design and cultures 2 home

The rest of this semester will be taken up with a *very* brief whizz through postmodernist design. You'll be going into a lot more depth about recent and contemporary design next year, so think of these next couple of weeks as just a sampler. If your interest is aroused by the snippets here, you can always pop forward to my online resources for the 2nd Year unit. katsclass.com/10787

1960's design and anti-design

Over the past few weeks, we've been looking at a range of 60's designs from different regions. You may have noticed that by about this time, designs were beginning to appear that were fun, silly concept pieces. The influence of Pop Art was making itself felt in design, and the result was an explosion in diversity of furniture, architecture and household goods.

Anti-design was a reaction to the genericism of Modernism. It was a rebellion against the basic Modernist design idea that there is such a thing as a perfect form (preferably based upon it's function).



There's a whole lecture about this in another module. Oh, in fact that module IS Postmodernism. But don't stress too much about the theory at this stage. After all, you're only First Years and I probably shouldn't be too demanding ;) katsclass.com/10787/wk02.htm

Memphis Design - Ettore Sottsass

Perhaps consumerism has reached it's pinnacle when designers can make things that are deliberately disposable without being inexpensive, recycleable or in any other way intended to exist beyond their own fad. Seen by some as a cult of deliberate ugliness, and by others as groundbreaking in their challenge to the status quo, the Memphis Milano Design Group definitely have had an impact on design that is quite astounding considering the brief life of the company.

"I don't understand why enduring design is better than disappearing design...' Ettore Sottsass.

Google Image Search for Memphis Design

Robert Venturi (1925-still living) - Studied with Eero Saarinen in Philadelphia. Wrote "Complexity and Contradiction in Modern Architecture" in 1966.



Tutorial @ 1pm: Keith M will be doing his tutorial on the Melbourne Fringe Furniture Exhibition, where he just won a prize!


In the 1970's, Alberto Alessi took over his family's failing and rather conservative kitchenware business. He took a lot of risks and encouraged experimentation. Today, he revels in the company's 'fiascoes' - designs that didn't quite work, as they're evidence of the company's sincere dedication to innovation and creativity.

"Thousands of American households have a chic Aldo Rossi Conical Kettle in their kitchens. But they never use it, because its handle becomes much too hot. The kettle is a fiasco, admits Alberto Alessi, and it is not his first. (That honor goes to a disastrous collaboration with Salvador Dali in 1971.)

"I like fiascoes, because they are the only moment when there is a flash of light that can help you see where the border between success and failure is," says Alessi. "It is a precious experience in the development of new projects.

"Our most beautiful fiasco was the Philippe Starck Hot Bertaa kettle. I did not realize that we had gone too far. Inside the kettle was some complicated but very intelligent engineering that prevented steam from escaping when the water was being poured. On the prototypes, it worked well, but when we produced thousands and thousands, it didn't work so well.

"The kettle was very much criticized. But it was never a stupid project: We just went too far. There were many positives, not least the courage of the designer. He wasn't playing a joke on the customers. He just felt the need to experiment.

"Our customers seem happy to take risks with us, probably because they realize that we're always sincere. They like walking the borderline with us. Customers are much more progressive than marketing people, distributors, or retailers believe. Society is much more exciting than just a target market. A target market is a cage where people try to put society. It bears no relation to what people feel and want." fastcompany.com/magazine/51/alessi.html


High Tech Design

"AS ANY JAPANESE FARMER will tell you, achieving consistently high seasonal yields from pinched, narrow land allotments is no mean feat. An integrated circuit, if you reflect for a moment, is not so different from a set of inter-connecting rice-fields: Flat, tightly compartmentalized, they even somewhat resemble one another from above, each segment of the respective structures precision-balanced and compacted for maximum results.

Miniaturization skills learned and transmitted by Japan's master craftsmen, influenced no doubt by the techniques of an agricultural society, are now being vigorously applied in the design of increasingly smaller, lightweight, high-tech products for consumers who want more functions, less bulk, and a high return on a diminutive but empowered item. Little wonder that tiny products like large-scale integrated circuits in Japan are often called "the rice of the high-tech world," a reference to both minuscule grains of rice, perfect units in an integrated mass, and the traditional practice of rice calligraphy, in which as many as 32 ideograms are brush-written or incised onto a single grain". japaninc.net/article.php?articleID=515

Bang & Olufsen

Danish high-tech applicances for the discriminating consumer.





From the literary philosophy of "Deconstruction" comes the architectural and design school of "Deconstructivism". Inspired by Russian Constructivism, Deconstructivists believe in challenging the basic assumptions of Modernist design (for example, that rooms should be rectangular in shape, or at least that walls should be straight). There is also the influence of Italian Futurist architects such as Antonio Sant'Elia, particularly the striving for dynamic forms.

"The general characteristics of Deconstructivist design are as follows:
  1. Explodes architectural form into loose collections of related fragments.
  2. Destroys the dominance of the right angle and the cube by using the diagonal line and the `slice' of space.
  3. Uses ideas and images from Russian Revolutionary architecture and design -Russian Constructivism
  4. Searches for more DYNAMIC spatial possibilities and experiences not explored (or forbidden) by the Modern Movement.
  5. Provokes shock, uncertainty, unease, disquiet, disruption, distortion by challenging familiar ideas about space, order and regularity in the environment.
  6. Rejects the idea of the `perfect form' for a particular activity and rejects the familiar relationship between certain forms and certain activities.
  7. Note the work of the architects, Peter Eisenman, Bernard Tschumi and Zaha Hadid.

Note that while Memphis designs attack the lack of colour, texture, pattern or sensuality of the Modern Movement, Deconstructivism attacks the closed and precise forms and spaces of the Modern Movement. The same design attitudes are simply directed at different aspects of the design of space. wessexcentre.com/My Webs/Theory papers/decon frameset.htm


retrokat.com quite nice sites

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