Monday 16 May 2016

Industrial Design Meditations, Part One

I've always been fascinated by the symmetry of industrial design. From Concordes to calliopes and Ookpiks to opera houses, every aspect of the 'look' of things engages my sense of aesthetics. Usually, this appreciation of design has little to do with the actual purpose of an object - the ultimate separation of form from function. In fact, I've made embarrassing car purchases based solely on design as opposed to reliability. Yes, 1973 Chevrolet Vega and 1978 AMC Pacer, I'm looking straight at you! Looks 10/Drive 3, to mangle a song title from A Chorus Line.

(Both images taken from the web.)

This fascination with design is the reason I love staring at aircraft, a fetish I intend to indulge at the Quinte International Air Show on June 25 and 26 at Canadian Forces Base Trenton. But more on that next month. And I haven't even mentioned my passion for trains yet...

The following two photos are a tip of the hat to my farm roots in Prince Edward County.  I grew up surrounded by farm machinery - tractors, combines, balers, ploughs, 'honey wagons' - so my machine gene is hard wired. Now that I'm taking photography more seriously, I'm literally seeing that my interest in design is primarily a love of splendid symmetry. There can be such elegance in shape, colour, pattern, position, and texture. Rarely is it the entire object that engages me; instead, it's the micro shots, the details, the isolated bits and bobs that are most interesting.

Witness these two photos taken last June at the local Massey-Ferguson dealership in Belleville. The first photo is an elegantly spiky cultivator, pristine and unsoiled. It matters not whether it actually works - its harmonious lines make it visually compelling.

The second photo is a set of discs. It is the elegance of the repeated curves with their pharaonic markings that keeps me staring. There is a grace and beauty about them that is arresting. (I know - I don't get out enough.)

The last photo comes from the Boshkung Brewing Company in Minden, Ontario. Boshkung makes mighty fine craft beer - worth the drive to Minden. When I visited last July, the company had just installed two new brewing towers to meet the increased demand for its products. Gleamingly beautiful in their polished glory, the towers begged to be photographed...and I happily obliged.

And just think - each of these objects was designed by an actual HUMAN BEING! All hail the designers who move beyond the basics and render beauty as well.

Reflecting on industrial design will be a recurring theme of my blog postings. As always, your feedback is welcome.

Until next time.



  1. I love this piece, Larry--and I particularly love the phrase "splendid symmetry." There really is something restorative about the kind of balance you achieve in your photos of machinery.

  2. Thank you, Jean. I appreciate your supportive feedback. And thanks for spotting the earlier glitch.