The student gang in the studio environment. The compulsory coffee and waffle included.

I have been running a simple course in design strategy in our design faculty in KHiO during the last week. The course is an introduction of the philosophy of design thinking and its participation in strategic changes in daily life. It has transpired that young people, including our students, are interested to use their skills to pursue more demanding issues than just to make ‘cute’ things and images. I remember that in a course that we run annually with the business school here in Oslo BI, when the students are given free rain in what to pursue in group work as start-up entrepreneurs that out of 18 projects 16 came up with ideas for businesses that wanted to address social and/or environmental issues.

The term Strategy actually comes from military origin and refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal or goals. An identical definition has often been used to define design. So strategy and design are actually terms for a very similar activity, while design schools and design practices have traditionally aimed at making cute and simple solutions and objects/images.

Design activity has until recently concentrated on the more formal activities in terms of physical and mental form rather than conceptual. This focus has changed radically during the last decade and today the greatest demand for design skills in the world is in services, human interactions, social solutions for sustainability, and environmental change – not in form giving.

In the course we looked for issues that we would like to improve in our daily life. To make life simpler, easier and more beautiful – the three fundamental tasks for design. We had long conversations about what is impeding, global, environmental, social tasks that lie ahead and how designers can be on the forefront in the work. And the students came up with some innovative ideas, fun, serious and promising for their continuing design work in the program.

And to our great support we received a super extra teacher addressing the same things, Ezio Manzini, who supported our ideas about design and what we should be working on in the future – - or for the future. Here is a link to some of the projects that we are involved in presently.

Here is a short list of what the students would like to address:

Kristine is a crafts artist in glass blowing but is concerned about consumption. She maintains that many people have no respect for the value of things in our society in affluent Norway. Uncontrolled use of things and food. Unorganized situations. She wants to look at how things function in daily life because it irritates her how ignorant people can be to environment, things and people. To become an ethical conscious consumer.

Her strategy would be to create a catalyst, meeting room/place where crafts can be worked used as an attraction. Where people can meet up to learn and enjoy. The problem is often that crafts people are so isolated when they work and she wants to open up the place. To create an attraction point, café, lunch place where people meet. The guests can then learn and enjoy the production, use the glass products for coffee etc. She wants to collect together creative people to work together.

Denise wants to develop an interactions project for children and food. Visual communication. How to develop ideas among children early enough about eating healthy. This is a very fundamental issue in modern Western society. How to do things other than just give advice. How can a designer develop information and responsibility among children. She proposed an animation figure could be related to your own life. She saw the Tamagotchi as an interesting paradigm. She also had ideas about how this could be a school project where you have to post your development with the tamagotchi. The Tamagotchi is a handheld digital pet created in 1996 in Japan. Over 76 million have been sold world-wide as of 2010. Most Tamagotchis are housed in a small egg-shaped computer with an interface usually consisting of three buttons.

Charlotte is a  furniture and space design student. She came up with many ideas about addressing irritable situations like in cafes, marking a territory in a playful way, how to decorate the metro so that people move more freely around and do not congest in front of the doors. Her philosophy is to introduce playfulness, with colors, labels etc. where people will be a bit happier when passing through the daily routines. How can a designer address public space for more enjoyment? Her work is more social engineering than social innovation where people work together to create solutions.

Sofie participated in the course dialogue and had many interesting ideas about daily life. Lots of discussion about family linkages, strengthening social interactions in various forms. Very motivated student with good ideas that she will probably develop  through here future projects.

Rikke spoke about cuing situations and about social situations where we are afraid to talk to strangers. We teach our children never to talk to strangers. We become isolated in our world. She wants to induce social interactions in the public space. Norwegians are not open to talk to others. Why not talk together? She says. How do we see others – and she is interested to develop ways for people to interact.

Susanne is a fashion design student and has ideas to make normal clothes for people that have movement problems, disabled people, to enhance inclusion through being dressed like everyone else, not only hospital jogging clothes. Make the clothes possible through putting them on in a simpler way or around the body. She has worked in a home for handicapped. Her project is Inclusive Design in a sense. Social engineering for those that are not integrated.

Thomas says that he is more egocentric and has created a complete new religion and wants to develop a strategy for implementing it. He wants to demonstrate how everything connects, holistic understanding about the world. He has found lots of inspiration from various sources. He wants to develop the idea that the internet is just a common chat space. He talks about making videos for religions prophets that can tell stories that stimulate ideas.

Julius is a visual communication student and is interested in addressing the interactions that users of computers demand as simple and no-nonsense. Wants to create a social innovation for the elderly. Operating system with only internet and text making. This is a new user group that demands to be part of the new digital reality but does not want do or can deal with the complicated interactive systems that is in computers today.

March 10, 2011  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: DESIGN, PONDERINGS