Theodore Roe


Enchantment in Industrial Design
Supervisors: Clive Cazeaux, Stephen Thompson
Research group: Metaphysics Embodiment Aesthetics Technology (MeAT)

There has been a loss of enchantment for industrial design practice in the latter half of the twentieth century. According to Alexander (1964), Krippendorff and Butter (1984), and Norman (1988), a flourishing philosophical practice of industrial design, became submerged beneath an increasingly instrumentalised and commercial practice which came to be known as product design, and which operated as a form of celebrity practice coupled to scientific methodologies.

‘Enchantment’ has a variety of related meanings to do with charm and delight (to be explored) but is used here in Kipperman’s sense to signify a strengthening of the imagination, and a state in which we are invited to reflect on the moral and imaginative stance we take towards our world, its sustenance and its reinvention (Kipperman 1986). Some steps have already been made in this direction within industrial design. Forest and Faucheux (2009) criticize industrial design’s subservience to instrumental thinking and implore designers ‘to explore new cartographies of knowledge’ and to embark upon ‘creative collisions’.

The designs of Sottsass, Burney argues, are ‘philosophical statements or notes… [whose] importance lies in their ability to communicate rather than their success as products’ (1991). This research aims to clarify the relation between enchantment and industrial design, and to use this theory, alongside conversations with industrial designers, to produce a body of industrial design practice that shows how enchantment can be restored to the field.