In my kitchen


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I would like to invite you in my kitchen to answer your question ‘How does your practise and/or research inform your teaching and your thoughts of the future of design?’

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In my kitchen

  1. 1. In my kitchenPresentationUniversity of Brighton14.2.2011
  2. 2. [•] Test[•] IN MY KITCHEN[•] Vocal blues with guitar accompaniment: ‘Come on in my kitchen’, Robert Johnson[•] Thank you for inviting me. In return I would like to invite you in my kitchen . . .. . . No, allas, I do not know the mysterious lady in red, who seems to verify some kindof experiment.[•] From 1933 on the kitchen belonged to mrs Sonnenveld, [•] and her staf.[•] It is part of an extraordinary villa by Brinkman en Van der Vlugt, [•] located inRotterdam, [•] like most of their projects.[•] The interior design of the kitchen is by [•] Piet Zwart and produced by Bruinzeel.[•] Zwart, who is best known as a [•] graphic designer, is in fact one of the first[•] Dutch industrial designers.[•] ABSTRACT[•] I would like to invite you in my kitchen . . . [•] to answer your question ‘HOWDOES YOUR PRACTISE/RESEARCH INFORM YOUR TEACHING AND YOUR THOUGHTS OFTHE FUTURE OF DESIGN’ indirectly, as if peeling a mineola, [•] to name a juicy hybrid.Indirectly by presenting a number of motley but relevant examples, and some thoughtsand ideas concerning design & education. [•] Is n’t it a coïncidence . . ? The type iscalled Futura!I will skip a conclusion, [•] mainly because of time management: the slideshow will last12 minutes maximum. I hope the presentation will stimulate imagination like a tastefulldish might excite one’s senses. [•] However, of course, you will conclude afterconsidering all the information . . .[•] One remark: I will not predict the future of design. I do not think the discours isvery fruitfull. Most talks prattle on till all latest futuristic gadgets – probably somenanodevices or smart textiles products – are listed and described.
  3. 3. [•] In this context I’d prefer the edge of reality. ‘NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE’ – forinstance – expresses the dynamics of inimitable stylish Shanghai and did expand myhorizon.[•] Besides Paola Antonelli’s introduction concerning historically wrong predictions aboutprogress, during the last century, in Design and the Elastic Mind – the most recentavailable overview in print featuring innovating design – is rather hilarious.[•] Anyway – I am quite sure a number of issues can be adressed to catch up and boostdesign education here and now: construct collective student design teams, global co-creation, and project based learning, to name just a few generic.[•] Pay equal and fundamental attention to opposite skills: re-introducing manualexercise and experiment, [•] and – be aware: this is a bolean equation – providing basiccourses in both Classic Logic and Lateral Thinking to structure Design Thinking – onceand for all – are two more specific examples.[•] KEYWORDS[•] Drawing, experiment, maven, mindset, neuro scientific, program, research,sketching, skills, teamworking, thinking, USP, questioning.[•] ONE[•] In The Tipping Point – an excellent study, and wonderful guide, which should be readby every design-student – Malcolm Gladwell is introducing three kind of people whomatter in a social epidemic.[•] Connectors: ‘people with a special gift for bringing the world together’, and ‘whoknow everyone’. [•] Mavens – the word comes from the Yiddish, and it means one whoaccumulates knowledge – ‘information brokers, sharing and trading what they know’.Mavens are data banks. They provide the message.’ [•] ‘Connectors are social glue:they spread it. [•] But there is also a select group of people – Salesman – with theskills to persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing [. . .].’[•] Although it is not the task of a teacher to start, nor spread an epidemic, I am quitesure something of a Connector [•] or/and a Maven – oops, some Bolean once more – isin us all. Or to put it in Gladwells words: ‘To be a Maven is to be a teacher.’
