Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Charles and Ray Eames

Charles and Ray Eames

1. Charles and Ray Eames are an amazing couple who have contributed a variety and an abundance of work to the design world. In the twentieth century they created architecture, books, films, furniture, graphics, museum exhibitions, photography, textiles, and toys.

In his youth Charles Eames always excelled in school and was even voted “most likely to succeed.” However when he went to study architecture at Washington University, he left after just two years. Charles’ work was heavily influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright. In a report from the university, there was a note that stated, “his views were too modern.” He met and married a fellow architecture student in 1929 and began practicing architecture just as the Great Depression was taking shape. In 1933, Charles left his wife and daughter and went to Mexico seeking inspiration. When he returned he opened an architecture firm with Robert Walsh, and together they designed various churches and houses near St. Louis Missouri. Charles was influenced by Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen. While working on the Meyer house, Saarinen suggested that Charles should consider going to Cranbrook. So Charles moved to Michigan to study architecture at Cranbrook Academy of Art. Ray Kaiser had studied abstract art in New York City under Hans Hofmann before going to Cranbrook in 1940. She was a painter and wanted to explore in other mediums. Charles and Ray married and moved to California where they began working together.

2. Before moving to California, Charles and Eero Saarinen had designed prize-winning furniture for New York's Museum of Modern Art "Organic Design in Home Furnishings" competition.Their work displayed the new technique of wood moulding (originally developed by Alvar Aalto) These early experiments lead to their commission to design Leg splints and airplane parts for the military. These leg splints were lightweight, inexpensive, sculptural yet functional. They studied the form of the human body to design the curves of the splints. Because of the modular design of the splints, they were convenient to take apart and easy to transport. Access to military technology and manufacturing facilities allowed the Eames to perfect their technique for molding plywood. This also gave way to the mass production of their products.

3. Originally, they used a handmade machine to mold the plywood, called the Kazam! Machine. Shown on the left. Then, new machines for compression, molding, sawing and trimming, allowed then to further their experiments and develop components. On the right is an image of LCM and DCM chairs designed in 1946 and manufactured by Herman Miller Furniture Company.

4. In learning about the work of Charles and Ray, what I found interesting and useful is their design methods. Process was a key part of learning. Through the process of molding wood they were able to understand the nature of the material and use it in unexpected ways. They developed ideas through sketching and studying the human body. Rigorous experimentation, trial and error, and continuously working on new iterations of their designs are how they developed their ideas and improved their work. On the upper left: Plaster cast models. They were always protyping and testing their designs. Gentle curves were ergonomic and comfortable for the human body. Their designs were affordable and multifunctional. They eventually created dining chairs, tables, and storage units.

5. & 6. These are two examples of the Arts and Architecture magazines. Ray designed the graphics for the covers in 1942-1944. Two textiles and patterns (1947)

Some monochromatic, other with bold color palettes, repetitions of abstract geometric, hand drawn patterns. Her work was modern and humanistic; abstract yet approachable.

7. During the Great Depression as many of the WW2 veterans were returning home, there was a shortage of housing and construction materials. So, the California Arts and Architecture magazine sponsored Case Study Houses to find solutions to these problems. The Eames' designed Case Study #8 in Pacific Palisades, California in 1949. They used industrial materials such as, factory sash windows, commercial doors, and corrugated steel roofing. The design had a flexible plan with multi purpose spaces and a double height living room. This was characteristic of postwar modern architecture.

8. They also developed more designs for chairs and chaises using new materials: molded fiberglass, metal wire. Middle image shows one of the earliest designs from the 1940 MOMA “Organic Design” competition that Charles and Saarinen designed using molded plywood, foam rubber, and fabric. They won first place, which allowed them to be recognized and lead to the design of the other chairs.

9. In the 50’s they continued to do graphic design, and also started a collection of photography, and began creating films. Both his photography and films tried to see found objects in new ways and were explorations of the ordinary. They also worked on a numerous museum exhibitions including: the India Report; Mathematics, Numbers and Beyond; the THINK exhibition for IBM at the NY World Fair, and The world of Franklin and Jefferson. Some films were documentary, scientific, and educational and others were simple short stories. Some titles of their films: (their first film) Traveling Boy, Toccata for Toy Trains, House after five years of living, which is a series of photographs documenting their life and home, and Computer Perspective (1971). Here are some examples of their photography collection which is now in the Congress Library. The Famous Film, Blacktop, 1952, also expresses their interest in the ordinary. It is a video demonstrating the abstract beauty of water washing down asphalt of a schoolyard.

