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…

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…

Designing the Future of Food

An Interview with Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup Company Navigating the immense transformation currently taking place in the food industry is certainly challenging, especially when you’re at the helm of an iconic company. From how we grow food to how we eat it, this complex world is being reshaped by technology and new consumer…

Design Thinking Isn’t Just for Designers

You probably already know the term “design thinking.” Odds are, you’ve read an article or two on how design thinking became a business buzzphrase. Maybe you’ve even read an article on how non-designers’ generic adaption of design thinking risks ruining the creative integrity and innovative nature inherent to the process. But have you ever thought…

On the Origin of Things

In 1859, Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species and described the means by which populations evolve—that environmental pressures naturally select the individuals best suited to their habitat to procreate. Culminating from this work was a phylogenetic tree of life, graphically illustrating and describing the relationships between the species of the world and how…

Hierarchy of Possibilities: Designing Smart IoT Products

In simplifying complex systems that involve humans, frameworks such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are often used to model product and service features based on various predetermined scenarios. Such frameworks are often taken out of context of their original proposition, and lack empirical evidence. For example, Maslow originally proposed his hierarchy as a set of…

How IoT Can Help Feed 9 Billion People

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) predicts that by 2050, the world population will rise by 2.3 billion and, to effectively feed that population, our food production needs to increase by 70%. According to research conducted by the University of Minnesota, production for essential crops—such as maize and rice—is currently increasing by increments…