  4. 4. [•][•] Actualizing assignments, [•][•] and keeping all information up to date,[•][•] is always required in education . . . Helping students to connect, linking themwith the actual ánd the past – [•] yes, its a Bolean! – seems to beanother main task . . . [•] Put importance to the history and tradition.[•] TWO‘To describe the problem is part of the solution. This implies: not to make creativedecisions as prompted by feeling but by intellectuel criteria. The more exact andcomplete these criteria are, the more creative the work becomes. The creative processis to be reduced to an act of selection.’ (‘Designing Programmes’, Karl Gerstner)[•] ‘To describe the problem is part of the solution’, Karl Gerstner [•] states in [•]Designing Programmes. (Please be aware of the subtitle: instead of solutions forproblems programmes for solutions.)Alas rather late, [•] at the start of the new millennium in 2001, I discovered thecompact but influential title, at [•] TOTAL DESIGN the famous identity agency inAmsterdam. [•] The book, first publicated in 1964, had not lost its impact.‘Designing programmes: why is it so difficult to define what is meant in anutshell. The subtitle: instead of solutions for problems, programmes for for solutionsis more exact certainly but scarceley more graphic. The position is probably this: therecan be no clear concept of something [...].’ (‘Designing Programmes’, Karl Gerstner)[•] I am used to de-compoze and atomize, because Design is driven by [•] [•] vertical,as well as [•] [•] horizontal thinking and practised by [•] deducting and [•] combining.[•] If a division in approaches on protocol analysis can be made in ‘formal’ and‘informal’ like Barbara Tversky, professor of Psychology at Colombia University andemerita at Stanford University, is suggesting in ‘What do architects & students perceivein their design sketches?’, [•] I’d stick to the first catagory. I quote:
  5. 5. ‘In formal protocol analysis, design is seen as a rational problem-solving search processthrough a “solution space”. [•] Its main focus is to describe design in terms of generaltaxonomy of problem solving [. . .]’.[•] ‘In informal analysis, on the other hand, design is seen as a proces in wich eachdesigner “construct his/her own reality” by his/her own actions that are reflective,reponsive and opportunistic to the design situation, as Dorst & Dijkhuis characterized it.’[• ] Indeed, my motto is already for quite sometime: ‘Ordening. Structuring.Programming. Simplifying Complexity’.[•] You might spot some evidence in the next three examples.[•] First: a series of covers wrapping up [•] Louis Couperus (1863-1923), a quitefamous Dutch novelist of the late 19th and early 20th century.[•] The design, [•] from 1981, [•] is infact not much more [•] then a color scheme. [•][•] Second: a magazine production – for number ten of 2007 – on the publicappearances and the body language of George Bush. [•] First my notes, [•] then someselected studies [•] concerning sequence, [•] format and rythm.[•] Third (last): a commission by Royal Dutch Post. [•] This is a very special stamp,which is distributed [•] only in the beginning of december, [•] just before X-mas.[•] These early digital sketches, [•] are made with Degas, [•] the popular, muchcheaper rival of Mac Draw, [•] because I could not afford a Mac as a starter at thattime.[•] So we mainly used Atari those first years . . . [•] Besides the (German) machinewas quite good, [•] especially because the ST was ‘open’ & all ports were easy toprogram.[•] The final sketches, however, are again just plain framed papercuts: precize, accurateand effective.[•] But apart from illustrating a specific mindset, these early examples show the effectsof a powerfull research driven methodology, caused by curiosity, beyond questioning and
  6. 6. expressed by the urge to investigate: on color, on rythm, on technology.[•] They also show experiment might produce valuable result within any laboratorium,any designkitchen.[•] THREEI assume the general agenda concerning design education will be the same in most partsof Western Europe. When I left [•] Willem de Kooning Academy those issues were:– [•] Globalisation, co-creation and [•] cross cultural design– [•] Students teamwork and multi-di-sci-pli-na-ri-ty– Crossovers: beyond up-to-date technology driven education– [•] Talent development and excellence– As always: the link with the industry, and the link with the profession– [•] And finally: how to connect design theory and practise?‘Design has its own intellectual scope besides theory & practise. [...][...] Design transcends theory & practise, and presents not only a new reality, butalso fresh insights.’ (‘die welt als entwurf’, otl aicher)But apart from those generic issues I would like to add another much less known . . .Although recently, now and then, a feature on ‘the brain’ [•] might appear in one of theScience sections . . . (The translation of the heading is ‘Digital reality breedsindifference’.)[•] After visiting the Shanghai International Fashion Culture Festival in 2010 andlistening to a stunning lecture titled: What guides the designer’ hand? Inside theultimate design studio: the brain by Art Historian John Onians [•], I am prudentlyconcluding every design programme might need some tuning, re-introducing the manualexperiment to equalize subjects like ‘concepting’, ‘design thinking’ and ‘strategy’.[• ] Recent neuroscientific insights seem to confirm not only the eye and the hand needtraining, also the designers brain needs manual feed to keep in optimum condition.[• ] The key concept to grasp is that of neural plasticity.
