Designer Dreams 0 (0)

I woke happy this morning remembering dreams of my favorite NYC destination, The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

It’s a designer’s paradise. What’s not to like. The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design.

The collections are exhibited in a historic Fifth Avenue mansion. Just fabulous

In my dreams, I revisited The Senses: Design Beyond Vision exhibition. A stunning and provocative exhibit featuring inclusive, interactive installations created in collaboration with contemporary designers. The exhibition was designed to be sensory awakening and highlighted the importance of inclusive design.

Designed to spark curiosity and wonder in every visitor, “The Senses” highlighted the link between design and sensory experience. The projects on view activated touch, sound, smell, taste, sight and physical experience. Bird songs were digitally animated into bursts of color and motion. A light installation changed from cool to warm in response to visitors’ movements.

My favorite was a collection of unique scents merged with materials, textures and words to build new memories and associations. It was truly dream worthy.

The exhibit expanded my reality, for the sensory impaired, form is as valuable as function. This designer mantra reframe actually benefits all.

History proves the power of this reframe. Designers transformed the look, image and very perception of eye glasses in the 1960s. Medical assistive devices were reframed to instruments of self-expression. Design transformed an object that once stigmatized the wearer as different.

The emotional impact of this design transformation amazes me. Imagine going from feeling ashamed to feeling empowered because someone designed a better way. Sometimes aesthetics are just as important as function.

The Senses Exhibition showcased designs for “the extremes”: visual, cognitive, and hearing impaired users. All users deserve products and services that delivery equal respect to aesthetics and quality. Designing for extremes produces beneficial design for all.

Where did this designing for the mainstream concept originate? It’s a story so entrenched in our society, the average or “normal” person. The idea actually dates back to the 1800s, when mathematician Adolphe Quetelet attempted to find the numerical averages for a host of body measurements: limbs, stature, weight, ages of marriage and even death.

This attempt to calculate how an ideal human looks and acts ended being the “average user”in design.

Today we know this story a myth. If there’s no normal we are just diverse people changing from one moment to the next. What happens if you design for the extreme user? Imagine audiobooks and the remote control were originally designed for people with disabilities, but everyone loves them.

Inclusive design isn’t a dream. Lets make it a reality and design a better world for all.

Who doesn’t want to change the channel without leaving the couch?

Don’t fear flying 0 (0)

“What could possibly go wrong?” A question I remember well. I guess everyone has a childhood memory where those words were used before taking action. My youthful action was playing Superman, with a blanket tied around my neck and jumping down a flight of stairs.

Yes, I did. No, it didn’t end well.

This was a very memorable experience. Life experiences implant fear in our minds. As we become adults that fear grows into fear of being judged by others, a low tolerance for uncertainty, and anxiety about material losses.

Our leap before you think attitude is gone. We learn to fear failure for mostly good reasons.

But, if you don’t jump you can’t fly.

What to do?

Luckily, I’ve learned a process that helps me fly without a blanket tied to my neck. I now can work with my hopes and dreams to design the direction of my journey.

Designers are trained to work with fear and uncertainty while innovating. Our education helps tame that fear. We practice our Methodology through group.

During the critiques the focus is on Design methodology, the process. This group, singular focus builds trust in that process. Trust in your actions and work minimizes the focus on fear. It promotes collaboration with fear not avoidance.

This focus is common with Creative processes and “releases within them the freedom to rebuild.” as author J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter, stated. The focus built the resilience Rowling’s needed when she was penniless and without a publisher.

A healthy collaboration with fear is important to minimize our natural, innate response to avoid harm. Our brains are designed to move us away from danger and to seek pleasure. Survival instinct always wins. So, it’s no surprise that a fear of failure is a common inhibitor of innovation. I know I can’t actually fly — but I still want to find a way to accomplish my goals.

Resilience is key. Resilience in our ability to address fear and drive change by engaging with and influencing the designed systems we inhabit.

A resilient person is able to prepare for and recover quickly from setbacks by designing systems, resources, collaborating and creating ways around restrictions and obstacles.

Practicing Design Methodology builds resilience. Design Methodology is my superpower.

I can crack Walnuts on my ass 0 (0)

16 March 2020 the gyms in New York City closed and the gravity of social distancing flattened me.

Yes. I’m one of those people. I get up early. I go to the gym. I exercise every morning. It starts my day with a total sweat down to avoid a total melt down.

Let’s be honest. This isn’t a good time for a meltdown. Instead, I chose to make take a little time for my own pause. What to do? How could I maintain my sense of normalcy with no exercise? How was I going to get my sweat on?

