Tuesday, September 25, 2007

creative (architectural) process

I was peeking around some of my classmates' blogs and I noticed that Håkon Raanes post the inspiringly 'talk' of Sir Ken Robinson at TED. You may find many other interesting talks there. I'd like to point out the following one as the design process used is quite unusual. Enjoy the next 20 minutes.

more games

Eva Brandt gave us an assignment: each group should design a game for others to play and comment. There were 6 games to be played. In pairs, each group played each other’s game. It was a way to evaluate the games both as the creator and as the player.
All the games must be optimized in some way as they were tested for the first time: adjust small details to get them easy‑to‑play, slightly changes on the parameters or on the rules. Overall, the games were fairly well designed.
After game playing and discussing, some conclusions were drawn. It was obvious that designers are mainly visuals as 4 of the 6 games use pictures and/or drawing. The other most‑used item are words, pointing to the conceptual behave/thinking. One can conclude that designers mainly work with visual concepts. Is that natural process? Or is it a result of educational systems? Anyway, we must admit that words/concepts and pictures are a rich source of information to use as inspiration.
One of the games was project‑oriented. Based on the current project of the design team, one player mime a future scenario while the others try to guess what is the action, environment, and tools involved, etc. At the end the team gets the mimed situation and a set of guesses, most of them wrong, but valuable as they are interpretations of a performance that highlight the most important issues for the “performer”.
There was other that aimed to trainee mind to go over through several stages of associations between words and handwork (from drawing to model making). The outcome of this game was a word per player and the process that lead to such word. Actually, 'association' was the most heard word on others comments… it seems that creativity depend pretty much on (unusual, atypical) 'associations'.
Half of games sought free invention: at the end of those games the outcome is a (set of) product(s). Players received a set of random categorized pictures (objects, materials, environment, and scenario) and/or words. In some variations, words are a result of picture analysis. The outcome material is then use to invent a product or as inspiration to do it so.
Again, as mentioned on the last post, the game itself is not a strategy, but a tool to implement a methodology. Anyway, one should not devaluate the power of the games. Apart from being important procedural tools, they are also excellent social tools and a way of promote a happy and relax mood into teams.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

creativity and games

I was presented by Eva Brandt from Danmarks Designskole with a lecture on design games. As this lecture will go on I'll draw some reflexions on the game presented and leave room for further conclusions.
Games usually have an element of competition between players, and are decided by chance, strength, skill or a combination of these. Its key components are goals, rules, challenge, and interactivity, generally involving mental or physical stimulation, and often both. These properties are the reason why games are a good scheme to promote successful relantionships within collaborative design stakeholders, even when these ones came from very different fields. Playing games increases the social enterprise because of its entertainment and leasure dimension.
The game introduced - the user game - as well others not presented yet, are framed on action reserch projects which encouraged stakeholders in participatory inquiry and collaborative design. The games used have facilitated a user-centered design process.
"The intention of the User Game is to help the stakeholders involved develop a shared image of the intended users grounded in field data"º. The players use 2 types of cards: numbered moment-cards each one corresponding to a video of 30 seconds to 2 minutes; and sign-cards with a word printed in each one which are used to label the resulted stories. The videos are ethnographic data from inspired field studies.

Based on the cards each player get, they start altogether, sequently or randomly, to build (crossed-) stories. If players feel that watching the video will help then they can do it. They can also decide to watch all the videos before hand to get familiar with the field material. At the end the stories are record for further use.

At this point I'd like to point out that the game works as sponsor of a must wide approach which is the story method, used for instance at Nokia Design as they believe in the power of the stories to create experiences.

