Where does the time go? Just last week we introduced you to the first four Jury Captains for the 2016 Core77 Design Awards so you could get familiar with the design minds that will be reviewing your Packaging, Furniture & Lighting, Open Design and Service Design entries. Now we have a new batch of Jury Captains to introduce and we are a mere 11 days away from the end of regular pricing. (That's March 8th, just in case you don't have it marked on your calendar.)
Before you jot down that important date, learn more about the jury team leaders of the Interaction, Consumer Products, Built Environment and Transportation categories. They're eager to see your work so get your entries in as soon as possible.
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Alexis Lloyd is the Creative Director of The New York Times Research & Development Lab, where she investigates emerging technologies and prototypes future concepts for news and media. Her work is focused on creating immersive and exploratory experiences through innovative physical-to-digital interactions, data visualization and screen-based interfaces.
What’s the main objective for the R+D Lab? What was your career path leading up to heading up this experimental project?
The mission for the R&D Lab is to look beyond the next product cycle, identifying trends and technologies that will emerge in the coming years. We develop applications and prototypes that imagine the impacts these changes will create, and we share those prototypes to facilitate innovation and thoughtful consideration of the future of media. We begin our research by scanning and gathering signals of change from a variety of sources and across industries. We then identify ways that we can experiment, or do "research through making," in order to explore how the changes we identify might be applied to media contexts in the near future. The outcomes of our work are both the prototypes themselves and the broader research, analysis, and conclusions we come to about trends and changes we anticipate. Our goal is not to create beta products, but to generate deeply informed knowledge that can be used to help guide our path forward at The New York Times.
Prior to joining The Times, I had worked for a number of years as a user experience designer and interaction designer, primarily in media and educational contexts, including Columbia University and FOX. After a number of years working in the industry and being mostly self-taught (my undergraduate degree is in theater!), I decided to spend some time more deeply developing my own voice as a designer and media artist, and went back to school for my MFA in the Design & Technology program at Parsons School of Design. It's a fantastic program, where I have since taught, and my MFA thesis work directly led to my being hired at The New York Times R&D Lab.
When designing a user experience, what do you feel are the key elements to a successful product?
I think the key to a successful user experience is having the form and "feel" of the interaction be deeply aligned with its function, to have a system's posture towards its users feel appropriate to the nature of the experience.
My work lately has been focused on how every interaction we design with a computational system is an expression of an underlying relationship being posited between the person and the machine, and I'd like to see designers thinking more explicitly about what those relationships are and how they're represented. This approach becomes even more important as we see the ascendance of conversational UI as a dominant framework. We are very literally having conversations with machines. As a result, designing those conversations and thinking critically about the kind of relationships we're building with bots and automated systems becomes absolutely crucial. In many ways, I think relationship design is the new frontier of UX design and will become increasingly important over the next few years.
Please share your most memorable project and its impact on your own process and its intended user.
A recent project that was fascinating to work on was the Listening Table, which is a table that hears and augments the conversation that's happening around it. It was a collaboration between a number of people in the lab, including Noah Feehan who worked on the electronics and hardware design, and a Brooklyn-based furniture designer, François Chambard, who did the physical design and fabrication of the table. The Listening Table is an example of the more provocative, speculative projects we do in the lab, where we tie together several research themes and try to create an artifact from the near future that impacts how either The Times or our readers might interact with information. In this case, we brought together research we had been doing on the future of IoT and connected environments, on "semantic listening" (building sensors for meaning), and UX questions about designing positive and ethical interactions with devices that continuously listen to us (smartphones, XBoxes, Hello Barbie, etc.). We wanted to create a table that could at least partially replace the need to take notes during a meeting or interview, by offloading audio recording and transcription and creating elegant affordances for people to mark meaningful moments in the conversation that they want to remember later.
