Wednesday, July 20, 2011

EU Launches Design Call

The European Commission yesterday launched its call for proposals for design oriented projects with a total support of €3m.

The full title is, Joint actions for non-technological, user-centred innovation: 1st Action Plan of the European Design Innovation Initiative and the call for proposals aims at, "improving the impact of innovation policies by speeding up the take up of design as a user-centered innovation tool in national, regional and EU innovation policies".

This is a first, unique opportunity for actors ranging from institutions to design centres, associations and design companies across Europe to come together to create proposals for the development of the design agenda across Europe.

Congratulations to the European Commission team and the European Design Leadership Board.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Membership European Leadership Board

The link to the Commission site with the names of the members of the European Design leadership Board is here.

I am happy to see BEDA well represented and pleased that the reach of the members is both broad and deep.

They have an important task ahead of them.

Friday, May 27, 2011

European Design Leadership Board

Congratulations to all involved in creating the European Design Leadership Board under the European Design Initiative - itself an action within the framework of the European Commission's Innovation Union. The Design Leadership Board meets today for the first time in Helsinki.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pondering on service - hotels and hospitals

Enjoying a breakfast at the Hotel du Vin in Harrogate. Train back to London at 11:14.

It intrigues me the extent to which the brand of Hotel du Vin is consistently able to flex to the various moods of the day. It seems perfect for breakfast as well as for afternoon cocktails or a full blown dinner. Whether it is dark or light. The spaces assume the meaning we want to project onto them. Breakfast is up-market bistro with a hint of luxury and the service is excellent and service is by far the greatest marker of 'luxury', assuming one is also on the starting blocks of the material qualities.

The subtle hint of the Luberon outside somehow evoked by the interior aesthetic; the rich solid wooden floors pressed down by the gently faded antique - effect walls with beading and panelling to match - and the understated but excellent breakfast – in my case comprising fruit compote and fresh fruit salad followed by a very tasty Yorkshire-sourced full breakfast washed down with earl grey and a raspberry smoothie – all work together to create an aristocratic ambience absolutely without the implications of a class system behind it. A class system of ingrained superiority and arrogance. This is of course a selective place (with prices to match) but it is not arrogant. Nor is it bling. Perhaps it offers more of an open aristocracy of quality (albeit with the antique-effect walls). Customer focused with intelligent and carefully balanced interiors and efficient,friendly service of high quality. All of this makes for a great experience.

And an experience is both momentary and long-living. A single bad experience can dis-ease a brand in the mind of a customer.

A friend recently went to a top-brand clothing shop, (also in Harrogate), with her new partner to buy some clothes for him. Everything was perfect, except that the young sales person was condescending in response to her partner’s query about a particular garment. How sensitive our perception of a brand’s value really is. How affected it can be by our experience of it ‘on the floor’. My friend heartily declared to me that the staff member was rude and that she has no interest in ever stepping into the shop again. The potential of a lifetime of loyalty damaged by an inexperienced comment pitched in an unfortunate (and unprofessional) manner in but a matter of seconds.

To be of service is not to be servile. The idea of service in the UK (rooted in the antecedents of a class system – upstairs/downstairs) is not the same as in other parts of Europe. To be of service is a high-level, high-quality, highly-nuanced and caring activity. To be of service is not to be a servant.

A close uncle spent his final weeks dying from double cancer in his early eighties in a respite hospital for the terminally ill. On my last visit to see him alive but a few weeks ago, he told me,” The nurses come and make my bed and it is as if I am not there. Michael”, he said, “I feel like an object”.

This is not service. This is dis-service. And that too is a dis-ease.

Does a respite hospital have a responsibility to pay attention to the quality of service at the deepest level? I believe it does. I believe the experience should meet the promise. And there always is a promise – whether it is explicitly stated or not. (As Erik Spiekermann likes to quote – ‘you cannot not communicate’).

Many hospitals have not had time to step back and think through what they are and what they do from the point of view of the promise and actuality of the experience that their patients have no choice but to live (or die) through. Down to the finest detail of interaction. As for the Hotel-du-vin this is a high-order task demanding a different mind-set and great attention to the experience to be delivered.

Perhaps a hospital could learn from a Hotel. Good service is not expensive. It is subtle and complex. Offering caring attention to the human needs of those we provide service for is not rocket science. Although it is a specialist skill that needs to be voiced, described, understood and imparted to those who enjoy that responsibility within the organisational culture. It needs to be thought about and cared for.

