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Light is one of the vital resources on this planet. According to Kort (2015), it is a crucial element of a social-spatial context because it largely determines human and social behaviors. Since antiquity, people have developed multiple ways to control various light sources, and with changes in those inventions, the design of distinct light carriers has evolved. Nowadays, each person utilizes different types of lamps on a daily basis. Almost every home and workplace is equipped with desk lamps that are used to increase visibility during some activities.
Ideally, a desk lamp design affords a proper balance between aesthetic appeal and utility to fit in the environment well and ensure pleasurable user experience. To demonstrate the importance of such a balance during the design process, the analysis of FORSÅ lamp will be conducted in this paper. The evaluation of the lamp’s features and overall product constraints will allow understanding if its design is successful.
My first encounter with FORSÅ lamp was a result a purposeful search for a high-quality functional lighting piece. I found it online on the IKEA website and, after going through a brief description of product properties and a selection of photographs, an easy decision to purchase it was made. Nowadays, I use this lamp as the major source of light during work, reading, studying, and many other activities.
FORSÅ has a steel corpus that is composite of all traditional lamp elements. A massive, round stand holds the structure and balances its weight, so it does not shake or slide from a designated place on the table. The arm is constructed of two rods attached with screws. Due to this, the lamp is highly flexible, whereas a set of metallic springs allows keeping any of its possible forms steady. A rounded head can be bent and rotated as well with the help of a 3-inch, thin handle located at the lamp’s neck. Lastly, black wire with a switch stretches out from the bottom. It ranges internally through the entire structure up to the head and appears on the surface along the flexures but still organically fits in the overall design and does not draw much attention.
Just like any other everyday appliance, FORSÅ has physical, semantic, cultural, and logical constraints. They include environmental factors and particular features of an object that determine its affordance or “action possibilities” (Fuente, Gustafson, Twomey, & Bix, 2014, p. 158). Norman (2013) observes that physical constraints “rely upon properties of the physical world for their operation” and, in this way, define how an object functions and how it can be used (p. 125).
For instance, FORSÅ has a standard opening for an E14 bulb, which not only limits the choice of bulbs suitable for the product but also reduces the chance for error while screwing them in because this operation is defined by the existing standard. Similarly, every user who ever had an experience of connecting any device to the mains by using a plug will know how to make the lamp work. Therefore, physical constraints do not reduce discoverability of FORSÅ’s functions, but they largely depend on individuals’ prior experiences.
Previously accumulated social knowledge also help perceive how everyday appliances are normally utilized. In general, cultural constraints determine a standard appearance for all desk lamps and, for this reason, FORSÅ has a conventional form that matches its intended use. By simply looking at the product, a user will subconsciously read its semantics and will then choose to place it on a desk rather than try to hang it on a wall because the latter decision would be considered irrational within the cultural context. At last, speaking of logical constraints, some design elements in the item dictate how it must be used.
For instance, a user would want to hold the handle located nearby the lamp’s head to direct its movement feasibly. There is no indication that this feature is specifically intended to facilitate users’ interactions with the product, yet the understanding of the designer’s idea is still logically accessible.
The right balance between aesthetics and functionality is an intrinsic quality of successful, human-centered design, and it is possible to say that FORSÅ’s design is successful. First, it is in accordance with the principle of visibility, which suggests that the usability of an object increases when potential actions and consequent outcomes of actions are clearly perceived in the design (Fuente et al., 2014). Physical and cultural/semantic dimensions of the FORSÅ’s design indicate how it must be used and what its purposes are. It is not overloaded with overly complex functional features that could complicate the discoverability.
As for aesthetics, it falls under the category of minimalism, which is appealing to a specific group of consumers who like classical and modest styles. It shows that the designers considered all possible interests and needs of the targeted group. Notably, Norman (2013) states that besides usability, the total product experience should include pleasure. For me, the interaction with FORSÅ is highly pleasurable because of the organic simplicity and a perfect balance between functionality and a slick appearance.
Design defines how users understand various meanings associated with products. Optimal product designs always inspire easy comprehension of potential uses and functions. Moreover, they have an aesthetic appeal that does not overweigh an item’s usability. The example of FORSÅ lamp demonstrates what a successful design of an everyday appliance may be. The product was developed considering human needs, interests, and the ability to elicit its purposes. Moreover, minimal cognitive efforts are required to identify FORSÅ’s functions. Such a result is achieved through the right balancing of perceptual information. This factor is important to minimize negative experiences and maximize positive emotions during product interaction.
Fuente, J., Gustafson, S., Twomey, C., & Bix, L. (2015). An affordance-based methodology for package design. Packaging Technology and Science, 28(2), 157-171.
Kord, Y. A. W. (2015). Light on and in context. Web.
Norman, D. (2013). The design of everyday things. New York, NY: Basic Books.