Tag Archives: design thinking

Sustainable Design for Flourishing Fashion

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How do we build trust in a complex multi-stakeholder relationship where the product is based on price?

Apparel matters.  We wear clothes throughout our life, yet little thought is given to modern garment making except for the cost. Despite well-meant laws, international trade policies, and CSR audit reporting, a mistrust gap exists between makers and end users on whether garments are sweatshop-free, endorse fair trade, or are relatively more or less sustainable. The session explored the systems of production and disposal of Catholic school uniforms, which bear a unique responsibility to their buyers to ensure equity and sustainability. Uniforms are mandated and bought by individual families have little say in ensuring that the people who made their clothes have worker equity and safety.

Kelly Okamura organized this design inquiry into sustainable product design held at Nuvango Gallery for the April 2016 DwD.  With a group of 25 particpants and industry stakeholders, we took a deep dive into what she calls Flourishing Fashion. The group explored the problem of how to build product trust and ensure that mandated school uniforms  – first purchased through a tendered bid process that includes CSR policy – are made with worker equity.

Kelly-uniform

Contemporary ethical garment making is difficult and the garment industry is extremely competitive. It’s very hard to make a profit if you do it right – made with worker equity and respect for the planet throughout the entire process. Buying garments in a transparent global market is equally tough when mistrust has been built based on evidence that is hearsay. And for mandated Catholic school uniforms, this make-take relationship compounds when a wearer doesn’t have a choice to vote with their purchasing dollars or mindlessly buy fast fashion.

Don Officer followed up with Kelly with a brief interview following the event.  Kelly describes in her own words what “flourishing fashion” represents:

“Flourishing Fashion addresses the desire to make sell and buy in a modern world where our purchasing choices impact living beings and planet. It addresses a major systemic equilibrium shift that impacts all of us as consumers of goods. In this broad sense, the reference to fashion is not just about clothing but fashion is a reflection of our times. It requires a new systemic understanding for the need to support more 3P (Profit with respect for People and Planet) goods for a finite planet if we want humanity to flourish.”

Q: As far as you know, who accepts and values that notion?

They identify as the fastest growing consumer group – the Aspirationals – who still want to buy ‘fashion’ but want to know their product’s origin and are willing to pay more for products that better align with their ethical values.

Q: Why should we care? 

We all wear clothes and make purchasing choices.  If we all keep buying stuff, consumers responsibility begins with purchasing goods, and we all have to better understand our roles as consumers in the purchasing system.

Q: Did you find the DwD group curious about flourishing fashion?

Since we all consume the immediate understanding is we are all active participants, not observers so the dialogues were engaging even if the wicked problem focused on mandated school uniforms. It was challenging to contain the dialogue and even bring the session to a timely close. The discussion continued after the event with both participants and later with others who expressed interest in future dialogues on the subject but did not attend.

Q: How did they engage on the topic? 

I showed a short film clip to create a personal awareness that most consumers don’t think beyond the price tag about of their purchases. So the attendee engagement was both on a conceptual level with the wicked problem focused on mandated school uniforms as well as on more personal relationships with their clothing.  For example, pointing out other required information on all textile products prompted some attendees to look up information on the clothes they wore to the session.  Stephen, my session collaborator, gained insight on information beyond the price tag, and began looking at clothing in a more informed way even before the DwD session took place.

Q: Did you detect any consensus or streams of thought?

There wasn’t consensus on a solution for the wicked problem presented.  But that’s understandable since our small group dialogues focused on segments of the apparel loop. On reflection, comments noted when we reconvened in full circle, could be encapsulated as a need for transparency. And generally, the take-away was a greater understanding there are no easy answers to establishing trust in global supply chains.  As individuals, attendees recognized more clearly how we are all active consumers in the modern apparel system.

Q: What was your biggest takeaway? 

My biggest take-away was a confirmation that consumers are interested in being more informed about their purchasing choices beyond the price tag. Apparel is a useful metaphor for our consuming habits and validating the high ratio of consumers who are not indifferent to the impact that their purchasing makes once they are informed, matters. I also immediately gained great content for my gooderGoods podcast #14 – Mis-Trust. You can hear it on rabble.ca or on soundcloud.  Note the visual for Mis-Trust was not a piece of clothing but the case of water purchased for the event.

