This is a micro-series on the future of design & creativity. Each note will remix observations, ideas and we will work with different collaborators as we make this series.  We will try to keep this updated as we refine our understanding of design and creativity from our collaborations and observations.

Prelude

The movement from the handcraft era to modern industrialization was marked by an overwhelming explosion in production. The handcraft era of builders was marked by costly production techniques owing to lack of tools and standardized techniques for production. It involved skilled labor often with their custom materials, workflows, tools and this created an overwhelming dependency on the quality of the craftsmen. Availability of skilled labour became the bottleneck to consumption.

Craftsmen were folks who had honed their skills over years of practice.

But as we moved into an industrial era, craft & skill was largely deconstructed and stored up in complex operational processes and machinery. This led to standardization but also a loss of character, individuality & creativity. We heavily templatized production by creating a few fixed means of what we could output. And build massive factories to help scale this templatized production. We got absorbed into creating a mass of  uniformly produced  and non-variable outputs. Everything was standardized but this was a boon as much as it was a bane. Products were no longer distinguishable and everything literally felt the same.

As industrial production boomed, consumers now started demanding for moving the bar on higher quality over volume, quantity and access. And as tooling improved, there now evolved a new operating model. That of the studio. Studios were operating as micro-industrial units which could operate at high throughput yet preserve the craft and uniqueness of handcrafted units. Think Craft Beer, Creative Studios, Movie Studios, etc.

Craft allows us to preserve uniqueness yet and hence we all prefer crafted units. But at the same time, crafted stuff is costly. Can we drop production costs with better tooling and create stuff without sacrificing on the quality index associated with produced content?

Where do we go from here? As we continue to forage for meaning and better our tooling how do we truly collaborate and move to the next level of the operating model? Where we can be truly connected to each other and can form teams on the fly. Where we can work beside our tools and better our tools. We are seeing a new era of evolution. An era of collaboration. An era of networks. And infrastructure which enables the formation of connections and personal fulfillment around better creative work. An open infrastructure to help us work together and build upon on other’s work. Where we edit our tools to create better connections.

We are seeing the emergence of a Tools and People Network.