Striking a Balance in Design.

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by tom kane, May 8, 2011.

  1. tom kane
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    tom kane Senior Member

    Striking a balance between aesthetics and practical efficiency must give some designers a real head ache. Many of the design features which we perceive to be attractive and desirable (as in a shearline) are usualy not put there for appearances but are realy necessary for structural and practical strength and,in the case of the shearline also preventing a sail boat from floating upside down.
     
  2. cthippo
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    cthippo Senior Member

    It's been my observation that the two share some commonality though. Ugly boats generally don't sail well, though of course each person's idea of ugly is different.
     
  3. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Most of Bolger's box boats sail well so apparently ugly does fair reasonably well. Aesthetics and practical efficiency don't often collide Tom. Though a reversed sheer makes more practical sense, offers, more internal height at midship, lowers the windage at the bow, offers more hiking room, before wet butt syndrome appears, etc., you just don't see it much because of accepted conventions. I wouldn't consider this a conflict with aesthetics and efficiency, but just mass acceptance.

    A canard aircraft design has many positive things to recommend it. This has been repeatedly proven, yet attempting to market canard design have resulted in repeated failures, Northrop's Starship for example. People just couldn't bring themselves to purchase a elevator forward design. The design was superior in most every regard, yet only a couple dozen got built before the model died.

    Conventions and aesthetics don't affect efficiency too much in most cases, but can hold us back from evolution. The multi hull was put on the back burner for nearly a century, in this country, because of the embarrassing Nat Herreshoff put on some influential yacht owners in the late 18th century, but other wise I think form follows function, in most cases and style is tossed in to make things palatable.
     
  4. Poida
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    Poida Senior Member

    As long as you remember the principle, "the customer is always right."
     
  5. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I always assume the customer is rarely right, an usually convince them to do it properly, my way or that maybe they need to take it some place else, where they can have it done how ever they like. The customer comes to a professional because they are unwilling or unable to preform the tasks themselves. In my shop, they are educated to the way I do things and why. I'm not over the top and am happy to show my rational, but if they insist, I have no problem letting a "problem child" leave. I've lost very little business with this general mind set, but then again I've developed it from having clients from hell, trying to dictate how they want things done. There's nothing worse then having a client that insists on things that aren't proper or sound. I've dealt with them before and now find the best course, is to carefully explain how and why I do things the way I do and if they don't like it, they can find some smuck to cobble together their project elsewhere.
     
  6. tom kane
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    tom kane Senior Member

    striking a balance in design

    I have not carried out that policy myself and have never been in the position that makes me accept that my customer is right. If I had done what the customer insisted on, many times the job would have turned into a mess for everyone. I have had to accept many times what contractors thought was the best and what they were comfortable with and I accepted that if I could see no real problems.

    There seems to be no end as to how a boat can be built and to any design.
     
  7. upchurchmr
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    upchurchmr Senior Member

    Par

    I share your approach and have found that I don't have enough life left to put up with insistance on a bad approach. It may be that I am not cleaver enough to make a "feature" out of a bad idea, but we all have our limitations.

    Most people when you really hold your course will give your ideas more consideration, possibly even learning something in the process.

    Great attitude.

    Marc
     
  8. Poida
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    Poida Senior Member

    I am honoured to be among gentlemen of high principles.

    The question at the opening post was asthetics versus good design.
    I took that as, what the customer would like to see, and what they need in good design.

    In marketing if you supply what the client wants you make a sale.

    Summed up in this quotation: "McDonalds make the worst hamburgers in the world, but sell the most."

    In Western Australia we have a wealthy man who decided to get his boat designed and built over in the east of Australia even though we have one of the best boat building companies here in the West.

    When it was launched it sailed so badly that noone was game to sail it back to the West so it brought over by road. A huge task.

    Once it got here, it was anchored off one of our islands and I have been told it never moves. But I guess he got the boat he wanted.
     
  9. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    It's very important to educate your clients. They come with grand ideas, but the task of the designer is to smack them down, with healthy does of reality. Usually the cost comparison for their way versus my way is enough, but some are just insistent. Then there's the "frustration factor" (FF) that is built into every client's quote. I get a feel for people quickly and fudge in a "difficult client" percentage on top of every quote. Some boneheads get a 200% FF attached to their work. I have one client, who's a real butthead and he knows it. Everyone else has kicked him out of their shops, but I've managed to keep him entertained and he carries a 200% FF. He probably knows it, but since I'm the only one left that will talk to him, he's screwed and I'm not getting enough for his business, but it's work I enjoy toying with his old Garwood.
     
  10. u4ea32
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    u4ea32 Senior Member

    Back to the point: balance between aesthetics and practical efficiency.

