Wednesday, January 28, 2009

God is in detail

This article was published in Indian architects and builders magazine Dec 2008 edition . The article is written by Mumbai based designer jashish Kambli who explores the importance of detail in Indian collective consciousness and suggests a change in the current thought process.

article :

" God is in the detail "

An interesting answer,if one knows the question. Designers would unanimously agree that nothing kills a great design more than really bad detailing .Design anathema is all about replacing that superlative fine idea with an insensitive ,unfinished , unforgivable product . And so one hears it all the time -when one is studying design or struggling with one's first commercial product ,and later one is even saying it to one's apprentices - God is in details .

But if it is divine blessings one is looking for ,detailing can be pretty controversial.The most pressing of which is the chicken and egg story -which came first ? There are a bunch of designers who believe detailing can be delegated to later date .This approach unfortunately demotes detailing to a clear second place .Also , fundamentally the design itself must allow for good detailing .A great design that puts off the details to a later date might simply not be possible to detail at all.This leads us to conclude that good design can be realised by designing and detailing at the same time i.e. designing with enough focus on what details could be possible , and doing this early enough in the process.

So if detailing really is that critical to good design , what are we doing to ensure that we have got a handle on it ? While as a community , Indians are more than capable of absolute stunning , world stopping, breath catching design , we are far distance from realising this capability . The key is to first find why we struggle to be what we can, and then attempt to find a few solutions to fix it . If one goes back far enough in our history , it becomes evident that everything we designed was greatly detailed. Our temples, paintings, craft design was detail. Historically design relied heavily on master craftsmen whose understanding and mastery over the materials of their craft produced some of the most intricately finished and visually stunning objects the world has ever seen .

But when the industrial revolution heralded mass production , in an attempt to catch up on losing ground , design was lost and so was detail to the cause of technology .As a result , today , we have the best breed of technical professionals but struggle to find good designers .

Why detailing is held dear in the west and why it constantly eludes us , can be explained even via smallest of detail that are often eye-catching .For example , at a busy curb of Piccadilly circle in London , within a host of commuters, motorcars and much chaos, one can look up to see, hanging from an intricate , immaculately polished lamppost , a basket of brigh flowers.Inevitably , one ends up comparing this , to the infinitely more dreary curbs at any of our major cities.While there are many reasons we don't put up flower baskets at busy curbs, most of them stem from the fact that we belong to a poorer nation ;where fine living and good design are way too far from our thoughts .The first person to stand at the curb would look up and probably not think "How lovely that looks , what a super morning ".He would probably think "I'd better nick the basket now when no one's looking ,and sell it for scrap." If not , he is probably too busy fretting over how he could take on clearly unstable traffic , to even look up and notice flowers.Or the flowers might wilt with the overwhelming stench of the dangerously heavy emission clogging the air at the curb . Our best efforts are spent on managing basic infrastructure and meeting our basic needs , so attention to detail is clearly way down in priority .

while one can understand that though process, it is difficult to agree with it . India is at crossroads. While we grapple with the basics , we are clearly ready to take on much more .Indian markets today , are flooded with the same well-finished products available abroad ; so the argument 'we can't afford better quality ' does not ring true .Some of our home bred industries have acquired European factories, so the argument 'we don't have the best equipment ' does not hold water either .We have the resources and the ability to produce design that is detailed to the very end , finished to reflect a quality we deserve to use . If we fail, it is only because we do not demand enough.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

social design

Article by Radhika Bhalla

Radhika Bhalla -- Social Design

Design thinking by Tim Brown

Thinking like a designer can transform the way you develop products, services , processes- and even strategy .

Thomas Edison created the electric bulb and the wrapped an entire industry around it . The lightbulb is most often thought of as his signature invention , but Edison understood that the bulb was little more than a parlor trick without a system of electric power generation and transmission to make it truly useful. So he created that , too.

Thus Edison's genius lay in his ability to conceive of a fully developed marketplace, not simply a discrete device. He was able to envision how people would want to use what he made, and he engineered towards that insight.

