product design [lecture 3 + reading]

feb 10 2009

one realm that i would really love to explore more is product design.

or industrial design.  (is there a difference?  see, i don’t even know.)

or just to experience the education of becoming a product designer. (i have nearly relegated myself to the belief that all types of design education are more beautiful and magical than the reality of the design profession.)

there is something alluring about knowing that what you put into your sketchbook or present as a final project (i.e. your heart and soul) actually has the potential of being a piece that you can make/manufacture and touch with your fingers, of actually being realized.  (unlike my dreamy skyhome-in-10-years studio project that literally hangs off of an existing building in boston’s north end.)

georg jensen originally designed for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. It sits well in the hand and allows free, unforced movements. It is easy to see why this was called �the cutlery with no frills�, and even in the new millennium its appearance is strikingly modern and innovative

georg jensen cutlery, originally designed for arne jacobsen's SAS Royal Hotel in copenhagen. "sits well in the hand and allows free, unforced movements. It is easy to see why this was called 'the cutlery with no frills'"

henning koppel's pitcher 992, nicknamed "pregnant duck" - 1958. takes a seasoned silversmith hundreds of hours+many months to hammer out. price tag: $18,000

henning koppel's pitcher 992, nicknamed "pregnant duck" - 1958. takes a seasoned silversmith hundreds of hours+many months to hammer out. price tag: $18,000

The Kay Bojesen monkey is something of a design classic, which is quite an achievement for a small wooden monkey.  (teak and limba wood)

"The Kay Bojesen monkey is something of a design classic, which is quite an achievement for a small wooden monkey." (teak and limba wood)

all of these objects seem to be so much more…accessible…and realistic than that lofty urban infill-site-turned-gallery-space-turned-community center that we should be erecting.

in sven erik møller’s book on danish design, he writes about the danish tradition in pottery and ceramics, and how at the beginning, many ceramists were “reluctant to interest themselves in industrial production, possibly because of a fear of being caught in a large machine, quite unlike the small workshop where one person is in charge of the process from a to z.”

that is exactly the opposite of my problem.

i have a fear of being forced to do the whole thing.

throughout the course of my design education, i don’t think i have ever been asked to seriously make an entire thing, to bring it to reality, start to finish, by myself.  not counting graphic design posters and sewing some things…i have done heaps of architectural projects and presented them at final reviews, but i only know how to go from concept –> design development –> more development.   i dont know what happens after my profound theories and mockup models and my pretty indesign layouts.  i dont really know how to raise a wall, or how to make wood and metal meet, or how to go from construction document to something that stands up.  i guess at this point it’s safe to say that i dont know how to construct a building from the ground.   and as an architecture student, it scares me.

would i know more about applying my skills if i were to study product design?  i imagine that being trained in something other than architecture, such as industrial design, ceramics, fashion, jewelry, etc., you would see your designs constantly realized and functional in front of you all the time.  then we get into the discussion of designer vs. craftsperson.  more and more, i am starting to think that person is more of a designer than i am.


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