• DG490 Design History in Global Perspective

My reflection on DG490

Design History on Global Perspective

My reflections on the weekly presentations

For this elective we had to make a presentation every week. These presentations were about certain time periods or certain people. Those people/time periods had quite significant influences on the development of the way of designing. These influences could be in the looks of the design or in the performance of the design. While I had already done the course of Art in high school, I went into this course with not that much of knowledge about design or designers. During this course I did learn more about designers in general, yet also why certain designers did design their products as they did. Some of this did influence my way of thinking on how I create my designs, and it did also let me think on, for example, (the aerodynamics. The aerodynamics that Bel Geddes came up with were quite advanced for its time.).

Due to the fact that I came to know more about designers, I came to know about Dieter Rams. I really do like his style of designing Also what surprised me is that ideologies could be so different. I really started to look into these things due to the presentation. I never had really deepened myself in ideologies, yet due to these presentations, it became clear that those ideologies do have a big impact upon each other, while they may seem totally different. Just like the art of Dadaism was an anti-art response (while it ironically became art). It all really pulled my attention, and that it is something to consider when you are designing something.

The Bauhaus, with it efficient creations also gave me a new view on design, that it does not always has to be looking good, but that it can also be efficient. This is something I may consider to use when I am going to design future designs. I want to try this because I am a person who likes to create designs which are designed to their function.

Dieter Rams really did inspire me. While I had never heard of him before, I do like the way he designs. We had to do a presentation about him, and then I found out that Jonathan Ive has been inspired a lot by Dieter Rams. I have always liked the designs of Jonathan Ive, and thus the way how Dieter Rams designs. I like the way that his designs are simple yet enough to use all the functions. Their designs are all about the simplicity and it still being able to be used maximally

In one weekly presentation, we had to present about Fordism and over Henry Ford in general. Something that I learned and that I also want to keep in mind is that designs are not only the looks, but also inner of the design. Like Henry Ford modernised the assembly line, you can also modernise or improve designs in how they work.

Also what I have learned is that when someone has a good reputation and is really exclusive, maybe due to the price, or maybe due to the amount of art that he has produced, that he can almost sell whatever he wants. It is like the guy, Piero Manzoni, who did shit in a can, and yet sold it as art. He even sold it for ridiculous prices. This really amazed me and did let me think about the art business.

We also had to present about the venus project, from Jacque Fresco. This project was about how he does think what a perfect world would look like. This really let me think about how my perfect world would look like. During the writing of this reflection did I have some big discussions with Cyril how a perfect world would look like, and we came up with some ideas. One of those ideas is that if we would want a perfect world, we would have to get rid of money. Just like Jacque, we think that money is an outdated system and that, nowadays, it keeps our society from progressing. Money is something that slows down the advances in technology and our society.

The reflection and report of me at the Schröderhuis

For this elective we also had to go to the Schröderhuis, a building which is designed by Gerrit Rietveld. We had to go to this house because we were working on a design which would fit into this house and which would be approved by Gerrit Rietveld himself. The way I see this, is that Gerrit wanted to be quite modern in his design, and yet keep himself to the “design-code” that “De Stijl” had.

When I started designing, I wanted to create something which would be combining modern-day technology with the style of Gerrit Rietveld/“De Stijl”. This would mean that I could only use the basic colours like red, yellow and blue. I started with my design of just a box, which would be coloured accordingly to the colours red, yellow and blue. I made the front of the drawer yellow, to let people know that there was something, like Rietveld did with details. When I started drawing I already thought that it would not be good enough, because I used some circular forms. My docent pointed out to me that the use of circular forms was something that they tried to avoid. Thus I started with the same concept, yet without the circular form.

When I went to the Schröderhuis, I asked the people who worked there what Rietveld would do. The people that worked at the museum had a lot of knowledge about Rietveld, as you would expect from people working in a museum to know about the subject it covers. They told me that Rietveld was a real geek, loving all the gadgets and the modern stuff, and that he always wanted to combine them with the designs he made. Thus I really decided to continue with the concept of using a modern-day flat screen. I decided that I would also put the speakers in the box that would cover the total design. I did also put some small storage drawers in the design, to make the design even more efficient, like “De Stijl” always tried to do in their designs. These drawers could come handy if you wanted to store some of your wires or remotes.

Due to the fact that I shaved of my fingertips, I could not continue the production of my design. I really found this a bummer because I enjoyed creating this design.

