Transparency in Technology & Making: Working from the Digital to the Analog and Back Again


The edge effects in design and technology offer affordances of transparency and transformation between materials, processes, and artifacts in making. This in-between space creates blurring boundaries, allowing designers to work fluidly between digital and analog methods, experimenting with varying processes and media to create new things. By working in this manner, designers can research, learn, and apply fluid processes to understand tools and methods with greater expertise.


This session will encourage dialogue and discourse between educators and practitioners to consider experimentation in design making and design processes, how technology is integrated into workflows, and how the results of this type of work affect the way we consider design implications. Specifically, it will be interesting to see how others frame mixed technological workflows within larger cultural contexts in design projects as well as consider impact of experimental strategies. Addressing challenges of experimental practices within industry applications may also be discussed.


Historically, graphic design has always been influenced by new technologies and ways of making. It continues to evolve as new ways of making are considered. The benefits of this in contemporary teaching and practice offer a wide range of techniques for critical making, resulting in experimentation in processes and workflows that shift the ways we make things and challenge standard design models. Additionally, as design moves away from traditional disciplinary silos, teaching and practicing across media—from 2D to 3D, static to dynamic, and analog to digital—becomes more the norm. Because designers are working more fluidly across media, many ground the artifacts that they make within larger, systemic frameworks that include research, strategy, and impact.

This paper will share the outcomes of fluid technology in teaching and practice, incorporating creative technologies, 3D printing, and programming within the design process. Through shared exercises and design projects, the paper will discuss how technology is incorporated into design workflows, what the benefits of this process are, and how to examine the results of experimental practices within a larger, systemic framework. The results offer insights on a technologically transparent workflow, altering outcomes through experimentation. Additionally, Inherent challenges will be addressed when working in this manner, the most obvious being not identifying nor completely understanding what the insights and impacts might be prior to the making process. Because this model infers that one must recognize chance and circumstance as part of the learning process, it requires that designers be flexible and adaptable to varying results, some of which may not be as successful as others.