Redesign Your Life First:

Lessons From the Alldesign Istanbul Conference

14.03.'13, Boston

Design conferences help guide practitioners to a better understanding of future trends because they’re a forum where we get to share our insights from being early adopters, trend setters, and creative producers. The biggest lesson from the recent Alldesign Istanbul Conference: First redesign your life, then design for others. Designers changed their focus from being life-saving, super-global heros helping the needy to being simple beings attentive to the basic needs of themselves first, and society second. Coming from different backgrounds, the speakers were communicating one shared message: stop and listen to your intuition.

 

In an ideal world, the creative journey takes a designer both on an inward journey where intuition is tapped, and an outward journey to the informative environment that she is surrounded with. In a constantly changing world where you’re trying to catch up with new markets and requirements, many designers find themselves rapidly producing and speeding either towards the inward or the outward direction, but rarely back and forth. As a result, either from a lack of intuition or attentive participation, creativity is missed out. Social scientists have been stressing a lot of issues related to our fast changing world and their impact on humans, but these issues had never been pointed out by designers. What distinguishes the message of designers from scientists is not the content, but the way the content is communicated. Possessing strong empathetic skills, designers can answer the need of the audience (this time a life lesson to conference attendees) by telling well-designed stories.

 

Alldesign 2013 showed that the design practice has shifted from producing as rapidly as our changing world to escaping from the flow in order to create both mental and physical sanctuaries. These sanctuaries differed from literal natural environments like bamboo settlements by John Hardy to mental trainings for happiness by Stefan Sagmeister.

 

Instead of talking about his beautiful jewelry and lifestyle collections, John Hardy decided to share his experience of building a natural and sustainable “Green School” in Bali. Built from locally produced bamboo and informed by locals, the school itself has become a great sustainable design project and a beautiful presentation material for a memorable life lesson.

 

Stefan Sagmeister had his road passing by Bali as well, not to build a school, but to sustain his happiness and pleasure of designing. He had been working on his provocative documentary The Happy Film, which showed ways of achieving happiness by doing certain exercises over and over again. His advice to the audience was to train their brains and teach themselves to be happy and to take some time off whenever needed. It was very interesting to see the super-productive designer leaving the arena to return with a happier and more productive mind than before.

 

Ron Arad’s way of stopping time, on the other hand, was through exploring ways of preserving a Fiat 500 and making it immortal like book-pressed flowers. The interesting thing about his journey was his choice of bringing a nostalgic element from the past, freezing it today, and preserving for the future. His work flexes between the past and future, almost opening a time tunnel that we can escape to whenever we feel detached from the overwhelming flow of our lives.

 

Whether caused by the selfish desire of immortality or just the need of tranquility, the designers’ ambition to share their life experiences was significant in this conference and their well-told stories were memorable life lessons.

 

*Published in Continuum/insights

Farewell Sustainability!

19.12.'12, Boston

Just like a well designed 'out-of-the-box' experience, designing a good 'farewell experience' will enable us to create complete satisfaction for the user and drive some attention to the act of disposal.

Designing the Public

There was a time when we were wearing coats with plain black linings and shoes with undesigned insoles. Nobody was willing to spend the extra time and resources for designing the back side of a product because it didn’t matter as long as it looked cool from the front. Now, we all see that it did matter how the insole looked and we know a lot of brands are successful by paying extra attention to these details, because it’s the entire experience that users are valuing. Today, this holistic approach to experience design is carried over almost every item and service that is designed. Now, we are focusing on the entire experience of products and services and try to wow consumers from the start with a well-designed “welcoming experience.”

 

But… How about the goodbye experience? Do we really design a good farewell experience, or does it really matter?

 

One thing we tend to forget is the pleasure of disposal. It refreshes our lives and thoughts, makes room for new possessions and prepares us for the new. People build their identities with the things they possess, and they prove their identity with the things and the way they dispose of them. In other words, they possess by disposing, because it’s not only about what they own, but also what and how they discard. Doubtless we are scared of potential impacts of this accelerated consumerism on environment and our social behavior. However if we look at this scene through an optimistic lens, we can see that there’s a big potential of creating a fulfilling experience for users and eventually awareness, once we embrace the act of disposal.

 

From a designer’s point of view, there is a big missed design opportunity for creating a great emotional experience. Just like a well designed “out-of-the-box” experience, designing a good “farewell experience” will enable us to create complete satisfaction for the user and drive some attention to the act of disposal. We need to shift our focus from sustainability towards creating the entire experience of owning-using-discarding a product. Aiming for a well-designed farewell experience will not only satisfy the users, but it will give recognition to the final phase of the product’s life cycle and it will bring other crucial qualities such as sustainability to a higher level.

 

A good farewell experience, if designed diligently like a good welcoming experience, will create a win-win situation where we will gain emotionally satisfied and connected, yet educated consumers who would always challenge us to do better.

 

 

*Published in Continuum/insights

11.07.'12, Boston

Accessible public transportation promotes diversity and equality of all; and avoids discrimination of one.

Last year Americans took 235 million more trips on buses, trains and subways than in 2010. That’s the most ridership since 2008,…despite more than eight out of 10 transit systems either cutting service, increasing fares or both in recent years. Public Transportation has gained a lot of attention with its environmental and financial benefits. However there is another huge impact of public transportation on modern societies — and that is “sustaining democracy.”

 

Public transportation is a door that opens to public spaces, and public spaces are agoras of democratic cities where individuals gain awareness of existence of the other and live together. No community can be formed without having a public space to commune. And no public space can exist without welcoming all members of a society in.Building a public space, whether a library or a park, is never enough to bring people in; since the foundation of these places doesn’t always assure their accessibility for all. Accessibility shouldn’t be related to wheelchair-friendliness, though it does cover that, it means lot more than ramps and automatic doors. Accessibility is equality and independence of individuals regardless of body, age, gender, race, income, and education.

 

Public transportation is one of the must-have qualities of accessible modern cities. It carries members of a society by providing equally distributed services, regardless of physical, mental and financial differences. It breaks the isolation of one and brings participation of all into public life. It enables every member of a society to independently play his/her role in the cultural and economic life of cities.

 

Designing accessible public transportation makes public spaces accessible and forms a healthy community in which each individual is created by the existence of the other. Moreover, accessible public transportation promotes diversity and equality of all; and avoids discrimination of one. It eventually plants seeds of a healthy and embracing community, which can be a source of many positive actions such as sustainability, wealth, and peace.

 

All of these can be created by designing successfully working public services such as transportation. We should be aware of our impacts on societies when we design for the masses, because designing for all creates a healthy community for all.

 

 

*Published in Continuum/insights

 

Public transportation is a door that opens to public spaces, and public spaces are agoras of democratic cities where individuals gain awareness of existence of the other and live together.

Accessible public transportation promotes diversity and equality of all; and avoids discrimination of one.

We should be aware of our impacts on societies when we design for the masses, because designing for all creates a healthy community for all.

Design to be thrown away

Phone images, 2011-2012, Boston

Things that I come across on my daily walks and take photos of with my phone.

 

Designers love getting inspired by fresh forms & materials, and building mood boards of beautiful photo studio images and shiny renderings. We are educated to aspire to and excite others with the new. However one thing we never look at, or just don't want to remind ourselves is the old.

 

What if we all got inspired by dumped products and garbages, instead of colourful pinterest images? Would we create differently? Would that really change our expectations from a new developed product?

 

What about designing a good farewell experience just like we design a good welcome experience?