design thinking

My advice to all art school students

All around the UK, Universities are welcoming their first year students through their doors - bright eyed, bushy tailed and facing a lifetime of debt, Mike Press is one of those chaps who sees it has his mission to fill them with passion and self-belief. He asked me to make a little video to give the students one piece of advice. [vimeo w=580&h=435]

Here's what you guys came up with...

What would your advice be?

Dear design students

It's hardly a secret, but there are thousands of design students in the world.  Advice and opportunities are everywhere. Education and learning are very very important to me. I used to think this was because I was a student myself, perhaps a little too close to it all - too tangled up in the education system to understand the bigger picture but now I realise it's much more than that. It's something that I care about very much and believe I can add value to. In the past little while I have spent alot of time with students. I have had incredible conversations and been inspired. I have decided it's time for me to draw some conclusions.

I am getting to explore many of my ideas at Snook through the creation of Matchable; a service that connects design students to the health and well being sector. I do work under the umbrella of The Studio Unbound; an initiative aiming to introduce students, graduates and educators to the creative power of social media. Last but not least, Making Service Sense; a service that makes sense of Service Design for students and educators, has been evolving over the last year.

I want to wrap all this knowledge and these connections up in something - I'm not quite sure what that something is but right now I am toying with the idea of creating an E-Course. This is mainly because many of the students who get in touch with me are dotted all over the world! It's also because I don't have the time or space to connect with all the young people who get in touch with me. I want to fix this.

I am envisioning a 'work at your own pace' e-course. There would be no due dates or expiration times. So I'm putting my idea out there and I would like your feedback. Would you sign up for this course? Would you pay for it? What would you want to learn?  Tell me.

Oh, and here is words of wisdom from Frank Chimero that moved me and I think they will move you too.

Good advice from Hello Jenuine

"Anonymous asked Frank Chimero: What advice would you give to a design student?

Design does not equal client work.

It’s hard to make purple work in a design. The things your teachers tell you in class are not gospel. You will get conflicting information. It means that both are wrong. Or both are true. This never stops. Most decisions are gray, and everything lives on a spectrum of correctness and suitability.

Look people in the eyes when you are talking or listening to them. The best teachers are the ones who treat their classrooms like a workplace, and the worst ones are the ones who treat their classroom like a classroom as we’ve come to expect it. Eat breakfast. Realize that you are learning a trade, so craft matters more than most say. Realize that design is also a liberal art. Quiet is always an option, even if everyone is yelling. Libraries are a good place. The books are free there, and it smells great.

If you can’t draw as well as someone, or use the software as well, or if you do not have as much money to buy supplies, or if you do not have access to the tools they have, beat them by being more thoughtful. Thoughtfulness is free and burns on time and empathy.

The best communicators are gift-givers.

Don’t become dependent on having other people pull it out of you while you’re in school. If you do, you’re hosed once you graduate. Keep two books on your nightstand at all times: one fiction, one non-fiction.

Buy lightly used. Patina is a pretty word, and a beautiful concept.

Develop a point of view. Think about what experiences you have that many others do not. Then, think of what experiences you have that almost everyone else has. Then, mix those two things and try to make someone cry or laugh or feel understood.

Design doesn’t have to sell. Although, that’s usually its job.

Think of every project as an opportunity to learn, but also an opportunity to teach. Univers is a great typeface and white usually works and grids are nice and usually necessary, but they’re not a style. Helvetica is nice too, but it won’t turn water to wine.

Take things away until you cry. Accept most things, and reject most of your initial ideas. Print it out, chop it up, put it back together. When you’re aimlessly pushing things around on a computer screen, print it out and push it around in real space. Change contexts when you’re stuck. Draw wrong-handed and upside down and backwards. Find a good seat outside.

Design is just a language, it’s not a message. If you say “retro” too much you will get hives and maybe die. Learn your design history. Know that design changes when technology changes, and its been that way since the 1400s. Adobe software never stops being frustrating. Learn to write, and not school-style writing. A text editor is a perfectly viable design tool. Graphic design has just as much to do with words as it does with pictures, and a lot of my favorite designers come to design from the world of words instead of the world of pictures.

If you meet a person who cares about the same obscure things you do, hold on to them for dear life. Sympathy is medicine.

Scissors are good, music is better, and mixed drinks with friends are best. Start brave and brash: you can always make things more conservative, but it’s hard to make things more radical. Edit yourself, but let someone else censor you. When you ride the bus, imagine that you are looking at everything from the point of view of someone else on the ride. If you walk, look up on the way there and down on the way back. Aesthetics are fleeting, the only things with longevity are ideas. Read Bringhurst and one of those novels they made you read in high school cover to cover every few years. (Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby.)

Stop trying to be cool: it is stifling.

Most important things happen at a table. Food, friends, discussion, ideas, work, peace talks, and war plans. It is okay to romanticize things a little bit every now and then: it gives you hope.

