Archive for the 'social media' Category

11
May
09

Design won’t save the world single-handedly

Below is a letter that was published in May 7th’s Design Week in reaction to an Audi Foundation award article.

I was filled with both hope and despair after reading about the Audi Foundation’s latest venture into the trendy waters of social innovation and service design (Design Week, 16.4.09).

I was hopeful that this project might mean more designers channelling their fresh thinking into challenges that matter, rather than just looking to fill their portfolio with work for sexy brands. Any initiative that encourages responsible design can only be a good thing, can’t it?

However, the article frustrated me intensely as it delivered yet another message about how designers alone can change the world, further inflating old school egos and potentially misleading naive and malleable young minds too.

I share the belief that design can help make a difference, but when you take on challenges like new financial models, healthcare and crime, you have to respect the fact that a large number of talented individuals are already working on these challenges every day. Not only do they work in these industries, they specialise in fields other than design and already make change in these areas happen. They are scientists, civil servants, sociologists, doctors, engineers and politicians to name but a few. Positioning design as the solution to social problems is very dangerous and potentially extends our remit a little too far.

Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe designers will have the initiative to get out into the world and observe these people, engage with the experts, understand the barriers, see what’s been tried before, see why alternatives failed and listen intently. Collaboration has to be key. Then they can visualise the problem, and translate ideas into illustrations, potential products or services. That’s where design really helps – after all a problem well understood is one almost solved. Let’s hope that this is what happens.

18
Jan
09

Possible design debate/writing themes

I have been getting involved with a few people eager to have some design debates this year. Part of the reason for this is that we feel that designers don’t debate enough. Partly due to their introspective nature I reckon, but what do you think?

Anyway, here are a few themes that I’d like to write/debate about in the coming months (NB, they are supposed to be contentious). Intention is to write here, on my company blog, in some press, but also do some debates at London Design Festival and the Battle of Ideas conference. Let me know which ones sound interesting to you:

  • Know your limitations –  why designers should scale back their ambitions for transformational change  and just stick to their relevant crafts and produce great solutions to the smaller problems in life
  • Ego vs empathy –  why the balance has to be sought, the move away from expertise in design to collaboration and user-centred techniques, originator vs facilitator.
  • Service design – emperor’s new clothes: why service design is no different from ucd (or good design even), why people are jumping on the band wagon (bad wagon!)
  • The move from product to service and servicable – hire or rent of appliances, fix yourself, get someone to fix, why we need to avoid replacement of our products
  • A world transformed by digital –  more power, self-organising, more participation, more flexibility create, less time, too much information – how digital thinking is coming into our analogue world
  • Function, form, fit – how the three fs must play together to create quality products and services 
  • Change through action not spoken ideas –  the power of the designer to provoke debate with artifacts and tangible representations of what could be, and why we need to get our ideas out there more in this way
  • Snoozability – why stressing usuability is so passé, it needs to be part of the mix so we can all move on and focus on informing the right solution in the first place
  • Brand Britain – A nation of naysayers: how the pessamistic default attitude limits our happiness, our progression and our well being in this nation
  • Should politics be in or outside design? – why designers should stick to their craft and not worry about issues and matters they can’t comprehend
22
Jun
08

I feel london

I quite like the idea of this little site. It allows people to tag places to go on a Google map, according to how they feel, whether romantic, hungover, energetic, chilled or sophisticated. 

and there’s one for New York too