Tag Archives: Lessons

Toyota’s FT-4X concept learned the wrong lessons from the Honda Element experiment

The FT-4X is a playful generalist. Don’t pigeonhole it.

Continue reading Toyota’s FT-4X concept learned the wrong lessons from the Honda Element experiment

Toyota’s FT-4X concept learned the wrong lessons from the Honda Element experiment originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 13 Apr 2017 18:45:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink |  Email this |  Comments
Autoblog

Design Experience that Matters: Lessons Learned in Rapid Prototyping

The process of prototype fabrication is really a series of problem-solving exercises. Slot A suddenly refuses to accept Tab B, the beautiful CAD model reveals monstrous qualities when it emerges from the 3D printer, the Arduino code refuses to compile. We always find ourselves doing lots of just-in-time self-education, reading product manuals and watching YouTube HOWTO videos.

In brief, here are some of the most valuable lessons learned from our summer design sprint:

Vacuum Forming Polycarbonate

So many bubbles!  This bassinet is meant to be transparent.

Vacuum-forming clear quarter-inch thick polycarbonate sheets isn’t for amateurs! We milled molds out of stacked sheets of MDF (medium-density fiberboard), both to accommodate the limited z-height of the ShopBot CNC and to machine vacuum-channels in the middle layers. Before vacuum-forming, we had to bake the heavy polycarbonate sheets and the mold in a brick oven, or else it would develop thousands of little bubbles that made the material cloudy (see above). Unfortunately, the MDF molds took a beating from the hot polycarbonate, and after a few pulls, the polycarbonate started tearing chunks out of the mold. No mold lasts forever–even the hardened steel tools that LEGO uses for injection molding eventually wear out. Next time, we might skip MDF and instead cut a tool from the more expensive but more robust renshape.

Cleaning 3D Printed Parts

Parts from the 3D printer often come out of the machine with scratchy surfaces or other imperfections, for example marks left by the “raft” or other support material. We’ve learned that if you plan to sand the part to make it smooth and more aesthetically appealing, you are essentially committing to covering the sanded part with bondo and finishing paint. Sanded parts, especially those made from light-colored PLA, just seem to magnetically attract grubbiness. It might be skin oil from handling, smudgy whatever from dirty surfaces, but the part soon looks dingy. If you don’t have the time to sand, bondo, prime and paint, we recommend you remove the unwanted material with a chisel, blade or other scraper rather than sandpaper.

Working With Nichrome Wire

Enter the bare metal butt crimp

The Otter prototype was an opportunity to learn a lot about nichrome heating wire. Here’s the challenge: you want to establish an electrical connection with a wire that immediately heats up when you introduce a current. Soldering this kind of wire won’t work (solder melts when it gets hot). Automotive crimp connectors, which have plastic housings, don’t work (think: melting plastic). In the end, we learned that the best connectors involve mechanical clamping, for example a bare metal butt crimp (which sounds like an awesome band name), or a screw terminal.

Powering Arduino With A Buck Converter

We’ve powered countless little Arduino projects either (1) directly from the computer through a USB cable, (2) with a rechargeable lithium cellphone powerpack and a USB-B connector (Arduino Uno) or micro-USB connector (Arduino Micro), or (3) a 5V alkaline battery pack wired to the Vin pin.

For the Otter prototype, we needed the Arduino to control a relay that was sending 24V to the heater wires. It was easy to generate 24V using an off-the-shelf AC adapter power supply, but how could we also get 5V to power the Arduino without using a second power supply? Enter the humble and amazing buck converter–an inexpensive component that can efficiently generate an output of 3-12V given a 24V input. Presumably this is old hat to any electrical engineer. There exist countless varieties of “DC/DC step-down” or buck converters (ie Adafruit), so you ought to be able to find one that’s a perfect match for your project.

Cloud-Based CAD File Sharing

Autodesk’s cloud-based CAD server, called A360 (aka the web interface for Fusion360), is an amazing collaboration tool. We were able to generate CAD models on the big ThinkStation P910 desktop machines in the DtM studio, and then instantly open the same files on our ThinkPad P50 laptops when we were working at the CNC machine. Hooray for a cloud-storage system that actually works as advertised!

DON’T SHAVE THAT YAK!

Any kind of production rush can easily devolve into fun adventures in “yak shaving“: you were supposed to be testing the prototype thermal control system, and two hours later you find yourself wandering the aisles at Home Depot in search of T-handled allen wrenches.

HOWTO replace a lightbulb

_____________________________________

This “Design Experience that Matters” series is provided courtesy of Timothy Prestero and the team at Design that Matters (DtM). As a nonprofit, DtM collaborates with leading social entrepreneurs and hundreds of volunteers to design new medical technologies for the poor in developing countries. DtM’s Firefly infant phototherapy device is treating thousands of newborns in 21 counties from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. In 2012, DtM was named the winner of the National Design Award.


