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MAGAZINE FOR CREATIVE INFLUENCE

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DECEMBER 2011

THE DESIGN YOU CAN’T SEE DISCOVERY FROM FAILURE DESIGN THINKING FOR SOCIAL INNOVATION CAN ANYBODY BE A DESIGNER?


E D I TOR’S ’ NOVIS family: Welcome to the brand— new NOVIS magazine. Back in 2005, NOVIS magazine introduced all aspects of worldwide design culture to the English-speaking world. Over the past decade, the print magazine gave way to other endeavors, but I am excited that through a new partnership with our friends at GeekChicDaily, the original NOVIS magazine concept can be revived and refreshed— rebooted actually —in a much more modern, exciting, and accessible format. The past year has seen a tough time for me personally, for the company, and for you, the fans. I know that you’re all eager to have the same access to your favorite manga titles that we could previously provide and I promise that I am continuing to explore any and all opportunities to relaunch the manga publishing operations of NOVIS’s business, as it was the original heart and soul of the company. It was a pure love of the design culture and desire to share it with the English-speaking world that inspired me to go into the business of publishing manga. Through the development of NOVIS, I have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing artists, writers, translators, and fans who share the same passion for Asian culture, whether it be through design, anime, film, TV, music, fashion, art and more. It really is my pleasure to introduce to you something that I hope will not only entertain and inspire, but will also be informative and reflective of Asia’s ever expanding role in our world. That’s what this Asian Pop Culture newsletter is all about. I personally hope that you will enjoy NOVIS powered by GeekChicDaily— and, as always, the GeekChicDaily team and I am interested in your feedback to make it the best it can be.

Fu-Chieh Wu Editor in Chief, NOVIS

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15 23 DISCOVERY FROM FAILURE

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DESIGN THINKING FOR SOCIAL INNOVATION

READER’S VOICE CONTRIBUTORS EDITOR’S LETTER

6 DESIGN AROUND THE WORLD


CO NT E NT S

29 THE DESIGN YOU CAN’T SEE

35 CAN ANYBODY BE ADESIGNER


RE A D E R ’ S Protect All Human Life Anthony Zordan, Joliet Thank you for your article that made a clear distinction between embryonic and adult stem cell research (“Stem cell firm’s deal blessed by Vatican,” Business, Oct. 25). I must take issue, however, with the last sentence: “Along with many evangelical Christians, the Catholic Church opposes the use of embryonic stem cells in medicine for the same reason that it opposes abortion, because the procedure destroys embryos that some (my emphasis) consider to be human life.” Here is where people disagree. The Catholic Church’s position is that all human life, no matter how small, should be protected. While an embryo may not look too much like a “human,” it looks exactly like a human should look at that early stage of development and every living human person on the planet looked like that as he or she matured from a zygote to a fetus.

That society had one party rule and taxation without real representation, such as lame duck tax increases, doubling of tolls, speed cameras, etc.

Don’t Just Follow the Crowd Jody Schwimmer, Arlington Heights I read a book in the mid 1960s. It was about how society would turn out in the future. That society had one party rule and taxation without real representation, such as lame duck tax increases, doubling of tolls, speed cameras, etc. That futuristic society didn’t pay its bills as it was “above” that. Few were in charge and they answered to no one. The title of the book was, “1984.” Little did I realize that it actually was about living in Illinois in 2011.

On My Shelf: Continuum’s 33 1/3 Series Mitch Johnson, Western Springs While no one is going to spend months writing a book like this without feeling highly engaged by the subject, that doesn’t mean the books have to be hagiographic. Inevitably, the titles vary in critical ambition and quality of writing and, for me, as I’ve hinted, the series is over-reliant on American writers for British subjects. But there are some truly inspired pairings of writer and album: Mark Polizzotti, author of a biography of André Breton, on Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited; Erik Davis, author of Techgnosis, on Led Zeppelin IV; and former Bookforum editor Andrew Hultkrans.


MA D E IN

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design around the world

Balloon X Lamp

Taiwanese studio Haoshi Design have created the Balloon X Lamp, a wall-mounted lighting system which draws on the childhood memory of getting a balloon at a fair or amusement park. this simple moment brought temporary happiness to us in our young age. haoshi’s intention with this design is to represent hope and warmness, through the balloon shaped light’s form. People can simply pull the hanging cord to turn the balloon on or off.

Chidori Furniture

Chidori Furniture is a concept which arose from a collaboration between the east Japan project and Kengo Kuma+Associates. The after the earthquake that hit japan, many designers and craft artisans revisited past ideas and considered their possible effects on their modern way of living. Local craftsmanship and vernacular materials are essential to the emerging collection.

