Douglas Bowker

3D Animator, Douglas Bowker Motion-Graphics
Salem, MA, USA

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  • "No argument that much of the design world functions from a place of "we know best" (which was/is typified by Apple's attitude towards consumers) but that's not how I was taught industrial design (RISD ID 1990). Certainly, in the space of "gadget design" it leaned towards stylization and personal expression, but when it came to anything relating to addressing real "needs" it was never about "the designer knows best." We had classes that specifically emphasized data collection, observation and on-the-ground interviews (including testing of concepts) especially when it came to design around healthcare, products for the physically challenged or elder-care. It's ironic then that this is just the same period that Apple was designing it's first round of products that actually looked at how real people might interact with technology, as well as a time period where business started seeing the value of real "design" in terms of ergonomics and human-centered engineering. To us, that was the point of good design: address the needs of real people, including being willing to challenge one's own preconceived ideas of what those people needed. This was part of the curriculum as well as part of the various open-ended discussions we had with teachers and visiting designers. But somewhere along the line the cult of Steve Jobs became the more generalized cult of high-priced boutique-oriented technology. That this vision of "design as a means for maximizing profit" become the Defacto vision of industrial design itself is not surprising, but certainly very disappointing. I might add as well that as early as 1988 both teachers and students were discussing the urgent need to design for recycling, repair and the reduction (if not elimination) of the "shelf to land-fill" cycle of consumer products. We naively assumed that the 90s and beyond would be a new age of "values driven" production where every product would be designed to be easily disassembled and recycled for parts and materials. Little did we know we were on the cusp of the exact opposite trend."
    on: How Do We Move Past Designer as Hero Dynamics? Dr. Christina N. Harrington Discusses the Power of Co-Design
  • "Man, I don't know where they get these guys... "I could take care of 10 children and it would barely start to resemble the effort I put into having a successful design career." Buddy, trust me, you wouldn't last a week! As a former industrial designer, and later a full-time stay-at-home Dad for three years, I think I have the qualifications to comment on the utter BS that guys like that spew out. 70 hr. work weeks? Being an at-home parent is so much more than 70 hr.s a week, not the least of which because weeks and months become utterly meaningless. Weekends are not time off, there are no "ends" to your "project" when it's a kid, and you get no yearly bonus for doing a stellar job. There are no High Fives with your bros over a beer about how the client just loved that last presentation. You also don't get a promotion at the end of it all, though you will have the immense satisfaction of having raised and shaped a decent human being. I wouldn't trade that time for any position, anywhere, for any amount of money. Thinking back to my ID dept. at school we were just about 50/50 in gender diversity. Decades later... I'm not sure, and so many of us have changed careers multiple times (now I'm a full-time animator). A few of my female classmates are definitely up towards the top of their field, but they tend to lead in-house design departments, not generalist design firms. I sure don't have any answers, but what I do know: every single excuse for why it "should" be this way is both a lie and a bulls-eye of the problem itself."
    on: Industrial Design: Why Is It Still a Man's World?
  • "The LEGO will not be taking them to court I think, because for one thing, the basics of LEGO bricks passed out of patent quite a while ago. They are king of the "brick hill" because it is insanely difficult to produce all those bricks in quantity and maintain the precision needed to make it all work consistently. And that's the key: they all need to be exactly the same, every day, year in, year out. The plastic they use is expensive, the molds even more so. Anyone who builds with them regularly can spot a knock-off in a pile of real bricks almost instantly. As an avid builder, I'd actually welcome another company being able to produce equal quality but cheaper costing bricks, especially for big projects. But so far none have come close.Anyway- these connector bricks are an interesting idea, and if they come in many colors, I could see them getting used for sure, especially for shapes that are really difficult to achieve with standard brick choices. On the other hand, I can't see them selling millions of them either. Once you introduce flexibility you also get instability too!"
    on: Flexo Makes Legos Flexible
  • "Well... it has a bit of surrealist or Dadaism happening I guess. So accuse me of being old-school for industrial design, which I am a little, but what happened to Form Follows Function? And really, for the sheer aesthetics, when is Rope a good idea for detailing ANYTHING hahah? To me, having built any number of custom PC rigs, a lot of this is just not a good idea in terms of materials. "
    on: Prototyping a New Form Factor for the Desktop PC
  • "Of course, what really made the software special in Blade Runner was that the photos had 3D spatial characteristics.  That and making a hard copy via Polaroid print tech! 😉"
    on: A Look at Adobe's New, Blade-Runner-like "Super Resolution" Feature
  • "Just one more step to making Elysium a reality, eh guys?"
