DESIGN THINKING AND THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
Blog Post, Posted on January 06, 2015
I was in New York City to attend Gain: AIGA Design and Business Conference. It was my first time there, and it did not disappoint. From the sea of yellow cabs, fashion that will stop you in your tracks, and the beautiful architectural skyline, it was everything I ever imagined and so much more.
Yellow cabs in front of The New York Times.
One World Trade Center
The conference centered around two days of listening to innovators and thought leaders from around the country and the world, all speaking on a central idea — design thinking is essential for radical change. The design principles that designers live by to create meaningful experiences with the end user — the human being — in mind are what's needed to redesign systems, business, commerce, culture and society for not just a sustainable world, but a regenerative world that will thrive for generations to come. The business world is catching on and valuing creative leadership more than ever.
“Someone has to represent team human.”
— Douglas Rushkoff, Author of “Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now.”
As we discussed the future, I was surprised at how much the speakers looked to the past.
Marty Neumeier and his inspiration from the hand prints found in the prehistoric Lascaux caves in southwestern France, reminded us how our biology hasn’t evolved that much over time but how our technology has.
Sanford Levinson challenged us to consider if the U.S. Constitution written for the 1787 America should have a sell-by or expiration date (like milk?). Asking the question, is it right to assume that the decisions made in 1787 should last forever?
And Roger Martin gave insight into the stock market and how the financial and real estate bubbles and crashes were not accidental but rather features of the fundamental design of the modern economy.
At Gain: AIGA Design and Business Conference in New York City. Conversation between Michael Bierut, Pentagram, and Roger Martin, author of “Fixing the Game,” on the Stock Market: It’s a Design Problem.
Various speakers referenced the Industrial Revolution and the age of machines and automation as the start of society, systems, economy, and more being established in a way that drives us further and further away from the value of creativity and human interaction.
“Everything we do is out of our humanity, so why do we leave it out.”
— Bob Dunham, Founder, Institute for Generative Leadership
It’s like the artists during the Industrial Revolution brilliantly saw what was coming.“Government Bureau,” 1956 by George Tooker, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
It’s this connection to the Industrial Revolution and American history, with design thinking, which continued to resonate with me for the rest of my time in New York. As I visited The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ground Zero, Rockefeller Center, Brooklyn, and even the subways, I saw these places and events not only through a first-time visitor’s eyes, but as a designer with renewed perspective and understanding of our history.
Police officers outside One World Trade Center.
The Brooklyn Public Library
Solider’s uniform and American flag displayed at a flea market.
Gyro stand outside The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Just as it took a revolution to establish the society and culture we live in today–the good and bad–design thinking is a revolution leading to radical change in business, society, and government. And it’s important to remember that as designers, we represent team human.
I returned to Seattle feeling even more grateful for this awesome responsibility we have partnering with our clients. It truly is a privilege to go to work every day and be immersed in a team of smart creatives and clients, working on some pretty amazing projects.
As we enter into the new year, I’m challenged to look around in my life and ask, what are the things that are broken and that I’ve accepted as status quo? How can I apply design thinking to create more meaningful human experiences for a better tomorrow? And by extension, how can you?
More photos from New York on Flickr.