Category Archives: Technology

Open Design 2015 about to kick off!


“Open Design Cape Town Festival is a 12-day city-wide festival that celebrates the values and impact of design and innovation as key drivers of economic, environmental and social development. The Open Design Cape Town Festival is positioned as the leading showcase of how human-centred design can improve living conditions, build human capital and drive job creation. Through Open Design, the genius of innovative social design, service design, universal design and sustainable design has gained a firm place on the calendar of international design weeks.

Open Design Cape Town brings together all the design disciplines to remove the exclusive stigma associated with design. The programme is designed to educate and empower youth, develop human capital, nurture leaders and activate responsive citizens.”

Open Design 2014

Open Design 2014 festival will come to an end tomorrow, following eleven days of exhibitions, talks, workshops, conferences and performances. The festival is at the heart of design in Cape Town and showcases many project around the city during and after the main festival. I had the privilege of being involved in a number of activities over the course on the festival and have been left feeling intellectually exhausted, creatively inspired and emotionally re-connected. That is the power of festivals I believe – to create a space and time in which we can work, share and imagine the best that we can be. But I find myself wondering where we go between festivals and exhibitions? The powerful discussions, emotive pleas and wild applause for those working on sustainable solutions and social innovations seems lost a few weeks after the main event. As daily routine returns I wonder where our revolutionary spirit goes. Pulled back under, by daily problems like funding, operations, materials, permissions, policy and capacity the dream of a better world is not lost, the waters of possibility simply seem a bit murkier. The passionate advocates for change are still passionate, just also aware that rent needs to be paid. I believe festivals offer us a little time in which we can focus exclusively on our goals and ideals, not bound by possibility or practicality. An occupational dream holiday one could say. And what a holiday Open Design 2014 was! The first Universal Design conference in Africa, daily talks by inspiring professionals, tours for scholars showing the possibilities of design, new technologies demonstrated and a curated exhibition of projects reflecting how South African design is impacting education, environments, sustainable solutions, mobility and communication. Next week, when the familiar daily routine threatens to return I hope I can keep it at bay just a little longer. To remain focussed on the real goal, the one we set ourselves, the one we chase everyday, the one we dream about. If not, I may need to consider another occupational dream holiday.

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Look Around: Thoughts on Mr Turk’s proposal

“Look up”. A motto I rather liked whilst watching a video written, performed and directed by Gary Turk. What I found more interesting though was the rather emotional and divided responses that the video generated. Over the last few days the video was shared several times on my Facebook page, posted from various originating sites, yet each time the reactions of viewers seemed fired with power of the nine realms of hell (if you believe in those things). On the one side Turk’s supporters and on the other technology’s storm troopers. Some agreed with the video’s message to ‘put down’ technology and engage in more meaningful human interaction while some criticized the video’s ‘one sided’ view, highlighting the numerous benefits of technology and bearing witness to how technology makes their lives better. From the ample responses and comments I have come to the following conclusion… that maybe it isn’t about looking up, that instead, people should be encouraged to ‘looking around’ more.

For example, after watching the video, when one leaves a powerful messages regarding the evils of technology and how we should all refrain from living through our displays, one should possible not leave that message on a social media site (technology), uploaded from ones smart phone (technology) and enter into a long debate with other viewers, again, using said social media site and smart phone. Would your real support for these ideas not compel you to switch off immediately and go for a walk? This contradiction, I think, may be born out of our desire to be heard and comment. Technology has allowed us to have an almost global voice through social media, blogs and other interactive platforms.

From this comment you may assume I support the pro-technology side, however I have my own reservations. I’m privileged enough to spend most of my days with design students, by also required to make sense of their writing and presentations which seem to move further and further away from the English language – as I understand it. Many ascribe the (de) evolution of language on instant messaging, word processing software and social media. Fabio Massimo Zanzotto and Marco Pennacchiotti (2012) in their article Language evolution in social media: a preliminary study noted that:

 Today we are leaving a new “Social Media” revolution, that is once again, and with a faster pace, changing many languages. Social media such as forums, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, and MSN Messenger, allow people to write their stories and ideas and share them with the Internet community. From a linguistic perspective, this is a much bigger and radical innovation than the Web itself. Indeed, the introduction of the Web in the early 90ies allowed people to read content from different sources, such as media organizations and companies. Most of the information flow was therefore one-way, with people acting as readers. On the contrary, Social media allows a two-way communication. Common people become content producer and, ultimately, language creators.

