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14 SEPTEMBER 2015

Design for Action: designing the immaterial artefact

"Throughout most of history, design was a process applied to physical objects. Raymond Loewy designed trains. Frank Lloyd Wright designed houses. Charles Eames designed furniture. Coco Chanel designed haute couture. Paul Rand designed logos. David Kelley designed products, including (most famously) the mouse for the Apple computer.

But as it became clear that smart, effective design was behind the success of many commercial goods, companies began employing it in more and more contexts. High-tech firms that hired designers to work on hardware (to, say, come up with the shape and layout of a smartphone) began asking them to create the look and feel of user-interface software. Then designers were asked to help improve user experiences. Soon firms were treating corporate strategy making as an exercise in design. Today design is even applied to helping multiple stakeholders and organizations work better as a system.

This is the classic path of intellectual progress. Each design process is more complicated and sophisticated than the one before it. Each was enabled by learning from the preceding stage. Designers could easily turn their minds to graphical user interfaces for software because they had experience designing the hardware on which the applications would run. Having crafted better experiences for computer users, designers could readily take on nondigital experiences, like patients' hospital visits. And once they learned how to redesign the user experience in a single organization, they were more prepared to tackle the holistic experience in a system of organizations."

(Tim Brown and Roger Martin, 2015, Harvard Business Review)

A version of this article appeared in the September 2015 issue (pp.56–64) of Harvard Business Review.

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TAGS

Bill BuxtonCharles EamesCoco Chanelcomplex systems • David Kelley • design history • design intervention • design processdesign thinking • design-oriented approach • design-oriented thinkingdesigned artefactethnographic design approachFrank Lloyd Wright • genuinely innovative strategies • graphical user interfaceHarvard Business ReviewHerbert Simon • holistic user experience • IDEOimmateriality • intervention design • iPoditerative prototyping • iterative rapid-cycle prototyping • iTunes Store • Jeff Hawkins • look and feellow-fidelity prototype • low-resolution prototype • nondigital experiences • PalmPilot • Paul Randpersonal digital assistantphysical objectsrapid prototyping • Raymond Loewy • redesignRichard Buchananrole of the designerservice designuser experienceuser experience designuser feedbackuser interface designwicked problems

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
26 OCTOBER 2014

Donald Norman: The Research-Practice Gulf

"There is a great gulf between the research community and practice. Moreover, there is often a great gull between what designers do and what industry needs. We believe we know how to do design, but this belief is based more on faith than on data, and this belief reinforces the gulf between the research community and practice.

I find that the things we take most for granted are seldom examined or questioned. As a result, it is often our most fundamental beliefs that are apt to be wrong.

In this talk, deliberately intended to be controversial. I examine some of our most cherished beliefs. Examples: design research helps create breakthrough products; complexity is bad and simplicity good; there is a natural chain from research to product."

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TAGS

2010abstract models • applied social science • appropriately complex representationbreakthrough innovation • breakthrough products • call to actionChicagocomplexitydesign and innovationdesign communitydesign conferencedesign practicedesign research • design research conference • designer-centred designdisruptive innovationdogmaDonald Normanethnographic design approach • existing product categories • failure of design research • fundamental beliefs • generalised modelsHCDhuman-centred designideation • IIT Institute of Design (ID) • Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) • incremental innovationinnovation process • innovative breakthroughs • keynote address • product developmentradical innovationrapid prototypingreal-world designreal-world projectsresearch communityresearch-practice gulf • results-driven • simplicitytesting perpetuates mediocrity • translational engineering • translational sciencewhat designers do • what industry needs

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
24 MARCH 2013

Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design: Prototyping

"As design–led and practice–based research institution, CIID has expertise in directly engaging with design and technological materials to produce prototypes. Prototyping is at the center of CIID's design culture; it provides us with the methods and means to probe future scenarios, situate design discourses and test design and technical implementations in real world contexts. Our prototyping methods range from simple paper based co–creation props to functional physical prototypes of complex systems. In addition, video scenarios and various experience prototyping methods are employed, in the early stages of our research, in order to bring forward surprisingly foundational insights about the 'role' a technological object or system may have in the real world. Overall, insights derived from all prototypes feed back into our research process to re–iterate over its concepts or focus. With clear probing or prompting goals, we can better use sketches in materials, hardware and software to think and communicate about research, technologies and their societal impacts."

