Aesthetics Contemporary Product Designs Essay

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Aesthetics and Contemporary Product Design

Design is the creation of a plan or the construction of an object. It can be plans, processes, patterns, art, or the direct realization of a specific type of product that is made for a special purpose. Design can be a strategic roadmap or approach - a map toward a way of doing something. Both the challenge and the uniqueness of design then, is that there are no universal or unifying definitions or institutions that define exactly what design should and should not be, or whether it is correctly designed or not. (Ralph & Wand, 2009) if we think about it, design is all around us -- in nature everywhere. It could be a leaf, a shell, or a flower. And each of these proportions are instinctively pleasurable for us, which is likely the reason why much of design and architecture is based on the very same principles of ratio, proportion, and structure. The basis for this design structure is the Golden Ratio, or 1:1.618. Since the Renaissance, this is the proportion that has been used by artists and architects to proportion their works for mass appeal. Fascinating, however, is just how many objects in nature follow this exact proportion: animal, plant, or object and even drawings of the human body from the Ancient Greeks to Leonardo da Vinci (Elam, 2001).Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Essay on Aesthetics Contemporary Product Designs Assignment

Taking the idea a step further, just as tastes change as culture evolves, so do individual perceptions of comfort, accessibility, and ease of use. Couple this with technological and aesthetic changes and the old paradigm of design simply does not work. Instead, by the late 20th century, industrial and interior designers, as well as architects and engineers, realized a new set of standards might be more appropriate- aptly called Universal Design. Gone were the days when a pot or a cup simply needed to have the utility of holding liquid. Gone are the days in which a knife was just for cutting, or a wine-glass just for wine. Instead, objects are now part of everyday life and must be artistic and pleasing to offer a greater degree of pleasure. There may be 1,000 different types of cups that essentially do the same job. Further, the hostess of today would rarely think of using the same placemats and dinnerware for more than one party, there must be a unifying theme or aesthetic to the use of design (Sudjic, 2009).

Broadly speaking, Universal Design (UD) is a rubric in which professionals strive to umbrella several issues together to form a more coherent and synergistic style and philosophy of design; products that are ecologically responsible and safe, designs that enhance the beauty as well as the physical comfort and ease of use of the building, and an approach that engenders psychographic unity while still providing the possibility for the greatest number of people to afford the benefits of appropriate design (Dorsa, 2002).

There are any number of design proportions that transcend the technical and move the individual into the emotional or psychological realm. Perception is important and that which is pleasing to us must also be fairly functional, or it loses its appeal. Even in something like furniture can be based on the idea of the Golden Mean triangle of perfect proportion. For instance, the curve proportion, the way the back of the chair or sofa fits the individual, and even the way the balance of the item interacts with the floor all become part of the Golden section (Petroski, 1994).

More than ever though, in the modern world, it is the synergy between design and function/need is important because it illustrates the historical evolution of the manner in which technology, societal attitude, perceived need, and function, differ. When the telephone was invented, little thought was given to its aesthetic value. It was originally thought to be of little value to anyone but a handful of specialized businesses (banks, for example). The only thing that mattered was its ability to function, no thought was given to a pleasing experience, in fact, the consumer was discouraged from using it as a means to "chat" other than specific business issues. The only "design" elements required were based on a place to speak, to listen, and to ring for an operator. As technology improved, the phone "box" became smaller, but the basic design elements remained the same: black with dial, sold, functional. After World War II, and with the consumer boom of the 1950s, though, things changed. Improvements in plastic coloration allowed a choice of four-five pastel colors, and the dial was replaced with the option of push buttons. By the 1970s, phones had morphed into individual designer expressions, emulating Mickey Mouse, Star Wars, or other comic or movie tie-in characters -- the "function" had not changed, but the design factor based on consumer perceptions had evolved. Too, this had an impact on the special needs groups -- phones were designed to be multifunctional, operable with more than just a dial, and more portable -- function, but with a better solution for individualized needs (Heskett, 2002). As technology further developed, the phone became smaller and smaller -- witness the first cell phones, large boxy creatures that were ungainly without long battery life to the small, tiny hand held computer that has 20-30 times more computing and media power than the NASA's Apollo program computers. Technology drove design which responded to function which circled and responded to need, including needs for the special population (Norman, 2002; (Norman, the Design of Future Things, 2009). Even simple things can be great examples of good, and poor, product design. For instance, we will review stemware, two examples of energy drinks, and a prepackaged scone/cake mix.

When thinking about product design, for instance, the company must think about efficiency, cost effectiveness, differentiation, the solution to a problem, and the synthesis of design, color, space and utility. One product that is global in scope, costs millions of dollars, and yet has no proven or universal efficacy is that of stemware for wine. For over five decades, wine aficionados have insisted that different shapes (openings, length of cup, etc.) make a difference in the type of wine. Granted, it may be more pleasing to drink milk or beer out of glass rather than plastic, but now designers insist we purchase different glasses for different types of wine. Those with a pallet say that a wine glass made for white wine has a pronounced curve that directs the wine to the center of the tongue, rather than the sides of the mouth (where the acid receptors are located). Similarly, for a robust red wine, the larger opening allows for more surface air to let the wine breathe and dilutes the alcohol smell. The glasses do not change the taste of the wine, though -- but they do alter the perception of the liquid. If someone uses an expensive wineglass that is made for a Syrah, for instance, there is a part of their brain that tells them this particular wine tastes better than out of a standard glass. As a design element, then, the idea of changing stemware to match the product is unique, aesthetically pleasing, and consistent with what experts believe to be appropriate and successful for the product. Even the old staple -- the champagne toast flute, has come under fire. Richard Geoffroy, the Chef de Cave at Dom Perignon, believes that serving champagne in a white wine glass improves the taste of the product because flutes concentrate the fizz, but also decrease the aroma of more complex wines, "You taste the way you see. A narrow flute will narrow the taste, an ample wine glass will amplify the taste, a flat saucer will flatten the taste" (Cloake, 2012).

Following up with beverages, the way that products are designed can make them seem to taste better or worse -- we do not know until we actually try the product. The purpose of product design for a drink, though, is to make the product look attractive, delicious, and sell it from the packaging without requiring the consumer to study the ingredients or do research on the product. Let us contrast two different dink packages, both actually aimed at the same market niche -- the healthful consumer that wants a great value at a great price that tastes great. Example 1 is called FUZE and is promoted as a natural product that has seven essential vitamins, calcium and exotic fruit flavors. The packaging is bright, shows the fruit, shows the idea of slimness with the zipper, and exudes the natural quality of the product. There are several varieties and flavors, but all keep the same general logo -- exactly what fruits are in the product, an upper label showing the number of calories, and easy to read nutritional information. The consumer immediately thinks of freshness and taste -- and is less concerned about the cost, because the benefits literally scream from the packaging. This combination makes the consumer… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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