Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Inspiration and Influences

The funny thing about the mind map that I first did for this blog is that it led me to an idea for my next posting here.

I often pass on my favourite articles that have been my comfort food during the challenging and questioning times (only with less calories). I thought I would post links and put references to these here on my blog.

The one that shall always top my list, is a collection of people-centred stories in design by Lauralee Alben, gathered together in an article called At the Heart of Interaction Design. The full article can be downloaded by clicking on the link or going to Alben Design’s website.

*Image from Alben Design's website

The next reference I love to pass on, has fed my interest in always having one foot in a design bucket and the other in a business bucket. It is a fabulous book called Managing As Designing. The authors who put the book together, Richard J. Boland and Fred Collopy, came to recognise the potential of a ‘design attitude’ in a business through their interactions with renowned architect Frank Gehry during the conception, planning, designing, development and construction of their faculty building, the Weatherhead School of Management. The result of these interactions resulted in a conference in 2002 and the subsequent published works are the papers delivered at the conference. It is a great read for both designers and business people. What I also love about Managing as Designing is that it is a demonstration of the transformative experience non-designers may have with design.

Wicked Problems in Design Thinking by Richard Buchanan (which can be found in the book the Idea of Design) is an article which really sharpened my focus on what I wanted to do in design. Buchanan provides for us a framework of Four Orders that designers work in. He uses the Four Orders to encourage our thinking about the potential of design in new and different areas and even today, Wicked Problems offers a rich and colourful seabed which always gets me thinking about design in so many directions.

An article that did precede all other articles, was one by Anne Patterson called Managing Upwards. As a Graphic Design Intern, I was struggling with being ostracised for using the wrong length hyphen (sorry em-dash) and knowing there was a greater potential for design. As we had a lot of down time between projects I would immerse myself in the graphic design studio’s library and one day came across this article which made me see a light!

In Managing Upwards, Patterson wrote about a Designer’s journey throughout their career which begins as a designer and moves forward and upwards into management. She wrote about how Designers applied their design thinking to managing

*An illustration from Patterson's thesis

Last and definitely not least is the thing that began it all- The Design Council. In 2002, a Creative Director I was working under passed me a brochure to read and from that point on, I was hooked!

The Design Council is the UK’s national strategic body for design and have a role in creating the right eco system for design and designers to play, experiment and work in. They are advocates for design and its use in business, government and society. I have been using the Design Council website as a source of inspiration and information for my personal, education and career interests over many years now, so I feel very lucky to be here, in the UK, at Northumbria University and collaborating with the Design Council on this PhD.