I used a little mental muscle.

The pause worked. I realized; I may have no experience with a Pandemic but I do have useful design experience. I knew what to do. When I’m faced with a seemingly impossible challenge at work I reach for the go-to-design-hack — the Reframe.

It was time to work-out a solution.

What gym characteristics needed to be replicate: early opening hours, close proximity, consistent environment … answer — The Emergency Egress Stairs!

I’ve been running (alright, sometimes walking really fast) these stairs since 17 March and my legs and ass feel like steel. My newfound workout fortified the power of applying a solution focused, real life reframes.

Here are a few ways to apply a Reframe for Solution Focus thinking.

What’s a Reframe A is a simple hack that works every time. Just reframe or restate the challenge. When you’re hit with inevitable setback and your inside voice says, “This would have been a snap if I really had talent,” reframe it. Say, “Basketball wasn’t easy for Michael Jordan and science wasn’t easy for Thomas Edison. They had a passion and put in tons of effort.” The Reframe flips blame and victimhood to: “If I don’t take responsibility, I can’t fix it. Let me listen, however painful it is, and learn whatever I can.” Reframing stops overthinking and starts constructive action.

Design in real time Once you’ve defined the reframe don’t over think it — work and refine while working. The process becomes the work, not dwelling on the problem. This puts us on the path toward a solution focus.

Use Collaboration Rethink isolation. You can jump on a call to chat with a friend. Do a quick Google search for solutions — reach out for alternative ideas to expand your thinking. Expansive thinking is about being creative. It’s about finding ways to get where you want to be despite the obstacles you encounter. Once you’ve reached your goal it helps you stay there or move to somewhere better.

Use Open Thinking Avoid Critical Thinking. Critical Thinking picks things apart to find the problem …it doesn’t normally construct a solution. Open Thinking is creative, decisive, actionable and builds upward.

When I focus on Critical Thinking for too long, I wound up accomplishing nothing. This is a time for quick action and decisive solutions. This is a time for Open Thinking.

Current events may have limited my work and relationship challenges but not my living and mental challenges. This go-to-design-hack has lifted my spirits and counteracted the gravitational pull of despair more than once during isolation.

Thank you Reframe.

How to Design a Solution for this Wicked Isolation Problem. 0 (0)

Week Seven of our Big Pause: limited human contact, limited outdoor time, ever-changing protocol and depressing news. Oh my.

My emotions are switching uncontrollably from hot to cold like the water in my first, shabby-chic NYC cold-water flat. I started the Pause feeling totally in charge of my emotions trying to turn on the happy and intentionality while working on the next task only to be blasted with feelings of hopelessness and loss. What the …

Thankfully, I’m a Designer. I’ve been reclaiming my focus by reframing the current events as a Design Project. This reframe has really helped maintain, for the most part, my focus. Like my first apartment — it’s not perfect but it’s home and I’m adapting to the challenges and learning to laugh at my failures.

The reframe is starting to work and the similarities are growing clearer. When I take on a big Design challenge, I have no hunch on how the situation will resolve. I don’t know what the future entails but I can work with a future focused attitude toward a solution.

Luckily, Designers are comfortable working with problems that are ever-changing. To gain clarity we have to design and build our way toward a solution. We try things, collect data, evaluate and move on from that not-finished place to clarity, acceptance, understanding and finally a workable solution.

This process makes Design great for solving wicked problems.

(A wicked problem is a problem that is difficult to solve because of incomplete, contradictory and the changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize.) Sound familiar?

Design is adaptive and generative. It’s living, multi-dimensional, and non-binary. Design thinking has the power to change more than how we solve problems. The way we think effects how we see ourselves, our relationships with others, and our role in the world.

There are many valid and purposeful ways of thinking. But just like the plumbing in my first NYC apartment — it’s best to know your expectations before you jump into the shower.
Let’s look at a few different kinds of thinking, and problem solving:

1. Engineering thinking accepts a known solution and solves towards it. Often
overused in society, but a very valid form of cognitive thinking.

2. Business thinking is about optimization. How do I make the most of from as little as possible?

3. Scientific thinking is social in nature, rather than a phenomenon that occurs inside an individual’s head. Consequentially, scientific thinking is something people do, rather than something they have.

4. Legal thinking finds resolution by following a given set of rules. It doesn’t always produce the actual truth.

5. Artistic thinking is beyond the boundaries of the intellect. Here, feelings are perceived equal
to intellect.

6. Critical thinking picks things apart to understand why they exist, not necessarily to
enlighten or educate. It doesn’t construct a solution.
See a pattern? All are binary. They move from problem to solution. Each promotes theory and over-thinking, which in can turn promotes rumination. Design promotes action and works towards a solution.

