The students continue to read my Good Products, Bad Products book and for each chapter submit examples of good and bad products, guesses as to why the bad ones might be bad, and ideas of improving them. Since the class is large, the amount of information is too large to include in this blog. But each of the student groups that will present the final summaries is reading all of the submissions having to do with their topics and giving us a short summary of them. I will include one of the summaries for Craftsmanship here, one for Emotions and Needs here, and one for Aesthetics, Elegance and Sophistication here.
I will not include any of the good and bad product write ups from the students here, but I will include summaries of good and bad products from the 2011 class. Products showing good craftsmanship are here, and poorly crafted products are here. Examples of good products as far as Emotions and Needs are here, and bad ones are here. Some products considered beautiful are shown here. And some thought to be elegant are here. Finally, here is a list of products that the students found to be repulsive!
During this time period, Peter Mondavi, the Co-proprietor of the Charles Krug Winery, was a guest speaker. This is one of the older wineries in the Napa valley, and is noted for the quality of its wine. The Krug home page is here. The class also read from the book Natural History of the Senses, by Diane Ackerman (Knopf Doubleday). This is one of my favorite books, and I have added it to my recommended list to the right. She is a wonderful writer and not only talks about the senses, but is able to convey their power through words and stories.
The class also took a field trip the Littlefield Collection of restored military vehicles. Jacques Littlefield, who unfortunately died a couple of years ago, was one of my favorite people. I had the opportunity to get to know him well because he was a student at Stanford when I joined the faculty in the 1960's, and one of the most regular customers of the student shop. As projects, he made radio controlled model army tanks. Upon graduation, he accepted a job in manufacturing at Hewlett Packard. When he decided to retire in his late 20's, I realized that perhaps he had access to money, and indeed he did, being the son of Ed Littlefield, a billionaire.
Jacques spend most of his life, effort, and quite a bit of money collecting and restoring military vehicles, especially tracked one. By the time of his death he had put together not only the largest private collection of tanks in the world, but probably the most beautifully and accurately restored ones. The collection consists of approximately 100 tanks, and another 100 military vehicles of other types.
The field trip was for several purposes. The collection shows an amazing level of craftsmanship. It also demonstrates the love of a person for machines. Jacques had access to enough money to do anything he wanted to, and he elected to spend much of his life working on and understanding a particular tpe of industrial product. The collection results in strong, and sometimes mixed, emotions, on the part of the students. And finally, although brutal devices of war, the mechanisms involved often demonstrate a high degree of elegance. Jacques also loved trains and other equipment, and his home was complete with one of the largest 7-1/2 inch gauge model train layout on the west coast. The San Francisco Live Steam club continues to hold forth there. And he donated the beautiful organ in the Stanford chapel, and liked it and the people who manufactured it that he had one installed in a specially built addition to his house. As usual, the trip was most successful.