Collaborations for innovation – Melding our brains together.
Article by Elise von Grumbkow, D’SIGN Magazine, 28/07/2015
Collaborations between different disciplines, companies and types of organizations with the aim of improving their capacity to innovate has been unanimously signalled as important. But for most people this goal, however ideologically resonant, seems difficult to achieve.
What, for instance, can a designer, a scientist, an engineer, and a manager do to effectively work together to produce a better product?
Certain collaborations as of late (such as the examples below in this article) seem to indicate that combining different strengths from individual disciplines often leads to a sum greater than the whole.
The big thing is, designers are usually a stubborn breed. Rightfully so; after all the art of creating is a thing of beauty in itself, let alone when you are the one who can inspire so many others. However, I believe it is important we learn to let the ego go more often, accept our given importance in the matter and respect the input of our fellow co-creators.
I know all of us ambitious lot would like nothing more to have the right for final approval on all things, trying to control the big picture to our own liking. However, each of us has a grand passion -even if we might not know it yet- and once you find it, there is nothing that you could be better at doing. So let just have everybody fully concentrate on their passion. Trust the unity of the orchestra and do what you love to do the most and concentrate on that with full dedication.
If you truly know what your skills are (and you should when you are focussing upon what you love to do the most) and you put your ego aside, together you can design the most inspired, amazing products and designs you could ever dream of.
When it comes to the different design disciplines, working together is usually better than working alone. Besides having more hands to work with, a set of uniquely wired brains having the same goal but operating on different frequencies can motivate each other even more through their contrast.
Some tips: to synergistically have things work between disciplines, it helps to know the people who you’re with, what their capabilities are and to give them the space they need to fulfill their assignment. Every person works different and has his or her own pace and approach. Trust them! It is also a necessity to communicate with each other clearly and respectfully. Give people around you time to vent and don’t take stuff too personally. In the same vain, let them know when you are happy, frustrated, angry or need some space. Bottling up your emotions will only lead to more frustration down the road. Even opening up to the little things can make your work easier.
‘Curious Design is an iterative design process by way of exploring and questioning,
working together with people,
and letting designs be inspired by this process – Hanna Zoon
In her article she explains what the differences between the scientist, craftsman and designer are and why they nééd each other to make life changing design.
Manifesto the scientist, the designer, the craftsman
..bases his vision partly on intuition, partly on knowledge of the world, and partly personal preference. A designer should continuously be inspired and inspiring to people. Only a designer can create a ‘simple concept’ through which people can get a feel for the essence of an idea as well as gauge the final product’s potential without it ìtself having to be the final tangible thing.
..is basically similar to the designer but with the distinct difference that the designer applies it to a specific end result, mostly geared towards the constructive capabilities of their hands.
Scientist and researcher
..the scientist and the researcher create new knowledge. As such, the purpose of the scientific community is to gather and then share this knowledge with the world where it can subsequently be picked up by designers, strategists and companies to create innovative ideas and products. Scientists themselves usually do find it more difficult to take on the next step.
All of these three areas of expertise; science, design and craftsmanship cover an important part of what’s necessary to be able to stay innovative. Each has its merits and importance. But if you want to achieve anything unique, of real importance, you need to work closely together. As much as we all would like to be a Leonardo da Vinci, the truth of the matter is, most of us aren’t. But would you truly want to be?
So what happens when top practitioners in each respective fields collaborate?..
Kirstie van Noort worked closely together with Rogier Arents of UT Eindhoven on the project of ‘Color Collision’.
‘Color Collision’ shows, in a series of photos, ceramics and film, what happens when the ph value of red cabbage changes. The ceramics change in color when the pigment found in red cabbage comes into contact with a different degree of ph value.
Studio Daan Roosegaarde with their Smart Highway is another great example on how collaboration with different disciplines can be a huge success. Together with Heijmans infrastructure, Daan Roosegaarde developed Smart Highway which already is an international phenomenon. The glowing lines of the ‘road of tomorrow’ get charged during the day and glow eight hours during the night. The goal is to make “smart” roads by using ‘light and energy road signs’ that respond to the occurring traffic situations as they develop.
A more current project of Studio Roosegaarde is the ‘Smog free park’. In collaboration with his expert partners ENS Europe and Bob Ursem, they aim to produce smog free bubbles for public use. With their patented ion technology they are building the world’s first smog free vacuum cleaner. Their goal is to help people breathe fresh and clean air for free. To support this ambitious project, Studio Roosegaarde has created ‘smog free rings’: 1000 m3 of polluted smog particles being compressed in a ring. By buying this ring you donate 1000m3 of clean air in the city!
Iris Hendriks of the Mediaredactie (Fontys UAS – School of Journalism) explores what Robot Journalism is in this video where she interviews several people working on this subject (including myself from minute 2:10).
Hanna Zoon researches Robot Journalism at the Fontys FutureMediaLab. There they have developed a chatbot and press-release bot, amongst other tools for automated journalism. Useful for filtering information and ‘fishing for quotes’. A threat to the field of journalism? Not really. But it might not be promising news for Dutch language.
‘Curious Design is an iterative design process through exploring and questioning, working together with people, and letting designs be inspired by this process – Hanna Zoon
Für das Future Media Lab forscht Hanna Zoon über innovatives Storytelling von Maschinen durch die Sammlung von Daten. “Computer können andere Dinge, als Menschen” erläutert sie und zeigt anhand von Beispielen, wie Funktionen von Maschinen in Erzählungen umgedeutet werden können. Continue reading →
You heard about reactions to mobile phones in 1973? How hilarious that people objected to a piece of technology that has proven to be so useful and effective. We all like to think of ourselves as early adopters. But I am definitely a laggard in some ways. Just as it took me 3 years to get used to skinny jeans, I don’t think the first prototype version of Google Glass is for me just yet. For the last couple of weeks, it Continue reading →
Our regular monthly meeting on the first wednesday of every month!Hanna Zoon will tell us about how she created a toolbox for performing UX research, which can be used without having any experience or knowledge of UX. Big help for small businesses, or are UX skills required to preform proper analysis? Join us for the discussion!This month’s meeti…
“Hanna Zoon will tell us about how she created a toolbox for performing UX research, which can be used without having any experience or knowledge of UX. Big help for small businesses, or are UX skills required to preform proper analysis? Join us for the discussion!”
19:00 Welcome & drinks
19:40 “Do-it-yourself UX – Threat or opportunity”
20:30 Food, drinks, social
Inclusive design is the area of HCI where we aim to empower users through products and services that match their capabilities. Zoon, Cremers, & Eggen offer a toolbox, consisting of an app and a book, that helps designers in practice to find suitable research methods for a range of specific groups of users, such as elderly people, or people with low literacy.