Industry works with a rational vision of production and sales and
imposes its rules on the designers who work for it. They have to adapt to the
requirements and methods of industrial production. Their freedom is limited.
Experimentation must ultimately produce results. However, new developments benefit
from a certain slowness in research and in the design process. Traditional research
allows this. The search for new developments – the (arts and) crafts have long
since stopped using only materials from the past but are also incorporating
high-tech innovations without renouncing their material basis – may progress
with difficulty and an experiment may go wrong. The economic consequences are
less drastic than in industry, where every adjustment to machines must be financially
profitable. (11) Once the experiment is finished and has produced the desired
result, it is still difficult to convince industry to take the project on board.
Hella Jongerius has so much respect for the company Makkum, that was prepared
to begin production of her porcelain B-set, a design in which she explicitly
aimed for imperfection although the company has all the knowledge in house to
deliver technically flawless work. (12)
Industrialisation creates the possibility of machine perfection
and, at the same time, this possibility soon becomes a requirement. ‘In creating
the machine, we have set before ourselves a positively inhuman standard of perfection.
No matter what the occasion, the criterion of successful mechanical form is
that it should look as if no human hand had touched it’,
wrote Lewis Mumford in 1934. (13) Designers can therefore deliberately
give the industrially manufactured object an imperfection, based on a conceptual
attitude, or allow coincidental errors and play with the aesthetics of the imperfect.
We see this, for example, in a number of designs by Droog Design, such as Bronto
(1997), a children’s chair in which Richard Hutten allows the irregularities
in the production process to radiate their own beauty. Imperfection is thus
given a positive content and gives the product intellectual added value which
industrial perfection cannot provide. Imperfection also makes the user aware
of the relevance of the production process, a relevance that is not confined
to traditional techniques (which do in fact often aim for a technically perfect
finish) but which – including for Jongerius – can also be meaningful in a high-tech,
industrial production context. (14) To allege that every designer must aim for
perfection is therefore a disputed allegation, particularly if it is not clear
what is meant by perfection. (15) However, when the search for imperfection
becomes a trend that is fed more economically than conceptually, one may wonder
where the ultimate added value lies.
] 5/10 [
|Humberto & Fernando Campana, Favela, 2003.
|Marcel Wanders, Knotted chair, 1996. © Marcel Wanders Studio|
|Richard Hutten, Thing 10, 2000. © Boris Braakhuis|
|Hella Jongerius, Repeat, 2002.|
|Ingo Maurer, Bulb, 1966. © Tom Vack|