Design is where science and art break even

I was one of those kids that couldn’t decide on a major. I was interested in art, in science, in education. I still am interested in all of those things.
I started out in Elementary Education, then added a Graphic Design major. I realized at some point that I would rather teach at the college level than K-12, and dropped the education major. I had more than enough credits to have a minor, but I didn’t have enough in any concentrated area. I’d taken credits in Zoology, Chemistry, Ballet, French. Many of our other design students took a minor in marketing or communications, but I used my free electives as a chance to take whatever classes I found appealing.

I was also in our honors program (oh yes, I was THAT kid). I loved the way that our honors program was set up. There were a few courses you were required to take to graduate in the program (Honors Composition, Honors Orientation, and a Thesis course). Our program really stressed interdisciplinary study, and every spring, we had what was called a centerpiece course. It rotated between science, art, and social science. To take the course, you were required to create an addendum to another class.

At California, you could turn any class into an Honors credit by doing an Honors Addendum – some extra project that you would arrange with the professor. I did an addendum to my Intro to Music class by taking violin lessons, to my Photography class by creating a cyanotype, and to Intro to Earth Science by creating a Flash animation that explained weather patterns. For these centerpiece courses, you’d have to tie in another class you were taking that semester, and write a seminar paper that would apply to both.

When I see agencies that are pulling together design and technology, it’s just a natural way of thinking for me. I’m fascinated with TED, and projects like Deeplocal’s Nike ChalkBot or Nikon’s Small World. Creating connections between different fields, between different ways of thinking, finding new ways to disperse ideas. Design is design, whether you’re talking print, web, or automated chalk-spraying robot.

Combining science with art allows you to get a message across in new ways, but it’s the message that drives the technology. Without purpose, without research, these sort of projects would still be interesting, but they wouldn’t be useful. Infographics are often criticized as making data harder to understand, instead of easier, rendering them useless. I’d agree that this is sometimes the case, but many data visualizations I’ve seen have managed to be both useful and beautiful.

As mobile and interactive media become more pervasive in our society, the intersect of art and science gets larger, and the possibilities for design are nearly infinite.



0 thoughts on “Design is where science and art break even”

  1. Good Stuff. I’ve posted a new article on my site that touches on bringing outside influences into how and why we design, and the merging of design with scientific studies is an excellent example. There’s an interesting relationship between the scientific method and the design process as it is, so the two are a natural fit.

  2. not evens ure how I ended up here and after reading your post I feel I have had my eyes opened up a lot. Combining science with art….its amazing….can you give me some ideas for music? Maybe something to do with the physics of sound?

  3. […] most familiar with the inauguration photo. I’ve babbled on this blog about my interests in combining art and science before, so you can see where this project is right up my […]

  4. Found my way here by googling “Design is where science and art break even,” hoping to find the original author of the quote (which I didn’t find here /sadface), but what I found was a blog entry that resonated with me much. I, too, started out as a science major. Actually, I have a bachelor’s degree in Physics (I know…), but through my last year (5th) in college, I had a change of heart and wanted to explore graphics design more. Being the Layout Managing Editor of an Undergraduate Scientific Journal for two years in a row fueled that passion even more. A few people who have seen my portfolio do mention, once they are made aware of my scientific background, that the minimalist nature of my designs give off that certain scientific vibe.
    Now I’m back in my community college working on a degree in Graphic Design. I could not be any happier. I am from California as well, and it would be cool to know which school you were from. 🙂 Cheers.

    1. Sorry that I was no help on the original author. Now that I think about it, I can’t really remember where I even picked that quote up. I’d love to see some of your work, though, do you have a site up?
      I’m actually from Pennsylvania, near a town called California (so the school is named California University of Pennsylvania). I did my MFA at Chatham University (which was a college when I started), near Pittsburgh.

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