Interaction design and design synthesis.

Interaction design and design synthesis by Jon Kolko via twitter.

Meet someone who has completed four years of design education and ask them to reflect on their education, and they’ll likely tell you stories of the dreaded foundations assignments. These craft oriented projects focused narrowly on a single “core” of design, like color, or line, or texture, or shadow. I remember the “coloraid” projects at Carnegie Mellon. We were to select a magazine layout, pin it to a board, and examine it.

And then, our task was to recreate the layout – exactly – using tiny 1/8″ square pieces of colored paper. It took forever (my memory of freshman year is a bit tired, but I recall it taking close to 100 hours), and at the time, we all questioned the point. What on earth could we learn from such a menial and monotonous activity, and how was this a good use of our really expensive education?

In fact, the foundational year of design education is full of activities like this. Paint a hundred color blocks a single color, but with a complete spectrum of saturation. Draw every letter of a single typeface, as realistically as possible. Sand a perfect sphere out of a cube. Sand a hundred perfect spheres out of a hundred cubes.

In a word, these projects were intended to teach craftsmanship, and many have historic roots in Bauhaus education, or pre-Bauhaus arts and crafts approaches to the production of artifacts. By focusing on a simple, contained, and tedious task, students formed tacit skills necessary for visual decision making – for a thoughtful process of design, related to the creation of form-based objects. Specifically, these projects offered four major benefits to students.


Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here: adafruit.com/editorialstandards

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in! adafruit.com/mastodon

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community! http://adafru.it/discord

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers – CircuitPython.org


Maker Business — Making sure the CHIPS act isn’t just crumbs

Wearables — And now a word on laser ettiquette

Electronics — Capacitor ESR

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: CircuitPython 8.1.0 and 8.2.0-beta0 out and so much more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Guardian Robot, Weather-wise Umbrella Stand, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — New Products 5/31/23 Feat. Adafruit NeoDriver – I2C to NeoPixel Driver Board – Stemma QT!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at AdafruitDaily.com !



1 Comment

  1. I’d say it’s a mixed bag these days. Although focusing on one thing intensely for a long period of time is nice, there are a lot of tools to learn these days and technology is spread out over multiple domains, tools, languages, and skills. In my personal experience, electronics hardware and firmware programming is my forte, but having a loose knowledge of other areas and tools has expanded my world a lot. Plus being in a hackerspace.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.