• But it looks like shit.

    Well yeah, but you can't deny that it's very fashionable. All it needs is some faceted surfaces and it'd be perfect.

    Fucking facets. Every fucking client wants fucking facets.

  • ...I can tell you from experience that (with a few exceptions) ugly products, no matter how well they work, simply don't sell...

    Maybe ugly products don't sell (I can name tons that do, modern shimano road groups for example) but this doesn't matter because we all have different interpretations of what ugly is, for some people a product can be ugly because it doesn't function well. In the same way purely functional products can also seem very beautiful.

  • Sorry, I should've been more precise. It's not about perception as 'ugly' or 'beautiful', the important part is that Shimano employ stylists whose sole job is to focus on the aesthetics of those components. You might not like the direction they've taken and probably the stylists don't either, but if there were no stylists involved they'd sell far fewer, because the engineers and ergonomicists aren't experts in styling (a hundred years ago the engineers did all three but people have become specialised since then).

    The majority of the time when a product looks 'functional' an industrial designer or stylists has been consulted, because 'functional' is a look just like 'curvaceous' is a look. People who buy functional products want other people to know that they buy functional products, and therefore stylists are employed to make stuff look more functional than need be. I remember working on some farm communication device and the engineers packed their magic in the smallest, slimmest cases they could - well no blokish farmer is going to want that, so I directed the stylists to redesign it with chunky case that was bigger than needed. The feedback we got from trials was 'it's functional - no fucking about with fancy styling'... heh. They were actually less functional than before because now they didn't fit into normal pockets, but the farmers preferred them because they looked tough and workmanlike.

    So there are very, very few 'unstyled' products - like I said before, even the defence industry employs stylists to make their gun and tanks and attack helicopters to look more aggressive. Even tools and medical products are styled. If you want something that's purely functional, look inside a cheap vacuum cleaner or something - the two of us might find it fascinating but the majority of people will say 'it's ugly'. Now, add some fancy cutouts to the moving parts, some big red bearings, some selective anodizing, and make it look all 'engineered' and people will say 'that's a functional but beautiful vacuum cleaner, the engineers have paid a lot of attention to it therefore I will buy it because I like functional things' - in reality the engineers haven't touched it and it's no more functional than it was before. This is what Dyson have done - they've made engineering sexy without people realising it, and they've made a load of money from it. Dyson's PR claims that they don't even have a styling department!

    I suppose the bottom line is that we all like to think that we buy things solely because of how well they work, but in reality we (cyclists especially from my experience) tend to buy stuff mainly because of how it looks, how it feels, and most importantly because of what we think it says about us (even if, ironically, the message we're broadcasting is 'I buy functional products') *cue cries of 'not me!' from anyone reading this.

  • But it's shit.


    To drag on with the tired automotive analogy, it doesn't matter how pretty the stylists sketches look, if they don't work structurally, aerodynamically and economically, they are going in the bin. Art school wankers should stay well away form bicycles, their efforts always make them look like idiots, because the bicycle is so highly constrained by its engineering, even more so than cars. Stick to making pretty toasters.

  • This is what Dyson have done - they've made engineering sexy without people realising it

    Er, no. They built a better mousetrap. Obviously it's highly styled, and that was done for various reasons not limited to attracting a demographic who like the Pompidou Centre and had the money and the inclination to spend it on a very expensive vacuum cleaner, but at the heart of the product was a genuine paradigm shift in the principle of operation which made the product function better than previous designs. And I don't think anybody who bought one didn't realise that it had been deliberately styled to appeal to them in a particular way.

  • Our DC08 blew up, I diagnosed it as motor failure. £50 new motor off ebay and two household tools was all I need to repair it. It has no other moving parts. Try that with an Electrolux.


  • MDCC - You're like a broken record. Every time this topic comes up, you say the same thing. Performance/engineering, usability/ergonomics, aesthetics/styling - to make a successful product, you need all three. Yes, pretty sketches do not ensure good cars, I never said they did. Dyson's engineering was great, but without the styling it would never have become a household name. You may not understand why aesthetics are so important, but they are - as someone who does this for a living I have tried to explain it to you many times.

