Everything but the kitchen sink

Catching up on reading after three days away from my system was exhausting. It seemed as though there was so much going on out there to comment on, think about, ponder over that I ultimately threw my hands up and thought I’d just highlight the posts with my comments.

On Google, Yahoo, design, experience, UI and Maeda – it’s interesting to juxtapose two opposing viewpoints with the businessmedia’s opinion.  Note that while each designer/UI guru has detailed and interesting viewpoints, especially from the user’s point of view, only BW talks about Yahoo’s brand not being clearly identified with "search" or any particular "secret sauce", while Google is considered "search" and their poll shows a 45% market penetration amongst their "Best of the Web" respondents. It seems to me that while the experts opine about what is best for the user, the user has figured out what works for them. Google, in the meanwhile, has far grander plans than that. Something I’m more inclined to bank on after hearing Peter Norvik talk at AC2005 just day before yesterday.

Two consecutive posts by Peter Merholz that have an implicit, yet ironic answer to the question he posits. In his most recent post he asks,

The vast majority of designers in the AIGA audience have essentially
become marginalized. Form-makers, while valuable, are being passed by
those who are attempting to use design to serve more strategic ends.
And these form-makers, it is clear, have no idea. A fair portion of the
blame rests on traditional design "journalism" (Print, ID,
Communication Arts, etc.) which does everything to laud style and form,
and nothing to increase awareness in its audience that such endeavors
are becoming increasingly marginalized and commodified. And so when
someone would suggest that form-makers are, well, being left behind (as
happened in both GK’s and JJG’s and my talk), inevitably an audience
member would lash out.

Sadly, the bulk of the AIGA conference, particularly what happened
on the main stage, simply bolstered the primacy of form. I guess it’s
an open question around to what degree is the AIGA responsible for
*leading* designers (which often means taking them where they don’t
want to go), versus giving designers what they want (which often means
designers getting left behind.)

And I’ll leave you with the most poignant part of his previous post,

He remarked that, if he started talking "design thinking" within Pentagram, Paula Scher, another partner, would throw up. He actually stated it twice, for effect. Paula Scher throws up at the notion of "design thinking."

Mind you, as "design thinking" is one of those impenetrable words like "innovation", "design" and "beauty", I’m not trying to either plug it here as the solution nor imply it’s the answer. However, the fact that the generally understood concept, as usually meant by Bruce Nussbaum et al in the businessmedia, has been exactly that, that designers have the skills and approach to problem solving (er.. they think like designers) that would raise them from the "form maker, commodity" issue Peter raises and allow them more of a say in shaping a brand or products strategy from the beginning. Or as Simon Andrews quotes Simon DT,

Lots of people don’t like change. Change doesn’t much care.

Meanwhile, Fast Company notes the coverage on BusinessWeek’s innovation channel on Apple and it’s cultural impact on the world of design through the work of it’s employees past and present. Like the top flight management consultancies, there are design studios so seminal in their thought leadership, ambience and approach, that perpetuate these qualities through their employees over time. Corporations serious about embedding a designcentric culture of innovation have a long term vision to aspire to, to become "must do" place of employment. P&G has this reputation for brand management.

This is an irresistable quote today from Good Morning Silicon Valley,

“So … as I was sitting on the toilet this morning and I noticed the
shiny white porcelain of the bathtub and the reflective chrome of the
faucet on the wash basin … and then it hit me! Everybody perceives the
iPod as ‘clean’ because it references bathroom materials!”

A frog design consultant concludes that Apple design guru Jonathan Ives does his best thinking in the same room as everyone else.

I’ll wait till after I read a BW photo spread of the 20 year impact of frogdesign’s employees before I comment on this 🙂

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This entry was posted in Business, Design, India/China/Asia, Personal. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Everything but the kitchen sink

  1. jk says:

    thanks for that update on “design thinking”, niti…..
    🙂
    btw1. my humble blog experiment has just been included in the tompeters blog roll
    btw2. there is an interesting discussion on design-management.de

  2. jk says:


    sorry.
    if i am doing some advertising here, i should do it right.
    now the link to me works.

  3. Niti Bhan says:

    Congratulations! Jens, that is excellent news.
    niti

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