The IIT Institute of Design held its annual Strategy Conference last week in downtown Chicago, a two-day event full of inspiring and interesting talks about using design thinking and innovation to solve complex issues. Socially conscious innovation was a common topic this year, from improving agricultural techniques in Africa to enabling University of Chicago students and professionals to collaboratively tackle major problems in healthcare, as well as revitalizing abandoned lands in Detroit with a community development and agriculture program.
Check out the sketchnotes below summarizing the ideas behind this year's event. You'll find synopses on speakers like Carl Bass with Autodesk, Catherine Casserly of Creative Commons, Stepan Pachikov, founder of Evernote, Bruce Nussbaum and Barry Schwartz from Swarthmore College, among others.
Click to view full-size images.
Carl Bass, President and CEO, Autodesk
Mark Tebbe, Operating Executive, Lake Capital / Stepan Pachikov, Founder, Evernote
Amory Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute / Kim Erwin, Assistant Professor, IIT Institute of Design
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Playing Pictionary with a group of art students, or fellow designers, is what the Brits would call "terrific fun." (Your American correspondent can't describe it without using a meliorative preceded by the F-bomb.) Inventors Robert Angel and Gary Everson could not have created a better parlor game for people who can draw their asses off, and it makes "Exquisite Corpse" look lame in comparison.
Which doesn't mean we shouldn't stop trying to invent more communal drawing activities. Core77 Boarder sketchroll has come up with his own plan which combines the "Geography" game with chain letters. Called "Chain Drawings," the scheme he cooked up last night starts with his shoe sketch. The next person then drew an eraser, which sketchroll followed with a robot.
So...who's next? T-square, telephone or turbocharger, anyone? And how long until someone introduces an abstract concept like "trust?"
Craighton will also be running a Visual Thinking 101 workshop on Wednesday August 29th at General Assembly, the start-up community/coworking/education network focused on entrepreneurship in technology and design. If you're curious about how visual thinking might help you to better generate, communicate, and shape ideas—especially in collaborative environments—this workshop will be a great primer to philosophy and techniques. The class will cover the building blocks of visual thinking, basic rapid viz training, sketchnotes, and experience storyboarding. Drawing skills not required at all—just a willingness to use drawing to explore ideas.
Also keep an eye out this Fall for the return of regular posts in the Core77 Sketchnotes channel, with articles on digital sketchnotes, brainstorming, storyboarding, graphic facilitation, and book reviews of recent books on sketchnotes and visual thinking at large. In the meantime, keep the pens moving and the ink flowing.
This past Monday evening, on an unseasonably warm night in Chicago, sustainability expert Ezio Manzini gave a thought-provoking lecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Mr Manzini is a Professor of Industrial Design at Politecnico Milano, and is a renowned expert in the application of strategic design for sustainability. His perspectives on systems and service design relate nicely to his core message of sustainability, yielding a compelling framework for a vision of the future city. Of course, as your resident sketchnote correspondent, I was there to cover his lecture in drawing-form; the scans of which follow below:
Click for larger image
Since a bit of time has passed since I last wrote for the Core77 Sketchnotes Channel, let me take this time to briefly revisit the concept of sketchnotes. Simply put, sketchnotes are visual notes that are drawn in real time. These notes take advantage of the "visual thinker's" mind by pairing images, text, and diagrams to help make sense of the information being presented. As a tool for designers, they're a great way to capture information and synthesize your thoughts in real time—also great practice for the same kind of process one uses in an ideation situation.
A few weeks ago the Pritzker-prize winning Japanese architecture duo SANAA gave a lecture to a packed house at the Art Institute of Chicago. Most famous in the US for their design of the New Museum in New York City, they shared 9 additional projects from their impressive portfolio—both built and in-progress—and shared renderings, sketches, models, and construction photos from each one. Since their Wikipedia entry has more information on them then their own website, it goes without saying that they their point-of-view tends to be that of understatement. As they shared their work, it became quite apparent quickly that SANAA doesn’t so much employ a signature style, but common experiential qualities that link their projects together—qualities of light, transparency, and openness.
As part of the Core77 Sketchnotes Channel, I’m presenting my personal sketchnotes from the lecture to briefly analyze how I approached making them. Since the lecture was primarily visual, I spent the majority of my time soaking in the projected photos and chose not to bury my head in my book. How often do you get to experience architectural photos on a 60 foot wide projection screen? Since I decided to work this way, the notes I captured tended to try to create iconic representations of each building, capture the basic information, and any notable details or interesting quotes. In the age of Google Images, its much more important to me that these sketchnotes can cover what was presented at a high level to job my memory, than to capture each image as a sketch.
Maybe you're not much of a sketcher but you take a lot of notes, and are interested in making them more meaningful and interesting, but you're afraid your drawings are too crude. For you, it's important to stress that sketchnotes—although they are inherently a visual medium—do not require drawing ability of any kind. Essentially they're about transforming ideas into visual communication; structuring thoughts and giving hierarchy to concepts can be completed with strictly text and a few lines.
