Archive for October, 2010

New Supplies

October 27th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Programming, Resources

It’s been a busy week around here! We’ve been planning our class this week and are seriously excited to teach it. We’re teaching about the importance of mobile technology in the ways we find people and information. Students will be asked to consider a series of scenarios in each of three different technological points in history: 1990, 2010, or 2030.

For example:

Your friend is coming over for dinner and you know they love deviled eggs. Unfortunately, you don’t know how to boil egg! How can you find out how to boil eggs?

How would you learn to make eggs today, armed with an iPhone, YouTube and hundreds of people to call for help right in the palm of your hand? How would you have learned about the delicate art of egg boiling in 1990? Called your mom? Looked in a cookbook?! (gasp!) And what about 20 years from now? How will our ability to find information change in just two decades? It’s going to be a challenging exercise, but we’re hoping the girls will take a lot away from the lesson.

We’re also thrilled to give a BIG thank you to our friends who have sent us goodies from our Amazon Wish List. In the past couple days we’ve received a whole parade of boxes filled with giant sticky paper pads, foam board, Legos, origami paper and even a Flip camera.

Katie Koch & Carmen Dukes with supplies

If you’re interested in contributing to our classes by donating supplies,please send them through our Amazon list!

And, a special thank you to the folks at Busy Beaver who are keeping us supplied with buttons. We just got all of our reward buttons for our friends on Kickstarter!

Project: Interaction buttons

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“I Never Knew I Could Get A Job Doing Design”

October 22nd, 2010 by Carmen Dukes | No Comments | Filed in Curriculum, Inspirations, Sketching, Teaching

On week 4, we left the classroom and entered the design studio. 13 students from Project: Interaction visited R/GA to learn about what it’s like to work as a designer from five amazing and inspiring Interaction Designers, Copywriters and Visual Designers.

When we arrived, we were eagerly greeted by Bertha Deshon, a recruiter for R/GA who along with VP, ECD Interaction Design and Friend of SVA IXD, Chloe Gottlieb, helped organized our visit. As we shuttled through the hallways, the girls remarked on everything – from the awards on the walls, to the decorations inside offices, to the well stocked coffee bar.

Waiting for our students when we arrived at the conference room was a table of snacks (Whew!), so as the girls enjoyed pretzels, chips and soda, the panel discussion begin with a few videos showcasing R/GA’s award winning work.

The panel included five talented women from a variety of design backgrounds. They talked about how they discovered design and what their jobs at R/GA. The discussions also touched on the different types of jobs at the agency and what goes into a successful project. I probed the panel on how they valued sketching in the design process, so the girls could understand why it’s so important to sketch.

When the floor was open for questions, the girls had plenty. Many wanted to know where everyone went to college, some were interested in how photography fit in at a digital agency, others had questions about R/GA’s work. One of our students really wanted to know what an algorithm was. I love the curiosity!

Because of the distance between R/GA and UAI, we were only able to stay an hour, but it was an hour of inspiring moments – for Katie, myself and the girls. It was awesome to see the girls hanging on to the words of everyone who spoke about their experiences. We remarked later how we could see sparks coming off of some of the girls in attendance. I think we opened up their eyes with this trip to all the exciting opportunities that come with a career in design.

Katie and I were up for the task of chaperoning our students from school to Times Square and thank goodness it was uneventful. Of course, we had occasional moments of ‘was this a good idea?’ The first was as the subway door started to close on Katie and one of the students at the Borough Hall station prompting us to do exactly what the MTA says not to: hold the closing doors. The other, maybe not surprisingly, also involved the MTA. The MTA pass that I was given allowed us to travel on the subway for free, but what I didn’t realize is that during rush hour the pass is invalid. The MTA official, not so kindly, told me this fact and I guess the concerned look on my face as I was thinking ‘how do I get all of us back to school?’, prompted a change of heart and she let us through. (Whew! x2)

For next week, we’re talking about mobile and bodystorming! Yay!

“It smells like Coney Island!”

October 15th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Curriculum, Sketching, Teaching

Wednesday was our third class at the UA Institute. We saw last week how excited the girls were when we asked them to show off their sketches. This week we were really impressed; almost all of them had drawn something they wanted to share!

