Reporting by Chris Beatty; photography by Jessica Miller unless otherwise noted
Last Friday at Parsons the New School for Design, Derek Porter, Director of the School's Lighting Design Program, and Matthew Cobham of Philips brought together a diverse group of researchers, architects, and lighting designers to discuss the nuanced juncture between natural and man-made lighting.
"Luminous Talks: Nature and Man-Made" kicked off with a look at research into the fundamentals of light perception, presented by Dr. Raymond Van Ee, a professor of neurology and a research fellow at Philips whose work examines the importance of light in creating the optimal conditions for maintaining attention.
Clockwise from top left: Matthew Cobham; Raymond Van Ee; Davidson Norris; George Craford
Next, we heard from George Craford, an early pioneer of LED lighting technology who worked with Nick Holonyak to bring LED's from industrial switchboards to car headlights, a feat once described as impossible by the Wall Street Journal. Craford explained that while 'a photon is still a photon' no matter where it comes from, there are a couple of key ways to quantify the quality of light. The main system in use today is the Color Rendering Index (CRI) which measures the reflection of a light source as it bounces off 15 unique color chips. The CRI of an incandescent light bulb is a shown by broad curve which reaches its peak with the reflection of yellow light. The CRI of fluorescent lighting is spiked with multiple peaks, its phosphors were actually engineered maximize its results on this score.
Have we reached Peak Design? Plotted on Gartner's hype cycle, the design industry's ascendance from relative obscurity to C-suite sweetheart may be said to have slipped over a peak of inflated expectations some years ago. Should we be wary, we might wonder, of a dip into disillusionment? Certainly, the days of business and political leaders pontificating on the virtues of its practice and processes from up high are over. But the trend towards inaugurations of talismanic 'CDOs' in a handful of enlightened organisations might suggest otherwise.
The perils of becoming just another boardroom 'fad that failed' have been foretold [PDF]; in recent years, the grand promises of foolproof processes and silver-bullet problem-solving have distracted from more balanced debate on the role design can play within business. Whilst design sits higher than ever on the business agenda, has a legacy of overblown promises—ultimately impossible to live up to—been left behind?
Meanwhile, last week's (long overdue?) must-read Design Council report on design-led business [PDF], underscores the sticky and at times paradoxical reality of attempting to prove design's value, alongside compelling anecdotal advocacy from influential business leaders. More strong leadership of this sort will be required in the long run, if design is to convert those still loyal to the short-term bottom line. The breadth and depth of any cynical sinkhole (at a macro or individual case level) will be determined by the ability of design leaders to debunk their practise of tired myths, share compelling success stories—beyond the obvious and omnipotent Apple and tech startups—and build new strategic skillsets [PDF] around existing strengths.
Enter the provocatively named Design Authority, a new collaboration between international design leaders practicing within the corporate realm.
Last month, hundreds of design students gathered at Rochester Institute of Technology for the second consecutive Thought at Work design conference. Organized by an ambitious team of design students, the weekend of October 18–20 not only held more events but doubled the attendance of the previous year. This student organization exemplifies the power of ambition and reaching past the typical student experience.
Reporting by John Leavitt
Last year, Thought at Work hosted 205 students from eight universities. Kyle Sheth, one of the lead coordinators said, "I was pleased with the attendance in 2012, as a start-up event, but I'd like to double our reach this year." This is exactly what they did. Students from schools including Syracuse University, Columbus College of Art and Design, Ohio State, and University of the Arts and coming together to make over 400 participants from 16 Universities attending nearly 60 events in a single weekend! Katie Young from Columbus College of Art and Design said, "The lecturers were very inspiring. This event opened my eyes to the expansive world of design."
Throughout the conference, there were presentations by professionals from a wide range of design fields and inspirational talks by great keynote speakers. "I had a great experience and was inspired by many of the design professionals who came in to present, commented Zach Stringham from Syracuse University. Bradley G. Munkowitz, a.k.a. GMUNK, gave an exciting and inspirational talk about his incredible work and finding happiness in life, packing Ingle Auditorium to its capacity of 507 people. GMUNK's energy was grounded by the grace of Pattie Moore's lecture on human centered design for all ages. Students and instructors alike were excited to see Spencer Nugent host a sketching workshop. Lynnsey Oberg from Columbus College of Art and Design wrote and told us, "Each and every workshop I attended was a learning experience even if it didn't pertain to my major or interests. I've already applied things I've learned to the work I'm currently working on." Other workshops were hosted by designers from companies such as Microsoft, Autodesk, B-Reel, Smart Design, Storyline, and the Raymond Corporation.
