Archive for Science + art

Plutchik’s emotional taxonomy

10 February 2009

In researching joy and the basis of emotions, I found this model, developed by psychologist Robert Plutchik. As a designer I couldn’t resist the way he maps the emotions like a color wheel, and it’s also interesting how he’s developed the model in three dimensions.

But, I’m not sure I agree with where he’s placed joy. In preliminary discussions, it’s notable how often surprise emerges as a precursor to joy. My hypothesis is that that relationship will prove significant and this model does not reflect this.

Moving furniture inspirations

11 October 2008

Thank you to Matt for the link to this stool, the Sway stool available at Branch home. The stool promotes active sitting by flexing gently with the body. Interesting mechanism.

And thank you to Vanessa Marie for the link to this stool. I can’t read the page (I hate to say I’m not even sure what language this is) but I did catch the words “active zit” so I can guess it also is promoting the idea of motion in furniture.

Disturbing design: Laura Splan

29 September 2008

The Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland has a wonderful exhibit on right now entitled “Manuf®actured: The Conspicuous Transformation of Everyday Objects” featuring the work some very thought-provoking designers. I can’t get to Portland right now, but it’s ok because the exhibition website is such an excellent example of an online catalog that I almost feel like I’ve been there.

One designer-artist previously unknown to me whose work I’m really resonating to right now is Laura Splan, a Brooklyn-based designer who weaves traditional crafts with disturbing biomedical themes. The doilies pictured above, for example, are machine-embroidered in patterns inspired by some of the most deadly viruses known. Other pieces in the show include wallpaper patterns created with Splan’s own blood, and a piece of lingerie sewn from pieces of a facial peel-off mask, conflating beauty and revulsion into one moment of reaction.

I’m interested in this dark aesthetic – the idea that beauty can coexist with fear and disgust. That beauty is what draws us in, only to be repelled by what discover, is a powerful idea for the design world. This is deceptive design, but in another way it is actually quite direct. Nothing is what it seems, and to call attention to this fact is perhaps the most honest statement a designer can make.