Podchain, ownership and usership

Car ownership was a fundamental idea of progress since Henry Ford came up with his Model T in the early 20th century. During the America’s golden years, roughly from the nineteen- fifties until 9/11, owning a car was the first thing on every teenager’s mind. It was a sign of freedom and independence, the visible expression of the American dream, and ultimately a social necessity. The car you owned showed who you are, what you like, and where you stand in the social hierarchy.

Things have changed. Millennials own less cars than previous generations. Notorious traffic jams, CO2 pollution and parking problems make car ownership in cities difficult, and smartphone- based ride-hailing services such as Uber make it less necessary.

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From Photoshop to Artificial Intelligence

President Trump recently tweeted about allegedly photoshopped pictures of Melania. It shows that in our social media age, the task of editing images becomes increasingly important. The current market leader in image manipulation is Adobe’s Photoshop, namesake of the now common verb “photoshopping”. Photoshop is part of Adobe Creative Cloud, a subscription service for image software which generated a revenue of over 1 billion US$ in 2017.

The playing field is changing with a new breed of image software powered by Generative Adversarial Networks. Photoshop features intricate workflow processes, making it useful only for trained specialists. AI-powered image manipulation is however capable of much more, with the potential for a much larger market.

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Like friends, follow uses

Digital machines such as smartphones frame behavior and instill new cultural and social practices. ‘Liking’, ‘sharing’, ‘following’ are relational activities which have been defined by social media and established as new normal in the shaping of human relationships. The phenomenon of communication devices prompting new behaviors and expressions is not new: for instance, the word “hello” did not exist until the development of the telephone.

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The 5 C’s: Design skills for the near future

CODE

Since the first introduction of CAD and 3d modeling systems, code is behind most products. With generative design, the code becomes the design itself. Big data about user behaviour in combination with machine learning and adaptive production methods (Industry 4.0) will make highly personalized and adaptive design solutions the new normal. To master code, designers should be able to write it.

CONSTRUCTION

With the Internet of Things, the division between interaction design and industrial design is about to disappear. A designer should know how to code, prototype, and build intelligent products with embedded applications. Starting points are the Raspberry Pi, Arduino or Nanode.

COMPLEXITY

Global economic, technological, social and environmental issues are getting increasingly intertwined. There are no simple solutions to complex problems. The ability to navigate complexity will be a key skill for the designer of the future.

CULTURE

In a globalized world, cultures can adapt, mix, or clash, and differences can be hard to handle. Deep-seated assumptions rooted in a designer’s own culture can lead to products which do not work in other cultures – psychologically or in terms of use. Openness, the ability to emphatize, and an understanding of different cultures and users will be as important as understanding economy and technology.

CYCLE

In a world of limited resources, knowledge of recycling technologies, biodegradable materials, and the ability to design for a circular economy – by considering disassembly and recycling already during the design process – becomes increasingly important. Designers should be able not only to conceive new products, but to plan the way these products are made, unmade, and recycled. What comes around goes around.

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This post was originally published in February 2014.

Art, Design and the Elements

Aristotle explained the elements in terms of what we might call sensual qualities: hot, cold, wet and dry. His main thought was that all materials are manifestations of different compositions of the elements. This idea – that the world consists of underlying elements – was fundamental in several ways. It implies that the world is not what it outwardly seems: A stone is not just a stone – it is composed of a mixture of elements which we cannot see. If the world consists of underlying elements, then materials could be transformed by changing their underlying composition.

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Analysing the Digital: Transformations, Territories, Frames and Uses

While the digital is explained in itself by computer science, important questions for the humanities – such as how the Digital affects human behaviour, or how it impacts society and economy – are outside its scope. Different disciplines have provided answers, but there has been no integrated concept bridging these insights.

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