PROTOtyping 2010 Day 2

The second day of the PROTOtyping 2010 Symposium began slowly, very slowly with participants straggling in on their own time. Perhaps the cocktails at the DCA the night  before and  the jet lag of some had slowed down the whole audience to a crawl.

Dr Glenn Adamson from the  Victoria & Albert Museum London presented an opening address for the day that woke the audience up immediately.  His talk on Corporate Craft: The Artisans of Detroit began with unforgettable video from the days when American classic cars were designed. It struck a chord with the industrial designers in the crowd as they harkened back to their roots with the screen filled with molds and models.

The rest of the morning was a blur of slides and speakers except for Dr. Stuart Brown’s stellar presentation on Prototyping for High Value, Time Poor Users. His innovative and pragmatic approach made me very proud indeed of University of Dundee’s  own Institute for Medical Science andTechnology. He illustrated an array of common sense tactics for negotiating the multifaceted environment of designing instruments for surgery.

After lunch Professor Pieter Jan Stappers form the ID-StudioLab at the University of Delft was the first speaker after lunch on Day 2, a really tough time slot. He powered through it all with his high energy talk about prototyping in virtual reality environments and maintaining the sketch feel of a prototype. He reminded us all that a prototype is something we make to learn form it. His talk was entitled Prototypes as Central Vein for Knowledge Development,

Dr Rosan Chow from  Deutsche Telekom Laboratories spoke about The Method Rip&Mix & Reflection on its
Prototypes.
After that the afternoon flew by and the PROTOtyping 2010 Symposium was over as fast as it had started. I learned a lot and met some great people. It was a worthwhile experience.

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PROTOtyping 2010 Day 1

PROTOtyping 2010 is a symposium centered on the roles of craft in prototyping and of prototyping in craft. It has been arranged by the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in conjunction with the inaugural Craft Festival of Scotland. The symposium brought together 16 diverse speakers from different industries to discuss the role of prototyping in their practice.

The conference attendees are a varied bunch that represent the cores of a long list of industries and fields including: space architecture, jewelery, history, business, gaming, consulting, blogging, media, arts, design, and so forth. It seems like no two attendees come from the same background. In fact the diverse mix of speakers and attendees makes for a truly eye opening and innovative experience.

First let me introduce you to Dr Louise Valentine,  she is the principle researcher and lead coordinator for the Past Present Future Craft project . She has set the theme and tone of the conference. The attendees are comfortable and relaxed. Everyone is intellectually stimulated, motivated, and very well fed. The caterer’s are fulfilling every growling stomachs wishes. Who knew listening and concentration created such hunger? Coffee and tea keep the lecture theater of creative people awake and kicking at least until the discussions at the end of sets of speakers. During the discussions, moderated by  people of various moderating skill levels, the audience sometimes get the chance to chime in and ask the burning questions.

Our opening speaker for the day is Constance Adams, from Synthesis International. She is dynamic and energetic and her tone is very matter of fact, at times comedic. I love her Americanness, bold and open, and it makes me a tad homesick. Her discussion of the Techne and Logos at the Edge of Space centers on her experiences designing environments for space. She leads the audience through the variety of design concerns and parameters that face a space architect (seriously cool job title).  I was really appreciating learning about the plethora of considerations in designing space environments and the layers of complexity that over lay her work on getting man to Mars. Others in the audience only visibly perked up their ears when she unveiled a woven tapestry that would line the space capsules (which are in NASA tradition only decorated in white, nay, and beige)  with GASP! patterns on it. This small bit of ornament being designed into a NASA space environment could not be taken at face value. Her structuring of an argument for NASA to accept the pattern quickly became the focal point of the tail end of her discussion. The pattern would indicate which way is up, which by the way is the major takeaway from Constance’s talk. Which way is up, something us gravity bound earthlings take for granted, is a crucial and major paradigm shift that Constance must consider in every design decision.

Leonardo Bonnani from the  MIT Media Lab spoke next focusing on The Tools and Tool-Makers of the Bazaar: New
Paradigms in Computer-Aided Craft,
which means he takes us on a journey through the world of open source and more. Leonardo had a spectacular line in his talk. He really hit my heart strings when he poignantly posed the question, “What artifacts should we make?” Check out his illusion shattering work at www.sourcemap.org, his project illustrating what things are made of and where it comes from or  “a platform for researching, optimizing and sharing supply chains.” – from the Sourcemap website

Hazel White, from  University of Dundee led us through the projected she crafted while artist in residence in the Shetland Islands. She along with the programming skills of Paul McKinnon put together the Hamefarers Kist, which is an interactive multimedia memory chest.   Check out the video of her son explaining it to an intended user of the Kist.

The first three speakers then came down for a discussion chaired by Dee Cooper, Product and Service
Director from Virgin Atlantic Airways. These discussions after sets of three speakers provide the attendees to satisfy their own personal curiousities by opening the floor up to an open discussion. This in fact facilitated nice exchanges between the other speakers in the audience, the audience, and the speakers sitting in front of the lecture theater.

