design process

We design un-pictureable things

Would you believe that the humble post - it note is causing quite a debate over at Fast Company. James Hunt is adamant they should be thrown out of the designers toolkit.

"It's time to put that ubiquitous design photo of the Post-it to rest. Give it a break. Retire it."

Now I think this is a little extreme but it did get me thinking. Post-it notes seem to go hand in hand with the service design process and I photograph post-its ALOT! But something Snook have become conscious of lately is the amount of  websites and portfolios that showcase a random image of a wall of post its. What does this tell us? Well, not very much to be honest because we can't see what is on the post-its.

"Post-its are visually arresting and like rolled-up sleeves, glasses on the table next to an open fountain pen, beautiful people on cell phones , architectural plans and cups of coffee on a conference room table they are visual shorthand for "hard work is being done here, we're busy innovating!"

I like the response from one reader - "I suppose next you'll be warning us that those who sketch in moleskines lack creativity". He is right, everyone has to find the tools that work for them and the way they like to do things.

How to tangibly capture what we are designing is a challenge service designers face.  So I suppose the lesson here is always look at a picture through someone else's eyes - what does it tell me? what do you learn from look at it? what impression does it give?

"Designers themselves are producing increasingly immaterial--and un-pictureable--things.Whereas designers used to make buildings and interiors and posters and toasters, they now are just as likely to be designing services, systems, platforms, and protocols."

The picture of the post it note was drawn by the fabulous Gill Wildman during a session about Douceurs.

What is the best use of post-it notes you have seen in a service design context?

Service Design Tools

"An open collection of communication tools used in design processes that deal with complex systems. The tools are displayed according to the design activity they are used for, the kind of representation they produce, the recipients they are addressed to and the content of the project they can convey."

Picture 14 brought to us by Roberta Tassi was highlighted by Nick and Jeff earlier in the week.

Lovely to see my honours project Douceurs highlighted by Roberta in both the moodboard and evidence section!

Simply brilliant and getting noticed.

Das Ende

The question of when a project formally ends is one that I usually take for granted. But this project has been different - our client was real, the budget was concrete and it all felt true. 3643089169_114e9d34fb

Berlin felt like a whole new place in the sunshine...

I have learned a whole new way of designing that was really challenging, but ultimately very liberating. It challenged the process I have been taught  since high school . We didn't find a problem - we didn't evaluate concepts - we let all ideas and possibilities collide. At times this felt too random, too unstructured - but the vast amount of ideas generated in such a short space of time was nothing like I had experienced before.


RIP and MIX places the focus on the process of existing design knowledge, objectified in the form of existing products and services. I have a new found respect for that knowledge.

Critical Thinking

I learned about 'Contextual Review' is all about exploring your field and placing it in the context of history and the present. Jeanette Paul spoke about 'key words'. The words that you would use in an abstract  or a piece of writing etc. I think the way people 'tag' on blogs must train your mind to recognise key words quicker?

Critical thinking is a skill. It is an important asset to a designers skill-set and this is what I will be trying to get across to the first year design students. I learned today that the term has been around for a long time - with Francis Bacon quoting:

“For myself, I found that I was fitted for nothing so well as for the study of Truth; as having a mind nimble and versatile enough to catch the resemblances of things and at the same time steady enough to fix and distinguish their subtler differences; as being gifted by nature with desire to seek, patience to doubt, fondness to meditate, slowness to assert, readiness to consider, carefulness to dispose and set in order; and as being a man that neither affects what is new nor admires what is old, and that hates every kind of imposture.”  in 1605

To learn more visit the Critical Thinking website. I recommend this little (20 page pocket size) book to anyone who would like to learn more about the subject:

I have been asked to create a visual representation of my design process. I don't think my process is ever the same...sometimes I'm thinking, sometimes I'm making, sometimes I am in-between...