Computation and Waste

Stefan Lang

Background, Research & Process

As a young designer, I think about how I will be working in the near future and what tools will influence my design processes. As software already played a central role in my design process, this led me to the field of computational design, and for my research document I decided to explore parametric design systems. 

Computational design tools are often perceived as closed systems that can operate on their own without human supervision. Instead, I aim to bring out the co-creational relationship one can have with computational design tools. Through a visualized collection of chats, I documented the process of designing my own prototypes and the decision-making and friction points I encountered.

As a designer, I feel responsible for the ways in which design is produced and I find it important to rethink my position and responsibilities in the production process and its effects on the ecological, social and material realities as well as the way we design. By departing from a small-scale context, I intended to explore how we can minimize the need for raw materials when building and designing.

In the first semester of the second year (from September until January) students are asked to develop their initial research questions and develop their research in a ‘research document’, which then leads to their graduation work in the second semester.

Research document: Computation and Us: Thinking beyond the Process

When I design, I think about the life cycle of a product. I am aware that I have the most control over the end result at the beginning of a design process. This is why it is my responsibility to ensure a thought through outcome that serves the user and regards the social and ecological environment.

Having been trained and specialized in a technical manner, I am trained to focus on particular questions, but with my research I intended to take a broader approach, examining politics and overarching problems of different disciplines. Products are political, but I noticed in the interviews that I conducted that as designers we miss political paradigms to understand them. I do not have the political understanding and definitions to understand them. Products are neutralized rather than contextualized politically, thus making it hard to draw relations.

When thinking holistically, matters and contexts become complex and maintaining an overview on the data becomes a challenge. This led me to use computational software in order to use its mathematical abilities in order to incorporate multiple contexts and parameters in order to design with. Being a designer, rather than an engineer, I studied the process of working with the computational software, focusing on the context and environmental and social possibilities rather than the technical applications. As the outcomes generated by the software were often not envisioned by me beforehand, it became an active actor in the process. By delegating parts of the design process to the computational software, designers have to be more aware of their own positionality and intention they bring to the design process. Designers must understand the context and actors they design for.