And not surprisingly, this has a double effect for both parties involved in the service interaction. It is rewarding. It brings satisfaction at more than a mechanistic or profit-oriented level. To paraphrase Shakespeare:
“The quality of service is not strained; It is twice blessed- It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.”

And that, in turn, is motivating for staff and customers alike.

My breakfast has finished now, but not the memory or the feeling that I would like to return again to this experience. I am lucky to have been here and I am grateful for it. And I want to come back.

RIP Uncle David.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Designplatform Flanders launched in Brussels

On Tuesday 29th March the Designplaftorm Flanders was officially launched at the well-attended first Design Summit of Flanders.

Following an opening interview with Bernard de Potter, General Director of The Enterprise Agency in Flanders, Kris Peeters, Minister-President of the Flemish Government and Minister of Economy, Ingrid Leiten, Viceminister-president of the Flemish Government and Minister of Innovation and Joke Schauvliege, Flemish Minister of Environment, Nature and Culture, agreed to support and facilitate the development of the design platform. At the close of the event, they witnessed the six participating design organisations together signing the Charter for the Designplatform Flanders.

The Charter can be found here and the six partners of the Designplatform Flanders can be found here.

The vision of the Designplatform Flanders as stated at the event, (and translated here very roughly from the Dutch), is:

To position design as an essential means for the transformation of Flanders into a creative, competitive, multi-faceted and human knowledge economy, in order to create in a permanent manner, prosperity, employment and a friendly society within the context of the global challenges.

I had the honour to be invited to the stage during the ceremony to speak briefly about the first workshops, as well as the positioning of the initiative in an international design policy context. I referred for example, to the founding members that catalysed the creation of the Hong Kong Design Centre; the ‘One-Voice’ workshop which I ran some years ago in South Africa with the Design Institute.

In many countries, design organisations are numerous and fragmented. Flanders is taking a lead position in showing how organisations can come together to inspire new synergies that position themselves more powerfully internationally and create a clearer focus for design and design thinking for their own governments, industry and society.

I also took the opportunity to refer to the way in which DESIGN CONNECT's facilitation of meticulously planned visioning workshops, (rooted in learning theory and design methods), can help a diverse range of participants to find their 'common ground' from where they can then springboard to new forms of conversation that would have previously been difficult to achieve.

Even now, at the time of its launch only one year after the original visioning workshops, the Designplatform Flanders has already achieved something remarkable.

It has galvanised the Flanders’ government to commit to design as an important and integral aspect of economic growth and social wellbeing, (particularly in a time of recession). And this was evidenced by the willingness of three senior Ministers to witness the signing of the Charter and publicly, through impressive speeches, to commit themselves and their departments to supporting and fostering design as a strategic tool for growth and well being in Flanders.

There is still much for the platform partners to do over the coming months, but the mandate is clear and the ground has been set.

I congratulate all the participants on the journey travelled so far and wish the Designplatform Flanders every success as it moves to its next stage of development.

The press release (in Dutch) can be downloaded here

The Design Summit website is here.

Towards a Design Platform for Flanders

Last year, on 23rd March 2010 and again on 28th May 2010, I had the privilege to ahape and facilitate two workshops with the key design organisations in Flanders at the request of Johan Valcke, Director of Design Flanders (which sits within the Economic Development agency of Flanders).

The workshops were held within the national context of Flanders’ economic vision, PACT 2020, which states the goal for Flanders to have a competitive and multi-faceted knowledge economy driving sustainable prosperity and welfare with increased employment, regained share in export markets, more widely and better distributed innovation (R&D spend up to 3%) and a top 5 entrepreneurial culture with more enterprises being formed creating more growth opportunities.

Equally important for the workshop process was the decision of 26 May 2010 of the European Council of Ministers in the context of "Creating an innovative Europe" which stated:

"The Council invites the Commission and Member States to give special attention to design considering its leverage effect on innovation performance, taking into account economic, social and environmental sustainability aspects and stresses the need to establish platforms for exchanging knowledge, experiences and best practices on design issues as a competitive advantage for European companies".

The workshops brought together 13 organisations, (the economic development agency Agentschap Ondernemen, Design Flanders, Flanders in Shape, Flanders DC, Flanders’ Fashion Institute, Designcenter De Winkelhaak, Designregio Kortrijk, C-mine, Humin, OVAM, IWT, VVSG and FIT), to map out, acknowledge and interogate the current design landscape in Flanders.