I have been really inspired by the Schröderhuis. I did really like the idea of the walls being able to be removed if necessary. I could maybe implement this in future designs of me, to make them look more roomie. I did also like the idea of removing the walls and just to give the house a more open look. Due to the open look, you had the idea the house was way roomier th an it actually was.

I do also like the way that Gerrit Rietveld made his designs in such a way that they did not resemble the things they had to be, like the Red and Blue Chair he made. This is something I want to try to apply into my future designs.

Looking back onto what I have made, I do see some points which I could have improved. To start, I could have dropped the idea of using a TV and to go to a beamer, because it is somewhat more modern, and according to the museum staff, also more what he would like. I also could have started to create the TV in real-life proportions, instead I now have made a TV which would have been a widescreen. To give it more of a good proportion, I should have made it higher.

In the Bubble, by John Thackara

For the report on the novel In the Bubble, we had to read the chapters Conviviality and Learning

The first chapter was about conviviality, but what I could get out of it was that it was just one big chapter to convince everybody that there was too much money put into the healthcare.

What was immediately clear to me is that Thackara has his own vision on the conviviality. I think he is focussed way to much on his own view and does not look at it in another way. While I do like it more to look on things from different angles. Him being subjective makes me think about what he says more, and though I do agree on some points, most of them are points that are only good if you look at them from his point of view. I do agree on most of the points that he makes, yet the problem is that he wants to do this in the society that we live in today, whilst it should be in a totally new society. It does not work in this society, yet he wants to do it in this society. This should be done in a society where there is no money, and thus no power over people, and where there is a good balance between the ethics and logic.

In the first chapter, conviviality, Thackara is only complaining about how the government should be spending the money, they spend in healthcare, better. As an argument he says that the people who are sick the most are mostly the social unhappy people, and that the government should fund the social infrastructure instead of putting massive amounts of money in healthcare. He want to do this by transforming healthcare into a supporting hub. He wants to get rid of the big hospitals and make it more local. While it may sound as a good idea from his point of view, you don’t see the side that if you keep it all together and have one big hospital, all the needed things are easily reachable. The doctors who also work in a big hospital learn things faster due to the fact that they can see other doctors doing the same things, they can learn from more experienced doctors faster.

He also states that people are spending too much on the technology which would help us live healthier. The so called “Borgdrift”, which he refers to, is just one big pot of money which did not help us at all. He states that even though there is going massive amounts of money in the use of technologies, which have to be implanted, we are still not living longer. While I do agree that there is maybe a way to big amount of money going to those directions, and we have to cut it down to an acceptable amount, you do not have to forget that those technologies are there not only for being able to live longer. People who lose arms or legs are being helped by the use of prosthesis, not to make them live longer, but to give them back the abilities that they have lost. Also people that have heart problems are being helped by the use of pacemakers. In a way these pacemakers are made to let them live longer, but the most important thing with these things is that we give people more security in their lives. When you give a man with heart problems a pacemaker, he has a bigger chance of survival than without. While I do not fully agree, it still let me think about the possibility on how we can reduce the amount of money spent in this circuit. Maybe it is possible that the designs should be made more efficient in such a way that they cost less money. Maybe this is something I can apply in future designs which the technology of bio medics is involved, or just technology for healthcare.

The second chapter that I had to reflect on, the chapter about learning. This chapter treats his view on how learning should be done.

He thinks that the governments do think that their amount of education is enough, while there have been studies, I the US and in the Netherlands, that the average student could spent more time on studying. This is something I do not agree with, the amount of time we have to study, is already enough. You do also need the free time to do something you like, because that can give you more motivation to finish your study. If we had to spent too much time on our study, students would simply drop off because of the fact that the study is starting to control their life.

While he mentions that we should be studying more, he does also mention that there is too much content for the time that we study. This is something that I can underscore. The amount of content that we have to learn in the amount of time is a lot, if you consider that we have to finish a project and a course in the meantime.

While there are a lot of public schools, there is also a lot of money circulating around in education. In the US are a lot of corporate universities that are there for working people. He also thinks that using the e-learning is a big improvement in both time and the use of space. I think this is also something that should be considered to be used.

For the rest does he want to say what a new conceptualization of school should be, which is just like this study that we follow. This concept is something that I find interesting, but I cannot say more on this, because I do not know if it would be a good way to study, maybe is the old system better, I do not know.

The reflection on Don Norman and his speeches

Living with complexity

I do like the way Don Norman looks on designing as in how he wants to convince you on how design and complexity should go hand in hand.

