UPCOMING THEMES: IMPERFECTION & DESIGN
Ligature Journal has a theme for each issue which provides focus for that issue. The themes of alternate issues are slanted towards each of the meta themes of mind (intellectual), soul (intangible/spiritual) and body (physical).
We humans are messy and imperfect. We frequently do not act rationally when we are expected to, nor do we always interact predictably with designed things/places/experiences/information in the ways we are supposed to, well at least not always in ways that designers intend us to. We may also adapt (hack?) design in ways or for uses that were not intended by the designers as well.
Is this not why, for example, the photography of newly completed architectural projects so rarely include people or even evidence of genuine occupation?
As users of design humans are imperfect. But designers are also human. We strive to find optimal solutions to problems—perfect solutions to problems—utilising/resisting our own imperfection. Is this actually possible, though? Is it even what we should be doing?
As designers we are exhorted to be more perfect in our work by collections/anthologies/pinboards of apparently perfect work. Often reproduced at smaller than actual size and devoid of context these examples are intimidatingly perfect—all ‘blemishes’ are disguised and reduced to near or actual invisibility.
However, the design process, effective design process at least, relies on—requires even—imperfection. Think about iteration and prototyping—quick, crude partial solutions that may only solve part of the problem and are very imperfect as a result. We employ skills in lateral thinking and use ‘fuzzy’ logic—imprecise, adaptive and incomplete or the ‘no idea is a bad idea’ of brainstorming to wend our way to the outcome we need. All very necessary processes that are built on imperfection.
Some of the tools we employ depend on very highly perfect work, for example, website coding where an out-of-place comma can potentially cause the site to be completely non-functional. And some of our production processes strive for a high degree of perfection, for example, printing presses that produce millions of identical impressions of a brochure.
As designers, as humans, should we continue to strive for perfect results everywhere? Perfection creates waste, huge amounts of it, in resources and time. Perfection can be dehumanising and even psychologically destructive. Perfection may also be unattainable in some (many?) instances. Conversely, an imperfect design may actually work
better than a perfect one.
Don’t get us wrong. Perfection, or should we say precision design is sometimes vitally important. However, in this world of pandemic and human induced climate change should we not reconsider how perfect what we do needs to be? Can we not instead allow for imperfection to become an integral part of what we create?
Our challenge to you then as a designer is to discuss how imperfection impacts on your internal processes and how can you employ is more and where can you bring imperfection fruitfully into the end results of what you produce?
We want to investigate the thinking of designers about how (and why) they design the physical, virtual, conceptual, experiential, intangible and even spiritual aspects of place. We want to delve into the role and impact of place on design and designers. We are looking particularly for the thinking of communication, experience, object and spatial designers but we would love to hear from other designers too.
Expected publication of Issue #10: September 2021
Future Themes & Issues
Theme and dates for Issues #11 will be confirmed early-next year.