Pages: 60 - 61
Accident Prevention and Life Saving
editor John H. Hunt, E. & S. LivingstoneLtd. £1 15s
In May 1963, a convention was held at the Royal College of Surgeons of England of all those interested in the prevention of accidents and in life saving. The previous year a working party had been set up by the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons to study the whole problem of accidents, and this working party organised the convention. The papers are gathered together in this volume. It is a remarkable collection.
It is difficult for a designer to know of all the hazards that may be present in the environment where his product is to be used. Some are self evident-for instance, the danger of an electric fire setting a child's nightdress alight. But the full danger may not have been realised nor all the consequences of an accident. Here, in this volume, are the statistics; and here also are listed the problems of the surgeons who have to attempt to repair the damage.
The working party concentrated to a degree on preventing accidents to young people. Here the benefits of training are likely to be greatest. The toddler must be taught to come downstairs by himself providing gates is not enough. Theyoung motor-cyclist must be trained to use his machine intelligently, the young person must be encouraged to partake in vigorous and exciting sports without maiming himself or exposing his rescuers to avoidable danger. Training the elderly is, of course, more difficult- especially in the home, where so many of them hurt, and indeed kill, themselves unnecessarily. Even in this volume there are gaps in the information, for home accidents are not notifiable and so the full extent of the problem is not known on a national scale - although some excellent local surveys have been carried out.
Standards can be a valuable aid to indicating the minimum levels of performance required for a certain product. The designer or the architect can produce an article or building which more than satisfies the requirements of a particular standard. But this alone will not ensure safety. The final product has to be used intelligently if safety is to be preserved. The high incidence of poisoning among children around the age of three years might be diminished by better packaging of drugs and also by making a distinction in the shapes of medicines and sweets. They frequently look very similar, so that the child can often be induced to take medicines. Too often they take the medicines for themselves believing them to be sweets.
Motor cycles are, of course, one of the most dangerous instruments that may come into the hands of the young. Those who have ridden them know that, in the right circumstances, they are the most enjoyable of vehicles to drive. But between the ages of 15 and 24, motor cycles contribute more to causes of death by violence than any other cause - nearly half the total. Dr P. W. Bothwell of the M.R.C. suggests that better design of the machines could reduce the toll, that non-locking brakes could assist, as could high hysteresis tyres. Unfortunately the reviewer has noticed that when any new development in safety appears - high hysteresis rubber tyres, sealed beam allglass headlamps, flashing turn indicators and the like - it is the motor cyclist who is at the end of the line. The new developments do not reach him until the more profitable car market has been satisfied.
Every designer should have this volume on his bookshelf whatever the type of product he is concerned with. There is a good index and useful set of references from which to start any research into the literature.
J. B. Davey
Eye for Colour
Bernat Klein, Collins, £1 16s Bernat Klein is one of a select band of men who have come from Central Europe to live in Britain and enrich our textile scene, and this book is autobiographical so far as his work and theories of textile design are concerned. He is a man who owns to a visual obsession with colour, and those people who are familiar with the productions of his textile mill will know how successfully this obsession has been turned into fabrics of great popular appeal.
The book is intended for the general reader. However, it has much to offer the trained textile designer- not only as a background to a man who has achieved success in this field, but also as a new look at the industry by a fresh eye to which certain basic faults stand out clearly.
A short historical survey of colour leads to the conclusion that Turner and the impressionists liberated colour from its traditional strait jacket. Painters are the true trail blazers. Seurat and Klee are major influences on Klein, who is now himself a painter. Many of the coloured illustrations in the book are there to show how his work and his spare time painting pursue the same end of expressing his reactions to colour. His particular theory on the personal use of colour uses an elaborate breakdown of eye colour as the key to success in clothes for almost every individual; and this makes for the attainment of good taste, as opposed to being merely fashionable.
Klein's approach is not one which could be followed easily by a large firm. By putting his theories into practice, he occupies a gap in the field of textile design which ought not to have existed.
Colour Order and Harmony
Paul Renner, Studio Vista, £1 15s
This is a short book, not expensive, very well translated from the German by Alexander Nesbitt of Rhode Island School of Design.
Most books on colour design include a chapter or two on the spectrum and the eye with no other purpose, one suspects, than to make the book fatter and show that the author at least recognises the existence of colour science, even if its usefulness escapes him. Sure enough, Renner brings in colour physics and physiology- but he does so with a purpose.
Renner begins by stating five meanings of colour, and uses his insight into colour science to help make the different meanings clear. He is concerned all the way through to encourage the reader to use his own eyes and his own mind, and in the process puts colour science into proper perspective. He favours Goethe, himself a highly astute observer of the world as seen, and has no patience with Ostwald because of the latter's tendency to call "real" what fitted his theory, and "unreal" what was actually seen with the eyes. For instance, when Ostwald mixed pure dark blue with white on a spinning disc, the resulting light blue appeared reddish. This effect Ostwald dismissed as "apparent", asserting that "in reality" the dark blue had only become "lighter" since there was no red ingredient in the mixture. To drive his criticism of blind theory home, Renner quotes Max Liebermann's remark, "Only the illusion does not deceive".
