Move over, Jack Handey: Forum member Sanjy009 has recently posted some serious food for thought (so to speak) on our discussion boards. Citing a somewhat opinionated Washington Post article from the past weekend, "Are Foodies Quietly Killing Rock-and-Roll," the Adelaide-based designer notes that:
[The article] states the internet has turned music into a digital commodity, has removed it's value, and in doing so lessened it's cultural status. Food culture at the same time has exploded, and is filling the cultural and economic hole left behind.
I've been thinking about it in terms of product design and branding and self-identification. Why is it OK to identify with culture, but commercial identification is seen as crass? Can a product or brand do what music and food seem to be able to do naturally? Is this an inevitable result of technology making something easier?
Within 24 hours, a couple of his peers had posted thoughtful responses to his open-ended query, launching what has proven to be a fruitful dialogue on value, commerce and commodification in the digital age. Where the article makes a (somewhat hyperbolic) case for the ultracontemporary notion that "Chefs are the new rock stars," Sanjy009 is concerned with the implications for product design. (For the record, I vaguely recall New York Magazine hailing Brooklyn designers as rock stars several years ago; so too do they expound the hypothesis that "food is the new punk rock.")
Thus, as a corollary to the putative commodification of creativity, both music and food have been areas of design innovation: the former because the industry is in decline and the latter for the opposite reason.
In any case, peruse the discussion and put in your two cents here.
Since I made the observation about protecting one's cards in Myanmar and China, I've noticed another example of the personalized/expensive solution versus the one-size-fits-most/affordable solution that related directly to my research on resource-constrained approaches to mobility in China. The challenge was, "How do I protect myself/my cargo from the elements while driving my three-wheeled vehicle?"
In Jiangkou, a small and remote city in Guizhou province that is accessible solely by road, a thriving workshop fabricates cargo shelters and cab covers specifically for three-wheeled vehicles. I had spent some time trying to locate this shop, as its fame for producing high-quality covers had drivers traveling from as far as the next province over to have covers made for them. Depending upon the size, a custom cover costs between 700 and 2400 kuai (US $111–$382) and requires 6–14 hours of labor. The result is a durable shelter for one's three-wheeled vehicle, with the option to add several other security and performance-enhancing innovations, such as additional in-vehicle storage, electric windshield-wipers wired directly into the vehicle's circuits, and "lock-rings," as seen in this piece for Ethnography Matters.
Meanwhile, a different solution is available for the residents of Tongren, Guizhou, a larger city and the county seat. Tongren is linked by rail and highway to other cities and provinces, and is better connected than Jiangkou to the rest of the country. However, there exists no comparable means of getting a custom-fabricated cover for one's vehicle there. The only comparable service I was able to find was a repair shop that offers to attach a front cover to one's three-wheeled vehicle, modified (usually using a combination of a saw and power drill) to fit a vehicle's particular dimensions.
You've gotta love this company's name: Taken from the biblical anti-war phrase "...they shall beat their swords into ploughshares," NYC-based Sword & Plough takes ex-military materials—and people—and turns them towards the production of useful civilian goods.
Sword & Plough was started by two sisters—Emily Nunez is an active duty Intelligence Officer for the U.S. Army who serves as company CEO, while sister Betsy is the Creative Director—and together they gather surplus military materials, like tents and parachutes destined for landfill. They then employ veterans to sew the materials into items they've designed, like bags and iDevice sleeves.
The sisters' goal is to be a "quadruple bottom line" company: They help vets re-enter the civilian workforce; they manufacture useful products; they repurpose existing materials for the environment's sake; and yes, they plan on making a profit.
IDSA is the flagship organization of our industry, so their new job board is a huge step forward in providing the most comprehensive job search and employment resources for employers and working industrial designers. We are excited to be reaching a greater audience and serving them the most relevant job listings in the industry.
Speaking of Sharpies, what do they have in common with these products?
All of those brands—Sharpie, Irwin Tools, Dymo, Calphalon, Rubbermaid, Rubbermaid Commercial Products and Graco, not to mention Goody, Waterman, Lenox, Paper-Mate, Parker, Aprica and more—are all owned by Newell Rubbermaid, which owns 40 brands in total. And having that much product diversity may be good news to those of you ID students set to graduate in 2014, and willing to move to Michigan: Newell Rubbermaid has announced they're consolidating 15 industrial design teams into one massive one, to be located at their first global design center.