The goal was to explore and invent a variety options of what could be done to raise design’s profile and to make it a more powerful driver for transformation in Flanders’ economy and society.

Workshop One
The first workshop, (with DR Gisele Raulik-Murphy, then of Design Wales, and Špela Šubic of BIO, Slovenia also particpating), showed how, through an open and carefully facilitated process, representatives from different organisations with different focuses of activity and points of view, can come together to shape a vision for design that was bigger than each of them alone. As we moved through the workshop, it became clear there was a powerful dynamic in the room driving a shared understanding of design’s potential for transforming Flanders through a better uptake and integration of design and design thinking.

But how could this best be done? What was the mix of competencies across the different organisations that, if harnessed effectively, could enable a shift in the perception of design by Flanders’ government and society? How would the design landscape be re-shaped to empower new opportunities? What would the notion of a 'design platform' look like? What is our shared vision for design?

By the end of the first workshop, the participants had generated and explored a number of compelling ‘vision ingredients’ for a design platform for Flanders. They had also agreed to maintain the thinking and discussion on what sort of model/s the platform may follow; to set up a draft vision and to test it with other stakeholders and finally to map the network by size, skills, competencies as well as areas of activity.

Workshop Two
Two months later, during the second workshop in May 2010, what needed to happen next to achieve the vision to create a stronger mechanism or platform for design in Flanders became clear in a truly inspiring (even breath-taking) moment of revelation and shared recognition.

Six of the organisations agreed to combine their networks, skills, competencies and people into a single platform for design in Flanders. This was a very exciting and defining point of change - itself bringing a new confidence and self-belief - from which a huge amount of positive energy and good will has since flowed. Having come to this momentus decision, the work of building a shared vision and a set of values alongside mapping out the pragmatic necessities of the idea formed the remainder of the workshop.

These two workshops, which I had the privilege to lead, were followed by many months of subsequent planning and a wide consultation process conducted by the workshop participants. This involved workshops across the country to explore, enrich and embed the idea of the Designplatform Flanders.

As a consequence, and only one year after the first workshop, the launch ceremony of Designplatform Flanders was held in Brussels on 29th March 2011.

This event will be the focus of my next blog.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Design and Design Thinking for Europe - The Commission's view

The concluding conference of the Interreg 4C-funded EU project on regional design policies, SEE, was held in Brussels on Tuesday 29th March 2011. Opened by the Director of Design Flanders, (and BEDA Board Member), Johan Valcke, the event offered the international delegates a broad range of insights into regional and national design policies from the perspectives of both cities and countries.

Presentations included insights and information from Antwerp, (Mayor Patrick Janssens), New Zealand, (Judith Thompson), Wales (Gavin Cawood – also lead organiser of the SEE programme under the auspices of Design Wales), and Denmark (Anders Byriel, Chair of the Danish Design Centre), as well as an update on design and the European Design Initiative by the Commission's then Head of Innovation Policy, Peter Dröll. (Peter moved to a new innovation position in the Research Directorate on 4th April).

I want to limit my report and comments to Peter’s speech on current progress regarding the development of the European Design Initiative as a component of the Innovation Union flagship initiative of Europe’s five year strategy for jobs and growth – Europe 2020.

As I have blogged previously, design has been included for the first time as an integral component of the strategy since October 2010.

Europe’s creative potential
Peter’s talk was set against the background of fierce international competition and a falling position relative to other countries of the EU’s innovation performance, (China’s performance is growing by 7% year on year). He also referred to the Commission’s Staff Working Document, ‘Design as a driver of user-centred innovation’, published by the Commission in April 2009< Following a very successful consultation, (with more than 500 responses), it was clear that there was overwhelming support for the Commission to take action on design. With regard to design at the European level, Dröll stated,

We need to capitalise on Europe’s creative potential. This increases dramatically the role of designers, because, if we have a broader understanding of innovation, we need more power for design and design thinking in companies as much as in the public sector'.

Incorporating the public sector is a new dimension of innovation policy and this is seen as necessary given that on average, in Europe, 45% of GDP comes from public sector services. Taking his theme further, Peter stated,
Design thinking, as it is understood here, is a human-centred tool to confront complex societal challenges for economic and social welfare.

