Hertzian Tales

Date: December 7, 2017
Category Text
Topic Aesthetic Experience
Author Anthony Dunne

In Hertzian Tales by Anthony Dunne he explores aesthetics and how we interact with electronic objects. His discussions have helped me to detach from the Human Factors design world and to see the intersection between art, electronics, and design.


He begins by laying out the machine ages.

1st → Heroic – Cars, planes, speed

2nd → Small Machines – washing machine, vacuum, mixer

3rd → Electronic Devices – Computers & Telecommunications.

He makes the point that the first and second machine ages were about extending our musculature while the third is about extending our minds.

“The most difficult challenge for designers of electronic products/objects now lie not in technical or semiotic functionality, but in the realms of metaphysics, poetry, and aesthetics, where little research has been carried out” – Dunne

Design is a strategy for linking imagination and reality

User friendliness helps to normalize electronic object and the values that they embody

Design should focus on the interaction between the portrayed reality of alternative scenarios and the everyday reality in which they are encountered.

→ It should arouse the public to desire a “better world”

Conceptual design → Not meant for the marketplace, but instead its goal is to challenge conceptions about how electronic products shape our lives.

“The challenge is to blur the real and the fictional, so that the visionary becomes more real and the real is just seen as one limited possibility.” – Dunne

Models are real experiences of ideas rather than unreal experiences of unrealized products

→ These ideas are experienced through books and exhibitions – not through the marketplace

Practitioners to follow up on

Becker → “To be effective, art must exert the capacity for estrangement.”

Hubert → Models lie on the space between representation and actuality

Guilio Ceppi → Industrial design has never aimed to produce products that inspire wonder

Peter Weibel → Intelligent Ambiance – distributing a machine’s intelligence throughout a room (AR/VR)