A (mostly) blank slate to create designs and infrastructure for inclusion

During the first On The Media episode of 2021, The World, Remade, Bob Garfield revisited a segment from earlier in the year on designing for access and inclusivity. The term, universal design, stems from programs, products and systems that were designed for a niche group, but find further useful applications and end up benefitting many people. Common examples are curb cuts and closed captioning.

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via 99% invisible

Why is this particularly relevant today? The idea is that, with the restrictions in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, the world is participating in a universal design experiment. All people are experiencing a sudden lack of agency over their own lives, physical mobility and access to spaces. Meanwhile, the world around us is being rapidly redesigned to allow essential behaviors, such as grocery shopping and going to school, to continue. …

With the help of frog’s Hartmut Esslinger.

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Photo by Joel Henry on Unsplash

In his book, A Fine Line: How design strategists are shaping the future of business, Hartmut Esslinger defines four schools of design. “Classic design,” he defines as output that appeals to both the heart and the mind of the user. Products are more human-centered but are not inherently linked to brand identity. “Artistic design,” on the other hand, is directional and trend-setting, but not scalable or pragmatic. Corporate design is, more often than not, where internal teams fail to reach a bold enough consensus, and too many compromises lead to faulty strategy. …

An analysis of engagement with SDGs 1–5

Each day for 17 days I am releasing an analysis of how the fashion and space industries engage with the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Below are the infographics from the first week, SDGs 1–5.

While these lists aren’t comprehensive, the goal is to demonstrate the potential impact through shared efforts between the two industries, in addition to their potential impact independently.

SDG 1 & 2

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The case for designers doing when everyone is design thinking

Graphic illustration with tiered layers of red, orange and yellow lines in the form of an arrow pointing up and to the right
Graphic illustration with tiered layers of red, orange and yellow lines in the form of an arrow pointing up and to the right
From an old IBM manual cover

In Travis J. Brown’s article “Strategic Design or Design Strategy? Effectively Positioning Designers as Strategists,” from April 2019, he questions the lack of perceived value of design in the context of business. As strategists, he says, “there appears to be increasing pressure on designers to distance themselves from design doing (i.e., being concerned with aesthetic considerations, visual articulation, and artifact creation.)” The myth is that, in order to assimilate as a business professional, the designer must be practical and not aesthetic.

The door is open to question whether, when we say design strategy, we are referring only to design thinking or embracing the full spectrum of design doing. To best represent the value that designers can bring as strategists to business challenges, our terminology matters. Brown discusses the difficulty of defining both strategic design and design strategy. His article describes a process he undertook in his Indiana University classroom to provide definitions for these terms. …

This is a story about how ideas come into our busy minds, plant themselves, and become a guiding light for us to focus on.

1. There is a light above. A small opening through which *stuff* is pouring down on you. All of it pouring down, distracting and confusing, and unclear. You look up towards the light coming through from above, but the debris and clutter fall around you and into your eyes. How do you get out?

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2. Somehow, you’ve been able to capture some of the *stuff* falling down around you. The floor beneath you grows more solid and starts to rise. Something is taking shape. It is germinating, a seed planted, and you find other *stuff* to nourish that seed.

How space assets and space-generated data can impact Earth’s sustainability goals

A principle of FAAR is advocacy for sustainability on Earth and in space. Both classifications of sustainability, longevity and environmental protection, are interrelated and require the same commitment to long-term thinking grounded in resiliency.

By looking at the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), established in 2015, alongside activity in space, we can see they are integrated.

As with the SDGs, increased participation from international stakeholders in the space community can have and is having, a direct impact on our ability to set and achieve shared goals on Earth.

There are three broad categories that we can look at in space to understand the impact on SDGs: Satellites, Philosophy and Geopolitics, and System Design.

And how you can apply them to create products that stand the test of time.

page from a sketch book with notes on design modifications drawn over a photograph of models wearing collection prototypes
page from a sketch book with notes on design modifications drawn over a photograph of models wearing collection prototypes
Sam Adair, graduate collection via 1Granary

The fashion industry is changing. From new business models to new buying calendars, virtual runway shows, and even PPE supply chains popping up overnight, there is room for reimaging the product development process. It is rare in the business of physical products not to have rigorous testing and user feedback before investing in inventory. The fashion industry has been at a disadvantage with such short timelines for selling products and the fleeting nature of trends. If you’re interested in building fashion products that can stand the test of time, it is a good idea to do some user testing.

Talking to your customers is a powerful way to bring new insights to your design process and to test assumptions. You might be surprised by a feature that your customers love that was originally an afterthought or even a mistake! …

Key Takeaways from the Civil Space Session

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The programming that has been coming out of the space community over the past few months is really exciting. A lot of it has been free and open to the public. The conversations are pretty candid and seem to represent a shared mission and vision across the private and public sectors. It was fun, for example, to see Carissa Christensen, Bryce Space & Technology CEO, in the role of the interviewer rather than the interviewee during her conversation with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

While Future Space 2020 had three sessions, National Security, Civil Space, and Congressional Space, the takeaways below are from the Civil Space session. …

Businesses are already building the new syste

For a few decades, the business model of fashion brands has been unnervingly similar. With only a few layers to the cake, entry into the fashion industry has been expensive and, by design, exclusive. There has been a lot of power in the hands of very few for a long long time. These gatekeepers take the form of luxury conglomerates, magazine editors, buyers, and, more recently, influencers.

fashion photograph of a woman in a transparent textured raincoat. Her arms over her head, jacket covering part of her face
fashion photograph of a woman in a transparent textured raincoat. Her arms over her head, jacket covering part of her face
Pop Magazine Spring Summer 2016, Model Natalia Vodianova, Photographer Harley Weir

Status quo bias

It is understandable that a strong status quo bias pervades throughout the fashion industry. The changes that need to happen are truly transformational. Businesses are reluctant to make internal changes that will upset their relationships within the system. …


Lee Anderson

Design strategist, researcher & educator. 🔎 sustainable future through design science collaboration & new business models. 📚 @SDSParsons . Also @fashnaerospac

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