Engineering and Design

space_saving_chair

And now for something completely different.  One of our “Links We Like” to the right is MoCo Loco.  The site tends to focus on physical design, and has a lot of content that merges art with function.   As an electronic engineers I think I can benefit from keeping an eye on what these designers do.

This morning I ran across the example pictured here.  It is described as space saving furniture developed for the University of Valparaiso, Chile.  For some reason I’m always drawn to things that serve multiple functions.  Flip-flops with bottle openers built in… awesome.  Cars that are also boats, not practical,… but still awesome.  Lunch boxes that also serve as jet-packs… not invented yet, but when they are I think they’ll be awesome too.

This project spoke to me.  First it said “this will not match anything else in your house”.  Later it said other more intriguing things.   Obviously some good engineering and design principles are exhibited by this furniture.  The compact  cube stacking shape is visually appealing and useful in minimizing storage and space needs.  When “deployed” the same shapes allow for versatile seating arrangements.  I also really like the storage under and behind the seat surfaces.  Although I think if you used the storage space the mobility of the design is significantly reduced (everything falls out when you move the chair).  I can also see some obvious downsides to this furniture.  Comfort is one one thing that seems to be downplayed, so using these for a prolonged period wouldn’t be a lot of fun for the backside.

Like all engineering the goal of the effort determines whether or not the design meshes well with the intended function.  One of the things we’ve learned in our business is that the industrial design of consumer electronics is just as important as the electronics.  If you’ve got two items hanging on the shelf at a national retailer, the one that looks better is probably the best seller.  This simple space saving furniture was a reminder to me of the importance of form as it relates to function.

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