Three creatives tell us why coding is crucial to contemporary design

22 January 2018

The ability to understand and move with the times, while progressing your work accordingly, is a crucial skill for any designer. With our lives increasingly dictated by the screens that surround us, the importance of coding and digital design is soaring. In a series of articles in collaboration with SuperHi, It’s Nice That will be offering insight into the prominence of this facet of design.

The worlds of coding and design are colliding and synthesising at a rapid rate. Gone are the days of mocking up designs for a “tech-wiz” to bring to life. Instead, the two processes are becoming increasingly intertwined with many designers choosing to learn how to code themselves. This allows them to design more empathetically for the web, work better with technical teams, or integrate coding into their creative process to have more control over the finished product.

We spoke to three sets of creatives who all heavily employ coding and digital design in their work to find out why they think it’s important to progress existing skills, be adaptable and find out more about the impact technology is having on design.

We hear from DIA, a design agency specialising in kinetic identity systems; Studio Moniker, an interactive design studio researching the social effects of technology; and Zach Lieberman, co-founder of YesYesNo, who also teaches at the School for Poetic Computation which explores the intersections of code, design, hardware and theory. 

DIA Studio

“To truly amplify a piece of design for screens you need to utilise code, not as an afterthought but an intrinsic part of the creative process. Code allows us to create flexible dynamic design systems that control everything from typographic layouts and colour to animation and interaction behaviours.

As design formats continue to move far beyond a printed page and become increasingly immersive and dynamic, it’s important that we, at DIA, continue to devote ample time to learn new tools and techniques to maximise the impact design can have in these environments.” 

Studio Moniker

“Coding has always been a crucial part of the design process at Moniker. Over the years we’ve learned that our concepts and ideas cannot be developed without playing around and making small tests with technology. Quite often this ‘fiddling around’ is what sparks the core idea for a project.

Code itself is hardly ever valued for the way it is written but mostly appreciated for the way it functions which is kind of sad. We love the drama that occurs when trying to fix a bug and the excitement when an elegant solution presents itself. Sometimes there is more personality in the code itself than in the final product.

In the earlier days of graphic design, the production process was more linear. There was a clear sequential procedure. ‘Ideation – Concept – Design – Prepress – Production – Delivery.’ In a contemporary design studio, these processes move back and forth between ideation and production naturally. While playing with a framework, service or tool, new possibilities occur. A quick prototype leads to a new idea that in the end leads to a new prototype that leads to an even better idea. We carefully try to protect this. For us its the only way to keep our work exciting for both creatives and coders.”

Zach Lieberman

“Designers should know their tools well, and we live in the age where many of the tools we use are created with code, often times code you can’t see or touch. If you know what code is, what it feels like, your brain can open to new expressive possibilities, especially in terms of generative and systems design thinking. With code you can build your own tools and with your own tools create things that are new to you and to the world.

Although technology changes all the time, I think it’s important to focus on first principles rather than chase shiny new things. At the School for Poetic Computation we focus on the essential roots of computation, what is the computer doing at the root level? How can we understand the layers and layers of abstraction and use them to make poetry?”

SuperHi is a worldwide community of creative people learning to code, together. To find out more about all the online courses it offers, head over to SuperHi’s website. Their students are based in almost 40 countries and represent a diverse range of backgrounds.

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