This weekend, while blowing off some steam at the gym, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful architecture that surrounded me. In a place where I am meant to simply burn calories and leave, I found myself enthralled by the beautiful surroundings. San Francisco, a historical city relative to many parts of America, has many beautiful architectural relics scattered throughout its 7 square miles and hundreds of untold stories buried beneath their foundations - if only walls could talk.
By the time you finish reading this, both of these consumer products will have been recycled at a local e-waste facility.
Before fountain pens, people would write with pens with nibs. While writing, these nibs would get gunked up with ink. Periodically during a writing session, the writer would wipe the nib clean, dip the nib into the ink well to refill the nib, and start writing again.
A popular desk accessory at the time was a “pen wiper.” These desk accessories were sold wherever pens and nibs were, and occasionally they would be made by children as gifts for their parents. Above is an example where the head of a broken porcelain doll was turned into a pen wiper. As the “leaves” of the pen wiper became soiled with ink, they would be replaced. This quote from a Victorian craft book sums up the sentiment surrounding these useful and decorative objects: “A gay little pen-wiper with fresh un-inked leaves rarely comes amiss to a man who likes an orderly writing-table.”
One of the aspects about industrial design that I enjoy the most is that I can combine thinking and making together at the same time. As soon as I have even the vaguest of ideas, I'm off to the workshop. I find that my ideas truly come to life in the process of tinkering, modeling, experimenting, It’s a fuzzy, random moment where the thoughts buzzing around in my head somehow come together and form one cohesive idea. It’s a seemingly chaotic moment where intuition and logic are combined.
For a while, every time my wife and I went to the local big box store we would stop by the vacuum cleaner section and check out the Dyson products. We would take them off the shelf and go through the motions with each set of products. My wife would always ask me, “How do you think they look”? The designer in me could not overlook the bright utility colors and the strong use of machine form language.
There is no denying that Daniel Day Lewis is one of the greatest actors alive today. The intensity and realism he brings to his roles result from his relentless discipline in “method acting” and dedication. It was reported that he stayed in a wheelchair for the entire filming of the movie My Left Foot in which he portrayed a paralyzed character. This resulted in two broken ribs from being hunched over in the wheelchair for so long.
Putting functionality aside, a lot of product design is about understanding consumer's emotions, feelings, and desires. Design has the power to place a product in context and it’s the context that generates value and relevance for the user.
I’ve worked in many places as a designer, but what has impressed me most about working at frog are the people. I’ve found that the frog designers are not only incredibly passionate, but very vocal on the subject of design, technology and culture. Certainly being in design and technology puts us at the forefront of cultural change. As designers we are both cultural zeitgeists and change–agents; we anticipate and guide the future. In my opinion there is a lot of responsibility with this position that ought to prompt a heated and thoughtful debate. With this in mind, frog’s product design team has launched Object Orientated. Our first contributor is industrial designer Tony Meredith, who’s passionate about the meaning of objects, particularly the unusual influences that define the appearances and functionality of an object. His first piece celebrates the inventiveness of the end-user in the design of a product. Enjoy. –Executive Creative Director Max Burton