Xlab is a one-day themed conference (this year's being "Experience + Interaction in Public Spaces") led by the Society for Environmental Graphic Design—an entire day that will leave you with a tension headache, a rough bout of writer's cramp (or carpal tunnel) and mental fatigue. But, believe it or not, those are all good things.
The annual event took place last Thursday, October 24, at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens—a fitting location for the conference, with its modern architecture and attention to user interaction through projected images and user-focused exhibits. The day orbited around five different sessions with two speakers featured at each. The guests of honor included (among many others) Anthony Townsend, author of Smart Cities; Jeff Grantz, founder and creative technologist of Materials&Methods and one of the architects/artists behind New York's Nuit Blanche; and J. Meejin Yoon, an installation architect who was featured at the Athens Olympic Games. For a one-day conference, the speaker list was quite stacked—I have to admit that it may have worked better as a longer event. The 15-minute "networking sessions" just didn't do much for me in terms of clearing my head.
For the sake of brevity and in the honor of not boring you with every single personal revelation I experienced/witnessed, I'll share the moments and speakers that stood out the most for me—whether it was for their passionate and prideful tears (big, strong creative technologists have feelings, too) or their insight into the world of spatial interactive design.
Photo courtesy of Vijay Mathews
"The future started five years ago."
This could have been the tagline for the event. Speaker Anthony Townsend—the research director at the Institute for the Future in New York—was the one with these wise words. His reasoning? "In 2008, more people lived in cities than in rural areas, there was more mobile broadband connections than fixed, and more 'things' were connected than people—you know, like when that grad student hooked his toaster up to Twitter." It's a thought that caught me off-guard and got me thinking: So what's next? Our spaces are getting smaller and we're finding more ways to connect with each other and our environment. Where does it all culminate? Later on in the day, another speaker took on this idea—intentional or not, it pulled some thoughts together perfectly.
Westergasfabriek - The administration of the Western Gas Factory in front of the newly constructed main gas container building, 1903
Interaction14, the next highly acclaimed interaction design conference, is 100 days away. Moreover, the event, which is organized by the Interaction Design Association (IxDA), will take place in the lovely city of Amsterdam.
We asked the two conference chairs, Alok Nandi and Yohan Creemers, to tell us more about what has been planned.
Core77: Interaction14 will be in Amsterdam in a few months. What will be different from the previous editions?
Alok Nandi & Yohan Creemers: This will be the 7th edition of the annual conference and the second time it takes place outside North America (in 2012 the conference was held in Dublin). The upcoming edition will definitely be the most international yet, as it is the first time the conference will be held in a non-English speaking city.
Our vision is to make sure that there are dimensions specific to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Europe. Otherwise, why travel and come here?
So the first answer to your question is the city, the location. It will be different, but we are hard at work to make the attendees feel they are at home, in a creative city, and that they have the space to experience Amsterdam for its own sake.
The second answer is that there will be more non-Americans, both in terms of speakers, and most probably also in terms of attendees. The upcoming Interaction14 conference showcases in other words how global IxDA has become.
In terms of content and experience, our team wants to make sure to cater to different types of attendees, from the ones looking for inspiration to those wishing to connect and be part of the community, and from the newcomers to the regulars. Very early on, we actually created five personas to bring the typical attendees to life, and they have guided all our planning.
Finally, this year we also want to find ways to better engage the 50,000+ members of IxDA members worldwide. The 4-day experience of the 850 conference attendees and the knowledge that is generated should ripple back to this community.
You have recently announced all six keynote speakers: Peter Greenaway, Irene Au, Daniel Rosenberg, Saskia Sassen, Scott McCloud and Gillian Crampton Smith. What was your logic in selecting them?
The guiding 'theme' we gave to the conference is "Languages of Interaction Design." We want to see the theme in a very large, inspirational sense. Clearly, it is not about linguistics, but about exploring the diversity and hybridity of our practice(s) and craft(s) while getting inspired by other disciplines. So, if we think of terms like conceiving, connecting, engaging, empowering, optimizing, disrupting and expressing—which, by the way, are the six IxDA Awards categories—how can the attendees benefit from two types of content: those provided by keynote speakers and those by our community based on a call for speakers?
In the end, we wanted to shortlist different types of topics and points of view. Initially our list of potential speakers was very long, but the conference theme and the overall motto of IxDA—"Interaction Designers create compelling relationships between people and the interactive systems they use, from computers to mobile devices to appliances; Interaction Designers lay the groundwork for intangible experiences"—allowed us to narrow it down.
Storytelling, urban design, education and enterprise were some keywords we had included explicitly in our roadmap, and these topics were brought to life through the five personas that I mentioned earlier.
We think these six speakers offer a balance between different points of view, inspiration sources, expertise and experience in various fields connected to interaction design. The keynote speeches will of course be taking place in a context of talks provided by 50+ speakers.
