Settling the Stage: The Goal of Most Designers Is in the Positive Application of Technology for Human Benefit

By Funk, Roger L. | The Technology Teacher, December 2003 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Settling the Stage: The Goal of Most Designers Is in the Positive Application of Technology for Human Benefit


Funk, Roger L., The Technology Teacher


In this month's article on industrial design, the goal is to help you plan an activity to engage your students in a design learning experience that will immerse them in many of the primary issues with which designers work on a daily basis. At the same time, the exercise suggested here may make a direct contribution to the larger academic environment of your school. It may provide you with the opportunity to develop a cooperative learning experience, in conjunction with some of your other teaching colleagues, as an interdisciplinary experiment.

Often, when we talk about industrial designers or the industrial design profession in general, our minds conjure up mental images of products from the scale of cell phones and PDAs to automobiles and farm machinery. It is true that many contemporary industrial designers work on mass-produced products within the wide spectrum of scale noted. At the same time, it must also be observed that within this range are devices that simply entertain, such as X-Boxes and DVD players, as well as products on which peoples' lives may well depend, such as dialysis units and MRI machines. Obviously the opportunities for practicing industrial design are extremely broad and touch on the lives of people in every age group and demographic cluster.

In the early history of industrial design, beginning in the 1930s, designers from many related professions gravitated to product design. They came from such diverse areas as aeronautical engineering, theatre design, graphic design, department store display design, architecture, production ceramic ware, metal smithing, and other crafts. While each new practitioner brought a unique background and skill set, they all discovered early on that there were some common issues that had to be addressed to be a successful product designer. These included: participating, in a cooperative manner, with a team of people in developing a product, addressing an audience of users, and working in a restricted time frame while designing within the constraints of a budget and the limitations of the manufacturing processes available to the client. As the profession began to mature, other issues, including human factors, safety, branding, and appropriateness to a market niche, became critical elements that went well beyond simply designing something that functioned and was attractive in appearance.

As you reflect on the historical characteristics of professional diversity typical of the early practitioners of industrial design and begin building on opportunities that you may have in your school and community, consider the potential to have your class engage in stage set design for a theatre production. As noted earlier, some of the original people who gravitated to industrial design in the 1930s came from theatre design and display design.

One area of contemporary industrial design that is not often discussed in publications, but is highly visible to virtually every consumer of our nation, is exhibit design. Exhibit design can range in scale and complexity from corrugated paper board display units that feature some specially promoted product found at the end of aisles in supermarkets and big box stores, to model rooms in furniture stores, to major exhibits in large trade shows. Other examples include museum displays, some of which are static, while others are developed as interactive experiences for the museum visitor. In their book, The Experience Economy, the authors, B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore, suggest that "Work is theatre and every business is a stage," and they present intriguing examples of the nature of our appetite for opportunities to have an "experience" in many of our everyday encounters in the commercial world.

As you consider the suggestion of involving your students in a theatre set design project, evaluate some of the various design education options noted below that are available.

* In product design, the designer must work to satisfy both the client (the manufacturer of the product) and the purchaser (who is usually the end user of the product) in order to be successful.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Settling the Stage: The Goal of Most Designers Is in the Positive Application of Technology for Human Benefit
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?