SiliconValley Designs


SiliconValley Designs offering Roller Derby, Dancing, Wedding, Engagement, New Born Babies, Family Portrait, Business Portrait, and Event Photography. Enjoy current and archived issues of the California Peninsula chapter¡¯s quarterly magazine, Silicon Valley Design, formerly known as Design Chronicles. Make it New studies the formation of a professional design practice in California¡¯s Silicon Valley and its role in the region¡¯s ¡°ecosystem of innovation.¡± In 1980, about midpoint in the story, the San Francisco Bay Area was at best a marginal presence in the design world. Today there are, arguably, more designers working in Northern California than anywhere else in the world. Specifically, the book has three principal objectives: First, to show how design, no less that the region¡¯s iconic technology companies, its legal and financial institutions, and its universities, became an integral component in the growth of the economic engine of the United States; Second, to trace the formation of a design community in the San Francisco Bay Area and describe the evolution of design practice; Third, to document the extension of design into a progressively larger field of industries and organizations and explain the dramatic rise in acceptance of design as an element of organizational strategy. Drawing upon corporate records, private collections, university and museum archives, and approximately 200 interviews with key figures from the 1950 to the present, Make it New is the first book to explore the role of design in the formation of the most powerful economic engine in the world. The 1979 Palo Alto telephone directory lists exactly 9 ¡°design¡± firms-squeezed between ¡°detective agencies¡± and ¡°diaper services.¡± Today there are, arguably, more designers working in the San Francisco Bay Area than anywhere else in the world. This chapter traces the further evolution of professional practice, but also the formation of a professional design community and the ¡°sea change¡± that resulted in, literally, the fusion of European design and American engineering. By the mid-1970s a small but growing number of technology companies had created internal design groups, several independent consultancies had been formed, and this nascent community had begun to contribute a distinctive voice to the national professional societies. The passage of computing out of the laboratory and into the office, the classroom, and ultimately the home, proved to be the decisive catalyst.

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Chapter One traces the Silicon Valley design community back to its origins in the 1950s, when a small number of technology companies first began to put ¡°designers" on their staffs. Drawing upon corporate and archival records, interviews, and surviving artifacts, this chapter describes the campaigns of the first generation of designers as they sought to demonstrate to a skeptical engineering audience that ¡°design¡± could improve not just the appearance but the functionality and marketability of a company¡¯s products. The example of two companies in particular¡ªHewlett Packard and Ampex¡ªreveals the stages by which designers achieved a hard-won credibility as they advanced from fitting electronic components into sheet metal enclosures to helping to define brands. Having demonstrated the increasingly important role of design in the Silicon Valley ¡°ecosystem of innovation,¡± we turn in this chapter to the academic institutions that have, over the last 60 years, assumed the task of training the next generation of designers. In order to explore alternative and competing approaches, it examines the philosophies of design education as they evolved in the context of an engineering school at an elite research university (Stanford), a public university with a populist mandate (San Jose State), and an art school (California College of the Arts). In each institution designers had to fight to establish the legitimacy of their curricula against the more established traditions of the fine arts, the applied arts, and the science-based engineering disciplines.

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Design surely had a role in shaping the computer, but far more important was the role of the computer in shaping design. This chapter studies the involvement of designers at two labs that formed the research core of the Silicon Valley environment: the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, and the Xerox Corporation¡¯s Palo Alto Research Center. At SRI Douglas Engelbart established the Augmentation Research Center where, in a hitherto undisclosed collaboration with Robert Propst of the Herman Miller furniture company, he developed a set of tools intended to enable geographically dispersed teams to collaborate across time and space. It follows the fledgling design community to Xerox PARC, where it contributed to the development of the first computer workstation, and concludes by studying its role in the first of the market-oriented Silicon Valley technology startups. Make it New concludes by introducing the concept of ¡°Design Thinking,¡± the most recent and possibly the most influential export of the Silicon Valley design community. Design Thinking suggests that the tools of the designer can be applied not just to products, but to the entire field of human experience¡ªpoverty, social justice, the work of institutions of every sort. This concludes the arc of a story that began on the loading dock of a mid-century factory building and now embraces the totality of life.

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