  7. 7. I quote: [• ] ‘Another is that the laying down of those memories is associated withstructural changes in the brain. [• ] We have always known that previous experience isimportant for artistic success, but we never knew exactly why. [•] Now we know that itis because each experience we have actually changes our brain’s structure, leaving uswith better resources for dealing with that particular experience if we have it again.’And: [•] ‘Each trained artist or designer acquires over time a brain whose structure helpshim or her to perform the particular tasks he or she is engaged in. [•] The process bywhich this happens is one that only recently has been understood. [. . .][•] By concentrating on a particular activity we re-design the area of the brain that weuse for it. [. . .] [•] Of course those neurally based motor skills will then influence hisown work, [•] and they will do so without him being conscious of it.[•] This is one of the most important insights yielded by neuroscience.[•] In a field like art or design you can have lots of bright ideas, [•] but if you don’thave the required motor skills with pencil or mouse your work will not be a success.’Distinguishing sketches from prototypesSketch PrototypeSuggest DescribeExplore RefineQuestion AnswerPropose TestProvoke ResolveTentative Specific depiction‘What sketches (and prototypes) are & are not’, Bill BuxtonWith reference to John Onians, [•] and with the help of Claudia Mareis (Forschungs-dozentin für Designtheorie at Hochschule der Künste Bern), recently, I have beenreading quite a number of scientific papers concerning the significance of sketching tothe profession.
  8. 8. [•] Most studies carry sturdy titles like: ‘The Dialectics of Sketching’, or ‘What doesdrawing reval about thinking’, or ‘Sketches for design, and design of sketches’. To sharea few insights:– [•] ‘Designers sketch to expolre design solutions, to record their ideas, or to illustratethem and communicate them with others.’– [•] ‘The ambiguity of design sketches, rather than promoting confusion, promotesinnovation.’– [•] ‘I see the real causal factor as taking the time to focus and make what is seenconscious.’[•] In this context I’d like to recommend a short vimeo on drawing by PentagramsDaniel Weil (via [•] Like many designers,Weil uses sketching to visualize, generate and refine his ideas. [•] He is a passionateadvocate of imaginary notating, and a true collector. Daniel Weil has, by his estimation,more than 375 sketchbooks, going all the way back to 1978.[•] ‘In a way the books become both a diary and record for my thoughts:the things I see, the things I think about, and the designs I’m designing,‘ says Weil.‘Drawing is a designer’s most fundamental tool; it is design thinking made visible.’[•] FOUR[•] Already some time ago, on the streets, and in the fields, all my beloved friendswore hats . . , high boots . . , and a gun on every hip . . .Of course, at the time, I was not aware [•] of my very first USP . . .[• ] Luckely, as you may spot, I am listed in ‘Dutch Graphic Design. A century ofinnovation’ [•] which was published in 2006.[•] An early example of my work, presented on page 378, is from 1991.[•] The same bookcover for ‘The Shock of the New’ by Robert Hughes is on the next
  9. 9. slide, but now surrounded by some of my designs out of the same period, which seemsto be exactly twenty years ago![•] My recent updated and extended portfolio is available via[•] My educational specialities can be listed . . .[•] On special request I might even present The Very Best Of . . .[•] When possible, in my spare time, I am studying LOGO – a LISP-dialect – producingsimple pen-up-pen-down Turtle Graphics . . .[•] . . . Yes, I think programming – writing code – should be part of every up-to-datecurriculum to offer students another perspective and influence design-methodology.[•] So, at the end of this presentation, I’d like to quote Harold Abelson – [•] amathematician and professor of Computer Science at MIT – who is stating in the Prefaceof ‘Turtle Geometry’:[•] ‘It is our hope that these powerfull but simple tools for creating and exploring richlyinteractive environments will dissolve the barriers to the production of knowledge as theprinting press dissolved barriers to its transmission.’[•] ‘This hope is more than our wish for students to experience the joy of discovery andthe give and take between investigator and investigation that typifies scientific research.[•] Like Piaget, Dewey, and Montessori, we are convinced that personal involvementand agency are essential to truly effective education.’[•] Thank you![•] Any questions?