Woman shopping for groceries in South Korea at a HomePlus display using her mobile phone
Earlier this month, Adaptive Path held the Service Experience conference in San Francisco, CA. The conference invited designers and business leaders who are out there 'in the trenches' to share insights, tips, and methods from their case studies in service design.
Service Design is an emergent area of design thinking that's been percolating in design circles for many years. Though corporate brands like Apple, Nike, P&G and Starbucks have built their success on the principles of good service design, it's an approach getting more serious consideration in countries like the U.S. after years of being developed in Europe.
Service Design, Service Experience, or Consumer Experience is a design approach that understands that the process by which a product is made and the organization that produces it, not only affects the product, but also defines the experience of the product. Service Design is made up of many ecosystems, including a company's own internal culture, their approach to production and development, as well as the context of the product as it exists in the day to day life of the users. Think about how Apple represents not only the product, but also customer service combined with the branded architectural experience of the Apple store. Or how Tesla motors is not only considering the product (an electric vehicle) but also mapping out a plan for a network of electric charging stations in California.
Service Design is a holistic system that takes into consideration the end to end experience of a product, whether it be a car, a computer, a trip, or a book. It is invested in creating the infrastructure that supports and empathizes with human needs by prioritizing people and experiences over technology during the design process. Service design is a design approach that can be applied across fields.
Swimming in Culture
A key perspective of Service Design is the ability to grasp organizational culture. Ever wonder why you had a great time working for one company and another company, not so much? Maybe it's not all 'in your head': According to keynote speaker David Gray of Limnl, culture is a summation of the habits of a group, and that "people swim in culture the way fish swim in water," using the analogy of dolphins and sharks.
Illustration from David Gray's presentation. (People may prefer to self-identify as a dolphin rather than a shark.)
In order to change culture, one must be able to find its foundation first. Ask dumb questions, talk to the newbies, gather evidence, and the evidence (what you see) usually leads to levers (how and why decisions are made and the protocol used) which leads to the company values (the underlying priorities and what's considered important) that uncover foundational assumptions (how they view the way the world works and what is the reasoning behind those values).
This past weekend was the occasion for the annual IDSA International Conference, the premier professional development and networking event for Industrial Designers practicing in the States... and, as Conference Chair Paul Hatch noted, increasingly from abroad as well. The ever-self-deprecating Founder of Teams Design MC'd the lecture sessions, as noted sketchnote-taker Craighton Berman busily filled several posterboards with his pithy yet expressive doodles. "It's been while since I have been to an industrial design-specific conference," he writes on his blog, "So it was interesting to step back into the industry conversation."
Click for full-size image
Friday morning started with Brooklyn-based Ben Hopson—who we'd recommended for gainful employment some years ago—who has established a niche in what he calls "kinetic design," which has traditionally been the domain of engineers (as opposed to designers, who define the formal language but not necessarily the moving parts). Leading with the example of the highly articulated output paper tray of a Canon printer, Hopson demonstrated how a designer might approach the problem precisely by applying his or her sketching skills in three dimensions in order to "make sure they look like how they move and move like how they look."
Origami is certainly a reference point, but the kinetic experiments (which Hopson teaches at Pratt) perhaps better construed as three-dimensional pop-up books. "Today, we are beginning to gesture at our artifacts," he noted. "And they will eventually begin to gesture at us." [Ed note: Hopson has also explored the topic at length in an essay here on Core.]
Autodesk's Chris Cheung is one of the key people responsible for bringing you SketchBook Pro, which was pretty much a gamechanger for ID sketching. Now, together with Autodesk's Media & Entertainment manager Shawn Hendriks, he's providing another new experience for designers: The upcoming CAVE Conference, aimed at "artists, designers and storytellers," and boasting speakers like Syd Mead, rendering god Scott Robertson, Pixar Art Director Jay Shuster and Monty Python's John Cleese. Where else are you going to hear people like this speaking at the same event?
We caught up with Chris for a little background on who he is, what he does, and on what you'll find at the CAVE, which is scheduled on the front end of this year's Autodesk University (held every December in Las Vegas).
Core77: What is your work background?
Chris Cheung: I graduated with a degree in Industrial Design and this is how I originally got into software. After graduating, I was really interested in 3D modeling and visualization, so I invested in taking courses to learn Alias. That was a huge pivot in my career that lead me to taking a job with Alias. It was crazy because suddenly I was working in cutting-edge high tech creating design solutions for product, automotive and entertainment professionals. This was actually my first practical experience where it became apparent how significant the overlap is across creative domains, in respect to creativity, technically and emotionally.
What's your official title at Autodesk?
I'm a Product Line Manager, so I am responsible for driving product initiatives for SketchBook Pro and other projects related to digital art tools.