The design process itself was fascinating, as it was almost entirely an exercise in subtraction. We had to work through all the ideas that sounded potentially interesting in theory (like visualizing conversational dynamics on the table), but were actually intrusive and distracting in practice. It was also a process where we explored how to best design a collaboration between human intelligence and machine intelligence -- what tasks do you want to offload to automation and what tasks do you need human interpretation and input for? And in the end, since we were the primary users of the table, it engendered a really comprehensive conversation about design principles for creating listening machines that we would be willing to live with. These principles are things like designing systems to have a limited memory, making sure that an object visually communicates when it's listening, and making it easy for users to opt out.
This is why we do a great deal of our research through making in the lab. When we start to try and build these things that are just recently possible, we learn so much about both the capabilities of a new technology and the nuances of designing ways that a person might engage with it. Between this prototyping process and our broader scanning and signal gathering, we develop a comprehensive perspective on what changes are beginning to take shape, how they might be applied, and principles for how to apply them in positive ways.
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Director of Design, Map
Jon Marshall is the Co-Founder and Design Director at Map, a London-based creative consultancy that specializes in strategy-led industrial design, packaging design and UX/UI. Map’s clients include some of the most innovative and well-known companies in the world such as Virgin Atlantic, Google, Yamaha and Panasonic alongside ambitious growth companies such as Kano, Sam Labs, and Sabi.
Kano screen kit, a 720p HD display anyone can make.
As consumers become more sophisticated and technology more complex, in what ways should consumer products evolve? What things should change and what should remain the same?
I think as technology becomes more complex and powerful we need to re-focus on making products user friendly, easy to understand and intelligent. At the moment consumer products are smart enough to keep us constantly connected and notify us with helpful information, but not intelligent enough to help process all that information, or to know when we don’t want to be disturbed.
At Map, the idea of “informed creativity” is a guiding design principle. Can you explain this idea and how it brings new ideas and design directions to light?
At Map we have an approach we call 'informed creativity’ where we try to identify creative opportunities using designer-led research and then work with our clients to create a clear written design strategy before embarking on the creative process. We try to work closely with clients to co-create our designs and we use iterative mock-up making and prototyping to test ideas early. This approach not only helps us identify new ideas quickly but also helps us evaluate them and make sure they are relevant for our clients and therefore better for business.
Many new consumer products depend on the power of current technologies but raise important questions about a product’s life cycle. How can designers create products that “stay alive” for years to come?
Technology moves fast and can become obsolete quickly, so I think its incumbent on designers and manufacturers to carefully consider product lifecycle in the creation of new products. The use of recycled materials and designing products to be disassembled, fixed or upgraded are good principles. However if core technologies could be standardized and modularized more across different brands it would be easier to re-use elements of products or repurpose them, which would cut down on waste. I think one of the most interesting things I’ve seen in this space is Nascent Objects.
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Arthur Huang is a structural engineer, architect and innovator of loop economy building material solutions. He founded Miniwiz in 2005 and has led the firm since. Among other honors, Miniwiz under Arthur Huang’s leadership won the Financial Times’ “Earth Award” in 2010 and The Wall Street Journal’s “Asian Innovation Award” in 2011. Miniwiz received the “Technology Pioneers 2015” title by the World Economic Forum, recognizing the potential of the new industry that Miniwiz is leading and the positive impact of its activities on the state of the world.
Your own practice is interdisciplinary...touching building systems, consumer products, furniture, architecture and even a boat! What is your educational background and how did you prioritize your interests to arrive at this point in your practice?
We even have airplanes, not just boats!
I studied structure and architecture—by nature both disciplines are already very interdisciplinary. You need structure for architectures, for chairs, for clothes, for carpets, for chemical molecules, even for a cupcake! Structure is everywhere at different scales, that is all.
POLLI BOAT is the world's first trimaran inspired by the 3R practices-Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
For us, all this interdisciplinary is based on one mission. We are trying to create the demand for people to want to use trash (urban mined resources) for future products and to enable a true circular economy for today and tomorrow. However, the current supply of trash recycled materials are unattractive, weak structurally, and basically not sexy. When something is not sexy, no one wants to use it. And that’s why when we are developing a new material for different fields, we are actually transforming material into something that’s attractive for the industry to use, to manufacture, to sell and there’s a lot of learning! The reason why we must execute an interdisciplinary approach in design is so that you will have the learning of different industries. When making recycled materials for new products, technology is not the issue. The challenge is the will to develop something truly new, because the process is slow and costly. But thanks to 60 years of data IT technology, this way of working is possible today.