I’m not sure how I feel about technology enabling language support but I do use the smiley face with vigour. It is important to ‘look around’, to listen to other opinions, explore different avenues and ultimately make a decision. Turk’s idea of ‘looking up’ seems to imply a definite decision, a move away from the over use of technology or an embrace of this practice. For me, ‘looking around’ proposes an honest and personal evaluation of ones context and a decision based on personal reflection. How much is too much? Can one person ever decide for another? We view the use of technology through our own understanding and our own experiences. My main problem is passwords; I sometimes think all the complexity in the universe has been concentrated in a small room of merciless people creating password requirements and protocols. On a good day I remember my first meeting and to have breakfast, memorising rows or numbers, letters, special characters and other bits haunt my existence. Technology does offer me a solution – applications like Authy and Google Authenticator will send special codes to my phone instead of me having to remember a password! Fantastic, however, there is no single authentication programme used universally. So, I may have to resort to having number of apps doing the same thing. I’m sure the more technological orientated people in the world can offer a plethora of solutions to my problem, but in truth, I have never asked. I have simply looked around and weighed up the situation… the benefit of remembering my passwords allows me to be my own banker, my own travel agent, my own long distance communication provider and my own alarm. One day, when I decide the situation does not weigh up in my favour I may change my mind.

I hope though that when I reach that point I will simple get up and take a walk, instead of Tweeting about annoyed I am. I believe that when we look around we will find that there is a space in the sun for the acolytes of technology as well as the naysayers, and all of us in between 🙂


How long will paper continue to be the right tool for planning and ideation? How long will it take someone to figure out how to replicate paper’s utility in the digital space? An interesting development in the paper world of innovation/collaboration is the synthesis of Post-it Notes with digital technologies.

FAST COMPANY published an interesting article on the rebirth of the post-it note titled, HOW THE POST-IT NOTE COULD BECOME THE LATEST INNOVATION TECHNOLOGY. The article by David Lavenda explores the uses of post-it notes in the creative processes and during collaboration. The whole article is well worth a read but what stood out for me was the reference to an integrated digital and paper solution – in essence marrying the humble post-it with technology to deliver a powerful tool for innovation and communication. Many applications exist but the collaboration between 3M and Evernote, explored in the article, seems user focussed and versatile. You can photograph post-its and the application translates the content into searchable and editable text. The post-it note seems to be going stronger than ever, and the future is bright.

Jonathan Ive – Designs Tomorrow

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Apple’s design chief helped transform computing, phones and music. The company’s secrecy and Ive’s modesty mean he has never given an in-depth interview—until now.

A colleague pointed this interview out to me and I have to admit it is a great read. The debate about Apple’s viability and future is one most designers have joined at some point in the last 10 years… which ever side of the fence you find yourself on, this interview with Jonathan Ive is an intoxicating  glimpse into the world that is Apple.

Jonathan Ive – Designs Tomorrow: and interview with John Arlidge for Time

‘Hello. Thanks for Coming’

We use Jonathan Ive’s products to help us to eat, drink and sleep, to work, travel, relax, read, listen and watch, to shop, chat, date and have sex. Many of us spend more time with his screens than with our families. Some of us like his screens more than our families. For years, Ive’s natural shyness, coupled with the secrecy bordering on paranoia of his employer, Apple, has meant we have known little about the man who shapes the future, with such innovations as the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. But last month, he invited me to Cupertino in Silicon Valley where Apple is based, for his first in-depth interview since he became head of design almost 20 years ago.

The gods — or was it the ghost of Steve Jobs? — seemed against it. Jobs didn’t like Apple execs doing interviews. It had not rained properly in California for months but that morning the clouds rolled off the Pacific, turning the Golden Gate Bridge black. Interstate 280 South to Silicon Valley was a river of water, instead of the usual lava streaks of stop-start SUVs. But just after 10AM, an Apple tech-head appeared in an all-white meeting room on the first floor of building 4 of the firm’s antiseptic headquarters with strict instructions to find an Earl Grey tea bag.

