There are only so many ways to turn a corner. Although furniture makers have long used intricately-routed edges as decorative motifs, for decades product design was married to the all-mighty Radius. If a designer needed to transition from one surface to another, the only real decision was what size that radius should be. Now we have nothing against radii, they are soft, tend to visually lighten a product, are easy to tool, and typically feel good in the hand; but in a discipline obsessed with form-giving, the timing was right for some new tools. In the early 2000’s, Porsche Design helped create a Fuji digital camera that debuted some very new thinking: introducing chamfers as a way to transition surfaces around a form. But the critical aesthetic innovation was that the chamfers flowed around the form in very dynamic, fluid ways: flaring from thick to thin to create flowing bands of surface highlight. This stylistic mode quickly expanded into all product disciplines (especially consumer electronics and action sports), and transitioned into automotive design in the mid-2000’s. Now, it’s hard to find a product or car that doesn’t utilize some kind of chamfer detail. Flowing Chamfers, when implemented properly, can add a sophisticated crispness to products when over-use of constant radii can look overly soft and doughy. Use them on a form’s primary edges, or more subtly to trace particular zones of detail. Also, explore breaking away from a constant width or angle, let them vary as they trace their way around the form. This theme works especially well with the Techno Line motif, so check it out. Special thanks to Lee Griswold from GYRE9 for identifying this trend!

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4 Comments to “FLOWING CHAMFERS”

  1. DAN C says:

    Awesome resource thanks guys!!!!!!

  2. pmurf says:

    excellent article! One of my favorite uses of the chamfer in recent PD that actually enhances the product’s function: http://bit.ly/x5km0y

    • AWOLtrends says:

      Great find, pmurf. Angular forms and Flowing Chamfers work especially well together, giving a robust, technical, aggressive expression…
      -AWOL Trends