Emergent DesignMethodologies and Ideasby Ron Newman
During this lecture on Emergent Design Methodologies andIdeas, I will begin at the beginning and talk about the veryearliest of the design practitioners and about what theythought, then move through to more recent ‘thinking’ andtender some of my ideas of where we will go in the future.Consider this lecture as you understand how to undertakethe last project, how to bring ideas such as Parkour to asophisticated and well ‘connected’ community.
Colonel William Light, was the first Surveyor-General of South Australia,and in a sense amongst the earliest Australian designers with the task ofdeciding upon the site and design for the city of Adelaide. His survey ofAdelaide began on 11 January 1837 and was completed with the namingof streets and squares on 23 May 1837. Colonel Light wrote of his ideas:"The reasons that led me to fix Adelaide where it is, I do not expect to begenerally understood or calmly judged at the present. My enemies,however, by disputing their validity in every particular, have done me thegood service of fixing the whole of the responsibility (for the design) onme. I am perfectly willing to bear it: and I leave it to posterity and not tothem to decide whether I am entitled to praise or to blame."
Good Designan ideaColonel Light was concerned thathis design be good but wasconvinced that time will prove himand his decisions correct. Today inthe reflective process of designingwe try to understand, in the hereand now, whether what we aredesigning is good or bad, whetherit will work or not? Charles Eamesthe great pre WW2 designer saidof Good Design:
”” Dont give us that good designcrap!”” You never hear us talk aboutthat. The real questions are: doesit solve a problem? Is itserviceable? How is it going tolook in ten years?”
These words were spoken by Eameswhen interviewed on the issues facingdesigners. Neuhart reported in his EamesDesign book that the famous furnituredesigner. Charles Eames also said;Q: What is your definition of design?A: A plan for arranging elements in such awayas to best accomplish a particular purpose.Q: Is design an expression of art (or an art form)?A: Design is the expression of the purpose.Itmay (if it is good enough) later be judged
Eames went on to say “...Design depends largely onconstraints. the sum of all constraints. Here is one ofthe few effective keys to the design problem, the abilityof the designer to recognise as many of the constraintsas possible; the willingness and enthusiasm forworking within these constraints: the constraints ofprice, of size, of strength, of balance, of surface, oftime, and so forth. each problem has its own particularlist.”
1. if this area representsthe interest & concerns ofthe design office2. and this of genuineinterest to the client3. and this theconcerns ofsociety as a wholeNote: these areasare not static -they grow anddevelop - as eachone influencesthe other.4. then this is the area ofoverlapping interests & concernthat the designer can work withconviction & enthusiasm.Note: putting more thanone client in the modelbuilds the relationship ina positive andconstructive wayClient/organisationSOCIETYYour design skillsINTEGRATEDcreativeresponsiblevaluable
and further Eames said:” Design is anything that doesnt happen byaccident”“ Design is the concept which links humaningenuity to selected activities in order tomeet challenges and find solutions.Designing may begin with an originalthought or develop from existing design;”
finally when considering vessels to contain water Eames offers thefollowing for the act of designing: "First, shut out all preconceived ideasand begin to consider factor after factor; the optimum amount of liquid tobe fetched, carried, poured, stored in a prescribed set of circumstances;the size strength and gender of the hands that would manipulate it; theway it is to be transported - head, hip, hand, back - the centre of gravitywhen empty, when full; its balance when rotated for pouring; its sculptureas it fits in the palm of the hand; the curve of the hip; the relation ofopening to volume in terms of storage uses other than liquid; heat transfer;can it be grasped if the liquid is hot; how pleasant does it feel, eyes closed,eyes open; how does it sound when it strikes another vessel; what is thepossible material; what is the cost in terms of working; what is the cost interms of ultimate service; how will the material effect the contents?"
The story of Herman Miller began with D J De Pree, its founder who wasa man with vision. Considering the design process De Pree wasconvinced that doing something of service to one’s fellow humans wasbeing obedient to the biblical commandment to love one another. De Preebelieved he had a moral obligation to provide products that embodied ‘thequality of truth’. Such products would have ‘unity and not a lot ofcontradictory features’ and be ‘simple’ so that they would beunderstandable” and people who used them would say, ‘this is just right!’presented by Robert Blaich the US design manager, and Vice President, Design, of Herman Miller in the late 1970’s,
"..you employ stone, wood and concrete, and with thesematerials you build houses and palaces; that is construction.Ingenuity is at work. But suddenly you touch my heart, youdo me good, I am happy and I say" this is beautiful’. That isarchitecture. Art enters in.” Le Corbusier
When we talk about what makes this building so good wenecessarily use words like vision, belief, passion andphilosophy. Joen Utzons constraints for his design were notonly of satisfying the program of an Opera House, but also aresponse to context, a belief in natural systems as a structuraldevice, mathematical order, the perception of harmony thatlies within emotional relationships, the idea of a sculpturalform-in-the-round with the harbour as its viewing platform.
