Intuitive Structural Design
Krishnapillai Anandasivam, Assistant Professor | National University of Singapore
Most industrial design work is currently accomplished on screen. The assumption is that, if cost is
of no issue, that anything can now be made, thanks to the advances in material and
manufacturing technologies. Designers can now sit back, relax, play with computers, create very
impressive designs, and be sufficiently convinced of their creative abilities. The days in which
designers struggled to find forms with their hands and labor with many prototypes and material
possibilities seems to be coming to an end. We are entering a new period in design history where
it is no longer necessary for designers to be technically competent, sophisticated, or sensitive as
Leonardo, Buckminster Fuller, Walter Gropius, or Charles Eames—whose engagement with
materials and making of things, formed the very basis of most of their creative works.
Strangely, such thinking was popular before the modern movement. Designers just needed to
design. There were engineers, technicians, and others to do the rest. The modern movement, led
by the Bauhaus, radically revered this thinking. It brought together “the making” and “the
thinking“—giving rise to one of the greatest revolutions in design history that exploited the new
possibilities opened by new material technologies and manufacturing processes.
In the context of the explosive expansion of material and manufacturing possibilities, we see
young designers effortlessly exploiting this ever-expanding pool of possibilities to create designs
that readily win media appreciation. Why then, should students of design bother with technology?