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High School - Applied Arts

Many people may have heard of applied science. It is, simply stated, the application of scientific theories and principles to make useful technology. Electronics engineering is a common example, where the principles of electromagnetic physics are used to create the gadgets we use today.

How about “applied art”? It isn’t commonplace, and more likely than not, only a few people have heard of this field. In essence, here’s the gist of applied art: it’s all about using the principles of art to create usable objects. It isn’t just art for the sake of creating something beautiful for the eyes to see, like paintings and sculptures. More than that, it is using those same ideas that make a great painting to make good-looking practical items. These can range from cups to computer chairs, and even go as big as walls and stairwells.

One key idea in applied art is known as “prettification”. It aims to turn otherwise mundane things into better looking, essentially “prettier” things. One example is when the London Eye is turned into a “stage” for a glorious light show. The normally plain white giant Ferris wheel becomes a marvelous work of art just by retrofitting it with colored lights.

It’s not just huge standing structures that can be prettified. Even small, everyday objects can. If a sense of aesthetics is put into how a product is manufactured, it can turn out to be both a very beautiful and useful product right out of the box. One prominent example is Apple’s iPhone. It has both good design and practical function. Right out of the box, the iPhone looks and feels pretty. Additionally, once turned on, it becomes a highly functional device with many possible uses.

The idea of applied art is simple: integrating good design with good functionality. Useful products do not have to look boring. They can be eye-catching too.