Tag Archives: Design Thinking

A must view! | AC4D Design Library

Screen Shot 2014-01-12 at 8.37.31 AM

It may be early in the year, but I’m almost sure this is one of the most amazing tools I will find in 2014. AC4D Design Library claims that it is a ‘Practical resource to support the process of design’ – and they are not exaggerating! The tools are clear, well designed (I always find it amusing when design tools are badly designed…), using clear language and broken into strategic sections. I can’t wait to give every single one of these a go! Thank you Austin Centre for Design.

To visit the website click here.

Tagged , , , ,

The Value of Design

I was recently asked what my views are on the ‘value of design’. I spend so much time reviewing the work of others and finding links between current design theories that is refreshing to stop, and spend some time thinking about my views on the subject. One of the most important things we need to acknowledge is the difference between design as a profession and design as a process. I often speak to recent graduates and I’m intrigued when they all say “I’m a designer” and never “I design”. Semantics some may argue, but I believe it highlights an important duality in design. On the one hand design is a professional occupation – grounded in the needs and wants of clients. For me the statement “I’m a designer” describes this. The aim of design in this context is to produce object, messages, environments etc. that addresses user needs. The second option, “I design” refers to design as a process, an iterative and methodical problem solving technique.

A Brief History of the Chair in Design, Denver Art Museum, 2012

A Brief History of the Chair in Design, Denver Art Museum, 2012

The apologetic nature of the new (and only slightly different) chair.

I should state upfront that I love chairs. For me, there are few objects that can so succinctly depict the evolution of design through the ages better than seating and chairs. However, if we are honest, many contemporary chair designs are only slight variations of existing designs, offering nothing new to the user except possible colour changes, surface decoration and maybe something a bit special in the leg department. One may ask then why new chairs are being designed and produced.  This is the realm of “only slightly different, but completely new” design.   It is the mind set and design practice that contributed to the consumerist world we inhabit. Yet, we can’t move away from this form of design completely. It is through gradual development that users engage most successfully with new technologies. Users also require more individualisation and personalisation of products and environments, creating demand for “only slightly different, but completely me” design. To say that this stream of design does not offer significant value is unfair.  The objects and environments around us evolve and adapt through this design stream. And, through more sustainable and ethical practices the manufacturing and distribution of designed objects have less negative environmental impact. I spent the first few years of my career in this stream, as I believe most do. Learning my trade, developing my skills and developing that slightly elusive designer intuition (which is by no means always correct). During the last two years my passion within design has shifted and I am now passionate (read, slightly obsessed) with the larger design environment and the connections between design, people and technology.

Thinking for design

Design thinking. The phrase causes a cold shiver down my spine. Mostly because I have sat in more meetings than I would like to remember during which design thinking was describes almost as a magical spell that would improve business, operations and ultimately the financial bottom line. As a designer I was expected to wave my magical ‘design thinking’ wand and shazam! The amazing writings of Richard Buchanan, describing the power of design to address complex, or ‘wicked’, problems had in a few decades been twisted into a parlour trick, required to deliver innovation and organisational rejuvenation. I appreciate the candid discussion of Paul Pangaro on the topic during his Picnic presentation, Rethinking Design Thinking, in 2010.  Today I am back in the world of ‘design thinking’, only this time it is from a user centred perspective.  The potential within the design process, to detail and analyse complex problems and develop through creative, critical and reflective thinking a context appropriate solution, is for me the real value of design. Service design is an area I am particularly interested in. As an approach Service Design encompasses all design disciplines, focused on the improvement of development of user centred service experiences. It’s about people – their world, their technologies, their experiences, their hopes, dreams and aspirations. Design for social development, design for the other 90% and similar movements share a core focus on context appropriate solutions for real users. What is the value of design? Strategic change for an improved situation – a better walkway for children in rural areas to get to school, a more streamlined process in clinics, improved channels of communication in police stations for victims of abuse and food growing projects feeding entire communities. What is the value of design? It can empower us to see problems as manageable, to imagine a better situation and help us do something about it.

