Monday, November 19, 2007

Contemporary design & Mass Culture

Obsolescence remained a guiding principle in industrial design for the mass market, but during the 1960s many products abandoned flamboyance and playful novelty in favor of greater standardization and conformity. Products began to have less and less variety between them, but they came in different colors and available accessories offered the variety that the original product lacked. As a result, the industrial designer wasn’t much needed anymore in terms of styling and invention.
Technology was a big motivation behind many of the new products that were aimed at increasing and satisfying the wants and needs of the mainstream mass market. Formica was manufactured in an increasing number of colors and patterns suitable to every taste, including simulated natural and traditional materials.
The major influence at this time was the changing culture. For example, advertising for many products almost exclusively featured women either marveling over the products or playing hostess. What changed was the REJECTION of traditional role models in the 1960s, which lead to the women’s liberation movement. During the 1960s women debated and protested sexual discrimination and sought alterations to the gender stereotypes socialized through education and the media. But this wasn’t the only change in traditions going on. There was also an increasingly diversified youth culture was being joined by other secondary groups of the 1960s, such as “racial minorities, women and homosexuals,” each with a strong desire for recognition. Rebellions, strikes, and student protests during this time ranged from skirt-lengths and marijuana –use to abortion, the death penalty, and freedom of speech, racial discrimination, the voting age and the U.S. participation in the Vietnam War
With all of this change from old to new traditions happening and all the controversy arising, producers wanted to make sure they were appealing to a wide variety of the demographic, which at this time was a majority of youth. What do you think had the most impact on design during this period? Why? Why was it a big deal?

6 comments:

jessica said...

Marketing was the biggest influence over all. It was the piece of the puzzle that connected the views to the products. Ads suggested the importance and the value an item had in a certain community. This was then communicated to the public by the visual aspect. For example many ads for the new suburban life style had a white family consisting of a mother and a father and 2 children. This spoke to a part of the population that were like these people in the ad and let them know in a way that this was the way they were suppose to live. This was an age of stereotyping and the public went along with it. They believed what the marketing companies had to say and went with it. At this time ads could reach a lot more of the population than every before through television and newspapers and radio. This meant a larger majority of the population were hearing the same things and it wasn't just the rich anymore that wanted to be up to date on the latest styles.

Lauren Fleming said...

Advertising and product themes were greatly affected by all of the changes in the 1960s. Because of new exposure to world views the opinions of the youth were formed and rebellion began. Young teens began to go for more of what was "cool" than practical. The typical suburban white family in advertisng was no longer appealing to the masses. People wanted to see more of what was out there and decide for themselves what was acceptable. Because of this product designers had to take either a more universal approach, or create many different versions of the same product. Advertisng and the media drastically changed. Style and sex appeal were the most prominent selling points for young teenagers while it was frowned upon by the adult population. The universal approach did please many groups, but then it became more of a competition between groups than a common liking. Questions such as "Why was this product appealing more to men than women?" were asked. No one was ever happy and the companies spent more and more money trying to please everyone. From the 1960s on the world of design and advertising was extremely diversified and is contantly changing.

NBUSHdesign said...

The youth of the sixties were an overruling population which began to influence design in many respects. I think this can be seen in clothing which was heavily tie-dyed, vehicles becoming more streamlined and less utilitarian like the family, media (movies, comics, television) which appealed with it’s sexual connotations, and the massive influence of music and live concerts, resulting in stage, sound, and lighting design.
I understand that there were many groups that spread their pride in the 1960s. I myself understand the overwhelming feeling of pride I have today to the gay culture I consider a second family. There is a connectedness. All these groups were powerful groups that established a voice and showed pride, but I don’t think any of them did with the exuberance that the youth of the sixties did.
I think this was such a big deal because the ‘levels of social respect’ and properness were changing. It is one of the first times that the youth have taken over a large part of anything in the world, or the United States, and had it reflect them on a national scale. Influencing designers to create for them, rather than their parents was radical. Youth were being more rebellious than they had in the past and this was showing. It is pretty amazing the difference a group can make.

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Audrey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Audrey said...

Many people suggest that the war caused the rebellion that was the sixties and seventies. I subscribe to that belief but I also believe that the strict social rules that had governed society for so long caused a revolution in design. Lets face it the WASP (white Anglo Saxon protestant) way of life was beautiful and pristine but it was horribly uncomfortable. Maybe all the housewives got a little desperate and that’s why design changed. Whatever the reason Design became so funky and thank god it did. I can't imagine a world without paisley or the giant Laugh In flowers. Of course hippie style is not the most tasteful but sometimes in design and in society we have to go a little crazy to remind ourselves that we are still human.

Jenna said...

This period of time was like a cultural revolution. A tightly structured childhood spent in the affluent fifties was a safe place to play with the ideas of independence and rebellion. Teenagers started doing their own thing, and upon graduating, many attended art colleges. Art students created new ways of solving problems through innovative design processes. They worked with people in other fields like ceramic artists, interior designers, architects, and graphic designers. This resulted in a crossing of new ideas and aspirations. I think this is one of the many things that influenced the modern designs of the 60s. Manufacturing did as well. They had to decided to make changes in was things were made in order to keep up with the fast pace and ever-changing requirements of young customers. New design in the 60's gave voice to the youthful desire for independence and personal freedom. It gave awareness of interior design and even areas such as fashion as a great way to self-express. Just this whole movement of expressing yourself and moving away from what your parents did, changed a lot of things in design. It was "radical" as Nathan mentioned. Therefore this excitement enabled the design world to gain a whole new audience.

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