Digital Without Purpose Will Fail

It’s challenging to find a company today that isn’t at least attempting to advance as a digital business – but that doesn’t mean every digital initiative is a success. According to Michael Gale of PulsePoint group, 84% of digital initiatives ultimately fail. The reasons for these failures to launch abound, but they can include a…

The Principles of Design

Four Elements to Make Your Product More Relevant Over the past 20 years, I’ve had experiences or offered services within a wide range of jobs. My first taxable income came from working for McDonald’s in Schertz, Texas, just north of my high school on I-35. From there, I went onto selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door, working…

Informality and Nostalgia in Urban Space

Low-income urban communities are well-documented but poorly understood. When North American housing projects and British council estates appear in pop culture and the news media, more often than not they are portrayed as bleak, dangerous places. Worse yet, plans to redevelop these communities are often influenced (to varying degrees) by these same biases. This needs…

What is Sound Design?

Sound design is the art and practice of creating, collecting, adapting, and producing audio elements. Like any other type of design, sound design is a process that involves turning an idea into an outcome. What makes sound design different are the tools used in that process. Whereas a graphic designer’s toolkit includes typography, images, and…

Designing Meaningful Customer Experiences

A Challenge From the World of Genomics Imagine scientists researching and exploiting naturally occurring genetic variations in order to ensure food challenging, impossible even – but that is the mission that LGC’s genomics division has set for itself. In doing so, the division has grown rapidly, both organically and through acquisition, leaving it with a…

From Artistic to Artificial Intelligence

The Emergence of the Creative Machine Creativity has long been perceived to be immune to falling under the dominion of machines. However, this is changing fast. Machine learning and big data now enable intelligent systems to be used in many creative fields, such as music production or the culinary and visual arts. Even though we…

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…

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…