The Newell Rubbermaid Design Center, located in Western Michigan University's Business Technology and Research Park, will employ 100 industrial and graphic designers under a single roof, with salaries reportedly in the $70,000 to $90,000 range. The $4 million, 40,000-square-foot facility is slated to open in early 2014, and while a number of those jobs will go to relocated designers currently employed by the sub-brand, there's surely going to be job vacancies from those who didn't want to move. And if things go well, the facility has space to expand by a factor of four. Here's some more info from the press release:
"Great design and creativity is the difference between a standard product and one that is beautiful in every way—and drives consumer preference," said Chuck Jones, Newell Rubbermaid's Chief Design and Research & Development Officer. "Our new Design Center will be a best-in-class facility that enables us to attract the best international design talent to work on a wonderful portfolio of leading brands. Our brand studios and immersion labs will foster growth ideas as designers collaborate with marketing and R&D on great innovation...
The [facility] has been carefully planned to foster creativity and maximize the sharing of ideas and technologies among the company's brands. A large, open studio space will provide the ideal environment for designers to collaborate using advanced software tools. Immersion labs for the company's priority business segments will enable design and marketing teams to evaluate product prototypes and imagine the possibilities of future product roadmaps. The company is investing in new talent with specialist design skills to work alongside the existing industrial and graphic design teams.
This week we're happy to welcome F+W Media back into the Coroflot Design Employment Network. We launched our newest partner job board a few days ago, servicing both the HOW and Print Magazine web sites.
F+W is a great fit for our partner network. Matching the range of creative career opportunities found throughout the Coroflot network with F+W's audience of practicing design professionals makes perfect sense.
This is the first partner job board to benefit from a big technology upgrade on a number of fronts, and we'll be announcing several new partners in the coming weeks.
If you haven't looked for a new job recently, there's no better time to start than right now! Check out the HOW Job Board, and while you're there take a look through some of the other career resources they've got.
For more than a decade, we've been gathering and organizing salary and career data from creative professionals all over the world through our Design Salary Guide. Today we are proud to present The Creative Employment Snapshot, an infographic presentation of the current state of employment in design, creative and interaction fields based on more than ten thousand submissions to the Design Salary Guide.
The infographic (designed by Coroflot's own Tim Biery) includes brand new data points and comparisons, and features a design inspired by the new UI introduced during the 2012 Design Salary Guide re-launch. We examined elements of the creative employment experience that include, and go beyond, current and potential earnings, thus answering questions that are critical to both working creative professionals and the employers who need to hire them.
Check out the Creative Employment Snapshot here. Remember, the more creative professionals who add their information to the Design Salary Guide, the more accurate and insightful our results become, so don't forget to add your entry and share the Snapshot with others!
We don't often think of undergraduate industrial design students as being able to influence their schools' curricula, but Jack Shepard is not your average student. First off, Shepard was a Sergeant and Anti-Terrorism Officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, and after two tours—that's eight years—he spent a few years in China, studying Chinese medicine.
"I sustained a pretty bad foot injury [in the 'Corps]," Shepard told Core77. "Western doctors told me my foot was 'done,'" i.e. permanently damaged; but while subsequently vacationing in China, Shepard encountered an Eastern doctor who restored his foot in three weeks. Impressed, Shepard moved to Chengdu to study the techniques, as well as the language.
After returning from China to his hometown of Portland, Oregon, Shepard started a small apparel company with some friends. Eventually he became interested in industrial design and enrolled at the Art Institute of Portland. From the Marine Corps to China to Industrial Design is not your typical educational trajectory, but "I am a think-outside-the-box type of guy," as Shepard's resume states.
As part of that outside-the-box thinking, Shepard took a hard look at his school's ID program and decided it was missing something. "While the school offered multidisciplinary business courses to better prepare design students," a local-area newspaper reports, "Shepard felt the classes were too detached from industry and real-world problems."
Around the same time, Shepard had attended the Portland edition of Startup Weekend, a traveling entrepreneurial program that visits cities to marshal creative brainpower--developers, designers, marketers, et cetera--and has them go from open-mic pitches to workable startups over the course of a 54-hour weekend. A panel of relevant experts oversees the proceedings, providing crucial real-world expertise and advice.
Inspired by this set-up, Shepard decided his ID program would benefit from a similar process. "At first I figured I'd just start up a club [to mimic the Startup Weekend process] at school," he says. But while discussing it with Molly Deas, the Art Institute's then-chairperson for the ID department, she pointed out that this would be a fantastic for-credit opportunity. Soon they'd hatched plans for it to be a semester-long course, run by Justin Pyle, a designer and adjunct professor Shepard had hit it off with.
It's not every day two organizations come together to create something even greater than the sum of their parts. It is with great excitement that we announce a strategic partnership between Core77 and the Industrial Designers Society of America.
Over the coming year Core77 and IDSA will work together to mutually promote programming offered by both sides to our respective audiences. In keeping with tradition, Core77 will host the portfolio review and a social event at the annual IDSA International Conference (taking place this year in Chicago, from August 20-23). Core77 will implement a new job board at the IDSA web site, welcoming IDSA as a partner into the Coroflot Job Network.
