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Influence of the Industrial Engineer

It was inevitable that the profound social, cultural, and scientific changes of the mid-twentieth century would affect furniture design and all other things. But the creation of a truly "new" style of contemporary furniture seems to have been produced under the influence of modern science and artistic aspiration.

Scientific efficiency has become the dominating force in the development of contemporary design. The industrial engineer's insatiable drive to obtain more excellent functional fitness has affected the system of all things, ranging from toothbrushes to skyscrapers. Industrial engineers are dedicated to the proposition that all items can be designed to work better.

One of the industrial engineer's first observations was that functional fitness achievement also produced the purity of design. A conspicuous example of this is the jet transport aircraft. Myriads of miraculous mechanisms, representing the most sophisticated technical advances, are efficiently housed in a sleek metal vehicle of exquisitely sculptured design. Thus purity of purpose and beauty of innovation seems to go hand in hand.

While the engineer's criteria of pure "functionalism" were bound to bring about the design of a new style of furniture, the scientific approach had to be "humanized," at least, to the extent of realizing that furniture is a very personal thing and that it must be designed to meet individual tastes.

For the average person, furniture is a long term investment. It is lived with a year in year out during the buyer's lifetime and often for generations beyond. It becomes part of a person's way of life. We spend approximately one-third of our lives lying in beds and, accumulatively, dozens of years more sitting on chairs and sofas and eating and working at tables and desks.

Thus, since furniture forms such an intimate part of our way of being, its design must reflect our individual needs and tastes and embody sheer scientific functionalism.

Anatomy of Contemporary Furniture By:

John Gerald Shea

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