10. Their most famous film is Powers of Ten from 1977. The film depicts the relative scale of the Universe in factors of ten . The camera zooms in and out starting at a man at a picnic going out to the universe and into the atoms. Every 10 seconds, goes 10x farther out, as you zoom out time changes because of the speed of light.

11. What is Design? 1972 film_ Diagram from 1969 Exhibition in Paris

· Recognition of a need and then Address itself to the need

· Expression of purpose, which may later be judged as art

· A method of action

· Design is useful, Pleasure is useful > take pleasure seriously!

· Design depends on constraints

· Process, experimentation, various iterations allow for development

· Don’t limit yourself to one method or material


Whimsical works: the playful designs of Charles & Ray Eames / [exhibition held] Arthur Ross Gallery, University of Pennsylvania ... July 22 through September 11, 2005. Philadelphia: The Trustees, University of Pennsylvania, c2005.

An Eames primer / Eames Demetrios. New York : Universe Pub., 2001.

Eames design : the office of Charles and Ray Eames, 1941-1978 / by John and Marilyn Neuhart with Ray Eames. New York : H.N. Abrams, 1989.

Connections, the work of Charles and Ray Eames : Frederick S. Wight Art Gallery, University of California, Los Angeles, December 7, 1976-February 6, 1977 / exhibition design by John and Marilyn Neuhart ; essay by Ralph Caplan ; introd. by Phillip Morrison ; photos. by the office of Charles and Ray Eames. [Los Angeles] : UCLA Art Council, [c1976.]

The Eames lounge chair : an icon of modern design / Martin Eidelberg ... [et al.]. Grand Rapids, MI : Grand Rapids Art Museum ; London ; New York : In Association with Merrell, 2006.

Charles and Ray Eames : designers of the twentieth century / Pat Kirkham. Edition 1st MIT Press pbk. ed. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 1998.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bruno Munari (1907-1998)

Early Years
Bruno Munari was born in Milan on Octuber 24th, 1907. He spent his early years in a small town in the provincia of Veneto nearby the beautiful nature of the Adige River. His experiences playing by the river, the waterwheel, in the grass, and trees had great influence in him. He studied at the Technical Institute in Naples in 1924. After that, he stared his career in his uncle studio in Milan where he meets Filippo Marinetti, widely known as the author of the Futurist Manifesto. Although he didn’t spend much time in his uncle’s studio, this experience convinced him that his artistic work should always be approached as a job rather than a stylist undertaking, thereby he was not dependent of the art market that was dictated by a continuously changing tastes, and this is reflected in his “style” of design or the way he designed in his hole career.

Futurist Movement
Futurism was an art movement that praised speed and machinery; the movement attempted to destroy all stereotypes and traditional sense of values. Futurism had both anarchist and Fascist elements, later became an active supporter of Mussolini.

Munari saw things from quite a different perspective - he believed that "human beings shall be masters of machinery.” (see the useless machine series)
His futurist work led to experimentation with abstraction, but it was abstraction free of formalist dogma. Munari took of the Futurism the idea of expression and experimentation of new forms that were not tide to the past.

The Useless Machine

Showed out of his interest in the machine combined with his desire to create machines that were pacific, representing only themselves through their colors and the movement of forms.

“In primo plano”

In 1929, Munari worked as Graphic designer in a number of advertising studios including Cassio’s IPC where he pioneer the use of animated cartoons in Italian advertising and worked as a designer and illustrator for several magazines.

In 1930 he opened a graphic design studio with Ricardo Ricas (R+M). His designs of the period show influence of Enrico Prampolini and Herbert Bayes and they often made reference to human figure. From 1930 to 1940 his work ranged from painting to sculpture, photography (including photomontages and film) and set design

Negative Positives
Attempts to break out the confines of the plane of the painting, the same form can be background or foreground. This shows his fascination for breaking the plane and reducing design to its simplest form.

Post WW2

It is until after World War Two that Munari starts to focus in Industrial Design. He had worked in industrial design to a limited extend prior to the war, designing ceramic tiles, furniture, interior designs and fabric design.
His believes in how industrial design should be were reflected in his work by:
• Reducing design to its simplest form
• Using unadorned materials
• They are so simple as to appear anonymous

In 1948 founded Movimento Arte Concreta that tried to reconcile architecture, industrial design and visual arts. However this attempt to synthesize the arts was filled with disagreement and lasted only 10 years.

