Tools, process, doing, thinking

Process driven design, empathic design, design thinking, so many terms and even more interpretations. Every designer has his or her own way of going about situations and will name this process or the approach differently. Design thinking is becoming an accepted term for human centred design, but there is a lot more to it.

Service design is all about ‘the design of services’ according to, but is it really? Is it just like any other design discipline; a way of thinking with a specific toolset to tackle and find a great variety of issues that need a response. Birgit Mager says that service design ‘is about choreographing processes, technologies and interactions within complex systems in order to co-create value for stakeholders.’ This sounds more like it to me. For my dissertation I have started to look into the application of service design in Citizens UK and their development plans. The reason is not just because of the opportunity but also because of the nature of engagement with staff and members that is needed. The service we want to develop comes with a shift in the culture within the organisation. Service design in this scenario goes far beyond the service itself.

Talking with a senior service designer this morning, and reading blogs this afternoon I learned that designers often just do a lot ‘because we are busy’ the question is: are we thinking WHY we do what we do? Why do we ask time to test what we test? Why do we use the tool we are using? In other words, shouldn’t we just learn how to deal with all the tools in our toolbox, the same way a shoe maker learns how to handle his tools? Sometimes all we learn is how to sharpen the knifes we have before we are able to make the right cut.

The top 1%

356924c8371c6a2d2c859dbb15de9380The top 1% owns 53% of India’s wealth, in China they own 37% and in the UK the top 1% got a lot richer than the rest of the country. People build luxury health centers where people pay from £150,- a month to be a member, or buy £ 15.000,- worth of suits p.a. Not to forget a building emerging next to my college with the price tag of 1 billion, bought by an investor from Hong Kong. I am stunned and happy with the ‘just be normal’ attitude of the Netherlands. We laugh and sigh when people show off their wealth, we tend to share our wealth so we are all better off. Incredibly high bonuses are a reason for investigation and thus less common.

There is something else. These numbers have been flying around for the past weeks and all I wonder is; are they happy? How do you go to bed at night with golden water tabs in your house, just had some caviar and probably wiped your hands once on a towel ready to be washed with liters of water? Many questions, many people fighting for rights, saving the environment, saving to eat and go to school and yet, in the 21st century equality is still huge. Take your responsibility, keep your head held high and look yourself in the eyes, what can YOU do to reduce environmental impact, inequality and economic issues?

Pretotyping and Minimal Viable Products

Produce! New ideas, keep the ideas for yourself, someone might steel them! So produce in secret and let them buy it!

No, stop.

We should share ideas, the more you share the sooner you know there is no way someone is interested in it, or many people are, and you have to start/stop making it.

There is a step in between the idea and the end-product. The prototype. The test. I love the idea that a test is as simple as faking a phone call to test how to serve someone. I totally see the point of making MVP’s or pretotypes with a piece of paper pasted on your smartphone to test viability. For my current two projects I will use and play with these features. I have found that in both instances my clients are not 100% receptive of these creative approaches. What is kind of nice though is that, partly because I am still a student, I get a playground to test methodologies. The first test will be later this month, another round of tests in June. I can’t wait! Will keep you posted!

Creative Conversations: How can creative businesses be ethical & profitable?

1,5 hours is too short for discussing this question. Obviously the answer to the question is yes, one can generate profit in an ethical way. But there was more to think about, it is not just an artists choice to be both ethical and generate some profit, part of the question lies in the hands of companies and government who don’t see the value of true ethics.

The sad thing is that the conversation is held between people who already value ethical entrepreneurship. People who already understand that their impact goes beyond numbers of people clicking on a website. During the discussion I wondered how we can create understanding with corporations, so they see value in a way that is more than a number in the bank. We live in a world where everything ought to be measured, yet for the really important stuff: ‘Social Impact’ we have no up to date measurement system. For years we have been working in paradigms that have not shifted with us to the 21st century. Is it up to us, millennials, to push harder?

‘Young designers should stand for their ethical goals that they wish to pursue in society.’ I would like to take this statement one step further. I strongly believe that we all should question in our society to understand what the real value is that you wish to support. Where do you spend your money? Do you know who made your jeans? Do you know who contributed to the innovative ideas of your company? And as designers, all designers, educate yourself on price, values and communicating both to a potential client. Only than will we be able to pursue our ethical visions for the world. And I know, in ethics we have to choose our battles. We cannot always be green, responsible, the right price, selling at the right place, no carbon footprint, locally produced and serving needs all at once. But, ask yourself, should we not try to strive to serve as many of the ethical issues as possible?

