Welcome to designBytes, the electronic newsletter of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA). Here's the latest design and design-related news we've collected from around the Web.
· Making It in America (Or Not): There is never a shortage of hand-wringing regarding the United States’ dwindling manufacturing capabilities. Beneath frequent rhetorical flourishes is a rich story of how the global economy is evolving. A The New York Times story on Apple’s iPhone demonstrates how the location of supply chains and the ability to quickly scale up production often determines where consumer electronics manufacturers will make their products. That’s the not-so-good part of the story. In slightly better news, a deep report from The Atlantic reveals how—and why—it is good practice to make certain component parts in the US: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/01/making-it-in-america/8844/.
· Selling It in America: It could just be us, but it seems as if for every one person attending CES, there are two people writing about it. This year’s show, which saw record attendance, hinted at the shapes of things to come as well as some of the next great opportunities (like connected homes). In the quest to find the next hot idea, at least one writer suffered through a wicked combination of angst, apathy and overload. Perhaps the best CES coverage—and most relevant for designers—comes via the UPSTREAM team in this Core77 post: http://www.core77.com/blog/consumer_product/disruptive_trends_from_the_floor_of_ces_2012_by_upstream_21534.asp.
· There Can Only Be One: If you haven’t heard yet, there’s been a change at the top for RIM. Out are co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie. In is Thorsten Heins, who was formerly the chief operating officer of the Blackberry maker. Did shareholders get the leadership change they wanted? Maybe. Maybe not. What does the move mean for design? Hard to say. Although you may be able to parse a few things from this seven minute video address from Heins: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUFwhpcrCTw.
· Holding Out for a Hero: There’s been a fair amount of talk in recent months about Matias Duarte and his team’s accomplishments with Android. One angle that hasn’t been explored much thus far is the idea of Duarte as a hero capable of saving a business that struggles with fragmentation and other problems associated with enormous growth. In this extensive Wired interview, we get an interesting look at how a thoughtful design leader could be his company’s competitive advantage: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/01/android-design-matias-duarte-2/.
· Ona Move: While mHealth applications for smartphones are poised to dramatically change the experience of delivering healthcare, there exists a budding category of products aimed at helping consumers more artfully manage their physical fitness. Like the Jawbone Up. The first iteration of that one didn’t deliver an ideal user experience. But it did go further than the Nike+ system. With news of the forthcoming Nike Fuelband, Nike itself aims to race ahead of the competition. But how well does it work? One journalist puts the product through the paces: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57362375-1/putting-nikes-fuelband-and-me-through-the-paces/.
· An Analogue Option: While the world waits on an update to the Jawbone Up, Yves Béhar, IDSA recently announced a new venture in tandem with entrepreneur Assaf Wand that creates "lifestyle and welllness products designed to transform life's small tasks into moments of joy." You might also describe it as a breakthrough brand aimed at aging Americans, but that seems to run counter to the venture’s marketing strategy. For more on the design of the line, Core77 has this Q&A with Yves: http://www.core77.com/blog/exclusive/everyday_design_fuseproject_assaf_wand_launch_sabi_-_exclusive_qa_with_yves_behar_21579.asp.
· The Ghosts of BMW Design Past & Present (& Future?): Starting with the past, news surfaced recently that Chris Bangle has written a book and launched a companion competition for young designers to help him envision the future of car design. Where the present is concerned, Adrian Van Hooydonk spoke on two separate occasions about the future design direction of the BMW brand. You can read the first one and watch the second: http://www.bmwblog.com/2012/01/18/exclusive-video-interview-adrian-van-hooydonk-on-bmw-design-philosphy/.
· Imported from Detroit: As we’ve heard more regarding how GM and other carmakers are taking cues from the desires of drivers in mainland China to design cars for all markets, a newish term has emerged: “American Global.” What does the phrase mean? And what does it portend for the future of car design? Some thoughts: http://www.startribune.com/business/137615393.html.
· On the Ethics of Design Research for Corporate Gain: Following that recent Co.Design post where Jan Chipchase elaborated on a recent talk he gave at Pop!Tech, the executive creative director of global insights for frog design has issued an even deeper-drilling response to questions regarding the imperialist tendencies of design researchers and ethnographers. If you have any interest in either of those practices, you should read this: http://designmind.frogdesign.com/blog/imperialist-tendencies.html.
· Lessons from Kodak: The demise of Kodak isn't merely the classic disruption story that everyone loves to tut tut over. It's much more complicated than that. It has to do, in part, with strategies coming into vogue and driving companies to conduct business in ways that don’t necessarily serve their best interests. Larry Keeley, IDSA has a rather insightful take on the cautionary tale that has become of Kodak: http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2012/01/18/the-kodak-lie/.
· The Trouble with Collaborative Workspaces: If you believe what Square’s Jack Dorsey does, then you’re a natural proponent of transparency, trust and deep collaboration among your staff. That seems to be much easier to accomplish outside of a cubicle farm, but is it really all it’s cracked up to be? Allison Arieff raises some very intriguing questions about collaboration: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/design/2012/01/collaborative-workspaces-not-all-theyre-cracked-be/946/.
· Lessons from the Frontlines of Social Design: While the discipline of social design is still being sorted out, some folks have been practicing it for several years now and represent something of a vanguard. One of those designers, Will Holman, has filled a CV with projects like Arcosanti, Rural Build and YouthBuild. He shares some inspiring insights from his journey via Design Observer: http://places.designobserver.com/feature/lessons-from-the-front-lines-of-social-design/31998/.
· Re-Designing Education: Apple is certainly getting into this space with its newly launched textbook initiative. The Austin Center for Design is also showing some leadership in this space. And they’re not alone. A critical mass is building to leverage design thinking and practice to reform public education. One such effort: IDSA’s Design Learning Challenge. We think you should participate in that one in particular. Here’s how: http://www.idsa.org/why-participate-idsa-design-learning-callenge-2012.
· The Well-Configured Life: We can’t say whether this concept for an integrated system of shared hardware has been entered in the International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) competition, but it did capture a lot of attention on Yanko Design last week. We suspect it has to do with the integrated thinking driving the design. Check it out for yourself: http://www.yankodesign.com/2012/01/16/well-configured-life/.
· Upcoming Events:
- Jan. 26: Networking | Shake It Up, Blend It Up (Boston)
- Jan. 26: Ecco’s Chinese New Year’s Party (NYC)
- Jan. 26: Monthly Design Mixer (Indianapolis)
- Jan. 26: RESCHEDULED | IDSANW Winter Social (Seattle)
- Jan. 26-27: MTRL 2020 (Cincinnati)
- Feb. 2: Talk | Slow Food Meets Big Business (NYC)
- Feb. 7: Talk | Regina Lee Blaszczyk (Philadelphia)
- Feb. 9: Talk | The State of Design (NYC)
© 2012 Industrial Designers Society of America