Chidori Furniture, is based on an old Japanese toy. The wood planks are connected through a joint system allowing them to stay together even without the use of nails or glue. One unit of furniture consists of twelve timber sticks with different junction details. Numerous combinations are possible for their assemblage, making it usable as a table, shelf, or even a wall.


MA D E IN Jewelry City

This installation was designed by Zbynek Krulich of Wearecreative for the Czech association of jewelers, UNOSTO, for their Prague Designblok 2011 presentation. The installation reflects the contours of an urban organism, clusters of buildings on the surface with engineered networks of the city underground. Jewelry City is composed of six modules organized into various groups. The frame, welded from steel sticks, spheres, and metal parts with each module created as a selfsupported space, accommodates several pieces of jewelry or small objects.

The Bubble Tank

A piece from the first product range from psalt design, a collaboration by British designers Richard Bell, thomas mckeown and david powell, based in sheffield, England, U.K. The organic and physical approach in the form of the aquarium is influenced by the quality of vision one has through water and

glass, even before psalt altered the concept of the standard tank. It is reminiscent of a drop of water, just about to run over an edge. The experience of the piece, that the delicate material could rest, lightly holding the corner of a stable force while remaining intact is wonderfully disorienting.

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MA D E IN

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design around the world

Subdivisions

Modeled after the iconic streetlamp common to every suburb and city, Subdivisions, designed by Atelier Takagi, is a table lamp constructed from blackened steel and concrete. Two arms extend from the central post and house one, three watt led light each. Named for the iconic song Subdivisions by rock band rush, the lamp will face a limited run of three pieces.

Market Research

Market Research, also designed by Atelier Takagi, an end table produced specifically for “New American Design” was a study and exploration of material, texture and finish. While very different in their forms, the three contrasting materials-venatino marble, white ash and enameled water-jet cut aluminum, fit together to create a harmonious and balanced object.

Redemption

Christopher Kurtz has created Redemption table for new york based manufacturer matter. A reference to the religious woodworking of the baroque and late middle ages, this lindenwood table upholds traditional values of craftsmanship with hand-carved hollow legs and funnel-shaped voids in its top. For reference, the designer studied the wood carvings of old masters tillman riemenschneider and gringling gibbons, for both their literary narratives and their techniques. “The exactitude of these carvings, paired with religious narrative, creates a powerful aura that I wanted to channel with this work,” Kurtz explains.


MADE IN

Beach House

Beach House at Edwards Point by Australian studio101architects incorporates an extension and renovation to an existing single storey holiday home. The design concept reflects the owner’s requirements of a sustainable, sensitive and delicate fusion of form and materials that would also nestle into the treed coastal environment. The completed project grasps the opportunity to sustainably reuse, recycle, rework and rehabitate the existing holiday home, maintaining the sentimentality of the existing form and materials, whilst providing a playful and exciting adaptation of the new programmatic requirements of a growing family.

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MA D E IN

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design around the world

Anemone

The Anemone lamp is packaged flat and expands into a flexible three-dimensional structure composed of connected four-wall cells which designed by Heath Nash. Anemone unzips to accommodate a protective metal sphere that serves as the lamp’s structural core. This safety feature turns the lampshade into a malleable, interactive piece that can be moved and manipulated.

Tokoloshe

Traditional magic and superstition have always formed an integral part of South Africa’s indigenous folktales, in which the Tokoloshe is a significant manifestation. Even today many rural and urban Nguni peoples, particularly the Zulu and Xhosa, still believe in the power of these mischievous and sometimes evil, hairy spirits. Interestingly though, the belief in these water sprites has spread to all cultures in

South Africa. Interestingly though, the belief in these water sprites has spread to all cultures in south africa. all over the country, black South Africans would often raise their beds by placing the legs of their beds on paint tins or bricks, raising their bed up to 3 feet from the ground. It is an almost universal belief, that this was to keep the occupant of the bed out of reach of the Tokoloshe while you sleep.


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BY JAY DIXIT

Interview w/

Paula Scher

PAULA SCHER is one of the world’s most famous graphic designers, known for creating Citibank’s umbrella logo as well as for design work for The Public Theater, The New York Times Magazine, the American Museum of Natural History, The New York City Ballet, and Herman Miller. She believes failure is the secret to artistic success. “You have to fail in order to make the next discovery,” says Scher.

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You have a whole philosophy about recovering from failure—how you can learn from failure and how it can actually help you. You’ve spoken about how failures and mistakes in your own work led to your current level of success and allowed you to be creative.

