Archive for April, 2012

Turning things upside down

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Photograph by Paul Eekhoff. Design by Herrainco for Methanex Corp.
Photograph by Paul Eekhoff. Design by Herrainco for Methanex Corp.

I’ve had a few paradigm shifts happen of late. Clients have called me, just for my opinion. Not about design. About stuff — their businesses, their thinking, their strategy.

This is what I like about my profession and what I continue to beat the drum about regarding design. It’s a thinking profession, not an art profession. True, designers make beautiful things, but that’s largely the given part of it. Anyone with a lick of talent can make something pretty, but not everyone can make something meaningful. To make something meaningful, you have to know things about the thing you want to make meaningful. But most importantly, you need to know what is meaningful to the people you’re talking to.

That nexus of meaning is where design thinking lives. And again, it’s not about the “design” thinking you think it is. If you are 99% of the world, you think design thinking is about choosing a typeface, images, colour and/or making a sketch of a chair or an aerodynamic bicycle to make a cool looking thing, preferably as “of the moment” as possible. Wrong.

Design thinking is turning problems upside down. It’s about asking why, why and WHY. Design thinking is something anyone who cares to do it can use. Business, students, scientists, doctors, receptionists….You can make any wicked problem (yes, that is a link to the Harvard Business Review, because design thinking is a strategic business tool) more surmountable by challenging assumptions. As human beings, we’re comfortable with assumptions. They’re quick, supported by the vast majority and make us feel secure. But they’re generally a straight path to the banal and predictable, which means status quo. You stay stuck. You don’t grow. You don’t get any better than “okay”.

You don’t need to be a daredevil of a risk taker to do this. Back up, back WAY up. Look at the problem from far away. Take someone with you. What do they see? Take a picture. Make it black and white. Make it colour. Cut it into pieces and put it together another way. This is what I love to do. It’s what makes us a good consultancy. You can do it, too, but you need to start challenging yourself to turn things upside down.

Andrew Zuckerman’s Thoughts on the Creative Process

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Those of you who know me know that I’m fascinated by design process as it pertains to life in general. We all have profound skills to gain by understanding how designers go about their work.

I am a HUGE fan of photographer and film maker Andrew Zuckerman. I love his work. I am also captivated by the restrained design of David Meredith who uses Helvetica the way it was mean to be used. I was flipping around in my RSS feed today and stumbled on this great Zuckerman talk for 99%. Any of my students, clients or friends who want a bit of insight into how “stuff” gets done by designers might learn a lot here. Just like the 99% says, it’s 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Or to quote Chuck Close, “Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work”. Our work might seem like sleight of hand or magic, but what it really is is blood, sweat and tears, often while others are working exceptionally hard to ruin the outcome.

Our Celebration of the Life of Ray Hrynkow, Video

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Ray Hrynkow Celebration of Life April 1, 2012