Q: How might FF relate to design thinking? 

Fashion is an applied art. Design thinking is outcome driven vs. purely creative thought.  Often fashion is considered frivolous or on an esthetical level but for most of us, the retail price is a constraint to sell through or textile waste.  And combined with a respect for people and planet make it a wicked problem that is solvable but requires an equilibrium system shift.  Solutions to parts can contribute to the problem but to scale it needs greater accountability throughout the system that includes with consumers. Educating consumers on both their power and how they contribute to keeping the status quo is an important part of creating the shift.  That’s why I’m chasing Flourishing vs. Sustainable Fashion.  We want to continue to make sell and buy desirable products with holistic growth NOT sustain the purchasing process we have now.

Q: Where might the FF transformation come from? 

I love Frances Westley’s insight that change is hard but can also happen in the blink of an eye.  With clothing, it is something that literally touches us daily, and we are generally in control of what we choose to purchase, or not.

 

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See the recent event on Fair Labour and the Living Wage with Kelly Okamura and Auret van Heerden at The Fashion Institute of Technology, March 2016.

 

 

 

Idea Convener – Kelly Okamura 

ko

Kelly is a product designer and design strategist who is exploring the opportunities for flourishing business thinking in the fast-moving world of fashion and textiles. She is currently investigating the complexity of the purchasing system to provide solutions for transformative change. You can check out her gooderGoods podcasts on conscious consumption at rabble.ca or Soundcloud.

 

Facilitating Co-Creation – Design Patterns for Dialogue

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How do we design dialogues?

With 35 participants, July’s DwD explored the patterns for design for dialogue events, for clients, organizations, and communities. We explored the patterns and elements of effective group processes expressed in both theory and our experience, with guidance from emerging process design tools.

  • What patterns and modes of engagement enable committed participation and reflective inquiry?
  • How might deepening our awareness of the essential elements found in our best methods foster successful group outcomes?
  • How might these patterns differ between arenas, whether creative organizational workshops or in civic dialogues?

Based on a workshop taught in the OCADU Strategic Foresight and Innovation program, Peter Jones shared a foundation for workshop design patterns for group dialogues in any setting.   Working with the Group Pattern Language Project as a source of structure and tools the session addressed:

  • What patterns for dialogue structuring might best enable our own, everyday group work situations?
  • How do we select and adapt best-fitting practices and methods to create mindful, evocative learning communities for creative inquiry?
  • How can we learn from these patterns to co-create new methods or group structuring approaches?

The ultimate goal of the workshop was to co-create better workshop designs and deepen competency through collaborating with peers, using the resource of the pattern model and toolkit.   Participants offered 5 of their problems or upcoming opportunities in their current practice, including an urban youth summer camp, a 24-hour intensive retreat, a community  engagement series with underserved immigrants, a new UofT course program and an international workshop in Lisbon.

Participants co-created new workshop plans with the patterns and shared ideas, exercising the pattern language for meaningful workshop design problems.

The group pattern cards can be downloaded and ordered from GroupworksDeck.org.

waymaking

Creating a kit for learning and teaching Waymaking.

YouthCamp

Designing a youth summer camp program.

Charette

Designing a sustainable cities retreat workshop.

Rexdale

Designing community engagement for an underserved neighborhood.

 

The Hosts

Peter Jones and Chris Lee guide this session on group design patterns. Peter is co-founder of Design with Dialogue and associate professor at OCAD University, in the Strategic Foresight and Innovation MDes program. Peter runs the innovation research firm Redesign and has been engaging groups of all sizes and shapes since the mid-1990’s. He is author of the early handbook of facilitation process, Team Design (1998), We Tried to Warn You (2008), and the recent Rosenfeld title Design for Care: Innovating Healthcare Experience. His work can be found at designdialogues.com

Chris Lee is a Toronto based facilitator and process designer. He runs Potluck Projects, actively using concepts and participatory methodologies from the Art of Hosting, Asset Based Community Development, and Person-Centred Planning to support groups in achieving collective outcomes that are greater than the sum of its parts. He also works with the YSI Collaborative, a network and community of practice that accelerates and amplifies the conditions for youth-led organizing and engagement in Ontario.

