The first part of the group project was developing a fold using newspaper, which then can be used as a container for organic waste within a desktop caddie. This folding technique should be communicated by a poster and/or video instruction.
screenshot of the instruction video
As the brief was quite defined, there was not much space for ‚going crazy‘ on the design part. Therefore it was more likely a good exercise for figuring out how the group work takes place in general – getting to know the different strengths and weaknesses of your teammates and how their specific design discipline contributes to the subject. As designers we all ‚speak the same language‘, but still have an expertise e.g. in visual thinking and communicating, 3-dimensional thinking, a sense for different materials and working with these or going from flat surfaces to shapes. Beyond our expertise the group charter helped me personally to also get to know my teammates a bit better in terms of what values they have, what kind of a project attitude they developed in their studies, or in general what kind of persons they tend to be.
personality cards – getting to know your team
In connection to designing solutions for organic waste systems an interdisciplinary design team can be a fruitful ground for developing sophisticated approaches. Industrial designers for example have a more developed understanding of different materials and how they affect waste, whilst communication designers are e.g. experts in putting information into graphics, meaning that e.g. a visual approach of an organic waste system helps the viewer to understand how the organic waste system works.
Speaking of systems, as part of the Interdisciplinary Design Lab class we read, thought and talked a lot both in class and within the groups about design and system thinking therefore using techniques such as audits or the critical system heuristics (CSH). This gave us a sense of the dimensions of systems and the influences different parts of a system have on other parts of a system. With regards to the caddie design, although the system ist due to the defined task not that extensive, it was useful outlining the whole process of the user interaction with the caddie. This means not only thinking of an easy and fast fold, that it contains enough food without dripping and that it fits into different caddie sizes but also what happens before and after that – where does the newspaper come from, is there a common type of newspaper, how do you get the organic waste out of the caddie and transport it afterwards, what effect hast paper on organic waste, …
As a designer I personally think you have to be aware of as many parts of the system you work in as possible because eventually you will interfere with different parts of the system or smaller subsystems. Clearly it’s not that you use every single information you gather in the end – at least not directly. It’s more like to develop a general sense and (gut-)feeling, something you cannot describe in words or with your conscience and knowledge, about your design and what kind of impact it has or may have. Remaining this holistic view helps in designing meaningful things, evaluating approaches, communicating with clients and your design team and beyond that many other things which makes system thinking methods a very powerful tool.
soft system methodology [and not methology ;-)]
Checkland P. & Poulter J. 2007, Learning For Action: A Short Definitive Account of Soft Systems Methodology, and its use for Practitioners, Teachers and Students, 1st edition, John Wiley and Sons Ltd., Chichester, England
Donald, N.A. & Stephen, D.W. 1986, User Centered System Design, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, New Jersey
Polprasert, C. 1989, Organic waste recycling, John Wiley and Sons Inc., New York, NY
Systems thinking: a cautionary tale (cats in Borneo) 2014, motion graphic, Sustainability Illustrated < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17BP9n6g1F0>