Styling is human

When I was a design student in the 80’s, ”styling” was a bad word. Any element of a design that was not motivated by technical or practical functionality, or perhaps support to practically understanding the product, was dismissed as ”styling”. The expressions should be based on these aspects, clad in harmonious shapes. But if these shapes expressed something beyond the direct practicalities, that would be bad, that would be ”styling”. It was considered ”selling”, as if the values involved in purchase was separated from the product itself.

I think that one of the reasons to this attitude was the exploding American product culture in the 60’s, which clashed with the 1968 radical movements. Just like at the time when functionalism emerged, there was a reaction to bad quality and a desire for meaningful objects that in a modernistic spirit should be what they are and nothing more.

It was also based on the idea that products have an inner ”truth”, that can be clad in various exterior expressions, without affecting the inner functionality. And that these expressions should be ”honest”. This perspective sounds decent, but it has lost a lot of its relevance today, when the actual value of use often is created in the exterior interfaces. Now it was a long time ago that I heard the word, except for in the car design trade where styling is the word you normally use for car body design.

Leopard dog styling

I was just wondering, to apply and experience expressions of direct and indirect relevance to the things around us, to add features that we simply choose because we want to – isn’t that just parts of what makes us human?

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  2. By Helena on mar 12, 2010 | Reply


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