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Hertzian Tales - Electronic Products, Aesthetic Experience
and Critical Design

Anthony Dunne
Computer Related Design Research Studio
Royal College of Art, 1999
ISBN: 1 874175 27 6
116 pages

This is a seminal book, a phd thesis, i assume. It unfoldes a whole new field for design and design research. Dunne is exploring devices that communicate indiscernible properties of the environment around us. He creates provocative artefacts that make us think about our environment and technology, what we do with it - what it does with us. It moves design from being a desirable object to a more artistic function in that it makes us reflect and contemplate ... an area that was until now occupied by the arts ...

After design has become post-optimal some designers are looking for a new assignment. A toaster is a toaster and has been one for the last 20 years. Still some designers have to and are changing designs with the seasons and try to add new features (our current toaster beeps deafeningly a few moments before the toast is done. Absolutly ridiculous and annoying. Post-optimal) to create new demand in a saturated market. In the end they have to admit that probably the best toasters had been already made in the sixties. And that is that. Products are becoming post-optimal, cluttered with features that no one seriously wants. Some cannot be made any better then they already are.

Anthony Dunne, Fiona Raby and William Gaver from the RCA think design needs new challenges, and these can be found within creating ambiguous and provocative artefacts. As this has partly been the provenance of contemporary art practice designers could be seen as in poaching in neighbours territory - but they are not: Designers seem to bring clearer thinking and better skills into the arts.
"Hertzian Tales" is about a series of "ambiguous" objects that fullfill a function in provocing the "user" and challenging conventional views of products and their functions. Especially hertzian space, the invisible electronic spectrum in which mobile phones and microwave ovens, WIFI work. Visualising this invisible and possibly harmful threat that most of us are unwittingly exposed during most of our lives is the aim of Anthony Dunne's hertzian excursions.


last update: 11/19/02012 0:55

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