What distinguishes the artifactual from the natural? A designed object originates from a fusion of materiality, fabrication, utility, symbolism, and more. We often identify these properties as the province of science, engineering or the humanities. What then is the domain of design? While product designers are not experts in any specific artifact, process is our domain, and form is the language of our discipline.
This work emerges from the second year studio and a triangulation of support courses - Design Visualization, Computer-Aided Industrial Design and Design Proficiencies in Workshops. The Form Studio originated in 2010 with two workshops developed and led by Joseph Ballay, industrial designer, partner at MAYA Design and educator (Emeritus Professor at Carnegie Mellon University). The workshops are derived from Ballay's original concept of Form Families. The cases shown here include versions of Ballay's form exercises: linear flowform; planar flowform; solid flowform; solid rotoform; and tectoform. We have designed extensions to the exercises, which are product projects. Students are asked to take forward lessons learned from the exercises into a product with specific utility. Examples include: the platter (a response to the planar flowform); the handtool (a response to the solid flowform); and the citrus juicer (a response to the solid rotoform).
We have further advanced Ballay's workshop concept, reshaping our foundation curriculum to push forward a language for form that addresses the qualitative nature of form-giving, while developing semantics, syntax, and a morphology for this spatial language.