“The era of product design as practiced by a small band of gurus in Milan, London, Munich and New York is long gone. There are now thousands of competent product designers around the world able to ‘give good form.’ Design as ‘styling’ or ‘form-giving’ has become commoditized, and competing at this level is already a tough low-margin slog. While those hide-bound by the past batten down the hatches, the wise remember that change throws up opportunities as well as challenges.
If we shed the blinkers and see the world differently there are many positive shifts, like the mainstreaming of design in business and the public sector, which offer glimpses of a chance to drastically expand the frontiers of design. A good place to start is by taking a wider view of our know-how.”
“At the moment, we are seeing an explosion of Device Art activity emerging in Japan, with new artwork appearing in such mainstream channels as electronics catalogs and department stores. In the U.S., however, the Device Art landscape is somewhat bare. One would think that the public’s voracious appetite for gadgets, combined with the creative community’s growing discontent with formulaic, brand-obsessed corporate design would solidly set the stage for this discipline to become a strong cultural force in the U.S., yet it seems relegated to museum boutiques and the back rooms of hipster Japanese toy stores. What gives?”
ID Strategy Conference Review by Nico Macdonald
Nico Macdonald provides a super-detailed review of this year’s Institute of Design Strategy Conference from Chicago, divided up his review into “Reduction,” “Reactions” and “Reflection.”
“Apple and Steve jobs are a great example of not so much user-centered design but CEO-centered design,” quipped Patrick Whitney, Director of the IIT Institute of Design in Chicago. Soft-spoken Whitney was setting up the program for the Institute’s annual Strategy Conference he chairs, which took place this past May, and which has become the key English-speaking forum for discussing and investigating the new relationships emerging between design and business. Formally the Strategy Conference is an ‘international executive forum addressing how businesses can use design to explore emerging opportunities, solve complex problems, and achieve lasting strategic advantage.’ In person, Whitney captures its goal more succinctly and engagingly. It is about ‘Where to play and How to win.’
Design and Poetry by Xanthe Matychak
Xanthe Matychak investigates what designers can learn from poetry, providing some inspiring tricks toward innovation and some real-world examples.
“What I fear about empirical research—research based purely on observation—is that it doesn’t recognize a deep context. So when designers ask questions like, how do we “design a device where incoming communications are noticed 100% of the time?” we are assuming that people need to notice them 100% of the time. We don’t take into account how rapidly changing technologies have constructed consumer preferences for the faster, the smaller, and the newer. And when we make conclusions based simply on observation, we are jumping too quickly to tech-driven answers. If we designers can, instead, open ourselves up beyond research findings to the practice of reflection, then we can ask deeper questions and discover more meaningful, long-term solutions.”