First of all, we tip our hat to Brad Frost, who literally wrote the book on Atomic Design.
How we’re using Component Based Design
Lewis+Humphreys
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Please. No disrespect to Frost but its like the grandmother who has to remind her daughter that she wasn’t the first person to invent babies. Just because something is new to me doesn’t mean its new, and just the fact that I observed something doesn’t mean I discovered it for Mankind.

Bill Gates talked extensively about fractals 20 years ago which one could argue is based on the same concept.

Personally what I think is more significant is about 10 years before that we started to observe a phenomenon in industry called “off the shelf engineering”. Some people looked down on it but the reason I consider it significant is that at the time it required quite a radical shift in engineering thinking.

It was a movement towards designing products from ready-made components as opposed to designing everything from the ground up. So if you built cars you were starting to buy brake pads or steering pumps or hoses rather than making everything in house and therefore you had to design around those components rather than be allowed to devise a solution perfectly tailored to your intent. If you build desktop computers even today, all you’re doing is assembling components. There isn’t a single thing that company who’s name is on the box actually makes. We called them clone PCs for a while, remember? A whole industry based on reproduction of the IBM Personal Computer through component arrangements and assembly.

This process has since permeated through to other fields of human endeavour and become refined. You now have “mass manufactured customisation” masquerading as bespoke and we’ve become trained to accept this. BMW will allow you to individualise your mass produced 3 series through paint and accessories but ask them to change the shape of the radio knobs and see what they say.

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