ailian

On understanding why it is the way it is

ailian:

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I found myself saying,

"You can look at what they have and critique it and come up with all these ideas of what they should have built instead, but how about finding out why they ended up with what they have?” 

I think there is this gap in product understanding. You can always say something should have all these features or should work this way instead. But the thing is the way it is right now, because a certain set of decisions were made. The builders had certain goals in mind, made some choices, made some mistakes, and faced certain constraints. There are always constraints. 

Things can always be improved, and very often should be. I’m not saying we should let people off the hook for building awesomeness. But I think we should extend that courtesy - that generosity of perspective - to the builders to understand why they have built what they built, instead of perhaps what they would have liked to build in an ideal world. 

Because if you understand their goals, their constraints and mistakes, then it becomes much easier to solve problems and actually make things better - make things closer to how you would have done it. 

I’m guilty of this behavior, myself, but on my better days I remember to dig into exactly what Ailian talks about.

continuations

continuations:

I have been writing a lot about wealth and income inequality and I am reading Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century (review forthcoming as soon as I am finished). So it seems appropriate to ask how I feel about the wealth being created by tech startups for entrepreneurs, early employees…

This has been an important insight for me to understand over the past few years. Sometimes we have to unlearn to learn.

percolatehq

percolatehq:

On Tuesday, April 22nd, Percolate is hosting its first design event. DesignTalk Presents: Partners in Crime will feature leaders from around the New York design community sharing stories about the things, people and teams that help them design products and services. Whether its sketchbook habits or productivity hacks, apps or cameras, chainsaws or teammates, we’re going to learn about their partners in crime.

The evening will feature six speakers:

Shayna Kulik, the founder and editor of Pattern Pulp, a trend forecasting site that helps companies navigate digital and physical opportunities.
David Lee, the chief creative officer of Squarespace, a website creation platform.
Claire Mazur, the co-founder of Of a Kind, an editorial ecommerce platform which supports and promotes on-the-rise fashion designers.
Sam Valenti, the founder of Ghostly International, an independent record label that fuses sound and design.
Robert Lenne, who is head of design at Artsy, an art education and collection platform.
Noah Brier, co-founder and product owner here at Percolate, where we’re building the leading content marketing platform.

The PechaKucha format we chose allows each speaker to show 20 slides, each for 20 seconds. This only gives each speaker a little less than 7 minutes to present, but we could listen to them talk about design all day. That’s why we sat down and spoke with our presenters about everything from how they first fell in love with design to recent design challenges they’ve overcome.

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When did you first become interested in design?

Shayna Kulik: I think it officially began with my grandfather and the random sculptures we would build together. He was a retired retail display designer and would fill my weekends with easels, paints and found objects. We always had a blast.

Noah Brier: I got a job in an advertising agency as a copywriter. I was the sole writer on the creative team and was surrounded by designers. I was fascinated and inspired by their work and always really enjoyed working with designers.

Sam Valenti: The design of skateboarding culture in the 1980′s might have been my first entry point. Artists like VCJ for Powell Peralta created unique worlds for their teams and helped me understand brand in a very basic sense. That image could be more powerful than words.

Tell us about a recent design challenge you overcame and how you overcame it.

David Lee: We recently had to renovate our apartment to welcome our newborn daughter into this world. Our existing kitchen was in the ideal location for a second bedroom. All we had to do was transition the kitchen into an open plan concept within our living room. What seemed like a rather simple design problem turned out to be one of the most challenging personal design projects I have ever participated in.

Compromise is probably the big takeaway here. In a juggling act between personal design taste, time, cost, contractors, materials and space constraints, it’s safe to say that whatever you envisioned, the final outcome will never turn out exactly as you had it planned.

Claire Mazur: We’re in the design phase of a big site redesign for Of a Kind right now. Every time we go through one of these I find it immensely challenging — like enduring the most intense and painful therapy session that you’re desperate to abort but know you need to finish because the results will be worth it. It always feels so emotional for everyone involved, which makes it difficult to come to a consensus when there are disagreements over how something should look. A sense of humor and a willingness to be wrong is key in getting through it.

Shayna Kulik: I’ve been building out a new brand on the side that I’m getting ready to launch soon. It’s been a work-in-progress over the past year, and about six months ago, while testing things out and getting customer feedback, it was suggested that I re-approach things from a different product perspective.

I ended up halting production, taking a step back, and bringing on a partner to help create a stronger leading product. As of a month ago, we finally have something we’re both proud of that’s more interesting and meaningful. For someone who likes to see immediate results and is used to the pace of digital design, it’s been a test of patience.

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DesignTalk began as a weekly meeting in which our design team shared inspirational work from a variety of disciplines: Architecture, illustration, product design and so on. What’s a recent piece of work that you found inspirational or striking?

Claire Mazur: The instagram accounts of artists Mimi O Chun and Donald Robertson offer up some of the most delightful moments in my day when they post images featuring their own work. They are both extremely talented and funny.

Sam Valenti: I was struck by the art of Jonathan Glazer’s Under The Skin film poster which led me to a late discovery of Neil Kellerhouse, who has been making what I think are some of the most beautiful marriages of type and image I’ve seen in years.

David Lee: I had seen his show in Tokyo many years ago, but to see the Ai Weiwei exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum again was a refreshing reset, in particular his irreverent work using Han Dynasty urns.

At Percolate, we’re pretty into coffee. What’s your favorite coffee shop in the city and why?

Shayna Kulik: I love Nourish Kitchen & Table in the West Village. They sell Counter Culture, which is one of my favorite coffee brands, along with the most delicious coconut macaroons. I’ve met a lot of interesting folks at the collaborative table in the back as well, which is always kind of cool and random.

David Lee: My local is probably The Smile in Tribeca, which is nested in the boutique Shinola. It’s a great spot with good, simple coffee and plenty of visual stimuli.

Noah Brier: In the neighborhood I really like Everyman Espresso. It’s small and they take their coffee seriously. In Brooklyn I’m partial to Hungry Ghost because they have Stumptown cold brew on tap. Yum.

Claire Mazur: The iced New Orleans style coffee at Blue Bottle is one of my favorite treats. I don’t normally put sugar in my coffee, but this one is slightly sweetened and it’s really perfect.

Sam Valenti: Our offices are in Greenpoint, which is bustling with good new shops. The Ghostly and Drip teams check out Spina and Ovenly: one has lovely plants and the other has sea salt cookies. Pick your poison.

Thanks again to all of our speakers for presenting tomorrow evening and sharing their thoughts here today. If you haven’t signed up yet, register for tomorrow night’s event at the Bowery Electric. We’ll have a couple of beers and listen to these wonderful speakers tell stories about the partners in crime.

The post In Conversation with the Speakers of DesignTalk appeared first on The Percolate Blog.



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This whole list is great.

markcoatney
Typically other people’s problems seem simpler, uncomplicated and easier to solve than those of one’s own society. In this context, the decontextualized hunger and homelessness in Haiti, Cambodia or Vietnam is an easy moral choice. Unlike the problems of other societies, the failing inner city schools in Chicago or the haplessness of those living on the fringes in Detroit is connected to larger political narratives. In simple terms, the lack of knowledge of other cultures makes them easier to help.