Bucky vs. the Victorians: The Application of Scripting to Form Development in Industrial Design

By Colin Owen.

Published by The International Journal of Designed Objects

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This text will illustrate two different historical conceptions of design and one contemporary design tool. Through the lens of opposing historical precedents, we can evaluate the state, role, and future of form manipulation in design today. Historical Precedents: Buckminster Fuller was disproportionately concerned with the welfare of humanity as a whole. His designs yielded interactions that promoted a state of living that idealized efficiency in consumption. Due to this single-minded focus on energy flows, interaction and form became untethered from social mores. His products were an uncomfortable fit for life as the user currently leads it, but held untapped value as comment about our collective life as we might lead it as truly modern humans. The Victorians, newly ascended 19th Century British middle class, were interested in design as cultural legitimizer. Material wealth and custom funneled through household objects were their markers to new-found social station. Form dictated cultural mores and attachment to historical precedent. Historical foundation gave social weight. New Technology: Software yields new modes of visualization and control. What was bound by rules is now regulated by behavior. Instead of absolute dimensions, we get relational measures. Materials, stresses, and manufacturing concerns are built into the logic of the machine and are visible to the user far before conception is pinned down. Visualization now enters at innumerable points and in myriad forms before the finished object materializes. Historical precedent has much to say about how and to what ends we deploy these newfound capabilities. Unification: Through contemporary means of manipulation, what would have been opposing camps in form generation now often happily coexist. Software can suggest efficiencies through stress analysis and scripted incursion. Manufacture can be individualized and distributed. Individual nuance can be customized to fit the range of application of each individual user. What was merely homage can now also be structural member and happily so.

Keywords: Form Development, ID, Scripting, Design Tools

The International Journal of Designed Objects, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp.1-6. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 235.377KB).

Colin Owen

Chair, Industrial Design, California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA, USA

Colin studied at Rice University (B.A. in Arch, B. of Arch.), and then at Art Center College of Design (M.S.I.D.). Afterwards, he served a diverse set of clients including Wireless Generation, Nokia, NASA, Nike, Biodesign, and Terrazign. He currently teaches at California College of the Arts in the Graduate Design Department, and Undergraduate Industrial Design Department. He also serves as Acting Chair of the Industrial Design Department and spends other time building, consulting, tinkering, and writing.