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Event – DesignNotes by Michael Surtees http://designnotes.info Testing & Sprinting Wed, 29 Jun 2016 01:11:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.6 My Parsons Design IV Presentation is Up http://designnotes.info/?p=2073 http://designnotes.info/?p=2073#comments Thu, 15 Apr 2010 12:46:54 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=2073 Parson's Design IV Presentation: Unexpected Narratives and Creating the Right Conditions View more presentations from michaelSurtees. I’ve posted my presentation that I prepared for Parson’s Design IV class. It’s quite […]]]>

Parsons Design IV Talk

I’ve posted my presentation that I prepared for Parson’s Design IV class. It’s quite similar to the talk that I did in Dallas for the AIGA in February though I shuffled the order up for a more appropriate context for the class. On Monday night James A. Reeves asked if I’d like to come in to his Wednesday class to talk about Design Notes and Agile Design. What is interesting today is that a lot of people that are now in school have grown up through Facebook and don’t even consider the potential of publishing online and how that communication can help them.

The first section is about publishing, why I do it, the type of content that I write about and the benefits of keeping an active mind. The second section which was somewhat titled differently from my previous talk was called Repeat, Repeat, Repeat. In that space I talked about a couple projects that I continued day after day for a lengthy period of time. By trying something day in and day out it has allowed my to experiment, edit and take the pressure of trying to be perfect. By taking a step back over time it’s helped my to see patterns emerge that I wouldn’t have seen and in turn allowed me to self analyze to improve. The last part of the talk was a high level idea about Agile Design and using my experience at the successful start up Daylife as my case study.

Through all my examples I hopped that they remembered to:
· Learn through experimentation
· Experiment with technology
· Repeat and edit

Afterwards we as a class talked about their projects that were using a bodega as a starting point to gather data and visualize information in a meaningful way. It was a fun conversation and I appreciated the chance that James gave me to share some of what I’ve been working at.

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EVENT: PSFK Conference New York 2010 http://designnotes.info/?p=2066 http://designnotes.info/?p=2066#respond Tue, 06 Apr 2010 00:54:11 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=2066 PSFK Conference New York 2010 - Eventbrite_1268162282483

This upcoming Friday is PSFK Conference New York 2010. I’ve attended in the past and enjoyed what I’ve heard. Below are all the speakers…

Colin Beavan – Green pioneer and journalist aka No Impact Man
John Dimatos – Lecturer concepting tech solutions for Unicef at NYU
Nick Felton – Designer and creator of the annual infographic Feltron Report
Zach Lieberman – Creative technologist whose work bridges the real world with the digital
Andrew Hoppin – CIO who leverages digital media to create social impact across New York
Grant McCracken – Anthropologist and author of the book Chief Culture Officer
Shantell Martin – Illustrator & DJ who creates vivid video-projection ‘Oras’
Steve Powers – Contemporary artist who recently created the city-wide A Love Letter For You
Erik Proulx – Creative catalyst who inspires peers about their future; filmmaker behind Lemonade
Tina Roth Eisenberg – Graphic designer; and global tastemaker through her blog SwissMiss
Rob Walker – national columnist and instigator of Significant Objects

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EVENT: PSFK Conference New York 2010 http://designnotes.info/?p=2049 http://designnotes.info/?p=2049#comments Tue, 09 Mar 2010 19:32:21 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=2049 PSFK Conference New York 2010 - Eventbrite_1268162282483

Piers and PSFK have been pretty good supporters of the blog and helpful to me, so when he asked if I’d mention PSFK Conference New York 2010 on Friday, April 09, 2010 I said sure. Below are all the speakers—I’ve seen and heard a couple of them before and can attest to their smarts.

Colin Beavan – Green pioneer and journalist aka No Impact Man
John Dimatos – Lecturer concepting tech solutions for Unicef at NYU
Nick Felton – Designer and creator of the annual infographic Feltron Report
Zach Lieberman – Creative technologist whose work bridges the real world with the digital
Andrew Hoppin – CIO who leverages digital media to create social impact across New York
Grant McCracken – Anthropologist and author of the book Chief Culture Officer
Shantell Martin – Illustrator & DJ who creates vivid video-projection ‘Oras’
Steve Powers – Contemporary artist who recently created the city-wide A Love Letter For You
Erik Proulx – Creative catalyst who inspires peers about their future; filmmaker behind Lemonade
Tina Roth Eisenberg – Graphic designer; and global tastemaker through her blog SwissMiss
Rob Walker – national columnist and instigator of Significant Objects

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A couple Notes from Listening to Richard Saul Wurman and SenseMaker Dialogs http://designnotes.info/?p=2033 http://designnotes.info/?p=2033#comments Wed, 17 Feb 2010 13:15:29 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=2033 Familiar & Strange, Strange & Familiar

While attending SenseMaker Dialogs for their second event I was quite impressed with Richard Saul Wurman, the first of the two speakers last night. The term speaker is probably not the correct term to describe him though. As I walked in fifteen minutes early he was already on stage having a conversation with the audience that was there. That conversation continued until he stopped just before 8pm. His fluid approach as a conversationalist as opposed to lecturing was quite refreshing.