T

here are two different ways this thing works. I did a TED talk about the difference between serious work and solemn work. I define serious work as being where you make breakthroughs, and solemn work as doing the status quo and the level may be very good but it’s not breakthrough. There’s another factor — and I’m talking about this as a designer, but I imagine it would work in any form of the arts and to science. When you’re working and you make mistakes, particularly when you’re young, you make discoveries because you do things that are inappropriate and wrongheaded, but within the wrongheadedness you find an unexpected way to go. These things are truly the breakthroughs. When you’re fulfilling a function — when you’re being obedient, in other words, you’re doing as expected— you can’t learn anything. Because you already know the answer. It’s through mistakes that you actually can grow. You have to get bad in order to get good. You have to try a lot of things and fail in order to make the next discovery.

good.

And I will repeat it and repeat it until it provokes my utter failure because I’m going along doing exactly what I did. And it’s very hard to make the breakthrough because in order to make the breakthrough again, to go up again, you either have to fail or be unqualified for a job where you don’t know what you’re doing, where you make honest mistakes because that’s how you learn. And that success is its own guarantee of failure.

You have to get bad in order to get You have to try a lot of things and fail in order to make the next discovery.

That works in a short-term methodology when you’re just working on a specific project, but also long-term in terms of a whole career. I find I make big discoveries and I make huge leaps and then I repeat myself and I’ll be known for what I did— I’ll get the acclaim for the breakthrough— and that elevates everyone’s expectation of who I am and what I’m supposed to do, and I will repeat that because it has become successful.

So you’re saying that one of the ways that you experience failure is: Let’s say you make a breakthrough and you’re rewarded for it — by people praising it — and you repeat that same formula that worked for you and it gets stale after a while, and eventually that lack of innovation becomes regarded as a failure?

I

N MY TED talk, there’s actually a little cycle about it. It’s first being serious — that’s how you make the breakthrough— then being solemn (that’s when the breakthrough is expected), then being trite or hackneyed, and then being forgotten and then getting resurrected again. You go through that entire cycle, and the failure leads to the next reinvention — as long as you understand what’s happening to you. Some people grasp on some to try to repeat the old success. They feel, “Well, oh, I’m just not doing the old thing I did well,” and in fact you have to let go of that for a while and free fall and find the next thing.


The Public Theater, 95-96 Season, 60” x 45”, 1995

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What do you do in order to understand what’s happening to you and try not to grasp on to the old success?

T

hAT’S the “aha” part of it. The really hard part is to let go of yourself. You have to have the self-awareness that it’s happening, and you can’t be defensive and protect yourself. Like I find, the minute I see young kids doing something I really, really hate, I know I have to pay attention to them. Because I realize I really, really hate it because I’m defending myself.

NoTHINg IS TIMELESS!

I

’Ve been through so many styles and trends that have been like that. That’s your first reaction when you see something new that you aren’t part of. It’s a generational shift. I’m 60, I’ve been through this a lot. You never can do what the kids do. What you do is look at yourself and find your own way to address the fact that the times have changed and that you have to pay attention. You can’t be a designer and say, “Oh, this is timeless.”Nothing is timeless! Times change. The minute you say, “This is some fashion phase, I’m going to ignore this, because my work is timeless,” pay attention— you’re fooling yourself!

Times change. The minute you say, “This is some fashion phase, I’m going to ignore this, because my work is timeless,” pay attention— you’re fooling yourself!

Can you give an example of that?

What young designers do is they rebel against what came before them—meaning they’re rebelling against you. That’s what allows them to discover the next thing. They need that to propel them forward. So when they rebel and they rebel against you, that hurts your feelings. You feel threatened by it. When you feel threatened by it, you tend to denounce it. “Oh, these young kids today, they’re doing this terrible crap yada yada.” How many times have we heard that? What you’re doing is you’re not paying attention. You’re defending yourself. If you can embrace it and you can look at it and find the value in it and why it is here, then you can grow yourself, and you’re much stronger that way.


The Diva is Dismissed, 46” x 30 1/8”, 1994


Him, 46� x 30 1/8�, 1994

ion to it, you can.

Ask yourself, not working? g out like this? nd over again?


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WHY is thi WHY is my work comi WHY do I do the same thing over

You should pay atten and change the things When you’re in the midst of failure, are you always able to keep the long view and remember that a failure is going to lead you to greater successes later? Or have you ever felt discouraged and hopeless?

