Kabine eines Portalstaplers für den Containerumschlag – cabin for a straddle carrier for container handling
Appreciation of the winner
by Rido Busse
What is design?
As the subtitle of the book by Dr. Wichmann, Director of the Neue Sammlung, suggests, is design “art that makes itself useful?” Or is design good “if there is as little as possible of it,” as suggested by Rams, the designer for Braun in Kronberg, a model company making products with sophisticated design. Or is “design actually just the interface between the user and the device,” as Luigi Collani once claimed? What do companies mean when they say, even today, “design is the industrial sector’s cultural responsibility?” Or is design “only an attempt at making our environment a bit more livable,” according to a slogan coined in the early 1970s?
As you can see, both known and unknown individuals (and the list could be continued endlessly) have offered many definitions of design, none of which truly defines what the Bavarian State Prize is all about, namely, helping people become aware of an idea that is intended to be turned into a product at some point. The works shown and selected are the diploma theses of university graduates who wish to present their ideas for new products by means of text, images and models to us, the viewers, the jurors, and maybe even potential manufacturers.
However, design means more than communicating an idea for a new product. When presenting a design, the artist also must show how the device works, how it can be manufactured and handled and, not least, what impression the designer wishes to create. It is this impression, this aesthetic signal that appeals to a certain target group. This means that the aesthetics of the product is the means through which the experienced designer communicates with those who are willing to buy or use the invention. The designer can convey product-related emotions including precision, elegance, sportiness, seriousness, professionalism, etc., and use them to create connections to programs, series and lifestyles, both for complex systems and for details thereof.
The term “details” brings me to the first winner, Ludwig Corr from Essen. His diploma thesis titled “draft of a cabin for a straddle carrier for container handling” and supervised by Prof. Fleischmann from Krefeld and Prof. Lengyel from Essen was accepted unanimously by the jury. In the foreword to his paper, Corr apologizes for having designed “only” the detail of the driver’s cabin rather than the entire carrier. This makes him likeable, because it seems as if he anticipated the number of problems he was going to have to solve even for this one detail. I am certain in retrospect Corr noticed that even an element of this detail would have sufficed for a diploma thesis.
Allow me to explain briefly what a straddle carrier is: imagine a 12m high table with wheels at the ends of its legs being driven over the top of a container (containers are large metal boxes used to transport goods; sometimes they also are used at construction sites or for emergency housing). The driver then lifts the container and moves it to another storage area or stacks it on one or more other containers. Carriers of this type always have the driver’s cabin attached on the outside, on one of the legs. The reason why Corr was awarded a State Prize was his underlying investigation which showed that lifting the entire carrier by 2m would not have an impact since there are no bridges or buildings at the site of operations that the straddle carrier needs to drive under. Hence, it is possible to move the driver’s cabin to the area between the four legs, where the driver is safest and has the best overall view. Based on these findings, Corr was able to create an optimal design for the cabin.
Allow me to quote from the conclusion of Corr’s diploma thesis: “In many ways, the concept presented in this thesis goes beyond the modern and typical appearance of cabins of this or a similar type. However, I would like to emphasize that the combination of individual solutions may be new but the construction, from the windows to the instrumentation, is ‘state of the art.’ My attempt at simplifying many of the details through the use of new technology will result in financial benefits for manufacturers and operators (maintenance), mainly because of modifications to the windows (rubber seals have been eliminated, tolerances increased, no paint, easier and, thus, more affordable cleaning). In compliance with the requirements of the British Ports Association (BPA) regarding ergonomics and investigations, the cabin should improve any type of environment in which there are no height limitations.” I would like to add that this work was meticulous and perfect in its presentation, model and written documentation.