How I was taught ‘design thinking’

I have been thinking a lot about design thinking. The term resonates with me as I do it. All the time. It’s the point from which I approach so many aspects of my life: from problem solving, to ideas generation, and life administration. Sometimes it is the answer, other times it just isn’t.

Responsibility lies with Peter Powditch, my illustration teacher at design school. I arrived at my first class fresh out of high school, excited by the prospect of my first ‘drawing’ exercise. “Draw yourselves as Madonna’s armpit”. And there it was. Our task. I judged him accordingly.

After half an hour or so he said, “now pour some coffee on your image”. Then, “rip it half, chose one piece, stick it to another page, and start again”. I wasn’t coping.

My journey with image-making at that point had involved creating a visual response to something sitting on my desk: a photograph, someone else’s artwork – the business of fruit bowls. Peter’s request was too much. He was asking me, not only to create something unfathomable, but to then disassemble what I had created in order to assemble something beyond my first iteration. This process of disassembly was too unfamiliar. I really didn’t understand its purpose.

The turning point came when I realised I was enjoying the act of creating more, due to the emergent nature of the Powditch approach. As a process it valued experimentation which led to more interesting outputs. The stuff was both interesting-good and interesting-bad, but if I didn’t like something I had created, I’d just spill coffee on it.

This is how I learned ‘design thinking’.

I was compelled to write this blurb after hearing consecutive dismissals of the idea of ‘design thinking’. I get that it sounds like a wafty process that has probably done more to benefit the design profession than anyone else, but knowing how to disassemble and assemble concepts and materials within the one process has been one of the most useful skills I have learned.

[Also posted on Medium]

How to weigh a cloud by Sean Cubbit

“The cloud is not weightless: it is a heavy industry. Add in the metals and plastics, the hydro dams, the thousands of miles of cables, the satellites and their rocket launches, and the millions of tons of electronic gadgets we use to access our movies – and the cloud looks a little less fluffy.”

How to weigh a cloud.

The Street Sound Activist’s Toolkit

“The fundamental reason why I work with these “street interventions”, using the Anthropomorpher as a tool for inviting passers by in the street to make collective improvisations on the street’s sounds, is because I want to ignite a trend where people start making sound art as street art. There is no official name for this, – I have suggested ‘fonografiti’ (intended misspelling), ‘proto urban folklore’, or ‘soundtagging’.”

The street sound activist’s toolkit | Akutsk.

Free PDF: Co-Creating Knowledge Online

Co-Creating Knowledge Online cover

Co-Creating Knowledge Online is the second booklet in a series of Internet field guides (formerly “critical guides”) I have developed for community artists and culture makers. It is for those who are interested in better utilising the Internet to connect, share, and make new knowledge. It builds on the premise that people have become increasingly networked as individuals rather than in groups, and that these new ways of connecting enable new modes of peer-to-peer co-creation. It is an attempt to translate my PhD research findings for community arts practitioners, and was inspired by the practices of CuriousWorks.

The booklet is available as a free PDF in beta. If you download it, please leave a comment on this post regarding why the booklet is of interest to you. If you provide feedback about the booklet, I will include your name (and your link of choice) in the list of contributors on the project website. The guide is CC licensed for re-purposing. Enjoy!

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P.S. Thanks so much to everyone who fed back during the beta-release of my first booklet, Appropriate Approaches to Online Community (previous post on this blog).

Free PDF: Appropriate Approaches to Online Community

Appropriate Approaches to Online Community is the title of the first booklet in a series of critical guides I have been developing for community artists. It is an experiment that attempts to translate some of my PhD research findings. The booklet was inspired and informed by a period of fieldwork at CuriousWorks.

The guide explores multiple aspects of making online community networks, so that practitioners might develop appropriate Internet practices – network solutions that take the specific needs of individuals and communities in to consideration. The guide promotes critical approaches to online community building, to encourage the continuation of creative practices beyond community arts projects.

The booklet is available as a free PDF. If you download it, please leave a comment on this post regarding why the booklet is of interest to you (this will REALLY, REALLY help me to evaluate the project). The guide is also CC licensed for re-purposing if you’d like to remix it. Go on…

  Appropriate Approaches to Online Community (571.6 KiB, 576 hits)