I

TALK about the conditions for making discovery. The first condition is that you’re young and arrogant, and you can’t do that later because then you know too much. That’s one way you begin to grow. I make an analogy to The Verdict, a movie with Paul Newman. He plays this down-and-out lawyer who was almost disbarred because he did something shameful in his past. He’s given this case, and it’s a malpractice case. The client is morally right. There’s all these reasons he can’t win the case. Finally he gets to the point. And he says, “This is the case. There are no other cases.” This is the moment. And at that point you know he can win the thing, because the focus is so strong, the determination is there, and the opportunity is there. The ball being pitched, he’s got to hit it out of the ballpark. You are in a state of desperation, and there can be that focus. And that’s another way to change. A third way to change is to accidentally, or even by your own manipulation, put yourself into a situation or a product where you’re a complete and total neophyte. Then you’re operating on an instinctive level and you can make discovery that way. The last way to do it — and I’m looking for a new way, I’ve done this many times — is to be so bored so senseless by what you’re been doing repetitively that it forces you to strike out in a new way.

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Do you try to shield yourself against reviews or do you seek them out to try to get more feedback?

T

HERE is a point where, if I read things about my work on a blog or some such thing, there’s always certain amount of value to it and there’s a certain amount of snark and mean. So I have to be able to know the difference. But I know that what’s problematic is that at a certain point when you’ve established — and lets face it, I’m just a graphic designer, there is no great thing here — but when you establish a certain level of success within your field, you’re a walking target. Because other people assume everything is easy for you, or that you don’t have to work as hard, or that you’re getting away with something. And yet, that becomes something you have to be acutely aware of so you’re not frivolous, so you continue to take the risks and prove yourself, not relying on your fame. You have to pay attention.

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DESIGNERS HAVE TRADITIONALLY FOCUSED ON

enhancing the look and functionality of products. Recently, they have begun using design tools to tackle more complex problems. Businesses were first to embrace this new approach called design thinking.


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BY Tim Brown Jocelyn Wyatt

IN

AN AreA OUTSIDe hYDerABAD, India, between the suburbs and the countryside, a young woman — we’ll call her Shanti— fetches water daily from the always-open local borehole that is about 300 feet from her home. She uses a 3-gallon plastic container that she can easily carry on her head. Shanti and her husband rely on the free water for their drinking and washing, and though they’ve heard that it’s not as safe as water from the Naandi Foundation-run community treatment plant, they still use it. Shanti’s family has been drinking the local water for generations, and although it periodically makes her and her family sick, she has no plans to stop using it. Shanti has many reasons not to use the water from the Naandi treatment center, but they’re not the reasons one might think. The center is within easy walking distance of her home — roughly a third of a mile. It is also well known and affordable (roughly 10 rupees, or 20 cents, for 5 gallons). Being able to pay the small fee has even become a status symbol for some villagers. Habit isn’t a factor, either.

Although Shanti can walk to the facility, she can’t carry the 5-gallon jerrican that the facility requires her to use. When filled with water, the plastic rectangular container is simply too heavy. The container isn’t designed to be held on the hip or the head, where she likes to carry heavy objects. He works in the city and doesn’t return home until after the water treatment center is closed. The treatment center also requires them to buy a monthly punch card for 5 gallons a day, far more than they need. “Why would I buy more than I need and waste money?” asks Shanti, adding she’d be more likely to purchase the Naandi water if the center allowed her to buy less. This flawed approach remains the norm in both the business and social sectors.

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The community treatment center was designed to produce clean and potable water, and it succeeded very well at doing just that. In fact, it works well for many people living in the community, particularly families with husbands or older sons who own bikes and can visit the treatment plant during working hours. The designers of the center, however, missed the opportunity to design an even better system because they failed to consider the culture and needs of all of the people living in the community. This missed opportunity, although an obvious omission in hindsight, is all too common. Time and again, initiatives falter because they are not based on the client’s or customer’s needs and have never been prototyped to solicit feedback. Even when people do go into the field, they may enter with preconceived notions of what the needs and solutions are. This flawed approach remains the norm in both the business and social sectors. As Shanti’s situation shows, social challenges require systemic solutions that are grounded in the client’s or customer’s needs. This is where many approaches founder, but it is where design thinking— a new approach to creating solutions— excels. Traditionally, designers focused their attention on improving the look and functionality of products. Classic examples of this type of design work are Apple Computer’s iPod and Herman Miller’s Aeron chair. In recent years designers have broadened their approach, creating entire systems to deliver products and services. Design thinking incorporates constituent or consumer insights in depth and rapid prototyping, all aimed at getting beyond the assumptions that block effective solutions. Design thinking— inherently optimistic, constructive, and experiential—addresses the needs of the people who will consume a product or service and the infrastructure that enables it.


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Design thinking taps into capacities we all have but that are over-looked by more conventional problem-solving practices. Not only does it focus on creating products and services that are human centered, but the process itself is also deeply human. sustainable) among individuals and families in the community who are already doing well.

