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失去功能的设计为何要保留?

更新时间:2017-12-3 12:30:21 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The useless design features in modern products
失去功能的设计为何要保留?

It was 1872 in Reno, Nevada and Jacob Davis was worried. The Latvian-Jewish tailor had previously made mostly functional items, such as wagon covers and horse blankets for the workers on the Central Pacific Railroad. But this had all changed two years earlier after a visit from a woman requesting a new product: strong waist overalls, or work pants in modern English. They were for her husband, who worked as a woodcutter.

1872年,内华达州里诺(Reno)市,雅各布·戴维斯(Jacob Davis)有些烦恼。这名由拉脱维亚移民到美国的犹太裔裁缝此前所制作的大部分都是一些功能性物品,例如为修建中太平洋铁路(Central Pacific Railroad)的工人制作的马车罩和鞍褥。然而就在两年前,一名女顾客的到访改变了一切。这名女士需要一款全新的产品:经久耐穿的工装裤。这些裤子是为她的丈夫定做的,他是一名伐木工人。

Davis purchased bolts of a heavy woven fabric, cotton duck, from a wholesaler. Then he began stitching. The pants were comfortable and loose-fitting, with a number of thoughtful details. He added plenty of pockets, including a little one at the front for stashing your watch. The weaker points were reinforced with copper rivets, the kind he usually used to fasten straps to horse blankets.

戴维斯从一家批发商那里购买了一种厚重的织物——棉帆布,然后开始了缝制。这条裤子舒适宽松,有很多精心设计的细节。他增加了很多口袋,包括一个缝在前面可以将手表装入其中的小袋子。他用铜铆钉加固了裤子上容易松垮的部位,此前他通常用这类铆钉将皮带固定在鞍褥上。

They were a raging success and soon Davis started making them in blue denim, too. His “reinforced jeans” were extraordinarily durable, gradually fading but never breaking. He literally could not make enough of them. He needed a patent, fast.

这件新品成为了当时的爆款,不久戴维斯开始用蓝色牛仔布制作裤子。他的"加固版牛仔裤"非常耐用,虽会逐渐磨损,但绝不会破掉。凭其一己之力,显然已无法满足市场的需求。他需要申请一项专利,越快越好。

He couldn’t afford one on his own, and instead sought help from his wholesaler. Together they received a patent in 1873. The wholesaler's name? Levi Strauss & Co. Today they make around 20 million pairs every year.

由于自身财力不足,于是他转而向他的批发商求助。他们联手于1873年获得了专利,而这个批发商就是大名鼎鼎的李维·史特劳斯(Levi Strauss & Co.)。如今,他们每年生产约2000万条牛仔裤。

But despite this stratospheric success, the garment has barely changed. Jeans of all brands still have antiquated watch pockets, now too small to be useful, while fake copper rivets – a technology made obsolete by modern stitching methods – adorn the seams. Most bizarrely of all, the battered, worn-down look of jeans worn by generations of miners, cowboys, farmers and woodcutters is painstakingly faked before they’ve left the factory.

虽然牛仔裤获得了巨大的成功,但这款服饰几乎经年未变。各种品牌的牛仔裤依然保留着原本用来放手表的口袋,因为太小,如今已无用武之地,同时保留的还有仅作装饰接缝之用的铜铆钉,其实它们并非真正的铆钉,随着现代缝制工艺的出现,那种技术已然过时。

In fact jeans are an example of “skeuomorphism” (pronounced skyoo-o-morf-izm), a concept first invented by archaeologist Henry March in 1890. There are more definitions than you can count, but broadly it refers to the aspects of an object’s design that no longer have a function.

事实上,牛仔裤是1890年由考古学家亨利·马奇(Henry March)最早提出的"拟真设计"概念的一个例子。"拟真设计"的定义繁多,不过广义上而言,指的是一件事物的设计不再具有功能性。

“What’s interesting to me is that there are traces in many objects that can tell us something about where they came from,” says Dan O’Hara, a philosopher of technology from the New College of the Humanities, London. Though they’re often overlooked, these hangovers from the past are ubiquitous.

来自伦敦新人文学院(New College of the Humanities)的技术哲学家丹·奥哈拉(Dan O'Hara)说:"令我感兴趣的是,许多事物都有迹象能够表明它们的起源,"虽然这些特征常常被人忽视,但过去的痕迹无处不在。"

Take suits. Oddly, two and three-buttoned suit jackets across the globe are sold with buttons that can never be fastened. It can be traced back to a very fat British king, Edward VII, who started leaving the lowest button on his suit undone sometime around 1900. In order not to embarrass him, the rest of court started doing it too.

