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This is a talk we gave at AIGA's Pivot conference on Transdisciplinary Design, and also gave at Parsons for the Transdisciplinary masters there.

This is a talk we gave at AIGA's Pivot conference on Transdisciplinary Design, and also gave at Parsons for the Transdisciplinary masters there.

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  • 1. TRANDISCIPLINARY DESIGN Gill Wildman and Nick Durrant Carnegie Mellon University & PlotWere Nick and Gill and for the past ten years we have run a small innovation agency in London called Plot.But for a couple of years we are here in the US based out of Pittsburgh courtesy of The School of Design at CarnegieMellon University where we have been the temporary occupants of their Nierenberg Chair of Design which is both agreat honour and a privelige.Ted Nierenberg established this chair with the purpose of stirring the place up a bit. Which we have been trying toact on... and well we havent been fired yet.
  • 2. This wonderful image comes to you courtesy of the late great Hugo Gernsback, populariser of all thingselectromechanical in the mid twentieth century.So what does it depict? A knowledge worker from the then future — surrounded by the demands of workand instruments of communication.Those of you with keen eysesight wont have failed to notice the giant felt sock/hood insulating andisolating the worker in their own world, also aided by a breathing tube and canister of breathablesomething or other... It may or may not be as effective as noise cancellation headphones.But theres something wrong isnt there about the metaphor and situation of the knowledge worker justsitting there breathing their own fumes...?And it could even have been any design worker of the past 60 years — just pop a Macintosh in front ofthem for the last 30 of those years...In fact its been a problem for every profession, and its something to do with the impact of the intensespecialisation of forms of professional practise in the second half of the twentieth century, driven by theintense specialisation of forms of knowledge...
  • 3. The SpecialistAnd the problem is the specialisation of knowledge and action tends to isolate people in their ownfragmenatary knowledge and private worlds, with their own private languagesAnd this trend of increasing specialisation and sub-specialisation where to keep up with the sheer quantity ofinformation in order to keep up with the latest and remain employable and with ever more personalisedinformation feeds and media its possible to fill that breathing tube there with highly specialised gases andnutrients and the little slits for eyes ensure that you are only exposed to just what you want to see at any onemoment...And the point at which I heard a story some time ago now from a friend getting off a plane overhearingsomeone shouting into their phone at Heathrow that they were "a bloody content strategist not a bloodyinformation architect, and i dont do bloody wireframes..."was the point at which I realised that there was a real gap here between what Design aspired to be and what ithad actually become in practise, and that people were having to turn themselves into these ever moredifferentiated commodities with an endless prolifereation of new titles just in order to deal with an endlesslymutating post-industrial, post-modern, post-job description, world of work...
  • 4. VisionSo were going to be looking at the future of design whilst bringing along some valuable things fromthe past.And if its not yet a Vision, with a capital V, then at least its some hints towards the possible futurerole of Design in the Twenty First Century.
  • 5. A New Role C19th Craftsman | C20th Draftsman | C21st???If the big shift for designers between the Nineteenth Century and the Twentieth was thetransformation from "the craftsman" to "the draftsman", then theres another shift going on rightnow, driven by a whole new set of forces.And its about digging ourselves out of the role that was handed to us in the twentieth century.Which is what we call "The Technician of Desire".
  • 6. The Technician of DesireYou know... this guy. The most creative guy in the room.Well. Hes toasted.
  • 7. Repositioning DesignersSo what were trying to frame here is a new position that moves us beyond being Technicians ofDesire useful for decorating capitalism.And its not about making stupid (or even smart) things pretty.And its not about taking a brief and adding pixie-dust.And itss not about presentation Judo.Its not even problem solving... It’s more about framing the right questions
  • 8. The Animateur Experiences Interactions Services Systems Infrastructures Strategies PotentialIts a new role. Which is what we call "The Animateur". Its animating new design spaces andopportunities in relation to —experiencesinteractionsservicessystemsinfrastructuresstrategiespotential— and the shape of everyday life in the future.It’s a much more proactive and entrepreneurial roleAnd its more Facilitator of Collaborative Opportunities than Master of Ceremonies..
