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Design as a Craft, Not a Commodity

Gadi Amit, founder and principal designer of the San Francisco firm NewDealDesign, kicked off the inaugural Designers of Things (DoT) conference here in San Francisco, setting off a discussion that echoed throughout the day of Internet of Things (IoT), wearables, and 3D printing panels and presentations: matching rational (or business) factors to emotional (or human) factors as we progress with design.

Amit has a deep personal perspective on the subject from his work on iconic products, including the FitBit, the Lytro Camera, and Google's modular and 3D printed Ara phone.

What he notes in our wearable progression thus far is data versus experience. Google Glass, as an example, is excellent work in product development but offers the wearer a less than smooth user experience, often putting the design emphasis on the collection of data, not the quality of use.

“The biggest challenge we have is moving away from 'smart' devices to 'wise' devices,” he said. It's not enough to collect data; there's a need to analyze that data for the benefit of the user to create a truly personalized device.

Part of what's holding designers back in creating more personal designs is a loss of “the wisdom of the hands.” As we've moved more toward CAD and application-intensive design, and away from simple sketches and modeling with physical materials, the argument could be made that we've lost some of the craftsmanship that comes with designing more-than-commodity products.

Amit discusses the benefits of designing with one's hands as we stand at the cusp of a new era in design, as well as taking a more positive stance on design accomplishments, personalization in wearables, and inspiration in the following short video.

This article was originally published on EBN sister publication EDN.

17 comments on “Design as a Craft, Not a Commodity

  1. Eldredge
    September 25, 2014

    Unfortunately, the viseo clip wouldn't play for me – but the distinction between smart and wise devices strikes a cord with me. Wise goes to the next level.

     

  2. Daniel
    September 25, 2014

    “Gadi Amit, founder and principal designer of the San Francisco firm NewDealDesign, kicked off the inaugural Designers of Things (DoT) conference here in San Francisco, setting off a discussion that echoed throughout the day of Internet of Things (IoT), wearables, and 3D printing panels and presentations: matching rational (or business) factors to emotional (or human) factors as we progress with design.”

    Suzanne, it seems that a new branch DoT is evolving gradually like IoT. Am not really getting the sense of DoT and what does it really means?

  3. Eldredge
    September 25, 2014

    @Jacob – I agree – not really sure what DoT encompasses. I'd like to see the concept embrace designing for 3D printing technology – I think that conventional design software may need to go through a metamorphasis to further enable 3D printing.

  4. prabhakar_deosthali
    September 26, 2014

    I believe “The Designers of things” is an initiative to take advantage of new technologies such as 3D printing to enhance the creativity and reduce the turnaround time from , an idea to a product.

    Many a things which would require a manual effort and hence a lot of time to bring ideas into real products , are now possible with the enw machines and software. 

    Many a ideas which just remained dreams in the minds of creative people have now become possibilities to turn them into real products.

    So this Designers of things is a good forum for such people.

     

  5. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 26, 2014

    @Jacob, DoT was a great new conference that had its first year last week in San Francisco. It brought designers from all over to talk about the challenges of electronics product design today. It was fascinating and a lot of fun!

  6. Taimoor Zubar
    September 28, 2014

     

    “Many a ideas which just remained dreams in the minds of creative people have now become possibilities to turn them into real products.”

     

    @prabhakar: I think that's where the true power of technology lies. It takes away the mundane tasks from human beings and gives them more free time at their hands to come up with creative ideas and convert ideas into prototypes.

  7. Eldredge
    September 28, 2014

    @prabhakar – Sometimes the issue of manufacturing a prototype is a major roadblock to progress, or to the validation of an idea. I can certainly see how 3D printing hwlps to make that task easier, and therfore progress more rapid.

  8. Houngbo_Hospice
    September 28, 2014

    @Jacob : I think the main goal of DoT is to help accelerate the design and business of wearable technologies, 3D printing etc…

  9. Houngbo_Hospice
    September 28, 2014

    3D printing has the potential to make prototyping easier. It is already redefining the way people think about design.

  10. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 28, 2014

    @Hospice, I agree… it's definitely aimed at these fast paced markets focused on innovation.

  11. Daniel
    September 28, 2014

    “DoT was a great new conference that had its first year last week in San Francisco. It brought designers from all over to talk about the challenges of electronics product design today. It was fascinating and a lot of fun!”

    Hailey, what's was the outcome of that conference. Any new method or pattern of design?

  12. Daniel
    September 28, 2014

    “I agree – not really sure what DoT encompasses. I'd like to see the concept embrace designing for 3D printing technology – I think that conventional design software may need to go through a metamorphasis to further enable 3D printing.”

    Eldredge, I think 3D is so common with most of the industries. We have to formulate the printing technology for 4D and 5D.

  13. Daniel
    September 29, 2014

    “I think the main goal of DoT is to help accelerate the design and business of wearable technologies, 3D printing etc…”

    Hospice, it may not limited to design itself, how to go further for good designs, tools available for easiness etc.

  14. Himanshugupta
    September 29, 2014

    Did not quite get the message with data vs experience. Most of the time user data give insight about the user experience as users might not provide a quantitative measure for designers. 

  15. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    October 22, 2014

    @Jacob, the outcome was a bunch of stuff… a lot of advice for designers on how to get the product from concept to actual manufacturing. There were a bunch of deisgn ideas presented as well which was fascinating. And vendors talking to desingers about good design for manufacturing strategies. Those were my key takeaways.

  16. Daniel
    October 24, 2014

    “the outcome was a bunch of stuff… a lot of advice for designers on how to get the product from concept to actual manufacturing. There were a bunch of deisgn ideas presented as well which was fascinating. And vendors talking to desingers about good design for manufacturing strategies. Those were my key takeaways.”

    Hailey, thanks for the clarification. So it's a combined effort between vendors and designers.

  17. Rosesmith
    October 29, 2014

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