The point that he wants to make and with which I do agree, is that design, especially good design can help simplifying complexity. It is something that I always love to see, when someone has a really complex product, let’s say an IPhone, and that it is really easy to use. It is the design that makes it simple to handle. I always want to achieve this, to create a product which may be difficult and complex, but then to design so you can still easily use it, it is one of my strivings that I have for a good designed product.

He also states that there is a fine balance between it being too simple or being too complex, which creates either, respectively, to boring or way to difficult; thus complex. This balance, how fragile it may be, is something that I think all the designers have to reach. But I am someone who wants to make his design look simple and minimalistic in functions, yet also do I want to let these functions cover the most important things that your design covers. While it also does not has to be overloaded with functions to make it too difficult.

I do also agree with his vision on how complexity differs per person, as for example, he states that even may a hammer be a simple tool, it still has to need to be mastered before it can be used to its full potential. I do fully agree with him on this statement, as it has been proven that if you truly want to master, in this case an instrument, you have to literally spent ten thousand of practicing and using the instrument, while it may look simple to use, like a flute.

What I also tend to forget, as most of the designers, like he says, is that when we are designing a machine, we try to get to let it work properly. But we do totally forget that if they crash or if there goes something wrong, you can hardly understand what you have to do to fix it. He says that we really have to spend more attention to adding communication skills to machines. To let them become helpful when something went wrong. We have to see the product through the eyes of the consumer, and to make the machine understandable for people when something goes wrong. This really interested me, because I have never thought about this. I never thought about this because when I create something, I know how it is made, and when something goes wrong, I know where to look. But when you have to see it through the eyes of a consumer, who does not have the same knowledge as you about the machine, you have to be able to correct an error in the machine. As a consumer you have to be able to be led by the machine on how to correct the error. This is something I am really going to look after when I am designing something.

His view on designs, that they have to be cohesive, as strong as the weakest link and designed for the total experience are something I admire to see. As example is that Apple did a really good job on those three points, which explains their success. I do totally agree with these points. I already tried to apply the fact that my design is as good as the weakest link to everything. But I never really thought of these other two in specific, nor I did think about combining these three facts. I really want to apply this into my future designs, because I do truly admire the way that all the Apple products work together. We have an Apple TV at home, and I myself have a IPhone 5S. When I want to play a video from my phone onto the Apple TV, it goes really smooth. It is the same as my father wants to link his MacBook Air to the Apple TV. Even connecting your IPhone to another Apple product than the Apple TV goes smoothly.

3 ways good design makes you happy

Norman is trying to understand the meaning of beauty, pretty ad emotions. As an example he displays the Philippe Starck juicer and says that he only bought it because it fun and neat, he found it beautiful. He also displays a Global cutting knife, which was made in Japan, and he tells that it does work like it should, it is just designed and made with craftsmanship. He wants to display what he finds to be neat, fun and beautiful. He thinks that when something is neat and good designed it is fun. This is something I may agree on, but it really depends on the object.

His view on being happy is that it helps you to solve problems, and just as he states that researched has showed that being happy releases dopamine, which increases your ability to solve problems. While stress would bring you fear , for example of not being able to get your deadline in time, which releases neural transmitters in your brain. This makes you focus more on stuff, but it does not help you to solve the problem.

Norman says that what we see as beauty is also something which is built in your brain due to the evolution. Like how we dislike frowning faces, yet we like symmetrical faces. We have a definition of beauty built in or brains from the day that we were born. This is something that we cannot deny. Those things are all subconscious, thus we are unaware of it. Automatic behaviour is also subconscious, and is about feeling in control, which includes usability, understanding but also feel and heft. That is why Global knives are so neat, according to Norman. They are nicely balanced and let you feel that you are in control. These feelings are, according to Norman, what gives you the good feeling of fun. I, myself are not very sure of that, maybe it is worth a try to use into one of my designs. I do agree that if something is easy to control it can give you a good feeling.

Reflective products, that go with the image you want people to have about you, are also products that are really likable.

While I did really agree with mister Norman in the previous reflection, this one is more vague and it is not something I am paying attention to when I am designing my products. Maybe because of that it is useful to start to look at that when I am designing a product.

Sources

- https://prezi.com/swzjrsqhu-8s/norman-bel-geddes/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

- All the presentations

- http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/systems_thinking_a_.html

- http://www.ted.com/talks/don_norman_on_design_and_emotion/transcript

- John Thackara’s book “In the Bubble: Designing in a complex World”

- Don Norman, Living with complexity

- Don Norman, 3 ways good design make you happy