CAD is our greatest asset and our biggest adversary.
I’ll give some of your questions a try:
What computer aided design techniques were available to you during your education?
I studied at Newcastle just as they were getting in their first PCs. We could use the Apple lab upstairs (but the it was hard to pry the graphic designs away), or put up with some ancient AutoCad machines (4 PCs between 100 ID students!). This was of course somewhere in the mid 18th Century.
I got into Alias at work later on though, and loved it.
It’s funny how CAD seems to draw designers in like moths. It must be the bright lights or something…
Do you believe there is an ideal way of working for a designer? i.e. A model design process that can be used throughout the design industry.
There’s an ideal way to make coffee. It’s just other people seem to think their coffee is better. Same with ID -there are many ways to reach similar goals, and no way of fairly measuring one result against the other.
Here’s my 2 cents anyway. CAD should just be used as a tool to AID the process and not to define the process.
How has CAD software developed since your first beginnings as a designer?
Quicker, faster, more intuitive and user friendly. Early days of Autocad sucked.
Things that haven’t changed: bad posture, long hours, carpel tunnel, and everything takes twice as long as you expect it will.
Do you feel emerging CAD technology has enhanced the design process? And why?
It has given us a lot more control over complex surfaces, that otherwise would have been limited to the size of the radius template or french curve at hand. Believe me, in a studio of ten drawing boards there was only one 150mm radius guide (the other templates went in 100mm increments), so if it wasn’t in immediate sight that handle would get a 200 mm radius instead!
CAD has also given us a better chance to solve more sophisticated assemblies that otherwise would have been left to the engineer to err…‘refine’.
Has it allowed for more freedom in the products designed, or has it limited you in anyway? And why?
Yes. I do however see that many people jump too quickly into CAD before they have solved the issue on paper. Once you’re working in CAD there are other problems to deal with, so if someone starts in CAD too early they limit there range of design-related problem solving to a very small area. For instance, they might jump into CAD to work out the best way to hinge two items when they should be ideating on paper to see if they need a hinge at all.
The other problem with CAD is the one Sam Hecht ran into. Everything looks so much cooler in CAD! It’s back-lit for one, and often rendered with some flattering lights and has no other distractions in the background. The problem comes when you see the object in reality. I don’t believe Sam’s approach is necessarily the right step to take though, I just think the designer should train his eye to evaluate the actual design behind the glamor.. I’ve seen some designers be able to do this well, and it shows in their work.
I hate it when people give long replies to short questions. Oops.