Visual elements of products - an educational experience on “resetting and reshaping a product”

DS 76: Proceedings of E&PDE 2013, the 15th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, Dublin, Ireland, 05-06.09.2013

Year: 2013
Editor: John Lawlor, Ger Reilly, Robert Simpson, Michael Ring, Ahmed Kovacevic, Mark McGrath, William Ion, David Tormey, Erik Bohemia, Chris McMahon, Brian Parkinson
Author: Ferraris, Silvia; Ferraro, Venere
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Section: Styling/Form
Page(s): 376-381
ISBN: 978-1-904670-42-1


This paper aims at describing an educational experience held at the Design School of Politecnico di Milano, Italy, during the first year of Bachelor Course in Industrial Product Design.
The course was divided into two parts. In the first one, teachers transferred the students the visual elements of the project through theoretical lectures and basic design exercises. The objective was to make the students aware of the fundamental principles of perception that concur to define the shape of a product. The second part was dedicated to an exercise called “resetting and reshaping” consisting in the application of such visual elements to generate and control the form of a product. The aim of “resetting and reshaping exercise” was to choose some visual elements and use them to reconfigure - from the formal point of view - a set of silverware. The students were free to stretch the shape of products even omitting to consider the function. This was a very extreme choice, made with the purpose of simplifying the process of form giving. Thus the exercise did not have any ambition of teaching how to design a product, even a simple one as s fork; rather it merely focused on the visual elements. The students were asked to deliver their work as a mock up of any preferred material and describe the aim of their work with a short abstract. The form giving process based on tri-dimensional modelling was chosen on purpose to let the students perceive as soon as possible the effect of their manufacturing activity on the final perception (crossing the limits of two dimensional drawings). The interesting feature of this process was to see how the students transferred the knowledge acquired during the first part of the course to a real object. The paper will shortly hint the principles of basic design in order to create the connection between the preparatory part of the course and the final exercise. A selection of mock-ups will be shown and explained in the paper in order to highlight the relevance and faults of such a process. The objective of the course was indeed to introduce students to the laws of perception and to the impact of visual elements to the definition of product’s shape.

Keywords: Law of perception, visual elements, product shape


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