Industrial Design: Sense and Sensibility

At a time when most designers are stressing the sexy, Ben Beck is focusing on the smart. An industrial designer for (Eleven), the Boston-based firm he co-founded, Beck uses design to make products simpler. They may not be quite as racy looking as an iMac or a Beetle, but his sometimes colorful, mostly plastic and almost always sleek creations revive the notion that form should follow function. "Just by looking at something, you should know how it works," he says. "We're stating the obvious all the time." His birdcage, for instance, has a clear plastic front and back and a light,...

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