The choice of products name is not taken at a drop of hat. A name has many reasons and many purposes to fulfill. It represents a designer’s confession–in a way. Through it, designers can reveal their promotional intents or make their ‘captatio benevolentiae’ towards the users or even distinguish the role of their machines.
Some names got remembered for many years because of their conscious and unconscious success. With reference to this we can quote ‘Vespa’. The vespa manufacturer opt for this name due to technical reasons and that turned out to be a long-lived good choice. Soon after Wold war II the per capita income was so low not permit people to buy a comfortable 4 wheels vehicle. Being the society so pour, they launched an aggressive job transportation-instrument using the name of a pretty unpopular and not very well liked insect.
How about the idea of using animals names?
Nature has always helped inventors, engineers, architects and precisely designers. But above all animals have been playing a key role as being reference models. Until the Cristian belief spreading, the observation and the direct interaction between man and animals led , as a matter of fact, to the concept of ‘mimesis’. ‘Mimesis’ is one of the design principals underlying two more of them : ‘Biomimetics’ and ‘Concinnitas‘. Although the sophisticated sound, those are quite easy and every-day design related topics. Without deepening to much, “concinnitas” implies the harmony and the agreement among shapes, come out of the discovery of nature structural rules. Biomimetics stands for the study and development of design products miming formation, function, or structure of biologically produced substances and materials and biological mechanisms and processes. Confused? Check this thesis to have a better idea about it : http://edgarfoti.wix.com/edgarfotidesign#!biomimicry/c3c1.
Going back to the topic, animals influenced shapes and names of many famous design products much that a taxonomy of animal-named designs has been created in occasion of the 2002 “Animal House” exhibition: Terrestrial, flying, aquatic and playful-fantastic animals.
(Here the link for the exhibition pictures: http://www.triennale.org/it/mostre/passate/303-animal-house#.VX28K0vEofE .)
The book based on the exhibition ‘Animal House, quando gli oggetti hanno forme e nomi di animali, curated by Silvana Annichiarico’ provide us some detailed successful examples.
- In 1963 Fiat launched ‘500-Topolino’ and in less than twenty years over 500.000 copies were produced. The nick name derived from the mudguards headlamps which resembles a mice.
- In 1967 Siemens produces the Richard Sapper designed “Grillo” telephone. The ancestor of handys got its shape from the cricket insect.
- In 1991 pigs become the poufs protagonist tanks to Anna Castelli Ferrieri creativity. In this case the reference influencing the name “Piggy” is quite obvious.
- For the ‘Aquatic animals’ it worth quoting ’16 pesci’ the Enzo Mari, a game composed by 16 fishes shapes, designed to suggest children the different fishing species.
- Along side that, the 1968 ‘Medusa Lamp’ by Olaf Von Bohr deserve a mention. In fact, the object take benefit out of the morphological characteristic of medusas.
- From the depths of the sea to the sky we can recall two lamps. The first is ‘Pipistrello’ by the recently deceased designer Gae Aulenti and the second is ‘Papero’ by Cini Boeri. The last project used, next to mimesis, nostalgia and irony to be developed.
And last but not list we land to the playful-fantastic examples.
- In 1967 Flos produce a lamp, ‘Snoopy’, designed by Achille Castiglioni picking precisely Snoopy as reference icon. The instability of the comic’s character is reflected in the apparently precariously balanced shape.
- ‘Bibbip’ is lamp inspired by the same named ‘Warner Bros’ character realized in 1976 by Achille Castiglioni. This product stole the two-footed bird’s hight, its understated look and its seriality roles.
Surely, there are more examples but this short list can give an idea of the animals relevance on design names choice. As you can notice the list does not include very recent objects. During the last years the name got more conceptual or, so to speak, even technology related. Actually many webpages would help company and designers on this process by suggest a rule selection.
(Here an example:http://www.fastcompany.com/1819418/8-principles-product-naming.)
But anonymous design knows is stuff too. In 2014 an exhibition celebrated the anonymous 1000 objects that would be otherwise overlooked.
Art usually gets the privilege not to name creations. It can be that artists refuse to use name as confessions of their aims or as a way to convince the audience of the value or their art pieces. Therefore, taking the freedom of quoting Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliette’ , “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.”
And what about you, designers out there? Do you give a key role to your creations’ names? Would you ever use earth’s creatures as your first choice?
‘Animal House, Quando gli oggetti hanno forme e nomi di animali‘ collezione permanente del design italiano; 2002, La Triennale di Milano