IDSA is the voice of the industrial design profession, advancing the quality and positive impact of design, so a partnership with Core77 is a natural fit. "An official collaboration between our organizations makes perfect sense," said Stuart Constantine, cofounder of Core77. "Our motives are well aligned and we are both committed to providing the broader design community with unparalleled professional and creative opportunities."
"While IDSA and Core77 have been cooperating informally for several years, we are happy to have a formal agreement in place to share job board postings and promotion of events that will bring value to designers and the design world," said George McCain, IDSA's chairman of the board. "IDSA has the utmost admiration for the online community that Core77 has built and is honored to become an integral part of it."
"You can say that 'form follows function' has been abused as an excuse for shitty design and absolutely boring, inhuman architecture." So says frogdesign founder Hartmut Esslinger, a man who clearly does not mince words. Esslinger's Design Forward: Creative Strategies for Sustainable Change book was finally released over the weekend, and there's an attendant teaser video where Esslinger shares five lessons (occasionally delivered with colorful language ) learned on the job:
Ivan Mworozi delivers the winning pitch for E-Ride, a new mobile rideshare program being developed at Mara LaunchPad. Image courtesy Mara.
It's a busy, buzzing weekend at Mara LaunchPad. Nigel Ball, the director of Mara, is circulating amongst the crowd, as are a half dozen mentors, including myself. It's a scene that would be familiar to any tech observer in New York or San Francisco... but this isn't either city. In fact, it's not even in North America: The first weekend-long Mara Business Hackathon has just begun in Kampala, Uganda.
Mara LaunchPad, operating under the social business Mara Foundation, is one of Kampala's premiere business incubators. Along with other tech-oriented spaces like Hive Colab and the Outbox Hub, Mara offers office space, mentorship and even venture capital to new startups in Uganda. Many of these businesses often focus on new technologies.
Mentors Evelyn Namara and Daniel Stern advise during the busy hackathon. Image by the author.
What made this hackathon different from many of the popular tech events in Kampala was its focus on building a business. Yes, a prototype and good design were key, but what was more important was that teams developed a solid business model and financials—not an easy feat at all, given the dire need for reliable data in the country.
"In 48 hours our idea matured in away that would [normally] have taken us weeks or months," noted Ivan Mworozi. "The access to experts from various fields was invaluable." Indeed, Mworozi cited the mentorship as key. He delivered the hackathon's winning pitch for E-ride, a new service he and four others will be developing to facilitate transportation in the traffic-clogged city.
Observing that an informal system of car sharing already exists, they wanted to streamline that method using mobile technologies: "Lot of cars and trucks were moving around practically empty because they had no way of know[ing] that we were looking for them."
Second place for the hackathon went to MyProperty, a new service being built by Daniel Olel and team. Just as E-Ride addressed an existing problem and practice and streamlined it, MyProperty aims to connect buyers and sellers of properties around Uganda. As Olel, noted, many middle class Ugandans rely on brokers. Anyone looking for an apartment in New York knows how pricey middlemen can be, and Olel's goal is to use MyProperty to cut out the middleman and build trust among buyers and sellers (quite similar to RentHackr, which I reviewed last year).
Industrial design isn't the only field suffering from a dearth of women; the engineering sciences have the same problem. So it's interesting to see that Etsy, through concerted effort, has increased the numbers of their female engineering staff more than four times over.
Before you get too excited—First Line Capital's headline of "How Etsy Grew their Number of Female Engineers by Almost 500% in One Year" might skew your expectations—that simply means they went from four to eighteen female engineers. But the effort is still laudable, particularly since few people in charge seem capable (if they're even truly interested) in solving issues of workplace gender inequality, and here we have a concrete example of how to go about it.
In this nearly 20-minute talk, Etsy CTO Kellan Elliott-McCrea discusses specifically how they enacted the increase—and isn't shy about revealing the failure of the initial foray, which led to a female decline.
My favorite point of Elliot-McCrea's is the bit about "more data." Forums are fine for airing feelings or bringing up individual tales, but it is a comprehensive and data-driven structural analysis of the problem, undertaken by many different people working together, that can yield true results.
Also fascinating: His "Zero or 2+" female statistic, which I wish we could hear more about.
What do you think—is it possible for there to be an ID equivalent to the Hacker School? And if so, which firm or organization do you think would be well-placed to enact one?
In one of the more coherent brand launches in recent memory, a new venture called Shinola is poised to capitalize on the trend of American manufacturing with products ranging from bicycles to watches and a forthcoming line of leather goods, all made in the Heartland of these United States.
We're starting with watches first, a product that hasn't been mass-produced in the US for decades. We've built a state-of-the-art watch movement and assembly factory in Detroit with the help of Ronda AG—a legendary movement manufacturer based in Lausen, Switzerland—and our workers have already begun assembling the Argonite 1069, the movement at the core of our watches.