    I'll restrict my comments to pleasure boats. Commercial boats are generally all about practicality, forget aesthetics.

    If we are talking about pleasure boats, then we must admit that the reason to design/build/buy/own a boat is purely emotional. There is no absolute need, there is simply a desire.

    Desire is based on beauty and happiness. Happiness is more related to what one does with the boat, than what the boat looks like, but "beauty may be skin deep, but ugly goes right to the bone." So an ugly boat won't lead to happiness. Being able to do what is fun, comfortable, satisfying, is what leads to happiness. Dealing with a non functional, non-repairable, or overly expensive to operate boat leads to un-happiness.

    So I think the balance lies in not reducing beauty, but increasing the operational happiness, the functionality of the vessel as related to what "the owner" finds adds to that owner's personal happiness.

    Speaking as an owner: if its ugly, it will never be desirable to me, I'll never own it. If its beautiful, but is a pain to own, then its scratched off the list. If its beautiful, and it gracefully, competently, safely, and (relatively) inexpensively does what I want a boat to do, then that's a boat that is worth designing/building/buying/owning/using.

    There always seems to be beautiful ways to do fun things on a boat.
     
  11. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    1) Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. And opinions of beauty can change over time.

    2) Different folks make different tradeoffs between appearance and other attributes in their choice of boats, clothing, cars, houses, pets, spouses, etc. Attributes other than appearance matter in greater or lesser amounts to different people.

    3) Many folks try to make a statement, to themselves or others, of who they are with their choice of boats, clothing, cars, houses, pets, spouses, etc. And sometimes it is an attempt to set themselves apart from some group.

    4) Another factor for many people is "fitting in". They don't want to stand out and be noticed because of my choice of boat, clothing, car, house, pet, spouse, etc. Or they don't want to be criticised.

    I worked in the auto industry. One day someone said that the epitome of someone who doesn't care about the car they drive was a college professor driving an old Saab. I strongly disagreed. Many college professors who drive old Saabs drive them in part because they want to be seen as, or view themselves as, the type of person who would drive an old Saab. Or they drive an old Saab because it will help them "fit in".
     
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  12. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I disagree, some things are universally accepted as beautiful, while others look quite dated after 5 years, even though the marketing team said it was beautiful in the Sail Magazine advertisements. The designs that are still considered beautiful, decades after conception actually are, while a 1976 Hunter still looks like a Clorox bottle, a tired, well used container of bleach. Raquel Welch is still a beauty, while my prom queen exwife is now only slightly more attractive, then the fir ball my cat retched up on the laundry room floor this evening.

    Ticonderoga is still a spectacular yacht. If you've only seen pictures, you really haven't seen her and if you get a chance to physically look at this old lady, you'll suddenly realize what all the fuss has been over the decades.

    Professors drive old Saab's, because they were potty trained with a shot gun and are so anal retentive, that this is all they feel they deserve and rightly so I might add.
     
  13. Poida
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    Poida Senior Member

    On the other hand design may not matter. We have a boat harbour which at one end has a group of cafes situated on jetties at one end.

    I have the feeling that the posers (people with bigger boats than me) take their boat out of the pens, drive it 2 Kms to the cafes, tie up, buy their fish and chips and sit on their decks and eat them.

    When finished untie their boats, back to the pens and that's their day's boating.

    So, for them the flashier the better, looks is all that matters.
     
  14. Tad
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    Tad Boat Designer

    I disagree totally.......

    These boats (see below) are designed, built, and maintained to do only one thing....catch fish....they are tools that provide family income, that they are (IMO) beautiful tools is a source of pride for their builders and owner's.....pride in ones tools is only one of the values in short supply today......

    The idea that commercial boats should not be beautiful was lost when fishing became just another job where folks work for a large corporation....why should they care about their workplace.....but owner-operators (who often were also the designer and builder) continue to take pride in how their tools look, and pleasure comes from their use......

    The balance between practicality and aesthetics is a matter of point of view, some (the employees that have to clean/paint/varnish) would say forget the aesthetics, while others will require the aesthetics and ignore practicality.......the very best will find a balance.......

    For instance these boats would be cheaper and simpler if built with a simple flat transom......but the fishermen found that the transom corner snags lines and they loose fish.....so a round (timbered) stern with no sharp corners was developed.....a lot more complex and expensive, also a problem to maintain, but also rather beautiful.....

    scan0205_edited-1.jpg
     
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  15. viking north
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    viking north VINLAND

    Grand Banks Schoonermen dressed up their boats with scroll work and fancy painting designs on the hull and upperworks, some even hanging on to the figurehead. Clipper ships were the same with their figure heads almost held in god/godess like worship. That is still carried forward today on most east coast fishing boats, especially up along the bow area.
     
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