Welcome to Issue Three – ‘Design by Hand’ (a body issue)! The evolution of the human hand is an extraordinary thing. The occasional acknowledgment of our opposable thumbs aside, most of the time we overlook what a profound influence the way we use our hands has had on who we are as a species, and on how we interact with each other and the rest of the world. But we no longer use our hands as we did even twenty years ago, as designers or users of technology, and the pace of this change is only increasing. Just what impact will that have on us?
For some designers there is a feeling of loss. A feeling that what we gained (and it is so much) from the move to computerised design came at a cost, and that cost is the atrophying of so many hand skills and of the contribution those skills can make to the design process. Neither we, nor any of the other contributors to this issue, extol the importance of the use of the hand in design or the virtues of the hand-made out of some misplaced sense of nostalgia.
Rather we believe that designers have now had sufficient experience of the amazing range of new digital tools on offer to make some kind of objective evaluation of their worth, of their weaknesses, and of their impact on how we use our hands – and to re-incorporate into our creative practices the best of the more traditional tools and methods that working with our hands can supply. We also acknowledge the basic (and powerful) human need to keep our hands busy and to use them to expend our energy in materially productive creativity. For some people this can mean abandoning the computer entirely. Or using time spent in purely digit-based creative practices to energise and inform their digital-based day jobs. Others devote their design skills to making it easier for us to use the creativity at our fingertips.
And we have to acknowledge that for some people, of course, there is great joy in the ‘hands free’ design practice, or at least the possibilities of new technologies for interactions in which the hand is kept at a distance. We have been delighted, inspired, amused and informed by all the content that has been hand-gathered for this issue. Once again brought to you by a new team of final year students who have proved there is nothing they can’t turn their hands to! Explore and enjoy what we have found. Featuring: Paula Scher (Pentagram), Nigel Bailey, Stephen Goddard (Project Two), Liam Tomlin, John Lucas, David Umemoto, Nicole A. Phillips, Adam Stark (mi.mu), Hayley Glenn, Philip Sierzega.