Design = Necessity

What happens when all the potential technology there is to be made, is made? Maybe this is impossible, but lets just try to think about it. There is no new version of a computer to be had, no new iPhone 20.5E or what have you. Instead, all the technology is out there for each customer to choose from, Apple or Samsung, laptop or desktop, unlimited data or just 4GB a month. How will a customer make their decision? What will really be the difference between one piece of technology and another? I would argue the differentiating factor would be the user experience. Literally, how it feels to use each object. How can one make a user experience totally top notch and above all else?


How should we define design exactly? Design can be defined as a process of creation that considers, simultaneously, the aesthetic, functional, economic, and sociopolitical aspects of the future object. So, to make a piece of technology aesthetically, functionally, economically, and sociopolitically relevant one must create it through design. In this lens, design is not a cosmetic afterthought that makes something “pretty”, it is the actual approach to creating something new that makes that new something actually relevant to its audience.

What about the overlaps between design and information? Today is the information age, right? So what do we do with all of this information? How do we digest and learn about it? The first step is deciding how to figure out what to read. How do we do this? We curate the information in our daily lives to weed out that which we like, and that which we don’t like. Swipe right, swipe left. Yes that is dating app terminology, but check out the Daily Beast who got on this trend to help sort news.   They designed their app to be socially relevant.  Social in that is was what their audience is habituated to physically doing when looking at a lot of options on a small phone.  Curation is a synonym to design. Just as designing something means focusing on amplifying the most meaningful experience to be had with an object, curation focuses on amplifying the most clear narrative within a set of information. Both processes are a way to distill, and yield an ease of understanding from the part of the user or viewer.   And in today’s world, where speed is the game, no one has time to waste being confused.

Design leads certain technologies to be well used, and desired.  Design changes how we consume information, how we educate ourselves.  Design phrases and shapes actually almost everything.  

John Maeda, ex President of Rhode Island School of Design recently started a new role as Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (KPCB). Quick review, KPCB is one of the biggest most influential venture capital firms (people who seek out new business ideas and invest money in them to get them going) out there. The fact that they have now built out a Design branch of their firm is saying something. They believe Design is what will be the deciding factor of the success and relevance of the businesses of the future. I tend agree. Check out some screenshots from their site:

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