research design laboratory


I live in an old house. Built 70 years ago, it bears many scars from the lives that have graced its space over the years. And while I've put considerable effort into restoring, upgrading and maintaining its old bones, I'm always leery of covering up too many of these scars. And where once I may have diligently avoided contributing to the wear and tear on the place, I now see it as honoring the materials and labour that built it. Today we inhabit spaces where veneers have replaced real wood; invited the sleek, modern and clean industrial textures into our homes; andcome to value the durable and well made materials of the past for their 'vintage' aesthetic rather than their fuctionality. Remember how we used to wear things in because we needed to make them our own and because things were actually durable?  

Beyond my grandfatherly lament, it's interesting to consider how all this might apply to our digital spaces. Can a website age gracefully? For years Craigslist has resisted updating its interface despite suggestions it should. Certainly ugly by today's standards, but Craigslist gets used and it has the scars to prove it. Similarly, seems to have appropriately remained largely unchanged for much of its existence - as a trip back in time reveals. There is an expectation online that a website must undergo a refresh yearly to keep visitor's engaged by implementing the latest trends and best practices. And while this is a reasonable expectation - if for nothing else but to promote innovation - there's something to be said for sites that really get used and show it. For me, contributing to the curation of digital spaces should be about creating spaces that are used and aren't afraid to show it. There is perhaps no greater feedback from clients than to see them really use a site - to give it some scars.