Enter_Unkown Territories

We just visited the  festival and conference Enter_Unknown Territories for new technology art that took place from 25 to 29 April 2007 in Cambridge. Various artists and media activists/inventors showed their work in a bunch of spherical tents on the common. 


We were particularly impressed by the Temporary MediaShed. Mediashed is a ‘free media space’ in the¬† East of England where people can make things by using free software and recycled equipment. They do great projects. Take a look: mediashed.org

Morals, Ethics, Meaning and Quality

A few talks I attended in recent weeks have¬† helped me in thinking about issues I had been struggling with. The first talk was by Anne Galloway, who gave an excellent key note speech at the Enter_Unknown territories conference in Cambridge (26 April 2007). She mentioned the difference between ethics and morals. She explained that it is okay, and even necessary, to have a set of ethics whereby to judge the world around us. The perspective of those ethics enables us to judge our own behaviour and that of others, and to communicate about this perspective. Allowing morals into this judgement and communication often leads to tricky situations where typically one person is telling another that his/her ethics are inferior. As a social researcher it is crucial to avoid these situations. And also in generally as an individual it is important to be open-minded rather than moral. This …

Being Here

On 11 April Caroline Nevejan successfully defended her PhD dissertation at the University of Amsterdam. She is a good friend of ours and we are really proud of her. The title of her dissertation is Presence and the Design of Trust. The research focused on the design of presence in technology-driven societies. Caroline analysed two case studies to explore this issue; the Galactic Hacker Party (1989) and the Seropositive Ball (1990). In their time these events were state of the art, both in terms of their topic and the technology used to reach an international network of participants. Caroline was one of the main organisers of both these events. She has always had a sharp intuition for catalysing public debate, and now she has deepened her knowledge with an academic framework and perspective. Well done!…

Critical Design

The exhibition Designing Critical Design in Z33  (Hasselt, Belgium) gives an excellent overview of the works by Jurgen Bey, Martí Guixé and Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby.
They all produce works that question the designed surrounding and modern society.Their experimental and hypothetical concepts make one reflect on the role of technology and design in our daily lives. 


The work by Jurgen Bey was the most new to me. I really liked his appropriation of traditional furniture in new architectural spaces.¬†And also his concept for a no-frills garden for people with Alzheimer.…

Four Corners of London

The exhibition Four Corners presents a series of interesting multi-media portraits of people living in East, West, North and South London. The portraits are made by the local residents showing their affection for the part of London they call home as well as their pride in their cultural heritage, often from other parts of the world. For this event the National Portrait Gallery developed partnerships with local London galleries and cultural venues to involve people from the four corners of London in a series of workshops. They worked with people of various ages, young and old. The results were also very divers: photos, audio tracks, visual collages and even animated kites. I really liked the audio tracks. They were powerful mixes of ambient sounds, voice overs and self-produced music. This show clearly illustrates that London is a vibrant melting pot, not just because some…

Include 2007

From 1 to 4 April the RCA hosted the Include 2007 conference, organised by the Helen Hamlyn Centre. About 150 people from all over the world gathered to present and discuss inclusive design projects. The most impressive presentation was by Paula Dib from Trans.forma Design in Brazil. She runs amazing projects where people from under-developed areas in Brazil create innovative products from cheap local materials to be sold in the more developed urban centres. Paula is the catalysator of a new way of looking at craft and design that makes respectful use of cultural and social roots. This a new and refreshing way of economic development and transformation. Paula presents herself as a social designer.…

Bottom-up innovation

Rob van Kranenburg presented his thoughts on the increasingly strained relationship between formal and informal networks. He showed a rich collection of examples of bottom-up online and sensor-based innovations (wikipedia, commons-based peer production, thinglink) that create their own informal networks, running parallel to top-down systems auch as nation states and the EU. This talk was part of the Organisation, Strategy & Design Seminar Series held at the London School of Economics. After the talk Rob invited us to brainstorm in small break out groups about sustainable bottom-up innovations. My group came up with an idea for local recycle stations that extract raw materials from our disposable goods and produce new stuff on demand in replicators.…

Who wants tomorrow’s papers?

