Last week, in a conversation with a colleague, I felt a little disappointed about a negative comment he made about the "Tuyomyo" bench designed by Frank Gehry for Emeco. He said it was "impracticable and dangerous" even though he may have been right about the product functionality I believe he missed the point of the reason of being for that particular bench. Besides the noble purpose of creating a piece that will be auctioned to benefit the Hereditary Disease Foundation (HDF). The product is beautiful and challenges the aesthetic and the overall concept of what a bench is, and finally it is a brilliant move on emeco’s part to bring awareness to their company, after all we are talking about it right now.
Industrial designers tend to have a clear and definite vision of what good design is. Something that looks good; that can be manufactured; that serves the end user well; and that makes money for the client. However many times we see the media celebrate products that do not fit this definition, products that are more of an art expression (design/art) than design for mass production, yet they are claimed as great design, and off course creating unrest within the (industrial) design community.
Although I understand my peers on how and why they feel this way, I believe that design/art is a valuable and absolutely necessary source of inspiration and a force needed to move the design profession forward, similar to concept cars in car shows. These works of design/art always question the status quo and plant seeds for new and more exiting designs that can be produced and brought to the masses.
More importantly, design/art also serves as a way to ask the public in general "what do you think about this?" and has the ability to reach business people and decision makers at companies and tell them that it is OK to risk and to take a chance on new edgy designs that look somewhat different than what currently exist.
As designers we should welcome and embrace design/art as what it is, a refreshing view of the ordinary, a source of insight and a window into the future that give us the freedom to take the everyday design work to new levels.