    Besides, did you even read what I wrote? It doesn't matter that art-school bikes don't work - they aren't supposed to work, they're not real bikes! The bike's just an arbitrary vessel for their aesthetic talent. Like I said, criticising art school students for making impossible bikes is like criticising engineering students for not making their turbochargers pretty enough. These people are specialists, they don't have time to fuck around making 'functional' objects when nobody is going to hire them on that basis.

    You may think that 'art school wankers' should stay well away from cycle design, but every big company in the cycle business (or any other product business) disagrees with you. You are welcome to disagree but I'm not sure where the substance of your viewpoint comes from.

    Edit - and stop being so rude about art school students. Every time you post in this thread you call them wankers. You're entitled to your opinion but there's no need to be a twat about it, is there? There are a fair few on LFGSS. Sorry they touched your precious bicycles.

  • Dysons are shit. Expensive shit that just breaks.

  • Lae, you mentioned you were a recent graduate? Do they teach this idea that you can be a specialist in aesthetics above all else and then let the engineers figure it out? Genuine intrest.

    If so, sounds crazy. Functional and beautiful can co-exist and do so often. And any designer should understand enough about function to be able to design within that. And visa versa, I don't believe engineers are immune to having an aesthetic viewpoint. That is the better challenge. Here's your box, don't go outside it - way more fun that "woah, do whatever man, just make it pretty"

    That bike posted earlier is a failure - in every sense. There's nothing pretty about the proportions, the minimalist approach is too easy. There's no functional benefit. Revolutionary thinking about the design of bicycles, er, nope. No boundaries pushed, no new ideas. It's just shit and wherever or whoever designed shouldn't be awarded at all. It is a symptom of modern thinking.

    I haven't been to a design school of any kind for a long time, so I'm spouting my own uneducated opinion. It does really concern me that they would teach you to have "no time to fuck about making functional objects".

    There's already enough wastage on the planet without having specific "aesthetisticians".

    I should add that I'm an art director/designer in advertising. Mostly because I slacked off and didn't get high enough maths and physics scores to be an engineer or industrial designer :(

  • If these "bikes" don't work or are just drawings of something pretty that happens to be bike shaped, then they shouldn't be in an innovation thread, they should be in a creative drawing/art thread.

  • Does it barspin?

  • I think if theres one thing thats missed in the debate about designers and bikes, its the fact that essentially the bike industry has is own quite specific aesthetic. I know when I started riding again a few years back everything I liked and wanted to own, I would definitely consider complete anti now - if you think about it, lots of the bright colours you see on shit like creates could be at home in other areas, but when you try and throw that kind of thing at a bike it simply doesn't work.

    This is really evident when you then see well respected designers try there hand at designing a bike eg.

    by Yves Behar


    by Philippe Starck

    Both well respected designers (admittedly Starck is a bit of an aestheticist, and I'm not really a fan, but he's definitely not a student playing around with ideas and trying to capture peoples attention) who have successfully designed and developed products for a range of different industries. It seems over the length of time one of these projects takes to put together, people can struggle to get a proper grasp for the aesthetic trends that the bike industry is driven by.

    I'm a recent industrial design graduate myself, and I've always said that I'm staying the fuck away from designing bikes, unless I'm working directly for a bike company, simply because of all the shit that well respected designers keep turning out.

  • stop being so rude about art school students. Every time you post in this thread you call them wankers.

    I call the wankers wankers. Art school students (probably the majority) who aren't wankers are just art school students. I'm equally disparaging about wankers who haven't been to art school, see pretty much anything I've ever said about NAHBS, so you needn't think I'm picking on your kind in particular.

    The bicycle is, perhaps above any other product, extremely tightly constrained by engineering considerations. Almost by definition, anybody who attempts to design one without understanding these constraints outs themselves as a wanker.

  • May not be so innovative, or new for that matter, but I think its a damn fine idea


  • Lae, you mentioned you were a recent graduate? Do they teach this idea that you can be a specialist in aesthetics above all else and then let the engineers figure it out? Genuine intrest.... It does really concern me that they would teach you to have "no time to fuck about making functional objects"....

    Here's your box, don't go outside it - way more fun that "woah, do whatever man, just make it pretty" There's already enough wastage on the planet without having specific "aesthetisticians".

