Designing the invisible

Bruce Mau believes most design is invisible. It is actually the design of complex systems underlying what we see and touch.

This unseen dimension of a world shaped by technology is primarily numerical. When we design at that level we need to have access to the relevant quantitative data.

This means that most design nowadays is computational.

The apparent design of a car lies in its styling, color, and visible surfaces. However, the most significant design decisions are quite different. They are engineering and logistical decisions governing such factors as the source, strength, and sustainability of the materials used, the electronics that control the car’s performance, and the efficiency of its energy consumption.

These invisible decisions are just as integral to car design as the body shape or interior lighting.

One of the new aspects of design is visualizing the invisible - in particular, the computational realities hidden beneath the surface of things.

When it comes to telling the story of a design process, the choice of what to make transparent and what to leave unseen has enormous political implications, and profound impact for massive change.

Making things visual - especially the numbers - can transform our perception of the world and our possibilities within it.

Designing the invisible means designing the numbers.

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