Why is it that sometimes we just have to have a certain product?
The first PowerBook had it; the latest titanium PowerBook has it. The runaway success of: the Miata,the Audi TT; enter them into the exclusive category of products that are wildly successful, desired—even lusted after—by more than just a few people. In many cases these products command a premi-um before they are introduced. Sometimes even those intimately involved in their development don’tsee it coming. Why don’t all new products have that magic—that certain allure? Perhaps it has to dowith being the first, or the smallest, or the most beautiful. Perhaps sometimes the key factor is timing.Eames chairs had it, lost it and now have it again. The Corbusier Chaise has always had it.
Is “it” beauty? When is it more than beauty?
In this issue of
, we offer to you a better understanding of this mysterious phenomena.From Tucker Viemeister’s insightful adaptation of Maslow’s theory to Clive Dilnot’s academic dissec-tion of the word beauty, this collection of articles contains a unique analysis of a topic of great signifi-cance. We ask and answer many important questions. How does technology enter into the equation?Enabling technology, manufacturing technology? Newness? Uniqueness? Appliances in cars? Can“it” be quantified or codified? The obvious advantage of being able to get our arms around whatseems at first so subjective is to be able to execute that “it” quality repeatedly. Also included in thisissue you will find an explanation of beauty based on its mathematical roots, the trends that definerecent product successes, and tips for executing designs that transcend expectations of success.In a down economy juxtaposed with the seriousness of recent events, exploring this topic mayseem luxurious. Practical advice seems to better fit the order of the day. But this is a time of greatlyrenewed interest in design, especially by businesses looking for a competitive edge. Ten years ago,when finance and distribution ruled the agenda, this topic probably would have been avoided. Todayit must be analyzed and understood to broaden our understanding and to raise new issues of dia-logue and debate. When the economy and some form of normalcy return, I believe designers will bedrinking from a fire hose. When this happens, everyone is going to want the products they make andthe services they offer to achieve “it.”One of the unspoken secrets in working on behalf of IDSA is to direct each effort into a subjectmatter that you yourself crave to know more about. This ensures that your effort is always rewarding.I have always been very curious about why some products have “it,” what exactly “it” is and how “it”can be bottled, so to speak. Through this assignment as guest editor, I have gained a much betterunderstanding. After you’ve read and absorbed the insights and suggestions of these very talentedauthors, I hope you will also.
I N N O VATION WINTER 2001
BEAUTY + DESIRE