My current situation calls for a Design Solution. Why? I don’t want to slip down that rabbit hole of black and white, binary thinking, over thinking or rumination. I can’t solve the global situation but I can work on Designing a solution and work towards a positive outcome for my isolation, environment and work.

The main benefit of focusing on a Design solution is the adjustment to my mindset and actualization of my autonomy. I’m also reminded of my favorite part of being a Designer, collaboration. During this time of self-imposed isolation — collaboration has to be deliberate, focused, scheduled and designed.

Here’s a few hacks I’ve Designed that have really helped maintain my focus and aid collaboration. I hope they help you and I’d love to hear about your processes. Creative Collaboration still exists.

Baby Yourself. Set up a schedule for sleeping, waking, resting, eating, exercising and playing — stick to it! Routines help regulate our mood, appetite and focus.

Design Your Environment. Establish areas by function: work, exercise and living. Try not to mix functions — don’t work on your laptop in bed. No calls in the bathroom — please.

Office Manager/Janitor– Embrace your new responsibilities. Allocate time each day to keep your work area cleared of distractions. If you’re working in the Dining Room — return the space to a Dining Room when not working. Do this every day. Every Day.

Gratitude lists are great. You know you should be doing it. Are you?

Reframe It. Give yourself time to Reframe problems into solutions. Not handling a Zoom presentation like a Pro. Reframe this problem into a growth opportunity — With Practice you’ll be a Zoom Pro. And just think — When we return to normal work conditions you will literally be able to work from anywhere!

Shine Refine and Redesign. Focus on the task in front of you, the progress and practice creating a quality outcome. Remember, we all deserve a quality life. Let’s work in that direction.
I hope these suggestions help.

This wicked problem won’t destroy us. A Design-based solution, at its core, has two very important things: A response to context, and an ability to be vulnerable in starting something without seeing

the endpoint. Designers practice and build these skills by creating bold plans and solutions that are relevant, nonlinear, responsive to the immediate environment, and push beyond what we already know.

Let’s design a better way and collaborate on a solution. Until we meet again.

Form Follows Function 0 (0)

Good design is quiet and reliable like a refrigerator, it goes unnoticed until it breaks down — then slowly everything starts to stink.

Most people are more interested matching the Refrigerator to the kitchen’s style. It’s no wonder that people confuse style with design.

The difference seems very obvious. Design is a creative process that’s empathic to the person the design serves. Style is a manner of doing or presenting things.

The confusion is obvious as well. We innocently purchase a refrigerator to impress our neighbors or are seduced by style trends before researching its reliability. Sooner or later the real authentic value of the refrigerator is revealed.

The same truth applies for products, services or systems. Sooner or later, style fades and only the flaws are left.

Don’t get me wrong — I love style. It’s not all bad.

Both designers and stylists use aesthetic style intentionally to attract people to their work. But … the intentions of a designer and stylist are very different. Design is empathetic of the user’s emotions with the intention is to create a positive, long-term outcome. Style utilizes emotions with the intent to elicit immediate short-term results, normally a sale.

Designers and stylist priorities are reversed. Beauty is the first thing the viewer sees and the last thing a designer works on. Why? Design is solution focused.

Style is status. Design is Authentic. No judgement. Form follows Function. It’s that simple.

We all know simple is never easy. The surface normally hides a deeper truth. The complex things are the things that are broken and harder to fix.

The broken things need solutions that are designed. These solutions have the greatest impact on us and society. Imagine we could design solutions for these big broken things: Environment, Health and Socio-Economic Issues.

This is not a new idea. Victor Papanek, the Father of Human Centered Design, wrote a book called “Design for the Real World” in 1971 all about this premises. Designers should take some of the same design strategies used to create industrial products and use them to tackle problems like pollution, overcrowding and food shortages.

Papenek used to lecture — “a Designer needs to open his eyes.” You need to observe the world in order to ask interesting questions. Design methodology helps reframe how to observe the way humans live their lives then ask interesting questions. It’s the observations and questions that uncover the solutions

Since we all have time to pause, now is a good time to start applying simple Human Centered Design Strategies to reframe our relationship with ourselves and the world.

Here are few Design Strategies that never fail.

1. Start where you are You have to start somewhere. The best place to start is where you are. Be authentic. Honestly admitting that a problem exists helps you activate a solution mindset.