And what are some of the things that you do for your job that aren't obvious from the title?
It's actually a pretty good title, meaning, since I am managing a piece of the business, I can get my grubby little fingers on many aspects of our products. I like to think of a 'product' in a broad sense, so I tend to think a lot about tangential aspects to users' experiences or even things that drive their perception. In this manner, things like communities, collaborating on adjacent projects, and events become important extensions for me.
What was your involvement with SketchBook Pro?
Even though I've only been the actual Product Manager for SketchBook for the last 5 years, I have a deeper history with the drawing tech that pre-dated the introduction of SketchBook in 2000 with the first introduction of the tablet PC. The original technology was created years before and only worked on IRIX workstations. Drawing and sketching digitally has always been an important component, so it was among the things I worked on in tandem with 3D tools. Back in the day, it was a big deal to get a stroke to draw fast enough so that it gave an authentic experience to a traditional designer. It is kind of funny now, especially after getting that same engine working on the iPhone and Android smartphones in 2009. I feel pretty lucky to have been part of these evolutionary milestones in the technology of an activity that I've always loved since being a kid: DRAWING!
The IDSA International Conference is just under three weeks away, and if you have yet to make plans to be in Chicago from August 21–24, we strongly suggest you do so ASAP. As always, the lineup of speakers is pretty stacked, and while we've crossed paths with many of this year's speakers over the years, the IDSA keeps it fresh with the likes of, say, Paralympian Blake Leeper. Similarly, we were interesed to see Dr. Vijay Kumar's name among the presenters. I'd been curious about his work ever since the first video on "A Swarm of Nano Quadrotors" hit the web over a year and a half ago—check it out:
The research, at UPenn's General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception Lab (GRASP for short), has come a long way since then, but Dr. Kumar noted that there is still a long way to go. After spending a recent sabbatical at the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy, he will continue his research in robotics—specifically, swarm dynamics. His recent TED Talk illustrates the latest developments in his research on aerial robo-collaboration:
Dr. Kumar promises to deliver a "more technical" presentation at the Hyatt Regency Chicago on Thursday, August 22, where he'll share the latest developments on "Tiny Flying Robots":
There are a number of labs and schools across the globe that have been experimenting with autonomous quadrotors—small flying robots that communicate with each other. They have already accomplished a number of seemingly difficult tasks, like juggling balls or building a tower. Given the ability to hover and fly, sense objects and communicate, there are already a thousand creative tasks they could perform.
Conversely, Dr. Kumar has long rejected the common mischaracterization of UAVs as drones, and vice versa, echoing former Air Force Chief General Norton Schwartz's comment that these unmanned aircraft are, in fact, piloted. "This is one distinction that's quite sharp that I'd like to make: the drones that we hear about in the press are actually remotely-piloted vehicles; they're not drones, they're human-driven. So this is a misnomer, and the press really should not be using that [term to describe them]."
Once he had cleared the air (so to speak), Dr. Kumar proceeded to share his thoughts on the real-world applications of swarms of autonomous quadrotors.
Core77: This is a conference for industrial designers, but you are an engineer by training and trade. What lessons do you hope to impart on the design community?
Dr. Vijay Kumar: Design is a broad thing—I suspect that [Conference attendees] are primarily interested in designing physical things, and I think if there's one thing that's changed, design is no longer about the physical thing. Every physical thing has software embedded in it, [so now,] when you think about design, you want to consider co-designing the software piece and the hardware piece. Smartphones, for example, already incorporate a lot of that—thinking about the user interface—which is an important new direction.
If you're looking forward to attending the conference to soak up all the rule-breaking, game-changing goodness it has to offer, but haven't gotten around to registering yet, now is the time to do it! Regular registration for this must-attend event is ending in just 20 days, or July 20th, to be more specific. After that day, prices start to rise, along with a gentle feeling of regret you may get for not signing up earlier.
For those of you who are new to the IDSA Conference and Organization, signing up to become an IDSA Member when you register for the conference saves you $500 instantly and gives you all the benefits of membership. How's that for a win-win?
All the information you need about registering and attending the conference can be found here on the IDSA Conference website. Now that you have all the reasons to register and no more excuses, what are you waiting for?
Now in its sixth year, the Service Design Network conference lands in the UK for the first time, following past conferences in locations from San Francisco to Berlin. The annual conference will be held in Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, from November 18–29 of this year, at the Wales Millenium Centre, taking the theme of "Transformation through Service Design."
In an organisational context, transformation is a process of profound and radical change. It's about setting off in a new direction and reaching a greater level of effectiveness. As service design gains traction within a larger range of industries and sectors the practice must keep pace with developments in the application of this. Until now service design has been used primarily as a redesign capability at the front-end of the service. But this is only the tip of the iceberg.