  • 9. Ethos Empathy Imagination PragmatismWe will still use designerly ways of knowing, but in a post-disciplinary way —EmpathyImaginationPragmatism
  • 10. New Contexts Purposes Knowledge Action PractiseWe will use these in new contexts —PurposeKnowledgeActionPractise
  • 11. New PURPOSES for Design in the 21st Century Transformation of Everyday Life Resourceful Thinking Reframing Potential Transition Prototypes Aesthetics of Use Impact1. Transformation of Everyday LifeOur big challenge is about transforming the way we live in the 21st century2. Resourceful thinkingThe challenges of one-planet living will involve a change in the way we see, think about and use resources(including people). For instance we need to work out how to exist on about five percent of our current energyuse.3. Reframing possibilitiesThat means reframing the possibilities of design for the wider community. (We can’t just sell it to “them”, wehave to bring “them” along with us)4. Transition prototypingWe will need to prototype that transition5. Aesthetics of useWe need to develop a new "Aesthetics of Use"6. ImpactAnd we have to become obsessed with Impact. What difference did we make?
  • 12. New KNOWLEDGE for Design in the 21st Century The old and the newDesignerly ways of knowing situated in new contexts...• New uses for old skills• New ways of using our skills strategically
  • 13. Ergonomics, Prototyping... Visualisation , Shaping the Story... Scenarios of peoples dynamic action, Metaphors... Mapping complex information spaces, Navigation... Modeling facets of dynamic human experience... Documentaries of relationships in system structures... Seeing systems holistically, Stakeholder perspectives... Charettes, The Open Studio... Exploring possible future value systems, Embodiment & Exhibition... ...Theres a big pattern here ***Every time we have stopped talking to ourselves and started a conversation otherdisciplines we have discovered or defined a new kind of design.***• Industrial Design: Ergonomics, Prototyping...• Information/Graphic Design: Shaping a Story, Visualisation...• Interaction Design: Scenarios of peoples dynamic action, Metaphors...• Interface/Web Design: Mapping complex information spaces, Navigation...• Experience design: Modeling facets of dynamic human experience...• Service Design: Documentaries of relationships in system structures...• Transformation Design: Seeing systems holistically, Stakeholder perspectives...• Speculative/Critical Design: Exploring possible future value systems, Embodiment, Exhibition...• Urban design: Charettes, The Open Studio...For industrial design it was a conversation with mechanical engineering...For interaction design it was computer science, cognitive science and anthropology...• ...
  • 14. Simon says — “Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.” The Sciences of the ArtificialHerb Simons famous definition of design is still true.1. Its increasingly clear that we live in artifice, not in nature... (The Anthropecene era)2. Its increasingly clear that its not just "designers" who are solely responsible for this artifice... (Here ComesEverybody), and3. Its increasingly clear that design is about "preferred future" situations, not just predictable ones... (But whois doing the preferring?)Much of that artifice has been dependent on fossil fuels.We may have "accidentally" designed our way in, we have to deliberately design our way out.
  • 15. New Contexts for ACTION for Design in the 21st CenturyNew contexts for Action
  • 16. Massive Change Urban Military Movement Manufacturing Energy Living Information Wealth & Politics Image Market MaterialThe Massive ChangeList
  • 17. World Changing Stuff Shelter Cities Community Business Politics PlanetThe World ChangingList
  • 18. Parsons: MFA Transdisciplinary Design The Systems challenge The Urban challenge The Social challenge The Sustainability challengeThe Sustainability challenge: How can we shift attitudes toward sustainable practices. For example, how doessomething regarded as an inconvenience become an afterthought?The Systems challenge: How we can better integrate ecological, economic, technological, and social systemsso that they work toward common ends?The Urban challenge: How can designers transform the everyday experiences and worldviews of urbandwellers to make them both profoundly local and dynamically global.The Social challenge: Using the idea that design helps shape the social imaginary, how can we use design toprototype new kinds of behavior and new forms of community.
