Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Shiny objects of desire

Bling bling.

I was digging through my boxes with bike parts for the upcoming swap meet this weekend and found this little gem. It's an Italian Campagnolo C-Record rear derailleur (gear changer) from the 80's. Top of the line at that time and has a nice sculptural, pseudo-aerodynamic shape.
Of course this shape doesn't help the aerodynamics for the whole bike and rider in any significant way and only adds weight, but it is very nice to behold.

The cranks from the same C-Record group share the same "visual design over function" design ideal. Sleek, shiny but with a too small cross section which makes them flexy (even for me). One part of the group that I don't have is the delta brakes, much criticized for, among other things, the reduced leverage when the brakepads wear (If I recall it right). But of course they are gorgeous! :)

Delta brakes, makes you fly down the hills! ;)

Campagnolo came to their senses a few years later and produced more sensible bike parts, but I would say this "visual design over function" is very common, even rampant in the area of "designed" stuff today.

Porsche knives, Alessi citrus presses etc. Nice to look at but usually way overpriced compared to their function. Why can't things be beautiful AND work? Or maybe the intended function of them is to sit on a shelf and look nice?

I think I'll keep the C-record stuff I have though, if only as "bike jewelry".

Listening to while posting: Birdies and diesel engines.


EH said...

These bicycle items are good examples of nice design, I like the soft shapes. Too bad they didn´t work.

This reminds me of my beautiful but not so useful chicken scissor, that only works well with roasted chicken, not fresh.

LS said...

Good design should be practical and nice to look at, otherwise it is impractical design. Examples of impractical design - highheeled shoes (especially stiletto), toasters that you have to remove the bread yourself and that catches fire easily, impossible to reach filter exchange units, and that I can't leave the key in my car and open the door without it saying DING-DING-DING.

O.K., I think you might have been a magpie (skata) in some previous life, considering how much you like shiny objects. They steal jewelry and spoons and put them in their nests, but I am not accusing you of that. Italian design I think is known for beauty and impracticality... do you agree PP? How about Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, espresso machines, Colosseum? There are exceptions, like ravioli, which is both beautiful and practical.

EH said...

About italian design I found this qoute on a webpage for Zanette.

"Italian design is all about being essential, stylish and elegant …" , it says nothing about practical. I wonder what the Swedish design is all about, any suggestions?

I would say it has to do with good craftsmanship, furniture with multiple functions and light colors.

PP said...

I really should comment about this...but I am too talked/thought out about design these days.

Ravioli, now that's design!

I have an old post about this very thing...near when the blog first started.

Most products for general consumer use are shockingly poor. Many new products that are "well designed" all look alike. Individuality is becoming rarer.

Uh oh, I better stop.

O.K. said...

"Too bad they didn´t work."

Well, they did work well enough to win world class races back then, it's just that they don't work as well as they could have if the design goals had been different.

O.K. said...

"I think you might have been a magpie (skata) in some previous life, considering how much you like shiny objects."

Oversimplifying, aren't we? ;) The headline of the post was not without irony.

Maybe I should post more about rust and decay to compensate...