Tag: travel

05
Sep

Think Like A Tourist: Do You See or Notice?

Photo by opensource.com https://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/4639590640/

Photo by opensource.com
https://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/4639590640/

This summer, we’ve been traveling on our “design pilgrimage” as we call it.

I brought several books on the trip with me to give structure to my thoughts and writing. One was Experiences in Visual Thinking by Robert H. McKim, the classic how-to manual for anyone who wants to sharpen his or her creative visual thinking skills.

These are the methods of approaching any problem or situation using subconscious and conscious types of thinking. Visual thinking is a multifaceted skill and approach to any problem we have to solve on any given day.

We’re all born with the ability to harness our imagination, and we think most of our waking lives, but as McKim sees it, schooling, habits, thinking patterns and work life get in the way. We think broadly and unproductively. We believe the way we think about one situation applies to most other problems or assignments.

When I was a university teaching assistant, we new teachers had several sessions of training to prepare us for working with students and the various ways people think and learn. Most academics are logical and linear thinkers, but that’s merely a slice of the learning personalities in the world.

In one particularly useful session, the trainer was a professor and researcher who used neuroscience in his teaching methods. He said that all of one’s thinking life could be reduced to patterns we used in the grocery store (before Amazon, obviously!). The way we thought and acted on our thoughts in the store was the organizational patterns or thinking blueprint we probably applied to everything else in our lives, including university assignments. Some people are spiral thinkers, he said, they go in the middle and work their way out, with or without a list. Others work from the sides going up and down the aisles.

He gave us this information as a way to help us teach and empathize with students. Everyone uses patterns in their thinking and we apply them to most aspects of our lives. Raising our awareness about the types of thinking, he wanted us to understand that just because someone doesn’t take what we think to be logical notes it doesn’t mean they’re not absorbing and using the lecture content meaningfully.

We approach our design problems in similar ways to our approach to the grocery store and McKim’s tool kit remains valuable for all of us visual solutions people.

The pivot for thinking takes place as we look at our world. Using McKim here, seeing is what most people do; perceiving is what most successful visual thinkers do.

What’s the difference between perceiving and seeing?

Seeing

Seeing is looking at the world and our surroundings as is. We use and apply thinking blueprint and go about our day solving problems or creating solutions. We look at an assignment or problem. We research what others say about it and come up with solutions. It’s practical, efficient and reliable. This is often called deductive thinking. It means you apply general observations about the world to particular problems.

But, seeing as a thinking tools is rarely innovative.

Perceiving

Perceiving, on the other hand, is active with multiple steps and involves all of what McKim calls “operations” in our brains. Here are some key facts about the process of perception:

  • Active and ‘down below.’ Let’s say you are given a creative brief with an assignment. Perceiving would involve looking at the problem, researching and talking to others. Perceiving problem solving means sitting with the assignment and walking away, shifting the process to ‘down below’ into the unconscious layers of brain activity, anfr letting the mind work through the assignment for some time without using the conscious mind.
  • Integrates past ideas. Perceiving blends the past with the new assignment. Let’s say your assignment involves coming up with new ways to drive interest in a company’s new product, say men’s socks. Because you’ve worked on many, many projects with the assignment of driving awareness, you know the tried-and-true steps. But wait, you’ve also seen stellar and creative work done in financial services lately that raised awareness about products, too. While not the same product, they had similar market problems and they tried x, y or z. Integrative thinking brings in other experiments to your problem and sees what works.
  • Connects dissimilar topics. Perceiving is making mental leaps and combining with other areas. Let’s say you have a passion for travel and you read lots about the best surfing in world, which you know is in far-flung places like Taghazout, Morocco, Bundaran, Ireland or Tofino, British Columbia. You know this topic, and you’ve stuffed lots of details in your brain over the years.This “stuff” comes in handy when you are thinking about travel and surf and your sock assignment. You’ve looked at the sales figures, the average consumer and you’ve got a stack in your drawer at home and the office. You realize that connecting the socks that fold easily can be found in the dark easily and are made of breathing micro-fibers with travel and these often unheard-of places could breathe new market life for the socks, and make the client very happy.

That’s perceiving — seeing the world in a new way. Utilizing your brain’s functions and harnessing your creative powers.

So what’s your take on the world around you? Do you see or perceive?

— Kate Canada Obregon

29
Aug

How Danish Design Infuses Into Everyday Life

Scan 2In our last post, we talked about the connections we saw between geography and design thinking. The city of Christiana in the middle of Copenhagen seems to embody the thinking and problem-solving skills any designer needs. It functions as a mini-city and its early founders wanted to experiment with the best way to combine design and urban planning with living off the grid. At least the 1970s version of off the grid.

