SchoolArts Magazine

DEC 2008

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Bell Telephone Laboratories, a feat that resulted incorporated a balanced handset receiver that was in the creation of numerous recognizable housecradled in a sturdy base, making it more practical hold designs. The now iconic Model 302 telephone than the Model 202. Despite the fact that it was was produced from 1937 until the early 1950s. an extremely popular model, no one who used the The phone was the first widely used "combined" Model 302 actually owned it. All of the telephones telephone, having were owned by the ringer and other Dreyfuss's success as a designer lies not just AT&T and subscribcircuitry in one funcin his experience or in his conceptualization ers leased the teletional base. This phones for a monthly of the whole, but in his consideration of the fee of four dollars. invention revolutionuser. He is famously quoted as saying, "If ized the way teleIdeal for heavy use phones were designed, and reuse, the telethere is tension between the user and the making the equipment phone was rugged object, the designer has failed." more efficient and in design and easily improving the aesreparable. thetic of the phone itself. The design of the Model 302 experienced several The phone was a major improvement over its alterations during its production run. Originally, precursor, the Model 202, due to its technologithe base of the Model 302 was made out of cast cal advances and improved form. The Model 302 zinc and featured a straight, fabric-covered cord Classroom activities Elementary Present two objects to your students: an old model and a new model of an object. Make sure one model is something students are already familiar with, for example, an old telephone and a cell phone, a Walkman and an iPod, an old can opener and a more ergonomic can opener, etc. Pass around the old model, then the new model, allowing students to examine it. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the new model and the old model. What do you think influenced those changes? Middle School Present the Model 302 and discuss the evolution of its design and how materials influenced those changes. For example, the switch from zinc to plastic made the object much lighter and the introduction of the coiled plastic cord made the cord more efficient and aesthetically pleasing. Have students examine objects in the classroom or from home, and have them identify the materials used to make it. What advantages does that material have? What are the disadvantages? Why do you think the designer chose that material? For example, is it light, heavy, waterproof, porous, flexible, rigid, transparent, opaque, fragile, or sturdy? Could another material improve its function? Have students brainstorm other materials that could be used to make the object and discuss how that change would affect the design and function of the object. connecting the handset to the base. Newer versions boasted lighter thermoplastic bases and coiled plastic covered cords. The phone was produced predominantly in black, until the end of its production run when eight other color choices were added: ivory, bronze, silver, gold, rose, blue, green, and red. The Model 302 would lead to other influential designs such as the 502 desk set telephone, which was a standard model for forty-five years; the "Princess" telephone; and the 1964 TouchTone telephone. The legacy of the Model 302 is unquestionable, since it remained the standard American tabletop phone for decades. Allison Valchuis is education assistant at the CooperHewitt, National Design Museum. Marianna Siciliano is a Peter Krueger summer intern at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. High School The Model 302 revolutionized the aesthetics and the function of the telephone. What products do your students use to communicate? Have your students work in pairs to interview each other and identify how they communicate. What functions do they use most in their devices? What other functions would they like their devices to perform? Would the object be portable? If so, how would they like to carry or store it? Let them take turns as the "client" and the "designer." After they have identified their client's needs and wants, have them design a new communication tool that would specifically fulfill the client's requirements. SchoolArts December 2008

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