The depth of coverage on SCAD’s Thesis Collection is impressive to say the least. I lost count on how many I have read or skimmed through but two of them really stood out to me. Pierce’s Natural User Interfaces in the Information Age and Occhipinti’s Adaptive Design, Convergent Media and the New Designer. Continue reading
Advances in technology have pushed us to new and innovate methods of human-computer interaction. Touch screens have proven to be the ideal vessel and stands at the forefront of countless convergences. Our current focus on touch has lead many industries to concentrate on lifting the limitations and advancing the tech. Tactile touchscreen technology will allow objects to rise up from and disappear into the screen, transforming the virtual into the physical. The future holds malleable screens, screens built into mirrors and desks, tactile feedback tech, 3D, and even cloths and screens with color e-ink technology. Screen technology has been developed with such force that we are only limited by imagination, it has taken its place as a creative medium. Continue reading
At the forefront of technology, old and trusted mediums are becoming obsolete and many of our processes are being labeled as archaisms. Print withers away in the shadows of a digitized world. Does one fight to keep it alive? Do we convert to new mediums? Do we reinvent the wheel? The fact is that the choices design makes today will redefine the future of interaction and design.
The designers skill set is expanding with technology, and at an alarming rate. Graphic Design has changed its role throughout history, driven by advancement. In the past 100 years our journey has been one of growing up. We began out as stylists (20′s – 50′s), during this time we served no agencies. We developed the idea that form follows function, making improvements through iteration (50′s-70′s). With that under our belt we became problem solvers, generating alternatives and narrowing options (70′s-90′s). I believe that today we are problem framers, we re-frame a situation and seek opportunities with a focus on social implications. If today a graphic designer combines art and technology to communicate, then our job truly lies between technology and its people, in that transition.
Technology lives in data, it functions, it calculates. Designers seem to work around or for technology instead of working with technology. Is it an apocalyptic view of man vs. machine or fearing the death of print and authorship that created this tango? Designs on one side are stuck in the past, on the other, fighting to one up technology. The biggest problem we face is our dependency and/or dismissal for the skeuomorphic approach.
Skeuomorphs even have a skewed definition, is it an object that retains ornamental elements of the past, derivative iterations of elements that are no longer necessary for function, or derivative objects that retain ornamental design cues to a structure that was necessary in the original? We now stand at a time where skeuomorphs are becoming archaisms. My question is, without cues of familiarity to the physical world, will design become detached from reality and people? Will people pay the consequence. Could unnatural exposure and delivery of information be causing a cognitive shift? Are people going backwards as technology goes forward?
To look more at this so called archaism we can compare it to how we measure engine power, in horsepower. At one point this made sense, compare the output to something commonly known, the output of a horse, believe it or not people knew how much a horse could pull. My car has 286HP, that does not mean much to me, I cant even picture what 286 horses looks like, I guess I could Google it. Does this make horse power obsolete? The debate on archaisms is not a debate on design trends or aesthetics, but a debate about human transition and technological convergence.
We build off what exists, it is a universal truth. Is it not best to design for the times in order to drive a smooth frustration free evolution into tomorrow and build while doing it? Is the answer in our balance of physical and virtual, of proven and innovation? The problem lies in how innovation can quickly become irresponsible. A button is a button, it asks to be pressed. We cant fix the horsepower archaism by changing it to light years. My question put bluntly, how do we balance yesterday and tomorrow into today?
When I brainstorm I tend to use metaphors and phrases that capture and remind me of complex ideas; therefore the following list might create more questions then clarity. I will expand on these in a later post and on the blog but here is a list of topics I am exploring.
In with the old and out with the new.
- Moving from experience to engagement.
- Return to the physical.
- Speaking for technology.
- User centered design
- User experiences
- User interface
- Empowering design and users through technology.
- Touchable designs
- Collective Thinking
- Meaning: the post material priority.
- interface as art
- the screen its less about the experience and more about the framing of the experience
- Designing for the “human condition”.
- Archaic innovation.
- “infuse the act of making with the act of thinking”
- Designing with and for a human touch.
- Producing experiences that empower the viewers as authors in their search for meaning.
- The screen is just interactive paper.
- Converting traditions to digital mediums.
- invisible information
- ‘moving targets’
- Hypertext fragmentation
- Designing within information
- visual grammar
- moving from print to digital
- deconstructing the web
- physical objects in a multi-dimensional dimensionless world.
- mental ecology
- virtual ecology
- Sustainability in Web Design
- Design in numbers.
- balance between familiar and innovative
- Skeuomorphing interaction
- On screen reading
- Liberation from the device.
- streamlining content
- natural interfaces and experiences
- visualizing complex data
- From meaningless to meaningful.
Another topic of interest is the catch-all term skeuomorph, objects that retain ornamental elements of the past, derivative iterations of elements that are no longer necessary for function, or derivative objects that retain ornamental design cues to a structure that was necessary in the original and how we use it to define navigational patterns and interaction. We now stand at a time where many believe skeuomorphs are becoming archaisms. The best way I can explain it is to look at how we measure engine power, in horsepower. At one point this made sense, they compared the output to something commonly known, the output of a horse, believe it or not people knew how much a horse could pull. My car has 286HP, that does not mean much to me…it may have made sense 100 years ago but today I cant even picture what 286 horses look likes, I guess I could Google it. The thing about this debate on archaisms is that it is not a debate on design trends or aesthetics it is a debate about human transition. We build off what exists. The trick is to design for the times in order to drive a smooth frustration free evolution into tomorrow and learn while doing it. It is the balance of innovation, a term that sounds so positive, but don’t let it fool you, innovation can quickly become irresponsible. We cant fix the horsepower archaism by changing it to light years. My question is how do we balance yesterday and tomorrow into today.
I have realized that the designers skills are expanding with technology at an alarming rate; and wonder how design education will adapt. Even the definition of graphic design is changing. Does a graphic designer combines art and technology to communicate? Throughout my career I have been amazed how current education models seem to create designers who are afraid of technology, a man vs. machine mentality enforcing the print vs. web battle. The seemingly destructive technological convergence is nevertheless changing the market and industry. Information is the common product and that impacts design. With so many devices, view-ports, audiences, professions, and technologies coming together designers need to have and are expected to have a lot of technological know how. I see graphic design becoming a very technical field of art and collaboration that will require a great deal of change.
In a nutshell, I am interested in how technology has and will influence design, how the saying “rules are meant to be broken” is becoming more and more true. Our on-screen information culture has shortened attention spans and decreased eye-sight for example; in consequence the idea font-size, line-length, and design in general is adapting. 16 is the new 12, the numbers of design are growing and its units changing. 44px for example is at the foundation of everything I design these days, the idea finger size. At the same time we are moving away from fixed sizes all together. I have begun looking at the evolution of design through numbers.
A topic that has stood out to me is how interactive mediums transform the virtual into the physical. I have noticed this the most in touch. Touch screen technologies will, before we know it, change how and what we design. I feel that design will turn back to tradition through innovation; processes are becoming more and more interactive, the idea of touch is a callback to the days of pen and paper, the hand made. It is leading us to create as and for humans, not devices. We are also facing the obsolescence of the desktop leading to a greater level of collaboration, we can now create anywhere again and with anyone. The future will bring screens that can create textures and I can only imagine what that can do for accessibility. Such technology empowers both the designer and viewer, is reshaping how we craft narratives, and the very way we create.