The Myth of Simplicity

Simplicity. As a concept, an idea, or an aesthetic, it connotes ease of use, elegance, efficiency, and flow. We like to think of ourselves as creatures that crave, appreciate, and enjoy simple things. But human beings are anything but simple; as semiotic forms of expression, our simple things (and the relationships we have with them)…

Temporality and Innovation

Using Design Anthropology to Imagine and Design for the Future  What is Temporality? Anthropologists use the term “temporality” to talk about the way we experience time; temporality allows us to think about how time is, what it feels like, and how it exists in our lives. Whereas time can be understood as the objective movement…

Convergent Evolution: A Design Lesson

Design and evolution. To a scientist, using these two words in the same sentence borders on offensive, as it conjures up notions of intelligent design and other pseudoscience. I’m not even sure I would have ever contemplated this article until my recent immersion in the world of design. Illustration: Jennifer Backman…

A New Layer in History

Mexico City and the Quest for Socially Responsible Transformation Through Design Alejandro González Iñárritu, the Oscar-winning director behind The Revenant and Birdman, once said that his native Mexico City is “this big, complex monster of a city that has always had real problems and needs,” going on to explain that he’s “always found [his] way…

Crisis of -Cracies

Who Will Shape 21st-Century Politics? The political events of 2016, from Brexit to Trump, left many without an explanatory narrative, blindsided by actors and interests beyond their control. Panicked explanations ran the gamut from geopolitical conspiracy to the mass-diagnosis of the psyches of “deplorables.” Many looked to external causes for these events, citing the authoritarian…

The Human in Humanitarian Innovation

Transformational innovation – the sort of thing that turns traditional paradigms and models of thinking upside down and inside out – is, quite frankly, rare. It takes an enormous amount of risk, vision, and necessity for an organization to reinvent itself. While such reinvention has happened in the corporate world when companies faced extinction or…

Foodpreneurs and the Future of Fridges

A Conversation with Greg Dollarhyde Given all of the experience you’ve had in terms of building brands from scratch and working with a variety of big players, I'm curious what your outlook on business is when it comes to the food space. There are a lot of new brands and business models cropping up, and…

Jen Richards on the Future of Gender

A Conversation with Jen Richards The ways in which a person experiences and expresses their own identity are always shifting. With maturity, experience, and time, each person journeys to discover who they are and how they present themselves to the world. Jen Richards, an advocate focusing on racial and gender justice, looks at what happens when…

Designing the Moneyball Algorithm For Food

A conversation with Ryan Caldbeck The food industry is changing. A number of ecological, economic, social, political, and technological forces are driving this change. Tech gadgets from the 90s that once filled garages have moved to kitchens. Digital natives (millennials and Gen Z-ers), who now outnumber baby boomers, are cooking, canning, fermenting, and dehydrating all…

Data-Driven Design in the Era of Pinterest

When I first started designing products with Umbra in the 80s, our tools were strictly analog; most of our inspiration came from a small number of European magazines that focused on high-end designer products. We would comb through pages of these magazines, tearing out relevant images and – quite literally – pinning them to a…

Real-Time Religion

For Religion to Flourish in Humanity’s Future, Rituals Need to Be Developed in Real Time When considering human futures, we are asked to explore the future of humanity without conflating that future with the technological progress humanity creates. Human futures reorients the usual narrative, taking the focus away from technology as the sole driver of…

DesignThinkers Promises Perspectives on Human-Centered Design

Design thinking and innovation are hot topics as businesses gear up for a new year. Consumers are savvier than ever, and competition from Silicon Valley and its international counterparts is growing at a rapid rate. With these concerns in sight, business leaders need to think about how to infuse design thinking into existing product, management, and…

Using Design to Solve the World’s Problems

An Interview with Paddy Harrington In September of 2015, the UN mandated a set of Global Goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity and sustainability for future generations. Meeting these goals requires innovative technologies approached with thoughtful design and inventive storytelling to inspire solutions. Design Exchange recently hosted EDIT: Expo for Design, Innovation &…

We Are All Designers

Reclaiming Design as a Tool for the Masses In his 2012 book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, Jonah Lehrer points out that when a class of 7-year-old children is asked if they are creative, about 95% of them will answer, “yes.” Within 3 years, that proportion drops to 50%. By the time they are 14, it…