Sticky: Healing Wicked Problems in Health

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Can rethinking challenges together break through our most compelling health design problems?

February’s DwD held an open session for health and design professionals from across sectors in the community. Paolo Korre, Design Consultant at Mount Sinai Hospital, and Peter Jones hosted about 30 people from a diverse range of roles and sectors attended (starting off with a visual mapping of name tags by place and health intention).  Most of us reported as being external to healthcare (bottom of the grid), but we were lucky enough to get 4 or so closer to the front lines of care and practice.

mapofhealth

The engagement was typical DwD :

1) Open circle share and introduction
2) Nominal group technique: Generating one well-framed question (or wicked problem) in health of personal interest
3) Selection for first round Open Space (5 groups)
4) Further selection for larger Cafe sessions (4 groups)
5) Post and share Cafe sketches

+ Hanging around to talk with those who wanted to stay longer

What is the possibility for creating better practices and healthier communities through health and care design? What experience and wisdom might emerge if we had the time and place to share it with a community of committed listeners?

The  following three intentions (at least 1 and 2) were upheld by the end of the evening:

  1. Bringing local participants together with opportunities for connection / collaboration
  2. Presenting authentic issues of concern to our work and communities
  3. Inventing possible avenues for action or engagement to follow

Of 30 or so initial wicked problems (or questions), one each proposed by each person, a first set of 5 were selected and engaged for a round:

HCgroup1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. How can healthcare tech innovation be reconciled with costs?
  2. Why is healthcare so full of “problems?”
  3. What is health and who cares?
  4. How can we take ownership of our own health records?

A second round of Cafe sessions selected the most compelling themes from the first round of ideas. The final set of problems were taken on by four groups, with these responses sketched, posted (see the picture), and discussed in plenary.

James Caldwell (shown here engaged in the “Participaction” group) reviewed the workshop and discovered deeper insights and connections than we had time to develop at the close to the evening.

“Ideally each group was trying to create better practices that improved communication which would allow for better health. We presented real issues that hamper individuals and communities and tried to devise credible actions for health care engagement.”

The three that I will focus on are:
1. How do we redefine how to be radically inclusive?
2. If physical inactivity is the root of all health evil, why not ban it?
3. How do we create and maintain and own our own comprehensive health records?

“The result of any of these would mean that individuals become the drivers or agents of their own health. Ironically, the impact to the government’s financial system would be positive.”

Final4Board

 

 

All three issues have a few things in common:
1. They empower the individual
2. They lesson costs for the government
3. They improve the future health of the individual
4. They make for a more engaged society

“Of course any sane person would be asking why are we undertaking these initiatives today? Common sense would dictate that we would all be happier, healthier and more informed if we did. But I guess that’s why we call them “wicked problems”. Unfortunately too many groups that make too much money from individuals with health problems would lose, and I don’t think they will give up their control anytime soon.”

“I guess this is where designers can speak up and more effectively communicate to everyone why initiatives such as the three mentioned could help better our society. Designers could simplify the problem, the parameters, the solution and the message to a wider audience than the health industry or government could which would be seen as self-serving anyway.”

I agree with James that the 3 (actually all four) final problem areas are interconnected in the solutions. James is considering the outcomes, which show a virtuous cycle of healthy behavior (active lifestyles), inclusive public communication, and monitoring through electronic media. The fourth problem-solution (bottom of the board) was “creating community healing spaces.” I”m not sure this one was as well understood by the other groups, but it seems to me that James’ individual solution space is complemented by a public (or co-citizen-led) system of:

  1. Reframing inclusive healthcare to focus on those that need it most (who are unlikely to take individual initiative)
  2. Creating community centres as temporary (but connected) healing spaces,
  3. Thereby providing many opportunities to get off one’s butt
  4. Supported by personal health tracking in ever-decreasing cost and management, providing incentives to maintain a common health record.

