Design Transitions Book is OUT

October 10th, 2013


I am very excited to announce that the 2 year project with Emma Jefferies and Lauren Tan has finally come to fruition. It started as the Design Transitions project and have now become the Design Transitions book. We have collected an amazing array of 42 (a magic number of course) stories from designers, design academics and design champions in non-design organisations to help us tell the story of how design is changing. The book is already available in The Netherlands, from the Publisher’s website. It will be available in the UK on the 16th of October and on pre-order on various online sites such as Amazon UK and US. There is  42 page extract of the book on ISSU as well.

I would like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to our generous contributors who have given up their time to share their stories with us. Not to mention, it has been a pleasure working with Emma and Lauren, and the one lesson (of many that I will take away from this project) is that to always work with people you like! Duh — pretty obvious but unfortunately does not happen often enough. Below is a brief summary of the book and also the list of contributors involved.

Book Sypnosis
Design Transitions presents 42 unique and insightful stories of how design is changing around the world. Twelve countries are represented from the perspectives of three different communities: design agencies, organizations embedding design; and design academics. The range of design disciplines covered include Design Innovation, Service Design, Social Design, Products Futures & Design Art.

We have an amazing list of contributors and practices sharing their stories. Here is the full list:
Droog / BERG / Superflux / PHUNK / Fjord / live|work Brazil / User Studio / WorkPlayExperience / thinkpublic / FutureGov / We Are What We Do / Snook / Uscreates / STBY / Hakuhodo Innovation Lab / DesignThinkers Group / Idiom / INSITUM / Optimal Usability / frog Asia / designaffairs Shanghai / Claro Partners / Asilia / Zilver Innovation / Ziba

Novabase / ISVOR / Radboud REshape / InWithFor & The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) / Minas Gerais Office of Strategic Priorities

Robert Young / Tom Inns / Banny Banerjee / Paul Rodgers / Mike Press / Lucy Kimbell / Carlos Teixeira / Ezio Manzini / Cameron Tonkinwise / Andrea Siodmok / Xin Xiangyang / Adam Greenfield

Design Transitions Project

December 21st, 2011

I am currently working on a project with Emma Jefferies (@dremmajefferies), ’Design Transitions’ which seek to capture and share inspirational stories of how design companies practices are evolving. We are on the hunt to capture new and untold stories from across the globe in order to compile it into a book. We are looking for practices who are challenging the traditional notions of designing and are operating in new design spaces.

If you know of design companies with inspirational practices and their stories not been told yet we would love to hear about them – all you need to do is comment on this page.

Follow us on our journey through @DesTransitions twitter account. We are also working on a website that will soon be up in January 2012.

Nordic Service Design Conference – pictures and comments

November 29th, 2009

Just got back from the First Nordic Service Design conference in Olso. See my previous post. Here are a few pictures from the workshop session ’Challenges in Digital Service Provision’. It was a joint workshop between myself, Teresa Sarmento from ESAD and Lars Georg Teigen, Johan-Christian Høgåsen-Hallesby from Second Brain.

I really enjoyed the conference, it felt like the most ’designed’ experience of a conference I have ever been to — which is apt as it is a conference on Service Design. I was very impressed by the fact that when I arrived at the hotel, a welcome package was waiting for me in my room — saving me the trouble of needing to register and pick up my conference pack. The organisers also thought about what to include in the pack, a tongue-in-cheek response to that fact that its very dark and damp in Oslo at this time of the year. So, they included a pair of ’swims’ galoshes which are shoes that you wear over your nice shoes to keep them from getting wet. They also included a reflective band that can be worn over your wrist to ensure that you are seen in the dark. Qin Han was right in saying that ’cards’ are the new black of the service design world. A pack of service touchpoints cards was included in the package which was produced by the At-ONE project.

I’ve also included some pictures from the conference dinner, or shall I say do-it-yourself social cooking event! They held the meal/cooking at the School of Gastronomy, somewhere in Oslo..and got the participants to cook a tapas dish. I’ve never seen so many people in a kitchen before — it was organised chaos. But it worked brilliantly — everyone had a go, some participated more, some hang back and chatted. And the best thing was, everyone enjoyed themselves! It was a brilliant idea! I might steal it…but probably wont work in England due to the ridiculous Health and Safety regulations. Too many people, too many sharp objects and wine in the vicinity.

