Analyzing Cameras Part 1

The past weeks we’ve dealt with product design (example chairs) and graphic design (example print media). This time we learned about the historical and technological development of cameras. As usual the students were overwhelmed with an enormous choice of objects to work with:

all cameras

This is how it looked like 🙂

In this first session we only discussed the history and development of the camera (and what this meant for photography). The professor introduced to us how the process of taking pictures technically changed starting with the camera obscura:

camera obscura

This is it: The camera obscura!

I’m not going to describe everything in detail since there is enough technical know-how on the Internet already! But here are some general points to sum up our findings:

  • cameras were initially invented in Europe and developed over time with some great additional inventions in the USA (Kodak, Polaroid) and Japan (Nikon)
  • new chemical processing methods emerged reducing camera size and prices making photography an everyday experience for many
  • analog cameras (including the camera obscura) are still perfectly able to take pictures (provided the mechanics are working and the chemicals and lab equipment are available) whereas digital technology is developing so fast that some cameras have become useless over a time period of  only one decade

Oh, and some spillovers paved the way for nowadays very popular 3D-effect in movies/photos:


Here is one of the earliest stereoscopes ever. The 3D-effect is nonetheless impressive!

Part 2 follows (and then it’s time for the exams for me!!!)

Analyzing Chairs…

…doesn’t sound like art? Probably not, but it sure sounds like (product) design 🙂

Last week in Fine Arts we got a little surprise when we entered the auditorium:

lined up chairs

a bunch of chairs lined up in the lecture hall

The professor enjoyed our puzzled faces for a moment and handed out evaluation-sheets. We were supposed to form small groups and pick a chair to analyze within 20 minutes. My group decided to go for the most inconspicuous model:

SE 68

SE 68

The SE 68 was designed by Egon Eiermann (D) in the 1950’s and is distributed by “Wilde + Spieth” (D) for 270 Euros apiece. I was surprised to find out it’s a designer chair since you can see it in many educational institutes and big halls. It’s nothing fancy!

But let’s sum up the evaluation-sheets:

  • Basic data: Name-SE 68; Object category-furniture/chairs; Function-sitting; Materials-light wood/metal/rubber (bottom of legs); Manufacturer-Wilde+Spieth; Designer-Egon Eiermann; Price-270EUR etc.
  • Form analysis: Main Parts-back rest/seating surface/legs; Color-black/metallic; Surface Character-flexible back rest separated from seating surface/ergonomic design
  • Function: Practical Function (ergonomics, handling)-parts are rounded/tilted (ergonomics); Symbolical Meaning-nope; Overall Effect-harmonious etc.
  • Context: Target Audience-big groups of people (events, educational institutes); Comparison with Competition-relatively unflashy, simple; Communication (marketing strategy)-“This chair is meant for everyone (short/tall, overweight/thin, young/old), who needs to stay seated for a longer period of time, but nevertheless he/she is not able to fully relax (no bolstering) so attention is kept on a high level.” etc.

Most of the information could be gathered by simply observing the chair. For the function-part we just slipped into the role of a random student looking for a place to rest his/her exhausted body (and mind) 😀

After a few groups presented their findings the professor too analyzed some prominent chairs. Now I know chair≠chair!