History being a subject i hated the most, i thought that the paper design in context would be one of, if not the most hated paper that i would have to take this year. However this course totally surpassed my expectations and it resulted in being one of my best courses and quite interesting too. Having little to no experience in design, i have now been opened to a totally new way of thinking and perceiving everything around me, in terms of physical design to the media and what i buy etc.
However it seems that this paper only partially enlightens us to the extensive and long history about design that no one knows about, i see this as being a positive thing as if we dove into it head first and got immersed with knowledge and ideas, it would have been too much to handle and we would have been turned off the paper really quickly. By only dipping us a little in this pool of knowledge, it has sparked an interest in me, if not all of us, to want to learn more and more about the vast history of design so that we can successfully use what we have learned and use our designs to better society.
In the picture shown above, Velcovsky’s “Factory Vase” is a perfect example of a Post-Modernist design as it turns the iconic, industrial form of a power plant into an ironic, modern design of a vase which supports the life of a flower. By taking the icon of a power plant; a source of energy that is destroying the earth, and turning it into a vase; which holds plants and flowers in them that help the world grow, Velcovsky makes use of Robert Venturi’s focus of his Post Modern era where he said, “Less is a bore,” as if it were to be a plain boring design of a vase, there would be no interest in it.
Image taken from: http://i.treehugger.com/images/2007/10/24/generate-factory-vase.jpg
Through the years, design has always been heavily influenced by politics and ideology. From the industrial revolution in England to the idea of commercialization and the capitalist lifestyle which everyone strives for after the Second World War. Even today we still see design being controlled by politics and ideology as we transcend into the age of eco-design or sustainable design. Eco-design is to “eliminate negative environmental impact completely through skillful, sensitive design”. This new concern for the environment has made many designers take into account many new factors such as making designs that were energy efficient, reusable or recyclable and longer-lasting as to reduce waste. With these new principles to work by, designers have been able to produce astounding new and innovative ways of engineering. One example of this is the hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). These hybrid cars combine petrol-powered engines with an electric motor to provide improved fuel economy and lower emissions. They automatically recharge their batteries using regenerative braking or by running the on board generator. A normal car emits 5.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide, whereas the Toyota Prius (seen in the picture above) emits 3.5 tons, showing a large improvement in emissions. As more and more people conform to this ideology, we can expect to see a rise in eco-design and a cleaner world.
Blog 7, Who am i?
Being born in Singapore, which is a culturally diverse place, I never really had a unique background, as Singapore does not have one set culture or religion. Although I lived in Singapore, I am not a Singaporean but in fact, my nationality is British, as i had a British dad. During my childhood, i had the luxury of being able to travel to many different countries and experience many other cultures.
Therefore in terms of design, I see everyone and every culture as a whole, without any race distinctions or religious beliefs. I think that design should be left as how each individual wants it to be, of course there has to be a line for how far someone can go. If every culture or religion classified their type of design as unusable by others, we would not have as many unique and innovative designs as we do today.
As for defining myself as a designer, I see myself as being a digital designer. Being born into the 20th century, I was constantly surrounded by technology and media. This led to my interest in all things digital, such as video games. Not to mention that i am a male who went to an all boy’s school when i was young, it is a common occurrence that me and my friends would get together and play games. Seeing myself as a digital designer could explain why i see everyone and every culture as a whole because in the digital world, there are no class or race distinctions.
Technology+Progress, The Bauhaus and Today
Known as one of the most prestigious schools of design, the ‘Bauhaus’, was the cornerstone for all teachings of Design today. Started in 1919, the Bauhaus was originally situated in Weimar, and was more focused on the arts and craft of design. During this time, Walter Gropius was the schools first director, who believed in freedom and individuality in each artist. Therefore, he allowed his students to choose their preferred areas of specialization. Gropius wanted to create a craft guild, which would combine all sorts of art such as architecture, sculpting and painting into one single utopian form, “let us therefore create a new guild of craftsmen without the class-distinctions that raise an arrogant barrier between craftsman and artist!” Walter Gropius, 1919.
In my experience so far at Victoria University, I believe that their methods and philosophy’s of modern design education are quite similar to that of the Bauhaus. For example, just like the teachings of Walter Gropius, we are allowed to choose different areas of design such as Industrial design, Culture and Context or Media design, at the start of University. Similar to Moholy-Nagy’s teachings, while we share the same courses and are taught the same fundamentals of design, we are give the opportunities to design and express our own individualist ideas and concepts. However, due to the advancements of technology, we see the use of simple materials such as paper, wire, cardboard and clay not being used as much, and are replaced with pictures and computers (more so in media design). But classes such as Dsdn 141 (Experimenting with materials) and Dsdn 111 (3d ideas + principles of design) bring back the legacy of the Bauhaus and keep their teachings alive for future generations to learn and put to practice.