More and more Service Design practices and customer led approaches lie at the heart of good transformational programs and by fully understanding how service design connects with all areas of an organisation service design can support transformation on a much larger scale and achieve greater impact.
About the SDN The Service Design Network is the global centre for recognising and promoting excellence in the field of service design. Through national and international events, online and print publications, and coordination with academic institutions, the network connects multiple disciplines within agencies, business, and government to strengthen the impact of service design both in the public and private sector.
The Service Design Network was initiated in 2004 by a group of ambitious and enthusiastic believers in the value of service design. In 2008 it was set up as a non-profit organisation acting as a forum for practitioners and academics to advance the nascent field of Service Design. Our purpose is to develop and strengthen the knowledge and expertise in the science and practise of innovation. The support of service design related networks, conferences, publications, workshops are some of the SDNs activities—but also lobbying on political and economical platforms is on the agenda of SDN.
About the SDN UK Chapter SDN UK represents and connects the UK's Service Design industry. Service Design is an established practice within the UK, with some great companies blazing the trail. SDN UK aims to connect the community and enable knowledge share at all levels.
Moving a bit from theory to practice, the second day of the DMI Conference in Santa Monica offered stories of design strategies and brand innovations that are making an impact for clients, customers and communities and explored what the impact of design can and should be in the next economy.
Deepah Prahalad of RKS connected the dots between design thinking and outcomes to examine how designers can play a critical role in developing opportunities for people in emerging markets at the "bottom of the pyramid." By making sure that trust and community are key elements in business models, she pointed out that not only can we develop more sustainable and meaningful products and services to meet important needs, but we also become better innovators in the process.
Lee Maschmeyer of Collins: and co-author of Triumph on the Commons: 55 Theses on the Future explained how evolutionary algorithms will be applied to design in the future economy. Water advocates Eric Barnes and Paul Shustak, Co-Founders of KOR Water, shared their mission and story and reminded us that our work as designers is always rooted in the real world—we participate in real conversations, provide real services, and have a real impact.
As the world moves faster, our future accelerates and our needs around the world expand beyond what we can imagine, design thinking is vital to innovation and problem solving. Dr. Prasad Kaipa shared tools to help us develop not only knowledge maps to address these problems, but wisdom maps to lead the way—aligning our thinking, feeling and doing to ignite design wisdom. And Eames Demetrios pointed out we must be willing to look critically at our processes to consider where the big ideas of design will fit in. Quoting Charles & Ray Eames—"The role of the designer is that of a good host anticipating the needs of the guest"—he re-connected us with the importance of keeping the human being at the center of the design experience and, left us considering in the future economy, who will be the host and who will be the guest.
Innovate or die. Collaborate or fail. But innovate collaboratively and succeed. That's the message shared by a variety of speakers and exhibitors at the current DMI Design Thinking Conference in Santa Monica, California. We know that designers and design thinking drive this process, but which best practices, emerging technologies and new ideas can inform our efforts?
Some highlights of Tuesday's mainstage included keynote, Larry Keeley, President & Co-Founder of Doblin Inc., who shared insights from his practice and his book, Ten Types of Innovation and the Discipline of Building Breakthroughs. By embracing and managing the complexity of the innovation process as well as the creativity behind new ideas, he pointed out how design leaders can guarantee success in the face of accelerating innovation. Although we've generally been taught to bring new ideas to the forefront through a more freeform brainstorming process, Keeley suggested that real innovation success requires high protocols, great teams of thinkers and a systematic way to measure and assess progress.
Batterii, an exhibitor and the technology that is supporting DMI's new Design Value Research project, demonstrated how their cloud-based platform can connect teams for knowledge creation, as well as innovative product development. And Sarah Brooks, founder of Networked Culture, explained how environmental and cultural systems models can help designers consider ways to move away from authorship toward co-creation for shared value and strength.
It's like the "Jenga Conundrum": Do you pull a peg to weaken the structure so yours is the last move, or do you work together to build the tower as high as possible? A collective orientation when combined with rigorous systems of analysis and evaluation are the keys that will not only help us communicate more effectively with clients and with each other, but also enable our businesses, economies and cultures to flourish in the future.
We at Core77 have been working with IDSA for many years and are always proud to support their efforts and sponsor great events like this one. This year's Annual International Conference, including one day of exciting Unconference action, is coming to one of our favorite cities - Chicago; home of the largest collection of Impressionist paintings outside the Louvre in Paris, and the original Mr. Beef! Beyond the outstanding line up of speakers and topics, we look forward to throwing our annual party, co-sponsored by Keyshot and Formity this year.