I probably wouldn’t do justice to his talk by trying to relive the whole conversation in a post though a couple points and observations did stand out for me. He strongly suggested that listening is a skill to strengthen at all times and to hold of on writing stuff down. That’s a contrast for me because I’ve always thought it was best to write something down as I’m more likely going to remember it. In terms of concepts he talked about the interplay between familiar and strange and the inverse of strange and familiar. Recognizing those patterns often lead to insights that in turn be acted upon.

Here’s my 140 tweet review of Richard…

If you get the chance to hear Richard Saul Wurman, I highly reccomend paying whatever it costs. Great conversationalist...

Following Richard’s talk there was a brief introduction of the SenseMaker Dialogs series and their speaker format of inviting two guests to present for forty five minutes each a couple times a year. While they have a Facebook page I hope they launch a normal site for SEO purposes. As far as I can imagine they have no way to check the analytics to see who’s visiting the site, who’s pointing to them or what’s being said outside of Facebook.

After that introduction Garry K. VanPatter talked about Humantific’s approach to design. I winced at seeing the concept of design mashed together with numbers like 3.0 or 4.0 because it felt forced. I think we’re passed the versioning thing. With that said there were a lot of points that I could consider as I continue to design. I’m just not a fan of someone on stage suggest that they’ve been at the forefront of a generalized concept of design for the last ten years and now everyone is ripping him off. The most fascinating part of his talk for me was the sketched design processes of a number of different types of people—students, to designers to business people. He could have easily just talked about that for the entire time and would have kept people interested.

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Design Notes from my AIGA Dallas talk on Unexpected Narratives and Creating the Right Conditions http://designnotes.info/?p=2020 http://designnotes.info/?p=2020#comments Mon, 08 Feb 2010 14:53:58 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=2020 Unexpected Narratives and Creating the Right Conditions Last Thursday I traveled from NYC to Dallas to Arlington to hang with the AIGA Dallas Fort Worth Chapter and present a talk […]]]>

AIGA Dallas Talk

Unexpected Narratives and Creating the Right Conditions

Last Thursday I traveled from NYC to Dallas to Arlington to hang with the AIGA Dallas Fort Worth Chapter and present a talk I titled Unexpected Narratives and Creating the Right Conditions. Jimmy Ball and the the Chapter treated me extremely well and made the experience great for me. I’ve attached the deck and made note below of all the posts that were covered in the talk.

Walking to work in 60 Seconds, my 20/20 at #makethink AIGA Design Conference 2009

Watching the sun interact with design

New York City Colour Study Before the Crop

36 days of New York Sky: January 16th 2008 – February 20th 2008

New York City Colour Study Timeline

New York City Colour Study – Time when photo was taken graph

A Couple More New York City Colour Study Experiments – the old school animated .gif and weekly view

Starting the #walkingtoworktoday photo project

Experimenting with Fragmented Medias while #walkingtoworktoday

Unexpected Narratives and Creating the Right Conditions

My M.O.

Five reasons why I blog

Deborah Adler ClearRx Interview

An interview with John Gargiulo, owner of Swich in NYC

The Person behind Nooka: an interview with Matthew Waldman

Alissia Melka-Teichroew (@alissiamt) Interview: designer, founder of byAMT, curator, and maker

QuadCamera and ToyCamera Interview with Takayuki Fukatsu, creator of iPhone Apps

A great conversation with Swissmiss (Tina Roth Eisenberg)

REVIEW COPY: Look Both Ways by Debbie Millman

REVIEW COPY: I Miss My Pencil by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

Banksy at work in NYC: Broadway & Howard St.


The Flo in Florent

My Link Drop Process

Link Drop Today Release Notes

Video on Agile Design from my Creative Mornings talk is up


Working on Getty Images SmartGalleries by Daylife

What is the logo worth?

Face pics are the new logo

Company Deal Announcements

Branding Issues: Flickr + Yahoo + Microsoft

Lean Pocket Info Fail

Confusing MTA Subway Turnstiles

the Locksmith’s Business Card

Flexing scale, marks and other consistent things that brands could be

Branding abstraction in the real world (at least in NoLita)

Design Sale

Quotes to remember as a designer

My News Flow on Flight 1549

Web actions du’jour

What Graphic Designers need to understand

How my iPhone evolved how I tell stories

Sketching out a blog post loop

Thinking about twitter feeding facebook status

More buy and vote on demand, and distributing things in digital

Talking Sticker

Podcasts are now magazines, magazines are what newspapers used to be, and music files are now…

24hr music app for the iPhone

Showing Competitors on a Product Site

Inside Out with Invader in NYC

Still photography and video evolution

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AIGA Dallas Event: Unexpected Narratives and Creating the Right Conditions with Michael Surtees #aigaconnect http://designnotes.info/?p=2009 http://designnotes.info/?p=2009#comments Thu, 21 Jan 2010 11:33:20 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=2009 AIGA Dallas Poster: Michael Surtees

I’m excited to mention that I’ll be speaking February 4th, 2010 in Dallas with their AIGA chapter. I’ve titled the talk Unexpected Narratives and Creating the Right Conditions. I’m going to talk process stuff in terms of agile design, using a blog as a testing lab and tool for learning, why content is now the UI and how graphic design has and should evolve. All of those things have created a lot of stories that I think others will gain some value from.

