Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gaining A lack of control

I was educated by people who, for the most part, design products to be mass produced. It's kind of the point of industrial design - make something that is reproducible using efficient manufacturing and standard materials. It's something that I have had to start thinking about professionally - products for a mass market, a user profile which dictates aesthetics, obeying the trends which sometimes conflict with my sensibilities. It's almost the opposite of the factors which I consider when working on personal projects. You give up some of your artistic control to gain the ability to design at all.  Everything is standardized to allow for optimal production and sales.

The process of designing for industrial means of production is actually really similar to designing for DIY production. You have to think about your reasoning behind the product: Is it going to be useful to different people in different situations, what materials and tools will be used to make this thing, and how much importance are you going to place on aesthetics? You're basically doing the same thing, but for a smaller audience. The only thing that you really lose is uniformity. Because production is in the hands of a bunch of individuals, no two finished objects will be the same. You have to be open to all sorts of  interpretation, success, failure, and disagreement.

Though there is something very satisfying about seeing a factory made product of your design, surprise will rarely be a positive reaction. Nobody ever sends instructions which, instead of a standard pantone color, say "surprise me." In the ideal situation, you have control over every detail and always get what you expect. But I really like surprises and a bit of diversity as well. That is one of the reasons I share knitting patterns here on my blog and on ravelry. Earlier this week I posted a bunch of interpretations of the same knitting pattern. Each product looks very different from the others, but that's the best way to cater to an audience of individuals. People create things that I would never do, and, for the most part, they like it more than if I had only allowed them to make my version.

This must be why people continue to value handmade over machinemade.

It's pretty exciting to have freedom.

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