To add to all the excitement, we're sponsoring the IDSA Portfolio Review again, except this year, we're adding a twist to it that we can't reveal just yet, but will definitely get you excited to participate. (Stay tuned for more details on that.)
SIGGRAPH isn't an acronym—if you must know, it stands for "Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques"; its qualifier, ACM, stands for the Association for Computing Machinery—hence, ACM SIGGRAPH. The organization was originally founded in the late 60's and its annual conference launched just a few years later, which means that this is the 40th Anniversary of the event (they've since launched a second yearly conference, in Asia, as of 2008).
As one might expect, SIGGRAPH2013 itself is chock full of the same events as any given academic conference or trade gathering, including a full itinerary of speakers, presentations, social events, etc., which collectively represent the latest breakthroughs in computer graphics and interactive techniques. However, I was interested to see that they've also produced a quick video teaser for the Technical Paper presentations, which is actually quite compelling from an outsider's perspective:
Following last month's successful DMI Conference: Designing the Next Economy in Madrid, the Design Management Institute's flagship event will make its way its stateside next month in Santa Monica, California, from June 17–19. In anticipation of three-day event, we had the chance to catch up with Javier Verdura, Director of Product Design & Project Management at Tesla Motors, who will be conversing with Laurenz Schaeffer, President of BMW Designworks, on the Convergence of Transportation, Technology and Tools for Living. Check out his thoughts and insight into working with Elon Musk, autonomous cars, his goals at Tesla and the future of the company as a whole.
Tesla made headlines last week for paying off a $465m government loan ten years ahead of schedule. Obviously, the company's success is attributable to any number of factors, but to what degree was this an investment in design or, more broadly, innovation? Or alternately, do you think that good design is a worthy investment (whether the funding is public or private)?
'Good design' has been proven to be one of the smartest investments a company can make. Companies that invest in design as a core function and as a fundamental business strategy experience undisputed ROI (Return on Innovation). Companies like Apple, P&G, Nike, Target and Tesla to name a few, use design as the foundation of their business strategy. Design is what differentiates their products from the competition; well-designed products make customers' lives better, and it keeps them coming back to the brand (i.e. brand loyalty). Good design can be directly responsible for increased market share, in many cases proving to be a better investment over ad spend.
In his opening remarks at this year's Product Design + Innovation conference in London, Core columnist Kevin McCullagh challenged speakers and attendees to 'cut through the hype' so rampant in the industry in recent years, to identify the real opportunities for design in the growing number and increasingly complex fields in which it operates. Whilst many brands and corporations are wholeheartedly embracing design and its processes, a mounting wariness to the overblown claims and difficult to quantify results associated with the Design Thinking movement may indeed make hype dissection a key challenge facing the industry in the years to come.
In the charming surroundings of one England's oldest cricket clubs, the two-day event saw spirited debate as some of the most heralded futures of products and manufacturing were subject to scrutiny: Internet of Things, connected mobility, additive manufacturing, the maker movement, product-service systems, premiumisation, the consumerisation of healthcare.
In an attempt to capture some of the hearty discussion that ensued, we've picked out five of our top PD+I highlights:
Leaders of the industrial design world will gather in London this week at the third Product Design + Innovation conference, to reflect on new dynamics in the industry in the midst of shifting social and technological paradigms.
With speakers ranging from in-house design innovators from the likes of Nike, Cisco and Philips Design, to design agency directors of Seymourpowell, Priestmangoode and Kinneir Dufort the packed two day programme will feature expert perspective on the emergence of connected objects, wired transportation, the maker movement, healthcare consumerisation, as well as the fields of synthetic biology and energy harvesting.
Clockwork from top right: Matt Shaw, Tiffany Lambert, Brigette Brown, Cecilia Fagel, Bryn Smith
Each year the SVA MFA Design Criticism department hosts a conference, where the students present their research, as well as choosing the theme and format. This year's theme is "counter/point" and each student will present their work in counterpoint with that of a speaker whose views may differ from their own. We asked the D-Crit Class of 2013 to explain how they selected their speakers and what discussions they think will ensue at the conference.
Can you explain why you invited your speaker and why their areas of research or design practice relate to your thesis topic? What can the audience expect from your pair of presentations and the discussion to follow?
Matt Shaw: I think that Mark Foster Gage provides a good counter/point for my topic because at first glance we appear to have very different agendas. In my thesis, I advocate for the communicative possibility of what is called "roadside vernacular," or buildings shaped like giant objects. His advanced digital aesthetic is very different, communicating more viscerally and less directly, which he writes about in his book Aesthetic Theory. However, we both place an emphasis on the visual, and we agree that this could be the key to making architecture which re-engages broader publics. I think we agree about what needs to happen, but disagree about how to best accomplish it. These similarities and differences are nuanced and should make for a stimulating discussion in many ways.
