Design

Dasein

— Design being there as a design is present
— Design being there as a designed entity is present
— Design being there as the presence in some place has been planned
— Design being there as an experience is tailored for unique affect

Being There


When I hear ‘design’, I counter with ‘dasein’. In German, ‘dasein’ literally means ‘Being There’. Design Being There has interesting iterations.

Most importantly in my consideration, there is Martin Heidegger’s interpretation of Dasein as ‘being in the world.’ This is not to say there is a ‘being’ of some kind in a ‘world’, but instead a conglomerate phrase understood as a whole. It’s a totality concept which I am actually quite comfortable leaving as is in Heidegger’s own words: [Dasein is] that entity which in its Being has this very Being as an issue… Dasein seems to be not just the being-ness of being, but that being’s consideration of its being-ness. All this, of course, leads to very silly sounding conversation, but such things happen when we dissect and discern to simpler forms.

Form

Those last two words are very important to me as well. Take the latter: form, such as Plato’s ideal forms. They are the real thing and anything anyone has ever made strives to be the perfect embodiment of such a form. This I call the ‘-ness’ of things, such as a chair. A chair has a chair-ness, or attributes that liken it to an ideal chair. The more of these there are, the more recognizable the object is as a chair. The less there are, the further from the ideal form it becomes. It must be decided what is ‘chair’ and action then may proceed in order to approach ‘chair-ness’. Again, we sound silly, but perhaps in all seriousness we are revealing a truer nature to form. That of structure and sense.

Forms, whether from any material imaginable–and we are reaching such a state in our technological advancement–or simply discussed possess structure. They have a network of linked supports that serve to provide the skeleton for the flesh we consider the collective whole when we consider a form. It must not be dismissed that the structure is an integral part of the form by any means.

Sense

As for sense–and I deliberately use that instead of the term logic–forms, whether multidimensional or not, must emit a sense of themselves. To reiterate a term, their ‘-ness’ must be cohesive and as mentioned previously a form’s structure is a necessary part of this. A form’s ‘-ness’ must be detectable based on subtle hints an observer may take for granted. The form must take advantage of the instincts that serve to automatically construct it’s nature in and to the participant.

Simplicity

Now we can discuss the former word from a moment ago: simple. It is my contention that as we advance, so does our concept of what is, in fact, simple. Take the wheel: any number of pictures come to mind to any one individual. A wheel is not just something round, however, that definition is already suited to the circle. A wheel is a functional item, can in some form take weight and still function; and is widely used for transport. Our consideration of what is understood as a wheel, then, is actually quite complex but may never have always been the case. Take teaching a child for the first time what the color blue is. Holding up a blue covered book, the instructor says, ‘blue.’ The child, in its innocence, holds up another, different colored book and announces, ‘blue!’ The child’s concept of what is blue is as a whole thing and not an attribute of a thing. The instructor must then educate the child on the caveats of what an object is, how a book is an object, and so on until the instructor can arrive at what ‘blue’ in fact is. It is in this that my contention lies: Be simple, for a sentient being will bring the complexities of interpretation. It must not be forgotten, however, that given the appropriate sense, structure, and ‘-ness’ of the form such interpretations can be steered and suggested without being obvious.

Interactivity

While I have spent time in web design, it has not escaped my consideration that all that is ever done in the end is a point and a click. While in more physical tasks, there may be lifting, running, pushing, or any manner of exertions to achieve something. The latter causes an enormous sense of involvement because one feels tired in the end, while the former can do so only by wearing out the eyes and perhaps the wrist. A designer must therefore, in either instance, create a participatory value by way of promoting curiosity, vibrancy and cohesion.

Guidance

After training as an educator, I can say with all confidence that nothing should be assumed on the part of the designer. Expectations can be made, but only after adequate information has been imparted to control a behavior or produce an outcome. While hand-holding through an experience or art work may be at the forefront, a great deal of independence on behalf of the user can then be given much later. It should be the designer that trains and guides practices and thought processes of the user/viewer so that when the user/viewer is left to her own devices, behaviors are in place to continue practices originally set in place by the designer.

Technology

Through various advances in production technologies, we can create virtually–if not actually–anything that comes to mind. One should always begin with the simplest of technologies and work up however. This is to say, using the skills I possess to click and drag things in various programs to solidify a concept, I do not forget that my roots lie in the simplest of technologies; a pencil and paper.

The approach I have is to consider that while certain capabilities are only possible via some physical technologies, their actual output, by way of a computer, become styles. Having created by hand, with the knowledge of terms and labeled skills of the practices and processes of physical technologies bears out an understanding of what to do when I arrive at a computer application with those elements present. As we move into the virtual reality of creating, we must realize that it is in the physical reality where our understanding was founded. The history of the term, skill or practice in production is just as important as the knowledge of how to use it.

Material & Production

While it is my process to begin with an idea, material realities are becoming more flexible and capable that they can be almost an after thought. There are materials and processes that achieve the best results to be sure, but it is increasingly the case that materials can be made to suit the purpose of the idea.

I am not dismissing material or process in favor of the idea, for many times the idea, or its attitude, may require certain materials for effect–either decorative or structural. To achieve a certain attitude, some materials are absolutely essential even when another maybe even cheaper.

Capability

When materials and process come into the equation of execution of the idea, then respect must be paid to their capabilities. I deliberately think of such things in terms of their capability rather than using the term ‘limit’ because it helps me retain a positive outlook on the material in question. Said material may not be conducive to an aspect of a project, but it may still need to be considered for another aspect.

Combining Material

So on to the combination of materials: they can contradict or compliment each other as is needed for the project, but the decision should be deliberate and in line with the idea or purpose. The combination can also serve structural purposes but it is not entirely necessary.

After Thought

A final notion: one could reverse the Design Dasein to Dasein Design, yet this creates a dilemma to me. As such, it doesn’t seem to have sense to it so I can’t find the structure and therefore it is not a completed form for me.