以西装为例。让人匪夷所思的是,全球各地销售的双扣和三扣西服根本无法扣上。然而,其历史可以追溯到爱德华七世(Edward VII),一位身材十分发福的英国国王,他从1900年左右的某个时候开始将自己西服最下面的一颗扣子解开。为了不让国王感到难堪,宫廷中的其他人也效仿他的这一做法。

It’s not like we actively notice many skeuomorphisms  – “We don’t look at jeans and say ooh rivets, cool,” says O’Hara – but they’re added because we’re used to products having a certain look.

对于众多"拟真设计",我们并不会去主动关注——"我们不会盯着牛仔裤然后说,哇喔,这些铆钉真酷,"奥哈拉谈到——之所以添加这些元素,是因为对于那些拥有特定外观的产品我们已经习以为常。

And no object is more guilty of this than the car. For decades, early cars were basically horse-drawn carriages without the horses. They kept their boxy shape, interior layout and just like old times, the power source remained firmly in front. They were even described in terms of their horsepower.

在这一点上,汽车表现得最为突出。几十年里,早期汽车的模样基本上就是没有马拉的马车。它们保持着四四方的外形和内部布局,和之前的马车别无二样,动力系统始终在前部,人们甚至还用"马力"来描述汽车动力。

After a century of evolution they’re been transformed. Their current shape is largely driven by aerodynamics and the needs of the combustion engine, which is bulky and produces a lot of heat. Now as electric cars enter the market, we’re on the cusp of a new revolution. Forward-looking designers are thinking up cars that look futuristic and a little bit alien. In silent, engine-less cars, hoods aren’t really necessary and though artificial sounds are required for safety reasons, engines need not have the roar of gasoline exploding. How about a hum of tweeting birds instead?

经过一个世纪的演变,汽车发生了变化。它们目前的形状很大程度上受空气动力学和内燃发动机需求的驱动,内燃机体积很大,会产生大量热量。如今,随着电动汽车进入市场,我们正处于一场全新革命的风口浪尖。思维前瞻的设计师正在考虑让汽车看上去更有未来感,更加异样。没有发动机的汽车来去无声,发动机罩不再有存在的必要,尽管出于安全考量,需要增加人为的声响,但发动机不必再发出汽油爆发时伴随的轰鸣声。那么换成鸟儿的啾鸣声如何?

But the public like cars to look a certain way. Though electric cars don’t need cooling grilles – batteries don’t get as hot and they’re chilled in a different way – many have them anyway to avoid looking weird. They’re purely aesthetic and often made of rubber. Meanwhile hybrid cars such as the Toyota Prius make artificial sounds to make them sound more like normal combustion engines.

但是,公众喜欢汽车有一种特定的样子。虽然电动汽车不需要冷却格栅——电池不会变得像发动机那样热,并且电池的冷却方式也有所不同——但为了避免看起来古怪,许多电动汽车还是装上了这些格栅。而这纯粹是出于审美的考虑,这些格栅通常由橡胶制成。与此同时,丰田普锐斯(Prius)等混合动力汽车还让人造声响听上去更像常规的内燃发动机。

At its most basic, the concept includes mimesis, or one material masquerading as another. This includes laminate flooring intended to look like the natural wood of the past, retro plastic hair combs dyed to look like tortoiseshell, and resin billiard balls emulating those made of ivory. This form is almost as ancient as civilisation itself.

从最基本的角度来说,这一概念包括模仿,或者用一种材料伪装成另一种材料。这包括看上去像是天然木材的复合地板,染成玳瑁色的复古塑料发梳,以及仿照象牙制成的树脂台球。这一形式几乎和文明本身一样古老。

Over six thousand years ago in the southern Levant, modern Jordan, the Ghassulian people discovered how to work metal. Previously they had constructed tools, such as axes, from stone. Now they started using copper.

六千多年前,在黎凡特(Levant)南部,即当代约旦,迦苏勒人(Ghassulian)发现了加工金属的方法。此前,他们用石头制作斧子等一些工具。此后,他们开始使用铜制作工具。

This new material was much more versatile, since it didn’t have to be painstakingly chipped into shape. It led to a whole range of elaborate inventions, from crowns to ornamental sceptres. But many objects created in this era retained a decidedly stone-age look.

