Smoke and Miros — Design and Magic

This paper looks at the connection between magic and creativity. The content was evolved at a Design Transformation Group conference.
This paper was presented at The 4th International Conference on Design and Emotion, 12th-14th June, 2004, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey.

Co-Authors: Alex Milton, Cris Degroot, Debbie Wythe. 

Magic is the essence of creativity; of action that operates outside the boundaries of plans, programs and exact techniques. Following the launch of ‘Design and Magic’ (DTG, London), four of the contributing authors expand the idea that designers are failed magicians and magicians are failed designers. Magic in all its various guises is seen to present an infinite realm of possibilities for design, not least its link with a readymade metareality. The power of transformation that drives the creative practitioner is not dissimilar to the power of the alchemist in creating precious substances. Their rituals and tools might be different, but the effect is the same. Faced with the apparent contradictions of functionalist technology and magical product narratives, the paper seeks to demonstrate that design can re-engage with the emotional and poetic. It asks whether practitioners should pursue the notion of design as deception, fuelling a gluttony of material desire, or should they look to a higher order, where magic provides a holistic view, at least 180 degrees of which is not accounted for right now?

Keywords: magic, design, creativity

In truth, this paper is a bit of a mess, but we were new to exploring this subject. Despite this, the main themes and references remain fairly relevant:

Magicians as designers
Designers as magicians, seers and illusionists
Magic as commodity
Technology and magic
Design as magical ritual

The full text is attached below: