About a brief

“– We want to change people’s lives through sound and music, and have sound and music really adapt to their everyday lives’– Now, that would be a great brief… and it’s short!” Yves Béhar, designer of Jambox portable speaker for Jawbone, 2010. Béhar’s example of a great brief, apart from being, well, brief, is an … Continue reading “About a brief”

Changing behaviour through design

If you’ve read some of my blog posts you’ll know I believe in the power of design; that design can solve problems, make things work better for us, bring pleasure and beauty to everyday things. But can design also change how we behave? This bench can. How? I’ve received a variety of answers from students … Continue reading “Changing behaviour through design”

Can you teach empathy?

“Empathy is the capacity to step into other people’s shoes, to understand their lives, and start to solve problems from their perspectives. Human-centered design is premised on empathy, on the idea that the people you’re designing for are your roadmap to innovative solutions…” Emi Kolawole, Editor-in-Residence, Stanford University d.school We ask students to consider who … Continue reading “Can you teach empathy?”

‘What If…?’

What would you draw for the word ‘kettle’ in a game of Pictionary? This is my 16 year old’s attempt: although we’ve never owned a kettle which looks like this drawing, somewhere in his mind there exists an imprint of such a form: a kettle archetype. Without even realising, we all store a range of … Continue reading “‘What If…?’”

A Chair is… Part 2

“… there is nothing – nothing in the whole world that somebody won’t buy and sit in if you tell him that it’s a chair. It’s the great new art form of our age…” Randall Jarrell, American poet and essayist In my post A Chair is… I discussed how questioning what a chair is and … Continue reading “A Chair is… Part 2”

A Chair is…

…”A very thorough market research campaign on people’s taste in chairs has established that they must answer the following requirements: they must be comfortable, luxurious, rustic, fanciful, strictly technical and functional, broad, narrow, high, low, hard, soft, flexible, elegant, rigid, compact, large and impressive, cheap, good value, obviously expensive and socially impressive, made of one … Continue reading “A Chair is…”

Design in the age of Covid

When the UK went in to lockdown in March, the creative industries were hit hard, throwing many in to professional uncertainty and financial stress. This  inadvertently conveyed the message that although the sector’s contribution to society may be ‘nice to have’, it is surely also ‘non essential’. But the global crisis brought by the Covid-19 … Continue reading “Design in the age of Covid”

Learning with objects

Like most museums, The Design Museum, where I have been part of the learning team for almost a decade, builds its schools’ programme around handling collections. Constructing learning activities based on handling objects seems to me especially pertinent in a museum context: young people on a museum visit are surrounded by objects that spark their … Continue reading “Learning with objects”

Learning to look

Noticing things comes with being a designer. I certainly notice things –  I see shapes in unexpected places, juxtapositions of random elements, order in a messy scatter of objects. I notice beauty, functionality and thoughtful design, just as much as badly executed, frustrating or downright ugly design. Creativity needs constant nourishment; being alert to everything … Continue reading “Learning to look”