Last night Lian and I watched Objectified, a film on industrial design, and the second film by the filmmaker of Helvetica - Gary Hustwit.
Some quick thoughts -
* The production values were much higher than those of Helvetica - very impressive for a second film.
* Loved the historical tidbits - how the ancient chinese tried to 'industrial design' arrows- so any arrow could be used in any bow. Why? Any archer could then take the arrows of any fallen soldier. Before this move each soldier made his own arrows - which only fit his bow. (Looking forward to the movie version of war in the age of intelligent machines)
* Loved the muji designer - I really liked his discussion of haiku's. He made a point that art and literature - in japan at least - is not about revealing all your feelings- this will make the audience uncomfortable. Instead you tell a story, or use a metaphor to draw the audience into your world in order to have her feel what you feel.
* Apple and fixtures - one of the most interesting comments was by an apple engineer. Most of the design is an attempt to build the tools (or fixtures) to design something a certain way. So for example, in addition to designing the apple keyboard - you also need to design the tools that hold the apple keyboard in place so that it is machined properly. 'Building the tools with which to make your art' (a quote from video out). This is nothing new - but I am surprised how much it is left out of the development process. It also makes me think of physics experiments: For example how Rutherford build a custom thin glass container so alpha particles could pass through.
*Industrial Design is about mass production. I never really thought about this, but the movie started out by saying we need I.D. because we mass produce things via machinese and we need to standardize the way that items are made. So I think of my brother who runs a clothing design company JF&Son. His pieces are not mass produced, rather they are hand made by a team of sowers and designers in India. His items are not 'industrial designed' they are short runs of less than 100 pieces. However where the 'industrial design' comes in is in his process. Namely of iterative feedback between himself, his customers who often collaborate on pieces, his co-workers in new york, and his co-workers in India. The supply chain is industrial designed not necessarily the pieces. It is 'industrial' rather than 'artisinal' because the intention is to sell these items on a large scale - not as one off works of art. 'Industrial' refers to 'industrial strength' or robust, rather than 'industrial' as pertaining to an assembly line.