I agree with Benjamin’s argument that, “To an ever greater degree the work of art reproduced becomes the work of art designed for reproducibility. From a photographic negative, for example, one can make any number of prints; to ask for the authentic print makes no sense”.
In this modern day and age, designs that are digitally made can easily be copied to the exact last detail. This is because we are able to record and store every single process that was put into the making, onto the computer. If we were able to record every single little step and move that Leonardo da Vinci did while he was painting the Mona Lisa, we could create exact copies of that painting making it lose its authenticity. One could say that because Leonardo painted one and we were the painted one that Leonardo’s painting is the original and therefore it is authentic. What if Leonardo painted several copies in the exact same way? Does that mean that all several of them are authentic or none of them?
Due to our technological advancements, the word “authentic” has no role and meaning at all in digital design. Even though digital art cannot be authentic, it has brought about many different and new qualities which is why we accept digital art as a form of design.
Find an example of “craft” today and in a few sentences describe why you think it represents a contemporary expression of craft.
As Industrialization grew during the 19th century, a dichotomy grew between the two concepts of craft and industry. According to Rafael Cardoso, craft is making a comeback, “the old paradigm of mass production is on its way out; a new paradigm, individuation of experience, arises in its place”.
Many aspects can define craft, but to me I think craft is something that has value to your personal self. Even if there are copies of the same object, what makes the object unique to ones self, is the experiences and journey behind the object and how they came about to obtaining it. To back this argument, I decided to use a bracelet made out of elephant hair. I got this bracelet as a souvenir from my trip to Thailand, on a two-week camp learning how to ride elephants and living in the jungle. This bracelet is a memoir of that trip, therefore it holds sentimental value to me as it embodies all the experience, good or bad, that I had during the trip. Even though this bracelet can be bought online, it will not be as valuable to me as my original.
Image from http://www.ioffer.com/i/121516915 as my original had been broken for about 3 years now as it was so long ago.. and i wore it constantly…
“Construction should be decorated. Decoration should never be purposely constructed.” Owen Jones, The Grammar of Ornament (1856).
What Owen Jones is trying to get across, is that all ornaments and decorations should compliment what it is adorning, remain subservient to its purpose and not having a sole purpose of being beautiful without any function. This is backed up by his quote about flowers as ornaments.
“Flowers or other natural objects should not be used as ornaments, but conventional representations founded upon them sufficiently suggestive to convey the intended image to the mind, without destroying the unity of the object they are employed to decorate” Owen Jones, The Grammar of Ornament (1856).
I have to say that I disagree with Jones’s assertion that decoration should never be purposely constructed. If all design were restricted to the 32 principles of design in The Grammar of Ornament, we would not have some of the amazing, new and inventive designs we have today. The freedom designers have allows them to explore new aspects others would never think of even if some of them purposely construct decorations. Maybe their purpose is to be decorative.
For instance, take Philippe Starck’s Juicy Salif; designed by Philippe Starck in 1990, this lemon squeezer has become a icon of industrial design, even though it serves no purpose as being a lemon juicer. His gold plated designs were criticized for being ornament because the citric acid in a lemon discolors and erodes the gold plating. However, Starck replied by saying, “My juicer is not meant to squeeze lemons; it is meant to start conversations”. In my opinion, this example totally proves that Owen Jones design principles should not be put into practice as with freedom to express creativity, even if it has a purpose or to solely look good enables us to truly make great things.
image from http://www.starck.com/.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Interior, via http://www.thestandardedition.com
The “sensuous impulse” in design, features the use of organic forms in nature, such as the sinuous S-curve, mimetic detailing and sensuous curves. Famous during the Rococo style during the mid 18th century and the Art Nouveau style in the late 19th century, this impulse paved the way for a new era in European art.
In design, we see a dichotomy between the linear and the curvature aspects. Depending on the political and economical situation, the favorable aspect changes. In this modern day and age, the linear and rational aspect is more dominant as the economical situation is bad resulting in less expenditure on luxurious and irrational designs. This rational thinking instills the use of rational design.
When looking at design and architecture in the near future, with the new skills and ways of using materials, we see the pendulum swinging back towards the irrational side. We can expect to see the repetition of the Rococo and Art Nouveau periods in a more simplified way, without the complex and luxurious ornaments, evident in the Guggenheim Museum.
Recyclable Shopping Bags (Green Bags)
Born from the glooming threat of Global Warming, the reusable shopping bags (green bags) were a simple way of reducing some of our carbon foot print. In comparison to the existing HDPE (High-density polyethylene) plastic bag, green bags are not only able to hold more items as it is more durable, it is also recyclable and more stylish. The only negative factors about the green bags are that it is not biodegradable and costs more to produce. Although the use of HDPE plastic bags still exists today, green bags will one day replace all plastic bags.