Businesses are embracing design thinking because it helps them be more innovative, better differentiate their brands, and bring their products and services to market faster. Nonprofits are beginning to use design thinking as well to develop better solutions to social problems. Design thinking crosses the traditional boundaries between public, for-profit, and nonprofit sectors. By working closely with the clients and consumers, design thinking allows high-impact solutions to bubble up from below rather than being imposed from the top.

DeSIGN ThINKING AT WOrK Jerry Sternin, founder of the Positive Deviance Initiative and an associate professor at Tufts University until he died last year, was skilled at identifying what and critical of what he called outsider solutions to local problems. Sternin’s preferred approach to social innovation is an example of design thinking in action. In 1990, Sternin and his wife, Monique, were invited by the government of Vietnam to develop a model to decrease in a sustainable manner high levels of malnutrition among children in 10,000 villages. At the time, 65 percent of Vietnamese children under age 5 suffered from malnutrition, and most solutions relied on government and UN agencies donations of nutritional supplements. But the supplements — the outsider solution— never delivered the hoped-for results. As an alternative, the Sternins used an approach called positive deviance, which looks for existing solutions (hence

The Sternins and colleagues from Save the Children surveyed four local Quong Xuong communities in the province of Than Hoa and asked for examples of “very, very poor” families whose children were healthy. They then observed the food preparation, cooking, and serving behaviors of these six families, called “positive deviants,” and found a few consistent yet rare behaviors. Parents of well-nourished children collected tiny shrimps, crabs, and snails from rice paddies and added them to the food, along with the greens from sweet potatoes. Although these foods were readily available, they were typically not eaten because they were considered unsafe for children. The positive deviants also fed their children multiple smaller meals, which allowed small stomachs to hold and digest more food each day. The Sternins and the rest of their group worked with the positive deviants to offer cooking classes to the families of children suffering from malnutrition. By the end of the program’s first year, 80 percent of the 1,000 children enrolled in the program were adequately nourished. In addition, the effort had been replicated within 14 villages across Vietnam. The Sternins’ work is a good example of how positive deviance and design thinking relies on local expertise to uncover local solutions. Design thinkers look for work-arounds and improvise solutions— like the shrimps, crabs, and snails — and they find ways to incorporate those into the offerings they create. They consider what we call the edges, the places where “extreme” people live differently, think differently, and consume differently. As Monique Sternin, now director of

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the Positive Deviance Initiative, explains: “Both positive deviance and design thinking are humancentered approaches. Their solutions are relevant to a unique cultural context and will not necessarily work outside that specific situation.” As Albert’s experience shows, it’s critical that the people designing a program consider not only form and function, but distribution channels as well. One could say that the free nets were never intended for people like Albert — that he was simply out of the scope of the project. But that would be missing a huge opportunity. Without considering the whole system, the nets cannot be widely distributed, which makes the eradication of malaria impossible.

The OrIGIN OF DeSIGN ThINKING IDEO was formed in 1991 as a merger between David Kelley Design, which created Apple Computer’s first mouse in 1982, and ID Two, which designed the first laptop computer, also in 1982. Initially, IDEO focused on traditional design work for business, designing products like the Palm V personal digital assistant, Oral-B toothbrushes, and Steelcase chairs. These are the types of objects that are displayed in lifestyle magazines or on pedestals in modern art museums. By 2001, IDEO was increasingly being asked to tackle problems that seemed far afield from traditional design. A healthcare foundation asked us to help restructure its organization, a centuryold manufacturing company wanted to better understand its clients, and a university hoped to create alternative learning environments to traditional classrooms. This type of work took IDEO


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Design thinking, the integrated approach at the core of the design process, provides a third way.

from designing consumer products to designing consumer experiences. To distinguish this new type of design work, we began referring to it as “design with a small d.” But this phrase never seemed fully satisfactory. David Kelley, also the founder of Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (aka the “d.school”), remarked that every time someone asked him about design, he found himself inserting the word “thinking” to explain what it was that designers do. Eventually, the term design thinking stuck. As an approach, design thinking taps into capacities we all have but that are overlooked by more conventional problem-solving practices. Not only does it focus on creating products and services that are human centered, but the process itself is also deeply human. Design thinking relies on our ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, to construct ideas that have emotional meaning as well as being functional, and to express ourselves in media other than words or symbols. Nobody wants to run an organization on feeling, intuition, and inspiration, but an over-reliance on the rational and the analytical can be just as risky.

