Discussion of Approach—Ripped From E-Mail

On Jan 9, 2014, at 7:38 PM, Christopher Jones wrote:

… wow. great comments … conversation …

I think that the research point is spot-on… If I came in with a bunch of stuff I just thought was cool, it might not resonate if it wasn’t grounded in something credible.

I went to a lecture by a guy named Robert Bringhurst and he was a ornithologist (studied birds?) and a type designer. He said that the dialect of a species of birds’ songs can change dramatically (enough so the birds notice) even if you move a quarter mile away. hitting home the point that even in the current world of globalization, localization and specificity is so important. Even after getting there, the feedback is so important.

As for User Experience, IDEO’s practice is just boss … Not sure where to begin with them. I follow Tim Brown, their CEO on Linkedin. I did recently see something recently, where in their labs, they spent a day coming up with a “demo” iPhone game to see if kids would like it. But instead of actually making an app, they filmed a guy dancing behind an oversized iPhone cutout (cut out of a box and pretty high-end looking) and they had the screen area clipping masked out so the guy could dance and respond to supposed changes (called out audibly) that would be programmed (for instance someone shouted: “now the characters moves his hands”, “now he dances to the beat”, etc.) And they did a lot to actually investigate the people’s reaction to the “app” (by filming the kid’s reactions)—so much so that they had an idea how they’d program the thing before starting to make it.

It was so cool and it focused on getting close to the apes—so to speak—in the spirit of Jane Goddall’s work.

Thanks for noticing.

And I went to a liberal arts school, so I love all that. It’s all connected!!

On Jan 9, 2014, at 6:37 PM, (colleague) wrote:

“…solve the problem intuitively”

It’s as simple as that!

That was just a little bit of sarcasm. 🙂

I agree 100% with the emphasis on identifying and understanding the problem one needs to solve. One thing I’ve learned from watching you is how much it pays off to research the culture in which the people you want to talk to operate. You touched on it in an earlier email when you talked about the role the primary sponsor plays in brand identity. Same for the steering committee meeting where you talked about the current trend towards retro themes in cycling and how this shaped your design direction. If I recall correctly, you said you wanted to respect the trend without being derivative or formulaic. Great stuff.

A lot of the same applies to UX, especially with regards to the use of ethnography. In fact every time I come across an article mentioning ethnography as a research tool for experience design I send the link to my parents as a reminder that my major in anthropology wasn’t a complete waste of time. 😀

On Thu, Jan 9, 2014 at 6:21 PM, Christopher Jones wrote:

… I happened upon this in my Evernote and it is formidable design philosophy which applied in this case … (not that they necessarily will act on any/all of it): “Burtin feels that his own approach to developing a design for graphic representation is best summed up by an old Japanese proverb which instructs: ‘First know all there is to know . . .then memorize it, then solve the problem intuitively.’ But for Burtin intuition is not so much a ‘magic spark’ as the result of human curiosity and a consistent experiment guided by logical thought.”’


On Jan 9, 2014, at 2:59 PM, (colleague) wrote:


How did this snowball from just a refresh of the jersey to a full on branding strategy? 😀

Great work. I love it. The poster is aces.

related to this work and presentation:


Porsche 356 Gmund Coupé Illustration

“It is sad that so many creations today are just like the rest. It is why Porsche must remain independent. Without independence, without the freedom to try new ideas, the world will not move ahead, but live in fear of its own potential. … Committees lead to creations that have no soul, no identity. This is why no Porsche will ever be created by a committee, but a handful of people inside these walls who know what a Porsche is.”
— Dr. F. Porsche

I was in a meeting where a CEO lamented that getting things through her board is difficult—can’t remember the exact characterization. Suffice to say, allowing a board to be a board is a tricky thing. Clearly there are times when a board helps vet an organization’s process, but there are other times when in the process of creation a board is best poised to allow the process to happen in the hands of the creators. A book I read called The Visionary’s Handbook suggests that even in the big company, certain divisions should be treated as if they were very small, giving entrepreneurial power to this force of creation. This type of independence is rare, even in the automotive world.

Unless you’re Porsche.

And with that I thought back to one of my most cherished quotations from what has become somewhat of a design hero for me, the patron of Porsche. I don’t know when exactly this was said, but one things for sure, anytime through the end of World War II, the amalgamation of car companies was rampant. This process saw the end of many storied brands. But for some there was the time to double down and work to come up with that next big thing.

The 356 was one such number. A roadster prelude to my favorite car, the 911, this car had the simplicity of design and a sheer level of enjoyment to see. And if driving a Karmann Ghia is half the experience—probably half the engine—then it must have really been something.

On Showing Clients “Work In Progress,” Caution Prevails.

I answered a LinkedIn Group question today regarding showing work-in-progress. My answer was does not apply, not because it’s fully accurate, but becasue the breadth of the issues weren’t explained in the available options —— (yes or no)

On showing works in progress, I think many of the answers above show the complexity and problems of showing a client work-in-progress and they take me to a point of summation, in that a client hires you for vision and part of that vision is to be able to sort the wheat from the chaff of decision-making, if you will.

I remember hearing Georgia O’Keefe say something like it’s the artists’ role to choose and I feel like that’s utterly important here in developing client work. Yes, good contracts, yes explaining scratch work, yes showing work as “progress” and progress payments, but the other thing is that, dependent on the relationship (I have a long-standing relationship where WIP is great, for example), it’s often difficult to foresee the degree to which the client can visualize that it truly is a process and the degree to which the process can be proportionally fruitful farther in (i.e. once you really lock in on a concept–inspiration isn’t always a straight-line ascending line graph).

So, I tend not to because if anything goes wrong, wouldn’t you rather be that person who did admirable work, as exhibited through process, that they just didn’t like or the moron who scribbled on napkins and you hated it?