You can get more information about the event on the AIGA Dallas website. I’m not sure where the event is going to be held yet but I will update that information once it becomes available. If you happen to be in Dallas February 4th please say hello.

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A Couple Notes on Michael Beirut at Creative Mornings http://designnotes.info/?p=2006 http://designnotes.info/?p=2006#comments Mon, 18 Jan 2010 14:33:02 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=2006 the best clients love design, or don't give a damn about it. Michael Beirut at creativemorning

It shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that Michael Beirut’s talk at Creative Mornings was going to be so well received. While it’s hard to guess if each of Michael’s slides talking about clients was less than 140 characters on purpose or not, a quick scan through the interwebs shows what audience members on Twitter appreciated and a full break down from Soulellis Studio. Here’s a couple quick notes of my own that I took while he spoke.

A couple traits that great clients have are “Brains, Passion, Trust and Courage” and in return what designer’s owe good clients are “Loyalty, Honesty, Dedication and Tenacity”. There great things to file in the back a your mind as a mental checklist. If some of those things aren’t going to happen—just be prepared for the type of okay results that might happen. At this point most people probably know Michael’s work really well, but I thought how he tied it in the end through the context of his ten best clients was smart. The visuals really tied everything up about what he was talking about. I could be wrong but I also think a majority of the people he listed off were women. You could really tell through his body language that he was enjoying the early morning talk. After he finished and the applause started I saw him give a slight kick of the leg, sort of like when Emeril goes Bam! but in a more subtly sophisticated way.

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REVIEW: Bits ‘n Pieces http://designnotes.info/?p=1968 http://designnotes.info/?p=1968#respond Mon, 23 Nov 2009 11:59:27 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1968 L1080049








Last week I received a tour from Alissia Melka-Teichroew whom is a friend and one the curators of Bits ‘n Pieces which was on display at Material ConneXion. At first glance it was pretty easy getting sucked in with all the cool looking things. But stepping back for a moment helped me understand the concept of the exhibition which was looking at how technology both digital and analog are intermixing. There’s a bold statement suggesting that the digital revolution is behind us, and “whether an object is digital or analog is no longer of importance, since digital technologies are now embedded in the way we think, work and play”. I’m not entirely sure that’s the case just yet—this confused NYT review seemed to have missed the point. For the time being I still think if a designer can merge both digital and analog technologies seamlessly it should be studied because it’s not as common as we might think. So in that respect this exhibition is quite fascinating to examine.




At this point in time I think we take the visualization on screen for granted. It doesn’t have as much emotional impact as it once did. There’s a million ways to show information and very few that can make an impact. Contrast the screen to what Mellitus by Doug Bucci does is fascinating. He has taken the data from a Continous Glucose Monitoring system that was monitoring his red blood cells while having Type 1 diabetes. Over time the first rings show from a stressful event, the second is a normal state while the third full ring is while on holiday. Being able to see that rendered in real life brings the internal into something very actionable. While everyone can’t be on permanent holiday, understanding what stressful situations are doing to people internally helps. Maybe we all should chill a bit more.




Most exhibitions have some sort of display explaining what the piece are about. However it’s a missed opportunity to open more information to viewer if they’re interested. For this show they realized that by using QR code to the info that it opened up the use of their website. When I scanned the info of the code from my iPhone it gave me a direct url to the actual product in the exhibition web site. Super simple but extremely helpful. This type of info display should be the norm. The catch is that few people still have a QR reader on their mobile device, yet I hope that could change due to helpful cases like this.




Two multiple pieces that showed the morphing and evolution of chairs was interesting. Jan Habraken & Willem Derks explored what a common chair cross–bred with a more well known design. They call it Chairgenics. In a different process Joris Laarman displayed the results of to strip the chair to essential pieces. These type of models help display what only a handful of years ago would be difficult due to cost and speed.

This exhibition is on view from November 4th to December 4th, 2009 though I’ve heard rumours that it might be extended. Until I can confirm that it’s best to visit before than. It’s being housed at Material ConneXion 60 Madison Avenue, 2nd floor in NYC during normal weekday business hours.