这种新材料用途更广,因为人们不必费力将其切割成形。它催生出了一系列精巧的发明,从皇冠到装饰性的权杖。但在这一时期创造出来的物品,都毫无疑问地保留了石器时代的外观特征。

“It has been true since the beginning of invention that new designs look like the old ones,” says Don Norman, the director of the Design Lab at University of California, San Diego. Then, as today, entirely new materials took a while to catch on. “If it doesn’t look the way I expect it to look, I have no clue what to do with it.”

"不可否认,自从人类开始发明活动以来,新的设计看上去总会很像过去的样子,"加州大学圣地亚哥分校(University of California, San Diego)设计实验室(Design Lab)主任唐·诺曼(Don Norman)指出。过去,全新的材料需要经过一些时日才能够流行起来,如今也不例外。"如果新的东西看起来并不像我所期待的那样,我会感到束手无策。"

But occasionally, copycat design happens almost by accident. In 1949, Frank McNamara was dining with clients at Majors Cabin Grill Steak House, New York. When the bill arrived, he realised that he had left his wallet at home in another suit. There are a lot of rumours about what happened next.

然而,模仿设计的出现有时也是一种偶然。1949年,弗兰克·麦克纳马拉(Frank McNamara)在纽约Majors Cabin Grill Steak House牛排馆与客户一起用餐。看到账单时,他意识到钱包放在了家中另一件西服中。关于接下来发生的事情有很多传言。

Some people say that his wife drive over to deliver some cash, while others insist he signed a note promising to pay the restaurant back – a practice that was unheard of at the time. One source says the dinner itself never actually happened. Regardless of the truth, a year later McNamara returned to the restaurant and paid with a small cardboard card known as the Diners Club Card. This was a landmark step in the development of the credit card – the first multipurpose charge card.

有人说,他的妻子开车给他送来一些现金,另一些人则坚称他签署了一张便条,承诺之后去结账——这在当时是闻所未闻的做法。还有人说,那顿晚餐压根就不存在。不管事实如何,一年之后,麦克纳马拉回到餐厅,用一张叫作"大来卡"(Diners Club Card)的小纸板卡支付了账单。这是信用卡发展历程中的一个里程碑——第一张多用途付款卡。

“I had a look in the archive to the first 2,000 that they made. They’re not the same shape that they are now,” says O’Hara. Instead the cards were rounded at the top two corners. “It’s a really unusual shape. The only other example is a rolodex card.”

"我查看了档案中他们制作的头两千张卡片。它们和现在的形状不同,"奥哈拉说。这些卡片上面的两个角是圆角。"这是一种非常不一样的形状。罗乐德斯卡是另外唯一的例子。"

As readers over a certain age will know, a rolodex is a rotating file device used to store the names and addresses of business contacts. This Linkedin for the pre-digital age involved cardboard cards suspiciously similar to credit cards but stamped down one side and – historically – curved at the edges. Information was hand-written onto the card and then slotted back into the file. “They’re very odd objects, so it’s clear to me that the originals were made from rolodex cards,” says O’Hara.

上了一定年纪的读者会知道,罗乐德斯是一种可以旋转的文件收纳工具,用于存放商务联系人的姓名和地址。这一数字化时代之前的"领英"(Linkedin)有着与信用卡神相似的形状,但是卡片的一边是打孔固定在转轴上的——并且历史上这些卡片的边缘呈曲线状。人们将信息手写在卡片上,然后重新插入文档中。"他们是非常奇异的东西,所以我很清楚,原型来自于罗乐德斯卡,"奥哈拉说。

Eventually the rounded corners were dropped and the cards were cast in plastic. But the dimensions of the card never changed. Today we’re locked into this shape. Every debit and credit card in the world has to resemble a rolodex to fit card machines.

最终,圆角设计被去掉,卡片的材质换成了塑料。但卡片的尺寸从未改变,这一形状一直沿用到今天。世界上的每一张借记卡和信用卡都必须像罗乐德斯卡一样与卡片机相匹配。

Strictly speaking this is “path dependence”, design limited by decisions made in the past. And like its older sister skeuomorphism, there are plenty of examples.

严格意义上讲,这叫"路径依赖",设计限于过去所做的决定。就像它的同门"拟真设计"一样,这样的例子也有很多。

The most famous case is the keyboards of modern computers. The QWERTY layout, the name of which comes from the first six letters on the upper left-hand row, was created by newspaper editor Christopher Latham Sholes in the early 1870s. According to urban legend, the design was intended to make typing slow and awkward. In reality, it made his writers even quicker.

