Report: Briefing Workshop Nomadic Academy | Ideas Park

Workshop_Annink_May_2006.jpgAs some of you know, I’m not a trained designer. My educational background is rooted in Business Administration. However working in the domain of design management for many years now has taught me a lot of things about dealing with (design) problems. In contrast according to the notion of the business world problems need to be to be a) addressed with the (single) right methodology/logic and b) to be solved as soon as possible. Accordingly the nature of problems and their solutions (from the perspective of business) are very often perceived as puzzles rather than paradoxes. Puzzles have one defined solution while a paradox offers two different, but at the same time equally helpful solutions.

For me the latter perspective is an essential element of the foundation of Design Thinking, an approach to problem solving which is referred to and is used more and more in business these days. One of the key learnings from Design Thinking is to accept the notion that there is no single (best) answer to a fuzzy front-end (wicked) problem. Accordingly the outcome of this approach to problem solving is identifying and choosing the best answers and learn in iterations rather than focusing on enduring solutions. From my perspective this is an (optional) mode of thinking which has not been fully addressed in business education yet and I would have wished to see not only design students, but also business executives at such workshops.

Fortunately while attending the preparation workshop for the Ideas Park, Hannover last Saturday I’ve experienced exactly this kind of “Design Thinking” spirit described above. Clearly I will lay out why as well ;-) As reported in my previous posting this year’s Nomadic Academy (for a definition please read see my previous posting as well) is titled “Innovation by Nature” and is being lead by Ed Annink and Ronald Lewerissa at the Zollverein School of management and design in collaboration with ThyssenKrupp and funded by “Initiativkreis Ruhrgebiet”.

While the key workshop and accordingly the concepts, sketches and models will be developed publicly at the Ideas Park in Hannover the purpose of this pre-workshop has been to identify and discuss the conceptual boundaries of the project. Annink’s focus for the academy is on “creativity” and “curiosity” rather than actually “creating” things. Accordingly he has described his view on “Innovation by Nature” by the principles of:

  • “Mathematical Styling” as to be observed at Konstantin Grcic’ Miura bar stool for Kartell (2005)
  • “Story Telling” which he illustrated by the example of Hella Jongerius’ worker chair for Vitra (2006)
  • “Memories” (reminding on the past and not imitating the past like ‘retro’ does)
  • “Decoration” (to be found both in flora and fauna)
  • “Customization” (domestic vs. office use)

all of which he would like to be addressed by the students in their works on site in Hannover. For me the challenge from this briefing in terms of Design Thinking is to keep in mind that all of these principles create logic tensions:

  • Mathematics: Logic versus Comprehension
  • Stories: Mine or Yours?
  • Memories: Mine or Yours?
  • Decoration: Styling or Purpose?
  • Customization: Object or Context?

Working with these tensions rather than against them is the real impact of Design Thinking and Ed Annink lively illustrated this attitude by showing two examples of two real “Design Thinkers”: Ray and Charles Eames with their legendary films “The Powers of Ten” and “Design Q&A”. By simply reading this collection of quotes from “Design Q&A” film and the last quote in particular you might get an idea of the possible scope of issues to be addressed by the students in two weeks in Hannover:

Q. What are the boundaries of design?
A. What are the boundaries of problems?

One Response to “Report: Briefing Workshop Nomadic Academy | Ideas Park”

  1. Zollverein School Blog » Blog Archive » Innovation = Engineering? Says:

    […] While searching for some up-to-date information on Ed Annink’s workshop “Innovation by nature” (which I haven’t found, yet) which takes place in the course of the “Ideas Park Hannover” event I’ve stumbled across a ThyssenKrupp press release (PDF ~ 51 KB) today titled: “Technology center Germany in search of a new identity”. […]

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