Core77 just ran a post today on the latest wave of French designs. What caught my eye were the candlesticks, lamp and vase which crisp form is based on Studio Nocc’s two designer’s audio recording (1). This reminded me of some other motion studies with almost over a century of time in between of their creation.

Studio Nocc Objects of Sounds collection

See video on how the shapes for Nocc’s collection derived:

Frank Bunker Gilbreth’s (Sr.) motion studies from the turn of the 18th to 19th century were not intended to be works of art or pieces of decorative furniture. They were minute studies of manual laborer’s motions aimed to reduce motion tracks to the barest, most efficient ones. Although well-meant, such changes reduced work appeal due to repetition and lack of individual input. Despite this, I find them to be quite fascinating in their own right (2):

Gilbreth's motion studies

Marcel Wanders’ five Airborne Snotty Vases (named Coryza, Influenca, Ozaena, Pollinosis and Sinusitis) from 2001 are printed out of polyamide based on 3D scannings of sneezes, carefully selected and produced with rapid prototyping tools (3):

five vase variations with a flower

This one is another classic: It is said that the moment that Eadweard Muybridge caught a horses run on film in 1874 was historical – a popular debate was solved (most likely some bets won and lost) and artists had new references for realistic depictions regarding horse feet (4):

12 consecutive still images from a horse's trot

Sometimes the intellectual beauty of a product is more impressive than it’s visual appeal, especially at a first glance. Sometimes a product that looks great becomes even greater through the story that is told. There seems to be a precarious balance between showing and telling, expressing and waving-hands-in-air. The risk is to over-analyze, or even worse, falling under the Emperor’s new clothes syndrome. As a designer my own interest is piqued by both the ‘prototype’ and high-finish design aspects presented above. What do I feel when I look at these objects? What do I instinctively know?

What I like about the examples given above is that they make fairly complicated processes of attaining that idea, or form, look so easy and natural. Technology, science, art and design collaborate. They catch both movement and an idea(l) from their time and express it – provocatively, quietly or instructive.

See more from
>> Studio Nocc
>> Marcel Wanders

Image sources:
1) Core77 entry
2) J. Reekveld blog ‘Light Matters’
3) Dezeen entry
4) Wikipedia