This was the first dedicated service design conference that I attended and was useful in terms of the issues discussed, as well as observing who was turning up for these type of events. Not sure if this is true…but Simon Clatworthy mentioned that this could be the first dedicated peer-reviewed service design conference. It was also interesting to observe that the number of designers from a viscomm/graphic design background is equally represented compare to product/interaction designer. There was also a paper stream looking specifically on visualisations in service design. The conference has also help clarified thoughts about skills and audience of a service design programme. It seems that many other institutions are at that stage where they are deciding whether or not to develop a specific MA programme in service design.

The issues that was discussed seem to revolve around the areas of understanding the heritage of service design, what can be learn from other forerunners like Participatory Design, Interaction Design etc, to the more predictable areas of methods and tools. There was also a strong branding presence in relation to the design of services. Most of the case studies presented seemed much more business orientated than social projects, which I found surprising seeing that there was a heavy Scandinavian presence where I would expect more social aspects of service design to dominate.

One last word – the next Nordic Service Design Conference will be held next year at Linkoping University, Sweden. I’ll post the link when the call for papers becomes live.

Nordic Service Design Conference

November 22nd, 2009

I’m very excited as I will be going to the first Nordic Service Design Conference at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design. I’ll be facilitating a joint workshop with Teresa Sarmento from ESAD, Portugal and Lars Teigen from Second Brain. The 3 position papers for our particular workshop (Challenges in the Digital Service Provision) can be found on this page. Scroll down to Day 2 – Crossover Day. Specifically, the paper that I co-wrote with Lauren Tan, a PhD student from Northumbria University and Phillip Meredith, my KTP associate working in Zodiac Training can be downloaded here. It is based heavily on Lauren’s seven archetype of designer roles which has been derived from her analysis of the DOTT07 projects. We were using her seven archetypes to reflect on Phil’s experience in designing and delivering an e-learning service at Zodiac Training, a training delivery company in the North East of England.

ICOGRADA World Design Education Conference

October 26th, 2009

In a few days time, I’ll be going to present at the ICOGRADA World Design Education Conference in Beijing. You can find out more about the speakers and the presentation on the conference blog. The paper (which was jointly written by Emma Jefferies and Kath McKelvey) focuses on the development of teaching tools to foster collaborative learning. These teaching tools are available on the Design Collaboration website and I will be talking about how the tools were developed and discuss 5 tools specifically. The website also contains case studies of student project involving industry partners. I’m very excited as this presentation will be the ’official’ launch of the website to an international audience. I hope it will be well-received!

EKSIG 09 Conference Proceedings online

October 26th, 2009

The Experiential Knowledge (EKSIG) conference, 2009 held at London Metropolitan University have been made available online. You can access the complete proceedings on this page.

’EKSIG is concerned with the understanding and management of knowledge in research and professional practice in design and design related disciplines in order to clarify fundamental principles and practices of using practice within research, both with regard to research regulations and requirements, and research methodology’

Social Technologies Summit – Day 3 Part 2

May 17th, 2009

The 3rd day of the conference started with a keynote from Adam Greenfield. Adam comes from a user experience background, having worked with Razorfish before moving into areas of ubiquitous computing and is now the Head of Design Direction at Nokia. His keynote was focused on describing the concept of networked urbanism. What is networked urbanism? It is a term used to describe the increasing generation of data through networked devices and infrastructure in urban areas. What’s is driving this? Two factors according to Greenfield:

1. We are becoming an urban species, as by the end of 2008, more than half of the world’s population will live in cities (source: United Nations)
2. By the end of 2012, network sensors will account for 20% of non-video internet traffic (source: Gartner)

Where is this data coming from?
— networked devices (e.g. mobile phones)
— networked buildings (for new buildings)
— networked vehicles (e.g. embedded GPS)
— networked infrastructure (e.g oyster card, RFID cards)
— networked institutions (e.g. government data like census information )
— networked people