Core77

Lessons from the 2016 Core77 Conference

It’s no secret that Core77 throws the best design party of the year. For over 20 years, Core77 has been serving the design community online and our annual Core77 conference is an opportunity to bring the pages of Core77 to life through focused programming and a dialogue about the most urgent issues facing design practitioners Here/Now.

The 2016 Core77 Conference on design-led co-creation focused on three main themes—storytelling, human-centered design in the age of technology and lessons from startup culture—to explore the unique ways that designers are positioned to lead interdisciplinary teams to success. Even if you weren’t able to attend this year’s event, we’ve rounded up some key takeaways from this year’s roster of speakers for your pleasure. 

WORK WITH PURPOSE

“Pursue something so important that even if you fail the world is better off with you having tried.” – Dana Cho, Managing Director, IDEO

Yoko Sen’s “Sound Will” seeks to neutralize the aggressive sounds of hospital settings.

There is such a thing as a good death. The designers at IDEO recently embarked on an exploratory project to reimagine the end of life experience through their online, collaborative platform OpenIDEO. Dana Cho’s talk reminded us that no matter what the challenge might be, encouragement and wisdom can come from unlikely places and that the design process itself can be as transformative as the final product. Read more about Designing for Death in a conversation between Dana Cho and Dr. BJ Miller.

“Some free advice: design and build products that matter.” – Shana Dressler, Executive Director, 30 Weeks

The road of entrepreneurship is long and arduous but designers might be uniquely positioned to not only survive the journey but flourish post-launch. The 30 Weeks program was founded to incubate designers as they move from idea to launch and within just two years, 54 designers from 22 countries have received over $ 4 million in investment. Shana Dressler’s advice to design and build products that matter is sage advice for not only potential founders but for all designers. Read more about 30 Weeks in this case study with one of the program participants.

BUILD PLATFORMS NOT PRODUCTS

“Agile Product Development means designing a product as a service.” – Paul Sohi, Product Designer, Autodesk

As a product designer for a company that makes tools for designers, Paul Sohi is privy to a lot of interesting insights on the ways that designers are working now and more importantly, a person who actually shapes the ways that designers might work in the future. With his focus on digital fabrication and the ways that it is enabling new ways of making, Sohi is an evangelist for agile, circular, product development to create products as a service. This approach, Sohi argues, increases the lifetime value of that product.

“Be designers of mass communication, rather than designers of mass production.” – SWINE

The design and research practice of SWINE, a London-based collaboration between architect Azusa Murakami and artist Alexander Groves, highlights the ways that design can expand beyond the traditional boundaries of product. Their recent work is as much about creating fictional new worlds through design films as it is about materializing objects from that world to create new narratives and communicate new ways of working. Read more about Studio SWINE’s process here.

“Not creating an artifact or solution but a platform from which solutions can emerge.” – Jamer Hunt, Associate Professor, Parsons School of Design

In his opening keynote, Jamer Hunt proposed a new perspective on a systems-based approach to social innovation by questioning the efficacy of current top-down or bottom-up models. Noting that systems at different scales operate in unfamiliar and unpredictable ways, Hunt argued for designers to focus on creating open platforms that can catalyze collaboration from diverse stakeholders.

TEAM WORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK

“Human centered design is not enough. We need inclusivity and equality of ideation and activation.” – Antionette Carroll, Founder, Creative Reaction Lab

Similarly, design activist Antoinette D. Carroll proposed a new rubric for measuring success and impact, an approach she calls “The Table”—identifying the diverse stakeholders needed to create the most impactful, effective approach to some of the most challenging and layered social problems facing our communities today. Carroll’s Table includes:  

+ Social and Civic Sector – Macro issue experts 
+ Business Sector – Experts at Scaling
+ Designers – Experts at Problem Solving
+ Community Members – Living Experts

Each of the four sectors represents a critical part of the equation needed to propose and enact solutions for social impact.

“We need to allow people to share their emotions through the things they have created. Co-creation is about enabling people to achieve greater than they could do alone.” – Kudo Tsunoda, Vice President, Microsoft

Sharing his team’s approach to design research, Kudo Tsunoda took inspiration from actor Nic Cage and employed the “Method Acting” approach, taking his team to a boxing gym to prepare to design a boxing game and to a ski slope for a ski experience. This approach enabled designers to connect with the human experience, something that Tsunoda identified as powerful because of the way that experiences connect people to one another.

