Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Design 101

Well since I talk so much about design, I thought I’d give ya’ll a little primer.  The following is sort of continuing forshadowment for my up comng blog


1. What is design?
    A lump of clay and a vase are the same by quantifiable measures.  They are same temperature, the same material, the same weight.  They are the same in every way save one.  One has had design added, the other has not.  Design exists in 3 ways. One or more of which can be at work in any design.
    A.  Designs of objects.  This type of design shapes a real tangible object or verity     of objects.  It can shape the components of an object (micro design) which     ultimately shapes the whole (macro design).
    B.  Designs of orders.  This type of design shapes how to perceive a verity of     objects or ideas.   Management, government, feng sui, and apha numeric order all     fit here.
    C.  Designs of ideas.  This shapes morals, and ideals, like Freedom, democracy,     oneness.
2. When does design happen?
    A.  A person observes something
    B.  They perceive a design around this observation
    C.  They conceive a way to realize that design.
    D.  They realize that design
3. Where does a person design.
    Design takes place first in the mind.  Then the designer communicates the design     into reality or in the case of an idea, merely into other peoples’ minds.
4. How does a person design?
    1.  Begin with the belief that you can design.  You cannot do what you cannot     think of.
    2.  Observe the world around you
    3.  Perceive something which could be improved
    4.  Conceive an improvement
    5.  Try existing designs to achieve the improvement
    6.  Perceive the functions that a new design would require
    7. Apply 1-6 to the individual functions one at time.
    8. If nothing is available conceive a new design.   
    9. Apply 1-8 till all functions are fulfilled.
    10.  Realize the design.
What is Good Design?

Any good design will meet the following four inter-related criteria in a balanced way.  No mater how excellent a design is on one quality or group of sub qualities, if it is so at the expense of another, a more balanced design will shortly supersede it.
1. Producability
    A. Made of cheapest material
    B.  Made by cheapest process
    C.  Made by cheapest labor
2. Usability
    A.  Has maximum utility
    B.  Has minimum training to use
    C.  Has minimum operating cost   
    D. Has minimum maintenance cost
        1. Self maintaining
            I. Automatic overuse/load/speed shutdown            
            II.  Automatic harmful environment shutdown
            III. Automatic harmful condition shutdown
        2. Self healing
        3. Logical modularity   
        4. Accessible components
        5.  Minimal training to maintain
        6.  Minimal tool needs
        7.  Alignment critical components must be self aligning when                 assembled/disassembled
        8.  Automatic need of maintenance signaling
        9.  Self cleaning/Easy Cleaning
    E. Minimum part count.
    F.  Self propagating
    G.  Maximum safety
    H. Maximum appeal to all 5 senses
3. Transportability
    A. minimal size
    B. minimum weight
    C. Packs into existing packing infrastructure
    D. Disassembles into logical components which also follow 3. A, B C.
    E. Self protecting
        1.  Fragile components are protected by more resilient components
    F. Self transporting
4. Recyclabilty
    A.  Minimal different materials
    B.  Maximum recyclabilty for each material
    C.  Minimum cost for the action of recycling
    D.  Minimum cost to transport for recycling
E.  Minimum of work to sort out recyclable components   

I wonder who sat through that and read this far.  Funny because thats the intro and without the following (which is the important part)  has no meaning.

 If anyone reading this has ever heard me say that something they own, (Say your car, Nana.) is a really terrrible design thats because it doesn’t meet the above criteria.  The criteria, with a little bit of creativity can be applied to anything at all.
   Now to get weirder.  All human endevor breaks down into 2 basic components: Art and science.  Making a good painting is a science, (mathmatical perportions are very important to the human concept of beauty) but its also an art (having enough empathy with your fellow human beings to know how to best apply the science.  Design, the most intrinsically godlike of all human actions, is both art and science.   Science can tel you the complicated stuff I said above, but it can’t tell you how to apply it.  Only your mind can do that.  A computer program can design the worlds most effiecient injecter but only after a human mind has concieved it.   So why did I give you all a list of the machines without moving parts? ??
   Because that list, to my mind, is gallery of some of the most beautiful things ever concieved.  And I really feel sorry for any person who can’t see it.   If you learn to love design, you will live in a constant state of wonder.  You will lift the hood of your car and find Rembahnt.  Listen to a dishwasher run and hear Bach.    When your hands touch a fuel pump you’ll feel satin.  When you smell the 15 main components and 100+ minor components that that make gasoline, you don’t smell gas, you smell perfume. 
    But theres is always a downside.  You will hear an engine (poorly maintained) running. It crys ans screams in pain.  You will look at a peice of furniture that used far to much wood because the designer couldn’t be bothered to use the material correctly, and you will see an old growth oak that was sacrificed to pad a designers ego and manufacturers stock option.    You  watch the heat waves rising over the hood of a car.  Its gone!  You scream to yourself.  God made a whole world and filled it with oil.  We burn it to make heat and make the heat turn our motors, move our machines.  And for every 3 BTUs made, only one is used.  The rest just radiate away.  Gone forever, like dinsours and dodo birds.  When its gone, its just gone.  And you feel the loss, sometimes deeply.   Be like God.  Design.  Create.  Make your will into something.  It changes you, but its worth it.

November 23, 2006 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. You have made machinery and design beautiful.

    Comment by Becky | November 24, 2006 | Reply

  2. You know me and can probably guess where I’m coming from with this, but I’ll say it anyway. From my study of human physiology (medical training for those who don’t know), I must say that the human body fits into this list of design criteria. And as a wise person once said, “Knowing why something works is not the same as knowing how it works.”

    Comment by James T | December 3, 2006 | Reply

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