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Design in the Digital World

August 21, 2011

by Dina Lopez

As an aspiring information professional with a background in architecture and design I walk on two sides of the information spectrum. I rely on digital infrastructures and processes to document and display information and I also try to bridge the gap with the process of designing. As many women (and men) in the design world can tell you, mainly our role as designers is to design something that promotes 1) our own ideas 2) a role in society and 3) serves a function. However, I feel that perhaps we are too disjointed in trying to represent this digitally.

Going from architecture to something as information oriented as librarianship I felt that much of the frustration with how design is perceived by society depends on how we represent it. Kindles exist for our reading pleasure as do IPads, but they do not successfully embody a true 3-dimensional representation. The design of the famous and iconic Eames Chair will not be understood in person as it is on a screen.

Image from informationisbeautiful.net

In order to translate this kind of information, knowledgeable professionals that understand design are gradually being included in the creation of digital repositories. As a design student, I found myself fascinated with projects that begin to aggregate information into something beautiful and understandable. Some of the visualization pioneers have taken it upon themselves to incorporate both “correct” and “researched” information into something visually represented. The website informationisbeautiful.net is a website that shows graphical works to present information we can all understand.

Which reminded me of one of my favorite digital repositories- The Archigram Archival Project (http://archigram.westminster.ac.uk/). Archigram was an architecture movement that emerged in the 70s. This archival project documents, scans, preserves and enables the public to view these documents free of charge. I love this website because the colors and drawings are so original, different to the way we draw today.

Other websites are beginning to emerge that blend technology with art and design. Many museum websites offer “Tagging” as part of engaging with patrons. This is where someone can go to the museum website, look at an image of a work of art and assign specific keywords to that image. What does this do? It creates a way for people that do not know specific art terminology to search for works of art.  Sort of like a Google for art.

While this is all very academic and specific, websites like tumblr.com and pinterest.com are beginning to give people the power to format their own kinds of informal digital collections. In my own tumblr dedicated for design, designismymuse.com, I showcase my interest for architecture and design into posts that are visually compelling and I am able to assign tags to it. By assigning tags, I am enabling people with my similar interests to both check out my blog but also connect with other people. I think having the responsibility to feature content and reach to other individuals is why design and digital information interests me so much. I hope to inspire students and individuals to appreciate great design.

Dina Lopez graduated with a Master’s in Information/Library Science from Pratt Institute and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from Syracuse University. You can view her work at dinaclopez.info and designismymuse.com.

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