“Hybridization of different methods and solutions is the core to designing for refugees.” – Amro Sallam, Executive Director, Architects for Society

And with these thoughts, Sallam underscored the importance of designing for those who need it most—displaced peoples, many who are fleeing terrifying circumstances both environmental and political. Using the lessons learned from designing the rapidly deployable, self-constructed HEX house for refugees, the collective of architects that form Architects for Society proposed new housing solutions for low-income families in urban environments.

Even if you missed out on this year’s fantastic conference, no worries! We’ll see you next year in Chicago!!

SAVE THE DATE! The next Core77 Conference will take place in Chicago, October 2017!


Core77

Lessons from the 2016 Core77 Conference

It’s no secret that Core77 throws the best design party of the year. For over 20 years, Core77 has been serving the design community online and our annual Core77 conference is an opportunity to bring the pages of Core77 to life through focused programming and a dialogue about the most urgent issues facing design practitioners Here/Now.

The 2016 Core77 Conference on design-led co-creation focused on three main themes—storytelling, human-centered design in the age of technology and lessons from startup culture—to explore the unique ways that designers are positioned to lead interdisciplinary teams to success. Even if you weren’t able to attend this year’s event, we’ve rounded up some key takeaways from this year’s roster of speakers for your pleasure. 

WORK WITH PURPOSE

“Pursue something so important that even if you fail the world is better off with you having tried.” – Dana Cho, Managing Director, IDEO

Yoko Sen’s “Sound Will” seeks to neutralize the aggressive sounds of hospital settings.

There is such a thing as a good death. The designers at IDEO recently embarked on an exploratory project to reimagine the end of life experience through their online, collaborative platform OpenIDEO. Dana Cho’s talk reminded us that no matter what the challenge might be, encouragement and wisdom can come from unlikely places and that the design process itself can be as transformative as the final product. Read more about Designing for Death in a conversation between Dana Cho and Dr. BJ Miller.

“Some free advice: design and build products that matter.” – Shana Dressler, Executive Director, 30 Weeks

The road of entrepreneurship is long and arduous but designers might be uniquely positioned to not only survive the journey but flourish post-launch. The 30 Weeks program was founded to incubate designers as they move from idea to launch and within just two years, 54 designers from 22 countries have received over $ 4 million in investment. Shana Dressler’s advice to design and build products that matter is sage advice for not only potential founders but for all designers. Read more about 30 Weeks in this case study with one of the program participants.

BUILD PLATFORMS NOT PRODUCTS

“Agile Product Development means designing a product as a service.” – Paul Sohi, Product Designer, Autodesk

As a product designer for a company that makes tools for designers, Paul Sohi is privy to a lot of interesting insights on the ways that designers are working now and more importantly, a person who actually shapes the ways that designers might work in the future. With his focus on digital fabrication and the ways that it is enabling new ways of making, Sohi is an evangelist for agile, circular, product development to create products as a service. This approach, Sohi argues, increases the lifetime value of that product.

“Be designers of mass communication, rather than designers of mass production.” – SWINE

The design and research practice of SWINE, a London-based collaboration between architect Azusa Murakami and artist Alexander Groves, highlights the ways that design can expand beyond the traditional boundaries of product. Their recent work is as much about creating fictional new worlds through design films as it is about materializing objects from that world to create new narratives and communicate new ways of working. Read more about Studio SWINE’s process here.

“Not creating an artifact or solution but a platform from which solutions can emerge.” – Jamer Hunt, Associate Professor, Parsons School of Design

In his opening keynote, Jamer Hunt proposed a new perspective on a systems-based approach to social innovation by questioning the efficacy of current top-down or bottom-up models. Noting that systems at different scales operate in unfamiliar and unpredictable ways, Hunt argued for designers to focus on creating open platforms that can catalyze collaboration from diverse stakeholders.

TEAM WORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK

“Human centered design is not enough. We need inclusivity and equality of ideation and activation.” – Antionette Carroll, Founder, Creative Reaction Lab

Similarly, design activist Antoinette D. Carroll proposed a new rubric for measuring success and impact, an approach she calls “The Table”—identifying the diverse stakeholders needed to create the most impactful, effective approach to some of the most challenging and layered social problems facing our communities today. Carroll’s Table includes:  

+ Social and Civic Sector – Macro issue experts 
+ Business Sector – Experts at Scaling
+ Designers – Experts at Problem Solving
+ Community Members – Living Experts

Each of the four sectors represents a critical part of the equation needed to propose and enact solutions for social impact.

“We need to allow people to share their emotions through the things they have created. Co-creation is about enabling people to achieve greater than they could do alone.” – Kudo Tsunoda, Vice President, Microsoft

Sharing his team’s approach to design research, Kudo Tsunoda took inspiration from actor Nic Cage and employed the “Method Acting” approach, taking his team to a boxing gym to prepare to design a boxing game and to a ski slope for a ski experience. This approach enabled designers to connect with the human experience, something that Tsunoda identified as powerful because of the way that experiences connect people to one another.

