ME314 Aesthetics, Elegance, and Sophistication Thoughts and Themes
Team 2 - Kirk Morrow, Kabir Mundkur, Robin Perani, and Katie Zhou
Throughout the posts from classmates we found common themes on what differentiated elegant products from those that are beautiful and those that are repulsive. Students often classified a product as elegant based on its simplicity, ease of function, and intuitive use. Beauty was more varied, resulting in responses based on contrast and quality of materials and colors, the balance of different aspects of the object, and emotional attachment that made objects seem more beautiful. Repulsive objects were “clunky” and awkward, with incongruous functions and designs. Students also mentioned emotional reasons for viewing a product as aesthetically repulsive.
In quite a few posts, students expressed a concern of the product’s environment when they analyzed a product’s aesthetics and elegance. In some cases, if the product stood out in a room, some people found that enticing to look at. Others felt like the more beautiful and sophisticated product should be unobtrusive to its environment.
In addition, responses on elegant products described that they do more but are simple and intuitive. It seems that we like complex products so long as they are not complicated to use. Often simplicity in design is pitched against functionality, but products that manage to have simple designs yet offer complex solutions/functions are desirable and elegant. Doing more with less can be a very powerful selling point.
For example, Justin Calles wrote a very well crafted analysis of three items, the first being the Ikea Boja Lamp. His description was thorough and was able to communicate the beauty of the product in few words. He seemed to associate the term beauty with simplicity. His disgust at the unsophisticated Crocs shoes was quite palpable, though he did mention their advantage in the human fit category. Lastly, he acknowledged a product that he thought was of pure elegance, his Bodum Pavina double wall tall glass. He communicated its function of maintaining beverage temperature, while at the same time remarking on the interesting aesthetic qualities. All three passages were written well, and divulged a great amount of information about his perspective of aesthetics, elegance, and sophistication.
Nick Koerner talks about his iOmega external hard drive’s “smooth lines” and “polished aluminum” which make his “desk look all the more impressive and sophisticated.” Perhaps the perception of quality craftsmanship is the root cause behind the product being aesthetically pleasing, sophisticated and elegant. Or it could be the other way around. Regardless, there is clearly a strong relationship between the two. Atzimba Parra also mentions that the “weaving looks flawless” on a hammock she has and considers beautiful. This again supports the tie between craftsmanship and beauty.
Atzimba also talks about a product that she finds hideous, her IHUM course reader. She states that the reader’s appearance makes the reading “look and feel like work.” This brings in an emotional component to the reasons she finds the product “repulsive.” It seems natural that various components of product quality are very interdependent, but it’s interesting in these essays just how common the interactions between product qualities influenced the aesthetic perception of a product.