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Looking at Lubalin Now http://designnotes.info/?p=1951 http://designnotes.info/?p=1951#comments Fri, 06 Nov 2009 14:10:44 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1951 Lubalin Now

The Road Less Traveled

Jessica Hische Say It With Flowers, 2009 Client: Personal, for Go Font Urself Show

HunterGatherer Nike Considered, 2005 Design by Todd St. John & Gary Benzel Client: Nike

Lubalin Now

Lubalin Now

Marian Bantjes Saks Fifth Avenue Valentine Heart, 2008 Client: Saks Fifth Avenue

As a fan of typography it wasn’t hard to love what was on the walls of the newly opened Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography. Last night I checked out the packed opening of Lubalin Now at the Cooper Union. It was a type fan’s dream of inspired works of Herb Lubalin. There was a healthy combination of work that I was familiar with and a few surprises. The only unfortunate thing was that there was no display information on the wall so at times I could only guess who was responsible for the work. Above are a couple pieces that really got my attention. I was introduced to the top image via a great video and post from Volumeone some time ago. While I don’t recall seeing the video at the show, it’s really worth watching. Another person with a good showing of work was Marian Bantjes. What I really liked about her work for with Saks Fifth Avenue’ Shoe Bootie is that even at an extreme angle that I shot at, the perspective was still intact. I’d be really curious to experiment more with angles and see how the type holds up.

Over the weekend I took a second trip to the Cooper Union to take a closer look at what I missed during the packed opening. What I didn’t notice the first time around was how much each work flowed into the pieces side by side. As I mentioned above I recognized some name while others I wasn’t familiar. One person’s work that I had seen before but wasn’t able to put a name or face to was Jessica Hische (for those that already know her, don’t role your eyes at me). It wasn’t until recently when I saw her speak at a Young Guns event that I actually found out who she was. Considering the amount of work she already has under he belt I’m really curious to see how she evolves in the next couple of years…

The show itself is up from November 5, 2009 – December 8, 2009 at The Cooper Union, 41 Cooper Gallery. It’s a must see if you’re in NYC and love design. More info at lubalincenter.cooper.edu/

Gallery Hours
Monday–Thursdays 12–7 pm, Saturday 12–5 pm
Closed Fridays and Sundays
Closed November 26, 2009–November 29, 2009

Featured Artists
Marian Bantjes
Deanne Cheuk
The CW Network in-house department
Ariel Di Lisio
Marcus Eriksson
Oded Ezer
Jessica Hische
Justin Thomas Kay
Like Minded Studio
Brett MacFadden
Christopher Martinez
Matt Owens
Post Typography
Roberto Quiñones
Strange Attractors Design
Alex Trochut
TV Land
Rick Valicenti
and Herb Lubalin

Curated by
Mike Essl
Alexander Tochilovsky

Special Thanks
Emily Roz
Justin Thomas Kay

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EVENT NOTICE: Bits ’N Pieces (November 4-December 4, 2009) http://designnotes.info/?p=1944 http://designnotes.info/?p=1944#respond Tue, 27 Oct 2009 20:59:27 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1944 debug_typographical_series





Bits ’N Pieces to debut at Material ConneXion®
November 4-December 4, 2009

Interactive exhibition to examine dialogue between the analog world and digital technologies transforming design in a post-digital era

Curated by Dutch and Belgian designers Claire Warnier and Dries Verbruggen of UNFOLD, Lucas Maassen, Jan Habraken and Alissia Melka-Teichroew (byAMT), the exhibition will feature work by an international group of designers, architects, computer scientists and material and technology researchers that anticipates the next phase of the digital revolution. Through objects such as furniture, architecture, jewelry, graphic design and products, by the creative minds of Steve Breman, Doug Bucci, Edhv, Willem Derks, Jan Habraken, Ilona Huvenaars, Joris Laarman, Thomas Lommée, Jennifer Leonard, MakerBot, Lucas Maassen, Alissia Melka-Teichroew (byAMT), Dries Verbruggen, THEVERYMANY, Alex Timmer, UNFOLD, Remon van den Eijnden, and Tyche van Eijndhoven, Bits ‘n Pieces will examine how design is both conceived and consumed in the post-digital age. Projects like Lucas Maassen and Dries Verbruggen’s Brain Wave Sofa, whose shape was entirely determined by recording Maassen’s neural activity while thinking of comfort, and MakerBot’s open source 3D printer, which enables individuals to turn out complicated 3D forms quickly and affordably, highlight not only what is possible in the realm of manufacturing and design, but also what is to come.

Wednesday, November 4th
6 – 8:30 pm
Material ConneXion
60 Madison Avenue, 2nd floor NYC
New York, NY – USA

Please rsvp by October 30th

Exhibition on view November 4 – December 4 2009

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I’m likely not going to be live blogging from #makethink AIGA Design Conference 2009, I will be taking notes http://designnotes.info/?p=1921 http://designnotes.info/?p=1921#comments Wed, 07 Oct 2009 12:24:10 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1921 Make/Think AIGA Design Conference

While in the past I’ve had my issues with the AIGA, I’m actually pretty excited to be heading down to Memphis for the Make/Think AIGA Design Conference. I tend to go to a lot of design talks so being part of something bigger for a couple days is quite appealing. Back in the day before I lived in NYC, there was Michael the designer in Canada who was part of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) and worked his way from student rep, to Chapter VP of Education, to Chapter President and for a brief period National VP of Communication. It was a ton of design volunteer work that I enjoyed because I got to meet, talk and work with a lot of smart people. It wasn’t all fun but I really looked forward to the GDC National AGM’s because I got to hang with people that had put in the same effort from across Canada. While it wasn’t a conference because an AGM is actually about meetings, they did have a conference feel in the evenings. The real fun was away from the board rooms and back in the hotel. There were many nights that I didn’t sleep at all—and we’d geek out on design talk. That type of stuff isn’t for everyone but it was something I looked forward to. Now I find myself a couple years later as a member of the AIGA heading down to hear a lot of talk, and hopefully see some cool stuff that will make me think.

