Design Thinking

Design is Future

When I began my design career a few decades ago, the majority of the work I produced was passive, printed material. Design was broken into a few various genres, but almost all of it was passive in some form or another. I started my career as a graphic designer, but over the course of time, thanks to technology that was being defined and invented in the late 1980’s my function as a designer changed. By that I mean the work I did went from I created something, people looked at it and I had no real feedback loop to determine the overall impact or experience that was achieved by the final piece. As computer technology changed the toolset I used to create visual images, it also changed the way people interacted with design, and began to blur the definition of what a designer is and the roles they play in business, product development, brand interaction, and ultimately what we call user experiences today. I no longer define my career as “Graphic Design”. Graphic design is simply one element of a multi-faceted set of disciplines that I practice on a daily basis. “Designer” is a more realistic term, because like so many in the field today, you are called upon to wear so many different hats, and develop work that interacts directly with business, marketing, engineering, advertising and more.

As computer technology changed the toolset I used to create visual images, it also changed the way people interacted with design, and began to blur the definition of what a designer is and the roles they play in business, product development, brand interaction, and ultimately what we call user experiences today. I no longer define my career as “Graphic Design”. Graphic design is simply one element of a multi-faceted set of disciplines that I practice on a daily basis. “Designer” is a more realistic term, because like so many in the field today, you are called upon to wear so many different hats, and develop work that interacts directly with business, marketing, engineering, advertising and more.

The 30 minute film below is from the “Design is Future Congresstival” held at Disseny Hub Barcelona each year in June. It showcases the main highlights and strong ideas from the 15 speakers that took part in the Design is Future 2016, as well as from the presenter and curators of the event. These individuals speak directly to what the role of design is in today’s world, and the impact it has. Design is no longer the last mile. The point at which someone says “Make it look good”. It is no longer styling, it has evolved for the better as more people have become aware of its impact in the last 20 or so years. The video is really worth watching if you are involved in any aspect of design. As Doug Powel, Design Principal and Director of Design Education at IBM says, “This is an amazing time to be a designer”, and I couldn’t agree more.

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Mike Monteiro at Webdagene 2015. “This is the golden age of design! …and we’re screwed.”

It’s Friday, and here is a little food for thought for all my designer friends. This is the keynote speech by Mike Monteiro at Webdange 2015. it’s worth watching. Seriously. Take 45 minutes of your day and listen to what this man has to say.

More Than Just Vodka.

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Swedish Vodka maker Absolut has tapped into the “Maker” movement with a new mobile innovation lab built from shipping containers and other recycled materials. The Absolut Creative Space  was designed by architects Astrid Skog and Charlotte Stuveback for Abslout earlier this year as a venue for creatives and innovators to produce unique with tools they might not have access to, in a collaborative environment. Inspiration was taken from Absolut’s production process and applied to each of the four individual spaces. The goal was to inspire and enable different types of work with limitless variations on the creative process.

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Creative Space was first placed outside Färgfabriken in Stockholm Sweden. The containers occupy enough space to hold all four containers and create a common area in between. That space is a “Semi-Official Zone” according to the architects that designed the Creative Space, which is designed to welcome visitors and encourage them to come closer and get involved. In addition the area was softened with landscaping creating an even more relaxed and inviting space for the creatives using the space as well as guests.

creative_space_bar-610x408 I really hope Absolut brings this to the USA for a tour. I think it would be a blast to participate. The first link above takes you to the Absolut site with case studies of projects already completed.

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An area of pallets with plants with meeting places surrounds the four containers.

“The Reader” Give That Man A Bell’s.

Over the weekend I came across a long format commercial for South African whiskey distiller “Bells”. The two videos below show the full length commercial and the behind the scenes documentary that was produced to show the strategic thinking behind the spot. The commercial itself, is a touching and heartwarming look at a man’s growth to literacy.

The product and the tag line don’t even make it into the spot until the last 5 seconds of the 2 minute commercial. It doesn’t matter, this is not a hard sell commercial. It is however extremely effective, having hooked the viewer, and pulled you all the way through the story.If you are a content producer, videographer, story teller, or anyone that works with dynamic media, the second video is well worth watching for the  King James insight about the thinking that went into this piece.

