Our knowledge of human existence is built on 100,000 years of analog life and less than 40 years of digital. Analog was material and digital is immaterial. So what will happen to our material world? How will it catch up to our digital age? Presently the analog physical world has fallen prey to the seductive lucrative infinite possibilities of the digital age. The digital age has eradicated borders and is supplying more heightened experiences than our physical world. Today it is very clear that analog life is something of the past, a disconnect from our present time.
The analog age was heavy, permanent, energy consuming, formal, intensive, dishonest, and rigid. But the digital age is lightweight, dematerialized, kinetic, temporary, casual, extensive, transparent and relaxed. There is a major schism between the analog and digital and the time in which we live. It is the first time in history, as we know it, that the present has so little to do with the past; the analog and digital are simply evolutionary and seamless. So how will design inform this change, and how will physical social behaviors change?
When I adorn an object or space, I work to contemporize it, to make it speak of the now, the digital. It is a modus operandi for communication, for providing dimension, texture, pattern, depth, and spirit. It is a way to embrace space, to create complimentary conditions, to move the eye and break up surfaces, to bring illusion or entropy, to embellish and give richness to surfaces, materials and objects.
Today it can add emotion and meaning to the flat dull world that modernism has shaped. Ornament and decoration can translate into design when it is considered relevant, designed with the notion of first order, and say something about the day and age in which we live. Patterns, graphic symbols, signs, textures, all designed today, should communicate comments and messages that have relevance and meaning to the 21st century.
They should speak of our new spiritualism and the fluid data-driven phenomena of our information era. Everything we design should be smart and beautiful, with optimal performance being inseparable. It should be a continuation into originality and experimentation of digital languages.
In order for companies to succeed in the future, they must utilize technology seamlessly, from construction, production, and process to human interaction, all while shaping new identities, new traditions, new experiences, embracing and taking ownership of their own brand culture. Design and innovation must be inseparable. If brands do not innovate, they die. I work with a digital vernacular and spirit to shape a new physical language.
I have used the term ‘Technorganic’ for the past 20 years to refer to the coalescence of the organic amorphous natural world with our third technological revolution. I am interested in documenting and editing the period in which we live. I am interested in making information physical, making data material. I believe that everything physical that is new should comment on, or reflect and embrace, this digital age, be it a production method, a new material, a space, a building, a city, or a new way of living.
Design has relied too much on history, and repetition of past archetypes. The new digital era has little to do with the past, hence our physical world needs to free itself of the past and become as autonomous as a microchip, as infinite as binary notation, as experiential, as communicative as data, as colorful as our screens, and as ready to be personalized as our smart devices. Simply, we should be shrinking the smart world in which we live. I believe in searching for new vernaculars that communicate our Technorganic digital world. In this new century, we are witnessing trends that generate an exhaustive excavation into the vaults of the past, even more so than the postmodern Eighties.
It seems as if history is unfolding at a hypertrophic rate. We keep searching in the past to unveil everything and anything, be it good or bad. Design relies too heavily on antiquated trends and superannuated objects and styles. The world is shrinking and the same forms, concepts, and ideas are becoming very derivative. Throughout history the masses were always creatively suppressed.
Today we have empowered the individual with technology, we have empowered creativity; tools have enabled us to solve many of the past’s problems. In fact creativity and individuality have been democratized with the Internet and our omnipresent digital tools. Our entire world in the analog age was designed in 2D; hence 2D gave us our physical Cartesian world – the world of the grid.
But for the least 20 years our new tools have allowed us to design in 3D, which in turn will shape a 4D world, a world not governed by the grid, a world that is experiential (the 4th dimension of time). A new design renaissance is taking place; design is now democratic, of extremely high quality, and offers us new digital languages that enable us to be competitive with the immaterial digital age.
by Karim Rashid