“Hybridization of different methods and solutions is the core to designing for refugees.” – Amro Sallam, Executive Director, Architects for Society

And with these thoughts, Sallam underscored the importance of designing for those who need it most—displaced peoples, many who are fleeing terrifying circumstances both environmental and political. Using the lessons learned from designing the rapidly deployable, self-constructed HEX house for refugees, the collective of architects that form Architects for Society proposed new housing solutions for low-income families in urban environments.

Even if you missed out on this year’s fantastic conference, no worries! We’ll see you next year in Chicago!!

SAVE THE DATE! The next Core77 Conference will take place in Chicago, October 2017!


Core77

Lessons from the 2016 Core77 Conference

It’s no secret that Core77 throws the best design party of the year. For over 20 years, Core77 has been serving the design community online and our annual Core77 conference is an opportunity to bring the pages of Core77 to life through focused programming and a dialogue about the most urgent issues facing design practitioners Here/Now.

The 2016 Core77 Conference on design-led co-creation focused on three main themes—storytelling, human-centered design in the age of technology and lessons from startup culture—to explore the unique ways that designers are positioned to lead interdisciplinary teams to success. Even if you weren’t able to attend this year’s event, we’ve rounded up some key takeaways from this year’s roster of speakers for your pleasure. 

WORK WITH PURPOSE

“Pursue something so important that even if you fail the world is better off with you having tried.” – Dana Cho, Managing Director, IDEO

Yoko Sen’s “Sound Will” seeks to neutralize the aggressive sounds of hospital settings.

There is such a thing as a good death. The designers at IDEO recently embarked on an exploratory project to reimagine the end of life experience through their online, collaborative platform OpenIDEO. Dana Cho’s talk reminded us that no matter what the challenge might be, encouragement and wisdom can come from unlikely places and that the design process itself can be as transformative as the final product. Read more about Designing for Death in a conversation between Dana Cho and Dr. BJ Miller.

“Some free advice: design and build products that matter.” – Shana Dressler, Executive Director, 30 Weeks

The road of entrepreneurship is long and arduous but designers might be uniquely positioned to not only survive the journey but flourish post-launch. The 30 Weeks program was founded to incubate designers as they move from idea to launch and within just two years, 54 designers from 22 countries have received over $ 4 million in investment. Shana Dressler’s advice to design and build products that matter is sage advice for not only potential founders but for all designers. Read more about 30 Weeks in this case study with one of the program participants.

BUILD PLATFORMS NOT PRODUCTS

“Agile Product Development means designing a product as a service.” – Paul Sohi, Product Designer, Autodesk

As a product designer for a company that makes tools for designers, Paul Sohi is privy to a lot of interesting insights on the ways that designers are working now and more importantly, a person who actually shapes the ways that designers might work in the future. With his focus on digital fabrication and the ways that it is enabling new ways of making, Sohi is an evangelist for agile, circular, product development to create products as a service. This approach, Sohi argues, increases the lifetime value of that product.

“Be designers of mass communication, rather than designers of mass production.” – SWINE

The design and research practice of SWINE, a London-based collaboration between architect Azusa Murakami and artist Alexander Groves, highlights the ways that design can expand beyond the traditional boundaries of product. Their recent work is as much about creating fictional new worlds through design films as it is about materializing objects from that world to create new narratives and communicate new ways of working. Read more about Studio SWINE’s process here.

“Not creating an artifact or solution but a platform from which solutions can emerge.” – Jamer Hunt, Associate Professor, Parsons School of Design

In his opening keynote, Jamer Hunt proposed a new perspective on a systems-based approach to social innovation by questioning the efficacy of current top-down or bottom-up models. Noting that systems at different scales operate in unfamiliar and unpredictable ways, Hunt argued for designers to focus on creating open platforms that can catalyze collaboration from diverse stakeholders.

TEAM WORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK

“Human centered design is not enough. We need inclusivity and equality of ideation and activation.” – Antionette Carroll, Founder, Creative Reaction Lab

Similarly, design activist Antoinette D. Carroll proposed a new rubric for measuring success and impact, an approach she calls “The Table”—identifying the diverse stakeholders needed to create the most impactful, effective approach to some of the most challenging and layered social problems facing our communities today. Carroll’s Table includes:  

+ Social and Civic Sector – Macro issue experts 
+ Business Sector – Experts at Scaling
+ Designers – Experts at Problem Solving
+ Community Members – Living Experts

Each of the four sectors represents a critical part of the equation needed to propose and enact solutions for social impact.

