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December 3, 2006

What design is...

Niel Gershenfield: Niel's article talks about personal fabrication (PF), which is more or less the essence of being. It is literally creating creation. His idea of PF is niether good nor bad, but an observation. The article relates machines to creative form, and molds them together as one. Gerhsenfield's idea of this concept is illustrated through his writings on a class he taught called, "How to make almost anything". Originally, he had designed the class for advanced engineers, but it ended up being for anyone with a desire to create. In the process of teaching the class, Niel learned that the most successful creations were made not by engineers, but those that had the most drive and the most creativity. Because of this observation he understood that anyone can learn and apply anything. Through this idea, is an underlying structure to the creation of what we call technology. Greshenfield acknowledges that technology can be dangerous, but it can also work to improve and brighten what is a dull existance. The point is that technology exists, and we can embrace it or ignore it but it will never dissapear. It is a natural evolution of its own.
Luis Khan: Luis takes a more philosophical approach to the same idea expressed above, and relates it to architecture. He believes, that everything living has consciousness (grass, atoms, cells, bugs, humans, etc.), but this type of consciousness cannot be understood as we (being humans) understand ourselves. He also talks of nature competing with man through his speech about silence and light. I think he is saying through out the article that humans have a desire to create beyond all boundaries, to have no limits. Architecture he says does limit people in this way. (He uses an example of car wheels having to be designed so they work well, even though we may like the idea of square wheels, there are limits in which we must obey in designing a working structure). Khan's message however, is although these limits exist, do not shy away from thinking about designs outside of these man made limits and applying them to our creative structures. With that said, he leaves us to consider all of the things that make up the essence of design and existance as a whole...(Spirit, nature, connection, art, power, technology, etc.) or whatever else it may be.
The relation: What I draw from the two articles, is that as architects, we should never stifle our creativity, but be aware of boundaries and the effects of our design on the world. One particular effect is technology, and I think they focus in this as a main issue of caution, but also a main creative force. With in our minds is the ability to shape the world... create it, destroy it, improve it, neglect it.... we need to be aware of how powerful our creativity is and what we are truly capable of. I think their writings are niether negative or positive, but simply informative. Design is language, power, spirit, nature, man... and much more. It is up to us to create the most out of our creations.