Designing for Children
“Children with great creative minds are happy children” Bruno Munari

Munari had been trying out radical innovations in graphics and typography, but it was not until after World War II that he began to design and produce book-objects. After the birth of his son Alberto, he was disturbed by the lack of educational books available for children and he began writing and illustrating his own books. His children’s books were simple, provocative learning tools.

His books were intended not just to amuse but also to improve the quality of the learning experience. Some of his books were: “Le Machine de Munari” 1945, “Tic, Tac and Toe” 1959 “Bruno Munari’s ABC” 1960, “Bruno Munari’s Zoo” 1963, among many others.

Product design for children
In 1977 started the laboratories “Play with art” to stimulate the children creativity that are still on going. The result of this “workshops” was the Metodologia Bruno Munari® witch is a methodology for education and formation of the individual that is based on the affinity of children to express themselves freely without the interference of the adults, becoming independent and learning to resolve the problems by themselves

Philosophy Overview
Munari’s work might be defined as lacking a definable style, his style was to design correctly for the particular purpose. He believed that the imposition of the designer’s style was inappropriate because its not essential to the function of the designed object.

“If the form of an object turns out to be beautiful it will be thanks to the logic of its construction, and to the precision of the solutions found for its various components. Its ‘beautiful’ because its right” Bruno Munari

The interesting thing of Bruno Munari’s work was that it didn’t necessary had a defined timeline. While he was doing Futurist exhibitions he was also working as a graphic designer and opening his graphic design studio, painting, sculpting, photography, and set design during the same period. He started with Industrial Design and writing Children’s books, poems, manifestos. So he really was part of all artistic expressions.

Design Methodology: Proyectual Methodology

¿Cómo nacen los objetos? By Bruno Munari

Metodología proyectual:
Consiste en unas operaciones necesarias, en un orden lógico dictado por la experiencia. Su finalidad es conseguir un máximo resultado con el mínimo esfuerzo. En el campo del diseño no es correcto proyectar sin método, pensar de forma artística buscando una idea sin hacer previamente un estudio.
Creatividad no quiere decir improvisación sin método: de esta manera solo se genera una confusión. La serie de operaciones del método proyectual para el diseñador no es algo absoluto, es algo modificable, si se encuentra un objetivo que mejore el proceso.


Definición del problema
Lo primero que hay que hacer es definir el problema en su conjunto. Muchos diseñadores creen que los problemas ya han sido suficientemente definidos por sus clientes, pero esto no es en absoluto suficiente, por lo tanto es necesario empezar por la definición del problema, que servirá también para definir los límites en los que deberá moverse el proyectista.

Elementos del problema
Cualquier problema puede ser descompuesto en sus elementos. Esta operación facilita la proyectación porque tiende a descubrir los pequeños problemas particulares que se ocultan tras los subproblemas. Una vez resueltos los pequeños problemas de uno en uno (y aquí empieza a intervenir la creatividad abandonando la idea de buscar una idea), se recomponen de forma coherente a partir de todas las características funcionales de cada una de las partes y funcionales entre sí, a partir de las características materiales, psicológicas, ergonómicas, estructurales, económicas y, por último, formales.
El principio de descomponer un problema en sus elementos para poder analizarlo procede del método cartesiano. Como los problemas, sobre todo hoy en día, se han convertido en muy complejos y a veces en complicados, es necesario que el diseñador tenga toda una serie de informaciones sobre cada problema particular para poder proyectar con mayor seguridad.

Descomponer el problema en sus elementos quiere decir descubrir numerosos subproblemas. Cada subproblema tiene una solución óptima que no obstante puede estar en contradicción con las demás. La parte más díficil del trabajo del diseñador será la de hacer compatibles las diferentes soluciones con el proyecto global. La solución del problema general consiste en la coordinación creativa de las soluciones de los subproblemas.

