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…

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…

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…

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…

The Bias of Digital Transformation

Exploring the Link Between Digital Transformation and the Experience of Work Once there was an English word whose meaning had to do with fingers and toes. Over time, that word evolved to mean something quite different; abstracted away from the human body, “digital” was transformed into a way of talking about data in the form of…