I’m still a bit bitter that I didn’t win the main prize of a lottery of a loyalty program a couple of months ago – Ball Chair. This impressive chair with unconventional shape was designed by Eero Aarnio in 1966 (eero-aarnio.com, 2011). Ball, one of the simplest geometric forms, combined with playful inspiration results in a unique piece of design that has lasted strong for decades.
Figure 1: Eero Aarnio, 1966, Ball Chair
The Ball Chair is sometimes called as the globe chair due the fact that Ball Chair has a similar leaning side profile as the globe. Despite its spectacular exterior made of fiberglass, Ball Chair’s interior makes it extraordinary. Space within a welcoming padded space, makes it impossible to take Ball Chair too seriously (Figure 1).
elements which are hybrid rather than ‘pure’…accommodating rather than ‘excluding’… redundant rather than ‘simple’ is how Robert Venturi in 1962 described style that was latter to become known as Post-Modernism (Woodham, 1997). The Ball Chair combines these characteristics with a charming way that has provided for it’s place in the world’s most prestigious museums, including MOMA, as well as in ordinary homes bringing a piece of irony to every day.
Aarnio, E. (1966). Ball Chair. Retrieved October 6, 2011 from http://cdn.buzznet.com/assets/imgx/1/3/4/3/1/8/1/1/orig-13431811.jpg
eero-aarnio.com. (2011). Ball Chair by Aarnio Eero. Retrieved October 6, 2011 from http://www.eero-aarnio.com/8
Woodham, J. M. (1997). Twentieth century design (Vol. 5). Oxford University Press, USA.
In the 20th century media and design were exploited to promote principally national agendas and movements. American World fairs and Communist iconographies as well as the Marshall plan and the Italian shopping trip are excellent examples of these successful campaigns (Petty, 2011). When entering the new millennium, the tables have been turned: Brands are no more the tools of nations. Nations are the tools of brands.
“No Space, No Choice, No Jobs, No Logo”,
as Naomi Klein started her world famous book No Logo, reflects the power Brands have in the world today (Klein, 2000). The agenda of brands is the brand itself. As Klein argued the large multinational corporations consider the marketing of a brand more important their actual products. The image is everything.
Tattooed Baby (2011)
As presented above, we can’t avoid brands wherever we go. The Brands have muscled their presence from streets into universities, primary schools, and other public places. Consumerism is marketed for us a way to individualize ourselves. At the same time, brand products are manufactured in the sweatshops in the Third World countries, where the employee costs of labour are around $0.30 and working hours 10-16 per day (Klein, 2000). The ‘fair deal’ is really far from those conditions. The complete change is needed.
There is no such government or institution that could make the change on our behalf. We have to become conscious and do it by ourselves with our daily choices.
Klein, N. (2000). No logo: Taking aim at the brand bullies. Vintage Canada.
Petty, Margaret. (2011). Design in Context lectures hold during the spring 2011 at Victoria University of Wellington.
Unknown (2011). Tattooed Baby. Retrieved 29/09/2011 from http://everyonecouldbe.blogspot.com/2009/05/no-logo-brands-globalization-resistance.html
I think that Meyer’s argument that design was synonymous with man-made things and was a product of “function x economy” (Raizman, 2004), is aligned with the period of Europe after World War I. Today, I believe that similar ideas can be faced in the developing countries. Usefulness and economy of design will be emphasised when there is a shortage of commodities and resources.
Under better circumstances, I consider that Meyer is misjudging the role of design. Design is much more important than just functionality. It has other values such as beauty and aesthetics, which shouldn’t be abandoned.
So far the 21st century, could be described as the era of sustainable design. I think that the ideals of sustainable design today are quite similar to the thoughts of Walter Gropius and Bauhaus “Art and Technology: A New Unity” (Raizman, 2004), I see no reason why good design couldn’t be both.
Summarising my view in the valuation of design, I set my framework against Meyer’s “function x economy”. I consider that the value of design is a product of utility and beauty (Figure 1). As presented below, the value of design can be illustrated as an area, which these two dimensions form. As an essential aspect, it should be noted that the value of design isn’t just its economic or market value. The value of design is the sum of its re-saleable and intrinsic value.
Figure 1: Framework for the valuation of design
Raizman, D. S. (2004). History of modern design. Prentice Hall.
Small pictures in figure 1:
Flaminio Bertoni (1948). Citroen 2 CV. Retrieved 22/09/2011 from http://grumlt.citrina.lt/Sahara/1959_Citroen_2CV_Sahara.jpg
Philippe Starck (1990). Juicy Salif for Alessi. Retrieved 22/09/2011 from http://www.alessi.com/en/images/display/filename/%7Cimages%7Ccontent%7Cproducts%7C110-17924_1.jpg/x/310/y/316.png
Harri Koskinen (1996). Block lamp. Retrieved 22/09/2011 from http://houm.fi/tuotekuvat/220x/blocklamp_redcord.jpg
Donatello (circa 1440s). The bronze statue of David. Retrieved 22/09/2011 from http://www.dl.ket.org/humanities/resources/images/3davesdonatello.jpg
I agree with Walter Benjamin that “ever greater degree the work of art reproduced becomes the work of art designed for reproducibility”. The development of new media has provided an efficient tool for artist. Today, the majority of artists use digital media as part of their work: If not as primary method, at least as way to spread their production. However, I think that every artist or designer still have keen interest to make some unique, which can be recognized as their work.
In the urban areas of developed countries, this can be seen especially in our consumption habits. Ordinary isn’t any longer enough, and many consumers have started to prefer individualized items such as cellphone covers, custom-made jeans, and mugs with your own pictures. Many global companies also try to take the advantage of the raise of individuality. Adidas has tried to catch more individualistic consumers with its mass-customized miAdidas concept in which consumer can choose models, fabrics and colours for their shoes (Image below).
miadidas advertisement (1)
Although, there is quite a long way from photography and film to mass-customized products. Still, I consider that they belong to the same development path of new media. Due this development, authenticity isn’t vanishing away but it’s changing its shape: Authenticity of today is the combination of individual selections you make.