Designing Development.

by Jake Greenwood

This post explores the relationship between design and modern technology, how design can be lead by new production capabilities becoming available to designers. But also how these capabilities can be used as a platform for developments in visual language and graphic practice.

  • The most exciting idea regarding the relationship between design and technology is that it is not linear — even though technology is now more capable this does not necessarily mean any new possibilities will be realised. Digital Disturbances is an exhibition which investigates the effects of technology within fashion where some of the pieces experiment with scale, tactile materials and 3D modelling. Leanne Wierzba, curator of the Digital Disturbances exhibition touches on the idea that the “impact [of technology] is not always linear, straightforward or explicit.” and how “sustained engagement begins to impact on aesthetic sensibilities and perceptions of the self.” Read more here. The following projects are examples of how design can exist within the capabilities of technology, but also how technology can be used to develop design practice.

  • Bart Hess, Echo, 2011

  • Design following technological development.

  • The Be part of the CRICK’s DNA campaign for Cancer Research UK is an example of how design is creating meaningful change through the utilisation of technology. The design utilises javascript libraries and newly defined browser capabilities to create a 3d swirling DNA helix that includes the names of people who have donated, thus creating a steady, swirling DNA chain across the screen. The design is made possible by advancements in browser capabilities. It is not aesthetically ground breaking but the utilisation of the technology is what makes the experience unique by allowing the user to explore and feel a part of the system. Resulting in a new level of engagement.

  • Design using technology.

  • However, this is not to say design practices simply fill the space created by new technologies. The partnership between technology and design creates a platform for new graphic systems to enrich user interaction and through the utilisation of technology create valuable developments.

    A brilliant design project that utilises both traditional and modern methods of production to create and develop a visual style is Fe₂O₃ Glyphs. This is the result of typographer Craig Ward collaborating with biochemist and photographer Linden Gledhill, who have created a series of glyphs using ferrofluid and ink. Read the kick starter page here.

  • The purely ornamental results of this project whilst visually stunning represent a method of production that is becoming increasingly relevant in an increasingly digital world.
    A term used to describe this method is “parametric play”, where designers control the input variables of a design system to influence the outcome. 

  • This idea of structured development, and generative progression through the control of the parameters of a design is something that has never before been accessible to designers. However, with new technology it is possible to control and develop design by controlling the variables we input into a design system. This results in a method of production with a scientific level of control over the outcomes.

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