I think that it’s important for designers to know how to make things. I mean physically. I’ve known FAR too many designers who have no Earthly clue how to actually *make* anything(and it’s *sad*, is what it is) . They don’t know how a cabinet gets made, or exactly why a dovetail joint is preferable to a butt joint(Stacy, stop twitching.). They know that it *is*, but not why. All they do know is they order a cabinet and it comes. Sure, the lead time is 12-16 weeks but if you asked them why, they wouldn’t know, nor would they know a list of perfectly valid (if annoying) reasons why that time might be delayed on the manufacturing end. They have no clue what it’s like to actually paint a room (or how hard and time consuming it is to paint one well.) How those metal knobs and pulls are made? No idea. How textiles are woven or knit? They shrug. It’s like being an orchestral conductor who has no idea how to play any of the instruments they’re directing. It also makes for weaker designers, because they just have no concept of how you get from point a to point b, or what’s involved or how much time it takes, and that shows in their work. They just figure “someone” will take care of it “somewhere”. It’s bad enough that clients often think that whatever it is that needs to be built can be done in 48 hours (thanks, TV!), but it’s worse when designers themselves aren’t much better. It’s as though they think the magical Design Fairy comes along and waves their LEED approved wand made of sustainable and renewable resources and boom- you have a finished product. Heaven forbid you get your hands dirty yourself (as I type this with purple hands from all the overdye on the yarn with which I’m currently knitting) If this sounds like you, I have something to tell you:
Your contractors hate you.
I’m not sure I blame them. Actually no, I don’t blame them at all.
I admit that I know how to make and build a lot more things than the average bear, and that colors my thinking. That fact not only has an impact on my design aesthetic, but it has a huge impact on the way I manage a project, how I deal with contractors, subs and clients, and my comfort level on a job site. Learn how to use a nail gun, people.
But even if the things you can make aren’t necessarily job related, it’s still important conceptually to know how to make stuff by hand because you understand things like of time and cost(in relation to time). I know my jewelry making friends never appreciated just how much time and effort went into making a set of earrings until they made some. My sewing friends… well, I have no idea how they do anything, since sewing is perhaps the one thing I *don’t* do. I never knew what a complete pain in the ass it was to create a book (I mean physically, not write one. I’m not a writer nor do I play one one TV) until I did it. People that don’t cook really don’t understand what goes into creating the spectacular holiday dinner that appears magically on the table. And if all you’re doing is designing on paper, and you never learn how to *build* anything, or to make anything (even as a hobby) in three dimensional space, I think it takes away something from your design abilities; your understanding of design on a holistic level, even if what you can build or make isn’t design in and of itself.
So what have you made lately?