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Posts Tagged ‘IIT Design Research Conference’

Highlights from IIT’s 2013 Design Research Conference

Posted by Plish on October 10, 2013

Once again the IIT Institute of Design has put on a provocative and stimulating conference.

Under the theme “Exploring Creative Balance in Design“, the conference was a potpourri of glances at the past, understanding of the present, and flashes of future.  It was held at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, a stimulating change from the Spertus Institute, where it’s usually been held.  There was an interesting ‘negative’ about the location in that electrical outlets were few and far between. Charging phones and laptops was a challenge.  (Personally, while on my quest to find outlets, I found some really cool nooks in the museum that I didn’t even know existed)

Some highlights in no particular order:

Mickey McManus of Maya inspired awe.  A trillion connected devices is just around the corner.  A trillion!  Think of what is possible (good and bad) when those devices interact with each other!  Think of how nature communicates with itself!

Mel Lim talked about keeping Ego in check.  A wonderful challenge to becoming better people to create a better world.

John Doyle gave an amazing talk of the limits of systems, how the same concepts govern phage evolution. Fast and specialized systems or slow and flexible?  How to walk the line?  What about feedbacks in our systems?  How do we design for that?  There was also a cautionary bent to his talk, but he emphasized the need for people to adopt new ways of looking at systems in the world.  He mentioned to me afterwards how essential it is that the design world gets involved.  The research needs to be made accessible to more than just mathematicians to be able to impact the world in its most profound way.

Darlene Damm spoke of her DIYROCKETS project.  Open Sourcing the Space Industry.  Amazing and disruptive innovation!

John Payne talked skeuomorphs and more,  Ultimately it’s about understanding our culture so we can communicate through design more effectively.

Panos Papalambros spoke of optimizing designs using algorithms that are automatic as well as human assisted. Discussed the benefits of crowdsourcing this process as well.

Liz Sanders and co-creation.  There truly is power when individuals create together as a communal entity. She’s got a great resource at Maketools.com that I’ve personally used.  This is exciting work and it’s only going to mature more.

Matt Jones and Richard The of Google Creative Labs showed the power of video in prototyping.  “All design is fiction.”  Love that quote because everything starts as an idea – a fiction – and it becomes reality.

Lucy Kimbell talked about the various types of empathy using Star Trek’s Deanna Troi as the research subject.

There was also everyone’s favorite “curmudgeon”, Don Norman.  He emphasized the need for design research to be more effectively integrated into corporate product development processes.

Matthew Clark and many others gave amazing talks.

If you’d like to see more from the conference check out #DRC2013 on Twitter.  You can also go to Seen for a timeline of twitter posts about the conference.

Lastly, but in no way least, I met old friends and made new ones.  When all is said and done, that’s what makes these conferences so valuable.

I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts and looking forward to next year!

Posted in Co-Creation, creativity, Crowdsourcing, culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, innovation, Innovation Tools, Maker Movement, Open Source, Research, Social Innovation, Sustainability | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Intuitive Guiding of Iterative Design Research to Expedite Product Development

Posted by Plish on May 14, 2010

Wednesday,  at the final day of the Design Research Conference,  a panel discussion was held on the topic of design research and its role.  One panelist, Don Norman, was particularly animated about the need for design research to better serve industry by providing the results of the research in an expedited manner.  

While listening to Norman I found myself in total agreement with his assessments.  I also resisted the urge to jump up, wave my arms and say, “We’ve already done it!!!!”

What is ‘it’?

‘It’ is: Expediting design research to help industry develop products faster.   This technique may or may not work with non-product design but thinking about it, I’m not sure there’s a reason why it shouldn’t. 

So what is this process?  Here’s a diagram of the comparison between how design research is done in traditional programs and in expedited programs.

Click for Full Size

The typical Research and Development (R&D) process holds science in the highest esteem.   It consists of a research phase, Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Authenticity, Best Practices, Creative Environments, culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, innovation, Innovation Tools, Market Assessment, problem solving, Research, Tactics, The Human Person, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Will Technological Innovation Eliminate the Perceived Necessity for Social Change?

