Design is everywhere these days. It gets attached to anything, it seems. It’sa way o distinguishing commodity rom considered cratsmanship. Look around a bit and you’ll nd many kinds o endeavors — service design,business design, product design, experience design, industrial design, circuitdesign, nance design, research design — that have had design stitched ontodesign with a simple hyphen.I might imagine that such happens rather generically. Te hyphen is atrope, a grammatical meaning-making code that says —
we haven’t entirely worked through what it might be to do
simultaneously.We’ll work it out, but know this — we’re trying to do something dierent,and clever, and creative and thoughtul.
Design allows you to use your imagination and creativity explicitly. Tink as a designer thinks. Be dierent and think dierent. Make new, unexpect-ed things come to lie. ell new stories. Reveal new experiences, new socialpractices, or that reect upon today to contemplate innovative, new, habit-able utures. oss out the bland, routine, “proprietary” processes. ake somenew assumptions or a walk. ry on a dierent set o specications, goalsand principles.(My hunch is that i design continues to be applied like bad ashion tomore areas o human practice, it will become blanched o its meaning overtime, much as the application o e- or i- or interactive- or digital- to any-thing and everything quickly becomes another “and also” type o redundan-cy.) When something is “designed” it suggests that there is some thoughtulexploration going on. Assuming design is about linking the imaginationto its material orm, when design is attached to something, like businessor nance, we can take that to mean that there is some ambition to movebeyond the existing ways o doing things, toward something that adheresto dierent principles and practices. Tings get done dierently somehow,or with a spirit that means to transcend merely ollowing pre-dened steps.Design seems to be a notice that says there is some purposeul reection andconsideration going on expressed as the thoughtul, imaginative and mate-rial crat work activities o a designer.Tere are many ways to express one’s imagination. I’ve chosen airly ma-terial ways over the years — engineering, art-technology, a small bit o writing. Nowadays, design occurs to me to be especially promising alongside o the other orms o creative materialization I have explored. It pro-vides a way to embed my imagination into the material things I’ve beenmaking because it looks to be able to straddle the extremes o hard, coldact (engineering) and the liminal, reective and introspective (art). Designplays a role across this spectrum in various specic ways. Tere is no single,canonical design practice that is ound across this range. But, just as there is“computer design” or “database design” or “application design” as it pertainsto the world o science and engineering; just as there is design to be oundin the routines o art making, whether adherence to style or genre in such a way as one might reer to art and design, we can say that design, i only the word but probably much more, is a practice with the ability to travel and betaken-up in various creative, material-making endeavors. Probably because
Playing o design in the Dutch context broadly, I ound this adver-tisement at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in November o 2008, amonth ater most people mark the rst widespread global econom-ic quakes resulting rom many years o very poor, negligent and, insome cases, criminal “nancial design.” Te advertisement couplestwo particularly Dutch historical and cultural idioms: capitalism anddesign. Te advertisement is aspirational, but the apg Group tag line— “
Tomorrow is today
” — is a painully ironic bit o wisdom.
Fiction is evolutionarily valuable because it allows low-cost experimenta-tion compared to trying things or real
Dennis Dutton, overheard on witter