Reading Response 3 / Margot Harknett

I found this article to be very interesting as it explores the forces that make an idea reality or reality produce an idea. In the article they categorize this as “matter” and “meta,” Call the context ‘the meta’ and call the artifact ‘the matter’. Strategic design work swings from the meta to the matter and back again, oscillating between these two states in order to recalibrate each in response to the other.” (45) In an example of a car the article points out that all the work that goes on in the background i.e. everything from the company’s cultural habits to it’s networking is “all dark matter; the car is the matter it produces.” (83) “The dark matter of strategic designers is organizational culture, policy environments, market mechanisms, legislation, finance models and other incentives, governance structures, tradition and habits, local culture and national identity, the habitats, situations and events that decisions are produced within. This may well be the core mass of the architecture of society, and if we want to shift the way society functions, a facility with dark matter must be part of the strategic designer’s toolkit.” (83) this explanation of what dark matter is and how it applies to design shows how much we need and take for granted what goes in to making society work. Some people just see design as something that just exists, when I talk about my major or the co-ops I have worked for I’ve had so many people tell me that they never thought that someone actually sat there and went though the long process of concept to final product. I worked for Frontgate designing doormats and while they aren’t matters of extreme importance a lot went into the making of one. Like the article says designers and clients alike are, “attracted to the shiny end of projects, rather than delving into the dark matter and settling in for the lengthy engagement with and organization.” (94) I feel like we all get caught up in this a lot of the time and we must remind ourselves that the relationship between artifact and the system must exist or a project will fail.

Another quote that I liked and I felt perfectly represented our class was, “to ‘get the measure of a job, to get close to it, (you) project its life to absurdity (in all directions: scale, function, material, etc.) and then pull back to some sense of boundary in what you propose to do’”. (91) This statement opened a whole new door for me, I always use to think ideas had to be realistic, that you could have some out of the box ones but that you had to keep yourself relatively in check. While that isn’t a bad thing to keep in mind it can cut down on creativity that has potential to spark other ideas. Using strategic design and the system of dark matter, “design cannot pursue some prescribed rational course of action towards a solution” (106) instead it explores all options to fully understand the situation. In an article I found called Strategic Design vs. Tactical Design, they describe strategic design (or dark matter) as being, “effective way to bridge innovation, research, management and design.”

https://uxdesign.cc/strategic-design-vs-tactical-design-c7f66ca12b3a