Earlier in the week I posted on a book I had recently read by Richard Sennett, The Craftsman. In particular, I focussed on Sennett’s position that use of technology could, in many ways be viewed as leading to fundamental impairment to the development of skill.
I wanted to return to this because I have received some incredibly interesting feedback from people from a variety of disciplines. And I’m interested in seeing where else the debate may ultimately lead.
To utilize CAD to its full advantage requires competence. That was never under dispute. But the issue under discussion was whether or not the use of CAD impacted on craftsmanship and whether or not the distance placed between designing products using this technology deprived us of the repetition and the experience required to actually physically produce ourselves.
As with many things, CAD technologies are tools that can be used well or badly. But CAD, as posited by Sennett, is a design tool, and he casts doubt as to whether or not, when something is successfully created via Computer Aided Design, the creator is fully aware of how this outcome is achieved. Because of the head and hand disconnect. And a reliance on technology to bridge that gap.
What it is to be a maker, as opposed to being a designer is an issue that myself and many of my colleagues face, particularly at this stage in our academic career when we are encouraged to focus on where we want to position ourselves within industry. As several have commented , you can spend hours honing your designs on a computer – equally as long, if not longer than you would spend in the studio physically making an object. Is that not craft? Is not the process of designing, essentially making?
Some people have contacted me to say that they view CAD as a different way of working that compliments existing skills and allows for objects to be created which could simply not be made by hand. But this still does not address the issue with regards to having a fully developed understanding of the materials that you are working with: something which comes from physical experience of creating with your medium.
If you consider yourself a designer rather than a maker, to really push the design process requires an intimate understanding of your materials, something which you are distanced from by using CAD.
Whilst you may be creating with technology, you are still physically distanced from the final object.
Once again, I’m very interested on hearing from you so please join the debate!