This year, the DIAlogues event series aims to dig deep into the relationship between design and technology. The first event, For better or for worse? – It’s time to sketch up or get out!, placed design process in the spotlight. Five panelists including Emily Devers (Frank and Mimi), Jack Dodgson (Cox Rayner Architects), Nathan Pollock (Katapult Design) Lexie Smiles (The Colour Society, QUT), Hannah Cutts (Cutts Creative) looked both introspectively and extrospectively to inform their discussion about the effects of analogue and digital design methods.
In recent years, many offices have evolved from paper to digital in order to improve the security, efficiency, cost and environmental impact of their businesses. This shift towards digital has also started to affect way designers work too. CAD, BIM, virtual environments, and 3D printing have taken on a leading role in the design process. ln some instances, they have even replaced hand drafting and sketching in design studios completely. New technology enables design firms to produce work quickly and efficiently – but at what cost? What is left out in the process? Is the need for speed reducing performance?
Simultaneously, there is a growing trend back to traditional aesthetic and methodology. A new found appreciation of the one-off, the crafted, the artisan has developed. To some, hand-sketching has become an invaluable and increasingly rare skill to have.
Of these two scenarios, what is best for the design process and the end product? Does this new digital realm open up design possibilities that would be impossible to achieve without technology? Does sketching in design process generate a more meaningful and unique outcome? Can the two sit equitably side by side or do we have to choose between them?
Leading the discussion, moderator Mike Malloy posed a series of questions to both the audience and the panelists to direct a well considered discussion aimed at investigating these concepts.
Q1: Do you use technology because you can’t draw?
Thinking is more important than the use of drawing or computer programs. As long as you are thinking like a designer then computer programs that help you design may be just as useful for your application as doing a hand illustrations.
Q2: Should technology be more limited to illustration and documentation rather than design?
Drawing gives more soul and can open doors with different material use and accidents that can be provoking in the design process. However technology can open other dors to allow for faster process and product testing.
Q3: It is more efficient to use technology from the outset of a project?
Each design project has a scale ration of pen and technology. For some projects it may be more efficient to use minimal technology at the start but increase it as the project movers forward, however some projects may benefit from using technology from the outset –if the brief calls for it. There is also the argument of time vs quality vs quantity. Sometimes a quick hand render will produce the quality of what you need, but there reaches a point where the time put into a technical program may allow it to produce multiple illustrations of high detail quality, at a faster rate, but the feel of the image maybe lacking. This ratio is entirely dependent on the client and brief of each project.
Q 4: Can all problems be resolved through the use of technology?
Technology is not human and no matter how smart it gets, will never be human. It cannot imagine, or feel, or make accidents. However technology can always solve a problem, if you can narrow down a problem to ‘yes or no’ technology will be able to answer it. So the real question is can design be a ‘Yes or NO’
Q5: Is technology is the perfect scapegoat?
Most of us do use technology as a scapegoat, this is perhaps because not all of use designers know how to use the technology well enough to product fault proof drawings and renders. Technology may have thecapability to be perfect but; as design programming currently stands it is the human controlling the technology, and aren’t mistake what makes us human? So perhaps the technology is only as good as the person using it.
Q6: Is the client is now driving the process as a result of technological expectations?
Perhaps the Artisan may be more in control of the design process because the client trusts the artist respresntation of what they will product. However with technically run businesses like design firms mayfind it more economical to show the client exactly what they are getting before construction starts to save money, and time during the construction process.