Canonical forms in design
When analyzing everyday objects of humanity and its ancestors, from primitive society to our days, we can trace an interesting line of development of the formation of objects surrounding us. So, for example, some products, created on the basis of physical and mental characteristics of humans related to physiological needs, have not changed ( or slightly changed) their form for more than 2000 years.
Ancient luxury — a spoon made of silver and rock crystal (Metropolitan Museum, NY). First spoons were made of shells and pointed sticks.
The reason of this phenomenon is the practical design of the product. The form becomes a canon and every change is only its variation. Let’s take a look a the simplest objects of everyday life and our associations with them. For example, furniture.
What do you imagine when you read the word “table”? How do you picture this object in your imagination? The first association, of course, is a construction consisting of 4 supports and a surface lying on them.​​​​​​​
This form is canonical, like a spoon, a plate, a cup, and is firmly rooted in our minds. However, it has gone a long way of development before becoming a “canon”. The basic functions are unchanged, as well as in a chair, always remaining a device for sitting at a comfortable height in a comfortable position.
The form of the subject depends not only on ergonomics, but also on the cultural features of the region, the era, the materials available in the region.
Different civilizations, in their own way solve the needs of everyday life.
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A good example are chopsticks in Asia and spoons, forks in European countries. With the same task (food intake without touching it with hands in order to keep hygiene), there are two different ways to solve it, in the context of two different civilizations.
Conservatism does not allow us to leave the familiar images. The closer to the foundation of the pyramid of needs are the functions of products, the more conservative is the approach to them.​​​​​​​
There is always a principle of maximum expressiveness using minimal amount of means in design — for example a spoon needs to look in a certain canonical way, even though the same function might be reached by a different shape. In order to be creative, a designer should keep in mind the information about goals, functions, meanings of a subject, the people who are going to use it, environmental conditions and about technical means for its creation.
Well-established common associations with a certain subject will cause stereotyped approaches to its design and prevent the designer from creating the design from a scratch. With such approach, creation would be done according to some characteristics. Let’s take a cup as an example of characteristics: the function — holding a liquid inside a 3-dimensional space, purpose — convenient process of liquid consumption.
Such tendencies as materials, manufacturing techniques, service life-time always matter. A designer is creating a new subject, without
Such as possible materials and manufacturing techniques, the necessary service life, the age category for which the product is designed, the current trends in design … At the same time, the designer does not guess the subject, but creates a fundamentally new one, without starting from the existing image, without a foundation, childlike, as a pioneer.
But this is just one of many ways of inventing the shape of the product.

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