Systemic policy gap
Moving then to policy the Commission research identified a huge gap between the design leaders and other regions within the EU. This, he declared, is a systematic gap that we needs to be addressed. The Commission also identified three main barriers to the uptake of design:
• a lack of awareness of its potential
• a lack of evaluation of the rate of return
• a need to clarify more accurately what design thinking is about

It was against this background of competition and barriers to the uptake of design, along with the mandate arising out of the research and consultation, that the Commission launched the European Design Innovation Initiative.

Peter was at pains to emphasise that this has a strong endorsement by the Council of Ministers and by Member States. The European Council also talks now about a broad concept for innovation and the need for a strong push for innovation within which design is seen as an integral element.

Indicators for success 2020
Having set out the context, the problem and the instruments with which to tackle the problems, Peter then turned to outlining what success would look like in 2020.
• There would be a shared vision for design thinking in Europe.
• Strategic design would have a common place in all policies relating to
innovation. (Currently, he added, policies are still too focused upon traditional innovation support).
• There would be a keen commitment by companies and the public sector, to use design as a tool to be more successful
• The design profession would go beyond product design to fully embrace design thinking.
• In education and academia, there would be a shared understanding of how to teach design thinking.

Whilst I may have some queries around the details, for example regarding the indicator for design consultancies, there is nevertheless, at a high level in the Commission, an intellectual acceptance of the need for design to become embedded and strengthened at the European level. We have arrived at this situation much more quickly than I would have ever thought possible.

This is very encouraging – all the more so, when reinforced by Dröll’s statement of the Commission’s vision for design.

He said,

Our vision would be that in 2020, design is a fully acknowledged, well-known, well-recognised element of innovation policy across Europe, at the European level, at the national level and at local level.

Design is on the agenda at the top table. But what is going to be done to deliver the vision?

Action to deliver policy goals
The Commission announced in September last year the setting up of European Design Leadership Board to provide the Commission with a vision for design and direction on the actions needed to achieve the vision and objectives within the design initiative.

Supported by the Secretariat established by the Commission at the Designium Innovation Centre of Aalto University in Helsinki, the Leadership Board will be comprised of 15 members representing umbrella organisations related to companies, design agencies, national and/or regional and European design organisations, academia and industry. It is anticipated that an announcement of the board membership is imminent. Although only 15 members strong, Peter alluded to the Facebook concept of ‘inviting friends’, with a strong emphasis from the Commission on the need for the Board to draw upon a far wider pool of knowledgeable, expert contributors who could be invites to Board meetings.

Resourcing policy action in design
Further to the Design Leadership Board and the appointment of the Secretariat, before August of this year, the Commission is committed to launching a call for proposals totalling €3m, (to be funded by the CIP programme), for actions to launch the first part of the European Design Initiative.

Whilst declaring that he did not know what actions would emerge, Peter nevertheless took the opportunity to outline two initiatives that he considered as indicative of what might be feasible. The first concerned a labelling scheme for responsible design which would go beyond product design and the second related to tackling difficulties in evaluating return on design investment. This latter action would engage in working upon a new kind of methodology to evaluate the return on design investment and design thinking.

Peter concluded his presentation re-iterating that Europe has a strong tradition in creativity as much as in design. We need to use that tradition to define Europe’s place in the rapidly changing, global economy. Design can provide fantastic leverage for Europe’s innovation systems to become more effective for social and economic welfare.

Concluding comments
Of particular interest in this speech was the new emphasis on design thinking, as well as the need to integrate the public sector into the programme. Both of these strands, offer avenues of approach for the Design Leadership Board to consider although in terms of European-level action whilst a labelling scheme may seem attractive in raising awareness, there may be other more fundamental drivers which whilst perhaps not as visible to the citizens of Europe at this stage, would nonetheless enable a deeper more sustainable approach to embedding design by 2020.

I am thinking here for example of methods by which Member States could be encouraged to make use of the revised Nace Code for design - M74.1, (again thanks to BEDA’s pioneering work back in 2007-2009) through which we can begin to gather comparable statistics on design activity and its economic value across Europe.

Other areas may relate to skills and competence raising as well as opportunities, for example, to strengthen Europe’s network of national and regional design promotion organisations across ALL Member States– distributing the change management process to embed design more powerfully, out to the key and established actors within the Member States.

