Play the City

Last week I was invited to participate in ‘Play the City‘. ‘Play the City’ is an Amsterdam and Istanbul based city design and research organization founded by Ekim Tan: “Play the City introduces games into city-making. Seeing city games as tools of the new democracy and open citymaking. Play the City has been designing city games for various urban questions internationally.” (source: ‘Play the city’ Facebook)
Together with my colleague Rob Prass I went to Pakhuis de Zwijger, where ‘Play the City’ is located, with no specific expectations. After a very friendly welcome we first had to pick an envelope which contains our budget and some rules, next we had to carefully plan and design our area in the Almere Oosterwold project. My cooperation with Rob worked out very well, at least we thought so :-), and after we had bought and carefully positioned our roads, bridges, buildings and energy resources we evaluated what happened during the game itself.

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It was very interesting to see how people worked together, made deals, supported each other, designed creative concepts and so on. However, as in real life, there were also disappointments, distrust and (friendly) break ups. After a passionate review we could only conclude that we all had a great afternoon with unexpected insights and fun! Many thanks to the people of ‘Play the City’ for their guidance and support during the (fantastic designed!) city game and the opportunity to participate!

When you’re interesting in playing the city game don’t hesitate to contact the people of ‘Play the City’. In the video a talk by Ekim Tan on the reason why she founded the ‘Play the City’ game.

Karin van den Driesche

Jannis Kounellis: Gray is the Color of Our Time

In this beautiful video the artist Jannis Kounellis talks about his work, art, humanism, cultures, current time, participation, globalization and more. I love to hear how he talks about the reason why he became an artists instead of a sailor like the rest of his Greek family: “Why does someone become a painter at that moment? I don’t quite remember if it was morning or afternoon. If the sun was shining when an image hits you.”


It is interesting to hear how he views globalization as repeating the same everywhere as opposed to dealing with diversity. Kounellis: “We [artists and designers] should listen and participate without interrupting the relation established by the people with the land.” In this light he prefers Picasso when he compares him with Mondriaan because it is Picasso who let’s himself be influenced by war in his work [literally by painting Guernica] and Mondriaan doesn’t use the bombing of London in his work. Even though I agree with Kouneliss idea of respecting diversity I wonder whether the work of an artist who follows his personal path of investigation, whose work is separated from events in society, participates less in society than an artist who does?

Living in his studio that looked like one of his paintings, Mondriaan wants to reveal what has always been there, what he sees and what others don’t see, a world of perfect balance. As a consequence of this idea a balanced world wouldn’t need art because we would be living in art. In this sense it is not surprising that realism for Mondrian was out of the question because realism for Mondriaan is to fall back on the existing visible world which is in unbalance. However Mondriaan isn’t a pessimist, although he considers art in his time as being in isolation, art will eventually reunite with life.

I can imagine that the work of an artist who responds to events, globally or locally, has an obvious link with society. But the work of Mondriaan, as an investigation on understanding the world, represents his idea that (abstract) art equals living. Finding and visualizing this perfect balance through art would show the structure beneath our world to the world. And although Mondriaan refers to the world as a linear system in his work and not so much to the systems of societies, I think Mondriaans work of perfect balance can be used to show unbalanced processes that are still invisible in society. Mondriaans work is a canvass of life striving for balance which therefore can operate as a reflection on the events occurring in our society and personal lives.

As Picasso painted the result of war in all its immensities, Mondriaan tried to construe the system or rhythm of a balanced world that would overcome an unbalanced life that leads to catastrophic events. The latter takes time to understand, as Mondriaan was well aware of.

Karin – Filterdesign & University of Applied Science Amsterdam

(source: Close up: In het atelier van Mondriaan.)

Participatory Street-up Innovation: Issues

Re-reading my hypothesis on the transformative potential of ‘participatory street-up innovation’ I think a few important anchors in my thought process are missing. First I have to define the term ‘innovative’, if only because  in recent years this term has become a huge hype for several branches, especially in the world of design. My idea of innovative stands for ‘ahead of the times’. In other words people can re-use products in an unobvious and contemplative way.

Second, I talk about issues without addressing how issues come into being. I think that issues mostly stem from the disruption of daily life by events out of our reach (from bad weather to war). Moreover it is in the way how people respond to the disruptive event that will create and define personal and public issues. The latter arises when large groups of people start participating on the issue. This is just a first thought on the question how public issues come into being and not an answer to the question by far.