But we're not stopping with watches. We're also producing American-made bicycles using hand-welded frames from Wisconsin, high-quality notebooks through a partnership with Michigan-based bookmakers Edwards Brothers Malloy, and a wide variety of leather goods—including iPad cases, MacBook envelopes, rucksacks, and handbags. Through hard work and collaboration, we believe we can establish ourselves as an iconic brand, while expanding the capacity—and reinvigorating the spirit—of manufacturing in America.
If it all sounds too good to be true, it's been a long time coming: they launched their website nine months ago and have been developing the products for nearly twice as long as that. The brainchild of Tom Kartsotis, founder of Fossil watches, the brand takes its name from a popular shoehine brand that is best known for its cheeky alliterative slogan. Both the bicycles and the watches are assembled in Shinola's Detroit factory in the same building as College for Creative Studies' A. Alfred Taubment Center for Design—a former GM factory. The design school has already proven to be an invaluable talent pool for its upstairs neighbor.
In my travels, I've seen a lot of crap for sale. Every point of interest has at least one spot that is crammed with some sort of object to entice you, the visitor, to spend money. Invariably, these objects are products. That is...no one is going to try to sell you a bag of Cambodian cotton while you visit a Cambodian temple, expecting you to spin it into yarn and then weave it yourself. They want to sell you a T-shirt, a scarf, a bag...something with immediate, usable value. They have taken the time to turn a material, cotton, into a product—T-shirts. Preferably a T-shirt that announces the awesomeness of your visit, such that you are glad to part with your money.
But many merchants sell their wares in the equivalent of bales and sacks, turning their products back into materials. What I've seen is that products become...well...commoditized. Travelers become numb to them, and there is much, much more supply than demand. What travelers really crave are experiences. Authentic interactions, a great story, a moment with a local; those are the things that travelers really will take home. Experiences can be made into products, of course. Tours, great hotels and restaurants take products and experiences and serve them to consumers in a (hopefully) reliable way.
But the level of entry to these experiences is hard for many locals to achieve. Restaurants take capital, planning and, often, government connections. But with some education, I think there are many ways for locals to enhance their product offerings to differentiate them and improve their connection with their markets. I've seen a few in my wanderings in the last few months. I hope that they can help define the porous boundaries between material, products and services. Exploring these borders can help us all think about the work we do and the services we offer.
While in Bagan, Myanmar, I saw several temples plazas that housed seas of cotton fabric with beautiful, intricate sand paintings. I stopped to admire them...some are based on the amazing designs slowing fading into invisibility on the interior temple walls. Here they are, in bright relief, remade for us! Others are trite design motifs that seem to reappear in various incarnations across many Southeast Asian countries: monks walking in a line with parasols, ladies with pots balanced on their heads. The issue I have, is that while they are putting tremendous effort and skill into their product, their products still look like raw materials. Arrayed across the temple plaza stones, they weigh their fabric down with rocks to keep them from blowing away. Equal thought is not going into the presentation.
I stopped to talk with one of the artists as he gave me his pitch—the sand paintings were durable—you could crumple them in your bag, get them wet even, and they stayed intact. While he spoke, he proceeded to crumple up one of his pieces, and pour water on it! I appreciated that his work might actually make the trip home in my backpack fully intact. On the other hand, I was somehow doubtful all the creases would ever come out. Either way, I feel like his product presentation didn't have the intended effect—I wasn't sold.
Product merchandising is so important...many merchants have a more-is-more approach, stuffing their stalls with products and many multiple versions of products...leaving little to the imagination. Others give their products a bit of room to breathe, and it can have the effect of drawing the eye in, and also elevating the perceived value of the product. Pairing products, or displaying them so I can imagine them in use can be really helpful. While I was walking the side streets of Battambang, Cambodia, I passed this boutique that paired sunglasses with their sweaters.
I felt like the sand artist could take an extra step and help me out—I was going to have to take it home, mat and frame it. They could have some of them framed to help me visualize the right use of his product and guide me towards purchase more easily. It may be a material now—but here it is as a product!
Been thinking lately about what life experiences would make the best designer (skills aside).
A not too serious list, for discussion (in no particular order)-
1. Make/Fix something for your own use
2. Get fired
3. Bring a product to market, with your own money
4. Start your own consultancy
5. Pitch/sell an idea to investors
6. Work corporate
7. Work in a consultancy
8. Live/Work in a different country
10. Work on a royalty or equity basis
Thoughts? These are just off the top of my head, nothing too serious or meant to be all encompassing. I can't say I've done all myself, and not sure how many designers have, but think at the very least it's an interesting thought experiment and maybe a start of a life guide for designers to consider how those experiences other than the usual skills/jobs can affect a designer's outlook.