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Tiffany Lambert: You can anticipate a glimpse into a future universe—one with mountain-shaped trains and cars grown from organic materials—and hear about how design mediates broader cultural and social experiences that go well beyond aesthetics alone. My research project interrogates the way design citizens (or end users) have become more engaged in processes of design. This participatory culture manifests itself in a variety of ways, shifts the roles of both citizens and expert designers, and raises important questions for the field and its surrounding discourse.
While my work aims to expose the implications of participation in order to establish a critical framework, Fiona Raby's most recent experiment with Anthony Dunne—now on view at the Design Museum in London—explores cultural and ethical impacts through speculative (and spectacular!) design solutions. Their project uses the design proposal as a participatory tool, involving the larger public and designers alike.
Could games like Papa Sangre pave the way for other mobile audio experiences?
The tech lovers at last week's MEX Mobile User Experience conference in London were treated to all manner of fantastical visions of our further mobile empowered futures; big data, connected cars, smart homes, Internet of Things, gestural interfaces, personal mini-drones—the lot.
Few presentation this year will be complete without at least passing reference to the game changing nature or dystopian social implications of soon-to-be-unleashed Google Glass. Surprisingly, however, a couple of jaw-dropping demonstrations were enough to leave many of those attending wondering whether we might be missing a slightly quieter revolution taking hold. Could immersive audio be about to come of age in mobile user experience?
Having played second fiddle to the visual interface for decades, being so often the reserve of experimental art installations or niche concepts for the blind, audio has yet to find mass interaction application outside of alarms, alerts, ringtones and the occasional novelty bottle opener. All of this, however, could be set to change, if the two fields of binaural sound and dynamic music can find their way into the repertoire of interaction designers.
Binaural Audio Spatializes Interaction
Hardly a new phenomenon (though not always well known), Papa Sangre is regarded as the 'best video game with no video ever made.' Since it's release back in 2011, the audio app game for iOS has been a hit with both the visually impaired and fully sighted. The game plunges players into a dark, monster-infested fantasy with only their ears to navigate the three dimensional underworld and rescue the damsel in distress. The incredible 3D sound effects are achieved with headphones and binaural audio—an effect that replicates the experience of hearing a sound-wave originating from a certain direction, hitting one ear before the other. Use of the screen is disconcertingly limited to only a rudimentary compass-like dial (determining the player's virtual direction of movement) and two feet buttons, pressed to take steps into the darkness. Never has a computer game monster been so terrifying than when you can't actually see it.
In the dark: screenshot of immersive audio game PapaSangre
The creators, London-based SomethinElse, developed the game by first mapping out the experiences of sound from hundreds of directions using a binaural microphone—a stereo mic the exact shape and density of a human head with pick-ups for ear drums. The algorithmic engine this produced could then be put to work transforming any ordinary mono audio into a spacialised, stereo output for listeners wearing headphones (with a fair dose of clever coding, of course).
Binaural microphone with exact dimension and density as human head
What better way to celebrate the coming of spring than with a series of events that examine the impact of design on business and society? The 2013 IDSA District Design Conferences kick off this weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina, and continue over the next two weekends in four additional cities across the States. Whether you happen to live in Cleveland, Long Beach, Indianapolis or Hartford or the unique opportunity for professional development happens to be the next state over, make a point of making the trip.
Make sure you register for the conference you want to attend the most as spots will fill up fast, and each conference offers a different focus. This year's themes range from color theory to entrepreneurship, and designers from each and every region can look forward to valuable insights and in-depth design discussion over the course of each two-day conference. Find more details on the schedule and each of the conferences here.
The people behind the upcoming Interaction14 conference invite you to attend a panel discussion in Milan on the "Long View of Interaction Design."
On Monday 8 April at 6 p.m. (on the eve of the Salone del Mobile), Claudio Moderini, Fabio Sergio, Jan-Christoph Zoels and Todd S. Harple will debate with Alok Nandi on how to design for those interaction design challenges that go beyond the immediate consumer product/service launch cycle.
What if your interaction design has to be integrated in a hospital or a building or a city? How do you design if your creation has to last 10, 20 or even more years into the future? What tools can you use as an interaction designer? How do you make it adaptive and resilient? How to avoid obsolescence?
Anna Meroni, Assistant professor of service and strategic design, Polytechnic University of Milan (IT)
Is it possible to make a government services site useful for citizens seeking information? Ben Terrett, Head of Design at the Government Digital Service, not only thinks it's possible, but believes it might be the world's best brief. In 2011, the British government established the Government Digital Service (GDS) within the Cabinet Office. It was established as a direct response to a government-commissioned survey conducted by Martha Lane Fox that recommended that the government strategy be "Digital by Default," along with key tenets to overhaul the public-facing websites that served as portals for government services and information.