“We need to allow people to share their emotions through the things they have created. Co-creation is about enabling people to achieve greater than they could do alone.” – Kudo Tsunoda, Vice President, Microsoft

Sharing his team’s approach to design research, Kudo Tsunoda took inspiration from actor Nic Cage and employed the “Method Acting” approach, taking his team to a boxing gym to prepare to design a boxing game and to a ski slope for a ski experience. This approach enabled designers to connect with the human experience, something that Tsunoda identified as powerful because of the way that experiences connect people to one another.

“Hybridization of different methods and solutions is the core to designing for refugees.” – Amro Sallam, Executive Director, Architects for Society

And with these thoughts, Sallam underscored the importance of designing for those who need it most—displaced peoples, many who are fleeing terrifying circumstances both environmental and political. Using the lessons learned from designing the rapidly deployable, self-constructed HEX house for refugees, the collective of architects that form Architects for Society proposed new housing solutions for low-income families in urban environments.

Even if you missed out on this year’s fantastic conference, no worries! We’ll see you next year in Chicago!!

SAVE THE DATE! The next Core77 Conference will take place in Chicago, October 2017!


Core77

Rags2Riches Lessons for Social Impact Entrepreneurs

Looking around, many of us see issues that we feel should be taken care of. It can vary from wicked problems like climate change to smaller—yet important—issues such as garbage on the streets to common courtesies on the street.

But the issue with systemic problems both large and small is that many of us notice things and do nothing about it. We tend to believe that there’s someone else who should take responsibility or that we have little power to change things.

Like the Mijeno siblings, the Filipino founders of SALt, a lamp that runs on salt and water, Reese Fernandez-Ruiz and her husband encountered an issue that they decided to tackle themselves. In 2007, Fernandez-Ruiz and a group of collaborators created an opportunity for women who were weaving scrap fabrics into rugs. Seeing that many of the women were being exploited for their labor, Fernandez-Ruiz decided to do something. She founded the social initiative and company Rags2Riches, a company that turns upcycled scrap materials into beautiful bags designed by respected designed in the Philippines and produced by artisans from some of the poorest areas of the Philippines.

In this interview I speak to Fernadnez-Ruiz,  about RIIR, and the 8 years it has taken them to get to where they are today:

Moa Dickmark: What first sparked the idea to start Rags2Riches?

Reese Fernandez-Ruiz: Do you keep track of how many social problems you see everyday and how many of these disturb you enough to make you want to change it? We had that experience around 7 years ago when we visited one of the biggest urban poor communities in the Philippines. We met fantastic artisans (mostly women & mothers) who were weaving mats and panels. They worked so hard but got so little because they did not have access to raw materials or the market. They did not have the opportunities or tools to participate fairly in the economy so they became trapped in a system of unfair trade. When we saw this situation, we were so disturbed and thought that we should do something about it in a sustainable way—which is to build a very inclusive business that creates value for and with them.

Many of us see issues that we feel like we want to do something about on a daily basis, but going from idea to action is difficult. How did you take that step?

I completely understand this! Sometimes the problems of the world or even just our immediate community seem too big for us to solve. So we either let them be and accept them, or hustle hard to do something about them. So it was absolutely challenging! I’m not even going to downplay that. When we first saw the social problem in the first community we served, it did feel big, serious and life-altering. But what made us take the first step is the thought that we can take one step, and then another, and then another. The social problem was urgent and we knew that we had to create positive change as fast as we possibly can. But at the same time, “one step at a time” is a lot faster than no step at all.

What was the very first step you took as to start the RIIR?

The very first step in starting R2R: ENGAGE. It is tempting to make a business plan, feasibility study, or market research right away (and these will be done at some point), but without proper community engagement and building of trust, any enterprise will be built on weak foundation. As a social enterprise with an expressed intention of creating positive impact, building trust is not a nice-to-have, it is the most important foundation.

If engage is the first step, which would you say are the most important elements as to be able to do this on a deeper level and create a good foundation for a social enterprise?

Build trust, be with the communities, unlearn and really be open to learning from the communities. The usual development models and academic books do not cover what’s really happening on the ground. Be prepared to unlearn, be open and be surprised!

What do you mean with “unlearn”, and why is it so important?

We have so many things that we think we know and we stick to them and tend to impose on others, especially those we are trying to “help” or partner with. We live in a complex world and can’t put real lives in labeled boxes. If we come into a community with an open mind and the bravery to not be the “smart one”, we’ll be more effective. We won’t just create change in the community, we’ll create change in ourselves too.

Building trust is not a nice-to-have, it is the most important foundation.

There most have been a few turning points in the history of R2R. Which ones would you say are the most important ones and why?

