Other Design Trends + Nature's Influence


1930's Streamlining

Streamlined vehicles / boats / aircraft = speed records broken

Streamlining - became part of more 'static' products (i.e. kettles and radios)

Coincided with materials and manufacturing process i.e. Bakelite. More complex products could be made / moulded

Also coincided with expansion of National Electricity Grid - more electricity, more domestic products and greater design - materials and process developed at time used to make them

Also known as 'Streamline Moderne', it was the remnants of the Art Deco era - long, sweeping lines, architectural, long, horizontal, and sometimes nautical - Machine Age was highly inlfuential [Americans visited Paris too and were hihgly influenced by Art Deco]

(http://www.sheryls-artdeco.com/100605/M1433.jpg)  Bakelite 'Streamline Moderne' radio

1 of 16

1940's Utility

During WW2 - Britian not 'self-sufficient'

We relied HEAVILY upon imported goods, this included timber - Homes were repeatedly bombed and families were devastated - significant loss of furniture

MEET DEMAND: Utility Furniture Committee was established [by Gordon Russell]

Design plan for strong, well-made furniture using limited amounts of scare timber suppies. Like early Arts and Crafts work [simplistic] with VERY little decoration / no surface decoration

600 companies made it across Britian - continued as rationing still hadn't ended [1951] BUT - people got fed-up and demadned more extravagant, expressive pieces after austerity

Ercol Kitchen Chair (http://thumbs3.ebaystatic.com/d/l225/m/mkN3UOVt2XqjpZRA7USG0qA.jpg)   Ercol Kitchen Chair: Ercol produced them for the UFC in 1943

2 of 16

Post-War Design

Factories commandeered by government during the war - now focused on DOMESTIC market

War had advanced materials and electronics and research on ergonomics + user undertaken


Used in early post-war products i.e. K3 Kettle [Burrage & Boyd Ltd.]

  • aluminium [at time probably recycled aircraft]
  • pre-war streamlining
  • uncluttered (Bauhaus-esq) and therefore a classic design [timeless] despite unpopularity of streamlining now
3 of 16

Post- War Design [Science, Space and Psychedelic]

1950's 'Science and Space': lots of interest = rocket and futuristic shapes became common

1950s - 60s: youth culture grew / out of war / bright, new, chouce, opportunity, INDIVIDUAL

New Polymers made it possible to mass produce products at lower costs. 60s shunned out science and space to focus more on psychedelic patterns, colours, typefaces of inspired by pop music

(http://www.artonegallery.com/kaufman/images/Beatles-Sgt-Pepper-Edition.jpg)   The Beatles: Sergeant Pepper and the Lonely Hearts Club

4 of 16

British Industrial Design

Kenneth Grange - one of the most influential industrial designers of 20th Century [50 year career]

  • Razors for Wilkinson Sword
  • Mixers for Kenwood
  • Cameras for Kodak
  • Washing maschines for Bendix
  • Pens for Parker
  • Clothes Irons for Morphy Richards
  • Typewriters for Imperial
  • Aerodynamic and inner styling of Intercity 125 Train
  • Britain's first parking meter

Products shoudl be designed with thought to function and usability. Pleasurable whilst using modern materials and manufacturing methods - idea of 'good design' that has been carried forward to date by many contemporary designers and houses

(http://mbcgrob.nl/portfolio_img/blog/2011/LDF2011_Kodak_Instamatic_33_by_Kenneth_Grange_in_1968.jpg) Kodak Camera, 44a [Grange, 1959]

5 of 16


'Style Label' - defines designer, architect and artist groups who go against ideas of the Modern Movement


  • focus on aesthetics, not function
  • use ornamental, decorative finishes to enhance aesthetics
  • design to appeal to fashion, popular consumerism and youth culture
  • borrowing / mixing of periodic styles i.e. Eygptian / Aztec / Grecian
  • take inspiration from media, fashion and use of everyday materials

OPPOSE the New Modernism Movement(s)

(http://www.dhub.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Starck.jpg) Philippe Starck: 'Juicy Salif' Lemon Squeezer

6 of 16

The Memphis Group [Sottsass]

Designer group [Milan] in 1980's + Ettoire Sottsass was founding member, and embodied many of post-modernisms principles

Sottsass: 'Carlton Dresser' (1981)

  • maximum visual impact
  • little functional use [angular area is too small to put things on + only two small draws
  • bold colours, angular styles, ancient egyptian influences
  • Everyday materials: MDF and melamine veneer + 'stone effect' veneer base

Meant for decoration as opposed to function - looks more at home in a museum exhibition rather than at home as a functional piece of furnature. The 'superlamp' = another impractical item...

(http://www.vam.ac.uk/__data/assets/image/0009/179136/2011ET6775_bedin_superlamp_bulbed.jpg)  (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_wBMm0XSN9uk/R_3QseoNe0I/AAAAAAAADi8/nSbYmCcuQR4/s400/ettore+sottsass+1980s+carlton+bookcase+from+Memphis+Italy.jpg) 'Superlamp' + 'Carlton Dresser' (1981) 

7 of 16

The Memphis Group [Danny Lane]

Danny Lane is a currently well-known and established designer, who specialises in contradicting materials, forms and industrial glass... Balustrade for V&A Museum, London [glass] + glass sculpture for GlaxoSmithKline HQ

Lane: 'Etruscan Chair' (1984)

  • primary function as work of art - secondary function as a chair. Better in museum
  • Gallery exhibit [or for paying, small-scale clients]
  • glass usually seen as brittle and sharp - but turned into a 'comfortable' chair
  • transparent glass shows workings and construction - but cold and hard to sit on
  • rough, serrated edges - everyday material made different - but 'dangerous' and impractical
  • artistic [organic] legs + glass vs the manufactured, sleek, precise, engineered fittings [odd]

