What we make, makes us. This is the central tenet of Artful Design, a photorealistic comic book that examines the nature, purpose, and meaning of design. A call to action and a meditation on art, authenticity, and social connection in a world disrupted by technological change, this book articulates a fundamental principle for design: that we should design not just from practical needs but from the values that underlie those needs.
Artful Design takes readers on a journey through the aesthetic dimensions of technology. Using music as a universal phenomenon that has evolved alongside technology, this book breaks down concrete case studies in computer-mediated toys, tools, games, and instruments, including the best-selling app Ocarina. Every chapter elaborates a set of general design principles and strategies that illuminate the essential relationship between aesthetics and engineering, art and design.
Ge Wang implores us to both embrace and confront technology, not purely as a means to an end, but in its potential to enrich life. Technology is never a neutral agent, but through what we do with it—through what we design with it—it provides a mirror to our human endeavors and values. Artful Design delivers an aesthetic manifesto of technology, accessible yet uncompromising.
Wang, a Stanford professor of music and computer science, uses photo-comics starring himself and other designers and theorists to lay out his theory of technological design, which stresses a balance of practicality, aesthetics, and playfulness. He draws extensively from his own work in computerized music, sharing the progression of ideas behind projects like Ocarina, a multiplayer app that converts a cell phone into a wind instrument. But he also touches on architecture, product design, video games, and other media, unraveling the universal design concepts woven into all creative work. Wang infuses the comic with plenty of humor (a portrait of Ada Lovelace dreams of epic raves; Wang's colleagues make music from plastic lettuce and rubber chickens) and a sense of wonder at the infinite possibilities of art and technology. That said, this nearly 500-page tome is primarily aimed at college students, designers, and computer scientists. It's an entertaining textbook that makes good use of comic-book visuals to express ideas in a clear, enjoyable way, but even at its most charming, it may be overwhelming to the uninitiated.
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The world would be a better place if everyone held the same views as Ge does. Excellent book exploring the intersection of design, engineering, art, and philosophy in a unique comic book style. Both fun to read and very insightful!