  • 19. New PRACTISES for Design in the 21st Century (response to Parsons MFA TD) Design-led research (Platform Creation) Complexity Modelling (People and Systems) Reflective Collaboration (Playing with Others) Critical Reflection (Opportunities not Problems) Fitness Prototyping (Everyday Life)[New Practises for Design in the Twenty First Century]1. Design-led research – articulating a research challenge and exploring it through a design process (platformbuilding)2. Complexity modeling – visually modeling complex systems and social structures to yield new insights(People and Systems)3. Reflective collaboration – working flexibly in multidisciplinary teams to respond to and resolve highlycomplex challenges. (Playing with Others)4. Critical reframing – examining challenges and turning them into design opportunities (Opportunities notProblems)5. Fitness prototyping – discovering an appropriate resolution of a challenge that belongs to no single designfield. (It belongs to everyday life)
  • 20. Transdisciplinary?
  • 21. Transdisciplinary?
  • 22. scope1. ScopeSome of the subjects we pointed to are huge, and need scoping. Whats inside and whatsoutside of the project?Its also about preferred futures - 30% more people in local work, 60% more local food inlocal restaurants, 20% less crime stats, less obsesity and so onThese help us find a starting pointits all about the everyday, but in a preferred futureFinding the right acupuncture point (to use JTs perspective) - the place of maximumeffect with minimum interventionAnd it is best when it is a question"How can we….?"It sets up an open ended context - what do we need to make that happen?"How do we increase/decrease/improve x with the resources and situation we have nowand in the future?"or given what we have, what preferred future do we want?
  • 23. champion2. ChampionMost design projects are limited by the vision of the client.In traditional design, many decisions have been made before something becomes a brief,In transdisciplinary design, the client is in a position where s/he can see a wider visionthan most design clients, and also has a wider scope of influenceSomeone who can commission work across boundariesand understands the value of taking an approach that crosses disciplinesand values the role of design in projects that can create multiple forms of valuenot all of which are financial, and may be new ways of measuring thingsThere are some of these people commissioning work at the Federal, large City, UN or EUlevel, but they are not always design-aware, nor are they looking for designers. But thatwill change. The success of the IPod meant that business people thought about us, and
  • 24. people & platforms3. People & platformsFor most designers, the thought of bringing more people into a design situation is enoughto get them running for the Advil.Most will tell you war-stories about crazy clients, and we even have a term for: design bycommittee - it brings us out in a rash…But for this kind of work, the people are essential parts of what happens. The source ofexpertise. The design team. The inspiration for ideas.
  • 25. people & platformsLets start with the peopleIt involves the composition of a suitable diverse group of people who have a stake in itsoutcomepeople who are open to an exchange of views, methods, tools and ideaswhich means that all come to the session as knowledgeable, even the users, or citizenswho will use the output of the workthe group should be open for new information they need later, and allow people toremove themselves if they seeits a platform for not for argument and debate, but a co-creative space to createsomething uniquehow it is organized depends on the participants, for example groups with conflictinginterests need the opportunity to discover common ground and purposegetting them to focus on the opportunity space rather than the old conflict or blockageas designers we need to be comfortable with different forms of quality and equal respectfor professionals and amateurs
  • 26. platforms for newNo one frame of reference, or set of ideas dominates, which means you get many torches shininglight on the problem, and a very sophisticated view emerges.The designers in us find ways to map this complex system, so that we can help people identifychallenges and opportunitiesThe combination of models and tools help us to understand the complex issues involved andgenerate ideas.
  • 27. we can see elements ofthe kind of work we aretalking about in currentprojects‣Legible Cities‣Macon Money‣Change Model‣Taxi 07signpost examples
  • 28. Legible Cities: Bristol
  • 29. Legible Cities: London
  • 30. Legible Cities: 5 minute walk
  • 31. Macon Money: local meaningKnight Foundation and Area Code"The question here was how do we get people to meet across the city?"
  • 32. Macon Money: find your bond mate
  • 33. Macon Money: Cashback!