Edison's approach was an early example of what is now called " Design Thinking " - a methodology that imbues the full spectrum of innovation activities with a human - centered design ethos . By this I mean that innovation is powered by a thorough understanding , through direct observation ,of what people want and need in their lives and what they like or dislike about the way particular products are made , packaged, marketed, sold , and supported .

Many people believe that edison's greatest invention was modern R and D laboratory and methods of experimental investigation . Edison wasn't a narrowly specialized scientist but a broad generalist with a shrewd business sense .In his Menlo park , New Jersey , Laboratory he surrounded himself with gifted tinkerers, improvisers , and experimenters . Indeed , he broke the mold of the "lone genius inventor " by creating a team based approach to innovation .Although Edison biogrphers write of the camaraderie enjoyed by this merry band , the process also featured endless rounds of trail and error -the "99% perspiration " in Edison's famous definition of genius . His approach was intended not to validate preconceived hypotheses but to help experiments learn something new from each iterative stab . Innovation is hard work ; Edison made it a profession that blended art, craft , science , business, and an astute understanding of customers and markets .

Design Thinking is a lineal descendant of that tradition .Put simply, it is a discipline that uses the designer's sensibility and methods to match people's needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity . like Edison's painstaking innovation process , it often entails a great deal of perspiration .

I believe that design thinking has much to offer a business world in which most management ideas and best practices are freely available to be copied and exploited .Leaders now look to innovation as a principle source of differentiation and competitive advantage ; they would do well to incorporate design thinking into all phrases of the process .

This arcticle was published in Harvard Business Review and it represents IDEO's approach to developing the methods and sensibility of a designer .

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Green Building To Rocket in 2009! Top Ten Trends

Jerry Yudelson’s Top Ten trends includes the following:

1. Green building will continue to grow more than 60 percent in 2009, on a cumulative basis. We’ve seen cumulative growth in new LEED projects over 60 percent per year since 2006, in fact 80 percent in 2008, and there’s no sign that the green wave has crested.
2. Green building will benefit from the new Obama presidency, with a strong focus on green jobs in energy efficiency, new green technologies and renewable energy. This trend will last for at least the next four years.
3. The focus of green building will begin to switch from new buildings to greening existing buildings. The fastest growing LEED rating system in 2008 was the LEED for Existing Buildings program, and I expect this trend to continue in 2009.
4. Awareness of the coming global crisis in fresh water supply will increase, leading building designers and managers to take further steps to reduce water consumption in buildings with more conserving fixtures, rainwater recovery systems and innovative new water technologies.
5. LEED Platinum-rated projects will become more commonplace as building owners, designers and construction teams learn how to design for higher levels of LEED achievement on conventional budgets.
6. Solar power use in buildings will accelerate with the extension of solar energy tax credits for buildings through 2016 and the prospect of increasing utility focus on renewable power goals for 2015 and 2020. As before, third-party financing partnerships will continue to grow and provide capital for large rooftop systems.
7. Local governments will increasingly mandate green buildings from both themselves and the private sector. While concern over economic impacts of green buildings mandates will be present, the desire to reduce carbon emission by going green will lead more government agencies to require green buildings.
8. Zero net energy designs for new buildings will gain increasing acceptance in both public and private buildings. I’ve shown that you can get building energy use down to low levels with better design,” said Yudelson, “and that makes it easier and more cost-effective to buy green power to displace the remaining energy use.
9. Green homes will come to dominate new home developments in more sections of the U.S., as builders increasingly see green as a source of competitive advantage. This trend was foreseen in my 2008 book, Choosing Green (New Society Publishers), which for the first time documented the large number of new green housing developments in the U.S. and Canada.
10. European green building technologies will become better known and more widely adopted in the U.S. and Canada. My forthcoming 2009 book, Green Building Trends: Europe (Island Press), will be out in the spring and will help accelerate this trend, along with more European architects and engineers opening offices in the U.S.

Sounds good for Architects around the world ! ...You can read more about Jerry Yuldeson his website