Three non-design books that altered how we see design, its purpose, and its future.
Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World, by Christopher Steiner, is a fascinating book that is as gripping as a detective story.
It tells the story of how computer algorithms took over the world and how they affect and guide our actions dozens of times a day. (No surprise it started on Wall Street.)
This book’s importance to design and branding is that it describes the new environment which is greatly altering the role of designers and design firms. It definitely raised some flags for us.
Though it is not directly about design, it makes it obvious that much of the design work that used to come out of human intuition will be done by algorithms based on massive amounts of customer centric data, that will customize designs for as specific a target audience as requested, even markets of one.
It helped us start looking a how design will become even further a human-machine partnership.
To us it suggested that algorithms will flip the design process on its head, as testing will become a near constant part of the design process, possibly even in real time.
Big Data: A Revolution that Will Transform How We Live Work and Think, by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier.
This book explores how the unimaginable amounts of data being gathered by social media, mobile devices, and the rapidly expanding Internet of Things can be crunched by algorithms to make frighteningly accurate predictions.
Though the term Big Data is already becoming obsolete in favor of Predictive Analytics and Prescriptive Analytics (both would require at minimum their own blog posts), this book is important for understanding the power of this can give design companies who choose to collect their data and analyze it.
It’s importance for packaging design and branding is that it changes one’s idea of what data is, and how it can be used. Data is not just lists of numbers. Anything can be data—pictures, designs, e-mails—and this adds a dimension, another angle, from which to view and think about our designs.
Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think, byPeter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler, is an uplifting book in what often feel like very dark times.
The basic premise is that, as humans, we are hard-wired from evolution to focus on the negative, the dangerous and the pessimistic. This was an evolutionary survival advantage, but in the current world this wiring is now a disadvantage because it blinds us to the many solutions to the massive problems the world is facing, and makes us feel that even trying to solve them is hopeless.
It describes the many technological and social advances that can lead to a world of abundance for everyone. Many of the solutions are amazing and counter intuitive, and interconnected. All of them are based on design of one kind or another. The whole book is an exercise in people-centered design thinking.
The importance for packaging design and branding is that it has made us focus more seriously on sustainable packaging, and to see that a move to circular economies are not only necessary, but possible, designable and profitable while serving a higher purpose. It has helped us to see the amazing importance and possibility of design.
Individually these books are short, readable and extremely interesting, and if you are a designer of any kind, they have have a synergistic effect on the understanding of the future of design. They have definitely started us thinking in dynamic new ways and directions.
If anyone would like a more in depth summary of any, or all, of these books, please leave a comment below and we will be happy to do that for you.