Saturday, February 23, 2008

Form vs. Texture

After our class completed the creative caffeine exercise that Jan gave us on texture, she posed the question, "what is the difference between form and texture?" I went back and looked at some of the photos I put up on my flickr site for the exercise and realized that towards the end of my group of photos, I started adding in ones that were really more of form rather than texture. So I started thinking about these two elements of design and tried to distinguish between the two.

From my research, a good design is an expression of its material and fulfills its purpose. Design is implicit in nature, as well as a man-made expression. There is great variety in nature, and also in design – variety in texture and form.

Form is involved with mass and volume, but it goes further to also include size and shape. Form is the three-dimensional quality (depth) that makes objects distinguishable from one another and from their background.

Texture refers to the external surface of objects – both the tactile quality and the visual quality. The tactile quality can be felt by the fingers and usually comes from the nature of the material used. The visual quality of texture can be created by patterns, light, and color. Weathering is a great creator of both tactile and visual texture in nature. Sometimes visual textures created by the elements remain even after tactile textures have disappeared under the polishing of wind or water.

The Art of Innovation

Here are my thoughts on chapters 3 and 5 from the book The Art of Innovation written by Tom Kelley, the general manager of design firm IDEO.

Chapter 3 - Innovation Begins With An Eye

This is a very enlightening chapter. It could have been renamed "Innovation Begins With An I," meaning it takes personal focus and interest in observing people at work in their environment to have breakthrough observations and ideas. This reminds me of this slogan I see every time I go to my mom's office that says, "Focus on the 'U' in Quality."

I particularly like the section on "Finding Rule Breakers." Observing the shortcuts and "work-arounds" that people use can inspire innovations in design. It was also interesting to read about designs that failed (e.g. toothpaste tubes without screw caps) and thinking of products in terms of verbs rather than nouns when trying to innovate (e.g. cell phoning rather than cell phones).

Chapter 5 - A Cool Company Needs Hot Groups

This chapter focuses on the theme of great projects being acheived by great teams. Great teams are characterized by purpose, passion and personality. It describes the creative process as one of high energy, excitement and pride. Interestingly, there is value attributed to adversity - pressure to meet challenging deadlines - as being a kind of glue that can bind a team together in achieving a common goal while fighting a common enemy.

Answering the question as to what makes a successful team, the qualities of caring, trust and commitment seem to influence the team's outcome. Certain techniques such as brainstorming can foster these qualities through sharing, fun, play, risk-taking, and celebrating differences.

Caterina Fake Article

Caterina Fake

Caterina Fake, the co-founder of Flickr, is now Senior Director of the Technology Department at Yahoo, who acquired Flickr in 2005. In this interview article, entitled "A Conversation With Caterina Fake," she discusses her roots in web design, particularly online communities and social software (such as multiplayer online games). The photo-sharing site was developed when the funds for the game ran out. Flickr features photo tags, which allow users to find photos concerning a certain subject or topic area. Photos can further be flagged as either public or private. This photo sharing site is similar to blogging, in that there is a large social network and the majority of photos are shared with the general public. Photos can be edited (cropped, framed, etc.), downloaded, uploaded, and printed on Flickr. Sort of the YouTube equivalent but for photos instead of videos.

At the end of the article, Fake is asked, "What is design?" She replies by saying that "great design is invisible, and you don't see it until you need it." This is my favorite part of the whole article because lately it seems that all I can think about it good vs. bad design. With the Burger King coffee cup lid, it was designed to deal with a situation - spillage. I didn't see that this was an example of good design ("invisible") until the situation arose (spillage), and this simple, nice looking design solves the problem.

Good design is supposed to accomadate what you need it to do without getting in your way. Louis Sullivan, an American architect, coined the phrase "form follows function." In this case, the shape of the lid and the way it's designed follows what the lid is supposed to do.

Good Design

I go to Starbucks at least 4 times a week to get coffee. Without fail every time I get into my car with the coffee, it spills all over me or my car because that tiny hole at the top of the coffee cup allows coffee to come shooting out every time I hit a bump!

I went to Burger King the other day in the morning to switch things up and when the lady handed me my coffee I was so excited to see that there's a little piece that you can push down to cover that little hole in the lid. This to me is an example of good design.

Now why can't Starbuck's do something as simple as this that would make their customer's lives so much easier? Surely it can't cost that much more to produce the lids with a push down top...or does it? I have no idea but I do know that Burger King's lids rock!

Starbucks' Lid

Burger King's Lid

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Making Connections

Arik Levy's Black Honey fruit bowl

bowl from Target

I was at Target the other day taking pictures of different textures and I came across this bowl. I had to take a picture of it because it immediately made me think of a mixture between Arik Levy's Black Honey fruit bowl (epoxy) and Tracy's Droog project (mounted earring holder made of etched copper discs) from Jewelry II last semester, both of which I love.

This target bowl isn't as fun because the shape isn't warped like Arik Levy's, the washers don't have cool etchings on them like Tracy's earring holder (that i wish i had a pic of!), and there are some cheesy plastic beads wrapped in the middle of each washer with wire. Nonetheless, it caught my attention right away and I thought if nothing else, it helped me to get my mind thinking in terms of design.