The Nature of Design

Perhaps it is because design encompasses such a wide range of economic tiers — from the high-end ultra luxury to low-cost housing and solutions for disaster relief efforts —that we tend to become confused about its purpose. Thus we tend to fixate on its nature as an entity aligned with exclusivity, where it has an aura that is seemingly detached from the plight of the everyday. This is its aesthetic conception – its surface value – something that is far easier and neater to understand than the complex beast that it really is.

It is unfortunate that our society sometimes perceives the vocation as such, because design is such an intrinsic part of what makes us human. It’s an inherent part of our evolutionary story; it’s a validation of our ability to have adapted as a species that has emerged triumphant from every challenge nature has thrown at us. In essence, design has played a significant role in getting us to where we are today: a highly evolved, intelligent, dominant species capable of astonishing feats. We were able to overcome these challenges through innovation: through using our intellect to design solutions, to streamline mundane tasks and thus free our minds to begin contemplating the deeper issues that began presenting themselves, and thus continuing this cycle of development. Design has brought us mobile phones, bridges, cities that claw at the skies, and eyes that see into the dawn of time.

For me, design isn’t about what something looks like. Aesthetics form such a tiny part of the entire story. Design is about how something works. It’s about how a multitude of pieces have been intricately woven together to form a coherent whole. It’s about the collation and understanding of seemingly disparate ideas, of making unconventional connections and sifting through a multitude of thoughts to retrieve those tiny fragments that are the true gems, the ones that will assemble to provide a meaningful solution. It’s a messy, daunting, multifaceted pursuit. It’s much, much more than just the skin of an object.

3D: It’s Not About Excessivness

After recently watching Men in Black : 3, I finally came to my personal conclusion about the 3D cinematic phenomenon. In fact, I kind of realised it when watching Alice in Wonderland. The 3D of today is not the same as the red-and-cyan-split 3D of the past, where it was all about the excessive spectacle of exaggerating perspective out of the screen-box.

Rather, today’s 3D is more about adding a sense of depth – both into the screen and spanning outwards from it, all in the hope of creating a more immersive cinematic experience. It’s almost like a modern version of the medieval puppet-boxes, except with CGI special effects.

However, I’m still very partial to 3D. I think that Hollywood is simply using it as a gimmick to sell more seats, and the technology still has a long way to go until it really becomes a good tool to augment the art of cinema.

3DTV: Why It’s a Gamble (Yet Still Awesome)

The CES (Consumer Electronics Show) held recently in Las Vegas, Nevada, had one important and exciting thing coming out of it: the emergence of 3D television in the home-theatre set-up.

This means that we can watch big-budget, sheer-awesomness-exuding, and eye-watrering-it’s-so-beautifully-rendered films like James Cameron’s Avatar in all its 3D glory from the comfort of our living rooms. Sounds good, right? It sure is.

What’s even more exciting is that big-name broadcasters like ESPN and the Discovery Network are planning on broadcasting content in 3D. ESPN even went on to state that they’re planning on broadcasting the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa in 3D.

However, the slight snag with the onset of 3D technology – what some anticipate will be making its way onto store shelves by the end of this year – is that, like the introduction of Sony’s Blu-Ray HD technology, 3DTV will be lacking in the amount of 3D content available for consumption.

However, according to Nic Covey, director of cross-platform insights for The Nielsen Company, “In terms of where the consumer is, over the top is where the action is going to be in 2010,” he said. “That’s what they’re looking for.” So there is in fact consumer interest in this technology; it’s just that the creation of 3D content is expensive, and as such there is not enough available for this to be viable just yet.

ESPN, while showing interest in broadcasting in 3D, still maintains that the creation of such content for live events is going to be expensive. “We need to be able to get 2D and 3D [versions of live sporting events] produced in the same truck,” ESPN’s Chief Technology Officer Chuck Pagano said. “If we have to do side-by-side production, with two crews and two trucks, it could end up being a very long putt for us in terms of making this work economically.”

3DTV is certainly the future of home entertainment, in the same way DVD and surround sound revolutionised the home theatre. It just needs more time to develop. And when that time comes, I will certainly be in line with my 3D goggles in hand ready to get this awesome tech.