Louisa Heinrich - Design for the Future, Design for Invisibility

Frontiers 2012
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Design used to be about making objects - functional objects that helped people do what they needed or wanted to do. In the digital world, the artefacts are interfaces - and what's seen as the heart of digital design is the layers that sit between humans and the things they interact with.

But this is a side effect, not the heart. Design is actually about solving problems - translating, making technology or concepts or abstractions accessible to normal people. Whether the outcome is an object or a set of pixels or something else is secondary.

Which means that as the world and the technology in it continues to evolve, we as designers need to continue to expand our skill set to cope with new kinds of problems and translations. I've been saying for years that great design is invisible - I used to mean that when we do our jobs well, lay people don't know we've been there.

Whatever it is, it just works.
Now, I'm starting to think we should be consciously designing invisibility - questioning whether an interface is even necessary at all, examining ways to remove the layers between people and whatever they're interested in - some of the layers that we've probably made.

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