On the power of the illustrative world

Last night I listened to a great TED talk by a belgian designer. In his talk he describes his open-ended approach to design: his work is developed around a grid/ a set of proportions he designed so that from then on, ANY PART he designs can be added to another. It’s a lot like Legos (an analogy he makes very early on): the system Lego created in order to make its parts modular is also based around a grid.

In his talk he also contrasted the Lego‘s modular and inventive freedom to the set function of Playmobil toys. There, each piece has a set function and cannot be re-arranged in a way that a Lego car can become a Lego castle if the parts were to be re-arranged.

On the other hand, something he skips over in my eyes is the illustrative power of Playmobils. You can find a wealth of objects and accessories, characters, buildings and vehicles due to its stance as a NON-modular system. A similar, starker contrast might be putting side by side Minecraft and the Assassin’s Creed franchise.

I think it is important for both sides to address the other: modify-ability and freedom VS. visual richness of the product/service.

Games like Minecraft explore new unexpected possibilities (3D printable files, who knew?!) much like Tommas Lomée’s work, whereas games like Assassin’s Creed pushes the known limits of the gaming world with incremental technological and visual design improvements.

I will try to do more small-scale 3D work around Legos and Playmobils in the next few days, keep you posted!



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