Thanks are due to Gisele Raulik (formerly of Design Wales), Ingrid Vandenhoudt, (Design Flanders) and the other members of the SEE Programme who made this conference a success.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Serious Games in Bilbao

A great few days for the first time in Bilbao. A great line up of speakers organised by the youthful, energetic and very efficient team at the Creativity Centrum of Bilbao. Thanks to Nora, Jone and their boss Pedro for the hospitality and support in making the event so successful. Also a great turn out of over 200 people on each of the two days of three that I was able to attend. The British Consul Derek Doyle and his Trade and Investment Adviser Maria Fitzpatrick were also fantastic hosts at our speakers’ dinner in a traditional local men’s cooking club – known as a kotchka.

I have chosen two presentations to write about now. More to follow.

To learn is to change a brain system
The very impressive Dr Walter Greenleaf of InWorld Solutions presented the current power and reach of virtual environments and healthy games. Based on over 25 years of R&D, virtual environments and healthy games are used in prevention, coaching, training, evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation. In surgical training, for example, pre-operative planning and image-guided surgery are becoming the norm. This is already transferring to be part of the standard of care with a greater acceptance of computers and technology as part of the clinical process.

Walter explained how “virtual environments have progressed to the point of acceptable virtual realism, believable real-world physics and adequate sensory immersion”.

The reach of Walter’s work is extensive whether helping war veterans recover from post traumatic stress syndrome. One work in progress showed the carefully designed; astonishingly convincing avatar Counsellor supported by sophisticated artificial intelligence and instantaneous voice recognition software that provides counselling to troubled military personnel who would not otherwise go to a real-world counsellor.

The key to progress in changing behaviour and responses is the ability to change the patterns of the brain. This is becoming better understood. Enabling neuro-plasticity allows the experiences enabled through virtual environments and healthy games to safely and repeatedly engage the brain’s reward system. By repeating experiences and the brain’s responses to these, it is possible to change behaviour and responses of the brain’s limbic system. A solider returned from Afghanistan will no longer experience terrible fear and anxiety when driving under a bridge in their home town in the involuntary reaction that a grenade could be lobbed at their car from above. By repeatedly exposing the brain to the experience where no grenade appears the anxieties can be released.

Walter also supports the rehabilitation of extremely violent children and helps patients to escape addictive behaviours.

Games zapping cancer cells
Health psychologist Pamela Kato spoke about the development of games-oriented training programmes to support the reduction of fatal errors in the American Healthcare system. As for the UK the statistics of death and increased illness due to errors by doctors and surgeons is very grave.

Pamela cited the main problems as insufficient communication, poor teamwork skills, low levels of professionalism (ie between surgeons and doctors) and of course the ever present stressful environment.

Virtual environments and games can help doctors and surgeons confront some of these issues and training programmes can help to support changes in understanding, self-awareness and acceptable and non-acceptable behaviours.

Pamela demonstrated two games that she had developed for children with cancer to help them in a gaming environment to in one game kill cancer cells and in the other to kill poo (yes, poo), to get through to fissures in the intestinal wall which could be closed by ‘shooting’ them .

Initial research is showing that this activity supports quite dramatically increased chances of survival. Games also support young people with taking medication - particularly where medication regimes are complicated and critical. It is very difficult to get teenagers to adopt to consistent behaviours. Games can engage young patients to take better care of themselves

It may even be the case that it is possible to make healthcare safer for patients through the utilisation of innovative approaches such as games. But more research is needed.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

How to Run a Successful Design Business

Author, trainer and consultant Shan Preddy launched her second book How to Run a Successful Design Business at the end of last month.

Shan has brought together contributions from more than 80 leading design-sector experts: business advisers, designers, clients and design associations to create a comprehensive guide to the business of design consultancy.

I was invited to author the contribution on the international context for design and design policy.

More detailed information on the book and an order form can be downloaded here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Creative Bilbao

creativity meeting point 2011 from Creativityzentrum on Vimeo.

I am happy to be leaving tomorrow for Bilbao. I have been invited by the Creativity Zentrum of Bilbao to participate in the 3rd International Forum of Creativity Meeting Point on 22nd, 23rd and 24th March.

The programme is varied with 21 speakers contributing, an Entrepreneurs' Evening, an awards ceremony, an expo on Serious Games and a sustainable design workshop.

