Imagine you woke up blind

A charity fund and advertising agency applied design thinking to increase awareness and stimulate the finding of solutions for people who have lost their sight and cannot get around anymore. Referring back to my post about empathy, this is a great example of how we don’t understand our users until we are in their shoes.

Try it for yourself, and maybe your perception will be changed.

You are blind video

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Debating 101 – Geography and creative clusters

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” – Albert Einsten

I know what you’re thinking, another quote by Einstein as if he were God. Well, no. Even though research shows the source influences the quality of an idea (so you’ll agree with Einstein just because he is considered one of the greatest minds in history), I chose this saying for a different reason. Because I think understanding, unlike knowing comes from a much deeper level. And I think one way to understanding is debating.

This relates to the debate I experienced on Friday about the geography of creative clusters. The typical academic method of teaching pupils involves making them read texts they might not (always) comprehend, re-spilling it to them in class and trying to get some sense out of what they retained from them. Involving them in a debate on the topic, summarising and questioning what they read is, I think, a better method.

That being said, we didn’t conclude whether geography is a must in the creation of creative clusters, but it is a definite influence maybe not because of the resources it offers, but because of the human clusters that (organically or governmentally) form in certain areas rather than other. Does it puzzle you? Think about the all-too-famous Silicon Valley, it might not have formed because there was unused land on the West Coast, but because little by little, like-minded people starting gathering there. They started companies, which attracted investment, employees, more companies, more people interested in that topic, in a vicious circle. Even now, if you would like to work in the tech industry you would think of getting a job there. But can London become a Tech City? We debated that, but watch the video and tell me what you think.

May modern art be derived from modern consumerism?

The social event of the art world in London?

Frieze. A bit of background research and it’s easy to see why: the top 170 galleries of the world parading their most precious belongings, be it White Cube and Gagosian or small focused galleries like One and J. Gallery exhibiting only one artist.

Although I am not a modern art enthusiast, it has definitely made me more open-minded and I have tried to understand it by relating it to the modern era. Nowadays, we appreciate what is different, what stands out, what we can customise, the value that we can express in a price beyond the actual worth of the object. Do you disagree? Think about Linux, viral campaigns, Pandora bracelets and Apple products. Now transfer this to modern art: it’s definitely different from the traditional sense, it stands out through unique approaches, we “customise” by attributing different meanings to it and the value and price of artworks becomes much greater than the worth of its components.

Time and time again, I’ve read and had evidence that creative people need to be surrounded by music, art, film and travel in order to enrich their knowledge and be inspired. And to have had the change to go to Frieze London with my fellow MACErs is a really one of a kind experience for which I express my sincere gratitude.

I have learned that art is personal and that is what makes it so special. And when your own personal experience matches that of the artwork’s creator, then you’ve reached another level of understanding. On that note, Frieze has art for more than one level of understanding: for the keen, for the knowledgeable collectors and for those of us (myself included) who need a hint to decipher.

Piece from a South African gallery, I interpreted it as angels of death

Romanian art piece from the 1980s symbolising the wish to be broken free from communism from an outside force

I might be wrong, I might have fellow thinkers, but I understand modern art in a certain way. What is your way?

A new sport called people watching

After practicing a lean start-up in a workshop, it’s time to put another layer to that foundation. This past week has been all about a new level of experience. A level called empathy.

During my time in the academic world so far, I’ve been told time and time again that the needs and wants of the consumers are the primary source of product development. Hence, we should always turn the world upside down to understand what they want. The same time and time again I agreed with my teachers’ valid point. This time, I’ve actually taken a step more. During the past week the MACE students from Kingston University have performed two experiments.

1. Being in the shoes of an impaired person. I had was blind-folded and escorted to the bathroom of the university’s business building by a pretending hearing-impaired classmate. I could imagine it was a daunting thing to be blind, but I never expected what I was about to feel. The biggest shock was going down the stairs. I was so scared thinking were do they begin? Where do the steps end? Then I was always reaching to the front trying to feel the world around me: people, walls, doors, objects. My third observation is that I felt lost. I couldn’t tell direction anymore. And this was for what purpose? Going to the bathroom escorted in a building I knew. What if I were alone outside? I challenge anyone reading to try this once. Then the word “empathy” will have a whole new meaning for you.

2. Observing people use the world around them, or actually students using the library, using their cards to access the barriers, to print, to borrow books. Using the books to study for their papers. Using the printers to print their papers. Breaking the rules. Using other people. There is something particularly interesting in observing how people have expectations and the way they use their environment without realising any step. It is even more gratifying to watch them when their expectations are not met. Be creative enough and you’ll find a different method to meet them. Just think differently.

With that advice and an open mind you might invent a new wheel. Or something else to get you there. After all, you buy the drilling machine for the hole, not the machine.