The Simple Tech

When discussing technology, our minds often venture into products such iPhone, laptops, headphones, and more. Of course all these things have the right to be classified as technology, however it is not because they utilize electricity or connect you to the digital world. With that being said, technology is the application of knowledge for practical human needs. This means that technology is almost anything that helps better the quality of living. Laptops and phones are technologies because they allow for better communication. So in that case, microwaves, knives, can openers, and erasers are also all considered to be technology.


To me one of the simplest and ubiquitous technology is the very thing next to you right now, a pencil. The pencil we know today took on characteristics of an ancient roman writing instrument known as a stylus. Although the history of the pencil concept must have started even beyond the stylus, the stylus was the most representation form of a modern day pencil. A stylus was a thin metal rod that left a light yet readable indent on paper. The original metal stylus was later replaces by one that was produced out of lead, today it is known as the “pencil core” for obvious reasons. In 1564, a large graphite deposit was found in Borrowdale, England, that caused a graphite widespread in Europe. The mineral of graphite was much softer than lead and created a much darker stroke. Since then, pencils utilized graphite sticks wrapped in string which shortly after became hollowed wooden sticks now known as the pencil in modern day time. The first mass production of pencils were from Nuremberg, Germany in 1662. By the 19th century, the major pencil companies we know today were developed and it marked the start of active pencil industries.


Today, if we were to walk into the utensils section of our local Walmart, we might not be able to see as many wooden pencils. Maybe a small section would be dedicated to wooden pencils while the majority of the section would display lead pencils of all shapes, sizes and colours. However behind the packaging and marketing, the modern day pencil still carry the same concept of encased graphite. It’s just that now, we can choose between a variety of thickness when it comes to graphite or even how concentrated the compound is.


Pencils have always been an important instrument in history. They helped us record information, developed blueprints, create mail, pass on stories, and much more. Even before the very first pencil, its idea was always a part of human nature to express creativity and communicate. Before the knowledge of language cavemen communicated through drawings. Even before graphite, people could draw on soil or use charcoal or any other material.


As an interior designer, I spend most of my time developing ideas. The main programs I use include AutoCAD, rhino, Photoshop, InDesign, and many others. However before all the calculated measurements and the renderings, the most important thing to set up is the design concept. The design concept is the preliminary stage of an idea brought to life, it’s where the inspiration lives and anything is possible. Design ideas come and go, and at times they may alter your design completely. This means it’s important that you don’t waste all your effort into one idea as it will most likely evolve several times. As inspiration comes to a designer, it’s often expressed in a physical form by utilizing sketches. Sketches could be done by ink, markers, pastel, paint, and of course pencil. By utilizing simple technology such as a pencil, it will save you a lot more time than trying to express hundreds of scrap ideas digitally. I guess what I’m trying to say, is that the process of design is not possible without the most simplest of technology. The process of design, in a way, represents the evolving of technology and how they can be used together. Although we as a society live in the digital era, there is still a fine line that distinguishes digital technology and how we behave and live as human beings.


-William Wei

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