Pencil sketch of a masasa tree with a grey blue background

Industrial Design as Art

The msasa trees are losing their leaves. Gusts of wind surge through the valley. Then moments of calm. Punctuated by msasa pods popping and falling; signifying a change in season. I feel a shift in me too. My temperament echoes in this change; I feel some respite during spring, I just need to hold it in the balance, not overcompensate.

Industrial design as art? Work as art?

Yes, now that gets me excited. For me this means working for the sake of it. For the privilege of offering something of value to the world and having a whole lot of fun while I am at it. That doesn’t mean it mustn’t be challenging. I think it needs to be challenging because then we learn and grow.

Industrial design as art, let me unpack that a bit.

That ‘something’ that is unique to each of us. To wholeheartedly bring that to the design process in a way that improves the situation. It is more than your personal stamp – because stamps come after the fact. It is that intangible ‘no-thing’ – not entirely objective but neither fully subjective. It could be an idea that has never been articulated before made visible to some through a connection between them and the object. Or maybe a statement made through the utility of an object that comments on the relationship between user and product, between subject and object. If subject and object are united in the design process then unity will be apparent in the end product. So the creator is not so different than what she creates thus those that resonate with the created are akin to it.

To frame this slightly differently. Is beauty in the eye of the beholder or is it in the object? You can’t separate the two, that’s why I speak of unity.

So what is the distinction between industrial design as art and industrial design? I think this is two fold; approach and outcome. Approach says “work is an art form”, it might read “work is practice” which I’ve touched on here. Outcome says “would we have arrived at exactly the same outcome if somebody else had done the work instead?” If yes then that work isn’t art.

I believe all this is only possible if the process is carried out with care. With practice this will happen very naturally.

Much like the msasa trees when they start to grow their new leaves.