Presented with a list like this, the inclination of some is to tally how many they've got under their belt, while others have added their own suggestions for must-do items. My favorite add-on is Michael DiTullo's assertion that "all designers should go to visit an Asian factory. Going to the factories 3–5 times a year for 8 years taught me so much. It is one thing to intellectually understand a manufacturing process, and another to observe it in person. Also to understand the labor that goes into finishing and assembly." Obviously the "Asian" part is interchangeable depending on where you intend to produce--Chris Anderson, who recently quit his post as Editor of Wired to go into consumer drone production full-time, manufactures in Mexico—but the merits behind DiTullo's thinking are clear, and much echoed in the subsequent posts.
Down the line, by the way, Kuchinsky adds a ballsier item to the list: "Fire a client." The pleasure center in my brain is lighting up at the thought...
Marc Newson is one of the better-known modern-day designers with an object on the roster, but we flipped through the 140-page illustrated catalog and found lighting by Massimo Vignelli, objects by Ettore Sottsass, Danish Modern classics from Hans J. Wegner, and more from Patrick Jouin, Arne Jacobsen, the Eameses and more. Most excitingly, "the market for Matali Crasset will be tested" with 21 pieces; you may remember we looked at the quirky designer's work here. [Ed. Note: We also recently announced that Crasset will be the jury captain for the Furniture & Lighting category of the 2013 Core77 Design Awards.]
Bruce Nussbaum is a luminary in the business and design fields, as well as a professor at Parsons the New School for Design and an occasional contributor here at Core77. A year-and-a-half ago, Bruce famously declared that design thinking was dead. We had the chance to sit down with Bruce and see how his thoughts on design have evolved since then.
Core77: How has your thinking about design thinking changed in the last year-and-a-half? Now you're hearing business professors talk about design thinking as the new thing and a year and half ago you said it was dead!
Bruce Nussbaum: Well, that's what happens when you're there at the beginning of a concept and you live through it, you see it mature, and you believe that it is now a wonderful foundation for something else. Then you come to a place like Harvard where they're sort of discovering design and embracing design thinking. My reaction to that is that it's wonderful because for this situation, for this time, for them it's great that they're understanding the power of design and what design can do, not just in terms of objects, but in terms of relationships, experiences and education. For here, it's great. For those of us who've been inside, we're trying to push the envelope and move forward and Harvard will embrace that too as time goes on.
Does this mean that design thinking is enduring? Or that there's kind of a lag time between these concepts emerging and their adoption down the road?
Yes, well, government is just beginning to adopt design, much less design thinking. But there are institutional lags, cultural lags, there are all kinds of forces at work. There's the force of fad. I remember when design was hot and then not and then innovation was hot and it's kind of peaking now. You can see more and more creativity is moving up that S curve. And creativity is getting hotter and hotter. My book is coming out on "creative intelligence," which will have its moment. To me, they all become scaffolding for other ideas. You're moving down and evolving one's thinking about all of this, whether you call it design, innovation, or creativity. We're all in that same space and trying to do a better job of understanding the phenomenon and the process and most importantly the practice.
When I moved from Business Week to the New School at Parsons, that really changed things for me in terms of my frame and I wanted to be more inclusive. Design is very powerful, it's very particular, and it involves a small number of people. Everyone feels that they're creative and everyone probably can be creative. I just found over the years that when you talk about design, people lean back a little bit and will be a little wary and they'll hear you out. But talk about creativity and they'll start telling you about their kids and they'll talk about how when they were in school they did that. Or they'll talk about their job and you'll tell them, oh, that was very creative. They'll say, Really? And the fact is what they were doing is really creative. So it just brings everybody into the conversation, that's why I went there.
They're still talking about design, design thinking, focusing on user needs or the experience. That's just the tiniest, tiniest bit of what we know in anthropology and sociology about what I consider the most important thing, which is engagement. That's what it's about. How we engage with products, how we engage with services, how we engage in a social way and it's the design of that engagement which is so powerful. And that's what Apple used to do so well. It was that engagement that we had, the meaning we found in that engagement, which they seem to be losing.
Why do you say that Apple is losing that engagement? What was that shift?
Well, the map thing was a disaster. The latest iteration of iTunes is pretty problematic. Perhaps the most important thing is the promise of things to come. In the book, I talk about aura. I want to bring back aura. And the reason I want to bring back the concept of aura is that it is quintessentially about engagement. Aura is this thing that beckons you, that pulls you in, that you have an engagement with, and that very often is an emotional engagement. I would argue that there is such a thing as simulated aura, that you can in fact create aura, that you can create an engagement with people. I have a friend who just bought an Apple Mini. She loves it! And she looks at the Mini the way prisoners will eat their food, she circles it. If I were to get between her and her Mini, she'd kill me! That's aura, that's passion, that's emotion. That's the power of engagement.
