Britt Ashcraft was asked to be part of a round table discussion at Art Center to share his thoughts on the direction and impact of both physical and digital solid modeling in the product design industry. He was joined by industry professionals from Belkin and Vans, Art Center students, and Art Center teachers. It was a forum to discuss the current curriculum at Art Center regarding solid modeling and areas that could be improved to better prepare students for industry jobs.
There was a general consensus that designers are getting their hands dirty less and less every year. Workshops and equipment are seeing less traffic due to the ease of use and relative quickness of solid modeling programs and 3D printers. While both helpful tools in the hands of a capable designer, they are becoming crutches. A better understanding of form, scale, proportion, and mechanics can be had through the direct interaction of creating things by ones own hands. These are all things that can’t be easily explored through a computer screen or printed out in 3D.
One of the misconceptions that students can have is that mastery of any one of these tools can either make or break you as a designer. They make the mistake of putting their focus too heavily on the technical aspect of design rather than the vision. Technical skills can be taught and learned more quickly than vision. Vision makes you more marketable as a designer. Vision separates you from other designers. Technical skills, while important, command less attention because those with vision are the ones that lead and create. Design is communication of ideas because it is unique to who you are and your perspective. Tools such as 3D printers, solid modeling programs, etc are there to help you clearly communicate your ideas. The tool does not matter so much as how quickly and efficiently your idea is being communicated.
A successful designer is one who has the ability to execute and envision. The ability to use the tools available to effectively communicate an idea helps sell the vision and build credibility among those without vision.
While at Art Center, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see some of the visual manifestation of the students thinking in the gallery. Some of the work can be seen in the images below.