There are lots of turning points for sure, this journey has been made of turning points actually. I think when you are starting something different, without a set roadmap, you’ll find surprises and challenges along the way. I must say that though our journey is filled with turning points, I could identify three big ones: the time when we partnered with our first designer (Rajo Laurel) who reimagined our artisanal products and engaged with us so generously; the time when we established our community livelihood model; and the time we ventured into retail. These turning points represents the three pillars that we had to be really good at in order to build this fashion and design house that empowers community artisans: design, community engagement, and sustainable market access.

When talking about R2R, you always talk about the company and everyone involved as a unit. If you can give any advice to other leaders as to create a company or organization that is based on the foundation of equality and unity, what would that be?

Yes! The world is somewhat fascinated with self-made people and personalities, and it is understandable. Stories are much more tangible if they are personal. However, the most sustainable companies that stand the test of time are those that are strong in values and culture—and while an individual can contribute to these, it takes a team of stakeholders to truly build these companies.

It is easy to get lost in personal achievement and think of awards as ends in themselves. It takes a really strong WHY to stay the course or go back on course. My advice is to have a very strong WHY that is beyond yourself, beyond your organization, beyond material things and beyond the present. This is what you will hold on to through failures, challenges and successes—basically all the stages one can get lost in.

What is your definition of a social enterprise? And is this how you define R2R?

There are so many schools of thought on the definition as it is, but it is still a relatively young concept & industry. The definition that stuck to me is that it is a scalable and sustainable solution to a social problem, using the principles of business. Our mission is consistent with this definition but we also believe that businesses (with or without the label) can do the same when they are intentional about it.

Early on, we have identified ourselves as a social enterprise because we wanted to be held accountable by ourselves, our communities, and stakeholders. We declared our social mission so that we don’t just have the moral responsibility to uphold it, we also have the public duty to do so. But at the same time, we strongly believe in the social good and social value that everyone can create when given the chance, the best practices, and even a little bit of the roadmap. We want to contribute to this bigger movement, and help make “social enterprise” an inclusive principle and not a box.

And before we end this interviews, can you please tell us a few Do’s and Don’ts in regards to socially conscious businesses?

Do’s – be authentic at all times, remember that transparency is a good thing, have a compelling WHY, and make your long-term social good vision your focal point

Don’ts – don’t get lost in the glitz and glamour of “doing good.” The results are not in there. Don’t use up your time just talking about what you do and sacrifice the time to actually doing it. And lastly, don’t give up without a fight. Awesome, world-changing things take time (no, not 3 years), a lot of effort, and grit.


Core77

Bring Candy! 5 Transformative Lessons from the 2015 Core77 Conference

Hosted in downtown Los Angeles, the second annual Core77 Conference celebrated many facets of design with the theme, Designing Here/Now. An exploration of the spaces between design disciplines where today’s most impactful work is taking place, this year’s speakers are changing the very definition of designer. Organized around four central ideas—collaboration now, making now, business now and the future now—the conference was a deep dive into what it means to be creating impactful work in today’s competitive landscape. 

The speakers presented groundbreaking projects and incredible ideas over the course of the day (check our #Core77Con15) in the dramatic setting of the Vibiana, a former catholic cathedral in the heart of downtown LA. Even if you weren’t able to join us for this year’s event, here are five transformative lessons designers can put into practice today. 

Storytelling 101: Bring Candy!

Storytelling will become even more critical in the age of co-creation and interdisciplinary practice. 

 Jessie Kawata of NASA JPL working on prototypes for mission design.

In Jessie Kawata’s presentation about design thinking for space exploration, the creative strategist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory shared how fundamental tools of design like asking the “what and why” can help engineers and scientists connect ideas and problem solve. In one example, Kawata led a workshop with NASA scientists asking them to prototype ideas for space missions using materials from the 99 cent store. Besides the wonders of pasta propulsion and coffee filter parachutes, the biggest learning from the exercise was that these storytelling opportunities provided a venue for new ideas to be born. Prototyping with mundane objects meant that the scientists weren’t as attached to their ideas spurring a brainstorm of far out ideas that could just lead to the next mission innovation. (How did she get these rocket scientists to participate? “Candy helps.”)

[Editors Note: For more on design thinking and science, read Jessie Kawata’s post, “Is Design Thinking Rocket Science?”]

Sly Lee, a marine scientist, shared the value of the world’s coral reefs as well as the challenges facing ocean ecologies. Communicating the urgency of these challenges continues to be a huge hurdle for the scientific community. The Hydrous was founded to, “Make scientific data sexy!” Lee declares. Through 3D imaging tools, The Hydrous is now able to map and 3D print models of coral reef, creating better data sets for scientists to chart growth and development while providing better storytelling tools for the public. By engaging technology, citizen scientists and the scientific community, The Hydrous is working to create open access oceans and storytelling is a key component in accomplishing this mission.