It is my first visit to the city and apart from participating in the International Forum, I am looking forward to seeing the Guggenheim, listening to Phillippe Starck on Thursday morning and experiencing a city that has reinvented itself over the past fifty years to establish itself as a centre for economic revival and creativity and with an international reputation.

I am interested to see to what extent the role of creating a flagship building to lead regeneration has worked for Bilbao. Nowadays the focus is more on engaging local communities to help shape and develop (co-design?) their future cities.

Other speakers sharing the stage on design are Paoloa Zini (Italy), Pete Kercher (Italy) and Adital Ela (Israel)

Phillippe Starck is speaking at the AlhóndigaBilbao the new Cultural Centre in the old, historic building, the Alhóndiga, that he re-designed. It was opened in May 2010. And here is a report (in French):

Découvrez Philippe Starck revisite La Alhondiga de Bilbao sur Culturebox !.

Friday, March 18, 2011

And here is the real McCoy...

Computer Generated Visualisations at the RIBA

This is AVR London Visualisation's computer generated view of Renzo Piano's 72 storey Shard in London. Commissioned in 2007 the visualisations have been used to prove the building's commercial viability and to sell commercial space prior to its completion in 2012. 14 views were produced given the scale of the overall project.

How do I know this? Because of an interesting temporary exhibition currently on show in the main dining room at the RIBA. Curated by Eyelevel Creative Design Visualisation in partnership with Northern Architecture and the RIBA, other projects include renderings of the Newcastle City Library by Ryder Architecture; Foster and Partners Special Modelling Group's images of The Sage, Gateshead and Grimshaw's visualisations of both the building and bespoke components for it of St Botolp in the City of London.

Monday, March 14, 2011

BEDA has a new President and Vice President

At its General Assembly in Eindhoven on the 12th March 2011, Deborah Dawton, (CEO of the Design Business Association, UK), succeeded Jan Stavik, (Director of the Norwegian Design Council), as the President of BEDA for the term 2011-2013.

Deborah is supported by her new Vice President Isabel Roig, (Director of the Barcelona Design Centre, Spain), who will in turn become President in 2013.

Representing 43 members across 23 Member States plus Norway, Switzerland and Turkey, BEDA will continue to influence the design policy agenda at the European level. It will further build on the successes of the past through which design is now a part of the European policy landscape for innovation as expressed within the flagship Innovation Union of the Europe 2020 strategy.

Congratulations to Deborah and Isabel and of course to outgoing President Jan Stavik.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Intersections 2011

A fantastic two days in St Austell at the Eden Project listening to an amazing array of eclectic and inspiring speakers. Check out the website at intersections2011. Well done to Andrea Siodmock and her team who worked so hard to make it such a success. Congratulations are also due to Andrea for her appointment as Associate Director of the Academy for Innovation and Research (AIR) and Head of the Centre for Sustainable Design at the University College Falmouth starting on 11th April. I think this will offer a sense of continuity to the legacy of DottCornwall.

It is not entirely surprising that two intense days of rich content should still be swimming furiously around my mind in an exciting chaos of thoughts, ideas, impulses, insights and all with a deep admiration for what the speakers are doing in their lives for others. Social innovation is where it is at. In the words of ShelterBox Founder Tom Henderson OBE - Keep it simple. Do it now.

So what floats to the surface for me this morning? Well, actually, it is the presentations of the first and the last speakers and I will take these in reverse order.

I found Josephine Green's tightly argued exposition of the journey we are on from the paradigm of 'pyramids to pancakes' particularly compelling. I had heard aspects of many parts of her presentation from other speakers before, but I felt she brought many strands together in a way to tell a new story - to create a frame of reference that elucidates a shift in cultural attitudes and behaviours at a meta level.

This made me reflect on Qatar's HH Moser Bint Nasser's call at her Chatham House speech in London some years ago for the desperate need for a 'new narrative' for the Middle East. A new narrative that makes possible positive belief and action in the generative talents and enormously rich histories of these countries. A new narrative that acts as a counteraction to the belief systems and perceptions fomented by the international media.

Stories help us to frame our experiences as well as set the scene for the futures we want to create. Josephine's messages were helpful if not always comfortable and her call that More is More and the need for love felt both challenging but also seemed to make sense. It seems to fit. Rethinking BIG, seeking new social solutions and getting to social innovation beyond product is where the best chances lie to uncovering our new narratives that can reflfect what are 'a becoming of'.