Being able to harness this vast amount of data offers massive potential to the inhabitants of the city. What could access to these data mean? Potentially it could offer:

— More awareness (for e.g. using Google maps to find out local services and shops)
— More control (for e.g. finding the least polluted route to work)
— More choice (for e.g. using Camvit to plot alternate routes around the urban landscape)
— More convivial (knowing who your neighbours are through localised networks)
— Richer experiences (for e.g Chritian Nold’s work on emotional maps which asked participants to record their feelings of a place onto maps, anchoring subjectivity to places so that it could experienced by someone else)
— New creative possibilities of urban spaces (for e.g. Tom Armitage’s work on making the Tower Bridge in London, ‘Twitter’)
— Visualising every single potential of a space

An open networked urban environment will offer a local, on-demand and actionable information for individuals. How can this be achieved? Greenfield suggests embedding networks in all public objects that will have an open API (Application Platform Interface) to enable open access and allow the data to be used in anyway imaginable.

An open access networked environment has inevitably a downside too. Greenfield was careful to present these negative aspects in order to highlight what he considers to be design challenges must be addressed. He warned against:
— Seduction of data visualisation. Visualisation is only as good as the quality of the data. Data should be not be used to deceived and manipulated.
— ‘The big sort’ where technologies can intensify the divide between the poor and the networked.
— Attack surface possibility. How much potential vulnerability does a system have? There will be a need for a greater better sense of security awareness.
— Emergent behaviour (behaviours that wasn’t designed into the system). A glitch in the system, especially in a network is difficult to trace.

Whatever the challenge, Greenfield hopes that it will be tackled with knowingness, awareness and most importantly, with compassion.

Social Technologies Summit – Day 3 (Part 1)

May 15th, 2009

Its day 3 of the conference and I’m already starting to feel conference fatigue. I’m also not sure to this blogging aspect, which requires me to record much more detailed notes during the event and as a result, I seem to be spending lots of time on my laptop rather than trying to meet people face to face. Its ironic in a conference that is about social technologies, we are not making actual physical connections (I’m not the only person in the conference with my head buried in my laptop) but actually interacting with our virtual social network.

By the way, Sarah Hartley who is a journalist is also blogging at this event so you might like to check out what she thought of the conference.

The morning session was divided up into a keynote speaker and shorter presentations in the Mobile discussion stream. The keynote was by Adam Greenfield (who is head of Design Direction at Nokia) discussing the issues surrounding networked urbanism. A detailed review of this keynote will be in Part 2.

Mobile Stream
A majority of the talks are around the idea of geo-locations applications and art projects. The rise of GPS enabled mobile devices. Tristan Thielmann asked how locative media might be able solve the climate debate. Alfie Dennen presented art related projects that dealt with issues of geo-located media which is a result of combining mobile devices with location geo-marking photography. Selene Kolmen works for Bliin, which is a location aware platform for GPS mobile devices. It allows users to geo-tag their sms message, photographs and enabling users to make public their locations and vice versa to find their friends who might be close by.

Christian Licoppe is interested in studying the phenomenon of Japanese MOGI game, a mobile multiplayer gameplay. Its a game ‘on the move’ where you pick up ‘virtual’ items and trade them with other players. It was quite interesting talk in the sense of highlighting how patterns of social interactions changes. Some of the more interesting conclusions that came out of his study were the reshaping of mobility patterns, the emergent of hybrid territories comprised from the real and the virtual environment, between web and mobile and a new zoology of new types of social encounters in these hybrid environment.

The panel discussion at the end discussed issues around possible emergent behaviours that might arise from the rise of using GPS enabled mobile devices. Features that enable a user to toggle their location on/off and provide different levels of location granularity (pinpoint to city, rather than a street) should be an important consideration for future developers.