The middle photograph above shows a demonstration by thepublic of Sydney when the government of NSW announcedthat the Architect/designer Joen Utzon had been removedfrom his project mid stream. The project budget had blownout by a factor of 14 and key performance criteria of theproject were not being met. The project suffered from a clearlack of Design and Project Management causing many ofthe designer’s key ideas to be compromised.
In 1980 an almost ‘Anti Design’ movement was initiated by EttoreSottsass. In 1958, Adriano Olivetti offered Sottsass a position as aconsultant in the new electronics department at the Olivetti Company.This position was ideal for Sottsass, allowing him to learn, develop andrefine his techniques and philosophies, whilst designing new, innovativeand unique products.Sottsass was able, as an invaluable consultant, to maintain hisindependence and creative aura. After years of freelance design, playfulexperimental and fulfilling clients needs Sottsass finally created themovement MEMPHIS. Bright colours, plastic laminate surfaces andshapes of anti-design, define the Memphis style.
Stephano Marzano’s Flying over Las Vegas of the early1990’s was a seminal moment in the realignment of designmethods and what should drive ideas. Owning a factory thatmade a particular product was no longer a reason to continuewith that product, just like today owning a printing press nolonger means that you should pint a newspaper.The very framework for ‘designing’ was changing...
Design methodologies werechanging to betterunderstand business andthe operational environment.What is the secret formulafor designers to successfullydeliver new ideas in the neweconomy.NewTechnologyNewValuesNewBusinessModels
Design practice now required fivekey criteria in its methodology toensure continued development ofnew and innovative ideas:• Design Leadership• Culture and Vision• Innovation and Risk• New Values• Enhanced Design ProcessNewTechnologyNewValuesNewBusinessModels
At the turn of this last century a new idea immerged from theUK called Creative Industries, and it literally blanketed thepractice of design combining all creative activity into oneeconomic ‘number’ with disciples being found in theprofessions, government, businesses and education.The UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in2000, Chris Smith pointed out in a written foreword to adocument on Creative Industries:
“The creative industries offer some of the best, mostinteresting and rewarding careers around. And opportunities inthese areas are set to increase over the coming years as theUK’s creative industries go from strength to strength. Growingtwice as fast as the economy as a whole, they are generatingwealth and creating new jobs for the future.”
Andrew Summers, Chief Executive of the British DesignCouncil at the time said: “All the evidence shows that creativeindustries like design are continuing to expand at anextraordinary rate …””With estimated revenues of £60 billion and a workforcenumbering around 1.4 million, the creative industries are fastbecoming a cornerstone of the UK economy…”
Alberto Alessi said in his book the Italian Design Factory:"For years I have been sick of the attitude of theinternational producers of utilitarian cars: I find themincreasingly boring, without spirit or emotion…. I wish toshow them how to escape from the vicious circle of puremanufacturing technique (and from copying from eachother) and leave more room for creativity. I wish to conceiveand realise a car which is entirely new, poetic, full ofemotion!"
"I also had some convictions, some philosophical thoughts,on the role of objects in our actual society, the consumersociety. We live in a society where all relevant material needsare fulfilled by the production of objects, but the big massproduction industry didnt seem to have understood this. Ibelieve - that in most cases, mass production industry goeson working simply to satisfy peoples needs, instead ofpaying more attention to their wishes, to their desires."
Alessi was clearly using design to differentiate his products.In talking about Emergent Design Methodologies and Ideas Ihave traced some key milestone on the path; nowhere nearall of them but certainly many significant changes in directionand key influencers... ‘Design Thinking’ is currently thepredominant methodology / theory guiding the professions ofdesign and those organisations which aspire to draw thebenefits of design practice to their enterprise.
As a style of thinking, Design Thinking is generally consideredthe ability to combine ‘empathy’ for the context of a problem,‘creativity’ in the generation of insights and solutions, and‘rationality’ to analyze and fit solutions to the context. Designthinking has become part of the popular lexicon incontemporary design and engineering practice; in business andmanagement and broader use in describing a particular style ofcreative thinking-in-action. It is having an increasing influenceon 21stcentury education across disciplines.
Currently there is a momentum to create awareness aboutDesign Thinking among designers and other professions byteaching design thinking in higher education.The premise isthat by knowing about the process and the methods thatdesigners use to ideate, and by understanding howdesigners approach problems to try to solve them, individualsand businesses will be better able to connect with andinvigorate their ideation processes in order to take innovationto a higher level, creating a competitive advantage.
In my estimation Apple is a company that uses DesignThinking extensively in its product design and managementprocesses. Jonathan Ive first designed for Apple in 1992 andinitially he believed that Apple offered an environment in whichhe could focus solely on design. “Unfortunately (he said) I washorribly wrong. It was not until Steve Jobs returned to thecompany that I found myself in a precious and privilegedsituation; being part of a design team encouraged andsupported in the pursuit of nothing other than good design.”The Product Book, RotoVision SA, 1999, London, Catherine Mcdermott
That brings us to an end of the discussion on EmergentDesign Methodologies and Ideas. I recommend you read alittle more widely and discover more ideas than I havepresented in this lecture as you prepare your assessmentprojects...
Emergent DesignMethodologies and Ideasby Ron Newman