2. Less really is more Stick to a solution focus and don’t worry about how you look. Keep moving in a positive direction. Don’t try to fake it until you make it. Be it. Work toward being your ideal self every day. Even if you miss your goal, at least you are still you. That’s a very good thing. A clear reminder that your authentic self is a good thing developing into something better.

3. Get started, no excuses You can adjust while you’re working. Remember your values. Your values are your heartbeat. They will shape and mold how you see and use principles. Values are also the best baseline standard for any kind of personal evaluation. If something doesn’t align with your values, it will never work for you.

4. Build trust Maintaining a mindset of curiosity and working toward a solution defines positivity. Faking a positive attitude doesn’t build trust in others; your actions build trust. Working toward a solution builds trust in a process and that trust builds trust in yourself.

Could “Less” become “more” again? 0 (0)

The famous, sometimes cliché, phrase “Less is More” was coined at the end of World War Two by the legendary Architect Mies van der Rohe.

I tend to have a romanticized, hollywoodized vision of the time immediately following World War Two. A happy script of soldiers returning home by the millions, going off to college on G.I. Bill’s, buying homes and enjoying the good life in newly designed suburbs.

The background score — a happy swing beat, of course.

But have we forgotten why this phrase became legendary? Mies never really defined it. He didn’t have to he lived it. The context of his life formed this Design Philosophy and Mantra.
Mies van der Rohe was 59 years old when he coined the phrase, ‘Less is More”. Born in German in 1886, he survived World War One, The Spanish Flu Pandemic and World War Two. 1914 -1945, 31 years of great change, loss and tragedy.

Over 200 million people died from conflict and illness, an estimated 50–80 million additionally perished from famine in those 31 years.

The loss, though staggering, and gives life to the “Less” part of the phrase. This knowledge transformed my interpretation of ‘Less is More” from an aesthetic only Philosophy into a

Mantra to construct a more abundant life.

Mies’s Design purpose was simple. He strived to remove opulence to make less livable, comfortable and beautiful. “God is in the details” lives with “Less is More” in his work. His purpose produced designs that are intentional, mindful and created structures that command our attention and presence.

I guess Intentionality, Mindfulness and being Present aren’t new concepts. Visit New York City’s Seagram Building, constructed in 1958, and you’ll see these ideals manifested in glass and steel.

I pass this building almost every day and always of pause to enjoy the tranquility this structure creates in the heart of a normally busy, congested and crowded city. Today the neighborhood surrounding of the Seagram Building is ghostly quiet yet the buildings calming and tranquil effect is still present.

Social distancing and self-isolating have made the “Less” mean “More” for me. It’s forced a shift in my desires from working to acquire things to appreciating the things I already have. I know, how stoic of me.

Mies’s story has taught me that Stoicism was born in a time of great strife and war. A time when you’d want to hang on to a feeling of tranquility. Given his life experiences, I’d beat Mies was very stoic.

The world wide mandatory pause has given me the opportunity to reflect on the effects of intention design. The environment may change but purposeful, intentional design survives.
Could this be the Stoic benefit of Less is More?

The self-isolation reminds me of a modern stoic thought experiment by William Irvin, developed in 2007. Imagine you woke up one day and everybody disappeared from the world. There were still buildings, cars and everything you needed to survive but there were no people. Everyone had gone. It’s just you.

What changes would you make in terms of the things that you require for yourself?

You wouldn’t bother living in a great big house. You could live in any house — without buying it — you’d probably find a small comfortable and practical home. You might not bother with fancy clothes. — Well, I would. I’d have lots and lots of free fancy clothes. No judgment please.

It’s amazing how much “More” we acquire to impress other people. A simple thought experiment helps shift my desire to appreciating the things I already have.

Less really is More. And it’s more than just a surface, aesthetic approach. It’s phenomenally good advice.

There are things in my life that I’m in control of, and then there are things I have no control of. I can choose the direction I want: a small comfortable home and lots of fancy clothes.

The only things I can honestly control are my thoughts and actions. That’s it. Everything else, what other people do, what they think of me and what goes on in their lives I can’t control. That’s Stoicism simply defined.

The potential of “less is more” is larger than simple aesthetic design. You can apply the notion to just about anything once you grasp the true relationship of “less” and “more,” and figure out how you can leverage “less” to generate “more.”

Today it seems that everything old is new again. Our new normal isn’t that new — it’s happened before. It created a Philosophy and Mantra used by generations of Designers.
I can’t wait to see how this ‘Less” will transform into “More” beauty for the world to cherish.

