Inclusion and Computational Design

John Maeda makes important observations about design and how it changes over time. He remembers a time when design was static, pre-computer. And how skeptical designers were of computers then. And how designers’ thinking about computers has changed.

He sheds light on challenging realities. Like even though tech has changed, leadership has not. Professors and heads of universities are still white males. The Bauhaus was half female, yet only the male designers are remembered.

He calls on designers to be curious. To never think that the status quo is good enough. And that that curiosity will lead us to value inclusion. He calls on designers to be mindful of the folks that don’t like change and who will try to stamp out your curiosity.

He calls on designers to explore what computational design means. It changes really quickly, so quickly that we hardly understand it. Also, it’s not the static design of chairs and posters. Computational Design is never done. It gives you data about what works and what doesn’t and you have to respond. Yet, this is not what classically trained designers were trained to do!

He calls out the irony of how we give awards. So easy to give awards to printed books or chairs. So hard to give awards to computational designers whose work is always evolving.

He ends on a note about how he uses his status (his superpower) to promote inclusion:  “I’ve been using this special power to say things that people probably don’t usually say, because I can get away with saying it. So, that’s what I’m doing.”

Amen to that.


For a transcript of the interview above, go here: