Do you think the development of new technologies helps or hinders our imagination?

This year’s Design Manchester takes the theme of ‘The Science of Imagination’. We ask speakers about the balance of technology and imagination.

Malcolm Garrett

Source: Design Manchester

“For as long as humanity has been engaged in the making of tools and the making of marks, technology and creativity have gone hand in hand. New technologies introduce new stimuli and new challenges, bringing with them the ability to devise fresh answers to old problems as well as fresh outcomes from new ones. Conversely it is creative endeavor that keeps technology moving forward in an imaginative cycle of invention and production.”

Malcom Garrett RDI, ambassador, Design Manchester

Adrian Shaughnessy

Source: Unit Editions

“Imagination should be independent of technology. Our powers of imagination should not be waiting for the latest piece of whiz-bang tech. Technology can help us but only if we decide to let it. In truth, imagination is a psychological process, not a mechanical one. We should think of our imagination as psychological software – pre-loaded and no upgrades needed. Although like all software it sometimes crashes.”

Adrian Shaughnessy, designer, writer and Royal College of Art senior tutor and Unit Editions co-founder

Rob Lowe

Source: Rob Wilson

“I have a love-hate relationship with technology. Of course technology is relative – the pencil is a form of technology – but a lot of modern technology seems to be about constant renewal and progress for progress sake. The benefits are that if you can imagine something you can probably produce it. I think this is also the problem, if you work with restrictions you have to think more laterally and allow the viewer to use their imaginations – imply the monsters rather than explicitly show them!”

Rob Lowe, Supermundane 

Michael Place

Source: JMW Luxton

“A piece of rock, a quill, the pencil, the pen, all new technologies in their time. Technology is a tool, it enables us to produce, to make, to mark. When man first picked up a piece of rock all of those thousands of years ago he realised he could use it to make a mark, to kill or build. Exploration (and exploitation) of “technology” is key. Has it helped or hindered us? If you let it control you, it will hinder you.”

Michael C Place, creative director, Build 

Rejane Dal Bello

Source: LA Hall

“I think the danger is to immediately think that the meaning of technology is a ‘computer thing’ or a ‘code thing’ and so forth. Maybe that is true right now, but technology was once, for example, the control of fire. If we look at technology from its core meaning – a collection of tools used by humans – I think it can only enhance and help our imagination. Technology is there as a utensil; adding to you, existing so that we can see, do, apply and think differently – something that our natural skills alone couldn’t achieve.”

Rejane Dal Bello, graphic designer

Daniel Hirschmann

Source: Howard Koby

“A piece of paper can be viewed either as an empty space, or as an opportunity to write, draw, fold and construct anything! It is the intention of the maker that gives the paper meaning. New technologies are not that different in my opinion, as they can offer a similar opportunity of untapped potential as new mediums for creativity. The challenge is to make sure that the medium doesn’t dictate the creative outcome. Starting with meaning and intention means that the output can be more than the technology itself.”

Daniel Hirschmann, founder, Hirsch & Mann

Tony Brook

Source: Unit Editions

“Fortunately our imaginations don’t rely on technology, they imagine and invent it. The creative potential inherent in many of the new technologies can certainly be a source of inspiration in and of themselves. They have the power to facilitate our imaginations and provide a positive framework in which our minds can take flight. It is very much up to us as creative individuals to take positive advantage of emerging technology and put it to good use, pursuing what is beneficial and discarding what is not.”

Tony Brook, founder, Spin and co-founder, Unit Editions

Design Manchester takes place over ten days from 21 October. For more information visit or see our preview.

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  • Phil Ainley November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I think technology has tended to stifle creativity, and planning! Students are taught to use programmes and software and learn their way around computers rather than being taught how to think laterally. But more shocking is the jump straight to the online tools for social media and online marketing, rather than taking the more sensible step of putting a plan and strategy in place first.Technology has its place but there are too many easy themes and cheap logos as clip art out there and many businesses are starting to look like each other because of it.

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