Function is the LEAST important part of this 'chair' and aesthetics / contrasting ideas is its focus

(http://www.tribu-design.com/collections/scans/0001055.jpg)  Danny Lane: 'Etruscan Chair'

8 of 16

21st Century Design - CAD + 'Blobjects'

CAD and 3D Software development = fluid, free-flowing, organic shapes now possible by stretching and joining circles / spheres / cylindrical objects witihout need for complex maths equations or actual models

'Blobs' or bulges are now common in CAD designs - 'blobjects' = constructed often through injection moulding polymers / pressed/ casted metal

  • Volkswagen Beetle
  • Apple iMac
  • Citroen C1 + C3

Buildings + architecture + CAD = 'blobitecture' i.e. Sage, Gatehead [Sir Norman Foster] / 'fosteritos' Bilbao [shrimp metro entrances]

(http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/dam/assets/140203112709-beautiful-european-metro-stations-fosteritos-bilbao-horizontal-gallery.jpg)  'Fosteritos' ['Little Fosters'] by Sir Norman Foster, Bilbao

9 of 16

21st Century Design - Anthropomorphism

Anthropomorphism: application of human features in everyday objects / inanimate objects

Remote controls can look like the abstract features of a human face

Makes them more appealing to the user / sentimental / soften the interface between user + product

Extreme Example: ASIMO by Honda

 Bottles can be 'anthropomorphic' [human form]

10 of 16

21st Century Design - Multi-Functional Products

Miniaturisation + microelectronics: trend to manufacture ever smaller mechanical, optical and electronic products and devices i.e. mobile phones, computers and vehicle engine downsizing.

Enabled multi-functional electronic communications devices - wide range of user features

'Gizmos' is the collective name, and as market crowded and competitive, more and more features are being added to them [iPhone is great example now]

Adds value- but more complex to use, especially for older generations

(http://store.storeimages.cdn-apple.com/4224/as-images.apple.com/is/image/AppleInc/aos/published/images/i/ph/iphone6/plus/iphone6-plus-box-silver-2014_GEO_EMEA_LANG_EN?wid=478&hei=595&fmt=png-alpha&qlt=95&.v=1410266281976) Apple iPhone = 'gizmo' getting thinner and more complex

11 of 16

Inspiring Nature - Craft

Intro: Craftsmen and  women constantly inspired by nature - also used it to solve problems. 

Arts + Crafts: [Morris] used British flora and fauna to inspire work... Didn't just copy it, but 'stylised' it and influences later designers - Charles Rennie Mackintosh [1868 - 1928] who used motifs and Japanese style flowers to influence his art

  • birds, flora and fauna

Made into:

  • wallpaper / tape-stripes
  • textiles
  • tiles / stained-glass

(http://www.secularism.org.uk/uploads/3546f3bcbdc0d47228299127.jpg)    'Strawberry Thief' - William Morris [1883]

12 of 16

Inspiring Nature - Flight

Wright Brothers [1903] = flight. Studies of birds / flight = long before. Birds = solution to flight

INSPIRATION - Bird wing: high pressure over one surface and low over another - 'lift'. So aircraft wings have similar shape to a birds [cross-section]. Birds tail / feathers: adjust tail feathers and wings to make turns. Inspired flaps and tail rudders on planes. Bird body: looks alot like an aircraft hull / to minimise drag / aerodynamics

Principles of flight:

  • Air hits front of wing - split by leading edge (A + B)
  • Air flows over top wing, low pressure created (A)
  • Air flows under wind - same speed as air over wing (B)
  • Drag: due to hitting of wind + divison of air over top and bottom. Net result: 'lift' created (C+D)
  • Greater speed of air over wings - more lift created (E)

 Principles of flight

13 of 16

Inspiring Nature - Inventions from Plants

Velcro: made from hook and loop systems by George de Mestral (1948)

Inspired by seed burrs that stuck to his trousers whilst walking

Using a micro-scope, he examined the seed burrs and his trouser fabric

Tiny hooks from the seeds stuck to the loops in his trousers / weave [comprising of tiny loops]

Commissioned weavers to make the hook and loop system - now used globally in everything

 Plant Burrs and Velcro Hooks

14 of 16

Inspiring Nature - Inspiration from Animals

Catseye: mark the centre / edge of a road / junction. Invented by road repairer Percy Shaw (1933)

'Reflection of catseye's from his headlights saved him from going off the edge of the road'

Manufactured the 'eyes' - driving could become safer

Construction: glass with foil in the back as a reflector. Rubber block coats it and the vehicle pushes it down into the road when it goes over it. This cleans it at the same time / sides of block

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d8/LIGHTDOME.JPG)  'Cat's Eye' road marker

15 of 16

Inspiring Nature - Inspiration from Humans

'Anglepoise' Lamp: designed by George Carwardine [automotive engineer] who specialised in suspension systems. Springs could act as 'muscles' - balance incandescent bulb in space. Herbet Terry & Sons of Redditch made the springs, who made two lamps: one for industrial and one for domestic use. Springs hold lamp in any position [within range of movement]

  • Lamp housing + base: mild steel (spinning and piercing)
  • Arms: mild steel (cut to length from stock square, hollow, section tube). Pierced (fastenings at 'elbow' pivot)
  • Support bracket: Mild steel (blanked from sheet material / press formed and pierced)
  • 'Elbow' Pivot: ABS (injection moulded)

(http://www.scardigno.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Anglepoise-840.png) Anglepoise land can 'bend' like an Elbow. Triceps / Biceps

16 of 16


No comments have yet been made

Similar Design Technology: Product Design resources:

See all Design Technology: Product Design resources »See all The work of past and present designers resources »