    No, they teach engineering and ergonomics modules in industrial design, but it becomes abundantly clear come internship time that those companies seeking stylists aren't too interested in the all-rounders. This used to frustrate me but since graduating and moving to a larger company I've come to understand it - see below. Stylists do have to be able to work within constraints, but they certainly don't often generate those constraints themselves (which is why their portfolio is full of useless objects until they've had some real-world experience), and that's fine.

    My perception is that design companies are more productive when they're comprised of a large number of specialists plus a few all-rounders rather than vice versa, which is at least part of the reason why there are so many students who focus on styling (the other part is that styling is perceived as a glamorous profession). I work for a mid-sized product development studio with around 30 design staff - we have a handful of engineers, a handful of graphic designers, a few ergonomicists, and a few all-rounder industrial designers (like myself). Then we have two people whose job it is to do amazing sketches and sculpt forms out of modelling clay, and two people who sit on their computers with headphones on making CAD models of the clays. These last two groups of people don't really understand engineering or ergonomics, but that's fine, since they know to work within our constraints.

    Most of my job is to inform the back-and-forth discussion between these people and the engineers. We discuss with the client, I give it some thought and come up with some emotional/affective specs, the engineers give it some thought and talk me through some physical specs, together give it some more thought, I give it to the stylists so they can make it more beautiful than I could, then I say (for example) 'this radius needs to change because of the tooling', we get the all-clear from the engineers and then go on to iterative testing and production.

    I've worked for design companies before and during my studies, always in places with 5-6 staff, and although everyone had their specialism, everyone was also an all-rounder. Most of the time these companies would outsource a stylists for a few days a week as their in-house efforts resulted in very banal looking objects. Since some parts of the design process are quite introspective I think the ability to completely zone out and focus solely on one part of the problem, be it engineering or aesthetics, is very useful. So these extreme specialists certainly have their place.

    I agree that aesthetically speaking the bike is a bit vapid. I don't know how old it is. Ten years ago it would've got you a job at Alessi or Jaguar... now, maybe not. In the context of this debate I don't think it's important. What fade said about cycling having its own set of semantics is definitely true.

    Incidentally I think the best way to teach design, engineering, and ergonomics would be to have all three courses interacting - it would benefit everyone and might even create some genuinely successful products. It's a real shame to walk around degree shows seeing a bunch of products that are desirable but unworkable and another bunch of products function beautifully but that nobody wants or needs.

  • I call the wankers wankers.

    No, you call them all wankers. Read the post above and hopefully you'll understand why they're not wankers.

  • He's saying the one's that are wankers are wankers, which is a bit of a cop out, I say they have all cracked one off at some point.

  • Read the post above and hopefully you'll understand why they're not wankers.

    The above post just seems to confirm that they are wankers who get grown-up engineers to clean up their mess if they find masturbatory employment :-)

  • Joy. A thread I can preach in.

    (With no real grounding or experience)

    So Industrial Design lies between Art and Science.

    Old faddy engineers ultimately steal the best ideas off their interns and claim as their own merit.

    See any OEM bike manufacturer or hoover company.

    Why? Because the youth drive sales. (See fashion.)

    Not suggesting the level of wankery graduating each year is a reflection on market trends.

    Just saying New Product Development is crucial to turnover.

    So everyone is a winner.

    Or loser?

    Oh yeh, lae where do you work?

    I think your company needs my input.

    I am a stylist not a hairdresser.

    (joke) :o)

  • I say you're all wankers.

  • It does depend on which side of wankery you come from. Science or Art.

    The amount of unnecessary tech wankery being peddled now is horrific.

    These Gadget Show poorly thought out / quick buck / market flooding products.

    Only matched by the last years redundant wankery being thrown out.

    "Engineers' are no better.

    I hereby claim 'Wankery Police' as an official organisation.

    Shut that shit down.

  • WTF are you talking about? Engineers are much better.

  • Looks like this debate has petered itself out.

    What do you do Ordinata?

  • CAD Monkey for Architect.

    A whole new level of wankery.

    But it is 15 minutes from my bed.


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Concept Bikes & Bike Innovation - for better or worse

Posted by Avatar for MechaMorgan @MechaMorgan