Imagine coming to New York City at the age of 19, and the year is 1903. You're a poor country boy from Indiana, and the only work you can get is as a hat-checker and a signmaker at a YMCA. But it turns out you've got drawing skills too, and someone notices your nicely hand-drawn signs, and next thing you know you're illustrating clothing for mail-order catalogs.
Since you can draw clothes so well, the next logical step is to get into fashion design, but you don't care for fashion so you go into graphic design for advertising. Soon you've got your own typography firm. Then you get into packaging, and by the mid-1920s you hear there's a design scene in Europe, so you get on a boat to see what's going on over there.
At an Italian exhibition you learn about this thing called the Bauhaus, and next you start reading books by this French guy, Le Corbusier. A year later, back in New York, you've added a new line to your letterhead: "Industrial Design." No one knows what the hell that means yet, but you'll spend the next several decades teaching them what it means. You're in your mid-40s now, but really, your amazing career is just beginning.
Walter Dorwin Teague's life story is as fascinating as it is largely untold, and Jason Morris aims to address both of those things. An Associate Professor of Industrial Design at Western Washington University, Morris has been busily juggling work with researching Teague's life, partly with the help of the design firm that still bears his name--110 years after Teague hopped a train from Indiana to New York. "The Teague company gave me access to their archives that go back 80 years," Morris explains.
Three years in the making, the as-yet untitled film will be completed this year. We'll keep you posted.
In a surprising article from yesterday, Forbes contributor Peter Cohan, an author, former management consultant and former venture capitalist, has suggested that Apple's Tim Cook should step down. Falling profits, Cohan writes, suggest Cook is not up to the task of helming the company; he goes on to suggest that Jonathan Ive would be a good replacement. "Now it's time," Cohan writes, "for Apple's board to put the person with design skill in the CEO job."
My first thought was no. And I say that out of appreciation for Ive and his skill set. Ive's impact on the current product landscape cannot be underestimated, and he was able to do those things because he was doing his thing—designing.
The late Steve Jobs made it clear, in his Walter-Isaacson-penned biography, that he had set things up so that Ive would have uncontested design power following Jobs' departure; that is to say, no one, not even Cook, would have the power to challenge Ive's designs. So why on Earth would we want to tie the man up in a managerial position?
With the current headaches Apple faces—patent trolls, a market nearing saturation—they'll surely need a new generation of innovative products to break out of their profits slump. They're going to need good design, and they've already got the perfect man for that job.
It is with great excitement that we introduce the newest member of our expanding Job Board Partner Network: Noble Desktop. For over 22 years, Noble Desktop has been training students in computer graphics and web development so we are thrilled to add jobs from Coroflot to this great resource.
As we continue to build our network, each new Partner gives us the opportunity to enhance our offering. Noble Desktop is the first of our Partners to feature a brand new user interface that helps job seekers understand how to search better, and find the jobs they want faster. Take a look at the new interface and wide selection of jobs on the new Noble Desktop Jobs Page.
Studio Aeroplane hard at work at their Bangkok-based studio. Image courtesy of Studio Aeroplane.
Over the month I spent in Bangkok, I visited three design studios and a fledgling co-working space. All of them were in houses. In New York City, where I have spent my entire creative career, design studios are in spaces...big spaces, long spaces, industrial spaces, tight spaces...but spaces. Office spaces. You make them what you want, but they are fairly raw and often impersonal. Going to a place of design creativity and having it be a home feels very different.
I had been in Bangkok a week and a half, recovering from a month in Myanmar, when I finally met up with some Thai designers. I met Orn from Studio Aeroplane through mutual Facebook friends. Would I be interested in coming to their favorite Isan food stand? They would have to meet me at the subway station and take me the rest of the way...there was no way to really describe the location, tucked under the highway, a block or so from the main road. I've added an edited screengrab in case you're in the area and find yourself hungry.
And would I mind if she invited some other friends of hers, also designers? No. No...I would not mind at all.
Soon I found myself at a table, staring face to face with a well-grilled snakehead fish, his mouth crammed with lemon grass, my mouth crammed with snakehead fish. Around the rickety table were my new Thai design friends. We shared a wonderful meal and plenty of talk about design and the global economy. Over the next weeks, I would visit some of their studios, visit their student reviews and tour their national design center. This was just the beginning.
