When designers want to explore new ideas they often work with their hands. They put away their computers so they can quickly sketch out concepts and diagrams and they gesture to visualize form and function. They manipulate material in hand to understand its potential and they construct physical models to see spatial relationships in three dimensions. The benefit of working with their hands is that they don’t need to think much about it, they can just do it. There is little risk involved in terms of the time commitment and there is big reward in terms of the information gathered. When working with one’s hands there is freedom to test and feel out ideas all with a tangible immediacy.
This is different from how we work with computers. Computers require specialized training and advanced planning. One must learn the software—its interface, commands, and the language to control and produce effects on screen. You have to learn the hardware too—operating simple devices like keyboards, screens, printers, and plotters, and more recently more technical devices like 3D printers, laser cutters, and CNC machines. Why is this?
What’s happened to the way designers work with their hands—drawing, crafting, and model making, for example, and why can’t the way we work with computers and other technologies be like that?