The focus of Week 3 was Observation. We wanted to teach our students the difference between their memory of a place and how it actually exists. We started a conversation about the street outside the school, asking them what kinds of things they see there each day. They shouted out the answers we expected: Trees! Buildings! Crazy people!

Then we led them downstairs to the street, armed with a set of open ended questions to guide their observations. We asked them to write each observation on a Post-It note, and most importantly, not to talk while they’re observing.

One of our students, Olivia, was lucky enough to talk to one of the people she had been observing. A woman approached her and asked what the Post-Its were all about. When our student told her she was observing the plaza, the woman (an architect) launched into a tirade about the failure of the space as a public venue. Olivia was totally fascinated by everything the woman said to her, and got a great lesson in why user research can be an exciting and inspiring way to learn about a problem.

When we got back to the room we talked about everything the students observed. This time they were able to give me specific examples of the things they’d seen, including tiny architectural details, sounds and smells. They discovered that a certain part of the plaza smells like steaks and another part smells “like Coney Island.” Yuck!

We talked about ways that we might group our observations and came up with a few significant clusters: Sounds, smells, behavior, nature, outside objects and architecture. Each student placed her Post-Its in the appropriate category, and when we were finished we had a whole board full of observations about the plaza. For each category the students were able to tell a specific story about what they saw. For example, Nia told us about a behavior she saw, a guy illegally riding his bike through the plaza wearing headphones. When we probed, she was able to tell us more and more details, including that they song was an “old school” one. Like from the 90s.

Another student had an exciting observation in the plaza. She bumped into one of the benches and discovered that the pointed corners can be quite painful! She suggested the bench’s design could be improved by rounding the corners to avoid a dangerous interaction in the future.

At the end, we asked them why observation skills might be important for designers. Quickly they could identify that it’s important for designers to know a lot about the things they make, and it’s important for them to really see the details they’re addressing.

We wrapped up class by introducing our expectations for our field trip next week. We’re heading to R/GA for a tour and introduction to the jobs designers perform in a large organization. We can’t wait!

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New Friends & Post-Its

October 12th, 2010 by Katie Koch | No Comments | Filed in Inspirations, Programming, Sketching

Over the weekend we set up space at Re:Form School in SoHo, joining them in their three day gallery show to promote arts education in schools. We had a blast!! We were there for three hours and had a steady flow of folks coming to our room. We were excited to share our project with them and they were very happy to share some sketches with us.

We asked everyone who came by to help us by contributing a sketch or an idea to our wall of Post-It art, focusing each mini-drawing on the words invent, design or change. Everyone jumped in to help out and add their voice to the wall.

Sitting, thinking, sketching

By the end of the day we had a huge collection of art, a full email sign up sheet and no business cards left. We talked to countless inspiring teachers and enthusiastic artists and designers. We are so happy that our program is a catalyst to connect all of these thinkers.

Wall of Post-Its

DESIGN detail

Over the weekend we surpassed our Kickstarter fundraising goal of $7500!  We still have a couple of days left to complete our project. If you’re interested in helping, please donate to our project!

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Graphic Jammin’

October 8th, 2010 by Carmen Dukes | 3 Comments | Filed in Sketching, Teaching

How many ways could you describe “social” or “community” if we only gave you a pen, sticky notes, and 2 minutes? Or what about “happy” or observe”? Would you be stumped or run out of sticky notes?

Wednesday’s class was all about brainstorming. Our students are familiar with the concept of brainstorming through class assignments and projects, so Katie and I wanted to give them a unique experience that would get them sketching like crazy and out of their seats.

Looking for a fun way to brainstorm, we decided to adapt a game called Graphic Jam, from the book, Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown and James Macanufo. The game challenges participants to visualize words that often seem too abstract to imagine in a tangible way. Participants are given two minutes to sketch as many ideas as they can to represent the chosen word.

We thought this would be a great assignment for our class for a few reasons. Many of our girls keep saying to us that they’re not any good at drawing, and we are determined to break that mindset and get them comfortable with thinking visually. And, we want them to know that having lots of ideas is critical to finding the right idea. We also wanted them to know that brainstorming can be more alive than just writing words on paper.

