In recent years, most people have grown accustomed to forensic and investigative crime dramas, where the hero is no longer pursuing the bad guy in a high speed car chase, but is more often seen nailing him with an accurate autopsy of the victim’s corpse. The crime is solved through an intricate and meticulous examination of all of the body parts, and often the answer only becomes evident when examining elements of the subject that were not were not likely to present anomalies.

In my early years at the Polytechnic University of Turin, I had the privilege of being tutored by professor Vittorio Marchis, a man I consider one of the most eminent international authorities on the history of human technology. Although he taught an architectural course, he occasionally held his classes in the autopsy room of the nearby faculty of medicine.

The setup was really engaging for students. Wearing a forensic pathologist’s white coat, he proceeded to dissect and analyze a series of commonly used objects that lay on his autopsy table: light bulbs, radios, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, etc. The result of this entertaining exercise was that, after an hour of hands-on deconstruction, students were left with a volume of knowledge impossible to achieve by merely studying a manual or examining technical drawings.

The approach that a color, materials, and finish (CMF) specialist should have in response to the product undergoing “treatment” should be exactly the same. To evaluate and understand the best course of action, the product under consideration should be broken down into its most elementary parts, and even these at times should be further dissected to obtain critical sections.

The information gathered in this essential process will significantly reduce the “incubation” phase necessary to generate the “Aha!” moment when the optimal solution is discovered.

Regardless of the scale of the object—from an airplane interior, to a mobile phone or a UX process—if this breakdown exercise is not carried out with the utmost care, attention and curiosity, a considerable amount of time and potential are going to be wasted.

Copyright© 2017 Corrado Tibaldi –