 In this post, we’re going to pare down our thinking and talk about Danish Design. Specifically, how their design thinking is infused with their art and how they spend their days.

 The ingredient in their version of design thinking seems to be empathy.

Empathetic design is not just decoration. It’s a powerfully blended combination of art and purpose, beauty and functionality. It’s an orchestration, a deep understanding of how people interact with their worlds; how the body best sits in a chair, how lighting best distributes in a room and how toys stimulate the brain.

On a less grand scale, design thinking infuses Scandinavian and Danish Design.

The Danes are renowned designers because they are design thinkers. They invest energy and time into what an object, idea or concept or thing will do for people, how it will interact with people’s everyday lives. How we are drawn to objects and ideas. Design in this way is problem-solving and empathy. Whether it’s a chair, lamp, clothes, art, buildings, machinery and technology—the problem-solver designer wants to make our lives better, more comfortable and interesting.

 

Poul Henningsen's PH Artichoke Light

Poul Henningsen’s PH Artichoke Light

The iconic Danish chairs or lighting that we love here in the States could have been made less beautiful and quirky, but why would we want to settle for a chair that may look good but makes our back hurt by noon? We love these objects because they marry style and function, utility and beauty.

And why not merge style into function and in the process make people happy about sitting in a chair during a long, boring meeting? For the winter light-deprived Danes, the Poul Henningsen’s PH Artichoke gently fractures light into smaller bits that envelope the room in warmth.

From this perspective, design inserts itself into people’s everyday world, quietly and respectfully. Designers want to live with us, so they think about how objects or ideas will burrow into the habits and routines of our lives.

chair

 

 

 

 

lights

 

 

 

 

 

Scan 3

22
Aug

Think Like A Tourist: Deconstructing Danish Design

The island of Christiana situated in Copenhagen.

The island of Christiana situated in Copenhagen.

We headed out this summer for what call our Oishii design expedition. These trips help us to refresh, shift perspective, and perfect our practice. Around the office we ask everyone to “Think Like A Tourist” and purposeful travel is the best way to realize our recognizably lofty ambitions.

Going out and exploring is not simply about seeing what others are doing, although that’s always useful and fun. These trips are for us, about immersing ourselves in how other cultures think and work and create. So this summer we packed up and headed to Denmark, one of the centers of iconic Scandinavian design.

Design is everywhere in Denmark and Copenhagen; it infuses daily life, and not just architecture, industrial design, furniture or fashion. For well over 300 years, Denmark has been universally recognized for design and craftsmanship. And we are familiar with the modern designs of Bang & Olufsen, Kaare Klint, Arne Jacobsen and the Jans J. Wegner chairs. For us, we wanted to experience and understand the power behind Danish design, and capture thinking in action. We wanted to spend time in Bregade and the Design Museum and wander the city.

It became clear quickly to us that the power of Danish design is what happens before an object becomes physical and real.

Danish design captures a thought process, long before the iconic lamp, chair or building takes shape. Like good design thinkers, Danes create things for people, to use and maybe make their lives better and more comfortable. And fun, too. Perhaps it’s the history of Denmark; they endure long winters with only a sliver of sun, the many fjords and waterways cutting cold into bare skin. This is design thinking, solving our problems with a solution that brings light and air into routines. After all, that is what the best design is, problem solving on a grand and neverending scale.

You see design thinking obviously in architecture and urban planning. One example is a “city” in the middle of Copenhagen called Christiana. It’s not a “city”; it’s more of an urbane modern commune smack dab in the middle of a bustling metropolis. In this “city space” on a fjord, was once a 700-year-old military barracks. The Danish government was in the process of abandoning the property in 1971 when locals quickly marched in. They set up a semi-autonomous city with housing, public services and a public garden and architecture codes. They called in celebrated graffiti artists to paint murals, they set up food markets and industry. Lots of thought and experimentation has gone into all facets of the garrison-city, what the early founders wanted residents to experience.

The flag of Christiana.

The flag of Christiana.

 

 

 

Welcome and well-placed firewood

Welcome and well-placed firewood

Entering the gate into Christiana.

Entering the gate into Christiana.

 

The fjord looking onto the bridge. Note the new architecture emerging in the background.

The fjord looking onto the bridge. Note the new architecture emerging in the background.

 

 

 

A typical “vacation” house on the island. All houses must adhere to strict regulations.

A typical “vacation” house on the island. All houses must adhere to strict regulations.

 


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