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Computational Design – Be Part of It

Accessing Europe/Zugang zu Europa. Wuppertal: BUGH Wuppertal, 1998, pp. 51-53
PDF (In German)

Accessing Europe/Zugang zu Europa. Wuppertal: BUGH Wuppertal, 1998, pp. 51-53
PDF (In German)
The dynamics of current change points to a better understanding of the integrated nature of human activity. In the global economy, Europe is asked to contribute specific values. For us, carrying our research on the tools and methods of change and preparing students for the challenges of the integrated world, this means the need to take the slogan “Think globally, act locally” and turn it into reality.access.jpg
Computational Design, as an innovative field of study and research, offers the unique opportunity to interact through the means that make our work possible. As a computational discipline, it integrates new technologies in areas such as communication, networked design, and cooperative work. We understand our field to be not only mere application of computers, but rather the investigation of new avenues that will make the best of human interaction with and application of computer technology. Without design, the entire technology of desktop publishing, desktop video, computer animation, computer-aided design, rapid prototyping, and Web design would end up being driven by each new development in hardware.
Computational Design acknowledges the association between tools and users. Its goal is to turn this association of new possibilities which are meant to become realities through design. Computation cannot be only a medium of representation and unsystematic or even systematic variations. It has to become constitutive of design.
We know that design gives meaning to communication. We know that design enables people to approach their problems from a perspective of interdisciplinarity. We know that the design component is an underlying factor that makes possible the creative integration of human effort. Design is the factor that allows humans to make their contribution to technological innovation, to make their inventions and machines more amenable to the human condition.
Technology, even as it is creatively applied in communication design, outpaces the human ability to integrate it. In this respect, graphic designers are very much ahead of designers in other fields. They discovered early on that digital technology provides better tools for old functions, as well as the possibility to broaden the scope of their activity. They integrated the new tools-laser writer, scanner, plotter, CD, and network tools (e.g., browsers, frames) and new scientific means and methods, such as sampling, splicing, mutation, hyperlinking. In other design fields, the situation is less forward-looking. While old-fashioned industrial design practically stopped generating employment opportunities, educational programs are slow in integrating the digital. School administrators and professors still think in the terms of the Industrial Revolution, terms based on expectations in the design craft, but not in new design thinking.
Computational Design takes computation out of the industrial model of factories and assembly lines and invites human beings to be part of a new age of work.
Our location recalls the history of an age whose paradigm is giving way to a new model. Hofaue is where the Industrial Revolution started in Wuppertal-and in the world. Computational Design recognizes this heritage of its physical presence in what used to be a factory. Given this traditional setting, we aim to change tradition and the ways of thinking attached to it. We see tradition as a stepping stone to progress, not a millstone holding people back from making the best of technology. We attempt to bring the community to which we belong into the mainstream of innovation. We do not rehash the richness of past culture but add to it for the sake of the future.
This community transcends physical boundaries. Our international partners in Poland, Austria, France, Holland, England, and the USA perceive us as innovators in a field that has emerged due to new requirements, both human and technological. Our thinking is global as we focus on the immediate goals we have set for Computational Design: support the efforts of the local economy to modernize; support the emergence of new types of companies; support interaction and maintain the innovative edge.
Because our thinking is global, our main address is on the Internet. The Computational Design Website is testimony to our presence in Europe and throughout the world. Many links integrate our pages to those of our colleagues. Many hits come in from all over the globe.
In view of all this, in December 1998, we will host a major international conference, which some the most enlightened innovators will attend. We call this conference Digital Design 2000 Plus. Some attendees will be physically present in Wuppertal. The city has already invited the attendees in Wuppertal to a ride on the Kaiserwagen of its famous Schwebebahn (the first suspended monorail in the world, which at the same time stands for the technical progress of its age). Others will make their presence known digitally, through messages and samples of their work, or through interactive Internet-supported presentations. We expect students and faculty from all over Europe and from overseas. After all, it is their future we are addressing. And we hope that an independent study program in Computational Design will be in place by the date of the conference. It will be an interdisciplinary course of study that brings designers and computer professionals together.
This text is intended for publication in the book dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the Bergische Universitaet Gesamthochschule Wuppertal and to its European outlook. But it will also be posted on our Website. Those of you who will come across this text on the Internet are cordially invited to comment and suggest improvements regarding the efforts of Computational Design. In so doing, you will help us avoid the hurdles and obstacles of bureaucracy and to free ourselves of the shackles of regulations seemingly set in stone in a past when every innovation was considered eternally good and valid.
In other words, INTERACT! Our students, our faculty, and everyone else who works with us are making interaction their way of life. It might well be that through this interaction, our intention to become a study program in its own right will lead to the establishment of an international framework from which we can all benefit.
You probably noticed the enthusiasm of these lines. It cannot be otherwise. Ours is not only a time of change, but our chance to help change take a better course, to give it sense. With the advent of Computational Design, design finally defines its own domain of research and development. Consequently, instead of waiting for other disciplines to define its agenda or scope of inquiry, Computational Design makes design research a force of change. The underlying dimension of Computational Design is optimism!


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