“The Reader” was developed South African agency King James. The team consisted of;

  • Chief Creative Officer Alistair King,
  • Executive Creative Directors Devin Kennedy and Matt Ross,
  • Creative Director Mike Wilson,
  • Art director Cameron Watson,
  • Agency Producer Caz Friedman
  • Bell’s Whisky Brand Manager Thandeka Mgqumeya
  • Marketing Manager Thami Silwana.
  • Director Greg Gray for Velocity Films with Producer Helena Woodfine

The Drawing the Process.

“Drawing is a thought process, not a means to reproduce what you see.” this quote from Daniel Weil in the video below, is a a comment that surfaces about 3 minutes in. It arrives as Weil shows off his sketchbooks, and talks about his process, why he draws, and how it helps him resolve problems, and complete ideas. I have said for years, you can’t design if you can’t draw.

This is fundamental to every aspect of the design industry from graphic to industrial to motion and beyond. It is also something that seems to be slipping away from many designers entering the industry today. I say this, because less than 3 years ago I sat in a meeting with a junior level designer that actually said “What if I can’t draw?” after being asked to sketch out some ideas. At the time I remember thinking, “How did you get a degree in design if you can’t draw”, and then moving on.

Over the last few years, the “I can’t draw” phenomenon has surfaced again, and again. This video, shows you why as a designer, you need to, and should draw, sketch, and visualize with something beyond your computer.

Required Reading. “Helvetica, Objectified, Urbanized: The Complete Interviews”

If you are a designer, there is a pretty solid chance you have seen at least one of Gary Hustwit’s documentaries, HelveticaObjectified and Urbanized. If you haven’t I highly recommend each of them. As with any film, hundreds of hours of footage is shot, but only 1 to 2 hours actually make it into the film. In the case of  Hustwits that means there are hundreds of hours of interview footage that was not seen. The educational value of this footage makes it a real gem, and Hustwit knows this. He has launched a Kickstarter campaign that has surpassed it’s goal in the first nine days it has been up. The project, to bring all of the interviews out as transcripts in a book. Based on who was in the films, count me in on the book.

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“The book will include in-depth discussions with designers and thinkers like Paola Antonelli, Alejandro Aravena, Chris Bangle, Michael Bierut, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Neville Brody, Tim Brown, David Carson, Matthew Carter, Candy Chang, Yung Ho Chang, Noah Chasin, Wim Crouwel, Ellen Dunham-Jones, Tobias Frere-Jones, Experimental Jetset, Dan Formosa, Sir Norman Foster, Naoto Fukasawa, Jan Gehl, Jonathan Hoefler, Jonathan Ive, Hella Jongerius, Bruce Katz, David Kelley, Rem Koolhaas, Rahul Mehrotra, Bill Moggridge, Marc Newson, Oscar Niemeyer, Enrique Peñalosa, Michael C. Place, Rick Poynor, Dieter Rams, Karim Rashid, Alice Rawsthorn, Stefan Sagmeister, Paula Scher, Erik Spiekerman, Davin Stowell, Jane Fulton Suri, Massimo Vignelli, Rob Walker, Hermann Zapf, and many more… over 75 of the world’s most creative and innovative people.”

The Monocle Guide to Better Living.

Over the last decade, the magazine “Monocle” has become a world leader in presenting ideas, positive thinking, design, and better living. Recently Monocle announced that they have partnered with Gestalten to release their first book, “The Monocle Guide to Better Living”. As the title suggests, this is a curated series of articles from the magazine, as well as outside resources that promotes a better way of living. In the book the Monocle Guide to Better Living, the editorial team looks at one of their core themes: how to live well. That doesn’t mean more stuff, or expensive stuff, it means “living well” whether it is a better neighborhood, or an object designed so well it lasts a lifetime. The video below shows off what the book is about, and the passion behind Tyler Brûlé and his teams thinking.