Teaching to See.
Denis Feigler, PhD, IDSA | Montclair State University
Is it possible that we overcomplicate the industrial design profession for our students? We address issues that are far more complex than what students can comprehend at the undergraduate level. Of course we must make them understand that designers have responsibilities—they have to know the nature of materials and understand manufacturing processes to satisfy the needs of the client, but I see the lack of beauty versus the technical functionality in this way of thinking.
When students get their first assignment, no matter how simple its intent, they generally want to invent the next greatest thing, not even touching on the idea of making their concept just remotely aesthetic. They focus almost completely on the function and the utilitarian nature of the task in hand. This attitude is predictable, taking into consideration that a significant number of students grew up in a utilitarian environment with products that possibly either neutrally or negatively affected their development of taste and style.
Similar to the music we listen to, we know that our visual environment is also a major influence on one’s personality. These factors are important, and in order to educate students to be good designers, we have to bring back the balance between form and function.
In the professional world, designers more often than not have to convince clients that they should trust the designer’s taste in order to improve the appearance of the product. But what makes the designer the authority figure to decide on aesthetic issues for someone else? Products that are accepted by the market all possess one thing—they are desirable to a wide group of people at any given time. They are desirable because they look attractive. They look attractive because they are proportional and they are proportional because there is logic in their construction. They were built using a system, like the Fibonacci sequence, which corresponds to the divine proportion and golden mean.