Sunday, 02. 5. 2012

Design probably isn’t something that came naturally to me. Design appreciation might, but not design application. On the odd occasion I do still get involved in a little web design, the majority of time is spent on resolving small issues which should be instinctive, like deciding on a set of colours that go best with yellow. For that matter I’m crap at maths too and it’s still a source of much amusement that my University of Caledonian staff card states ‘Department of Mathematics and Computing’ beside my name. Not as amusing as it would be to Mr Hutcheson my high school maths teacher right enough. In fact he’d probably think it was forged.

Caledonian University Staff card

It wasn’t until studying for a Masters in Computing at Strathclyde University that I realised ‘design’ and ‘computing’ and therefore ‘creativity’ and ‘science’ were not mutually exclusive. Having just gradated from Glasgow School of Art, I opted to join the dark side and in doing so provoked a snort of derision from many a fellow GSA graduate. (Odd how many of them now have iphones and twitter accounts). My new classmates were equally skeptical, finding it hard to believe that it was possible to derive equal enjoyment from visits to East End Park and the GFT. As most of them wore Adidas kick trainers with white socks, I wasn’t too bothered. It was like being Mo Johnston (or Kenny Miller for anyone under 25), but with a slightly bigger vocabulary and minus this blonde highlights.

I’ve probably made a career out of blending an understanding of design and technology, though this was not embarked upon with any degree of vision or planning. Like many people, my career has been defined by my first job. In my case this was at Virtuality as a 3D designer, a role that in very literal terms demanded an understanding of design and the ability to create 3D worlds using fairly complex software. Since then I have been, and continue to be, a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. I have both a membership to MOMA and subscribe to .NET magazine, though I couldn’t tell you who was exhibiting at the former and can only attempt the tutorials requiring ‘moderate programming skills ’ in the latter.

Wired magazine cover

In the last 15 years or so magazines like Wired and institutions like TED have not just cemented the benefits of combining design and technology, but championed the cause. So it would seem the genie is well and truly out of the bottle, and it pays as a designer, to understand a little tech, and as a developer or scientist, to possess some aesthetic appreciation. Just as well I say…

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