Saturday, March 28, 2015

Ethics and Design

A recent article in Fast Company, titled “Stanford’s Most Popular Class...”, dealt with a class titled ‘Designing Your Life’.  The first time I was introduced to the idea that one could 'design' their life was when I was a graduate student at Berkeley. Over the years, My friend and mentor C. West Churchman—a polymath Professor at UC Berkeley—had written and lectured on the concept of the ‘Design of a Life’ with a focus on questions of ethics in whole systems. He was very concerned with the ethical behavior of individuals within business, governmental and institutional organizations as they ‘designed’ or planned interventions in complex social systems. Ethics was at the center of designing behavior from West’s perspective.

West Churchman and Harold Nelson, Mill Valley, CA (1990's)

Reading further in the Fast Company article on Stanford’s class, Bill Burnett—the Executive Director of Stanford’s design program—is quoted as saying:

… "Design doesn’t speak to ethics and spirituality and all those things, but they work within its frameworks. Our only bias is, hey, we can make the future better." "

Given that Stanford’s design interest (e.g. commodified ‘design thinking’ etc.) has a strong focus on mercantile interests this is the sort of design axiom you would not be surprised to see coming from within the University. However, statements like this cannot go unchallenged given their implied foundational character and potential influence on future design praxis and practitioners. The power invested in getting to ‘frame and name’ design inquiry and practice is too consequential to not be confronted when so far off the mark.

Design is a ‘service’ meaning that it is focused on human relationships. Human relationships are grounded in ethical protocols and “all those things” in the case of good professional designing.  Designers are not just ‘hired guns’ making stuff better. Designers are part of a complex interrelationship of clients, stakeholders, and design agents integrating values, aesthetics, spirituality, and facts  to formulate desirable futures. Where can future designers go to prepare to become responsible and accountable design professionals?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Relationship of Systems Thinking and Design Symposium 3 keynote

Relating Systems Thinking and Design 2014 Symposium Proceedings
Editors: Birger Sevaldson, Peter Jones
ISBN: 978-82-547-0263-5

The proceedings from the RSD4 symposium are now available online:  from the successful Relating Systems Thinking and Design Symposium in Oslo, October 2014. The proceedings contain presentations and papers presented at RSD3.  The proceedings also contain papers by keynote speakers Hugh Dubberly and Harold Nelson and a transcript of the late Ranulph Glanville's last speech. The RSD symposia was hosted by the Oslo School of Architecture and Design:

An Appreciative Critique
Summary Keynote by Harold Nelson

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Core77 Design Awards

I am on the jury for the Research and Strategy category for this event. Am looking forward to working with the other members of the jury and to find out what is up an coming:

2015 Core77 Design Awards

An annual celebration of
excellence in all areas of design.

The 2015 Core77 Design Awards is a celebration of excellence in all areas of design. The program enlists an international jury of design experts to honor those who present creative, innovative and forward thinking designs across 14 traditional and progressive categories.
Students and professionals alike are invited to enter their work so that established, as well as up-and-coming designers can gain visibility and recognition from the global design community. Winners of the Core77 Design Awards receive yearlong publicity across the Core77 network, a trophy as well as a free ticket to the 2015 Core77 Conference.

2015 marks the fifth year of the Core77 Design Awards and the introduction of a new honor from the program, the Core77 Community Choice. Those who are selected as winners, runners up and honorable mentions by the jury will be voted upon by the public for two weeks following the official winner’s announcements in May. The person or team to receive the most votes during the following two weeks will win the Community Choice title, plus airfare, accommodations and free ticket for one to the 2015 Core77 Conference in Los Angeles.
The Core77 Design Awards program is open for entries from February 9th until March 31st. Winners of the Core77 Design Awards will be announced on May 5th and public voting for the Community Choice title will begin on May 6th and run until May 20th. The winner of the Community Choice title will be announced the following week on May 26th.

Where to learn more: