Kick The Paycheck
Our roots are in products. No doubt about it. If manufacturers after world war two hadn't been stuck feeding saturated markets with the same old stuff, and needed a way to convince consumers to buy their products, industrial design as we know it wouldn't exist. Even now, as you're working on that latest sketch, or final model, there's a 99.99% chance that it's a model of something that will sit on a shelf in a Wal Mart, or a car lot, or your local grocery store's kitchen tools aisle. But just hammering out products day after day can make you forget that a major strength of design is pure people helping power. Maybe giving your paycheck the cold shoulder every once in a while will help you to remember it.
We're Famous :)
Last week I got interviewed by Harry Wakefield of the uber-trendy Moco Loco design blog. We talked about a bunch of interesting things, particularly why I'm going back to school, and how working on IDFuel has influenced that decision. If you want to check the interview out, zip on over there.
Many Working As One
Schooling fish, bacterial colonies, flocking birds, even aspen groves. All of these natural networks are robust because they spread the load of work between a number of participants. Human networks have come into their own in recent years, with intra and extra nets for businesses, cellphone communications, and other simple connective technologies. But the real power of networks will come as we move toward even less-designed, more ad-hock networking which can evolve, like natural systems, into an implementation that best matches the need.
Design is: Adaptation
Humans aren't particularly adaptive animals. We vary a bit in hair type, skin color, and subtle physiology based on our native climates, but we don't really get a lot of mileage out of these adaptations. Where we really shine is in our ability to take existing objects or ideas and adapt them for new uses. Splintered rocks became axes. Church bells became cannon. A communication system meant for nuclear war became the most successful library, mail network, encyclopedia, and so much more, that the world has ever known. This propensity for adaptation of things lives on in the choices product designers make daily. And, its successes are powerful.
Insights In The Extremes
Disasters make great news. Consequently, we see, hear, and write a lot about them. Most recently, the tragic events of the London bombings have been buzzing around our brains. But before that, we were worried with climate change, tsunami threats, and escalating world terrorist activity. With such large-scale dilemmas, designing solutions can be incredibly complicated, if not impossible. When faced with these sorts of problems, there is a great technique that we borrowed from our days as an engineer (yeah, we're embarrassed too). Sometimes insight presents itself when you push a problem to its extremes.
The Makings of a Maker
In the past, we've covered drawing technique books, modeling supplies, and even teaching techniques; The kinds of things that a designer uses to get the ideas. But sooner or later, your ideas have to find physical form. And unless you're going to be printing your models out in SLA for your customers, you'll have to come to grips with machining sometime. So you marker-paper jockeys, let's take a little machine shop brush up.
Bionics: Energy Efficiency, Nature-Style
With peak oil looking more and more real, and gas prices climbing higher, designers, politicians, and people everywhere are looking for ways to maximize energy usage. There is one organization who has been wrestling with this issue for the length of it's existence. Like so many other things, before cars, before cities, before humans, nature was fighting to fit as many animals and plants into as small a space as possible. And now that we get to plan how products fit into our energy and market spaces, we can take some cues from her.
Ho-wahhh. After quite a little break there, we're back in the game. The house is moved into, the computer is unpacked, and we've caught up on a tiny bit of the probably 1.5 years of missed sleep we've racked up. But now it's time for some IDFuel action. Lots of stuff happened while we were away: London became the latest unfortunate indication of the political and social turmoil simmering under the surface of the world. The New York Times alleges that design's leading edge has gone dull. And a US high court ruled today that the EPA doesn't have to regulate greenhouse gas emissions of US vehicles. Basically, we've been away for long enough. It's time to roll up our sleeves and get a little dirty. We'll have posts addressing these issues, along with some hot new stuff in Bionics, Humansys, and Design Is. And of course, we'll be mixing in a little of everything else to keep those brains of yours hot. The flame burns on.
Location, Location, Location!
Well, it's finally done. IDFuel's headquarters have relocated from The Windy City to the City of Brotherly Love. After two years of toys, Dominic has decided to go back for a Masters of Industrial Design at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. We hope that this will feed IDFuel with all kinds of new crazy ideas. For now, thought, the posting's going to be sporadic for a few more days while computers get unpacked, clothes get sorted, and IKEA furniture gets re-assembled (if you can believe it). Wish us luck, and until next time, keep those fires burning.
Dominic Muren and IDFuel Team