The key concepts as outlined by Fox included:
- Establish a digital team in the Cabinet Office with absolute authority across all government online services.
- Fix Publishing - With over 2000 websites for citizen needs versus business links, departmental and public bodies with individual websites.
- Fix Transations - For people who pay for services online
- Go Wholesale - opening up APIs to third parties
By October 17th, 2012, the GDS launched GOV.UK, a single portal to access governmental information as a citizen or a business. A month later, the team began folding over 400 departmental agencies. To date, 14 out of 24 ministerial departments are live on gov.uk along with 17 of over 300+ public bodies within the department. In the video below, Ben Terrett chats with Willy Wong, Chief Cretive Officer of NYC & Company, New York City's marketing, tourism and partnership organization. Ben shares about designing for user needs through simplification, the history of British public design as well as the GDS' plans for opening up information to third parties.
It's that time of year again. IDSA is gearing up for Spring with five district design conferences looking at the changing practice and the impact of design on business and the society at large. Taking place throughout the month of April, the five district conferences invite educators, practitioners and business professionals to share learnings over the course of two days. Register today!
Southern District Design Conference
Raleigh, April 5-6
"Revitalize with Design"
Western District Design Conference
Long Beach, April 12-13
"Designer as Entrepreneur"
Central District Design Conference
Cleveland, April 12-13
"Design Your Ecosystem"
Midwest District Design Conference
Indianapolis, April 19-20
"New Paradigms for Design"
Northeast District Design Conference
Hartford, April 19-20
"The Color of Design"
Hit the jump for full descriptions of each of this year's district design conferences.
'Dare We Do It Real Time' by body>data>space (photo by Jean-Paul Berthoin)
Over an intensive two days at the end the month, 100 delegates at MEX 2013—the international forum for mobile user experience, in its 12th iteration this year—will gather in central London to discuss and attempt to envision the development and future impact of mobile technology.
With speakers at last year's forum including Dale Herigstad, four-time Emmy award winning creator of the iconic Minority Report conceptual user interfaces, as well as connected car experts from Car Design Research, this year's event boasts inspiring input from the likes of content strategist at Facebook Melody Quintana, UX research guru of WhatUsersDo Lee Duddell and Ghislaine Boddington creative director at experimental connected performance outfit, body>data>space.
Insight - How should we improve understanding of user behaviour and enhance how that drives design decisions? Diffusion - What are the principles of multiple touch-point design and the new, diffused digital experiences? Context - How can designers provide relevant experiences, respect privacy and adapt to preferences? Sensation - What techniques are there for enhancing digital experience with audible and tactile elements? Form - How can change in shapes, materials or the abandonment of physical form be used to excite users? Sustainability - How can we enable sustainable expression in digital product choices? Can we harness digital design to promote sustainable living?
Sam Dunne, Design Strategist at Plan and Core77 UK Correspondent, will be reporting live from the event.
MEX, Mobile User Experience
Walllacespace St. Pancras
22 Duke's Road
London, WC1H 9PN
March 26–27, 2013
One of the largest events of it's type, Semi-Permanent is a creative platform spreading art and design inspiration. Started in Sydney, Australia in 2003, the event has established itself over the last ten years as a leader in presentations and exhibitions throughout the creative world. With annual events hosted in Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, and Brisbane, this is the first time the conference has hit Stateside since their 2005 US debut in New York City.
Andrew Johnstone, the Director and Founder explained, "Two of the Semi-Permanent team visited Portland last last year and loved it—we chose Portland to host a conference because we had heard that it was a really creative and interesting city. We chose Los Angeles because we felt that the art and design scene in Los Angeles is quite strong—it is a more creative city than people like to think."
This year's event includes presentations from Chuck Anderson (NoPattern), Terry White (Adobe Evangelist), Holly Wales (Illustrator), Michael Muller (Photographer) and special guests in each city: Gary Baseman (Artist), Gmunk (Motion Graphics) and Rei Inamoto (AKQA) in Portland, Aaron Rose (Director/Curator), Gia Coppola (Director/Photographer), Oliver Zahm (Purple Fashion) and M Blash (Director's Bureau) in Los Angeles. Attendees can look forward to an exhibition and parties that are programmed alongside the conference itself. More artists are on the roster and are being announced daily—REGISTER TODAY for the Early Ticket pricing.
To win tickets, leave a comment below with:
- Which speaker are you most excited about seeing + one sentence explaining why
- Be sure to include your email address so we can reach out to you if you win!
To get a taste of what's in store at the conference, check out the highlight reel from last year's event in Sydney.