Even Goethe comes in for knocks for not understanding wavelength theory - "We must accustom ourselves to the idea that every genius is not only more intelligent than the ordinary person, but at least in one respect usually uncommonly unintelligent". Renner in mind Goethe's criticism of Newton's spectrum theory, but modern demonstrations by Wilson and Brocklebank of the Boethean Science Foundation, Stourbridge, suggest that Goethe's blind spot was not in this particular direction.
What about Renner's title and main thesis - colour order and harmony ? His colour order coincides with Munsell order, though his names for the three parameters of colour (as translated) are colour direction, value and purity (instead of Munsell's hue, value and chroma); in ordinary language both would be hue, lightness or darkness, and strength of colour as seen.
His harmony is based on the familiar "variety within unity"; in other words, play upon contrasts in one or two colour parameters while holding the others constant.
To your reviewer, looking and hoping for an unforeseen breakthrough in this controversial subject, the old formula is disappointing. What about relative areas, shapes and textures ? Colour, as Renner himself stresses, belongs mostly to things, and appears in many different contexts. To try to extract colour itself and give it relationships all its own called "harmonious" is perhaps to depart from the very reality that the author is at pains to preserve. Rudolf Arnheim, in his monumental book Art and Visual Perception, carefully considers and then rejects the possibility of a watertight system for harmony. The subject remains fascinating and will continue, no doubt, to act as a challenge. This is a delightfully expressed and highly enlightening little book, worth the time of anyone genuinely interested in colour.
H. L. Gloag
Contemporary Lighting 1965
NV Philips Gloeilampenfabrieken (Eindhoven, Netherlands)
Contemporary Lighting 1965 maintains the high standard of previous editions of what has now become an annual publication of the Lighting Division of Philips of Eindhoven. The book comprises an 18-page introductory article by Joh Jansen, head of Philips International Lighting Service Bureau, followed by 282 pages of illustrations and descriptions of lighting installations. Jansen's article is a reprint of an address he gave to the Illuminating Engineering Society of Japan in 1964, and most of the material that follows has been published previously in Philips' excellent monthly journal International Lighting Review.
Jansen's article provides, however, an excellent survey of current ideas on lighting theory and practice, which should be comprehensible to the technically minded layman, while still of value to the architect or designer. Similarly, there is a lot to be said for gathering together in one volume (especially when layout and production are of such a high standard as in this publication) a wide variety of interior and exterior lighting schemes.
The interiors section alone comprises 39 installations, each amply described in texts that include, in many instances, the reasons behind the lighting decisions, as well as giving relevant background information about the building itself and the activities carried out within it. Photographs (some in full colour) are complemented by plans and sections; and taken as a whole this section of the book provides a better review of good current practice in interior design (as well as interior lighting) than many books devoted specifically to this subject.
All the installations are ones carried by branches of the Philips organisation throughout the world, for the book is published as an enlightened form of publicity. But there is no 'hard sell', and the coverage is extremely wideranging, for example, from an academy of music in Madras to the autopsy room of a hospital in Cologne. The exterior lighting section is perhaps less directly of value to most readers of DESIGN, consisting as it does mainly of street lighting installations, but it includes some projects that most industrial designers will find of interest, such as petrol filling stations in Malaya, or illuminated signs for a shopping centre in Copenhagen, and lighting for a carnival in Rio de Janeiro.
The last, brief section of the book comprises a selection of schemes entered for the Philips contest, My Most Interesting Lighting Project. Subjects include the use of ultraviolet lamps for display lighting, and of infra - red lamps for the combined heating and lighting of a cafe terrace. Throughout the book the standard of illustrations, layout and printing matches that which has earned the International Lighting Review its very high reputation among trade and technical journals; only the sub-editing falls short, from time to time, of the standard of the book as a whole, and one's only real complaint is of the editors' failure to give the names of the architects and interior designers of the many buildings they describe.
Farm Buildings: vol 1 - Techniques/design/profit
John B. Weller, Crosby Lockwood & Son Ltd. £2 15s
The sub-title of this book, Techniques/ Design/Profit, gives a clue to Mr Weller's professional and practical attitude to his subject; the first paragraph of his introduction reveals his dilemma. "The design of farm buildings is a controversial subject. . . confused by conflicting opinions and evidence". This emphasises the urgent need for precise information on the requirements for farm buildings, so that design and manufacture can be realistic and reliable. Mr Weller's book is packed with valuable information of this kind, relating to function, mechanical handling and specialised buildings.
He starts from the premise that every farm building forms part of an investment, and his constant concern is to relate the building to the profitability of the enterprise. He rightly argues that a well designed building can improve the conversion rate of the stock housed in it. On this aspect he frequently quotes the published reports of the ColD's Farm Buildings Advisory Panel, which stressed the importance of each building being capable of carrying out a function precisely rather than approximately. Mr Weller accepts the trend towards specialisation, but he also suggests that at present each farm operation is insufficiently defined; this leads to a confused approach to the design of the buildings. This book helps to define each activity.
A large part of the book is devoted to the relationship between buildings and mechanical handling, and to the essential data required in order to plan different kinds of specialised buildings, supported by diagrams and tables.
Mr Weller does not balk the problem of the appearance of farm buildings; nor does he suggest that it is at all satisfactory, but this may merely be a reflection of the uncertainty about modern farming methods. He writes, "It is the present clumsy detailing, enforced by the lack of established requirements, which makes it appear that the majority of farmers are insensitive to the environment they create".
J. N. W.