Before reviewing the history of industrial design we will try and answer a basic question, “What is industrial design?”. If you look for an answer to this question you will find numerous definitions. We like this definition formulated as a question “Have you developed a product to facilitate work in response to a problem or an idea that came up and have been continuously improving and streamlining it That is industrial design.” We think there is no clearer or simpler way of explaining it.
From this basis we can go on to one approach that states that industrial design began in prehistory. It was when humans already designed “products” to solve everyday tasks whether they were hunting tools, clothes, etc. although the most accepted account focuses on the role of humans in an industrial society, when the word technology began to have a meaning, around the eighteenth century coinciding with the Industrial Revolution.
With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, the machine started to be introduced into the production process and this resulted in the mechanisation of work, to the detriment of manual labour. In addition, a creative side to this activity, or design, was developed although in the beginning it did not receive the welcome expected because the quality of design was very poor. It was the dawn of industrial design……
A turning point came with the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, and an attempt to improve product prototypes, but it was not until the nineteenth century, when there began to be greater awareness about the importance of design.
There are many key points in the history of Industrial Design, with its advocates and opponents. We at Delica will highlight the most important four. First we have to mention Michael Thonet, who in the mid-forties of the nineteenth century, manufactured curved wooden furniture on a production line in his wooden furniture factory in Vienna, and was constantly thinking about how to improve the functions of these products. This happened during the Industrial Revolution and his products were exhibited at the previously mentioned Great Exhibition in London, and they went on to generate a big change in mentality in the furniture sector.
Another key moment was when the British Arts and Crafts movement questioned the lack of product design and simplicity. We also have to highlight the arrival of the German, Peter Behrens, one of the first pure industrial designers. Then finally, was the creation of today’s leading school of design, art and architecture, the Bauhaus School.
What we can say it that, since the eighteenth century, industrial design has been absolutely instrumental in the development and evolution of countries, in virtually all areas: economic, social, work-related and even political. And so what is the result? A curved chair is not only an example of a good design but also the curve is a key to good back health.
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