And of course, as we all know, new mindsets demand change from within. Change is always both inspiring and painful as it requires us to say farewell to beliefs or constructs that have been loved, trusted and useful, but which now, no longer seem to fit the bill.

This reflected nicely back to the very first speaker Nick Jankel who helped us to see that problem behaviours are driven by outdated assumptions. Hierarchies are being dissolved in a networked, globalising participatory society made possible by new technologies. His plea is for us to treat systems not root causes. Where we can achieve this, he argues, then organisms (societies, organisations) can intelligently self organise.

His coaching question, 'How can I best serve what is seeking to emerge?', is a great question for insight and action. Nick's belief is that instead of evoking the law of unexpected consequences we can activate the law of unexpected win win win.

Thanks again to Andrea and her team a great two days. And apologies to all the great speaker's whose content who I have not reflected here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Intersections 2011

Intersections 2011 is kicking off today in the Eden Project in Cornwall. Fantastic line up of speakers. Met last night with the DOTT Cornwall team including Andrea Siodmock and Robert O'Dowd. Robert told me about his next amazing project, Pontio, in Bangor Wales. Coming from Bangor in Northern Ireland, it was a nice coincidence of names.
Off to get the bus to the Eden Project. First time here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Erik Spiek­er­mann bekommt den Design­preis der Bun­desre­pub­lik Deutsch­land

Congratulations Erik. One of the best of the best. It is great to see so much publicity for something as fundamental as typography.

I guess you have already heard the joke about the two fonts that walk into a bar. The barman refuses to serve them. Indignant, they ask why not? "We don't serve your type here" says the barman.

Well done Erik you really deserve it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Future Luxe in London

The first day of the Future Luxe conference 2011 organised by Luxury Briefing got off yesterday to a fantastic start, (20th January), with the resounding pop of (many) champagne corks and with about 250 triple G's, (glamorous, gorgeous, guests). Great speakers and great dinner in the Dorchester.

The conference speakers were diverse and had much to say. Of particular note were Matt Webb from Berg, Gerry McGovern Design Director of Land Rover (check out the upcoming 'Evoke'),and, for me, the final panel of the day with Nadja Swarovski, Vice President of Swarovski; Marigay McKee, Fashion Director of Harrods; and Ellie Patsalos, Vice-Chairman & Partner, Deloitte. This panel was chaired by Kate Reardon, formerly Contributing Editor of Vanity Fair and recently appointed as Editor of the Tatler.

It is clear that luxury brands are here to stay with issues of relevance, extreme customisation and experience design top of the agenda. Not too many fears of recessionary pressures apparent. Marigay McKee made a plea for more 'good old fashioned charm and manners' which seemed to particularly resonate with delegates. Gerry McGovern stated that design lies at the core of the product and the brand at Land Rover and it is that which will give them access to new customers and create differentiation. Sustainability did feature even at this level of the market with sustainability credentials being increasingly seen as a compelling and important part of the brand story.

Fishy business in Camden

Innovation comes in many forms and always changes our view of what is possible.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

European Commission and Design update

The eighth conference of APCI in France took place in Paris on Monday and Tuesday of this week. A mixed and very interesting two days. Congratulations to Jean Schneider and APCI for making it happen.

One of the highlights for me was the very first speaker Christine Simon from the European Commission speaking about the European Commission's adoption of design into the Innovation Union. Launched in October 2010, The Innovation Union was adopted by the Member States at the end of November, has a 'novel approach' to innovation and is wider in scope than before with 34 commitments of which one is to design. (See previous post October 2010)

And this has already seen the appointment of Aalto University as Secretariat to the European Design Innovation Initiative which will include a European Design Leadership Board. The European Design Leaderership Board, membership of which is yet to be announced,will comprise 15 persons and will be tasked to create a vision for design over the longer term with the designation of pilot projects, including perhaps exchange of good practice and other measures to promote design. It is non-legislative.

And this Leadership Board will not be only a talking shop. The Commission has already earmarked around €3 million for 2011 out of the CIP (Competitiveness and Innovation Programme) with an intention by the Commission to publish bids by summer 2011.

Finally, Christine spoke of the meeting of the European Council that is scheduled for 4th February 2011 at which Heads of State and Governements could be discussing the Innovation Union and its commitments and might mention design in the discussions.