Seeing Technology in the Widest Sense
Barry Wylant, B.E.S., M.E.Des., Assistant Professor, Industrial Design Program, Faculty of Environmental Design | The University of Calgary
During the 2003 NEC, a large general-session discussion addressed many topics of importance in industrial design education. Contributors to that discussion raised salient insights into what isand should be a part of industrial design education. Indeed, a certain polarity arose within the discussion as to whether the emphasis in design education should be more on theory (as represented by areas such as universal design, sustainable design, ergonomics, and so forth) or more traditional design skills. From the discussion that took place, the breadth of knowledge and skill required of industrial designers appears quite significant at both ends of this polarity and along its continuum. It is this expansive notion of the knowledge and skill required of industrial designers that raises the question of an overview, an inquiry into the purpose of industrial design and the development of our product culture.
Technology is suggested as a departure point for this discussion. The term technology conjures a variety of meanings, yet at a very basic level, everything that is designed represents a technology of some sort. It is a general sense of technology, not necessarily low or high tech, not a specific type of technology, rather, it is an all-inclusive semantic. It is a sense of technology where both the dumbbell and the supercomputer are easily included under the rubric of its meaning. From such a generic idea of technology, an exploration into the essence of technology and its subsequent relationship to the profession of industrial design can be undertaken.