courage can't see around corners but goes around them anyway. ~Mignon McLaughlin

Is DIY design forcing us to make better stuff?

There’s a particular way that American designers gather and debate trends that I just love. It’s loosely organised but not proper — a bunch of smart people sharing opinions for the sake of uncovering something new. That’s my sense of the IDSA conference coming up in Portland that I will, sadly, miss this year.

Hot topic this year is the role of DIY in the design profession and the implications it has on the practice of design. In the 3D world of physical product design, 3D modelling and rapid prototyping give enthusiastic amateurs a chance to materialise the ideas that would have otherwise lived only in their minds. Likewise, in the virtual world, open source technology has demystified the Web. DIY virtual design means anyone with an idea and a bit of gumption can make a website, an app, or a mash up of functinalities, put it out int he world and see what happens. The result, as we have all seen, is the proliferation of useless digital crap, but equally, a handful of gems that have been lovingly polished over time. Here’s what the Shapeways blog has to say about it:

“DIY design is a fertile space where innovative design can be made tested and reiterated very quickly without the interference of management, marketing departments, safety regulations and maybe even patents.  Where bespoke design means the distance between what people want and what they get is much closer than with a mass produced object. ”

It will be interesting to see how DIY design and development at the grassroots level affects consumer expectations of products. Will we all expect our products to work harder for us? Will it result in better quality products or just crap in higher quanity? It will be interesting to see what the folks at the IDSA conference have to say an what conclusions and actions emerge from those debates.

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