It was an action-packed day at the Intersections Conference in Newcastle, with morning breakout session choices breaking everyone's hearts (too much good stuff to choose from). I took in the Business thread, chaired by Jeremy Myerson with panelists Janet Abrams, John Bates, and Christoph Boninger, asking: Are design schools the new B-schools? The entire session was open to audience questions, and question they did. (Would have been nice to hear a bit more from the panel, but in the bottom-up spirit of Dott...) The session ended with a weirdly synthesizing bon mot: "I think we need," offered an audience member, "not a B-School nor a D-School, but a C-School--for Convergence." Nice.
The next mainstager was the frankly-beyond-belief James Woudhuysen, whose presentation, entitled "Mission creep--the limits of design," did everything it could to stretch the limits of the audience. He warned us from the start that he wasn't the kind of person who kept his opinions to himself, and boy did he not! There's nothing better at a design conference than a first-rate rant, and this was a barn-burner. The audience loved it, of course, and it got to the point where we were cheering him on in his light sabering of everything held dear (these days) by the design community. He chastised us for pitying the Chinese "who want cars too;" he shamed us for using the term "users" instead of people (agreed); he took swings at the WWF (the other one), Prince Charles ("the buddha of Balmoral"), B.F. ("Bloody Fool") Skinner, "Sustainababble", and, at the very root: designers' pessimism, lack of sheer ambition, and the confidence to believe in science and technology's abilities to get us out of this mess. Needless to say, we will definitely post a link to the podcast of this one when it goes up at the conference site. If this were on YouTube, you'd be watching it right now.
The day progressed with a session on "What is the new know-how in service design?" with Jeremy Myerson, Gillian Crampton Smith, Chris Downs, and Heather Martin, where each panelist shared horror and glory stories of good and bad service design. Myerson commented near the end, "What we saw was not so much good services but good experiences." He also paraphrased a quote (sorry, will hunt down the source) about cake: In going from an agrarian, to an industrial, to a service, to an experience economy, we went from growing the ingredients and baking the cake, to buying the Betty Crocker version of it, to buying the cake outright, to taking the kids to McDonalds, having the party there, and having the cake thrown in for free!
John Thackara ended the day with co-conspirators Jane Blackburn, Lionel Helhir, Andy Mace and Belinda Williams, who told stories of their Dott experiences and shared their challenges working in both local and global contexts. It was a wonderful, friendly close to the day, and now it's off for drinks. British ones.
All Intersections posts:
Intersections Conference and Dott'07 underway!
Intersections Conference: More pics and blasphemy!
Intersections Conference, Day 2
Intersections Conference, Day 2 - more highlights