Chapter 6. The Mechanics of Interface Design

The Push and Pull of Prototypes Versus Pixel Perfection

I keep a large number of details that will later go. I first do the animal with almost all its trappings. Then I gradually eliminate them...

FRANÇOIS POMPON, FRENCH SCULPTOR AND ANIMALIER

BORN IN 1855, ONE of my favorite new artists, François Pompon, applied his coveted talents as a sculpting assistant for legendary artists Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel in Paris. It wasn’t until 1922 at the age of 67, however, that Pompon became famous for his own work.

Called L’ours Blanc, or The White Bear, Pompon’s huge sculpture of a polar bear is something truly unique (Figure 6-1). It lacks any ornamentation or flourish. It eliminates every unnecessary detail. And it makes no attempt to be realistic. Without these elements, the viewer is struck by the raw presence and personality of the bear. Pompon eliminated the unnecessary details to help us focus on what makes the bear, well, a bear.

In this case, both the product and the process fascinate me. Pompon would actually sculpt his subjects (at this point in his life, they were mostly animals) with most of the details intact. Then, over time, he’d eliminate these details—the waviness of the fur, the texture of the feathers, the sharpness of the claw—to focus on only the necessary aspects of the subject’s form. Without these details, he let the viewer focus on the purest elements of the animal’s character.

Figure 6-1. Pompon’s L’ours Blanc. Photo ...

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