The great equalizer for someone that likes to write about design talks is to put the said publisher on stage. While it will be brief I’m part of 20/20 which is 20 presentations in 20 minutes! I’ve done a thirty second design video talk so it was only natural that I’d move up to doing something for a minute. What I mean by a great equalizer is that while over the weekend I’m going to be hopefully questioning what I’m hearing, it’s only fair that people might look the same why at me. I’m lucky that what I’m a part of is a fun kick off to the conference so people probably are going to be a bit more forgiving. In any case I’ll have some of the experience of knowing what it’s like to feel before going on stage to share ideas. Hopefully that won’t make me soft when it comes to (dis)agreeing with ideas over the weekend.

As for the actual conference I’m hoping to hear more about designer’s working within the realities of technology and less about how print is going to come back even stronger after business starts picking up again. There looks like there’s enough different tracks that I shouldn’t be bored. And outside the conference walls I’ll hopefully meet up with some people I’ve never had the chance to say hello to. If you happen to be reading this and are going to Memphis—let me know. As for the concept of live blogging, I’m not sure if I’ll be doing that or not. I’ll be carrying my laptop with me, but I’ll also have my iPhone too. The more likely scenario is that I’ll tweet some of the more interesting sound bytes that I’ll build into a post later. But at this point it’s all tbd which is kind of cool.

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Paula Scher Talk http://designnotes.info/?p=1918 http://designnotes.info/?p=1918#comments Tue, 06 Oct 2009 13:02:38 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1918 dangerous A

Paula Scher-Borinkmeister Das es borink


Paula Scher's maps at the Maya Stendhal Gallery

Of all the well known graphic designer’s of a certain hype, I find a lot of them are living off their reputation more so than the work that’s out there. One of the few that I respect and have been a fan for quite a while and doesn’t fit that categorization for me is Paula Scher. Her book Make it Bigger is in my top five books a designer should read and I’ve always learned something worth remembering from the videos and interviews with her. She’s also one of the few designer’s that if I met I might be a bit nervous about. So when Josh Berta who is part of the Piscatello Design Centre which organizes FIT’s Visiting Artist Program mentioned to me that Paula was speaking, I marked it in my calendar. Now that I’ve heard her in person I would have been pretty disappointed if I had missed it.

The line was long to get in, and once the doors opened it was mayhem. I’ve actually never seen a mad rush like that for a design talk before. But it was all good, everyone in the audience seemed to be fans whether they were students or people like me. She broke her talk up into two parts, work before Pentagram and work at Pentagram. She started with a story of getting lost as a child trying to find her house because they all looked the same—if all the houses looked the same, were all the people inside the same too? It seemed like a good foundation to react against Modernist design that she’s talked about disliking.

But like any Libra, they’re always trying to stay in balance. I know this as I’m a Libra myself, but we the audience also found out last night that her birthday is today because a cake was brought out before her talk. For all the free = exercise = play, there’s her corporate identity work that balances the play. Prefacing the Citi work, she described identity design as being more than just placing the logo on the corner of an envelope. But as this audio clip that I recorded last night shows (you might need to turn the sound really up), there’s a lot of selling to get it up the chain. On the flip side there’s her giant map paintings. When she exhibited a series at Maya Stendhal Gallery last year, I visited twice, something that I don’t recall ever doing before for an art exhibition. Again here’s a brief audio clip of her explaining why she does the maps.

Another beef that I have with a lot of know it all designer’s is their attitude towards other people’s work. It’s as though by criticizing the work they’re somehow above it. Paula who’s work is replicated a lot talked not so much about that but the pragmatic nature of corporate design life. If the right people aren’t aren’t allowed to make the right choices, the design isn’t going to work. If you contrast that understanding to others that speak as though they know everything, her attitude was refreshing. She also briefly talked how each recession was brought on with technological advancements, and that this current situation is no different. That was both settling and unsettling for me.

But of all the quotes she spoke, my favourite had to be her talking about some of her environmental typography. “I actually had an A fall off a building. The top of the A is sharp. This stuff is really dangerous…”

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Last night at PSFK’s Good Ideas With Jan Chipchase http://designnotes.info/?p=1914 http://designnotes.info/?p=1914#respond Fri, 02 Oct 2009 13:05:08 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1914 Jan Chipchase


Last night I visited JWT to hear PSKF’s latest Good Ideas Salon with Nokia researcher Jan Chipchase. Recently I’ve slowed down on the advertising and marketing talks because the speakers tend to be a bit flaky and more about their own ego. I’m happy to report that Jan’s talk wasn’t like that at all, and if I was a Design Chair for a University trying to encourage design undergrads to continue with school—they should bring in Jan to talk about his experiences. The presentation itself was an overview of a number of his adventures out in the field away from Nokia. While the images and stories he shared were interesting, to keep the audience engaged he was quite active in asking people questions about what they thought he was documenting.

