About this talk

Running time: 29 minutes

Niels Diffrient (who died in 2013), like his compatriot Charles Eames grew up in the American Mid-West and trained as an architect and designer at Cranbrook Academy in the 1940s. Thereafter, he worked for five years with Eero Saarinen (see Wright Started It, Corbu Gave It Form, Mies Added Control), a year each with W.B. Ford and Marco Zanuso, and twenty-five years with Henry Dreyfuss Associates, being involved in designing an enormous range of things, from heavy to light industry, to interiors, furniture, objects, graphics, etc. After 1981 he was in private practice in Connecticut, and concentrated on furniture.

He lectured and taught all over the USA and in Canada and England; he authored several books and many articles on design and human engineering; he chaired design seminars in many countries; he has a long list of awards to his name; and his work was published worldwide.

In this talk, he explains the constraints surrounding design for mass-production: the high cost of tooling and manufacturing and the many consultants involved. For him a product must first and foremost be functional, with performance evaluated in human terms. He prides himself that his first level of accomplishment is performance, from which derives much of the aesthetics of his designs. We are shown a number of these designs and learn of the enormous amount of time, testing and revisions involved from first sketch to final product.

Please note that a transcript of this talk is available - please contact us for further details.

Niels Diffrient


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