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The discovery will be achieved

The Project

The goal of the project is to discover, describe and analyze some important technologies – processes as well as materials – that have influenced (directly or indirectly) the design of three artifacts selected from the list provided.

  • The discovery will be achieved by doing research on the web or in the library. Your sources must be reputable and credible, whether they are from the web or from publications.
  • The description will provide a written summary of the relevant technologies (processes and/or materials); and
  • The analysis will describe the ways that technology changed the form and function of the three generations for each of the three selected artifacts.

For example, let’s assume that one of the three artifacts is the One-Off stainless steel side chair designed by Ron Arad. Going back two generations, we may wish to study a typical side chair from the Modernist era as well as one from the Industrial Revolution. These two examples would constitute the two generations required by the project for each artifact selected from the list. This process would be repeated for two other artifacts from the list.

Continuing with the example of the Arad chair, it is an excellent example of Postmodernism in design. The generation before that was Modernism and good example of a side chair would be Verner Panton’s plastic side chair. Lastly, the period known as the Industrial Revolution had many fine chairs such as those manufactured by Thonet. Most of these chairs were made of wood and manufactured using early machine technology. Looking at all three, we can see that technology (process and material) impacted the design of these chairs: Arad’s was hand welded and made of stainless steel; Panton’s was injection molded and made of plastic; and Thonet’s were made of wood using early machine production. All three artifacts are side chairs; however, all three are very different in design, principally because of the technology used.

Much the same analysis could be done for the iPod. The generation before today’s iPod was the Sony Walkman, and the generation before that was the boom-box. With all three generations of portable music devices, we can observe significant technological changes and equally significant changes in product form.

Please remember the following condition: With any artifact taken from the list, you need to go back two generations. This will mean looking at artifacts other than the recent versions of the same artifact. For example, the iPhone 4, 5 and 6 are three generations of the same artifact but show few significant changes in either technology or product form. These three generations would not be acceptable for this project. A better approach would be to look at the iPhone, the first cell phone (the so-called Brick), and the telephone designed by Henry Dreyfus in the 1930s. Changes in technology and product form were very significant with these three generations.

The Process

Project 3 will have a total of six pages; this total is based on three artifacts selected from the list provided, one each from small, medium and large and with two pages for each artifact. Page 1 will be a description page; Page 2 will provide images to show how the form of the product evolved.

  • Page 1:The first page for each artifact will include the description of your discoveries about technology (process and material). What did you discover about the technologies that influenced the form of the artifacts that you selected? Descriptions should be concise and precise. Use the narrative form; do not use bullets. The descriptions should be between 500 and 750 words. In principle, there is no need for photos, images or illustrations on this page. References should appear at the bottom of the page as a kind of footnote.
  • Page 2:The second page for each artifact will show the evolution of the form and function of the artifacts by way of images, photographs and/or illustrations. These will play a central role on this page but there may still be a need to provide short written explanations.
  • Application:You are free to use any application such as PowerPoint, Keynote or MS Word. Be forewarned that MS Word is not the most appropriate application for this project.

Step-by-step Procedure

  1. Select one artifact from each of the three groups (small, medium and large) in the pool of artifacts provided. You will have a total of three different artifacts.
  2. Go back at least two generations for each artifact. Please refer to the examples of the chair and iPod provided above.
  3. The change of technology found in these two generations must be significant. It cannot be something as simple as going from blue to red paint or from iPhone 4 to iPhone 5. Such technological changes are incremental at best.
  4. Research the significant changes in technology that occurred for all the artifacts selected, i.e. the three from the list as well as the ones that constitute the two generations. In all, this will mean nine artifacts.
  5. Do the following for each one of the three artifacts originally selected from the list:
    • Page 1: Write a description of the significant technological changes (processes and materials) that occurred with the original artifact and how it impacted the form of the artifact. Please be mindful that the description is not a history of the artifact although history plays a role.
    • Do the same for the two generations that preceded it.
    • The descriptions of the technological processes for all three artifacts (the one from the list and the two generations that preceded it) should be between 500 and 750 words.
    • Provide reference sources as discreet footnotes at the bottom of Page 1.
    • Page 2: Find one image for each of the three artifacts (the original one from the list and the two additional generations).
    • Graphically display these images in order to explain the evolution of the product form.
    • If necessary, provide short explanatory notes with the images (three words of advice: keep it simple).
  6. Repeat the same process described above for the second and third artifacts selected from the list. This will mean that you will have nine artifacts in all and a total of six pages.

List of Artifacts


  • Big Bertha kettle (P. Starck)
  • Nikon D4 DSLR
  • Cylinda line of products (by Stelton)
  • Thomas TC 100 dishes
  • Bic “Crystal” Ballpoint Pen
  • Apple iPod (any model)
  • Braun Model KM 3/KM 31 Kitchen Machine


  • Panton plastic side chair
  • Zigzag chair (by G. Rietveld)
  • Eames lounge chair
  • One-off chair (by R. Arad)
  • Tulip chair (by E. Saarinen)
  • Ant chair (by A. Jacobsen)
  • Diamond Lounge chair (by H. Bertoia)


  • Studebaker Starliner (by R. Loewy)
  • Porsche 911
  • GRP canoe
  • Greyhound Scenicruiser
  • Ford Thunderbird
  • P-38 Lightning
  • Harley-Davidson Sportster

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