While I wasn’t skeptical of his talk before it started I did hold some biases about being forward thinking research as a general concept. I live in a very closed world of the iPhone. While I don’t know what the worldwide penetration of the iPhone vs. Nokia as a whole is, I did wonder how mobile phones didn’t really evolve much until the iPhone came to market. Again that’s my bias and I’m guessing that fans of Nokia would say that they were ahead of the curve on a lot of the features, but if that’s the case why did the iPhone get all the press and shake things up? I know it’s a pretty weak argument on my part but it was something I was thinking about.

But as the talk progressed, the ideas were less about technology and features, and much more about observing behaviour. Typically he and a team will be out in the field for two weeks. He described how they often collect over 10,000 images and have procedures in place to sort and organize them. He stayed away from talking about methods and geared the conversation to what I think the audience was more interested in. Stuff like symbols that have multiple meanings. In China a woman sitting on a curb with a baby might suggest that she’s selling porn. That kind of stuff for an evening talk is probably more appropriate than methodologies of field work. Or maybe not…

One example that really stood out for me was when he showed a hacked sim card that could switch from one network to a different one. Something that closed loop systems kind of frown upon for obvious reasons. The card represented a way to undermine a business model. That got me to think about business strategies. If someone has taken the time and resources to create a system that busts a business model, why not study it, replicate it and turn that thinking into an advantage. Perhaps that what Nokia is doing and we just haven’t experienced it yet.

Another topic that was briefly touched upon was the digital divide between people who have the ability to track their personal data over a lifetime and those that do not. While I don’t think he had a definitive answer, he seemed optimistic that it wasn’t a bad thing for people to collect their own data. (Once the video of the talk goes live I’ll re-watch what he said to make sure I’m quoting things correctly.) Other things that got my attention was the idea of wearing in, not out—making stuff from nothing new, making stuff that’s interesting and relevant, and even the business culture of needing to be in the office after short periods of time away. Apparently being away for more than two weeks can cause you to be out of the loop.

If you’re curious to read more about Jan, there’s an article at the NYT titled Can the Cellphone Help End Global Poverty? that should be checked out and he has a number of presentations on Slideshare.

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Listening to IDEO CEO Tim Brown in Conversation with Bruce Nussbaum at the New School http://designnotes.info/?p=1913 http://designnotes.info/?p=1913#respond Thu, 01 Oct 2009 12:44:51 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1913 Tim Brow Talk

designthinking 4

In support of Tim Brown’s new book Change By Design, Bruce Nussbaum interviewed him at the New School to a full audience. While the diy mentality wasn’t explicitly mentioned, it seemed like a lot of what was being talked about was a natural evolution of that ideal. The other big issue in the room that was mentioned was the economy. Along with those discussion points I felt I was hearing a lot about the advancement of process and tools that allowed more people to be involved, and in terms of measuring value through profit—talking about other value metrics which makes sense considering where the economy is at this point. Though with all that said there was mention of how small design changes can save enormous amounts of money—one example that was briefly talked about was how one hospital reduced shift changes with nurses from 45 minutes to twelve minutes and the cost implications of that. Bottom line is that design can make things more efficient, hence savings in profit.

designthinking 2

With out trying to replicating a play by play of the discussion, here are some of the points that stood out for me. Business people are great for analyzing ideas that are in front of them, but not necessarily good for new choices and options about what to create. As people reflect on their jobs a common question is “what do I do, where do I go?”. It’s a participatory culture we’re in. When people are involved, things are more likely to happen. Agile was briefly mentioned but speaks more to the idea that the days of the “Grand Project” where all change happens at once isn’t the best practice. Constant design tweaks that happen over time are more appropriate. Another theme that I hadn’t come across much of, but makes sense is “tinkering”. Back in the day when cars weren’t mini computers people could keep adding to their car. Customizing, working on it—etc, the concept of making got lost when vehicles became closed systems. Because of that there’s a generational gap that is making a comeback due to tools that allow people to customize their personal sites and online applications. Because of the economy there’s more opportunity and experience (or lack of, no one has it) to take on big issues that most people haven’t considered before. Again this falls into diy that people don’t have the resources so they have to take it on themselves. Where design practitioners can lead is through leadership and direction to co-participate.

designthinking 3

As things have changed from industrialization through consumption to info and value based knowledge through interaction changes, there’s other ways of measuring value. It’s hard to disagree with the assessment though if there was any weakness in the discussion it was that there wasn’t any follow up questions about this. How are these things actually measured aside from same yardsticks of efficiency?