  • 34. Macon Money: & make friendsAll photos Knight Foundation - Jessica Goldfin/Mayur Patel, and Area/Code - Kati London
  • 35. Change Model: development & design"In a time when designers want to do more meaningful work, how do we get designersand development to work in new ways that are more effective?"Tisch ITP with Grameen Creative LabsNGO’s, economists, law and design students, academics,
  • 36. Change Model: exchanging models
  • 37. Change Model: making a new platform
  • 38. TAXI 07: a transdisciplinary teamDesign Trust for Public Space in New YorkPartnerships with City agencies & community groupsurban planners, information designers, economists, and transportation experts projectmanager, photographer, cartoonist and infographic designer.How can the taxi best function as a part of NYC’s public realm?How can it be optimally regulated?
  • 39. TAXI 07: working with stakeholdersStakeholders:passengers, drivers and owners, environmental groups, accessibility organisations
  • 40. TAXI 07: developing impact measuresVisualising, mapping, developing a point of view that was wide reachingMaking reccomendations that were in sync with everyday realities and constraintsSafe, good value, available and contributing to the sustainability of the City
  • 41. principles what are the patterns in what we see?So if there were a set of principles, what would they be?
  • 42. Its a 1+1=3 way of looking at thingsIts a 1=1+3 way of looking at things - its about mind sets, knowledge sets and skill setsMultiplying forcesTrans is more than one - always more than one discipline in the room at a time,exchanging their perspectives, knowledge, tools and skills
  • 43. A space for new expectationsCreate the space for different and new expectationsconsider the space well and embed the ethos it in clear terms of engagement
  • 44. The focus is defined and redefinedThe focus is defined and redefinedwe only know as we gain knowledge of the situation, so we frame and reframe
  • 45. It’s not just for the pro’sIts not just for pro’sleave the PHDs, egos and directorships at the door, engage with stakeholders, differentprofessionals & users, just bring an open mind and your knowledge
  • 46. Diversity is fundamentalParticipation is fundamentaldiverse participants create relevance and rigor
  • 47. User and citizen centredUser and opportunity centered - stakeholders as designers
  • 48. No end pointDesign is never finishedlike perpetual beta in software, it gets made as we continues as long as the participantsneed or want it to (Tim Brown design is never done)
  • 49. Feedback is fuelFeedback is fuelthe essential feedback loop is designed from the get go, and monitored
  • 50. Multiple impactsMultiple bottom linesmoney is essential, but other impact measures are what make these projects work
  • 51. Pilot-able, scalablePilot-able and scalablethe project gets traction early through manageable pilots, and is built to scale
  • 52. New language New tools New forms of designers New norms of what designers coNew forms of language around how people combine and collaborateNew tools will emerge for framing and reframingMore designers will be sophisticated in their stakeholder engagement approachesNew designer forms
  • 53. For designers and design educatorsWhat does it need from me?As a designer or a design educator, it depends on where you want to beYou might like to: • be someone who can create great platforms for people to get together and start new things • be a facilitator to events where people need complex processes designed into compelling activities and events • be someone who can create an atmosphere conducive to open discussion of differing viewpoints and worldviews without needing to convert otters to their ways of seeing • be someone who brings great visualizing methods into the most complex of areas to help see patterns, opportunities or blockages • be someone who can bring in prototyping skills of a wide variety and at the right fidelity to help people make something with which they can think with and try out in pilots• and for educators you can be these, or teach these skills…
  • 54. SatisficingWhat does this mean for how designer and design educators think??You need to be open to new ways of looking at the world (that you have not been taught)You need to be happy with less quality by your standards, and accept that what is is goodenough
  • 55. Animateur, facilitator...You need to let go of being the sole author of a piece of work, and instead either afacilitator to or a participant in the process
  • 56. Beyond the traditionalDesign beyond traditional solutions, using non-traditional materials
  • 57. Live workIts all done live, and with people, not taking it back to the studio and finishing it in thecomfort of the studio
  • 58. CapabilitiesThe output is in new abilities in other people, in capacity, not what you can doyourself, or how smart you are
  • 59. thank youtime for questions