Tagged , , , ,

Human Centered Design Toolkit | IDEO

Screen Shot 2013-11-17 at 5.11.28 PM

Well, the IDEO group really do have a talent for developing great toolkits. The Design Thinking for Educators toolkit has long been a favourite of my. Their HDC toolkit is a great introduction to human centred research and practice that the beginner and expert will both find useful. To download the toolkit, click here

The HCD Toolkit was designed specifically for NGOs and social enterprises that work with impoverished communities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The free kit walks users through the human-centered design process and supports them in activities such as building listening skills, running workshops, and implementing ideas. The process has led to innovations such as the HeartStart defibrillator, CleanWell natural antibacterial products, and the Blood Donor System for the Red Cross—all of which have enhanced the lives of millions of people.

For some inspiration watch this:

Tagged , , , , ,

CPUT | Teaching with Technology Day 2013

The 2013 ‘Learning by Design’ workshop, presented at the CPUT’s ‘Teaching with Technology’ day, will explore the design process as a tool to develop responsive teaching and learning activities, and integrate technologies in teaching practice. The workshop uses the IDEO ‘Design Thinking for Educators’ toolkit and process method.

To download the full toolkit click here. The toolkit details the design thinking process and takes the reader step by step through the process.

Design Thinking for Educators is…A creative process that helps you design meaningful solutions in the classroom, at your school, and in your community. The toolkit provides you with instructions to explore Design Thinking.

The ‘Design Thinking for Educators’ website is a rich source of inspiration and helpful hints. The website also encourages reflection and sharing, allowing teachers and lecturers to tell their stories and read the design thinking stories of other educators.  Click here to read stories or share your views.

Tell us about what you’ve been designing! We are collecting stories of the design challenges educators have been tackling using the Design Thinking for Educators Toolkit. One day your story could be highlighted here and could help others working on similar challenges. You can contribute to the overall community knowledge about how Design Thinking can help educators transform everything – from the experiences our students have to the operations of our school systems.

The workshop also highlights a few amazing TED Talk videos that explore design thinking and design. Enjoy!

How to escape education’s death valley by Sir Ken Robinson | FILMED APR 2013 • TED Talks Education

Teaching design for change by Emily Pilloton | FILMED JUL 2010 • POSTED NOV 2010 • TEDGlobal 2010

A teacher growing green in the South Bronx by Stephen Ritz | FILMED FEB 2012 • POSTED JUL 2012


Tagged , , , , , , ,

Design Revolution?

ImageI recently rediscovered a book by Emily Pilloton (Design Revolution: 100 products that Empower people, Metropolis Books) which I bought back in 2010. I was originally stuck by her incredible (and some may say a tad optimistic) view of design for a better world. She undertook a project (Project H) with her partner Matthew Miller to redesign the educational system and curriculum in Bertie County, North Carolina, the poorest county in the state. The first group of students began the programme in 2010. This story inspired me to buy her book. As a lecturer in product design I found many of her comments raw and over-simplified, but non the less true…

“Today’s world of design (specifically product design) is severely deficient, crippled by consumerism and paralyzed by an unwillingness to financially and ethically prioritize social impact over the bottom line. We need nothing short of an industrial design revolution to shake us from our consumption-for-consumption’s-sake momentum.”

Paging through the book in 2013 I try to establish how much progress we have made in the last 3 years. Designers are more awareness, social responsibility is more of a priority, the sustainable tipple bottom line is almost a mantra and everyone is focused on ‘making a difference’. But do we? Do we live the change we talk about in design studios and classrooms? The world around me doesn’t seem to have benefitted much from all the ‘community workshops’, ‘design interventions’ and responsible design ethos so prevalent today. Instead I see small pockets of excellence, often driven by one or two individuals who care, and are truly invested in change. This leads me to believe that change probably won’t come in the form or a revolution, but rather as a slow current.

A great resource for design classroom, is the Design Revolution toolkit which you can download.

Tagged , , ,