最著名的例子是现代电脑的键盘。QWERTY布局的名称来自于键盘左上角一排的前六个字母,由19世纪70年代初期的报纸出版商克里斯托夫·拉森·肖尔斯(Christopher Latham Sholes)发明。据传,这一设计的初衷是让打字更费劲,更慢一些。但实际上,这让他麾下的作者打字更快了。

At the time typewriters had a major flaw: if you pressed down on two neighbouring characters in quick succession, the whole thing would jam. To overcome this he designed a keyboard where the letters that often follow each other in a sentence, such as “ST”, were placed further apart.

当时的打字机有一个重大缺陷:如果连续快速敲击两个相邻的字符,整个打字机就会堵塞。为了克服这一问题,他设计了一种键盘,把一个句子中经常跟在一起的字母,如"ST",隔开到更远的位置。

Eventually this layout was copied onto other technologies. There’s no longer any mechanical need for it and others such as Dvorak, a simplified keyboard invented by educational psychologist August Dvorak in 1936, require less finger movement and boost typing speed. Yet QWERTY has stuck because that’s what we all learned on.

最终,这种布局被复制到其他技术上。现在已经不存在什么机械上的需要了,而其他类型的键盘,比如由教育心理学家奥古斯特·德沃夏克(August Dvorak)于1936年发明的简化键盘——德沃夏克键盘(Dvorak),需要更少的手指移动,提升了打字速度。然而,QWERTY布局一直保留着,因为这是我们所有人之前都已学会了。

But if there’s one place you really don’t want to mess with established design, it’s thousands of feet above the Earth. Despite the rise of digital technology, the cockpits of the most high-tech airplanes are still laden with analogue dials, levers and knobs. They no longer connect to flying systems directly, instead simply linking to computerised ones. Old-school pilots expected old-school controls, which meant that the next generation learnt on this style too, and so on. The result: the controls of modern aircraft look very similar to those from the 1930s.

然而,如果有那么一个领域,人们确实不想搅动已经定型的设计的话,那么它就是飞机。尽管数字技术早已崛起,但最高尖端的飞机驾驶舱依然到处都是模拟拨号、控制杆和旋钮。它们不与飞行系统直接相联,而只是连接到计算机系统中。老派的飞行员希望继续使用老派的控制系统,这意味着新一代的飞行员也得学习这种风格,诸如此类。结果就是:操控现代飞机看上去和上世纪30年代极其相似。

It’s even happened on our roads. From Roman times until the 1700s, traffic generally kept to the left side of the road. Some experts think this was convenient for travellers on horseback, who could hold the reins with their left hand and keep their right hands free to wave at, or defend themselves from, passing riders on the right.

这样的情况甚至发生在我们的道路上。从罗马时代到十八世纪以前,习惯通常都是靠左行驶。有专家认为,这对马背上的旅行者来说提供了方便,他们可以用左手握住缰绳,这样他们的右手就可以随意挥动,或者对从右面过来的骑乘者进行防卫。

Then the balance of power shifted. In the United States, wagons were increasingly common on the roads. Drawn by up to 20 animals, they were a popular way of transporting goods over long distances – and the men helming these vehicles liked to drive on the right. They’d sit on the rear leftmost horse, so it was easier to make sure oncoming traffic didn’t get too close if it was also on the left.

之后,力量的天平发生了转移。在美国,货车在道路上日益普遍。通常一辆货车由多达20头牲畜拉动,这成为长途货运的一种普遍方式——驾驭这些车辆的车夫喜欢在道路右边行驶。他们会坐在后面最左边的一匹马上,这样对于对面驶来的车辆,如果从左侧经过,他们能够更容易确保彼此不会靠的太近。

There wasn’t any arguing with the momentum of 20 1,000-pound (453kg) horses. Other road traffic quickly got used to driving on the right and the rule stuck. Hundreds of years on, right-side driving is irreversibly embedded in US street design.

对于迎面驶来由20匹重达1000磅(453公斤)的马拉动的货车,不存在任何还价的余地。道路上通行的一切其他车辆很快习惯了靠右行驶的习惯,规则就此确立了下来。数百年来,右侧驾驶已不可逆转地融入到美国的街道设计之中。

There are clues to the past all around us, hidden in designs that are reassuringly familiar. Some may be holding us back – but others are just too nostalgic to mess with. As they say, skeuomorphism is the most sincere form of flattery.

我们所有人的周围都有过去的线索,它们隐藏在一些让人感到舒服而熟悉的设计中。其中一些可能会阻碍我们的进步——但其他那些更多是出于怀旧之情,不会扰乱我们的进步。

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