Saturday, June 18, 2005

The 'blobject' comes of age

The 'blobject' comes of age
By Gregory M. Lamb | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

SAN JOSE, CALIF. – In the 20th century, physics was king of the sciences, as Albert Einstein and his successors began unlocking our understanding of the physical world. In the 21st century, biology - the ability to understand and alter the workings of genes and living cells - is having a profound effect on society.

The upsurge of interest in biology has influenced a new generation of industrial designers who have infused their aesthetic with fluid shapes and curved forms.

Taking advantage of computer-aided design, as well as new manufacturing techniques and materials, today's industrial designers are creating "blobjects" - playful, bright, curvy, friendly, even cuddly products that also perform practical functions. Their pleasing shapes have been called "pop music for the eyes."

Andreu Osika, Duane Smith of Vessel

While a good deal of the inspiration for blobjects comes from nature and biological forms - the asymmetrical, fluid, blobby world around us - their wellspring lies within sophisticated computer software, where graphic ideas can be quickly, cheaply, and easily manipulated in hundreds of ways with the click of a mouse.

This ability to play with shapes has created "a golden era for the fluid form," says Steven Skov Holt, a professor of industrial design at California College of the Arts in San Francisco and a former editor of I.D., the industrial design magazine. He and his wife, Mara Holt Skov, an art historian, have cocurated a show now at the San Jose Museum of Art called "Blobjects and Beyond: The New Fluidity in Design."

"There's a sense of possibility in [blobjects] because they can shape-shift," says Mara. That quality, she says, seems to be perfect for this moment at the beginning of a new millennium: "It's an expression of possibility, a new futurism."

Blobjects are more than a fad, certainly a trend, and maybe even a movement.
As far as he knows, he was the first to coin the term "blobject" in a 1993 article in Esquire magazine. Since then, many designers, most prominently Karim Rashid in New York, have popularized the idea.

At their most frivolous, blobjects take the form of "cutensils" (cute utensils) - small gadgets such as staplers, hand mixers, or watering cans that look like bright, cartoon-like toys but were carefully designed with human hands in mind.
On a larger scale, the San Jose exhibition displays a Smart Car, designed by the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Team in 1998. It features a podlike passenger compartment, rounded nose, smiling grille, and a friendly aura that the cocurators say makes them think of "a pet beagle."

The 'blobject' comes of age |


Anonymous Karis al New Yorki said...

Do you think it is necessary to do some bulkmatology to your materials before artifacturing blobjects? I know I know it's a newbie question but I'll ask it anyway.

6/19/2005 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger Keith C. said...

Awesome...This is pretty original.

6/19/2005 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Prospector said...

Bulkmatology, blobology, morphology, it's all part of the artifacturing reevolution.

6/20/2005 07:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Cristobal said...

Antonio Gaudi father of the blobject? More later...

6/28/2005 01:54:00 AM  

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