Sunday, April 29, 2012

TED Talks: Tim Brown urges designers to think big

Discipline: Design
iTunes U Course: Reimagine the Designer
Lecture (iTunes): Tim Brown urges designers to to think big

Notes and Reflection:
Mr. Brown is an excellent speaker, I enjoyed his talk from, TED Global 2009, very much. He begins by reviewing several of his own projects that were marginally successful, however are now obsolete. He discussed how what passes for design these days is really inconsequential. While various designs may look pleasing to eye and somewhat useful, but few are ll that "important".

He informs us that somewhere along the way, design got small, where it used to be very big. Designs at the time of the industrial revolution were epic, and not days we are overly focused on cool looking housewares.

He the discusses the Great Western Railway, designed by Islambard Kingdom Brunel. One of his greatest designs, he wanted to create the experience of floating across the countryside. Tis presented many unique design problems, long tunnels and bridges. But he did not stop there, he imagined a continuous travel system in which passengers could embark in London and disembark in NYC.

We need to start thinking big again, leveraging Design Thinking. Important: Design is human centered.

For example: Conversion Sound has created a system where people in remote parts of the world can leverage a PDA and some software to fit a high quality/low cost hearing aid, whereas in the west we rely on skilled technicians. They started with people, instead of technology.

Instead of thinking what to build, build to help think.

Rapid prototyping is of key importance.

Innovations by the Arabin Eye Institute in India, where they were able to greatly reduce the cost of manufacturing intra ocular lenses through rapid prototyping and innovative thinking and low cost CAD/CAM prototyping software.

Design Thinking is now actively engaging the consumer through various participatory systems.

Change: In times of change we need new alternatives and new ideas. While Brunel worked during the height of the industrial revolution,, we now find ourselves in the midst of a new revolution and must thinking differently.

We need new choices and Design Thinking gives us a new way of thinking. Instead of defaulting to a typical conversion approach, whee we make choices based on what we have available, we need to be thinking we a new Divergence approach to creat entirely new ways of doing things. Explore new alternatives, new solutions and ideas that have not existed before.

The first step is understanding the question: what is the design brief?

For example the Acumen Fund is trying to sole the issue of getting clean water to remote and poor parts of India. As part of the process, they teamed designers and investors up with different water treatment organizations. Through workshops and a competition they developed many new ideas for delivery and transport. Some of these ideas are just getting underway.

In summary, design apples to just about everything and should involve everyone. Search Twitter #CBDQ for some of the interesting conversations related to what Design Thinking can be applied to.