Semantic Web Stream
The after lunch session was the Semantic Web: Cultural Algorithms stream. It featured 2 speakers, Tom Ilube who had the keynote and Roland Harwood who was from NESTA. Tom Illube spoke mostly about how the semantic web is different from the current WWW. The semantic web is a web of linked data rather web of documents, it is a web of links and relationship. He talked about RDF (Resource Description Framework) and SPARQL (an RDF query language). I’m showing my ignorance here and actually had to look up what RDF stood for and thought that SPARQL was spelt ‘Sparkle’! So what is the difference between the current web and a semantic web? He gave the examples of the Friends of a Friend project, which creates a Web of machine-readable pages describing people, the links between them and the things they create and do. In theory, it means that a user won’t be penalised for choosing a different tools or service (like Facebook) and not be able to share with friends who have made different choices. I can’t wait!

Roland Harwood from NESTA gave a rather disjointed talk, but its probably due to that fact that he decided alter his talk from being about deciphering trust in networked innovation to discussions around behaviours in the different types of social structures. These structures are formal hierarchies, informal networks, heterachies (multiple hierarchies bumping into each other). Formal structures are fragile and can be disrupted by informal structures which could lead to interesting and new emergent behaviours.

Social Technologies Summit 2009 – Day 1

May 13th, 2009

I’m attending the Social Technologies Summit conference which is part of the FutureSonic Festival happening in Manchester starting today till the 16th of May. This is the first time that I’m attending, so I have no preconceived notion on what to expect. The timetable and the range of speakers should make it a very interesting and hopefully stimulating experience for me.

The opening gala event was tonight and we were treated to 2 very different presentations. Firstly, though I would like to comment on the venue. The festival events are being held all over Manchester, but the summit is located at the Contact Theater. Its such a weird looking building and I have no clue as to the history behind the design of it. Anyway, I digress. The first presentation was by Mike Pilkington and Tim O’Brien. Its an audio and visual collaboration between Mike who is a digital artist and Tim who is an astro physicist. They reinterpret the sounds of the cosmos to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landings. From what I understood of their explanation of their work, Mike wrote algorithms to translate signals received from a telescope into audio feedback which he manipulated for his piece. It was musically interesting (similar to many electro minimal pieces I have heard), though I thought they could have done a bit more with the visual, rather than just let Tim move some data windows around the screen.

The second presentation was by environmental futurist, Jamais Cascio who co-founded and now blogs on The title of his presentation was ’Hacking the Earth’ and the premise was to present an argument that environmental catastrophe is unavoidable and if we don’t find some way to overturn the current political and social inertia, we will all die very soon. A very upbeat way to start a presentation! In order to give us a bit more time to enjoy the finer things in life…he proposes that one of the possible way to counteract this is to employ geo-engineering. Geo-engineering is deliberately manipulating the earth’s climate to counteract effects of global warming — basically playing god. One of the examples that he used to illustrate how this might work is using stratospheric sulfur aerosols to manage solar radiation of the earth or enhancing cloud reflectivity. He acknowledges the moral and ethical issue relating to this approach but concludes that if we accept that we as a civilization has had a negative impact on the environment, we must do all we can to rectify this. This approach is not without risk and he urges the need for the creation of modelling software to test out these ideas, in order to anticipate positive or negative consequences. The challenge in the creation of these software are related to granularity (scale) and complexity (how many different factors to include in the computation).

For me personally, his presentation was too focused on presenting the doomsday scenario. I felt that he was preaching to the converted (though there was at least one very drunk person in the audience who beg to differ), and should have instead focused more on discussing issues and challenges arising from the use of geo-engineering approaches. Interestingly one of the audience member brought up Ray Kurzeil and his believe in that technology will ultimate be the answer to the reduction of carbon emission. Cascio acknowledges that this will happen but might still be too far ahead to make enough of a difference. He wants us as the human race to take action now.

Its going to be a pack couple of days as the summit gets into full swing tomorrow. I’ll probably have to do a ’top’ picks as I probably won’t have time to reflect on each of them in detail.

Revamp Resolution

November 18th, 2008

I’ve decided that the site needs a revamp…and also to make it easier for me to update the content – not just the blog. So an early new year’s resolution…I will try to get a new site up and running early next year. Hopefully by making this public, I will actually get down to doing this. Can you believe my WordPress version 1.2?