The Graphic Jam was a huge success! Each word generated tons of tiny sketches. When time was up and the alarm rang, the girls rushed out of their seats to post their sketches to the chalkboard, with over half the group eagerly volunteering to explain their sketches in front of the class.
Running to the board
Presenting

At the end of class, we had a chalkboard full of of colorful post-it note sketches. Students who volunteered to share their sketches got the “Stand Up, Say Yeah” button for Volunteerism. Yeah! What was the consensus from the students? “That was fun!”
Our classroom
Social

Show Me Your Moleskine Notebook!
We handed out “Sketchtastic” buttons to a few girls who shared their sketches, poetry and pictures from last week. We’re hoping to see more next week and share a few on the blog.

Week 2 Lessons: To Stick or Not to Stick?

  • Standard post-it notes don’t stick well to dusty chalkboards.
  • We need to be more aware of the moment when conversations go from relevant to not. Our students are awesome, but in the end they are still 14 and 15 year old girls.
  • It’s easy for us to get wrapped up in the fun of our activities, but as teachers we need to remember to ask the “hard questions” and challenge students to think more critically about their ideas when they present them.

More Supplies, Please?
Students are asking us if they can take home some of our materials, and others have requested pencils for sketching. After our class is through we’d like for our students to be able to continue sketching, collecting, and creating on their own, but many of them don’t have access to the materials that we take for granted in our work. We’d love to be able to give them a small grab bag of designer goodies to continue their explorations.

The Final Days of Kickstarter…
There are only 5 days left in our Kickstarter campaign and we’d love to see your support. We need less than $2500 to make our goal! Please support our program with a donation or spread the news to your friends!

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Invent Design Change!

October 7th, 2010 by Katie & Carmen | 1 Comment | Filed in Inspirations, kickstarter, Schools, Sketching

Join us Sunday from 3pm-6pm in SoHo!

In the last three weeks we’ve brought together an online community of people on Kickstarter who are passionate about design education. Now we’re inviting our online community to join us offline for an event this weekend to support arts and design in education.

We’re teaming up with Re:Form School, a REDU project that has transformed an abandoned school into a gallery of art for the enjoyment of all.

Please join us!

  • Record your own story answering “How did you first learn about design?”
  • Contribute your ideas and sketches to our giant wall of sticky note art!
  • Meet other awesome people who love art, design and education!

Can’t make it but still want to help? Donate to our Kickstarter campaign!

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How did you first learn about design?

October 7th, 2010 by Katie Koch | 4 Comments | Filed in Design, Inspirations, Interviews, Videos

We asked some of our favorite designers
How did you first learn about design? Was it a person who shared it with you, or another moment of inspiration?

They said:

“How can I come and do what you do?”

Matias Corea, Co-founder & Chief Designer at Behance

“I can really distinctly tell the difference between Garamond and Goudy.”

Ian Curry, Lead Interaction Designer at Local Projects

“I was already running for student council, just so I could make posters.”

Jessi Arrington, Co-founder, Creative Director at WORKSHOP

Rock and roll!

Russ Maschmeyer, SVA Student & Strange Native

“My father… insisted that the things in our household were well designed.”

Paul Pangaro, CTO and Founder at CyberneticLifestyles.com

“You can never really stay within the lines.”

Liz Danzico, Chair, MFA in Interaction Design

“It’s that moment [with Legos] when you build something not out of the instructions on the box.”

Carl Collins, Information Architect at Temboo

“It was take your daughter to work day, and I thought my own mom’s job was really boring…”

Katie Koch, Co-Founder & Designer, Project: Interaction

“Playing with the world around you, and reassembling it.”

Bill DeRouchey, Creative director at BankSimple

Inspired by a unique blend of Tufte and Bringhurst

Nick Disabato, Author, Cadence & Slang

“I knew I wanted to be a designer when I went to Pittsburgh”

Carmen Dukes, Co-Founder & Designer, Project: Interaction

Feeling inspired?

We have just a few days left to raise $2483. Share your story with us here and support Project: Interaction on Kickstarter!

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Greetings from Rhode Island

October 4th, 2010 by Katie Koch | 2 Comments | Filed in Design, Inspirations, Resources

Carmen and I went to Providence, RI this weekend for the Better World by Design conference, put on entirely by Brown and RISD students. We were excited and inspired by what other students and professionals are working on in the topics of urban renewal, sustainability and social entrepreneurship.