Later that week I visited Studio Aeroplane. Like many smaller studios, there are a small number of principals and they scale up with freelancers. The principals, Orn and Saranont, are both Thai natives, who met in New York City. Orn grew up in New Zealand. We got connected because she went to my alma mater, Pratt and it is a small world, after all. Orn worked in New York City for several years in Interior Design before deciding to return to her roots with her boyfriend Saranont, who grew up in Bangkok and stayed for his design undergraduate degree. Saranont went to ITP at NYU and worked at Antenna Design New York. It was slightly surreal to be sitting at a down-and-dirty food stall in the backstreets of Bangkok with two designers with such pedigrees. I was thrilled to get invited to their studio...after a few months of traveling I was starved for creative and intellectual company.
Since I'm from New York I'll describe my trip there in New York City equivalents...although there is really no New York equivalent to the experience of getting to their studio. Imagine taking a sparkling above ground subway to Union Square, except that Union Square is somehow on the East River. There I met up with Orn and Saronont and took a tiny boat across the river to the Bangkok equivalent of Queens, getting off on a tiny dock onto the back patio of a new high-rise development, with a pool, nice outdoor furniture and a huge parking lot. The boat is just for people who live in their building. The boatman knows your face. If I wasn't with Orn or Saranont I would have been turned away.
The studio is more than a studio...it's a one bedroom on a high floor, overlooking the city and the river. They can sleep there and sometimes do. The rest of the apartment is filled with books and two computers, the walls filled with printouts of interiors they are working on, and posters from past shows. The colors, the textures, the computer programs, all of it felt like apple pie from my mother's kitchen...comforting, invigorating, familiar. It felt like home in the sense of a familiar feel—it was a design studio, like all other design studios. And it was an actual home. While they didn't live there, they basically lived there. As you can see from their facebook feed, Studio Aeroplane's work is world-class.
The interfaces and spaces they've designed are clean and classic...which has worked against them from time to time. It seems that their clean aesthetic isn't always accepted, as there is a desire to clutter them up or dumb them down...all in the name of making things easier to "get" for average Thai person. I have engaged in similar conversations here in the States. Saranont and I had a good rant about de-skilling people through over-design and the dangers of removing any opportunity for discovery.
This is the third column in a series on product licensing from materious' Bruce Tharp.
So let's say that you have decided to pursue a licensing contract for your new product idea instead of trying to go into the production and distribution business yourself. You are OK with losing control of the final product outcome, and you are comfortable with the tradeoff of much-less-work for (potentially) much-less-compensation. I say "potentially" because even though going it alone affords a greater percentage of the profit, there is still the issue of "percentage of what?" If you choose the right licensing partner, their ability to sell product through their well-established distribution channels is likely much better than yours. A bigger share of smaller sales can be worse than a smaller share of much bigger sales.
But after the decision to license, the first question that I am almost always asked is, "What's to keep a company from stealing my idea after I show it to them?" Enter the confidentiality conundrum...
The Buddhist notion of the "beginner's mind" is a great way to approach the design of a product; similarly, the Licensor's Mind is also predicated upon an inherent humility. Three of its many tenets are:
Your idea is not as unique as you might think
Even if some aspect is particularly unique, profitability does not necessarily follow novelty
The licensee has more to lose than you do
I know of many designers that are so worried about someone stealing their ideas that they do nothing with their ideas—they remain buried in their sketchbook (and by "buried," I mean dead). The licensor's mind is comfortable with risk, knowing that there is no reward without at least a modicum of risk. And generally the risk of disclosing your idea to a potential licensee should be far less daunting than risking hundreds, if not thousands of work-hours, and tens of thousands of dollars when going into business yourself.
Of course, willingness to risk does not imply naïveté. For the licensor, there are two fundamental tools of the trade that predicate the opening of the kimono: the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) and the provisional patent application (PPA). In this article we will discuss the NDA, while the PPA will be discussed in a future column.
The NDA, or Confidentiality Agreement (CA), is a tried and true contract through which two parties agree to handle the secrecy of disclosed information. A simple web search will produce many examples, or you can download a few telling contracts from my own experience with actual companies here.
The search is over, and the ISDA has found their new skipper: Starting today, Daniel Martinage takes over as the new Executive Director.
Martinage is what's known as a CAE, or Certified Association Executive, and a man with a reputation for getting organizations focused and on-track. Martinage's expertise lies in executive coaching and strategic planning, and he has over 30 years' worth of experience in the field, as well as having founded Association Coach LLC, a consulting company specializing in professional societies.
A professionally trained executive coach and facilitator, Martinage was the founder and principal of Association Coach LLC, an executive coaching and consulting firm that specialized in maximizing personal and organizational performance. Through his company he worked with more than 90 trade groups and professional societies. His insights on the coaching profession have been featured in dozens of news media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Miami Herald, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Business Week, Money Magazine and Woman's World Magazine.
Martinage serves on the faculty for the Center for Nonprofit Advancement and as a reviewer and judge for "The Washington Post Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management." He holds a master's in science, technology and public policy and a bachelor's in political science and speech communication from The George Washington University. Since 1987 he has held the Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation.