Recopilación de datos
En esta etapa se define qué datos convendrá recopilar para decidir luego los elementos que constituyen el proyecto. Es evidente que, antes de pensar en cualquier posible solución, es mejor documentarse, no vaya a ser que alguien se nos haya adelantado. No tiene sentido ponerse a pensar en un tipo de solución sin saber que el objeto en el que estamos trabajando ya existe en el mercado. Por supuesto se encontrarán muchos ejemplos que habrá que descartar pero al final, eliminando los duplicados y los tipos que nunca podrán ser competitivos, tendremos una buena recopilación de datos. Después se recopilan datos de para los elementos o partes del problema (subproblemas)

Análisis de datos
El análisis de todos los datos recogidos puede proporcionar sugerencias sobre que es lo que no hay que hacer para proyectar bien una objeto, y puede orientar la proyectación hacia otros materiales, otras tecnologías, otros costos.

La creatividad reemplazará a la idea intuitiva, vinculada todavía a la forma artístico-romántica de resolver un problema. Así pues, la creatividad ocupa el lugar de la idea y procede según su método. Mientras la idea, vinculada a la fantasía, puede proponer soluciones irrealizables por razones técnicas, materiales o económicas, la creatividad se mantiene en los límites del problema, límites derivados del análisis de los datos y de los subproblemas.

Materiales - tecnologías
La operación consiste en otra pequeña recolección de datos relacionados a los materiales y a las tecnologías que el diseñador tiene a su disposición en aquel momento para realizar su proyecto. La industria que ha planteado el problema al diseñador dispondrá ciertamente de una tecnología propia para fabricar determinados materiales y no otros.

Es ahora cuando el diseñador realizará una experimentación de los materiales y las técnicas disponibles para realizar su proyecto. Muy a menudo materiales y técnicas son utilizados de una única forma o de muy pocas formas según la tradición. Muchos industriales dicen: “Siempre lo hemos hecho así, ¿por qué habría que cambiar?”. En cambio la experimentación permite descubrir nuevos usos de un material o de un instrumento.

Estas experimentaciones permiten extraer muestras, pruebas, informaciones, que pueden llevar a la construcción de modelos demostrativos de nuevos usos para determinados objetivos. Estos nuevos usos pueden ayudar a resolver subproblemas parciales que a su vez, junto con los demás, contribuirán a la solución global.

Como se desprende de este esquema de método, todavía no hemos hecho ningún dibujo, ningún boceto, nada que pueda definir la solución. Todavía no sabemos qué forma tendrá lo que hay que proyectar. Pero en cambio tenemos la seguridad de que el margen de posibles errores será muy reducido.

Ahora podemos empezar a establecer relaciones entre los datos recogidos e intentar alinear los subproblemas y hacer algún boceto para construir modelos parciales. Estos bocetos hechos a escala o a tamaño natural pueden mostrarnos soluciones parciales de englobamiento de dos o más subproblemas. De esta forma obtendremos un modelo de lo que eventualmente podrá ser la
solución del problema.

Este es el momento de llevar a cabo una verificación del modelo o de los modelos (puede ocurrir que las soluciones posibles sean más de una). Se presenta el modelo a un determinado número de probables usuarios y se les pide que emitan un juicio sincero sobre el objeto en cuestión. En base de estos juicios se realiza un control del modelo para ver si es posible modificarlo, siempre que las observaciones posean un valor objetivo.

En base a todos estos datos anteriores se pueden empezar a preparar los dibujos constructivos a escala o a tamaño natural, con todas las medidas exactas y todas las indicaciones necesarias para la realización del prototipo.

Dibujos Constructivos
Los dibujos constructivos tendrán que servir para comunicar a una persona que no esté al corriente de nuestros proyectos todas las informaciones útiles para preparar un prototipo.

Después de todo el proceso finalmente se llega a una solución para el problema.

El esquema del método de proyectación, anteriormente explicado, no es un esquema fijo, no está completo y no es único y definitivo. Es lo que la experiencia ha dictado hasta ahora. Se insiste sin embargo en que, a pesar de tratarse de un esquema flexible, es mejor proceder, de momento, a las operaciones indicadas en el orden presentado. No obstante, si hay alguien capaz de demostrar objetivamente que es mejor cambiar el orden de alguna operación, el diseñador está siempre dispuesto a modificar su pensamiento frente a la evidencia objetiva, y es así como cada uno puede aportar su contribución creativa a la estructuración de un método de trabajo que tiende, como es sabido, a obtener el máximo resultado con el mínimo esfuerzo.

Ejemplo del arroz verde siguiendo la metodología proyectual:

Como nacen los objetos, Barcelona, Bruno Munari, 2002
Contemporary Designers, Chicago, Ill. : St. James Press, 1990
Bruno Munari : design as art / Aldo Tanchis, Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, c1986