The classic design section – Topic 6 often can initially make teachers think regarding certain types of classic design whether the ipod, the BIC ballpoint pen or an Eames chair? However it is important to look at the definition again –

A classic design is not simply defined by how well it functions or its impact. Classic designs can be recognized as from their design movement/era. Yet, originality— whether it is evolutionary or revolutionary—seems to be the trait that makes a product “timeless”. (3.10)

One design that has been around for 90 years, and dominated the UK market defying planned obsolescence – although you may in fact have a great discussion with students discussing whether this was actually designed for obsolescence – is  that of the classic  Pylon Design.

Some great questions to ask regarding this classic design are :-

  • Why has the design lasted for over 90 years? Is it simplicity, materials, function – or what that has shaped this?
  • Did the designer actually design these to become obsolete – if not why not?
  • Why would this classic design now finally be questioned – is it technology push (Structures of Innovation 5.3), or economic or that the function has changed?
  • Do classic designs become aesthetically pleasing due to familiarity?

Would be an interesting small design task to get students to consider these and then as part of a structures unit also consider redesign – in terms of thinking regarding metals and metal alloys and whether different materials can change the existing structures. Of course there is a great site which shows how there are now designs for pylon structures on the table – which means that this classic design may have had its day.