The design thinking process is best thought of as a system of overlapping spaces rather than a sequence of orderly steps. There are three spaces to keep in mind: inspiration, ideation, and implementation. Think of inspiration as the problem or opportunity that motivates the search for solutions; ideation as the process of generating, developing, and testing ideas; and implementation as the path that leads from the project stage into people’s lives. The reason to call these spaces, rather than steps, is that they are not always undertaken sequentially. Projects may loop back through inspiration, ideation, and implementation more than once as the team refines its ideas and explores new directions. Not surprisingly, design thinking can feel chaotic to those doing it for the first time. But over the life of a project, participants come to see that the process makes sense and achieves results, even though its form differs from the linear, milestone-based processes that organizations typically undertake.

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WROTE BY FU-CHIEH WU


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I doubt if designers have an easy time to explain design to their family and friends. As a graphic designer, i always found it to be a tough task. “So, you make logos, posters, and books. Um…how about a business card? Could you design one for me?” even though graphic design is something people easily associate with its artifacts, it is difficult to tell these same people about all the other work that we have done behind the final design outcome. Design is not just the beautification of artifacts. Originally, painting was the majority of my life before I came to the university. I chose industrial design as my major, with which I had a hard time to fit myself into the design world. Designing a product is totally different from creating an artwork. Fortunately, there is one thing linking industrial design with graphic design — concept. It comes down to why you create what you create. But, design is more. Especially for industrial design, it’s not only sketching on paper but also making the design three-dimensional. Learning how to do research, conduct surveys, narrow down the ideas, and design the appearance of a product are the paths for every project. The outcome is important. Of course, it’s what people see and notice. As students, sometimes we have a tentative outcome in our minds first, and then we cram the process with some research. On the contrary, sometimes we follow the path. The results, I found, are more authentic, practical, and engaging. What makes the difference? It’s the process.

W H AT I S D E S I G N ? In Tim Brown’s book Change by Design, there is one chapter where Brown discusses how designers have no process. The content is not how what it should look like. He basically describes the process as moving through three overlapping spaces: inspiration, ideation, and implementation. During the process, designers continuously swing between the stages of analysis and synthesis. To put it simply, designers assemble the research data, congregate ideas, and experiment with possible solutions. Brown’s theory can apply to different design fields such as architecture, industrial design, graphic design, and so on. The reason designers look like they have no process is because we are always making decisions. When an insight shows up, designers have to transform it into a workable proposal. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work all the time. For one project, designers would probably produce hundreds of solutions and pick one. There is indeed an opportunity to pick the first design as the final solution (but not very often.) However, in this scenario, it doesn’t mean the designer does less work. There might be hundreds of pieces left behind in order to prove the first one is the best. It sounds frustrating, but it’s the best way to decide the best idea out of many.

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In my senior year, I decided to depart from industrial design because I found I wasn’t as pasionate as I had been as a freshman. Instead, I planned to study abroad and major in graphic design, for which I always had great interest. I thought the design principles would vary from what I learned, but they didn’t. Surprisingly, the two disciplines share a lot of things in common. Graphic design is neither playing with Illustrator nor putting pretty things in a frame. Moreover, it is beyond the techniques.

BEYOND THE TECHNIQUES

What is beyond is so-called “design thinking.” Editor Thomas Lockwood defines the term in the book Design Thinking as “a human-centered innovation process that emphasizes observation, collaboration, fast learning, visualization of ideas, rapid concept prototyping, and concurrent business analysis, which ultimately influences innovation and business strategy.” This sentence mainly indicates the design methodologies, which designers utilize to solve problems, but the problems are not necessarily related to design. In other words, design thinking provides greater possibilities to resolve no matter what kinds of problems there are. A key word here is “human-centered design” because we are human, and the solution is also for humans. Therefore, to observe becomes an important part of the whole problem-solving process. Insights come from observations. To discover how people act unconsciously, to learn what people like recently, and to find out what problems exist are just a beginning. As soon as designers come up with ideas, they rarely make it to the final. So that’s why people are always bewildered about a designers’ job —What are they doing? They are thinking. Why do they spend so much time? They spend time on facing and dealing with failure. What does the result come from? ...Let’s see the process (which is complicated.)


There are some things for which machines cannot take the place of handicrafts. The warmth, earnestness, and unique qualities handmade works carry are more humanisticand organic.