We met a lot of new friends and ran into some old ones, too. We had a great lunch with Robert Fabricant, VP of Creative at frog design and one of our SVA faculty members. He was excited to hear about the progress we’ve made with Project: Interaction over the past six months and we were happy to get the update on his work, too. I was especially excited to see my former colleague Kendra Shimmell from Adaptive Path speaking on the health care panel. She’s a lively and enthusiastic voice in this niche design community, and an asset to any conversation on the topic.

Our thoughts on some of the great sessions we attended:

Katie with socks
sketches and socks

Rapid Prototyping
On the first day we went to a rapid protoyping workshop led by Project M and Brute Labs, where we were challenged to quickly come up with a lot of ideas about how to more effectively provide resources to Providence’s homeless population. The fun really got started when they handed out 10 pairs of socks to each group and challenged us to reimagine what they might be used for. The groups came up with some amazing product ideas for the homeless population, including a woven sock blanket, a loofah for cleansing, a water filter made of socks, and even a sling for carrying loads of plastic bags. In only a 20 minute session we were able to collaborate and come up with more ideas than any one person could have alone.
Nathan Shedroff: Consumerism
Nathan was scheduled to report back to the community about sustainability as a followup from his talk last year. He dropped a bombshell by opening his talk with a slide, “I’m sick of talking about sustainability. Aren’t you?” Instead he suggests we focus on Consumerism as the real problem, and find ways to make products more meaningful to have lasting value for the people who use them.

Damon Rich: Design & Deliberation
Damon Rich wants to make the invisible visible by creating compelling opportunities for citizens to get involved with the policy issues that matter to their communities. He presented ways that we can use conflict as an opportunity for education. In all of the examples he showed he talked about the importance not only of doing these investigations but also sharing them with more than the immediate audience it affects. It’s important to give back to the greater community to achieve a better understanding of the issues that we all face.

Ethics in Design
The discussion on this panel was inspiring and motivational, with every person walking away feeling empowered to be a better designer and a better person. The theme of the conversation was that it’s time for designers to take responsibility along with the great power we have to change the world. The best line from the day came from Maria Giudice of Hot Studio: This is the best time to be a designer because everything is f*ed up!

A great takeaway from the conversation is that design is about people. It’s an inherently social activity, and we can’t forget that everything we create is used by people, whether it’s a product or a brief for a project being written and read by people. Maria’s analogy was thinking of designers as midwives; designers see the world differently and are able to connect the dots.

Activism in the Arts panel

Activism in the Arts
In a moment of triumph, Ian Russell combatted the idea that one person can’t make a difference by sharing his point of view: a collective group of people who work together to distill values into change can make a bigger impact. On the topic of compromise being an “icky” word, it was refreshing to hear Noah Scalin remind us that you don’t have to compromise your ideals as you mature, but you do have to accept that you have different values, and those may not include a mansion and a four-car garage. Noah confirmed a thought that often circles around my head as I scan my Google reader and twitter feeds: Too much consumption makes you feel bad about yourself. Go create instead.

Design and Business
Carmen attended this panel discussion, and took a few important lessons away:
To differentiate yourself from competitors you need a vision, a voice and something unique. We’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as we try to communicate the value of our program to potential partners, teachers and, most importantly, the students in our class who may not stick around if they’re not convinced of our greatness.

Learn to speak the language of the people you’re interacting with. For us, we’re learning to speak the language of not just the designers we work with, but also the educators and students who might be interested in working with us.

Have empathy. When working with people it’s extremely important to build a relationship with them, which includes understanding their point of view and needs. They are often more complex and deep than what you may initially expect.

Carmen at the Expo

The Expo
For the first time the conference invited participants to come together and share their ideas with the conference community. We snuck in at the last minute and were able to share a table in the education corner. (Phew!) We met a ton of people interested in what we’re doing, with our audience ranging from architects, design students, engineers, and even a couple of middle school students who eagerly wanted us to come to their high school next year.

Kate Orff
The last session we caught was an invigorating talk by Kate Orff of Columbia University. Her team developed an innovative solution to cleaning up the Gowanus Canal by creating oyster reefs that will act to reduce coastal contamination and the effects of rising sea levels. The reefs will create new community space in the Red Hook and Bay Ridge neighborhoods, and in time will change the relationship New Yorkers have with the shoreline. If you’re curious about eating the oysters, they’ll be safe and edible by 2050!

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