11 June 2010

Prototype Symposium:Start of Day 2

Dr Glen Adamson’s (above) (Deputy Head of Research at the Victoria & Albert Museum) introduction to Day 2 began with a short Hollywood style docu-movie depicting what happened behind the scenes of the ‘design process’ back in car production in late '50s Detroit. It was shown as a ‘secret undercover operation’, M15 style – taking place behind closed doors - here ‘dreams’ were created and tested in rooms that looked as though they had been decked out in the paint sample cards you find in B&Q.

Although the film was made 50 years ago it still resonates with what happens in design today. When you see a finished car automatically you’d see it as mass produced - the opposite of craft when in fact the prototype design process that comes before a car is made couldn’t be any craftier - for example initial parts were tested in clay before being made from the real materials. It goes to show that every design process has crafts present in it. Which begs the question why doesn’t craft command more respect? Why is it subordinate to art?

This was touched on by Dr Frederic Schwartz who teaches History of Art and Architecture at University College London in his talk ‘Prototopia:Craft, Type and Utopia in Historical Perspective. He talked about craft in the pre-modern era stating it started to decline before technology took over.The prototype on the other hand is, and always has been a craft.

Being a non-academic, I’ll admit that I couldn’t make sense of all his theories. But what I did pick up is that prototyping as craft is not just about Future Craft, it just as much represents crafts in the present – look at the production of any product whether it’s a phone or a kettle, it started life as a prototype; it does things products before it haven't done – this is the present, the future is what it goes on to become. Maybe that’s a really simplistic interpretation but I’ve never viewed the present in that way so it’s given me something to think about at least!

No comments:

Post a Comment