4D DESIGN is a category for designs devised in response to the proliferation of new dynamic technologies. It focuses upon designing 'cultural expression' within dynamic situations of the everyday 'designed' world along with designing 'utility'.

The main characteristics of 4D Design are depicted in the 4D Diagram. Importantly it shows the relationship of the Performing Arts to functional actions of people and dynamic technologies fundamental to it.

The diagram has four basic domains of knowledge, which are inter-linked to greater or lesser extents in any 4D Design; two cover the dynamics of intangible media and physical artefacts - multimedia technology and robotics; the other two deal with the dynamics of people firstly within functional work - 'ergonomics'; and secondly 'play' - focusing on the performance Arts involving dynamic cultural expression and meaning.

In the diagram there are sub-set domains shown, and these are: the relatively new discipline of 'interaction design', focusing on the usefulness of digital technological objects; 'interface design', focusing on the usefulness of digital informational media e.g. screens and surfaces; the 'electronic arts' which deals with expression through intangible digital media including art installations; and 'kinetic sculpture' that focuses upon dynamic expression of material art objects.

"A 4D Design is the dynamic form resulting from the design of the behaviour of artefacts and people in relation to each other and their environment".
(Alec Robertson 1995).
4D Design Diagram.
A 4D design focuses upon the creation of ‘delightful’ experiences between artefacts and people in relation to each other and their environment and involves the design of 'movement', from simple kinesthetics to 'complex' people-artefact conversations.

This can focus upon designing of dynamic 'things'and their use, as in robotic products. Alternatively, it can even mainly involve designs where people are solely acting in relationship to each other when this encompasses both the utilitarian perspective of designing of work with 'ergonomics' and the more playful 'performing arts'. An example of the latter is in the retailing industry where designing 'services as theatre' requires design of elegant performances by people beyond functional work tasks, as in the different experience between an upmarket restaurant and a fast food outlet.

The conception of 4D Design here is limited to that of the 'everyday' contribution that creative designers make, where people are usually central to the design, and where the dynamics of culturally rich meanings and aesthetics are main characteristics. It generally excludes systems where people are not present, such as designing the dynamics within an engine, and creations of the 'pure or fine arts' with no utilitarian or commercial purpose. 4D Design can add value to brands, products and services. It will give rise to new wealth generating 'creative industries' yet to be conceived in an ever more dynamic world.

Interview with Alec Robertson on 4D Fashion (2015)

Further information on 4D Design
4D-Dynamics.net DDR1 DDR2 DDR3 DDR4 DDR5 DDR6 DDR7 Cyberbridge-4D

Click to download (PDF) a seminal conference paper by Alec Robertson. "4D Design Futures: Some Concepts and Complexities." in Procs. 4D Dynamics Conference 21 Sept. 1995. De Montfort University, Leicester. ISBN 1857211308.
Click download (PDF) a Journal paper by Alec Robertson & James Woudhuysen, "4D Design: Applied Performance in the Experience Economy" in Body Space & Technology on-line Journal. Vol. 1, No 1. Nov 2001. Brunel University.
Click for details of a book with a Chapter by Alec Robertson (2009) "Metamorphosis of the Artificial", in book Embracing Complexity in Design Ed. Alexiou, K. et al. Taylor & Francis.
Click download (PDF) of a Conference paper by Alec Robertson, ""Speculation on the Future of Engineering the Environment" iin Proc. Environmental Engineering Conference. 21 Sept. 1993.
Click for details of two Chapters by Alec Robertson (2009) in International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media Ed. Dave Collins et al. INTELLECT Books
Click to see a video (Mp4) of a simple 4D booklight design showing elegant movement."
Click for 4D-Dynamics.net HOME Page.
Click to download (PDF) a draft BOOK CHAPTER by Alec Robertson (2009) "Metamorphosis of the Artificial: Designing the future through tentative links between complex systems science, second-order cybernetics and 4D Design" in book Embracing Complexity in Design Ed. Alexiou, K. et al. Taylor & Francis."
Click to download (PDF) a Conference Paper by Alec Robertson (1997) "4D PRODUCT DESIGN , MECHATRONICS and MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGIES : SOME CONCEPTUAL CHALLENGES."
Click for multimedia proceedings of a Symposium entitled "MORE is MORE: Embracing Complexity in Design" (2005).
Click for multimedia proceedings of a Symposium entitled "MAGIC in COMPLEXITY: Embracing the 4D Design Arts"(2007).
Click for multimedia proceedings of a Symposium entitled "MORE is MORE 2: 4D Product Design for the Everyday" (2008)"
Click to go to 4D Dynamics on YouTUBE with PLAYLISTS of 4D examples.
Click for details of a chapter by Alec Robertson and Delai Men on "Future Designing and the Chinese Notions of "li"" in Kybernetes (2011) , an international journal on cybernetics published by Emerald.
Click for an interview with Alec Robertson by VISUOLOGY Magazine Issue 3"
Return to Home Page of 4D-Dynamics.net