Originally uploaded by alexandra666.
I made this map after thinking about the state of the act of “making” something. In my former life, I used to be an industrial designer, then dove into installation design and then interaction design and now information architecture. That roller coaster didn’t mean that I never look back. I still enjoy building things with my hands as a professional so I thought I’d map out what that meant in 2006.
What has surprised me most and what I tried to capture here was the way that the act of making something in a professional sense (which is perhaps why I did not include craft here, you’ll have to forgive me) can now take place in so many different ways (in yellow type), using different tools (in black) and attracting different types of designers (in pink) who train and learn in very different environments (in white).
I obviously didn’t map out everything, I’d never finish it otherwise. The names I used are people, companies and institutions that jumped up at me when I sat down at a café to map this out last week. I see them as examples and not necessarily the end all and be all.
What seemed obvious to me doing this was that our mental model of “making a product” is slowly shifting, away from ourselves and our hands.
One only has to look at Matt’s work in Second Life to see him “making something” that doesn’t actually come out of his avatar’s hands, but instead materializes itself out of nowhere. Karim Rashid’s work is also reminiscent of that lack of relationship as most of his collections are never prototyped and go directly into manufacture without prior modeling or physical appreciation.
Then there is what i am calling the “democratization of product design” with the world of hackers taking over existing objects and playing around with their suggested functions and forms with platforms like Arduino.
If the web2.0 has it’s “old and dirty media” as Ze Frank puts it, I guess in product design it’s the classic product design schools puking out CAD drawers every minute.
I myself went to one of the few north american conceptual undergrad program and did not concentrate on learning the latest CAD tools. So many of the colleagues I have met however, told me it was a core part of their curriculum. A woman I met recently, working for an extremely prominent firm, confessed to me that although she knew such programs, she told her colleagues that she “wasn’t that great” so that they’d put her on more interesting and strategic tasks.
Ignorance is bliss in this case.
All in all I’m sure some of you will find gaps in this map so if anything, I hope it sparks debate :)