Sunday, January 27, 2008

Liquid Al

For all my carryings-on about functional beverages, take note of the brand stories in both “Tunguska Event” and yesterday’s “Functional Beveraging.” Next, consider the coincidence that came my way yesterday.

Here’s another. Lauren Rottet curated “Imperative Design” which opened last night at the Barbara Davis Gallery. The most impressive piece in a very good show was the Ross Lovegrove “Liquid Al Bench” you see above – more than 10 feet long, 2 feet high…a brilliantly present example of the industrial designer’s vision and art. (Al in this case means aluminum: It’s a single piece of milled aluminum, polished to a mirror finish.)

What has this bench got to do with advertising and marketing? Because Lovegrove is an industrial designer, he creates objects for companies to sell. But he does it from his own, rigorously disciplined point of view, one he calls “fat-free design.”

Take the time to listen to Lovegrove explain it here and you’ll discover that he articulates the power of organic design eloquently. Credits it as essential to modern creativity: Natural forces take away what they don’t need and deliver maximum beauty.

His life and vision are filled with natural and organic forms (sea shells and elephant skulls). They inform his work all the time. Look again at Liquid Al Bench. It’s more than a cheap seat. It’s a giant dinosaur bone as art. He reveals his growing interest in “single-surface structures and how they flow” in the video I linked above, from February 2005. I am just seeing the real thing now, here in Houston, three years later.

Where this post comes full circle is Lovegrove’s design for the terrific new PET bottle for Ty Nant Spring Water Ltd.

We’re back in brand-land: A water company engaging a world-class designer to create an “impossible to produce” bottle that, in Lovegrove’s words, seems to be utterly insubstantial until you fill it with water. Only then does the bottle itself take on a variety of art forms, depending on the level of the liquid in the container. He’s “put a skin” on water. His design and the production of the bottles is part of the Ty Nant brand story.

It is past proving that great industrial design is critical to great branding, especially on the product side of our business. Lovegrove’s water bottle is a case in point – one you can hold in your hand. More difficult is bringing the concept of design into intangibles (like natural gas) or services (like geoseismic interpretation). But it can be done if you work at it…and great examples are all around us.

What if we asked Lovegrove to design your next website? Besides one hell of an invoice, what do you think he’d deliver?

Liquid Al Bench” photo from Barbara Davis Gallery with thanks. PET bottle photo from Ty Nant.


howard sherman said...


Interesting article. Wish I could see the show. Functional work is something I figured I'd see next door at Peel and not at BD.

Thanks again for coming to my show. Positive reviews are slowly coming in.


Bob Fusillo said...

Are we looking at the bench from the side, from above, or does it matter?

Somewhere on the web is a film about a group that made phony museum signs and posted them on water fountains, phone booths etc in the Modern. One nice spot has two women sitting on a bench -- the men come up to them, point to the sign and ask " Is this art?" The women look and jump up in guilt.