So far, we talked about how much thought a work needs for its birth. Although the creative process is important, the design process focuses much more on the practical aspect — production, which is not as hard as design thinking for people to understand when they see a product. However, craftsmanship is another big world to explore. With diverse specialized professionals, designers have to work with them and figure out the best materials, manufactures, and countless details. A gorgeous product comes from its quality and value, which is in proportion to its details. Therefore, design is not a personal business. To produce a good design requires not only a good idea/ proposal, but also other specialists to collaborate. Nowadays, we live in a well-developed industrial culture. Everything that we produce is made by machines. Nevertheless, these are human operated machines. Designers have argued since the Industrial Revolution whether we should trust the machine and get rid of handicrafts. There are some things for which machines cannot take the place of handicrafts. The warmth, earnestness, and unique qualities handmade works carry are more humanistic and organic. As a receiver of a physical perception, the handiwork represents a treasure of creation; moreover, a tradition of a generation, which is facing extinction through mechanical merchandise.

CRAFTSMANSHIP & C O L L A B O R AT I O N Industrialization has been taking over traditions which we have developed hundreds or thousands of years ago. William Morris, an English writer, designer, and artist, foresaw the consequence of the Industrial Revolution and launched the Arts and Crafts Movement in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The objective is to advocate traditional craftsmanship by using decorative elements. And this idea had a huge impact on the D.I.Y. Movement, which we all familiar with, by providing an alternative to the mechanical modern culture. While its occurrence is too powerful to ignore, it doesn’t mean that the modern culture is inadequate, just that people need to retrace their lives. Going back to the idea of human-centered design, is design really beneficial to human beings? I have begun to think about this.


As people on earth are trying to solve the environmental problems, which are impossible to rely on one hero’s power, design thinking brings a massive power from each of us in the society.

Everything has its pros and cons. To think about design, what are those advantages and disadvantages that come along with? Designers try their best to resolve problems, yet at the same time, they lose the forest for the trees. With scientific technology, humans invented new materials and recombined genes in order to “make our lives better.” But is it true? Questioning is one of the essential keys for change. People should continuously throw questions, and really take a moment to think about it. The significant movements and rebellions gestated from a reaction to the current circumstances.

W H AT C O M E S A F T E R D E S I G N ? I have witnessed an upset moment— my effortful poster was tottering from the bulletin, and some of the fragments were flying on the sky. I didn’t have any thoughts at the moment, or I didn’t realize how impressive the scene was. Now, I feel it is a seed, which leads me to question the reproduction. To think deeper and wider, a new term occurred recently: sustainable design, or in other words, environmental design. The idea is that designers should take the responsibility of the birth of products. What does it cost? How is it produced? Where does it go after using it? And how does it affect the earth? Design suddenly extends to immeasurable questions. However, it’s not only a design problem. The earth is changing by its creation, humans. As a human being, what can we do to the earth? A lot of countries have taken actions and started to announce new policies. For example, England recently began working on their Waste Policy, which was supported by the government’s councils and businesses. Additionally, in the U.S., everyday one American generates about 3 to 4 pounds of solid waste, which is the highest rate in the world. Fortunately, Waste Prevention Strategies are also on their way now. Still, we are wasting our resources without thinking. The effect can only be seen if we have the same thoughts in mind. Not only designers, but we are all in the same boat.


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Richard Farson, a psychologist, states in the last page of his book The Power of Design: “This prestigious and continuing international forum could be composed of eminent leaders drawn from many fields, in rotating membership — the wisest, most experienced, open-mined and outstanding leaders in each of the design professions, of course, but also including distinguished scientists, artists, academics, public intellectuals, former government officials, university presidents and top CEOs — to examine the role of design in building a better world.”

DESIGN IN THE FUTURE

This is the reason why designers are introducing “design thinking” to their shareholders, business partners, and maybe to their family and friends. As people on earth are trying to solve the environmental problems, which are impossible to rely on one hero’s power, design thinking brings a massive power from each of us in the society. It is not about becoming a designer, but thinking like a designer. As soon as people start to discover problems, question the ordinariness, and want to do something to make it better, designers are not alone.

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Can Anybody Be a Designer By ALICE RAWSTHORN


WHAT DO THE FOLLOWING HAVE IN COMMON? The programming code for a computer virus? A bucket made out of a basketball? An inexpensive prosthetic leg? The logistical plan for a political protest in Cairo? A barcode illustrating a gorilla’s DNA? A cramped metal cage converted into a makeshift home?


THE ANSWER IS that they

are all identified as unsung examples of design in “Unnamed,” an exhibition running through Oct. 23 at the Gwangju Design Biennale in South Korea. Curated in absentia by the Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei, who was imprisoned during the final phase of research and banned from leaving China to participate in the installation, “Unnamed” explores the role of design in projects with which it would not traditionally have been associated. The

show argues that design is not solely the preserve of professional designers but can also be the work of scientists, activists, computer programmers, hackers and anyone else who applies ingenuity, originality, strategic thinking and other qualities that are indispensable to good design. The concept of design as a fluid, instinctive process, open to everyone, is increasingly popular. The thinking behind “open design” sounds sensible, as well as being generous and inclusive, but what are its implications? Is there anything to be gained by redefining things that have long been described, seemingly successfully, as scientific, political, technological or just plain resourceful as design? And could anything be lost by doing so?