º Brandt, Eva, Messeter, Jörn (2004), Facilitating Collaboration through Design Games
Pictures' source: Eva's lecture presentations.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

artistic creativity

There are several dimensions to approach creativity. In fact, the theme is so wide that it is possible to frame it in any field. Creativity captures the essence of what it means to be human. In spite of its significance to humanity, creativity has remained a marginal topic in both educational and psychological research until quite recently. Sternberg and Lubart (Handbook of Creativity, Edited by Robert J. Sternberg) present a historical review on creativity research, pointing out six approaches, or paradigms, that have been used: mystical, psychoanalytic, pragmatic, psychometric, cognitive, and social-personality. I will came to this approaches later.
We can draw a map of creativity in a space defined by two axis. One axis measuring the scale from individual to organizational and the other placing creativity's nature between formal/analytical and artistical.

As creativity tends to be near the artistic edge, it becomes more difficult to measure, to understand and to recognize. And arguing for such kind of creativity becomes extremely blur. In this edge, creative processes are not so constrained compared with the processes on the analytical edge.
Some works were done "under tremendous hangovers and drink; I sometimes hardly knew what I was doing."
1 Francis Bacon also said that all his painting is accidental, even though at some point he has a sort of control of the accident as it becomes a selective process. It seems to Bacon that such methodology tend him to destroy all the better paintings once he tries and takes them further. He admits that if no one take the paintings away from the studio he probably would destroyed them all! This "accident process" is his creative process, and once it is not possible to recreate the accident his getting always something new, unique, which in his field is certainly appreciated. Anyway it is possible to define the boundaries and nature of these accidents, and present it as a strategy. Is it possible to bring such a strategy into design?
Unlike Bacon, who is obsessed with one perfect image, Mikkel McAlinden, a Norwegian photographer who's exhibition I had the chance to visit having the author as cicerone, seemed not so possessed with his work. It was possible to recognize some "artistic properties" as artists work to everyone and to anyone at the same time. At some extend, within artistic field, it seems much more important the narrative behind the work than the work itself. And that, I am quite sure, also happens with certain "design(er)s".

1 Sylvester, David (1988): Interviews With Francis Bacon: The Brutality of Fact, Thames & Hudson, NY

Thursday, September 06, 2007

what is creativity?

Google results for creativity are about 72,000,000 and about 341,000,000 for creative. Yahoo results are higher: about 95,700,000 and 609,000,000 respectively. It seems a largely discussed matter. In fact, it is a sort of fashion matter. Looking for definitions we will find from American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language:

1. Having the ability or power to create: Human beings are creative animals.
2. Productive; creating.
3. Characterized by originality and expressiveness; imaginative: creative writing.

One who displays productive originality: the creatives in the advertising department.

other forms:
cre·ative·ly (Adverb), crea·tivi·ty or cre·ative·ness (Noun)

From answers.com we find precisely the definition above. If we search for creativity definition on dictionary.com we will get as follow:

1. the state or quality of being creative.
2. the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.
3. the process by which one utilizes creative ability: Extensive reading stimulated his creativity.

Wikipedia definition
is, as usual, deeper:

Creativity (or creativeness) is a mental process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations between existing ideas or concepts.
From a scientific point of view, the products of creative thought (sometimes referred to as divergent thought) are usually considered to have both originality and appropriateness.

We can sum up all these definitions and condense it in as:
Creativity is the ability to achieve results that are original as well as suitable, concerning the context of application.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


One could just said: "because!". There's not the case. Based on Exploring Creativity course (Master of Industrial design, Autumn 2007, AHO) this blog aims to be an e-space to share reflections on the subject. As "creativity" has such a wide scope to dig, I'll focus on methods and strategies which increase our creativeness as designers. Nevertheless, reflections on other fields of creativity will be shared, once they directly depend on classes' progression. Even though, there are some issues that I'd like to outline:
- reflections framed into the design/ers' boundaries, focused in design practice;
- the creativity of design teams and of the designers who integrate it, as well in the relationships established during the design process between designers and their teams (dynamics);
- "design" new strategies and/or methods; start it from the analyses of animal communities, such as anthills, and its deviations (behavioural and/or functional) as well on swarm intelligence.
This blog is open for all who feel that have something to share. Feel free to comment and contribute.