate Design
    Photo Credit: premasagar (Flickr)
  • 12. DIETER RAMS (1932-)
    Braun designer for 30+ years
    Good design…… is innovative… makes a product useful… is aesthetic… helps us to understand a product… is unobtrusive… is honest… is long-lasting… is intentional and thorough to the last detail… is environmentally friendly… is as little design as possible
    Photo credit: Jonas Forth
    Photo credit: Ged Carroll
  • 13. Others
    Walter Gropius (Founder of Bauhaus)
    Raymond Loewy (Streamlining, founder of Society of Industrial Designers)
    Charles and Ray Eames (Hermann Miller furniture)
    Walter Dorwin Teague (Kodak cameras, Boeing interiors, “Design this Day”)
    Buckminster Fuller (Dymaxion car, pre-fab house, geodesic domes)
    Sociologists, Anthropologists, Economists, Educators, Architects …
  • 14. Standard Practice
    Stage 1: Concept or schematic phase
    Stage 2: Problem-solving phase
    Stage 3: Finalizing and implementation phase
  • 15. The Future of Industrial Design
  • 16. Desktop Manufacturing
  • 17. Conclusion
    Is the Information Age simply an extension of the Industrial Age?
    • It’s time to grab some responsibility, to be an active profession with mature design ethics.
    • 18. It’s time to design the kind of products we all need.
    Photo credit: http://arttattler.com