In the last presidential election the theme was hope. For this talk it was about being positive. It’s not a new idea, being a designer is an optimistic pursuit. If you’re not positive about it, how can you help people? There was talk of personal experience where Tim was listening to scientists talk about how people had to give things up which leaned more on the negative side. Turn that around to be about choices and options and things suddenly become more positive.


There was a smart question in the Q & A afterwards about what skills a designer needs these days if everyone else is participating in design. Tim’s reply: 1. being able to observe and understand, 2. connect strategies, 3. be a visual thinker, and 4. have the ability to prototype and evaluate. Those seem to be skills most people are striving for these days.

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Quotes from AIGA NY: MY DOG AND PONY II #AIGAconnect http://designnotes.info/?p=1910 http://designnotes.info/?p=1910#comments Tue, 29 Sep 2009 12:35:26 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1910 MY DOG AND PONY II QUOTES

The above image captured some of the more memorable quotes that I heard last night at the successful AIGA NY MEMBERS SERIES: MY DOG AND PONY II. Each of the invited presenters ran through a project as though it’s been presented for the first time to a client. Just like the previous event held last April (review here), I think these types of events are incredibly valuable. They help grow the profession through best practices in a somewhat real environment. If there’s a catch, I don’t think a local design group should hold them more than two or three times a year. If they’re done too many times they loose a bit of steam.

Jonathan Alger of C&G Partners talked as though we were the New York Yankees. What I was kind of curious to hear about after the presentation was what it was like working with a baseball client. Debbie Millman of Sterling Brands convinced us why she was presenting the best orange juice package out there. Liz Danzico of Bobulate and Jessi Arrington of WORKSHOP reminded us why we should treat people the way we want to be treated. And Michael Bierut of Pentagram was the most quotable with what seemed like one memorable set of words after another…

Jonathan Alger of C&G Partners: “never do” and “unused areas”…

Debbie Millman of Sterling Brands: “owning the door” and “show the work in context”…

Liz Danzico of Bobulate and Jessi Arrington of WORKSHOP: “access points” and “action this action acted”…

Michael Bierut of Pentagram: “trick of it” and “once you have the one that works, it’s easy”…

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NYC Event Announcement: Good Ideas with Jan Chipchase http://designnotes.info/?p=1902 http://designnotes.info/?p=1902#comments Wed, 23 Sep 2009 01:23:59 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1902 jan-chipchase

Good Ideas with Jan Chipchase
Thursday, October 01, 2009 from 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM (ET)
New York, NY

Event Details below are from site at http://gisjanchipchase.eventbrite.com/

Trends and ideas news site PSFK hosts a Good Ideas Salon on October 1st with special guest Jan Chipchase. Good Ideas Salons are designed to bring likeminds together to share ideas and positivity around inspirational subjects.

Jan Chipchase conducts design research for Nokia, bringing insights and experiences from the real world to inform & inspire the design process, and guide corporate strategy. His research has taken him across the globe, providing a unique perspective on how ideas and technologies travel. He currently works out of Los Angeles but spent the last eight years as Principal Scientist in Nokia’s Tokyo research laboratory.

According to the New York Times, “His mission, broadly defined, is to peer into the lives of other people, accumulating as much knowledge as possible about human behavior so that he can feed helpful bits of information back to the company..”

Chipchase will present his thoughts on ‘Pattern Recognition’ at the salon followed by a Q&A with the audience.

6.30pm – Doors open
7pm – Talk starts
8pm – Q&A
8.30pm – Mixer
9.30 – Close

466 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10017-3171

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Something I’ve never seen at a design talk before http://designnotes.info/?p=1854 http://designnotes.info/?p=1854#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2009 16:37:59 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1854 Allegra Burnette at Creative Mornings

Last Friday I attended the CreativeMornings talk with Allegra Burnette, Creative Director of Digital Media at MoMA. After entering MoMA where the talk was being held I was greeted at the door, not by security but by a welcoming person that politely asked for my name to sign off the list. After giving me a pass she shook my hand and thanked me for coming. I’ve been to a lot of design talks and I’ve never had quite the welcome like that before, so I did the polite Canadian thing to do which was to thank her back and ask her how she was connected to MoMA. She didn’t really come across as a security person so I had to ask. She was happy to reply that she was Allegra Burnette and that she was the one giving the talk. To be honest I was really impressed that she took it upon herself to essentially meet every person coming to her talk ahead of time. It’s something that I’ve never seen before but will stay with me for quite some time.

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I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson book launch at IDEO NY http://designnotes.info/?p=1808 http://designnotes.info/?p=1808#respond Fri, 19 Jun 2009 01:19:22 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1808 I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

UPDATE: REVIEW COPY: I Miss My Pencil by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

Tonight I slipped out of work for a bit and walked across the street to meet up with AMT and Jan. We were heading over to IDEO to see the launch of the book I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson. While I can’t really review the book in any depth because I only thumbed through it, I did get to experience a number of the objects in the book. Martin Bone was nice enough to walk me through a couple of the themes and objects that were on display in their office. The booked was based on three sections: Aisthetika, Punk Manufacturing, and Love+Fetish. While I don’t want to directly quote him, I think he described it as ideas that feel into senses, materials and emotions.

