Canadian designer Bruce Mau has outlined a set of 24 design principles that is changing the way I see modeling. His principle of Design The Time of Your Life suggests that time is all we actually have.
Almost everyone feels they are running behind from a lack of time. This takes a toll on our enjoyment of life and drives our thinking and decisions for better or worse. For Bruce, design is about shaping the quality of time in an experience. What would this look like in terms of our work?
I’ve been working on a practice exercise to develop my understanding of working in brass. The focus is on shaping multiple pieces to a set dimension. The exercise also teaches me about good tool set ups and working procedures. My intent isn’t really to build another model from this work. I’m simply learning how the material behaves and how my thoughts and attitude impact the results. Mistakes are inevitable and, in this case, welcome. Trust me when I say there have been many. I’m fine with them. Last night I realized I milled two slots in the wrong place, which was naturally frustrating. In the past I would have let my attitude go toxic but since it’s only a practice exercise, there really isn’t anything at stake. Instead I understood, for once, that the learning process is working exactly as it should. I know what happened to cause the error and can fix it if I choose. However, fixing the mistake isn’t the point.
Understanding how my attitude impacts the success or failure of the work is the greater point. Understanding the invisible system behind the way we define what’s possible with the work is the point. Developing new habits is the point.
We’re not encouraged to think this way. The hobby is tightly focused on the objects and visual outcomes instead of the processes that produce them.
To design the craft in this way, is foreign to most. Some will say it feels too much like work. That’s fine. It’s your choice to make. As a writer, I can’t make anyone change, I can only share examples of the impact change can have. I’ll continue with these practice sessions because I want to develop good working habits and understanding of ways to improve the modeling. Knowing I can design the time at the bench, in specific ways is liberating and will shape the craft in ways I find more relevant and satisfying.