I’ve worked as a designer for 35 years. Most of my design work has been in boats. I’ve also designed furniture and houses, and had a wonderful opportunity a few years back to be involved in designing an avionics system. I’m listing my personal projects under Antonio Dias Design and the avionics work under the name of the system, Avidyne’s Release 9. For me personally, there is a connection between all my design efforts; they have all been opportunities to develop, expand and utilize my over-all design philosophy. I was lucky enough to lay out these principles first in my book, Designer & Client for WoodenBoat Publications in 1998. While the book is couched as a series of design commissions for pleasure boats, I meant it as a forum in which broader questions of design, its purpose and utility could be aired.
I’ve been fortunate to have had an opportunity to teach a short introduction to my design process at MIT. This week-long course was given as part of their winter inter-semester period and was open to all members of the MIT community. I shared this gig with Reuben Smith, a fine boatbuilder I’ve known and worked with over the years. Showing people how to create a half-model of a boat and then draw it to scale was our vehicle for presenting an organic approach to design, one that focuses on discovering the underlying needs of the user and bringing all of our abilities to work from first principles instead of being short-circuited by unexamined assumptions.
Happily, the last time we taught the class it was videoed as part of MIT’s OpenCourseWare program.