The launch event of the Innovation Forum London was themed ‘Who wants tomorrow’s papers?’. It addressed the synergy between online and offline newspapers and asked the question what we can¬† learn from best practice in research, design, technology, journalism, editorial and business strategy.
Khoi Vinh on the New York Times described how there has been a significant change in the way the online news is perceived within the company. It is not longer considered to be just on online version of the hard copy newspaper that gives the news away for free. The website has so much more functionality. It caters to the conversational character of the news experience of today. He did agree though that they should probably do more contextual inquiry into the news experience. The current user testing is in reality more ‘executive testing’, aiming to please…

Innovation processes

Jeremy Myerson, the director of InnovationRCA, presented his views on innovation processes during a talk organised by the Helen Hamlyn Research Centre. He described three phases in this process: the discovery phase, the creation phase and the delivery phase. The dynamics of these phases develop from very fuzzy and chaotic to more and more structured and planned. It crossed my mind that he forgot to include the phase of the actual use of innovations. In this phase the dynamic tend to be quite fuzzy and chaotic again. People often surprise designers and developers with the creative usages they find for devices and services. You cannot control in a top-down delivery process. Real innovations frequently have a strong bottom-up component.…

Innovation Reading Circle 02

The second meeting of the Innovation Reading Circle was again very interesting. This time the theme was User-Led Innovation.¬†The books we read and discussed were: ‘Democratising Innovation‘ by Eric Von Hippel, ‘We-think: The power of mass creativity‘ by Charles Leadbeater and ‘The Ten Faces of Innovation‘ by Tom Kelley and Jonathan Littman.¬†The keywords that bridge these publications are open source design, multi-disciplinary¬†collaboration and user participation.¬†The styles of publications were very different: research-based academic (Von Hippel), practice-based reflection (Kelley) and journalistic experiment (Leadbeater). The Innovation Reading Circle is organised by¬†Nico Macdonald.…

User-driven innovation

Just finished a chapter for a book on knowledge sharing in the creative industry. The book ‘Uncommon Ground: Creative Encounters between Sectors and Disciplines’ will be published by Bis Publishers in April 2007 as a spin off of the Uncommon Ground workshop in September in Amsterdam.

My chapter addresses the complexity, and fun, of inter-disciplinary collaboration in the era of Service Design. It elaborates specifically on the need for consumer research during the development of new concepts for innovative services. Download ServiceDesign_GvD_210207.pdf

Beyond Human Centred Design

COVID19 has given the world the time to rest, and the opportunity for us to rethink the way we live. It has also revealed how inseparable we are with…

Let’s Talk Maps and Mapping

Interested in mapping services, ecosystems, stakeholders and beyond? Join us as we explore how other disciplines approach mapping and what we can take away as design researchers and service designers.

The Subspecies of Design Researcher

As a design research agency, STBY has worked with design researchers of many shapes and sizes. While the role of ‘design researcher’ becomes more common and recognised as a formal position in many different types of organisations, it’s worth reflecting on how we all work and the unique skills and attitudes needed in different settings.

GOOD is coming to London again!

As the founder and partner of REACH network, STBY is happy to announce that following on the success of previous related events around the world,…

A New Breed of Design Research Tools

Gone are the days of lugging around clunky recorders, hefty cameras and brick-like hard drives to interviews and observation sites. The design researchers of today need only bring along a smartphone hooked up to a few complementary gadgets and software to capture and save quality audio, video and images.

Rigorous documentation: A research superpower

When research activities get going in earnest, a lot is produced. If treated too casually, the mass of audio files and transcripts, flip-overs and mini-posters full of post-its, photos, interview notes and feedback mails can quickly turn into a massive hairball that no-one can unpick.