Here you will find examples relevant to lecture topics 9 to 16 (that is, ranging from Design Thinking to Visual Communication Design. Some examples will have been shown in lectures, and hence are here for review, and some are supplementary to the lecture material (and yes, are therefore directly relevant to the final exam!)

The topics to be covered are listed here in full, and material will be added as each lecture is developed.

9. Design thinking
10. (re)-description
11. Visual communications theory (no post here)
12. Colours, cultures & visual languages
13. Visual representation of complex information


9. Design thinking

Design thinking as concept and methodology has been most notably formalised in the curriculum and pedagogy of the (the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design) at Stanford University.

Reflecting the preeminent position the holds, that notes from its core design bootcamp became hot property amongst non-students interested in design thinking, and a spirit of openness common to US universities, it makes a working manual for its methodology freely available. We will take advantage of their generosity and use it as an important learning resource. So please access the Bootcamp Bootleg download and read it carefully.

The leading role in the founding of Stanford’s was played by David Kelley whose firm firm IDEO has most embodied and disseminated design thinking. Please have a good look at IDEO’s resources.

David Kelley’s two TED lectures can be seen here, the first from 2002 on human-centric design. Japanese and other subtitles can be enabled. Here is David Kelley’s 2012 lecture on building creative confidence. With his brother Tom, a partner at IDEO and author of several influential books on innovation, he has published the book Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All which argues that creativity is not limited to a small coterie of people but instead can be encouraged as an attribute in most people.  Please download and read the free introductory sections of the book, which total six pages.  Their perspective represents  a significant challenge to educators and one that is still not widely perceived by many, unfortunately. An episode of the American current affairs program Sixty Minutes featured David Kelley and IDEO:

An interview with the co-founder of AirBnB, a design school graduate, at an IDEO event where he explores the key role that design thinking, or ‘design ethos’, was fundamental to the development of the rapidly growing accommodation sharing website. The interview was filmed as part of a larger event so the opening is a little sudden, referencing some previous discussion, but don’t be put off by that. There is an immediate clue to the origins of the name of the business: he and flatmates had some people come to stay during a big design conference in San Francisco and accommodated them on inflatable airbeds.

A 1977 interview with advertising legend David Ogilvy, whose approach to copywriting we examined in lectures 9-10. The sound and video is not great but it is very insightful nonetheless. Not required viewing, but interesting.

10. (re)-description

The ‘konmari’ method for tidying up a home (and smarter shopping) and its remarkable appeal both in Japan and abroad. Marie Kondo, whose book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up was top of the New York Times bestseller list for an extended period, works as a ‘tidying up consultant’ and brings a simple but powerful rubric to her topic. In 2015 Marie Kondo was listed in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of the world list; the only other Japanese included being novelist Haruki Murakami.

Marie Kondo is of interest for us in thinking about the power of ‘redescription’ as a problem-finding and solving methodology as she shows that a simple rubric, founded in a basic concept or idea that stems from a good insight into the human condition, can be a powerful guide to action. Her notion, expressed in English, is that we should only buy and keep objects that ‘spark joy’ (ときめく, ‘tokimeku’) in us. This is not about finding things to throw away, which Kondo concludes is a flawed approach, but rather about finding things to keep because of the pleasure they beget in us.  It is personal, clearly in the eye of the beholder, and encourages us to re-engage with what own, both positively and critically. It also sets up an important decision rule for buying things that saves us from reasons such as being ‘a bargain’, which is ultimately about a market condition external to us rather than our own personal assessment of what value an object would bring to us. She goes further though in suggesting a mode of action that gets us from a state of clutter, of excessive ownership of things that mean too little to us, to a simple but more valuable relationship with the things we own. She emphasises a once-off, whole-of-possessions big sort-out, so that it need never be done again at scale. Importantly, she suggests sorting things by category (not room, or place of storage etc) and, on that basis, only keeping the things that are best-in-category for us personally. She also emphasises a process in which people treat each object with respect, as if animate, thanking each that will be discarded for their service to the owner. Although some foreign critics have remarked that this is perhaps a culturally-specific dynamic that does not have much appeal outside Japan, arguably this element of Kondo’s approach is central to the appeal and effectiveness of her approach. Recent psychological research into hoarders show that they tend to have a strongly anthropomorphic tendency; investing personality into objects and, furthermore, bestowing empathy upon them. Working to help hoarders overcome their tendency therefore requires that people be brought to good partings with objects otherwise the personal pain and guilt associated with discording possessions is too great for people to undertake.

The Konmari twitter feed will give a sense of the scale of her impact and Wikipedia has a profile of her.

On the positive impact of the Konmari boom in the USA for recycling stores with a short general discussion of her broader influence.

The media interest in Marie Kondo’s work has brought lots of opportunities for her travel abroad, to speak to foreign audiences and also to develop some examples of her technique in practice.

And in the home of a writer with New York Magazine…

Re-describing the vacation ‘value proposition’..

A campaign for a Danish travel agency business started from a distinctive take on vacations and then built clever commercials that resonated in the liberal country but might be contentious in other places.

Perhaps Japan can learn from this…

and the follow up..

11. Visual communications theory

No supplementary material here on this. Please see lecture notes.

12. Colours, cultures & visual languages

Please see the excellent introduction to colour theory and psychology on the website of the Color Association of the United States. The color association also has a key role in setting color trends as, since 1915, it has been conducting ‘research’, which actually amounts to conscious picking of colors to suit what it judges to be the spirit of the times. It is looking two years forward when identifying emerging colour trends.

For interesting survey research on perceptions of colour and attributes see here.

Pantone is the global private authority on colors, publisher of resources for designers and other professionals working with color, and another key influencer of colour trends. See their website for me interesting resources, although like the COUS, most of it is locked off behind a paywall for subscribers only. Well worth a look nonetheless.

The 2017 Pantone color of the year: greenery. 2016 was ‘rose quartz and serenity

13. Visual representation of complex information

A fascinating TED talk by David McCandless, author of the impressive works  The Visual Miscellaneum &  Knowledge is Beautiful.