Aesthetics in Industrial Design and Cultural Studies
Prasad Boradkar, Assistant Professor | Arizona State University
In common parlance, the term design is often considered to be synonymous with style. For designers, however, imparting good form is only one in the series of events that signify the process. This incongruity between the audience perception of design and the view from within the profession may, at least partially, be blamed on the way popular media reads and represents design. And, as the most accessible dimension of any object is its form, until it is acquired, used and assimilated into people’s lives, the primary responses to its material presence revolve mostly around its visual attributes. The visibility of designed goods in newspaper advice columns, magazines, television shows, museums and stores has brought one aspect of design activity to the forefront: aesthetics. Everyday objects, aestheticized by the rock stars of design are available in large quantities not only at specialized outlets, but also at stores where the majority of the American population shops. Virginia Postrel catalogs the increasing attention being lavished on the beautification of retail environments, houses, products, and graphics, suggests that this might be the age of aesthetics (Postrel 2003). If there is indeed a higher emphasis on surface and appearance in our built environments, an examination of aesthetics from a social and cultural perspective is crucial.