In his own words, the ‘lucky first-speaker-after-lunch’ spot was awarded to Michael Schrage, from the illustrious halls of  MIT originally from Chicago’s Hyde Park. I was quite interested to hear his talk, after all his book is called ‘Serious Play,’ which sounds like something a business games craftswoman such as I would like. He is a behavioral economist by training and I thought it would be mighty interesting to see him speaking to this audience filled with the design intelligentsia. His talk was quietly titled Crafting Interactions: The Purpose(s) of ‘Serious Play.’ His brashness won over the audience and his talk was received. Well after all he was preaching to the choir, when he insisted that businesses must play (prototype?) in order to innovate and that in the long run not playing can be detrimental to an organization’s competitiveness.

Next on the program was  naptime, because the next speaker (Catharine Rossi, RCA/V&A Museum) bored  most of the audience to tears. Her prerecorded script lauding the revolution in the world caused by the Italian design collective Memphis did catch the attention of one Mr. Carr in the audience who insisted that the focal designer of her talk ‘never considered the pieces referenced prototypes at all!’ Poor Catherine!

Dr Elizabeth Sanders from The Ohio State University and maker of Maketools rescued the afternoon with her frank and concrete talk about Prototyping for the Design Spaces of the Future. Her presentation was so beautiful. It was so simple and direct, but she never meandered or wandered. Her talk went through how the co-creation process can and should be used at a variety of points in the design process and not only in the tail of development. Later on she gave us wonderful advice about our current projects and different suggestions about how we could incorporate co-creation into this summer’s masters project. Her genuineness and kindness didn’t stop there, she even left us with a same of the materials she uses in her make kits, so we could recreate them. A new role model was born for me.

To provide a sharp contrast to Liz Sanders, Alex Murray-Lesley from Chicks on Speed spoke about Guitar High Heel Shoe Prototyping. Followed by a discussion lead by Chris van der Kuyl, the CEO of Brightsolid Ltd and one of Dundee’s local heros.

Whew! What a jam packed mind stretching day! Can’t wait for tomorrow!

PROTOtyping 2010 Symposium Preview Evening

The Prototype – Craft in the Future Tense Symposium begins tomorrow. A few of my fellow ethnography students and many of the masters of design students are attending. We are here to listen to 16 world class thinkers and makers give us their take on prototyping. We are learning how to position the meaning of prototype in our own minds.

This evening was  the opening evening of the symposium, the Innovation & Creative Development in Craft. The exhibit was a showcase of five crafters and the idea behind what they do, but it was up to you to interpret the true meaning and purpose of the objects presented.  Follow your perogative to go wandering amongst the work and drink in its meanings.

The Dalhousie Building on Dundee University’s campus had been transformed into an exhibition gallery and staging area for the Prototypers. The curator of the exhibition, Sally Reaper, had used the space effectively and the pieces were arranged in an intriguing and inviting way.The exhibit was marvelously laid out in the difficult to understand foyer of the Dalhousie Building. If you never have the pleasure of being faced with its white labyrinthine halls and strange alien language used for room numbering (“Class has been changed to room 2.14.s.f.1” ) then consider yourself saved of its design mishaps. The exhibit was simple on first glance, but I am sometimes mistaken on first glance. In fact the works were intricate representations of highly developed design research processes.

In a single phrase, from the literature about the exhibition, the pieces are described as:

“The new and innovative work created by textile artists Jeanette Sendler, Gillian Cooper, Lisa Gallacher, jeweller Sarah Kettley and (post-) industrial designer Roy Shearer illustrate the creative process of making and developing ideas.”

Below are my photographic first impressions of the exhibit. These are really the product of their extensive creatives processes, and therefore I cannot really capture the whole story of each piece. If you want the whole story you will have to go see the exhibit which you can view in the Dalhousie Building on the University of Dundee Campus until the 27th of June.

Jeanette Sendler's Collarbone presented us with a series of "bones" which were loosely stuffed with the dress making patterns of olden times. It was a magnetic piece that greeted the attendees with its long white spine as the came into the exhibition.
Gillian Cooper took textile arts to a whole new level, by photographing the ground at her feet every 37th step, and then transforming the patterns and forms she saw in the photos into beautifully rich textured embroidered wall panels.
Aeolia by Sarah Kettley presented us with a garment with woven in stretch sensors that could be used for whatever you imagine. It was a very interesting idea, but I had a had time to conceptualize what this could actually be used for in practice.
Lisa Gallacher created a new way to adorn the body with this rack of fashions printed from huge colorful print proofs, complete with contoured pockets and curvy seams.
Roy Shearer showed us what an “open thing” actually is. He had created a set of open source plans and software for how to put together a “Niftymitter.” It is a transmitting device that could send voice signals form one source to any FM source in a certain radius. It was a nice idea and very cool, but I felt it had been done before. In fact my boyfriend Aaron reminded me that, ” the Simpson’s had done it all before,” he was referring to the episode where Bart had a Microphone that could tune into an FM station.