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
07 FEBRUARY 2013

The Strategic Plan is Dead. Long Live Strategy

"The approach we developed in working with our clients at Monitor Institute is what we call adaptive strategy. We create a roadmap of the terrain that lies before an organization and develop a set of navigational tools, realizing that there will be many different options for reaching the destination. If necessary, the destination itself may shift based on what we learn along the way.

Creating strategies that are truly adaptive requires that we give up on many long–held assumptions. As the complexity of our physical and social systems make the world more unpredictable, we have to abandon our focus on predictions and shift into rapid prototyping and experimentation so that we learn quickly about what actually works. With data now ubiquitous, we have to give up our claim to expertise in data collection and move into pattern recognition so that we know what data is worth our attention. We also know that simple directives from the top are frequently neither necessary nor helpful. We instead find ways to delegate authority, get information directly from the front lines, and make decisions based on a real–time understanding of what's happening on the ground. Instead of the old approach of 'making a plan and sticking to it,' which led to centralized strategic planning around fixed time horizons, we believe in 'setting a direction and testing to it,' treating the whole organization as a team that is experimenting its way to success.

This approach wouldn't surprise anyone in the world of current military strategy. Recent generations of military thinkers have long since moved beyond the traditional approach, most notably famed fighter pilot John Boyd. He saw strategy as a continuous mental loop that ran from observe to orient to decide and finally to act, returning immediately to further observation. By adopting his mindset (with a particular emphasis on the two O's, given our turbulent context), we can get much better at making strategy a self–correcting series of intentional experiments.

To provide structure to this fluid approach, we focus on answering a series of four interrelated questions about the organization's strategic direction: what vision you want to pursue, how you will make a difference, how you will succeed, and what capabilities it will take to get there.

The skills and mindset for today's strategic planning will come from continuously asking ourselves these questions about our organizations, programs, and initiatives. Once we accept Dwight D. Eisenhower's sage advice that 'Plans are useless, but planning is everything,' we will be ready to adapt to whatever curveballs the twenty–first century sees fit to throw."

(Dana O'Donovan & Noah Rimland Flower, 10 Jan 2013, Stanford Social Innovation Review)

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TAGS

adapting to changeadaptive approach • adaptive strategy • becomingcentralisation • continuous mental loop • data is ubiquitous • decision makingDwight Eisenhower • evolving trajectory • experimentation • experimenting to success • fixed time horizons • fluid approach • John Boyd • military strategy • military thinkers • Monitor Institute • navigational tools • pattern recognitionplanning • plans are useless • predictionsrapid prototyping • real-time understanding • roadmap • shifting destinations • strategic directionstrategic planningtactical engagementturbulent contextuncertain environmentsunpredictability

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
21 NOVEMBER 2012

Discovery Through Design: The Foetus Project

"Brazilian design graduate Jorge Lopes Dos Santos has developed a way of making physical models of foetuses using data from ultrasound, CT and MRI scans.

He developed the project in collaboration with a paediatric cardiologist at Imperial College while studying on the Design Products MA course at London's Royal College of Art.

Jorge Lopes Dos Santos hopes the models, which are made using 3D printing techniques, can be used to train doctors and to help with emotional support for parents whose child may be born with deformities."

(Dezeen, 16 July 2009)

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TAGS

20093D printing3D visualisationabnormalityanatomybabybiomedical • born with deformities • Brazilian • CNPq • Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento • CT scan • deformity • Department of Design Products • design graduatedesign method • Design Products MA • digital healthdiscovery through design • emotional support • fetus • foetus • Imperial College Londoninsight through design • Jorge Lopes Dos Santos • Jorge Roberto Lopes Dos Santos • MRI • MRI scan • mutant • paediatric cardiologist • parentsPhD researchphysical modelsproduct designrapid prototypingrich descriptionRoyal College of Artscan • School of Architecture and Design • Ultrasound 3D • ultrasound scan • visual depictionvisual fidelityvisual representationvisualisation

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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