Designing at the Speed of Light
At the beginning of my career, more than 37 years ago, when fax machines were just introduced to the business world, my first employer in the design profession mentioned to me that the facsimile machine would be the downfall of architecture and engineering if we were not careful. In my inexperienced way, I questioned how such a groundbreaking technology could do anything but help? In hindsight, his response was rather insightful: “Everyone will want things immediately, with shorter response times. It will not be good for the profession, because design takes time”. If my employer or any of us could have envisioned the advancements in technology and communication that have occurred in the nearly four decades since this insight was given.
Think about it, the design profession now lives in the world of computers, emails, websites, cell phones, handheld devices, word processing, virtual teaming platforms, computerized schedules, file transfer web sites, building information modeling, geospatial imaging systems, and LiDAR scanned point clouds. Who could have conceived of these advancements in less than span of a single career? So, are these tools and technologies, inherently bad? Not at all…
Without question, the technologies are tremendous advancements for the design profession, because they allow us to more quickly explore and implement a design solution; and exploring various design options confirms that the concept being brought forward has been vetted, allowing the best option to be implemented. With that being said, I will re-state what I learned almost 40 years ago. Design takes time. While all of the technologies are wonderful advancements and provide tremendous depth and breadth of capability for every design professional; the process of design takes time.
Design is the process of thinking, analyzing, calculating, organizing, and planning a design challenge. All of these activities take time. Certainly, the technologies we have at our disposal in the profession allow us to perform certain tasks more quickly, but that is no substitute for the time it takes to carefully consider all the facets of a design challenge. Time must be given its due consideration when approaching a well-conceived design solution. The technologies at our disposal are not the end-product of what we design, they are simply tools to help communicate the design solution. Don’t let a demanding schedule or deadline, or getting consumed in the use of a new technology, compromise our ability to take the time needed in design to think, analyze, calculate, organize, and plan our next design solution. Design takes time.