“Hello. Thanks for coming,” grins Ive, as he rolls in, picking up his brew. Ive is the most unremarkable remarkable person you could meet. You might think you’d recognize him if you passed him on the street, but you wouldn’t. He’s not particularly tall, is well built and bald(ish), has two-day-old stubble and dresses like dads do on weekends — navy polo shirt, canvas trousers, desert boots. He speaks slowly and softly in an Essex accent totally unaffected by living in America for more than two decades. “I can’t even bring myself to say math, instead of maths, so I say mathematics. I sound ridiculous,” he laughs.

Ive is in a good mood today — and not just because he’s celebrating his 47th birthday. He likes the idea of this interview series because he sees himself as more of a maker than a designer. “Objects and their manufacture are inseparable. You understand a product if you understand how it’s made,” he says. “I want to know what things are for, how they work, what they can or should be made of, before I even begin to think what they should look like. More and more people do. There is a resurgence of the idea of craft.”

Ive has been a maker ever since he could wield a screwdriver. He inherited his craftsman’s skills from his father, Michael. He was a silversmith who later became a lecturer in craft, design and technology at Middlesex Polytechnic. Ive spent his childhood taking apart the family’s worldly goods and trying to put them back together again. “Complete intrigue with the physical world starts by destroying it,” he says. Radios were easy, but “I remember taking an alarm clock to pieces and it was very difficult to reassemble it. I couldn’t get the mainspring rewound.” Thirty years later, he did the same to his iPhone one day. Just to prove he still could.

A love of making is something he shared with Jobs,Apple’s former chief executive who died three years ago. It helped the two men forge the most creative partnership modern capitalism has seen. In less than two decades, they transformed Apple from a near-bankrupt also-ran into the most valuable corporation on the planet, worth more than $665 billion.

“Steve and I spent months and months working on a part of a product that, often, nobody would ever see, nor realize was there,” Ive grins. Apple is notorious for making the insides of its machines look as good as the outside. “It didn’t make any difference functionally. We did it because we cared, because when you realize how well you can make something, falling short, whether seen or not, feels like failure.”

For a man whose products are all called iSomething, it’s surprising that “i” is one word Ive scarcely uses. He talks constantly about his team or Jobs, using “we.” This is not “aw-shucks” false modesty or corporate-speak. “I don’t like being singled out for attention. Designing, engineering and making these products requires large teams,” he says.

Ive really does keep a low profile — or at least as low a profile as you’d expect one of the world’s most highly paid designers to keep. He has only one house — in the swanky Pacific Heights district of San Francisco, where his neighbors include Oracle’s Larry Ellison, Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel and actor Nicolas Cage. He lives there with his British wife, Heather Pegg, a writer and historian, and their twin sons. He avoids publicity. He and his design team have only been seen in public once: in London two years ago when they all turned up to accept a prestigious D&AD design award.

To continue reading please visit Time’s site by clicking here

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How to live before you die…

I am by no means one of those ‘Apple’ people… you know, the ones who can’t leave their iPhones alone and can’t wait to tell you which two new products they got to ‘talk’ to one another. Having said that I am a fan  of the simplistic design (much of which can be seen in early products by Braun…yip, Google the 1958 pocket radio just for kicks). The story of Apple is an interesting one, and one linked to the life of co-founder Steve Jobs. This talk by Jobs given at Stanford University’s 114th Commencement in 2005 urges graduates to pursue their dreams and see opportunity in difficult situations. A great and inspiring talk from one of our generation’s visionaries.

Tech Trends 2014

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The lovely people at Frog have compiled a great Tech Trends for 2014 in which you can vote for which entries you believe are likely to feature. This is one of many forecast and trend documents popping up online this time of the year. I love it!! Paging through the various forcasts makes me so excited, imagining that the world of early 20th Century sci-fi authors will finally come true (….in truth may may just get more of the same, with slight changes and incremental developments).  I suggest giving yourself over to dreaming about where we can go in 2014….even if it is just for a few minutes!

Click here for Frog Tech Trends 2014