Third, by focusing on the re-use of products I limit the findings about unobvious and contemplative ways of dealing with material circumstances too much. This is because a product might only function as a tool during the process of creativity when people create things. The re-use of products might be confined to the product itself and will show nothing about the disruptive event, issues and material circumstances I am interested about. That’s why I want to broaden the focus on the re-use of products and the things that people make to material relations and interventions. Unfortunately material relations and interventions constitute a long-term process that in the beginning might be invisible. I hope to find out how to detect the invisible material relations and interventions and subsequently making them visible. I think this would be a role for artists. (more on this later) In this creative process from invisibility to visibility their might be the trans-formative potential in street-up innovation which I wrote about earlier.

So reconsidering the hypothesis on Participatory Street-up Innovation (PSuI) the question I want to investigate is how to detect (and visualize) material relations or interventions and the issues they bring about. This is necessary to discover the ideas stemming from material participation in daily life before, during and after disruptive events. In this way I hope to gain insights on how people deal with the complexity of the world and its issues.

Karin – Filterdesign & University of Applied Science Amsterdam

Participatory Street-up Innovation

This year, what is left of it, my aim will be to take the first step for a long-term project on the transformative potential of ‘participatory street-up innovation’.(Remember ‘Street-Up Innovation’?; the innovative ways people are adapting the use of a product to their needs and way of working.)

I added the term ‘participatory’ to street-up innovation because when people start to share their experiences with products these stories would show (part of) the material circumstances of an individual. Sharing a personal experience will show alternatives to deal with material circumstances. And although the line between a personal issue with products and a public issue may be subjective, when a large enough sector of society is affected by an issue, it becomes a public issue. In this way people could become aware of new material (and social?) circumstances and its alternatives ways of dealing with it. At least that’s my hypothesis on participatory street-up innovation.

There are two elements that fascinate me in the concept of participatory street-up innovation; first whether an individual story, about a personal experience with products in this case, possesses a trans-formative potential from an individual story to the public sphere and second whether an alternative way of dealing with products constitutes a social issue? If a trans-formative potential in street-up innovation, that allows an individual story to become a social issue, exists can artists and designers use this trans-formative potential to co-create long-term, committed work of thought carried out by the public?

Next: What are material circumstances, what is the relation between material circumstances and the use of products and why is dealing with material circumstances important?

Karin – Filterdesign & University of Applied Science Amsterdam

Golden dot award 2015

Every year CMD Amsterdam awards prizes for the best work done by their students. This year there were four categories and these are the winners, Congratulations!
Better World Award’
: ‘Vlucht voor Willy!’ (Flee from Willy) by Dylan van Sprang.
Technical Award: : Xpression Play by Ted Voorend.
P-Kings Award: SheepTogether by Jardi Kroes, Dieuwertje Okkels, Sophie Hoeboer, Jurre Visser, Merlijn Vos en Pim Jenniskens.
Creative Award: Bricky (bricky.nl) by Simon Dijkman, Roan Zuman, Willem Smit.

In the category ‘Better World’, first year student Dylan van Sprang won the prize for a game called ‘Vlucht voor Willy!’ (Flee from Willy). ‘Vlucht voor Willy’ is a game that lets you ‘experience’ fleeing like a refugee and triggers your thinking in an unexpected way. Try it yourself and play the game!
AanhetIJ

Karin – Filterdesign & University of Applied Science Amsterdam

Designing? How?

This week I was a guest lecturer at the Maastricht University Zuyd as a 2nd examiner for CMD graduates. A very nice experience! One of the students introduced me to a new form of design: Intervention Design. This method is taught by Theo Ploeg, a lecturer at CMD Zuyd. It occurred to me how many types of design methods I’ve encountered lately. Most of the time I use the term User-Centered Design to describe my design method and my work as a designer. “UCD is putting the user central during every part of the design process”, I explain to people who ask about it. Out of curiosity I made a list of the design methods and approaches that came to mind. It is difficult to indicate the difference between an approach, a process and a method. How you are going to do something and the progress are closely linked within the flexible parts of the design practice. But this is what I came up with:

Design Research: Researching the history of design, media theory, semiotics and the role of the designer.
Research for design: Research tools and techniques for the purpose of better design solutions like prototyping, interviewing, personas, flow models and so on.
Research of design: Concerns the design methods that are being used or can be used.
Research through design: Gaining or constructing new knowledge through designing, building and testing in the environment so that people can experience the design within their daily live. Research through design has a focus on fashion, industrial design and architecture.
Social design: Social design in the broadest sense, addresses a social issue. A carefully selected social and political attitude drives the design process. The methods which are used are also social, actively involving the target group or making the design process a form of co-creation. The goal is to design products that solve a social issue.
Service design: the purpose of service design is to improve the infrastructure with regard to the communication and material components of a service by offering the right customer experiences at the right time. A typical tool used by service design is a ‘customer journey map’. A ‘customer journey map’ describes and visualizes the journey, experience and emotions of the customer based on the moments of interaction with the service. These insights enable service designers to realize an optimal customer experience through various channels.
Evidence based design:
Design movement which emphasizes on credible evidence by supporting every design decision by doing research. Evidence based design is originated from healthcare.
Speculative design
: Speculative design serves two distinct purposes: first to enable to think about the future and second to critique current practices: by Auger in Speculative design: crafting the speculation. (http://ellieharmon.com/wp-content/uploads/02-06-Auger_Design-Fictions.pdf)
Critical Design: “Critical Design uses speculative design proposals to challenge narrow assumptions, preconceptions and givens about the role products play in everyday life. It is more of an attitude than anything else, a position rather than a method.”: by Dunne & Raby.
Action research: “… is a disciplined process of inquiry conducted by and for those taking the action. The primary reason for engaging in action research is to assist the “actor” in improving and/or refining his or her actions.”: by Richard Sagor. Important to add is that action research happens in one given setting, in contrast to research for design.
Educational Design Research: “…a genre of research in which the iterative development of practical solutions to complex educational problems also provides the context for empirical investigations that yield theoretical understanding that can inform the work of others.”: by McKenney and Reeves in Conducting Educational Design Research (2012)
Educational Design Research has two goals according to McKenney:
– positive intervention in the real world of today, or maybe tomorrow
– scientific (theoretical) understanding of these interventions that could inform the works of others who are interested in similar kind of issues outside of the design context. This in contrast to Design-Based Research and Instructional Design.
Design-Based Research: “A systematic but flexible methodology aimed to improve educational practices through iterative analysis, design, development, and implementation, based on collaboration among researchers and practitioners in real-world settings, and leading to contextually-sensitive design principles and theories.”: by Wang and Hannafin in Design-Based Research and technology-enhanced learning environments. (2005) (http://www.researchgate.net/publication/225626676_Design-based_research_and_technology-enhanced_learning_environments)
Instructional Design: “Instructional experiences which make the acquisition of knowledge and skill more efficient, effective, and appealing.”: Merrill, Drake, Lacy, Pratt in Reclaiming Instructional Design (http://mdavidmerrill.com/Papers/Reclaiming.PDF)
Participatory Design/Co-Design: A design approach  where all stakeholders (e.g. employees, partners, customers, citizens, end users) are actively involved in the processes and procedures of design to help ensure the result meets their needs.
Persuasive design: Design principles that focus on influencing the decision-making and purchasing behavior of (potential) customers. To accomplish this influence on decision-making several psychological theories on behavioral change are used. For example, from Robert Cialdini (Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University).
Generative design: “Generative design is a design method in which the output – image, sound, architectural models, animation – is generated by a set of rules or an Algorithm, normally by using a computer program. Most generative design is based on parametric modeling. It is a fast method of exploring design possibilities that is used in various design fields such as Art, Architecture, Communication Design, and Product Design.” (Source: Wikipedia)
Intervention design: Goal is to design for the near future: by Theo Ploeg. http://buroneue.net/intervention-design.
intervention-design-presentation-5-4-638
Image: Intervention design by Theo Ploeg

Karin – Filterdesign & University of Applied Science Amsterdam

OER & MOOC’s by dr. Robert Schuwer

I highly recommend to watch this public lecture (lectorale rede) by my colleague/friend dr. Robert Schuwer where he talks about his passion Open Educational Resources. Unfortunate I could not attend his public lecture  at the Fontys University of Apllied Sciences last Friday but I watched his lecture online (in Dutch). I am again impressed by the inspiring content presented in such an enjoyable way and I can only underscore Robert’s mission:
“Open Educational Resources: Imagine!”

Additional I would like to refer to another talk (in Dutch) by Robert Schuwer on ‘MOOC’s: kansen en uitdagingen’ (opportunities and challenges) organized by the Open University where he talks about the opportunities and challenges of MOOC’s.


Karin – Filterdesign & University of Applied Science Amsterdam

P.S. The initial start of this blog is based on the motivation (literally supported by Robert Schuwer as client) that research which is funded by tax money must be shared!