IMAGES, ERGONOMICS AND MATERIAL
When we think about the project for a new industrial product, an object of design, we do not merely translate an idea into a real image – the analysis we perform must be very precise and targeted, based upon several fundamental points that respond to specific questions: “Who will be the user of the object?” “Who is the producer?” “What will be the limits of the manufacturing costs of the product?” The more we focus attention on the answers to these questions and the more our answers are correct, the more likely we are to have a “winning” project. An analysis of these three answers should be made by comparison. In effect, the responses regard nothing other than thinking about how the marketplace in which we wish to present our creation will react.
It is correct in fact to evaluate the marketplace where the object will be launched given that the market itself is not an abstract entity, but rather is made up of persons who think over a purchase on the basis of their own desires and necessities. These necessities are variable given that they are born from the input offered by the socio-cultural context in which the subject lives and in relation to a period of contemporary history. The aim of a manufacturing project is, in the majority of cases, the wish to achieve the success of ample distribution and therefore marketing, in which the central concept is certainly the final consumer who will purchase the end result of our project.
The user generally looks at the project with different eyes than those of both the designer and the producer, and the former’s analysis is based upon perceptions that normally do not reflect technical aspects or the industrial and production solutions adopted, which are instead of primary importance to the designer and industrialist. The design of the object should therefore take into account several hypotheses: the eye of the beholder perceives simultaneously function and aesthetics, and it is the second which transmits emotions.
As an example, let us consider an armchair. When we look at it, even before trying it out, we might judge whether or not it is comfortable or uncomfortable, even if turns out to be the opposite of what we had expected. This possibly erroneous evaluation is a negative handicap for a product given that in both cases it betrays the expectations.
What is important in my opinion to transmit through the form and image? To always give the product the right meaning, consider carefully the ergonomics of the object as a function of its natural future collocation. Therefore, if the armchair must be collocated in an office, it might have some features that are not only ergonomic, but that also respond visually to what we expect must be its use.
Let us consider now the material with which the armchair has been constructed. During the implementation of the project, so that it will conform to expectations, production materials are very important. Materials are in fact one of the components that may give our object a subjective perception that is diametrically opposed to its use. How to choose the right materials is certainly not something to codify, given that it depends, as I mentioned, upon various factors, among which creativity – one of the few things, fortunately, that cannot be codified. How then to choose the materials? This is a vast topic that would merit an extended response. We might say that in the past these materials were exclusively obtained from nature, such as wood, for example. Today, the majority of materials derive from the study and application of advanced technology and processes in which natural materials may acquire decidedly innovative characteristics. For example, we have wood treated chemically and in special pressurised environments that resists stresses derived from the elements in ways hitherto undreamt of; or other materials, not present in nature, that have been created through research performed on chemical substances. Several of these have the property to adapt themselves to pre-established forms, and therefore injected or poured into moulds that offer the possibility to obtain any aspect. Thanks to advanced technologies, we may adventure into the area of project research that was unthinkable in past periods. It is a new world of possibilities, continually in evolution. Research into materials in fact, for the importance it occupies in production, is continuously updated given rise to the possibility for new applications of already-existing materials, or the creation of new materials. The applied results of research into materials is visible in the reality of any sector. Perhaps the only negative aspect is to be found in the designer’s world, where sometimes we are unable to perceive the importance of a certain research result may have if applied to the correct design. In effect, that is not the only responsibility, as often it is becomes necessary to compare our work to other producers who are not up to understanding the proposals that envision the use of innovative technologies and materials, at times only as a result of the fear deriving from investment or at times simply for a lack of interest or incomprehension of the evolution of the manufacturing world. And yet, producing projects in which design combines form with new technology is one of the few roads, perhaps the only road, we can take if we wish to compete, as in the Italian case, with products from other countries with decidedly minimal costs.