September 25, 2012


Design Wants to Be Free : An object is no longer something you merely consume. It's something you create. Famed industrial designer Yves Behar explains why this shift is a revolution in the making. (YVES BEHAR, 09.24.12 6:30 AM

Design wants to be free, to paraphrase Stewart Brand. And when I say "free," I'm talking about the broadest sense of the word--meaning both low-cost and liberated. We're not there yet, but that moment isn't far off. What will liberate design? Our tools, for one; they are increasingly cheap, powerful, and available to all. Design no longer signifies high priests at their drafting tables but rather you and me at our computers: 3-D printers are the new inkjets, and the age of desktop publishing is fast becoming the age of desktop manufacturing. Haven't yet printed your own toys, household staples, and replacement parts? You will soon. And even if you're not remotely interested in making stuff yourself, you're probably still quick to appreciate that there's something really cool about skyscrapers that go up in two weeks or the glass that protects your iPhone.

Tools are liberating design, but so are people. We have become participants on social platforms that allow us to collaborate and customize and create, and in the process we've become expert collaborators, customizers, and creators--whether that means sharing gorgeously distressed photos on Instagram or uploading a 3-D design for a Warhammer soldier on Thingiverse, the MakerBot community site.

The upshot: Design isn't just something we appreciate, it's something we do. Autodesk is helping by creating tools and services that it hopes will power the maker movement. And Etsy is changing the definition of "handmade" by helping its sellers manufacture their wares on a larger scale.

This ever-more-free design is speeding the adoption of new ideas, which in turn disrupt old industries. Designers, coders, and entrepreneurs are challenging notions that sustainability is expensive, that technology is hard to use, that quality is exclusive. No segment of the economy will be left untouched.

Posted by at September 25, 2012 4:55 AM

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