First prototype

This was my first prototype. Yes, those are popsicle sticks, and those are rubber bands at the top. It took me 30 minutes to do this, but it worked. And it proved to me that it worked. And it justified the next couple of years on this project.

Nikolai Begg designed a device that fixes a one hundred year old problem with laparoscopic surgery.

The entire TED talk is fantastic, but my favorite moment of the talk is when he shows his jury-rigged prototype. It’s a great example of testing an idea by making it happen as soon as possible.

100 studies

Smithsonian Gallery of Art competition sketch

I remember Eero [Saarinen] thought out the whole thing carefully, and then told us that the first thing to do would be to make 100 studies of each element that went into the building. We would then pick the best, and never let our standards fall below that. Then we would make 100 studies of the combinations of each element—the placing of the sinks in the ladies’ rooms, for instance. Then 100 studies of the combinations of the combinations. When the whole thing was finished, Eero was almost in tears, because it was so simple. And then, of course, he won the competition.

Charles Eames on Eero Saarinen’s approach to designing the entry for the Smithsonian Gallery of Art competition.

That’s an impressive amount of sketching. I’ve only been able to find an image of one sketch, which was included in the catalog for the exhibition Eero Saarinen: shaping the future. Sadly, the exhibition never came through London. I’d love to see more.

Fail better together

FailCon sounds as if it was a lot of fun. How could a bunch of people getting together and talking about their failures. The Wired covereage of the conference has this great bit on iterative sketching and failure:

Consulting firm Adaptive Path’s Brandon Schauer counseled companies to avoid failure by going out and finding their target users, in order to figure out what they need. Then, the key is to build ‘empathy’ for those needs into the product.

But more importantly, companies need to learn how to fail in the right ways.

Schauer points to a sketch online that supposedly is the original sketch of Twitter — which looks much like the current (and wildly popular) service as it is today.

“This is how we tell stories of brilliance and innovation, like Newton having the idea of gravity just coming upon him,” Schauer said. “But that’s not actually how things work.”

By contrast, when his company works with companies, they go through many design sketches, with participants finding their fourth sketch in a row is the best one, far better than the first.

I’d love to see a similar conference organized here in the UK.