 

 

 

On Building Culture through Participatory Design

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Guest post by Leah Snyder of Mixed Bag Mag

When Gelareh Saadatpajouh, Programs Coordinator at Toronto Design Offsite set out to facilitate Design with Dialogue’s TO DO session she decided to have our group explore, as she puts it:

“Design processes, where plurality of indeterminate factors is approached together and in an ongoing manner, and where designers become adept in handling the growing complexity in both materials of their craft and their position in the world.”

Increasingly designers are being called upon to search their souls in order to create with meaning. In a world exhausted by consumer culture and in desperate need of cultural revision we as designers can play a key role. As Gelareh got us up and activated with an exercise where we mimed our way of working it was clear why design thinking is so adaptable across platforms, disciplines and cultures. For as many people as were in the room there was a different design process. As we later shared our revelations from watching each other I realized that my own design process is also adaptable to where I am in my life’s journey and can shift when I have a renewed way of interacting with my world.

design-with-dialogue_005_leah-snyder

For over a decade my creation happened in isolation. Working with clients to design promotional tools and branding strategy there would be a two-way dialogue with the client after which I would go inside to then create something that would ultimately reach out. After another exercise where we were directed to find a design process action then go out into the group with that action to mingle I realized that my process has radically shifted. Now my first step is to reach out. I start by engaging in multi-directional dialogue, sometimes with other designers, but more often than not those dialogues are with people from many different walks of life. Sometimes those dialogues occur at street corners, even with strangers. I design as I walk, I process as I talk.

More and more I see others who design programs or products, ad campaigns or architecture instinctively, like me, reach out first as the point from which to start. As Design Week in Toronto demonstrated there is a community expanding around the questions “What is design?” and “Can we as designers contribute to modeling a new type of world?”. The idea of the collective is now being understood as the base from which we need to grow ideas. At a time when we require it the most the spirit of collaboration has motivated designers into taking more radical positions. The result –  fertile ground in which we see new materials and new models rapidly sprout.

For the last part of the workshop Gelareh had us break out into small groups “guided by a designer who shared something of their design, resulting in new “artifacts” that were then constructed through brainstorming, creative discussions, and active participation throughout the design process.”

design-with-dialogue_011_leah-snyder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the street, a few days later, I randomly bumped into someone whose group I was in. I was able to ask her if the exercise we did on her project was helpful to her. Did it result in a new “artifact” for her work? The answer –  an enthusiastic yes! And as we walked up to the street corner together, before going our separate ways, we continued to design as we walked and process as we talked.

 

Dating by Design

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Dating by Design

Navigating the complexities of modern relationships

We spend a lot of time perfecting our craft at work – striving for that 10,000 hours. But when was the last time you spent dedicated time on getting better at relationships? Perhaps because designers are often tasked with solving “wicked”, complex problems, the language of design provides many useful metaphors for exploring the complexities of modern relationships. By using design as a language to talk about dating and relationships, the conversation becomes more objective, and less subjective (aka less awkward).

DwD hosted Ayla Newhouse to present a design charette (a short, intensive and collaborative design exercise) for relationships, to apply the creativity and processes of design to dating and relationships. Participants were matched up into small groups to design their way out of (or into) fictional relational and dating situations.

dating sketchThanks to Aimee @ISEEAIMEE for the live sketching.

Hosting the session:

Ayla Newhouse is a Communication, Interaction and “Attraction” Designer with 16 years of relationship experience ranging from misalignment to creative brilliance. She is the creator of Dating by Design, and the author of “the ABC’s of Dating by Design” (datingbydesign.ca). Ayla also offers one-on-one and couples Dating by Design consulting.  Follow her at @aisforayla

Previously, Ayla co-founded 1thingapp.com: a social gratitude journal that helps people recognize the good things in their lives. A graduate of the Communication Design program at the Emily Carr Institute and the Interdisciplinary Design program at the Institute without Boundaries, Ayla worked with Normative Design and Bruce Mau Design before starting her own design/coaching practice in 2011.