In the past few years of my professional design career I have often pondered over what it might be like to design without the modern tools I have been provided. Would I ideate, sketch, or build my concepts in the same manner? Would my way of thinking about a project be different because of the tools I utilize to create it? Would famed designers like the Eames or Le Corbusier have taken the same steps and been so dramatically influential if they were in a modern era?
I have found that in both commercial, and educational settings, Computer Aided Design can become a bit of a crutch. With programs like the Abode Suites (Illustrator, Photoshop,etc.), Solidworks, and many more, designers seem to have become less in tune with a concept as a whole and more focused on a fast approach to an attractive end result. Gone are the days where your average designer is in a woodshop building prototypes or sitting at their drafting table in a suit sketching the next big logo. Now, most designers spend their hours in front of the computer screen, perfecting digital line weights and rendering those flashy devices we all know and love so much.
A major downside to these incredible programs is the occasional absence of thought and the steps taken to represent that thought to make it into a reality. To have a successful design, it does not always require masterful illustration or craftsmanship. If the idea is there, the intent will be the driving force for its success. The simplicity of a pencil sketch that evolves into twenty other permutations on the same concept is a powerful thing. A successful design is not always measured on how pretty it looks in a rendering or how great the colors stand out. The best designs are just damn good ideas.
The great part about these C.A.D. programs is the speed and accuracy at which we can create our ideas. In some instances you can draw a rendering on a computer and within a few minutes to a few hours, have a 3D model at your desk next to you. Technology is moving at a rapid pace and our design process is along for the ride. There is seemingly limitless possibility to the extent of what we as humans will be able to produce as we move into the next generation of technology.
I, as a designer, struggle with this issue because it is so hard not to become so dependent upon programs that streamline your workflow. We must try and remind ourselves to be thoughtful and considerate of our process.
—Greg Cordeiro is a regular contributor to Juxtapoz Design, and the co-founder of New England Outerwear