Wednesday, 29 September 2010

not all whistles and bells

Professor Colin Burns from Martach visited last monday for a session entitled 'Social aptitude: conversations with real people.'
Colin spoke about the role of designers and the epiphany he had while watching Jamie Oliver’s school dinners TV programme – if ‘untrained’ people can design and make change, what use is a designer?  He suggested that since a designer makes the intangible visible and real, then we can give people the skills to manifest their ideas.  He showed us various methods and techniques to harness the knowledge and understanding that we have (we can never know everything because the world is changing faster than we can learn) and turn this into something tangible and useful. 
We watched a really interesting short video about IDEO (where he worked for 15 years)
which showed a multi disciplinary team working on redesigning the shopping trolley.  What was interesting was their approach which embodied the IDEO commandments of: 1. defer judgement  2. promote wild ideas  3. quantity of quality  4. build on others ideas 5. be visual.  What came across was that innovation comes from playfulness – when it is a given that no idea is a bad idea, people have the freedom to really go for it, and this can seed some really great ideas.  We had the opportunity to put this into practice in the afternoon and I found it really inspiring to see such a rapid progreesion from observations – ideas – prototypes.  As he said better to be quick, dirty and wrong than slow, perfect and late.
Oh and we had some amazing food at lunch…


Saturday, 18 September 2010

trees of knowledge

On Thursday we were invited to create our very own Tree of knowledge. Tom Inns and Fan Xia led a really interesting session to understand ourselves a bit better and to see where our new classmates interests and influences lie - another process to fast-track the exchange of information.

We were to think of the tree as a metaphor for ourselves - the roots delivering our nourishment and support; the branches representing our main questions, interests and obsessions; leaves for current projects; buds for potential projects and fruit/nut/berries to show the fruits of our labours. 

I personally loved this excercise.  I felt it gave me the opportunity to get a lot of what I sometimes feel are diverse interests mapped out in one place, and although my tree ended up looking more like some tangled, unruly bush I did feel more focused.

It was great seeing how diverse all the other trees were - you really couldn't get a better overview of the range of personalities and experiences that our new forest contains! The final stage in the process was pollination - we got to be bees and tagged themes/words/questions that others had in their trees - our points of common interest. This should hopefully lead to much fertile ground and bountiful collaborations!




Today we were interviewed by the ethnography students about our reasons for being here – our real reasons. Their brief was to draw out the deeper dreams and aspirations that motivate us through appropriate interviewing techniques.  In a very short time they had to move quickly from general ice-breaker questions (where do you live, what is your background), to more imaginative questions that would provoke more insightful answers.  After the interviews were finished we spent a short time discussing how we had found the experience, then we swapped roles. 

The next part of the afternoon saw us creating Dreamscapes: working quickly in teams to physically manifest something that could symbolise our dreams and experiences.  Ransacking the chaotic studio we grabbed anything we thought could be useful. Hmm...  just what can you make with a pile of rubbish bins and some party poppers? Overall I was moved by peoples motivations and felt the exercise had gone a long way in showing us what we have in common - very inspiring.


new beginnings

First day of the Master of Design programme and we’re standing at the brink; it’s just a question of whether we jump or wait for a shove. 

I was struck by how far some students have travelled to be here. And how much many are prepared to sacrifice. It was a refreshing view of the place where I have spent most waking hours over the past four years. So we had a whistle-stop tour of DJCAD – I really feel for students new to the building, after all this time here I can still get lost. We made ourselves at home in the new studio, said goodbye to the old cantina and hello to the new ‘streamlined’ service.

Together with our sister course Design Ethnography, we were introduced to some playful techniques to extract some juicy information about each other (or was that too much information?) The day ended with a fight over The Guardian that revealed the competitive nature of the students, though I think any injuries sustained were minor.