Sly Lee’s full presentation for Designing Here/Now

People First

Whether through a community-driven design practice or working on your most important design project (yourself), putting people first in the age of technology can sound pretty radical. 

Attendees sketching their heroes as part of Ayse Birsel’s first exercise for designing the life you love.

The award-winning product designer Ayse Birsel introduced her newest work, a book and workshop that applies her human-centered design practice to life’s biggest project—the Self. Design the Life You Love is about creating meaning and purpose through a series of exercises that form the basis of Birsel’s client work. Birsel’s book and workshop shift the familiar tenets of human-centered design to a self-centered design practice which can be both empowering and transformative.

Process video for manufacturing Brendan Ravenhill’s Grain lamp shade in Los Angeles.

Brendan Ravenhill gave the audience a glimpse at what it means to be a designer-manufacturer in Los Angeles. The lighting and furniture designer often works with local manufacturers to produce his work and he argues that the link between the two is more important than a passing trend. “The new designer-maker movement is helping to fill the void of manufacturing jobs going overseas,” Ravenhill explains. By putting people first, designers working with local manufacturing in turn supports local economies and allows for a type of co-creation that is beneficial for both parties. Ravenhill’s Grain pendant is a prime example of how manufacturing locally can allow for a complexity that wouldn’t be able to be achieved by working remotely.

[Editor’s Note: Read the Core77 Questionnaire with Brendan Ravenhill on switching from boat building to industrial design, working in Los Angeles and how his bottle opener jump-started his business.]

Whereas Ravenhill’s community is driven by production and economics, the fiber artist and designer Tanya Aguiñiga defines community in a broader sense, placing it at the center of her work. Whether its in her woven installations and the relationship with a viewing public (see “Crossing the Line” where she transforms a gallery space into a loom) or in the physical interactions of her felting interventions, Aguiñiga’s work explores her own identity and a connection to a broader community—mothers, outsiders, multinationals, women. Designers of all disciplines can learn much from her “craft-centered, local problem solving,” approach and the ways that it has not only transformed her work but also the people around her.

[Editor’s Note: Read the Core77 Questionnaire with Tanya Aguiñiga on designing outside your own reality and using craft as a way to diversify conversations in society.]

Models of Impact workshop led  by Matthew Manos and verynice.

“What if everyone in the world lived to create a model of impact?” Matthew Manos of the global design consultancy verynice, asks the audience. “What if the $ 8 billion nonprofits spend on design services could be spent on serving the cause?” Manos has inspired a movement with #GiveHalf, his business case for giving away half your work away for free by taking on probono nonprofit clients. By building in a probono strategy into a consultancy’s workflow, “your capacity for projects can grow while your fixed costs stay low,” Manos explains. If the success of verynice is any indication, putting people first can be transformative not only for the client, but for the consultancy as well. 

[Editor’s Note: Read the Core77 Questionnaire with Matthew Manos on Giving Away Half Your Work for Free.]

Mickey McManus rang the alarm in his first book, Trillions, where he described a state of, “unbounded, often malignant, complexity.” In his talk, he argued for a “people first” approach as we design the future. Instead of designing an Internet of Things, McManus argues for a “community of things” that can be agile in a rapidly shifting environment. “How does design need to change?” in an age where the intersection of machine learning, digital manufacturing and feedback loops from the Internet of Things demands new and dynamic systems.

Design ecosystems, not products.

As technology and design merge to create complex, more connected and adaptive products, it is more critical to design ecosystems that enable users to create new interactions.

The market is flooded with smart, connected devices that rely on what Mickey McManus, also an Autodesk fellow, identifies as a sea of information. “We’ll have to try to create symbiosis between [products]…this will be more like growing a garden or raising children rather than like building products, houses and factories.” Being a designer will mean co-creating ecosystems where machine intelligence, data and connectivity must be harnessed.

Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group and Levi’s are a great example of the potential for co-creation. The two American companies have partnered to develop Project Jacquard, a system for weaving connected, touch-sensitive textiles, into a commercially-viable denim garment. “Project Jacquard creates a new ecosystem of open source garments,” Paul Dillinger, Vice President of Global Product Innovation at Levi’s underlined in his talk. “It is not a gadget, it is a platform that adds value in a world of fast fashion.”

NewDealDesign’s Project Underskin.

Gadi Amit’s presentation on technology design took a more concrete approach to designing ecosystems. In his work with wearables, Amit is already creating customized technologies that draw from complex systems of information. Project Underskin, is a new kind of “wearable”—a sensor embedded under the skin that is designed to interface between the body and external cues from the environment or other people.

