30 JUNE 1999 - 3 JANUARY 2000
HENRY COLE WING
How are everyday products designed?
This exhibition takes a close look at three contemporary products to answer this question. Each product demonstrates the working method of a different design team, and the different philosophies of three different designers. The V&A has worked with the design teams in recording the design development of these products.
The V&A's historic collections of designs show how designers
have traditionally worked with sketches and models as a way of
developing ideas. Now, with the use of 3D Computer Aided Design
(CAD), design and manufacturing have been transformed. From
drawing board to computer screen, from pencil to mouse, Designing
in the Digital Age explains how design has responded to new technologies.
The development of 2D CAD packages enabled designers to produce
technical drawings with accuracy and speed. The more recent advent
of 3D solid modelling now means designers can 'build' the product
inside the software. CAD Models have greater accuracy, and the
data about the product can be transferred direct to rapid prototyping
and tooling manufacture. The exhibition will track these stages
Each of the selected products tells a different story:
The Dyson DCO5 is the latest in the line of cyclonic cleaners produced by Dyson Appliances Ltd. James Dyson and his design team see research and innovation as central to the design process, and the introduction of 3D CAD technology has allowed them to bring design, engineering and manufacture even closer together. In the exhibition, the development of the DCO5 is explained through 3D models, sketches, and CAD work.
The OZ refrigerator by the Electrolux-Zanussi is a radical rethinking of a familiar product. Roberto Pezzetta, head of the design team at Zanussi in Italy, challenged the conventions of domestic appliance design by asking 'why should a fridge be just a white box?' During the period of the OZ's development, Zanussi explored the potential of computer aided design. From traditional models to computer generated complex forms, the OZ tells a story not only of a creative idea, but also of the reinvention of design process.
BT's Synergy 1500 cordless telephone is the latest in the
product range designed by Gus Desbarats' design team for BT.
Working as consultants, rather than as an in-house design group,
the designers use CAD from the start as the tool for presentation,
design development and preparing the product for manufacture.
In development, the designers used market research to understand
the use of the product in the home. Two concept models were produced
for this research, and successful elements from both incorporated
into the final product.
The exhibition will show how 3D CAD works on screen, so that the visitor can see the characteristics of the 'virtual' product. 'It's a rather different way of handling museum objects' says Jane Pavitt 'except that this time the visitor can take the product to bits, explode it and reassemble it - all on screen.'
The computer displays have been put together for the V&A by the company Unigraphics Solutions, who work with companies such as Dyson in developing custom built 3D CAD packages. The exhibition also has the support of Silicon Graphics, who are providing the workstations for the exhibition.