What kinds of forms fascinate designers? In the second part of our analysis of trends in contemporary design we present next three forms that have been inspiring designers for ages: a cube, a blob, and a bean.
Ancient times gave rise to the belief that the world is made of a set of classical elements, the so-called platonic solids. Ancient Greeks discovered that a human body was proportional enough to fit in ideal geometrical figures: a circle and a square. By making associations between the diversity and complexity of an environment and the most basic forms, humans were able to understand and domesticate the world around them. They were creating rules which stood as the basis for canons and sets of figures and forms which served artists, craftsmen and designers. The choice of geometrical patterns was considered the most accurate of choices in the creation process.
left: Nendo x Glass Italia, Milan Design Week 2015, right: COS x Nendo, Milan Design Week 2014
A cube represents one of the flawless platonic solids. Being made of six square sides, it is a symbol of the only solid element of the four – Earth. Even though nowadays a cube is not perceived as a building material of all matter, its popularity in art and design has not vanished a bit. Artists and designers often reach for a cube because of its simple, minimalistic and aesthetic form which faultlessly fulfills its functional role. The simplicity of form allows a meaning of an object to be in the forefront and does not interfere with the relation between an object and a user.
The reciprocal influence between forms symbolizing elements was supposed to motivate nature to initiate changes. The belief was that forms which influenced each other were, in fact, mutually antithetical.
A similar dissonance appears when a cube and a blob are juxtaposed against one another. A blob does not stand as a definite form but rather represents a group of forms characterized by irregular, oval shape, ability to create an impression of being in a constant motion, and susceptibility to continuous changes. A blob is a form that can be interpreted in various ways. Its surface simply exists, without any clear boundaries, without a beginning or an end. Being so irregular and devoid of acute angles, it looks as if it was an animate object. A blob is much more difficult to be thought up and created; hence, it often feels like it is made by a computer or that a creator’s job is merely to set parameters while a form’s final look is a pure coincidence. I suppose we will be encountering such forms more and more often, be it because of the constantly growing technological adaptability or designers’ courage to experiment and shock.
In its form, a bean seems less radical than two previous ones. A soft, round shape of a bean is nothing but nice and friendly. It is something we want to use and be in contact with. Apple has popularized this ‘bean aesthetic’ by ‘rounding’ everything it could. Designers of Apple’s iconic products have noticed that round forms generate multiple positive emotions in users and they’ve been masterfully using this knowledge to their advantage.
Touchy beans by Patrycja Otachel
Physical boundaries of an object are one of its key attributes. Even though canons of forms and compositions were created ages ago, a belief in their power and beauty has survived until today and is mirrored in designers’ more and more daring dealings with forms which inspire us to observe and use canons ourselves.
As a designer I feel a constant need to observe events connected with the sphere of design. Thanks to it, I have a better understanding of people’s needs and I am able to more appropriately plan final versions of my projects. The knowledge of our everyday reality enables us to discover the so far unknown situations requiring innovative solutions, especially important in the world of business. Besides, information about trends may be of valuable significance for those who want to be more conscious of changes occurring all around us.
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