Maybe you're perpetually drawing and want to try and make your notes more useful and engaging but you are afraid of imposing structure to your normally freeform way of sketching. For you it's important to consider that sketchnotes can be as linear or abstract as your personality (or the presentation) dictates. Some content is best sketchnoted by listening closely and attempting to accurately synthesize and structure the thoughts. Usually these presentations have a very logical progression that may already be based in some sort of structure, so they lend them selves nicely to this style of sketchnoting. More narrative-based storytelling may be best sketchnoted by casually doodling along with the content and letting the content inspire your visuals. Story-based presentations may be best represented by capturing the overall experiences through quotes and illustrations of the anecdotes, and not necessarily imposing rigid structure.
In the end, it's up to you. As I mentioned in my previous article, sketchnoting is equal parts public, personal, and practice—so it's more fruitful to explore a new style and challenge yourself to record ideas in new ways, than to worry about the end result's overall effectiveness or aesthetic. Sketchbooks should be sketchy.
So let's get tactical. How should you go about approaching sketchnotes? What do you need to get started?
First you need the right tools for the job. And by "right tools" I mean, "any sketchbook and pen combination that makes you happy." Preferences for media and marking-tool probably span back to the days of the caveman; there's no right answers.
Last week we kicked-off our new Sketchnotes channel (www.core77.com/sketchnotes) with "Sketchnotes 101," an overview of a new form of visual thinking. Follow along as Craighton shares his sketchnotes from Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times' keynote address at Internet Week. The journalist shares his thoughts on how the Internet and social media have led revolutions and sparked change, leaving wakes of effect around the world. You can listen to the original address on UStream or simply learn from the video! Thanks to Bastard Jazz Recordings for the soundtrack.
This post is the first in a new "sketchnotes channel" on Core77 (www.core77.com/sketchnotes) that will explore the application of visual thinking tools in the worlds of design and creative thinking.
The recent rise of the "visual thinking" movement in business borrows from the natural ways designers work—using sketches to explore and express ideas, manipulating complex systems of thoughts on sticky notes, and using rough visuals to make sense of the world. Humans are, of course, wired to be visual thinkers from birth, so it's only natural that people are attracted to these tools, and the power they have to help solve problems and explore opportunities.
In the long list of tools one could use for visual thinking, sketchnotes are one of the most exciting. Simply put, sketchnotes are visual notes that are drawn in real time. Through the use of images, text, and diagrams, these notes take advantage of the "visual thinker" mind's penchant for make sense of—and understanding—information with pictures. Often these notes come out of lectures or conferences, and have gained a lot of attention and interest in the past few years when people post scans of their sketchbooks from events like SXSW or various design conferences for the whole internet to see.
This kind of note taking has an obvious appeal for both the coverage of the event as well as the aesthetic quality of getting a peek inside someone's sketchbook—but good sketchnotes are actually much more than a set of beautiful doodles.
Sketchnoters aren't reporters, information designers, or illustrators. They're actually all three at once. This form of rapid visualization forces you to listen to the lecture, synthesize what's being expressed, and visualize a composition that captures the idea—all in real time. A musicians' "circular breathing" for the Moleskine crowd.
Larry Keeley on Design Thinking, Click to Enlarge!
In case you missed it, we sent Craighton Berman (aka fueledbycoffee, one of our Coretoon geniuses), to take note of some of the big ideas from last week's Illinois Institute of Design's Strategy Conference in Chicago. Checkout some great ideas from international executives addressing how businesses can use design to explore emerging opportunities, solve complex problems and achieve lasting strategic advantage.
Day two was dynamic with great presentations from Steelcase's Jim Hackett on designing systems, Jeanne Liedtka (UVA Darden Busines School), Ted London (University of Michigan), Navroze Godrej (Institute of Design), John Seely Brown (Deloitte Center for the Edge) and Larry Keeley (Doblin). Check out all the sketchnotes from Day 1 and don't forget to click on each image to enlarge!
We sent Craighton Berman (aka fueledbycoffee, one of our Coretoon geniuses), to take note of some of the big ideas from this week's Illinois Institute of Design's Strategy Conference in Chicago. Checkout some great ideas from international executives addressing how businesses can use design to explore emerging opportunities, solve complex problems and achieve lasting strategic advantage. Check out big ideas from Bill Moggridge—Core77 columnist and Director of Cooper-Hewitt National Design museum, Chris Meyer (Standing on the Sun), Jamshyd Godrej, Peapod Labs, Connie Yowell (Macarthur Foundation), Neeru Khosla (CK-12 Foundation), Kun-pyo Lee (LG Electronics), and Jun Cai (Tsinghua University). Click on each image to enlarge!