Friday, November 21, 2014

Design, Evolution and Living in the Middle

It strikes me this morning that one of the great lessons to be learned by examining design as analogous to evolutionary biology is that we see ourselves and our designs not as end points but as a platforms that sit somewhere in the middle of a much longer process. As designers we often are focused on that glorious end note of the artifact. We see it as an triumphant ending to our hard work. This is a weakness that we need to leave in our past. If we see our design instead as a mid-point that perhaps will lead later to something else we might design something quite different. We still must try to achieve our objectives but leave the door open for future exploration. Dubberly discussed this somewhat in his article "Design in the Age of Biology..."
I often think of my work, my design and my research in this light. When I write or create some thing, what is in it that I leave behind for others (or perhaps even myself) that might spark new ideas at a later time. I don't worry about what those other new ideas might be but I ask myself — am I leaving the door open for something else later. It requires letting go of my ego a bit. My design will not be the end of something but if it is good enough perhaps it will continue to live through creative work that might happen in the future. I believe this is a powerful notion that can drive me to do interesting things. I stand on the shoulders of past works and if I do it well then perhaps I will create a platform that others can use to do things that I didn't foresee.

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