Design Meant Discipline – MIT’s Radical Redefinition

Draftperson’s 1st efforts once meant months & then CAD=weeks. Draft to “Doable” has decimated the design world. Sketching & pullable surfaces to grasshopper meant weeks & then Vizcom=seconds. Now what?

iGNITIATE - Design Meant Discipline - MIT's Radical Redefinition

It’s no surprise that the radical redefinition of the word “commerce” in the early 21st century was directly influenced by the founding of Amazon ( 1995 ) and only 10yrs years after the massive growth via the general public jumping into the dial-up world when America Online ( 1985 ) was founded bringing 100’s of millions into an electronically connected world. But like the horse & buggy after the advent of wide spread car manufacturing / assembly line model, the landscape of what is now “design” demands it own  definitional reassessment. As detailed in the “Why The Definition Of Design Might Need A Change” we see the simple ways that breakthroughs like T-splines and later Ai visual creation services changed the entire world of what it now means to be a “designer” where rapid fire A-B testing is where “design” is headed.

The radical departure from the laborious task of incredibly detailed specifications ” design ” to be able to visualize and then move through to engineering and manufacturing has taken a light speed jump from it’s origins all the way back to the 1300’s. Even before, design was incredibly detailed ( within the minds of the artisans / masters – who were also, and where they were expected to be construction capable ) and with that came the contractual obligations necessary for delivery. Design ( and detailed design in fact ) defined contracting and where the responsibilities of those that built and manufactured ( within the guild world ) existed. It was this design to detail to delivery where design cut it’s teeth in it’s definitional dimension eg. the mastery and systems of Wedgewood and the products he made – the small atelier to final production model.

Enter mass manufacturing: the incredible complexity of sketching to computer aided design ( CAD ) to computer aided manufacturing ( CAM ) to computer integrated manufacturing ( CIM ) and the incredible levels of knowledge that no one person could possibly have a complete knowledge of. Design then ( possibly ) becomes the need to see the 1st steps without missing the desire to be conversant in all the other later steps. However not slipping, and that the initial phases cannot exist without considerable levels of investigation mean quick and dirty never turned out well.

Today however, this notion is almost erased. Thoughts ( words ) become things ( images ) in a matter of seconds with Ai and sketch to real world imagery capabilities. More, the faster the development of these Ai interfaces become the quicker the design process changes: mini-productions become possible. Skinning ( via 3D printing ) now relatively expensive for small batch production gets cheaper and cheaper by the moment. Where printing one shell for one design required hours, weeks, months of work, with Ai systems that hold assembly pin locations in place while outer shell structures are changed at will means a higher level artisan production becomes the norm. Small scale Ai designed to Ai produced is happening faster than ever before and the long and painful economies of scale to make such small batches possible is now not so small and thus coming to fruition. Inserted into shop on demand systems and auto Amazon delivery and future forward ideas / designs will be in the hands of users faster that we ever expected. The ” on demand ” designer is right around the corner.

This then means that the definition of design returns in one way to the artisan / master designer. The economics of design then become the definition of design once again with the expectation that now, designers and design have an even broader more complicated path: constant evolution and production. Did Ai just make ” designing ” easier? Surely it did. Did Ai just make the entire production process that much more expensive ? Surely it did. Those precious few seconds that designers can now create anything just made design a lot more expensive. Thanks Ai. Now the real fun begins.


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