Design is to design a design to produce a design.

I was at Brand Experience Lab last week and David Polinchock was describing how he talks to clients about the potential of cutting edge interaction design hardware. He quoted someone else who pointed out that our children could have access to 3D printers and so, just before leaving to live away at university, they’ll print their furniture.

A neat concept, but what put the clutch pedal down in my brain is what David said next: “We’ll all design, because we can.” That shifts designers from primarily makers of products to makers of design tools.

David Polinchock


  1. This reminds me of professor John Heskett from Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University. He held a keynote at BBD partly about that design is a problem, not a solution. He’s also got some brilliant views on design as a complex business activity versus art.

    Here’s his theory, although you probably already know it:

    “Design (Noun 1) is to design (Verb) a design (Noun 2) to produce a design (Noun 3).

    Noun 1 – A general concept, strategy or policy
    What do you mean by design?

    Verb – A condition or action
    What kinds of designers do you need in your company?

    Noun 2 – A plan or intention for implementation
    How is design positioned and what are its’ function?

    Noun 3 – The finished outcome
    For whom are your products important?

    For any company to be design proficient it needs to address all these levels.”

  2. Aditya Dev Sood gave an excellent talk here in Helsinki titled “Used in india”, where he challenged that most of our conceptions of design stem from industrialisation, and it’s time to rethink.

  3. Our kids? No! We’ll have 3d printers! You can already get custom made parts made on the Internet, and sent to you. There are desktop CNC machines available for a few grand, and these will come down in price pretty quickly, get faster, and more usable.

    Indeed, the tools to control these things will become the hardest design challenge.

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