In this moment of revolutionary materials innovation, why is it important for architects and designers working in the field of built environments to integrate materials research in their own practice?
Designers for the past century have been playing in the visible scale (from meters to millimeter). However, these old considerations are not really solving any real climate change or sustainability challenges; we can no longer rely on additive ways of designing on a visible scale. Technology—including the internet, information technology, database, and new manufacturing systems—enable architects, engineers and designers to innovate and design on a non-visible scale today which is in materials, the building block of all physical designs.
In order for you to solve an environmental issue, you must design at the elemental building block level with new recycled material. Miniwiz’s design constraints like “single material” is to enable virgin or recycled material can be re-recycled. It has to be stronger and perform better to have a real market value. But how do you make post consumer recycled material stronger with better performance when the material is inherently weaker? Another constraint is to use no glue and no adhesives, so it can be re-recycled. The last constraint is about integrating into different manufacturing techniques, so these material can be scaled for new/old applications.
Miniwiz installation for Nike's #NatureAmplified exhibition
What are some considerations that designers often overlook when creating built environments? Why do you think these considerations are important for the future of the practice?
The considerations that designers overlook nowadays are:
• Production embedded carbon footprint (that’s what everyone always forgets when they design)
• Toxicity (for the land, air, water in the production process)
• Operational carbon footprint (when you transfer to the user, there’s operational carbon footprint)
• Operational toxicity (like VOC, its operational toxicity in the air, water runoff. Does it have mercury or lead or toxic leaching from this product during use?)
According to the law of conservation of energy, everything goes to zero. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it transforms from one form to another. At the end a designer should consider that the amount of material you put in, you have to take just as much material back. Why are we wasting perfectly good multiuse high performance space-age materials and letting them pollute our waterways and oceans.
The difference between durable goods and consumer goods is that consumer goods have a short lifespan. Designers rarely considered the footprint and toxicity in the production process which accounts for close to 90% of a consumer product's embedded carbon footprint. Without these considerations, the design energy is literally a waste. No pun intended.
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Professor, Vehicle Technology, Art Center College of Design
Eric is founder and president of The CARLAB, an advanced automotive consulting firm which helps manufacturers and suppliers plan and design new vehicles. Founded in 1999, it is the most influential auto product consultancy in North America, serving carmakers from Nissan to Ferrari, Toyota, VW, Honda and Subaru, in addition to industry suppliers such as Continental, global auto clubs and the energy industry. Eric is also Professor of Vehicle Technology at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where most of the world’s top car designers are trained.
As a critic, consultant and an educator, what are the most important design considerations you look for in transportation designs?
Empathy. Were the designers able, figuratively, to get themselves into the shoes of the intended user? Great design enhances the lives of those that use it. Our job is to serve others, not ourselves.
CARLAB engineered Bi-Fuel Ford Mustang GT.
There is a lot of speculation about the future of transportation, particularly for the auto industry. What innovations are you most excited about in the transportation field?
For nearly everyone, the promise of automation is tremendously exciting, and we agree. But that won't come overnight, or even as fast as most pundits have predicted. We're more than ok with that, since the process, and the partial automation that will evolve for years in the interim, will be very interesting. The law of unintended consequences fully applied.
How can transportation design transform the quality of people’s daily lives? Should it aspire to be design for social good?
Social good is a normative term, and has historically been the justification for all sorts of horrors. Again, design should serve people. And, yes, it can transform the quality of lives. We're car and truck people at The CARLAB—never outgrew our Hot Wheels—but see the biggest need for inspired, new design in public transportation. Urban planners and bureaucrats continue to attack the private vehicle in an attempt to make it less attractive for use in our cities and urban areas. But hobbling the opponent is an act of cowardice. If we had guts we'd admit that most public and mass transit systems are slow, uncomfortable,
When are we getting our jet packs?
What, you don't have yours yet?!