Join Dave Schultze for an in-depth discussion in this video Introduction to 3D forms, part of Design Foundation 3D: Shape and Form.
- As we proceed to the third dimension, this is where design gets really interesting. We can now hold the object, sit on the furniture, or go inside of the building. With two-dimensional designs, all of that was impossible. We can now physically interact with our design forms and environments. The very same 2D shapes we reviewed earlier can now be converted to a three-dimensional form with a simple CAD operation, like an extrusion. Here I have drawn 2D curves to loosely represent Richard Serra's sculpture, Torqued Spiral. This weathered steel sculpture is initially intimidating, with its dark, heavy, and tilted steel walls.
But it's also a lot of fun to walk around in and inside, checking out all the angles. My favorite part is it all starts with such a simple plan. In architecture, pure forms are sometimes used for experimental studies, like Ledoux's House for the Farm Guard, and Jean-Jacques Lequeu's Temple of the Earth from 1794. I like to think that Ledoux's conceptual spherical structure may someday be built. It would definitely be very cool at some future theme park now that we have more advanced materials and engineering to pull it off.
In product design, the Apple Cube computer was released in 2000 and was marketed as a pure expression of form that operated in almost total silence. It was layered. It was transparent. It was gorgeous. Everyone agreed it was super sweet and the design ended up in the collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art. Unfortunately, it also overheated and crashed way more than it should. Did I mention it was impossible to open and upgrade? This was ultimately discontinued about a year later, but I found this image online.
So, hey! People are still using it. As an interesting side note, Apple again went back to the pure form with a cylindrical Mac Pro in 2013. A few years later, it was the same old story, and the model was discontinued for similar problems of limited expandability. This is an important lesson. Using a pure form has risks, especially if your design is forced to compromise in other areas. A classic product design is George Nelson's Ball Clock. This was first released in the 50s and is still selling well over a half century later.
If you avoid knock offs, you would expect to pay about $400 for an authorized reproduction. Does that seem like a lot? It's not. The reason is of value in design and it's trendy cousin, sustainability. A powerful personal point I use when evaluating designs, whether furniture, product or architecture, is the test of time. After using the basics, form, function, maybe budget and sales, I like to ask, "are people still using or caring about your design 10 years later? What about 100?" This can be very challenging to consider, especially if your product involves technology, and will be obsolete in a matter of years.
The sustainability angle here is simple. If it's built of quality materials and then so well designed people keep it indefinitely, there is no need to recycle. Our next geometric example is this sphere-shaped ball chair by Eero Aarnio. It was designed in 1963, but first produced in 1970. This chair does offer a lot of privacy, but it's relatively large size and distinct shape requires a good match with your decor. I can't imagine these in a rural cabin, but you never know.
Back in architecture, let's check out this cultural center outside of Seoul, Korea. The obvious and hard-to-miss spheres in other projects are not seen here due to a sphere-shaped void. Architect Hoon Mon has created a design about something that doesn't even exist. And even if you don't particularly like it, you must admit it would be very hard to miss. It is safe to say that three dimensional designs are usually more compelling than 2D work. The real challenge is to make a logical fit between the form and the function.
If the form is compromising the functionality, which is why you bought it, then you're not doing it right.
First, see how the same idea can be applied in a smaller 2D scale—like graphics and print, fine art, and advertising. Dave then blows it up in 3D, and showcases examples from product design, furniture, architecture, and urban planning.
Projects and concepts are presented in an engaging and sometimes irreverent manner with images, videos, and personal and professional stories from Dave. Check out this fast-paced tour as it covers topics ranging from grids and axes to designing with humor.
- Design exploration with sketching
- 3D exploration with organic forms
- Grids and axes
- Defining space
- Color and contrast
- Texture and patterns
- Minimalism. Less is more.
- Retro. It's back!