Want to earn $4.2 Billion in less than 10 years from a $25 investment? 5 (1)

Let’s find out how a Design Mindset helped make this happen.

Joe Gebbia, Designer and Co-Founder of AirBnb is the person that actually accomplished this feat.

Joe proudly embodies the principles of a Designer and sites his creative education at Rhode Island School of Design as the foundation of his success. “Design has always been a driving force in my life: it’s the lens through which I experience the world.” Raised in Georgia, Educated in New England, he now works and lives in America’s Tech Hub, San Francisco.

Like anybody, Joe’s education, background and lived experience shaped and formed the way he found a solution.

This is the Design Matrix — an environment in which something develops; a surrounding structure.

Want to know the secret catalyst of Joe’s Success?

The journey from Lawrenceville, Georgia to billionaire creative entrepreneur started in second grade when Joe began selling his drawings of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The spark was lit and so was his love of art. It’s a great story but as Joe says, “… spotting an opportunity and doing something about it.”

His love of Art led to studying Industrial Design at RISD: “Design has always been a driving force in my life: it’s the lens through which I experience the world.” It’s this lens that revealed the answer to his budget worries.

The old saying “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” was reframed by Joe the Designer to “Limitations Improve Design”

Limitations indeed. Here’s how this reframe evolved. It all started while Joe was unemployed and working on a new business venture with his roommate. Then Bam, Crash their landlord raised the rent.

Here’s how a Design Mindset to reframed “event” into a solution.

Joe knew the Industrial Design Society of America conference was coming to San Francisco and many hotels were booked. Joe and his roommate rented out airbeds in their apartment to conference goers. They marketed this idea by creating a website called “AirBed & Breakfast.”

Design Mindset meets Commerce and the rebirth of a “new” way of Lodging was born.

Sustainable success takes more than just a great, creative idea — here’s how a Design Mindset positioned AirBnB for Success. The real benefit of a Design Mindset is. Conflation — the merging of two or more sets of information, texts, ideas, opinions into one — in this case one brilliant idea merged with the Design process.

This is the Design Matrix at it’s best.

“The Internet startup world’s convention of thinking is that you need to solve problems in a scalable way. You need to solve problems with lines of code, and the Internet allows you to do that. The same line of code can touch one user or 10,000 users. But, as soon as we started to do things that didn’t scale, everything started to click… We traveled to New York City; we talked to hosts; we did unofficial ethnographic research. We observed people using Airbnb. We experienced all of the pain points firsthand for ourselves… We came back to our roots and applied the industrial design process to the Internet — merging customer feedback with our obsession for good design. Once we did that, everything clicked, and we began making money rapidly.” Joe Gebbia, cofounder of Airbnb

Maybe, it really did begin with the Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Check this out — The four traits of Mutant Ninja Turtles are the same four traits of Human Centered Design: Trust, Honesty, Equitability and Substantively. It’s simple. Design solves problems for people.

In Business, Design approaches a business problem like a relationship. All good, authentic relationships are built on trust, honesty, work on resolving problems fairly and move towards a positive, future focused outlook.

Let’s have a closer look at these four pillars so we can understand clearly how Design can be used in Business.

1. Trust
Design was Designed by people for people. It seems obvious but sometimes obvious gets lost in layers of information and needs to be highlighted, clarified. All Human relationships are successfully built with Trust.

2. Honesty
Design is Solution Focused not Problem Focused. A Designer approached all projects honestly wanting and working for a positive Solution.

3. Equitability
Design is available and used by everyone — Think City Planning and Architectural Systems. It’s no wonder that Designers see and think in terms of Systems.

Systems evolve and grow to meet the needs of people. Design like creativity is abundant. Abundant thinking guarantees success.

4. Substantively
A Design isn’t complete until it has been evaluated and test. Care and concern for the user is the gatekeeper of the Design process.

Weather it’s a product, experience or service the feedback from evaluation helps Designers to understand where improvements are needed. Trust, Honesty and Equitability are key to good evaluation.

Designs real benefit comes from facing a problem with a solution focus. It’s this focus that enforces the benefit of working with, not against, the fear of failure. In today’s fast paced, solution driven working world — being curious, mindful, focused and brave are the cornerstones of success.

In today’s ever-changing business environment, applying Design Methodology and principles are the key to success. In this competitive world where anything can be created quickly knowing how to curate thought, ideas and problems is a real talent. Building authentic and trusting relationships is the key to any lasting success. It’s only natural that a Design Mindset is being sought after by industry leaders.

Design is trustworthy, honest, equitable and substantive.