Prompt #1
Janice Pang

Victor Papanek describes how six parts make up the function complex: method, use, need, toeless, association, and aesthetics.

After reading Papanek’s explanation of the six aspects of the function complex, I decided to analyze an IKEA desk I have in my bedroom and see if it successfully or unsuccessfully follows the function complex. I critiqued the desk design to see if it fell into all six parts of the function complex — method, use, need, telesis, association, and aesthetics.

  1. Method: Papanek described how method include the honest use of tools, materials and processes. I believe the IKEA desk does not use materials honestly because the top of the desk is meant to look like solid stained wood, however it is really made out of inexpensive fiberboard. Therefore I have to rule out method.
  2. Use: Papanek explained how use can be meant as use as a tool, use as communication, and even use as a symbol. A desk is definitely a useful tool because it has a large flat space that can be utilized. It also can be a symbol. Papanek explained how a car transformed from a tool to a status symbol in the 1940s. I won’t go as far to say that a desk is a status symbol, but I think it is a symbol of work or a. A desk can communicate an area that is designated for some type of work and/or production. When seeing a desk in a room, I connect the desk to an area meant to be a workplace or work station.
  3. Need: Papanek says we have needs for survival, identity, and goal formation. As a college student, I need a desk to be productive and get work done. I can’t do homework while standing up and it’d be difficult to type a research paper while laying in bed because I would eventually sink down into my giant pillows and fall asleep. Thus a desk is essential for me to complete my goals of studying, completing assignments, and graduating college.
  4. Telesis: I’m a little unsure if a desk falls into this part. The Random House Dictionary described telesis as “the deliberate, purposeful utilization of the processes of nature and society to obtain certain goals.” This IKEA desk does not visually look like anything found in nature, nor is it made out of anything purely natural. There isn’t anything natural about this desk.
  5. Association: I think there is a universal association to a desk. Desks are common in many cultures. Desks are common furniture for workstations. You can find desks all over in offices, schools, and in houses.
  6. Aesthetics: Papanek describes aesthetics as”personal expression fraught with mystery.” In my opinion, I love the appearance of this piece of furniture. It is simple, has sleek chrome legs, and a dark brown black tabletop. Personally I like the look of clean, simple, and modern furniture. This desk is something I would like to have in my room.

With that being said….Even though the IKEA desk doesn’t follow all six parts of Papanek’s function complex, it successfully follows a majority of the parts.

Bonus: What did you learn about your partner through their ideal backpack?

I learned that my partner is always on the go and would like a backpack that could adapt to this lifestyle. My partner’s ideal backpack would have adjustable straps/buckles that can expand the bag if there is a lot of stuff in it, or compress the sides of the bag if there is only a few things inside it. My partner also wanted a detachable compartment that could hold food, so food wouldn’t get smashed in the main compartment of the backpack.

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