Exploring the Science of Design

Perhaps one of the many reasons why the art industry has been viewed as somewhat of a “lesser” industry is because when people think about a typical artist, an image of a long-haired, blunt-smoking, dirty hippie type comes to mind. I can’t imagine such ignorance is still as widespread as it once was because when most people who are in the more “science-y” fields are required to put some creativity into their work, they realise just how hard it can be.

Whether fuelled by a genuine desire to challenge their own growth trajectory or indeed if it was purely a monetary motivation, we have quite a few individuals and groups of people to thank for studying art a little deeper and uncovering the science behind it. Design is indeed a science and as a result of this it affords many more people enter into the arts – people who might otherwise consider themselves not to have a single artistic bone in their bodies, unknowingly stifling a desire to create which lives on in each and every one of us.

When art becomes a science

Art overlaps with science when an artist, whether casual or professional, introduces a procedural approach to the manner in which they create their art. Sometimes the procedural aspect is exercised only in the conceptualisation process and not necessarily in the physical process of creating the art itself, like for example a painter whose inspiration is drawn from feeling the beach sand between their toes and letting the cool ocean breeze hit their face, prior to hitting the studio and getting to work on their next piece of art.

In a little bit more of a direct way however, art and design become interchangeable with a science when you think about individuals such as chess grandmasters, computer programmers and even mathematicians and scientists!

Perhaps one of the greatest chess players of all time, Gary Kasparov will forever be remembered for having been beaten by an IBM computer while he was still at the helm of his career and still active. What many people seem to have selective amnesia about or what many people perhaps don’t even know at all is that Kasparov actually beat the same computer in a previous match, so the score is actually 1-1.

Now in my humblest opinion, I believe the computer, with all its computing power that’s infinitely more powerful than that of any human, failed to beat the grand master and world champion because of one simple element, creativity! A computer can very easily iterate through all the available and known moves within a matter of seconds so that it comes up with the best move, but as with every branch of the science field, some of the best work that gets done stems either from creativity or it stems from a moment of pure chance and luck.

Now if we take things back to design, the science of design simply draws upon scientific principles of searching for the best way of doing things, iterating through as many of those as is possible and then ultimately coming up with something that wows the mind as the eyes catch first sight of the final product.

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