My favourite object wasn’t an actual piece but a mold for an object. It was the casing for a cork wine bottle. It looked like a bottle in cased in a block of ice. I’d be happy to put it on my desk and stare at it for a while. The other concept design that I thought was memorable had to do with music. It was a vinyl player that from the top looked like a square record. To play music a RFID card would be thrown onto the player to indict the song. As more cards are tossed on to the player, they would be played sequentially.

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The last of the SVA MFA Interaction Design Dot Dot Dot talks for the summer http://designnotes.info/?p=1803 http://designnotes.info/?p=1803#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2009 11:58:39 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1803 Dot Dot Dot SVA MFA Interaction Design talks: the Service Designers

Last night I made my way to White Rabbit one last time to hear the Dot Dot Dot SVA MFA in Interaction Design talk: The Service Designers. In the preamble we learned that the series will pick up in the fall every Wednesday evening at SVA. As a way to build community around a new program and share knowledge I really enjoyed the entire series—I think I missed one talk, maybe two over the course of its start last winter. Comparing all the talks, I think the Service Designers group was probably the most informative of all the Dot Dot Dot’s in my opinion. They all had a lot of points to consider as a designer and I would recommend any of them as speakers for events to anyone that is looking for people on the brainier side of things.

Chenda Fruchter, Assistant Commissioner, Director of Content & Agency Relations, Department of Information Technology and Telecommunication, New York City
It probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise that with a title the length that Chenda has it would take some time to explain what she does. She talked a bit about NYC 311 as a whole and briefly about the newly launched www.nyc.gov/apps/311. Unfortunately the ten minutes went by really quickly so there wasn’t a lot of time to go in depth. Hopefully as the new 311 site get’s used, more information about it’s design and evolution will be published.

Jun Lee, Partner, ReD Associates, New York
On one level the talk was fascinating to hear about the role of play in children’s lives, and in theory even more so when combined with doing work with Lego as a case study. However I suspect there was an NDA signed with Lego. None of the implementation nor suggestions of what Lego should do came out except some generic points that could have been associated with a lot of toy brands that are in competition with video games.

Jennifer Bove, Principal, Kicker Studio
This presentation played well to the time limit of ten minutes. I hope that Jennifer’s slides become available online because this morning I can’t remember all of the five points she mentioned—but for what it’s worth I thought they all seemed pretty sound. The only thing that struck me as a bit strange was the questions afterwards. I couldn’t tell if it was staged or not. Something about the question of designing for failure seemed a bit expected, though on the role of iteration I didn’t think she gave a strong answer…

Sylvia Harris, Information Design Strategist
I always have a fear of hearing a speaker that I’ve already heard before. Are they going to talk about the same thing as the last time or something completely new? Thankfully her talk about her fixing the experience of the Hospital that she’s been to with her child was new to me and worth the listen. The questions afterwards were really good about how the project actually came to be as it wasn’t explained by Sylvia in the beginning.

Three of the four talks were streamed live at the time of the event at www.theuxworkshop.tv/the-service-designers. It looks like that url will also host the archived presentations which I would highly recommend watching once they go live.

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Video on Agile Design from my Creative Mornings talk is up http://designnotes.info/?p=1792 http://designnotes.info/?p=1792#comments Tue, 26 May 2009 12:37:31 +0000 http://designnotes.info/?p=1792 5/8 Michael Surtees from CreativeMornings on Vimeo. surtees_agilededesign surtees_agilededesign Michael Surtees Publish at Scribd or explore others: Other Research agile Design I’m really happy to mention that my Agile Design […]]]>

Just before my Creative Mornings Talk

5/8 Michael Surtees from CreativeMornings on Vimeo.

surtees_agilededesign surtees_agilededesign Michael Surtees

I’m really happy to mention that my Agile Design talk at Creative Mornings can now be seen on Vimeo at http://www.vimeo.com/4831538. The entire video is about half an hour with the Q & A—I guess I went over my ten minute slot, ha. I just want to thank Tina and the entire Creative Mornings team for giving me the opportunity to talk, setting up the event and producing a great video that ties my talk together. I also wanted to thank James A. Reeves who was hanging out in Finland and was the virtual skype guest, and Core Industries for sponsoring the talk.

And please let me know what you thought of the talk. I’m kind of curious to hear from designers who are working in a more traditional framework of waterfall. Does agile seem like a good idea or something that should be left to engineers? And to save some time, here’s the links from the last slide…

The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us And What We Can Do About It
by Joshua Cooper Ramo

Adaptive Path

Is incremental design the wave of the future?

Ethan Eismann (Look for the Designing for Agile: Seven Practices)

Twelve emerging best practices for adding UX work to Agile development

Design as an Iterative Process

Is Your Agile Software Process Handcuffing the User Experience Design?

Kanban Development Oversimplified

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