A Chair to Look to the Moon: What We Can Learn from Irrational Design History for Contemporary Design Practice


Eggink, Wouter (2009) A Chair to Look to the Moon: What We Can Learn from Irrational Design History for Contemporary Design Practice. Design Principles and Practices: an International Journal, 3 (1). pp. 103-114. ISSN 1833-1874

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Abstract:The focus of product design is shifting from primarily offering functionality, towards experience
and emotion driven product characteristics. The mantra of the universal design-language,
within which, according to the good old modernist movement the shape of a product is directly derived
from the (technical) functionality, is not very useful anymore. Consequently the contemporary designer
has to look for other ways to fill his or her repertoire. That this experience and emotion driven approach
to products is not new, is shown by an example of a Chinese Ming-period reclining chair that is not
referred to as a reclining chair but as “a chair to look to the moon”. Also during the history of industrial
product design there are numerous examples of designers and designs contradicting the dominant
modernist/functionalist approach. So it is interesting to analyze how designers have used this non-rational
approach through time. In this way, principles, methods or work-a-rounds for contemporary
design problems are derived. This paper focuses on the period from circa 1990 to 2000, because at
that time, the emotional orientation of the ‘irrational’ post-modernist designs is more and more connected
with the function of products. Therefore interesting combinations of recognizable meanings
and, for instance, new materials arise. Many products in this period do not stand out with their functional
usability, but with the intelligibility of the idea behind it. The Netherlands are playing an important
role in this development with the Droog label. This study tries to visualize how interesting approaches
and principles of this merely author-driven design practice can enrich the demand-driven design
projects of industrial design engineers in our highly emotion-oriented environment nowadays.
Item Type:Article
Copyright:© 2009 Common Ground Publishers
Engineering Technology (CTW)
Research Group:
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/publications/78412
Official URL:http://ijg.cgpublisher.com/product/pub.154/prod.155
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