Everything is interesting to someone. That thing that you think is bad is probably just not for you. Be wary of minimalism as an aesthetic decision without cause. Simple is almost a dirty word now. Almost. Tools don’t matter very much, all you need is a sharp knife, but everyone has their own mise en place. If you need an analogy, use an animal. If you see a ladder in a piece of design or illustration, it means the deadline was short. Red, white, black, and gray always go together. Negative space. Size contrast. Directional contrast. Compositional foundations.

Success is generating an emotion. Failure is a million different things. Second-person writing is usually heavy-handed. All of this is too.

Seeking advice is addicting and can become a proxy for action. Giving it can also be addicting in a potentially pretentious, soul-rotting sort of way, and can replace experimenting because you think you know how things work. Be suspicious of lists, advice, and lists of advice.

Everyone is just making it up as they go along.

This about sums up everything I know."

Should we do this? Together? Tell me what you think...

Where is the public in public health?

Whose health is it anyway? was the question posed by a panel of public health experts at the Aye Write festival.

"Glasgow has the record as ‘the sick man of Europe’, but has a reputation for innovative thinking about public health alongside community-driven models for change. What is the overall picture of public health in the city, and how can we best aid and support long-lasting and fundamental change both in individual attitudes and at the level of society?

'Where is the Public in Public Health' was part of the Reimagining Scotland series of discussions looking at issues and debates for Scotland’s future. Speakers were: Professor Phil Hanlon, Dept of Public Health, University of Glasgow; Fiona Crawford, Glasgow Centre for Population Health; Dr Gerry McCartney, NHS Health Scotland; Isabella Goldie, Mental Health Foundation Scotland. The event was chaired by Dr Rosie Ilett, Glasgow Centre for Population Health."

The panel talked about inequality and the fact that people in Scotland are dying far too young. This is a true injustice and I commend the panel for being so blunt about it! Transport was a topic that cropped up several times - we need to work together to slow the traffic down both physically and metaphorically. I think we are all good at identifying what needs fixed but need to question why it is broken in the first place and focus on assets rather than new shiny solutions.

Sketchbook visuals

As you would expect mental health was also a topic of conversation. Niel talked about promoting positive mental health that considers social networks, self-esteem, social capital and our physical environment. A mentally healthy society will be an equal one and I think that requires lots of different thinking from society and citizens.

But there is hope! Phil Hanlon declared 'let's be innovative' Of course things weren't always this way and things can be different! Hear Hear!

The notion of community empowerment began to shine through towards the very end when a report by Shiela Bec 'Good places, better health' was brought up because of it's approach. The research for this paper involved handing the citizens cameras instead of questionnaires - incredibly simply yet so powerful.

Sketchbook visuals

I left this event wondering whose job it is to change this stuff? Who is held responsible? and it seems Scotland thinks its much healthier than it actually is...

I respect Phil Hanlon for his unwavering optimism! 'We will change and it's so exciting' I echo his advice to talk about vision and imagine a radically different Scotland. Of course, we could both be accused of being flippant but I believe we have to see this as an opportunity.

I would like to see this conversation continue in a more open way with members of the public in the room!

Pushing the boundaries of Public Service Delivery

EDGE is happening tomorrow !

"These are exciting times for councils embarking on ambitious transformation programmes and the intensity of challenge lies in delivering excellence for customers while reducing costs.

Technology is changing service delivery fast, customers want more and different and will continue to do so. We need to be ready for the pace of change of the next ten years and how we will have to change the face of council services.

Our chosen speakers will demonstrate how they have used their vision, creative and innovative thinking to deliver excellence and efficiencies.  This opportunity comes at a time where cost-efficient and effective outcomes are paramount."

You can watch a little clip of me and the rest of the speakers here.

I am really looking forward to it and especially keen to hear Kevin Winkler from New York Public Library speak!

I can't wait to talk about a game Snook are working on around rethinking the future of libraries; a facilitators toolkit to co-design ideas for the future of libraries with people who run the service, specialists and the general public...

[slideshare id=4858111&doc=ourfuturelibrary3-100728100555-phpapp02]

Hat tip to Mike McLean for putting me in touch with Liz. You will be able to follow tweets on the day.

Graduation is only a concept. In real life every day you graduate.

Four hours on the train, one Snook pie and 30 blog posts later... I want to share my experience of visiting Duncan of Jordanstone last week with all of you dear readers. It all started with Jonathan Baldwin who is one of a kind. If you don't follow him on twitter. Do it. If you don't see the value of design. Ask him. The highlight of my trip was spending time with my old tutors ; Hazel, Mike, Jonathan and Fraser. Thank you for believing in me!

Jonathan invited me to talk to all second year design students about my experience of graduating and what I do now. For me the Fulton building held memories of miserable mornings studying engineering there so it was a poignant moment  to see the  room filled with students from textiles, jewellery, graphic design, product design, interactive media design and interior and environmental design.

Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design

I'm not going to write about what I talked about because what's really valuable is how the students have interpreted what I said. All the posts are here ( in no particular order ) I have never had this amount of detailed feedback so thank you!! I am fascinated by how students from different disciplines interpret Service Design and it's relevance to their craft!

Graduation is only a concept.  In real life every day you graduate.  Graduation is a process that goes on  until the last day of your life.  If you can grasp that, you'll make a difference = Arie Pencovic