In this essay I will be analysing and discussing a design from two different designers, of different ages and movements.
The first group of designers I’m going to deal with is Memphis . They were a predominant group of Italian designers in the 1980’s who rebelled against the conventional shapes, colours, textures and patterns of the time. The felt that products of that era lacked any individualism so instead they took to designing products which were colourful, bright and emotive. An example of this is the “Bel Air” chair.
The “Bel Air” chair was designed primarily by Peter Shire, a member of Memphis , but was produced as part of the Memphis range in 1984. It was the Peter’s most important contribution to the group as it came to be an iconic image for the group.
The purpose of this design is clearly to be sat upon and to offer a comfortable, relaxing experience as well as look aesthetically pleasing. Copycat Bel Air chairs have been produced by many designers, mimicking the style and colours, but none will have the pure creative spark that the original possessed. At first glance the target market would be presumed to be young children, but however look closer at the chair and it seems this is not the case; the size of the chair and the high profile designers would suggest it is for adults. It could be suggested that the colours provoke a child-like attraction to viewers, even as adults, and make it more intriguing than an ordinary armchair. The style was influenced by Peter’s Los Angeles lifestyle; surfing and hot rodding, as well as the art deco movement and 1950s Space Age architecture. The back of the chair is based on a shark fin; also linking with the LA lifestyle. One recent Bel Air chair with alternative colours was made as gift for the rock musician David Bowie. The chair was first designed in 1982 however was kept in production for many years.
“Mystical absurdism, amazing, astonishing phenomena on a human scale and what is funny about the way we love and hate industrial things...is what interests me.”
My opinion of the chair’s aesthetics is that the emotive colours succeed in capturing our attention- a gateway for you to then look closer at the chair and truly appreciate the carefully chosen colour scheme and form. There are three main groups of colours- the bright green and orange, a dominant red and pastel blue and pink. The two most prominent colours are the orange and the green, they are bright, vivid and- despite being the minority- jump out at you. In contrast to the stark green of the chair arm there is a warm, passionate, overflowing red. It travels down the back of the chair, along one chair arm and covers part of the front. This red is inviting, cosy and safe looking; welcoming you to come sit. Finally there are the light, pastel shades of blue and pink. The pink makes a nice compliment to the deep red, and another smooth harmony to the green.
The chair is made of wood frame with cotton upholstery and painted wood. These materials aren’t specifically high quality however they are wearable and durable. I can imagine these materials to be easily cleaned and so therefore suitably hygienic. The materials used are suitable for the product as they can be painted/coloured to suit the design of the chair easily.
It is debatable whether this chair is ergonomically friendly or not, at first glance it looks suitable and comfortable enough, however a closer look can provoke more questions. Take the arm rests for example; they look comfortable however then it is realized that the arm rest are actually of different heights- this could potentially be uncomfortable or impractical. We then realize that the chair back is completely straight, which could also cause discomfort. Overall it can be deduced that this chair was designed with the iconic look of it in mind, rather than the comfort and ergonomics.
The safety of this chair, as it is a well renowned and famous,