16 December 2010

The Stick To It Award
A piece of driftwood from the shores of the Baltic Sea made the perfect icon to create an award that I gave to Sam Carter of Emily Carr University. After 36 years of teaching, he is retiring and his contributions to education and the creative community are significant.

In short, he has continued to live his life by sticking to it.

Because Sam is also very globally minded, having this wood come from another part of the world also held meaning for me. He has a great love of other cultures and materials so driftwood seemed like a perfect fit. Who knew driftwood could do all of this?

[It] provides shelter and food for birds, fish and other aquatic species as it floats in the ocean. Gribbles, shipworms and bacteria decompose the wood and gradually turn it into nutrients that are reintroduced to the food web. Sometimes, the partially decomposed wood washes ashore, where it also shelters birds, plants, and other species. Driftwood can become the foundation for sand dunes."

Douglas Coupland reflected on Sam's influence and shared that he owed him his life.
Sam, like the driftwood, provides a space for others to be sheltered and nourished. And because of this, I realize that I now want to be on the lookout for other reasons to give this award. There is nothing more powerful than meeting someone who lives their life to give it away. So don't be surprised if you find me combing the beaches of the world hunting for more sticks of driftwood. Because we need more like Sam who live it to stick to it.

12 December 2010

Screen shot 2010-12-12 at 10.42.05 AM
This image represents my thoughts on how design can act as a conduit for conversation and collaboration (especially when working in contexts/cultures that are unfamiliar). The expert mindset can reduce the opportunity for sustainable solutions. And the expert posture assumes we've nothing to learn from others.

Conversely, when we aim to design a solution or service together, we have the opportunity to imagine alternate possibilities and in turn apply some of these learnings in other environments.

I've put the continent of Africa in my diagram because of how my design work in Rwanda has influenced my ideas on the topic significantly. But I wouldn't limit these notions to what is often perceived as design "over there" or "for development." There is great potential for this way of working to be applied in my own backyard.

This image has been included in this discussion if you have more interest in the topic:
Aid as a conversation between cultures

05 December 2010

When Milton Glaser was illustrating Dante's Purgatory, he become interested in the "Road to Hell" and developed a little questionnaire to see where he stood in terms of his own willingness to lie. Beginning with fairly minor misdemeanors, the following twelve steps increase to some major indiscretions.

1. Designing a package to look bigger on the shelf.

2. Designing an ad for a slow, boring film to make it seem like a light-hearted comedy.

3. Designing a crest for a new vineyard to suggest that it has been in business for a long time.

4. Designing a jacket for a book whose sexual content you find personally repellent.

5. Designing a medal using steel from the World Trade Center to be sold as a profit-making souvenir of September 11.

6. Designing an advertising campaign for a company with a history of known discrimination in minority hiring.

7. Designing a package for children whose contents you know are low in nutrition value and high in sugar content.

8. Designing a line of T-shirts for a manufacturer that employs child labor.

9. Designing a promotion for a diet product that you know doesn't work.

10. Designing an ad for a political candidate whose policies you believe would be harmful to the general public.

11. Designing a brochure for an SUV that turned over frequently in emergency conditions and was known to have killed 150 people.

12. Designing an ad for a product whose frequent use could result in the user's death.

(excerpt from Steven Heller on DT&G Interviews)

If you enjoyed this, you might like his Ten Things I Have Learned essay.