    on: Lufthansa's Explorer Concept: Delivering the Superyacht Experience, in the Sky
  • "No- it IS something of the kind. It fits within the definition of CNC, though it's true that it's not 3-axis.CNC: Computer Numeric Control is the automation of machine tools that are operated by precisely programmed commands encoded on a computer command module, (usually located on the device) as opposed to controlled manually by hand wheels or levers, or mechanically automated by cams alone."
    on: Introducing the Shaper Origin, a Self-Correcting Router
  • "If you think Design as a concept or a profession is divorced from politics you are in for a big shock some day. "Politics" as we see it in the campaigning is indeed a lot of bluster, false promises, and outright lies, all often driven largely by ignorance and ego. But Politics eventually finds its way to Policy, and that is where the rubber hits the road. Policy is law and regulations, trade negotiations, union contracts, and worst of all Protectionism, usually local and at the expense of everyone else. My point is that forgetting the aspect here of how insulting ignorant Mr. Trump (and I'd say almost every candidate) is about real trade, manufacturing processes, we all pay the price for how it translates into Policy. You need to understand why, for example, it is that a certain design path you may think is the right one to use but is off the table due to it's higher cost, is almost always related to someone's political decision at some point in the past. And this is not just from the conservative side of politics either. All our high costs of tooling and manufacturing in the US? You can thank the various unions for forcing insanely high wages and benefits from all the US manufacturers for those costs being pushed along to the customer. Or for encouraging those companies to just move their whole operations overseas. Either way, that all comes back to us as designers and consumers.Still, if Trump ever was to be President we'd all have much bigger things to worry about than his notions of how to get iPhones made in the US, but the discussion here is amply valid."
    on: Trump's Plan to Force Apple to Manufacture in U.S. Demonstrates Complete Ignorance of Manufacturing Processes
  • "Well, some companies never did learn..."
    on: Hilarious Industrial Design Fails: Weird PCs from the '90s
  • "Someone needs to convert the old films into 24 frames per second though as it made them look like they were going lightning fast. Still pretty cool."
    on: How They Sorted Mail in 1903
  • "Let's be fair here; the video was obviously for broad general public consumption, so they took some liberties to simplify the concepts and terminology. This wasn't a White Paper, and not meant to be a peer-reviewed discussion or anything close. Granted it would have been more accurate to say: Lightest. Metal Structural Configuration. Ever.But... that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue nor fit easily into the screen, right?Anyway- cool stuff there and could have SO many applications, and not just for vehicle designs! I'm assuming that initially the cost will be high, but once it's something more mainstream it would be incredibly useful for a whole range of fields. How about ultra light weight disaster relief structures? You could have this stuff sandwiched between super thin sheets of plastic or coated metal and quickly have a durable emergency housing structure up in less time and with less transportation limitations. Seems a natural for space travel applications as well. Even trade-show panels and such would be a good use. "
    on: Microlattice: Metal That's 100 Times Lighter than Styrofoam
  • "Interesting article. One thing to keep in mind: the earlier it is out of school, the less latitude you're going to get, and thus it may be more structured and less creative- for a time. But not forever! And there is a lot to learn early on, most importantly being able to be organized and have follow through.That said, I'll second George Sewell's comment in that, though you may spend a LOT of time working on one particular "genre" of products, being an in-house designer certainly has it's benefits! I worked within a manufacturer's design department (they made picture frames and home decor types of items) and we were blessed by being small enough to NOT have so much specialization that you no long got to make models or prototypes. In fact, as long as you could argue that what you wanted to do would help generate new/better products, we were pretty much free to do whatever we wanted to. Also, we got to design the packaging for the product line and eventually did all the graphic design and collateral material. When I started we just had myself and another designer, but after a few years we had maybe 6 or so designers. Again, each had his or her work style, plus a general area of the product like they liked more than others, and it worked out pretty well. They also would send us around the country to various trade shows to get a feel for what was happening out there in the real world. The only real downside for me was that after about five years I personally really could see going any within the company or industry. I was sort of tapped out and needed a new set of challenges. But that could be true wherever you are. Once you can do the job with only about 75% of your talent and effort, it's probably time to move up or out. For me that meant "out" and into animation and product visualization, which is different pretty much all the time. I miss getting to build thing in the shop of course, but that's why I have a woodworking and prototype shop of my own in the basement!"
    on: Is Industrial Design a Desk Job?
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