[Editor’s Note: Read the Core77 Questionnaire with Gadi Amit on assimilating technology into society, being ‘a very actionable guy,’ and his favorite productivity trick.]

Sochi Olympic fountain designed by WET 

Nadine Schelbert, director of design and branding at WET Design gave a powerhouse presentation that shared how their consultancy own every aspect of designing and manufacturing water features for their clients. From precision engineering, custom built simulation software, manufacturing custom designed hardware, Schelbert explained that designing a water feature means designing space, form and performance. “Owning the design, systems, hardware and software development and build give us creative freedom and pushes boundaries,” Schelbert told the audience. The workings of WET’s interdisciplinary design practice is a great case study for developing robust ecosystems of the near future.

MAYA: Most Advanced Yet Acceptable

Raymond Loewy’s principle of “Most advanced yet acceptable,” continues to be a guiding touchstone for designers. In our current age of rapidly shifting paradigms and new technologies, the concept of MAYA can help navigate some of the more thorny ethical and business questions posed to designers today. 

Can collaboration be competitive? Core77 contributor and vice president of design at Sonos, Tad Toulis, made the case for creating an internal culture that encourages designers to “challenge assumptions and push people” in order to deliver something truly good. In a 2011 essay for Core77, Toulis made, “The Case for Competitive Competition,” and at this year’s Core77 Conference he revisited the idea and reminded the attendees of the power of deep engagement, prototyping ideas, embracing ambiguity, pushing people and most of all, humility. “Explain, explain, explain,” Toulis encourages. “Maybe you’ll find what the project is REALLY about instead of what you thought it was about.”

Tesla Model S, 2013

In Javier Verdura’s talk with CARLAB’s Eric Noble, the Tesla director of product design reiterated the importance of balancing advanced technologies with the demands of business and consumer expectations. Unique to the industry, Tesla positions itself as both an automotive manufacturer and an energy storage company. The responsibility of the designer is delivering on the brand promise of a luxury, forward-thinking vehicle while also honoring the vision of its founder, Elon Musk. “When people hear the Tesla brand,” Verdura explains, “they already think, ‘That is so cool.’ My goal is for them not to be let down by anything else they touch.”

Teddy Ruxpin designed by RKS
Belkin Charge Dock for Apple Watch + iPhone by Pip Tompkin Studio

Pip Tompkin (Pip Tompkin Studio) and Ravi Sawhney (RKS Design) discussed the business of running an ID consultancy with Core77 contributing writer Rebecca Veit. In their wide-ranging conversation, the two industry veterans discussed the delicate dance between clients and consultancy. On one hand, the business world, “understand the value of design,” Sawhney told the audience. “They know they need design, they just don’t know how to get there.” On the other hand, “design encourages risk,” Tompkin cautioned. Oftentimes risk-adverse business can be “truly frightened by design.” Savvy consultancies must balance the demands of the client, hire balanced interdisciplinary teams and stay ahead of the market to thrive in this environment. Loewy’s axiom seems especially prescient in today’s competitive landscape.

Think Wrong

Unconventional ways of thinking and problem solving are extremely valuable (and can be taught) in a fast-moving and agile market.

John Bielenberg is a pioneer in social impact design. Since founding Project M, a program to engage young designers in social impact work, Bielenberg has gone on to form COMMON, the world’s first collaborative brand, with Alex Bogusky and more recently the Silicon Valley innovation firm Future Partners. In his years of experience working with young designers and entrepreneurs, he’s come to the conclusion that “thinking wrong” is the fastest track to finding ideas that matter and Future Partners is on a mission to share and teach the thinking wrong methodologies. The six tenants of the process include:

• Be Bold
• Get Out
• Let Go
• Make Stuff
• Bet Small
• Move Fast

Website for Kenzo x Blue Marine Foundation by OKFocus
NJ(LA)

If Bielenberg’s success isn’t convincing, the conversation between Ryder Ripps (OKFocus) and Nicole Jacek (NJ(L.A.)) offered a glimpse into the unconventional methodologies their consultancies use for creating powerful work for companies like Nike, Red Bull, Kenzo, Good Magazine and Adobe. “There is a lot of room to divert from the template,” Ripps responds when asked about the work being labelled weird. “Being ‘weird’ is survival.” Jacek’s work relaunching GOOD magazine has helped reposition the beloved publication and online community for a new print audience that is fluent in the language of digital culture. She notes that a number of corporations are taking cues from agencies like hers by establishing internal departments dedicated to trying new things. 

Thanks to everyone who made Designing Here/Now a huge success! For more information and scenes from the conference, check out the full Core77 Conference 2015 photo gallery!


Core77