Throughout my blogging on this site, I have used the word “innovation” a lot. I’ve used it describe ideas which includes, concepts behind objects and usability. However, I believe that only through talking about innovation a lot can I truly understand what this means. Too often we think of innovation as being a “new” idea or an improvement to something already in use. We might say, “that’s an innovative use for that thing”. So what makes anything actually innovative?

I’ll start with the common notion that history repeats it’s self. Obviously not exactly such as country to country or motive to motive, but actually result to result. We look at innovation as discovering something new in our present. Meaning yesterday, this innovative thought was the future. If the future is already given in the past then true innovation is impossible. If we base our creations (our truth) on what we know, then true innovation is lost. So, it’s safe to say that true innovation is only found in ideas that have never been experienced by the thing making them. One way of thinking about that is through the description of a noumena. A noumena is a  phenomena that no human or other design tool has experienced. A phenomena being an occurrence that could be seen as “different” sometimes more extraordinary from others like it.

The question is now, how do we create an idea, form, a use, that we have no past exposure to. How do we create a noumena? Computational design seeks to build using parameters or rules that create emergent designs, bringing us closer to true innovation through iteration. In the future of design, I see us designing the rules to multiple objects being made, iterated into different forms that, because of their common rules, have the same function. If we continue to design using our past experiences, (what we know), then we will never truly innovate.