Posted by Plish on May 12, 2010

Conferences are great in that they make you think.

Today was no different.  While attending the Design Research Conference in Chicago today I heard references to technology being the great equalizer.   Those specific words weren’t used, but during one case study looking at the redesign of a hearing aid,  an elderly gentleman noted how when he uses current hearing aid technologies, their designs don’t disguise the fact he’s losing his hearing and in fact draw attention to it.  The result is that he feels marginalized by society.  The solution, obviously, was a better designed hearing aid that utilized really cool technology that didn’t draw attention to itself but yet made the hearer’s life easier.

First, let me say that there’s nothing wrong with utilizing technology to make the lives of the elderly easier.   But the above case study, and another mention of the ‘saving value’ of technology yesterday, got me thinking.

So, I did a Google search of “technology” and “save us” and the two phrases together bring up 934,000 hits. Apparently, I’m not the only one seeing a pattern.

Again, I’m not against technology at all, but if we rely on technology to come to the rescue of our designs, then  aren’t we missing the point?

The point is well articulated in the  following quote from here:

…(A)ll of technological optimism can be summed up in one desire: The desire not to have to change any of our current behaviors. And, yet it is our behavior that most of all needs changing.

That’s the crux of the issue – behaviors.

Here we are, innovating for a better world but at the same time, by extensively using technology we tacitly agree that the world and the people around us aren’t going to change their behaviors.  So, we use technology to make it less painful for those marginalized by society so they can live in a world of people who are cold.   Something doesn’t seem right here.

Now, to be fair, we’re talking about designing devices, so the design project’s charter does not include designing a better society per se.  But, this doesn’t mean that using technology to create a buffer against the indifference of the world doesn’t raise questions like:  

If we get efficient at palliating social stigmas through technology, will we reach a cultural tipping point where the desire to improve one’s self is no longer felt as a need because everyone around us seems ok?

Is that an acceptable situation? Is this a real possibility?  What could we do to prevent it from happening if it is?

Why does  IDEO’s approach to design thinking and Tim Brown’s definition below have to include technology as a given?

“Design thinking is an approach that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods for problem solving to meet people’s needs in a technologically feasible and commercially viable way. In other words, design thinking is human-centered innovation.”

Does the definition for human centered innovation have to include the necessity of technology?

What do you think?

Posted in Authenticity, Case Studies, culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, Human Rights, innovation, Life Stages, love, Social Networking, Society, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

The Beginnings of Design/Innovation

Posted by Plish on October 3, 2009

beginnings of design001a michaelplishka2009

I made the above sketch while listening to  a panel discussion with David Armano, Dan Saffer, Jon Kolko and Ben Jacobson at the IIT Design Research Conference

What are your thoughts on this representation of the beginnings of design/innovation?

How could it be improved?

Posted in Authenticity, creativity, Design, innovation, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Sketching, The Human Person, The Senses | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Museum or Warehouse? Insights on Featuritis from the IIT Design Research Conference

Posted by Plish on October 2, 2009


Today while I was at the Design Research Conferencein Chicago, I listened to the presentation of Jason Fried of 37 Signals.  While primarily discussing his design process through the lens of software design,  he touched upon one particular aspect that is true for all types of design.  In short, he said that good software comes from people who are more like curators vs. designers. 

What does he mean?

Software Designers (in this particular example) have a tendency to want to constantly add more and more features.  Version 11.0 almost always has more features than Version 10.0 and Version 12.0 will have even more than Version 11.0 He built upon his illustration by saying that if you stick every painting in the world in a building you don’t have a museum, but a warehouse of art. 

It’s when you pick certain paintings and put them in a room, when you play the rule of curator, now you have a museum, not a warehouse.

The point is a good one.

The best design is an embodiment of the essentials and not the result of Creeping Featuritis

Posted in Best Practices, Customer Focus, Design, innovation, software | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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