My top three books about meaningful design

1. The Designer’s Atlas of Sustainability

The first book that inspired me to create meaningful design is by Ann Thorpe. I read quite a while ago. I used the book for the course Sustainable Product Design. Before I read this book, no book has crossed my path with such to the point tips for designers.

The Designer’s Atlas of Sustainability: Charting the Conceptual Landscape through Economy, Ecology, and Culture

2. Designing Things

When I started my research project, I loved to go to the university library to find books about meaningful designs and designing with values. I found a book by Prasad Boradkar. This book is easy to read and loaded with examples and theory. That was the book that helped me formulating what values are and how to use them as a designer.

Designing Things: A Critical Introduction to the Culture of Objects

3. Innovation Design

Another book that helped me through the first period of trying to understand the topic is by Elke den Ouden. She not only included design theory in her work, but also perspectives from psychology, sociology, and business. It a great resource for theory.

Next to that her book provides two concrete tools you could use in teams or networked innovation to get insight  in all value perspectives of project stakeholders and value flows between them.
Innovation Design: Creating Value for People, Organizations and Society

Swimming​ in data

In the past few months, I have been up to my ears gathering data and developing tools to support junior designers reflecting on value-based conflicts. This was amazing! The next step is to consolidate all this data in a paper. I have so much data that I almost do not know where to start. I have collected pictures, drawings, notes, chats, interviews, videos, survey data, emails… to name a few.

Data collection
Data collection (pic by Jens Gijbels)

In my first study, I conducted 22 interviews which were transcribed. I added a few more data sources for triangulation, but my main source of data were interview transcriptions. Since my last interview in 2016, I have been analyzing with my supervisory team. We have been working through this rich material. I am happy to announce our first journal article is finished. I submitted it to a journal for review yesterday.

To come back to my second study, you may understand my worry. As I have been working over 1,5 year to have something publishable for my first study, I start to feel some stress for my second study. This is a much wider collection of data. I have to be pragmatic and get a grip on this fast. I have 1,5 year left to finish my thesis, so although it may sound a lot, I do feel some pressure building up.

Income or going for your values?

Today, I met a junior designer with a freelance business. One of the frustrations he had experienced, was about what is a fair price? He was asked by a friend of a friend to do a job. She thought his rate was high and had expected to give some discount for work he did. Sadly, it is a typical confrontation freelance designers experience. Long time ago, I have myself also been struggling with balancing free or low priced jobs and getting enough income to support myself.

It is unfair choice to ask junior designers to deliver things for free or under market value. Yes they are passionate about their job, and yes they need experience. But how on earth is it fair to expect from them to put a lot of time for free into something you cannot do yourself? They will create something with high talent and quality of deliverables, so you will get in more clients. It is not a direct one-on-one pay back for you, but I am sure it has effect! You want it right?

Ok, so far my preaching, as many of you who read this are probably designers. You know all this? You have probably experienced it, right? What was your strategy? How did you deal with it? Please share your story 🙂

For future projects, you could use this chart to find your answer. A tip from the designer I talked with today.

workforfree

Designer Identity

Today, I participated in an (semi-)international seminar for Industrial Design Engineering programs of University of Applied Sciences. I joined a session on Identity Education. We shared how identity education played a role in our programs and what questions we had that we wanted to tackle in this session. As an answer to these questions, we created a vision on how identity support could be for 2025. We envisioned a student who steered in a cabriolet through an ever-changing landscape full of challenges.

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Remarkable for me, was Continue reading “Designer Identity”

Being creative versus earning a living

Making a living from your craft is a challenge. You are no longer focussing on your craft solely. Being creative and contributing to a better world are opposing values to earning a living and building a public image, values you need to pursue as (senior) employee or entrepreneur. Jacob Waites recommends to shut down the computer and keep making stuff by hand. Underlining this story is a typical value conflict experienced by many designers. Read the full blog here.

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