"IDSA is excited to welcome Daniel to the design community," said George McCain, chairman of IDSA's board of directors. "His training and experience will be key as we continue to expand our influence and global reach. Additionally, Daniel's proven leadership and communication skills will be invaluable in getting the message of design's benefits to business, educators and the community."
Launch day is still a couple of weeks away, but as of today Frog Design founder Hartmut Esslinger's new book is now available for pre-order. Entitled Design Forward: Creative Strategies for Sustainable Change, the 308-pager details case studies from Esslinger's Frog years, when he was designing for Wega, Sony (the company that gobbled Wega up) and of course Steve Jobs, with both Apple and NEXT. Mac geeks will enjoy seeing photos of Esslinger's early Apple concept work, like proposals for a Macbook laptop and flatscreen workstation circa 1982.
Examinations of his personal work aside, Design Forward is not intended to be a vanity piece, nor a mere look backwards; Esslinger's current position as a professor of industrial design at Vienna's University of Applied Arts provides him with exposure to plenty of young students, and he incorporates select examples of their work in a series of case studies.
A new eco mall will double the size of Turin's Eataly From green cars to sustainable food to bio-clothes
By Emanuela Minucci
Oscar Farinetti [the founder of Eataly] doesn't stop. And stays true to his ideas. Notwithstanding the success he is having with the Eataly brand worldwide, he has chosen Turin, his first love, to try out a new concept that cannot be more aligned with these times of economic and environmental concerns.
He is planning a new complex, the first "Green Retail Park" in the world, right next to the Carpano building in the Lingotto area, where he started off in 2007 with his first mix of thematic restaurants and the sales of products that until then people could only find at the Salone del Gusto [the yearly Slow Food fair].
And the visions of the two "Eataly"'s are closely aligned.
The new complex will host retail activities and services that in their production/creation, distribution and sales are driven by a vision of eco-sustainability and social responsibility.
Designed by Negozio Blu Architetti Associati, the 20,000 sq mt spaces are all dedicated to green shopping: from food to clothing to cars. Everything in this bio-cathedral will be "good, clean and fair" [The Slow Food motto].
A green environment...
The building will be constructed with sustainable technologies and materials. [...] The south facing facade will use natural screening and shading, as well as plant walls, and the roof will be covered with grass and plants—one of the many actions to reduce the building's environmental impact. The plants will reduce of cooling needs and the associated heat island effect, help filter the particulate pollution in our urban air, and dampen urban street noise. "We will use a range of sustainable technologies, materials and architectural interventions, including solar panels," explains the architect Cristiana Catino.
... with green products and services
The space will host stores that sell sustainable clothing and shoes, service entities specialized in renewable energy, and companies focused on bio-construction. Also on sale will be products for the garden and the biological vegetable garden, food and biological cosmetics, and sustainable furniture and household products. There will be a quality restaurant, and a specialized wellbeing center. One can even buy a green scooter or car. The heart of the space will host an eco assistance zone, where people can go to for advice on how to save energy in their homes, how to install solar panels, or how they can have a meaningful environmental impact in their day-to-day activities.
I am not sure whether it is the first green retail park in the world, probably not, and I hope that "Green Retail Park" is just a working title, but knowing Farinetti and what he has achieved with Eataly, we can expect it to have a big impact, and not just in Turin.
Our discussion boards are lighting up this week with a thread in the Design Employment category: Sharon Myoung wonders why there are so few women working as industrial designers, even as enrollment in I.D. programs is trends towards gender parity. Industry veteran, cheerleader and all-around guru (not to mention Core contributor, entrepreneur and, of course, forum moderator) Michael DiTullo concurs, "especially because many corporations and firms would love to hire female industrial designers, self included." In addition to inviting "women in design, both professional and students" to share their experiences, DiTullo also provides a few examples of admirable female designers, from Eileen Gray and Eva Zeisel to his former colleague Amina Horozic.
Role models notwithstanding, the discussion focuses on sociological phenomena regarding the contemporary workplace, as well as related topics such as the changing nature of industrial design practice and size and shape of companies in general. Not only are the firsthand accounts invaluable for their honesty, the designers' hypotheses as to why the field is so disproportionately male are also quite interesting, albeit not exactly scientific.
The discussion on "Women in Industrial Design" isn't exactly lighthearted holiday fare, but it's definitely well worth the read in the spare time afforded by the break. We'd like to extend DiTullo's invitation to any designers who might have something constructive to add to the conversation (as the OP advises, "please omit any negative comments!").
DiTullo wishes he could draw like Kimberly Wu
And here's a sampling of Core77 Editorial about the Underrepresentation of Women in Industrial Design: