boat design - art or science?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by albentley, Mar 6, 2007.

  1. albentley
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    albentley Naval Architect

    which one do you think boat design is and why?

    i would say that apart from a few cases boat design is an art in the same the way running a business is an art.

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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    I vote for ART , as a good designer needs to be able to "see" in 3D, and visualize what the boat does to the water.

    The boats that were cranked out of a computer LOOK like the were .

    The computer is GREAT for doing the grunt work , after an ARTIST does the real Art.

  3. Vega
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    Vega Senior Member

    It depends of the definition of Art. Etymologically Art means a very well done thing. Original meaning is still retained in the expression "state of the art".

    Architects are the last descendents of the Humanists, in the sense that in that time, an Artist was also a Scientist and an engineer (Leonardo da Vinci, Durer). Architects are to my knowledge the only ones that still have in their curriculum (while at University) math’s, physics, humanistics, drawing, arts and technologic disciplines. I believe that is not by chance that designers of boats are Naval Architects.
  4. kach22i
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    kach22i Architect

    I'm the land lover type architect, but if Naval Architects face the same thing I do as a "Design Professional" then the "practice" is a business first. The goal of a business is to make money, which in a negative way means charging the most you can get while providing the least amount of service for that money so you can go on to the next project and the next fee.

    Keeping the business side of things out of the discussion will be difficult as we all live in the real world.

    I like what Vega has had to say, wish I was not so bitter at the moment..........darn deadlines.
  5. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    I've never found a really great functional design that wasn't beautiful. I do find many if not most modern production fiberglass power boats ugly, but then if they were photographed upside down, my feelings might change.
    All of the nonsense shapes above are now out of sight. The beauty has ended at the waterline. That's all.
    The artist might aspire to make the rest of the boat as functional as the bottom shape.
    In functional art, as in music, geometric laws apply. Discord is not a personal preference, but a real structural disintegrity and so "taste" has more to do with a person's recognition of geometric integrity than any bias.
    It seems much of modern boat design brashly attempts to deny the very consciousness of whole meaning (which is expressed in undeniable geometric integrity), ending up with an expression of modern man's erroneous assumption that science is opposite art.
    The two are the same. Even my dog can tell good music from bad, and I'd guess she finds certain boat designs more pleasing than others for the same reasons.
    Just my two cents.

  6. albentley
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    albentley Naval Architect

    what about the idea that many years ago it was an art- but as the physics behind all the hydrodynamics etc has become better understood its turned into more of science. also similar to buildings there are ever increasing regulations which can limit the possibilities of a design. eg lloyds ABS etc

    i have studied both architecture and naval architecture and definitly from a university curriculum point of view they are completely different. naval architecture is essentially engineering whereas architects spend the first year practically doing an art course!

    i'm not sure if any of you have seen the ghost ship which is labeled as a public art project, i feel this is obviously an exception to a normal ship but still interesting!

  7. Leo Lazauskas
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    Leo Lazauskas Senior Member

    I think that ship hydrodynamics and memetic algorithms are far more beautiful than actual ships.
  8. SailDesign
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    SailDesign Old Phart! Stay upwind..

    I'll go for an "Artistic Science"
    And FastFred - I'll be talking to you later...
  9. RatliffFranklin

    RatliffFranklin Previous Member

    It's not a binary world

    Your question assumes it's an either/or situation.

    A better question would be "Is boat design a scientific art or an artistic science?"
  10. RatliffFranklin

    RatliffFranklin Previous Member

    Da Vinci

    I once saw a documentary where it was suggested engineers and scientists rather than art historians should be the ones examining the approximately 30,000 pages of surviving Da Vinci notes and drawings.

    Just because something looks like art doesn't mean it's not science.

    On the other hand, simply because something is science doesn't mean it can't have a sense of style.
  11. Tim B
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    Tim B Senior Member

    Da Vinci was a polymath, but predominantly an engineer. Give an artist Da Vinci's work on aeroplanes and they'll not make head nor tail of it. Show the same to an engineer and he will stand in awe. The same goes for Da Vinci's explanation of valves in the heart and many other examples.

    Getting back to the original subject, Boat design is a science, but it's a misconception that in a science there is only one right answer.

    As an aside: The word "science" comes from the Latin infinitive "scire", meaning to know. And more directly, "sciens", the present active participle of the verb [scire], the direct translation being "currently knowing". Interestingly, the direct translation of "Science" (as we understand the word) raises both "scientia" and "ars". Re-translation of "scientia" returns "knowledge, science, skill" and re-translation of "ars" returns "strategem, skill method, science, technique, art, conduct, character, craft". It is thus fair to conclude that, just from the language, the romans described "art" as a general ability, and "science" as a particular knowledge or skill.

    Interesting stuff, linguistics,

    Tim B.
    1 person likes this.
  12. RatliffFranklin

    RatliffFranklin Previous Member



  13. bhnautika
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    bhnautika Senior Member

    For me its always been both, science is the frame or skeleton that the art puts flesh on. I find design is about problem solving in an artistic way and that the two must move together and not get to far apart.
  14. tri - star
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    tri - star Junior Member

    If the N. A. Herreshoff museum in the US East coast is still open, you will
    find an answer. There I found one for myself.
    As it's easy to understand why his boats won so many races - when you see
    them close up. Every line and shape having a purpose - and flowing in
    harmony with each other.
    Went I was there at America Cup time - it was like visiting the Sistine Chapel !
    Herreshoff truly intregated eng. and art.

    The rest of the story is also instructive:
    His brother was a very effective businessman.
    I don't think the firm kept their clients very long after the brother passed on.
    Which indicates, that there is a gulf between art/science and business, that
    is hard for one man to bridge.

    Cheers !
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2007

  15. Raggi_Thor
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    Raggi_Thor Nav.arch/Designer/Builder

    It's an interesting topic, design of real objects has to be both art and science or engineering. During the last 50 years architects (in Norway, on land, buildings) have lost a lot of control/power/influence because they have chosen to let engineers do the less artistic work like heat & ventilation, dimensioning, project management etc. Now I think some of them (the architects) regret, because they have lost the freedom to create ¨what they want. SO, to be an artist in yacht design, you need to know your engineering, or you will become a stylist or interior decorator.
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