Papanek’s Function Complex Essay
Papanek’s Function Complex
In Design for the Real World, Victor Papanek discusses design as being “the conscious effort to impose meaningful order”(23) He believes that design should be used to create a meaningful object that in order has function. The clock is an object that directly falls under Papanek’s function complex in all aspects of it. A clock is an object that is not only widely known but is also used by practically everyone in the world. It is an object of order that is shared with all different cultures and societies in the world.
It provides people with order to their days and an understanding of where others are in their town or across the world in another country. The clock also is an object that has fluxed over time, adapting to the culture and society as they grow and change over history. In regards to the function complex specifically, the method in which the clock is made is something that is and has always been designed with a “creative interaction of tools, materials and processes” (31).
The materials used to make a clock are usually the most effective and efficient materials, and those materials together create, again usually, an efficient and effective product that tells the correct time. It also is useful, second in the function complex. The clock is a very useful object in that it works in the ways that it is needed to. It tells the time correctly and is easily or automatically adjustable for different places and people all over the world.
Being so widely accepted and useful, the clock has also become an essential need, especially in today’s world where time is always of the essence. This need is third of the function complex. This need, and not want, to get confused, is what makes the clock a functional part of the daily life of practically every individual. Due to it being such a widely accepted need, the clock also functions on the level of telesis, fourth of the function complex.
Telesis, defined as “the deliberate, purposeful utilization of the processes of nature and society to obtain particular goals,” is essentially asking if the design of the object reflects the time in which it is or not. (34) The clock is an object that has always fluxed, first being made of stone, to now being a fully digital clock depicting the time to the very second. Throughout history, the clock has changed to really fit with not only the times but the people using the clock as well. The clock in itself, however,
has never really changed association, while the face has changed. The association of a clock, that which provides the function of time, is the fifth of the function complex. No matter who is asked, the clock is directly associated with time and will always hold that association strongly. However, again, while the clocks association will always be static, the aesthetic of the clock will always be changing and has been changing. Aesthetics, the last of the function complex, is equally as important as the other five for the function of the object.
If someone has the option to choose between two identical objects they will look for the more aesthetically pleasing one. This aestheticism is then crucial for an object’s function because it will not be used if the object has a more appealing competitor. Clocks come in all different shapes and sizes, thus to appeal to all realms of people’s taste. Thus, a clock easily falls into all categories of the Papanek Function Complex, as discussed above.
Papanek, Victor J. Design for the Real World. London: Thames and Hudson, 1972. Print.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 2 June 2017
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