An alternative to Designers websites

I just looked at the last post – designer’s websites. Let me take the first two designers sites listed by ‘Yo’ – Mark Newson and Phillipe Stark – both brilliant designers – and yet…. arguably Phillipe Starks most iconic product is a lemon squeezer that is difficult/precariously dangerous to use and doesn’t even catch the pips and Marc Newson first made his name with the design of the Lockheed Lounge chairs – the most impractical piece of furniture imaginable (fortunately both designers have gone on to do great work).

It raises an interesting point about how we as consumers and designers put these people on pedestals. Now tell me who designed the first Oxo good grips products (without looking it up!) products that are easy to use by people with poor grip, therefore easier to use by everyone.

My point being, it’s not about the who, it’s the what. Just good design. There are loads of designers out there who are more concerned about their products being easy to use than about the public knowing who they are. So….here’s the start of a new list, not the designers, just the products.

http://www.oxo.com/oxoHome.jsp

You don’t have to agree, but its worth thinking about.

I believe most of Oxo’s first stuff was done by Smart Design. I didn’t need to look it up.

http://smartdesignworldwide.dreamhosters.com/work/

The number of people that know that off the top of their heads might be similar to the few people that know about the Starck Juicer…

An interesting topic, but this is the portfolio section… which is why I put the designer websites discussion up. It acts as a but of a bench mark.

It is about the what… and the Starck juicer is a pretty big what. Sure it works horribly, is over priced, and has a bad material specification, but the design makes an emotive connection so strong that a select niche of people overlook those things. Designing things that people love is just as hard as designing things that work well… the best objects have both qualities.

Yeah, I knew it was the wrong section, but as it related to the announcement and I didn’t want to put it as a reply in the website list as that would have messed things up, I decided to post it as a new topic. Perhaps it could be moved, or removed.

I guess it shows students that sometimes even the top designers can’t get the balance right and that being different for difference sake is not always the best way to go. Also I imagine the majority of consumers who purchase a Stark Lemon squeezer don’t actually use it, they display it as an icon of their affluence and cultural and social status. Therefore rather than a product the piece becomes a sculpture (I could squeeze a lemon just as effectively on a Henry Moore and sit on the same piece as comfortably as the Locheed lounge chair). Should either be called products or mere home decorations? A post for a different forum and another day.

It is a continuum from pure commodity, and function based items, to sculptural statement products. Neither end of the continuum is right or wrong, and capitalism means that people get to decide what they feel is best. Most of us by products toward the center of the continuum. I have a Stark juicer… I just like it. Never used it.

I also have a Waring Waterfall blender and Dualit toaster. These products are much more expensive than the typical toaster or blander, they have less features, thought they work well and will last forever. I love the way the look. I don’t have a Kitchen Aid mixer, but that is an even better example, sure it works, but it does a lot more sitting on the counter than mixing cake ingredients…

I’d like to see both ends of the continuum come together to make highly artful and sculptural products that people love to own that are very functionally sound at a reasonable price…

Not to threadjack but I got one at a yard sale, appropriately priced at two dollars.

I don’t even know what an Oxo is but to answer your question, most designers that design useful things work for larger companies and who they are is virtually unknown.

Unrelated subjects but a good example:
Who are 2 of the top bass players for Motown in the 60’s - 70’s? Who was a background artist for the Flintstones and Yogi Bear cartoons? Who did Tweety’s cartoon voice?

Most people can answer the last one but for the others, you really have to be into that stuff to know. It’s not common knowledge. Luckily these days, we are starting to celebrate some of the unsung heroes.

It’s just a matter of time before the design industry does the same.