Editor's Note: Zach Downey and Brian Ringley are the Dynamic Duo behind Designalyze. We chat with both of them about their passion for Digital Design, a knack for teaching and the brilliant idea of getting cool people together ready to broadcast.
Zach Downey and Brian Ringley.
Novedge: Tell us a little bit about Designalyze.
Zach Downey: Designalyze is a Digital Design resource site. The focus up until now has primarily been on providing video tutorial courses in a variety of coding languages and Parametric Design software. Brian Ringley: But we've recently expanded to include blog content, interviews, book reviews, and more.
Novedge: Who are the people in the Designalyze Team and how did you get together for this project?
Zach: I started the site back in 2008 and Brian started contributing content in 2012 when we were teaching together at CUNY.
Brian: I actually used Designalyze as a resource back when I was in grad school. But the intent wasn't necessarily for us to be the sole content providers.
Zach: Yeah, we've always encouraged others in the community to submit content. So hey, if anyone out there is interested, give us a shout.
Novedge: What are the many resources you offer on the website?
Zach: As we mentioned, it's primarily video tutorial content, but our most recent addition is a weekly podcast.
Novedge: Really? Tell us more about the podcast.
Brian: We conduct humorous and, we hope, insightful interviews with thought leaders in the design community.
Zach: The format is loose - it's a casual conversation followed by a "Lightning Round" where the guest talks about what books and music they're into, app kits and productivity rituals, things like that. We kind of figured that we were hanging out with these people on the weekends anyway, and we were always having these really interesting conversations, so we might as well record it, right?
Brian: I mean, they let pretty much anyone release a podcast - I think it might actually be a requirement if you live in Brooklyn. (laughs). But seriously, if you haven't listened yet, check it out here.
Novedge: Who are some of the thought leaders on the podcast?
Zach: We've talked with leaders of design computation at AECO firms such as TT CORE's Jonatan Schumacher, FXFOWLE's Alexandra Pollock, Woods Bagot's Shane Burger, and SOM's Robert Yori, and AECO software developers such as Ladybug's Mostapha Sadeghipour and the Dynamo team including Matt Jezyk, Zach Kron, and Colin McCrone.
Brian: And it's not just industry-types, either. We've spoken with Artists and Designers on the edges of their fields like Marius Watz and Francis Bitonti, and I'm really looking forward to some of our future guests who are talented up and coming designers and technologists such as Elizabeth Boone of SOM and Stephanie Lin (formerly of Aranda\Lasch).
Novedge: Getting back to the rest of the site, what different kinds of software do you cover in your tutorials?
Zach: It's been primarily Rhino and Grasshopper, as well as Python and C# scripting in those environments, but we've got courses on Autodesk stuff like Revit and Maya, and some more hands-on instruction like 3D printing with the MakerBot. Brian: And there's a lot of fun stuff in the works, too, like industrial robotic arm toolpathing with HAL and PowerMILL, collaborative CAM with Fusion360, and agent simulation with MassMotion Flow.
Zach: We're really just posting stuff we find interesting - it's only worth our time if we're having fun doing it.
Brian: Yeah, in that sense we're not necessarily "targeting" anyone in particular - we'd like to think it's useful for anyone with a love of learning and a curiosity about these tools and how they impact Design.
Zach: There's an obvious sense that the tutorials are useful for students - many of the courses were actually produced out of courses I've taught or that Brian's taught.
Brian: And we think it's valuable to professionals as well - maybe someone looking to "tool-up" little by little by watching a video each day on their lunch break. Novedge: What advancements in technology in your field are you most excited about ?
Zach: Google’s Project Tango is pretty amazing. The impact technology like that could have on the AEC industry is huge.
Brian: Anything accessible through a browser - I think cloud apps are making it easier to collaborate in software and exponentially increase computational limits. And gaming - the ability to have a more experiential approach to design and visualization through engines like Unity and Unreal and devices like the Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard is valuable and, frankly, a lot of fun.
Novedge: You are all teachers in real life, what do you learn from your students?
Brian: Everything. I teach to learn and to better myself, both through the students themselves and through the act of teaching, of mastering information and concepts and communicating them effectively to others.
Zach: It took me a while to realize, but a teacher’s job is to motivate the student to allow them to teach themselves. I’ve always found that if you can get a student excited about something, their natural curiosity will enable them to experiment and learn on their own. I think this kind of tinkering and failing during the learning process exponentially increases the student’s understanding and allows them to make insightful leaps in cognition. Novedge: What would you like to tell to the readers of the Novedge Blog?
Zach: That the cat in my profile picture is named Winnie. Come check out Designalyze! Also, thanks for visiting, seeing those Google analytics and reading the comments/contact emails are really what keeps me motivated to post things. If not for the passion of our visitors I might have given up way back. Then I wouldn’t have met Brian. That would have been a shame. He’s pretty cool.
Brian: Yeah Zach’s not so bad, either. I guess from the standpoint of people looking to learn more about how to solve design problems with these tools, to get from point A to point B, I'd just recommend that they have a really challenging problem in-hand so the learning is driven by necessity. I don't see a lot of value myself in mastering a piece of software as a means to an end in itself.
Novedge: Who came up with the cool name?
Zach: Well, basically I was plugging away names looking for something available. My only criteria was that it needed to relate to design and it should be a dot com, with no hyphens. Even back in 2008 there wasn’t much available. It turned out to be difficult to spell and to say...but I didn’t even know what SEO was back then.
Brian: It's a portmanteau.
Zach: Brian manages to work the word "portmanteau" into everything we do...
"Chapeau" to Zach and Brian for their fantastic initiative. Visit Designalyze and check out the great resources it provides. You can also follow Designalyze on Twitter .
For all your other Design needs, there's Novedge!