Imagine Moscow – Design Museum London


The Iron Cloud, one of the imagined buildings of the Soviet Union

Soviet Union architecture and design on great scale. A year ago I saw a wonderful collection of product and graphic designs from the SU in Rotterdam. Back than I was mesmerized by the simplicity of the design and the high emphasis on functionality. So when a colleague told me about this exhibition I was immediately interested.

This exhibition shows another dimension of great design: showing greatne
ss together. Until this exhibition I didn’t think about how the government used architecture and design to show how great the Soviet Union could be. This totalitarian push to be innovative and show the world what the possibilities are is credit for the leaders of that time. Nowadays we don’t particularly see that design can show the innovation in the name of a nation. We innovate mostly in name of ourself. Which is a pity, or moreover, a missed opportunity. Open design, open innovation or shared innovation is a future I would like to embrace. Together we can, we can work on wicked problems, we can address issues that are urging and we can find solutions that fit most people in society. The Soviet Union was a wonderful experiment in many ways, it has failed, but I learned last Sunday that it also brought people together and created opportunities for philosophers, architects, artists and filmmakers to imagine how great that nation could be. For innovation, innovative systems we ought to look forwards, but also backwards to learn from what is there. Could the Soviet Union be an example of open innovation?


“I don’t read the magazines cause I don’t want to be influenced by trends”. A friend said this to me and got me thinking. Why do I read magazines? Just to let you know, I read all kinds of magazines; from Vogue to National Geographic, from Dazed to Works that Work.  The answer is the following. Magazines are filled with ways to tell stories. In one image, in an images series in different writing styles, both long and short and of course in the overall issue of the magazine. I read and explore a magazine for joy, to learn new things and to be inspired by the great variety of ways in which stories can be told.


Rules for Revolutionaries

Bernie Sanders’ fight to be elected in the USA was remarkable as no one had seen him as a potential candidate. Becky and Zack describe the revolution they tried to start together with Bernie. This politician understood that politics was not enough, he wanted a movement. Just like Obama did in 2008, Bernie worked hard on community organizing as a tool to raise voters, awareness, dedication and power. It was not enough in the end. But the two campaigners, Becky and Zack, share the rules they discovered in their journey in this book. 22 rules that I will not all describe.

I will share one: Rule 11. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the big. In other words, if it is not shiny and designed but does fulfill its purpose, work it! In some occasions not having the end design is fine and unnecessary. This rule is a bit scary to me, as a designer, but also challenges me to give it a try. There is a big pro to this rule which is that if it looks unfinished you will get more input from its users to make it work better. In my previous job as spatial designer a finished render could sometimes feel too finished for a client, they saw no room for changes they wanted to make. The question is: what does the thing you present has to represent? Is it the finished design or an idea? Is it about how it works or the looks? Do the looks care in a social revolution?

The social revolution worked, thousands and thousands of people connected with Bernie Sanders’ team of staff and amazing volunteers. Community organizing on a big scale, I am impressed. The book describes internal and external struggles, management decisions and volunteer request, a must read if you want to work on big change!


Bond, Becky and Exley, Zack, Rules for revolutionaries – how big organizing can change everything, 2016.

Springbreak sewing

Springbreak, a break for my mind. A moment of reflection on the past months and a look forward to what lies ahead. Preparing for 7 weeks of storm. One way I give my mind a break is by crafting, making, letting my hands think. As a hobby I sew clothes, 12+ years ago they were not wearable, but I got better. I touch the fabrics, weigh them and test the fluidity. The flat piece is cut to more pieces, and with precision but with enough space to mold, play, test and shape. The slow transformation and many steps give me time to listen to interesting talks, think about process steps in my service design work and even better, they relax my brain. At the end I do have scratches on my skin from the pins, and there is little threads everywhere, except for inside my head. In my head the big clutter of thoughts is rolled up in bolls of yarn of various colors. That is what spring break does.

Hidden Figures – movie

Hidden Figures a movie about three afro-American women at NASA: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. The movie shows what it means and the value of  being first, catching up with innovation and believing in your strength. Three women in 1961 who made a difference, are role models today, but they had to be resilient. They dared to believe in themselves for more than 100% which has brought them to the front.

We can only learn from history, here we learn how trust and empowerment brings the best to the surface. Despite people’s disbelieve in you because you’re ‘unfitting the normal frame’, you will be able to do what you love. Believe in yourself.