Industrial Humaneer (Dec, 1946)
Very interesting article about the industrial designer Egemont Arens, who designed some of the classic consumer goods of the last century (some, like the Kitchen Aid stand mixer, are still available), and his philosophy of design, which sounds remarkably modern.
egmont arens -industrial “humaneer”
arens’ design’s got to look good, sound good, feel good, taste good, smell good, he asks, how easy is it on the nerves?
AFTER ten years of being one of the best industrial designers in the country, Egmont Arens has now become an expert “nerve specialist.” Arens has designed everything from a locomotive to a baby carriage, from a welding torch to a cigarette lighter, from a juke box to a toy horn, and what he has discovered is that the success of any designed object is determined basically by only one thing: how easy it is on the nerves.
Trapped in the nerve-jangling complications and tensions of present-day living, Arens believes that what modern man needs most are simplicity and relaxation in his surroundings. Instead of designing solely for “sales appeal”, or “esthetic presentation” therefore, Arens concentrates on designing an object to the “specifications” of the human system. He calls it “industrial humaneering.” Arens “humaneers” an object by giving it a color and contour which are relaxing to the eye, by giving it a texture and shape which are pleasing to the touch and inviting to the grasp, by muffling any noises which may jar on the ear, by eliminating any odors which may offend the nose, and lastlyâ€”if the object is, say, a reed musical instrument or a toothbrushâ€”by making sure it is compounded of materials which figuratively, as well as literally, will leave the user with a pleasant taste in his mouth. After making it easy on the nerves, Arens completes his humaneering of the object by making it easy on the muscles. In designing, say, a household-cleaning appliance, he will use every trick in the book to insure that in lifting, carrying, cleaning, operating and storing the appliance, the user will be required to do just as little bending, stooping, squatting, reaching, and wrenching as possible.