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The word “design” has remained both a noun and a verb, and retained its original instinctive meaning, but has been used primarily in a commercial context. Historically, design was wholly fluid, instinctive and usually anonymous. The word “design” comes from the Latin verb “designare,” which meant to trace, describe and plan. But the process we now recognize as design was practiced long before, whenever prehistoric men and women sought to improve their surroundings: say by making a clay bowl to drink from, rather than cupping their hands. The first definition of “design” in the Oxford English Dictionary is dated 1548, as a verb meaning to “indicate” or “designate.” Nearly a century later, “design” was identified in a professional context as “a preliminary sketch for a work of art: the plan of a building, or part of it.” Since the start of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s, design’s professional role has expanded incessantly and numerous disciplines have surfaced: graphics, product, software, transport, multimedia and so on. The word

“design” has remained both a noun and a verb, and retained its original instinctive meaning, but has been used primarily in a commercial context. Over the years, a growing number of designers have objected to the commercial dominance of design. They argue that although commercialization has made design appear more important by giving it a particular status, it has also constrained it by limiting designers to designated roles. The same restrictions, or so they claim, prevent society from recognizing design’s potential to tackle substantial social, political and environmental challenges.

The maverick American designer-inventorarchitect-engineer R. Buckminster Fuller mounted this argument as long ago as the 1920s. Later he proposed the creation of a new genre of “comprehensive designer” charged with anticipating future needs and organizing resources for everyone’s benefit. Fuller also called for the years from 1965 to 1975 to be designated the “World Design Science Decade.” His plans didn’t quite come off (nor did his proposals for a floating city and flying car) but Fuller’s vision of a more meaningful role for design has endured. His influence is evident in “Massive Change,” a series of publications, exhibitions and debates begun by the Canadian designer Bruce Mau in 2004. Similar themes have since been explored elsewhere. The argument in favor of expanding the definition of design beyond its professional application is now broadly accepted (despite the efforts of a grumpy bunch of old-school design “professionals” to rebuff it) but to what end?

The benefit is that the anonymous designers of ingenious devices like the basketball-cum-bucket can finally be celebrated. It would seem churlish to ignore them, though I wonder how scientists and computer programmers feel about being hailed as “designers.” If not, “open design” risks seeming pointless. But the successful social design projects have proved that design can be useful in that field. And when it comes to scientific research, specialist knowledge is undoubtedly the most important factor, but the involvement of designers can help to identify constructive applications for the results. As for the food, will it be tastier if the cook is bolder and more imaginative? Not necessarily, but maybe.

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CO NT R I07

Tim Brown A CEO and president of IDEO. He frequently speaks about the value of design thinking and innovation to businesspeople and designers around the world. He participates in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and his talks “Serious Play” and Change By Design appear on TED.

DECEMBER 2011

William Bostwick

EDITOR IN CHIEF Fu-Chieh Wu

A freelance design writer, editor, and podcaster. His work has appeared in Metropolis, ARTnews, the Architect’s Newspaper, Dwell.com, and Good.

Brit Leissler Brit Leissler studied design at the KISD in Cologne as well as the CCA in San Francisco and has worked in communication & interface design for various companies in Germany and Switzerland before coming to London in 2005. Here she graduated 2007 from the Royal College of Art with a master degree in product design.

Emilie Baltz An international freelance designer and photographer. Her professional credits include work for the Vitra Design Museum, the IDSA, Wired Magazine, Time Out New York, The Royal College of Art, Oxford University Press, Pratt Institute.

ART DIRECTOR Joseph DiGioia MANAGING EDITOR Fu-Chieh Wu DIGITAL CONTENT EDITOR Fu-Chieh Wu DESIGN CONSULTANTS Julia Magid Qian Sun Craig Whitlock

CONTACT 515 East Charlton St. Savannah, GA 31401 912-272-3286 novis@gmail.com novismagazine.com WEB RESOURCE flicker.com designboom.com nytimes.com artstor.org adsoftheworld.com

Rob Blinn A meandering path to find design bliss. After spending an entire childhood making mashed potato skyscrapers and drawing on every surface in sight, he inexplicably majored in mathematics and economics at Brown.

PRINT RESOURCE Change by Design Tim Brown The Power of Design Richard Farson Design Thinking Thomas Lockwood, ed.


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DECEMBER 2011


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