My goals and expectations for my internship at Interactive Things

The immense complexity of todays world can be confusing. It’s a real problem. Information and interaction design can simplify peoples life. So they can focus on the real tasks beneath it. It can also bring more clarity and accessibility to the hidden treasures of the world wide web.

Being a independent graphic designer with my own studio since 2007 did not fit this plan. So I decided to do this internship. Here I am.

Joining Interactive Things is a nice step for me. Here I can improve my skills as a digital designer in order to become a valued member in a creative digital design team.

I also expect to create my best possible work to build up a kick-ass portfolio.

In particular I want to gain in project management possibly with focus in mobile projects.

Additionally, I want to build up my network with people who share similar ideas and values.

On a personal level, I wish to improve my English skills and my communication in general.

I also want to train my precision during design projects.

#JonasWyssen

Project review: “Wohlstand” summer series

These past 6 months have flown by.

Challenging and interesting assignments, enjoyable and positive environment, extremely knowledgeable and professional people, and a truly supportive team have been the ingredients of this rewarding and enriching experience at Interactive Things so far.

During this time of continuous learning I consolidated my passion growing the certainty this is the field I want to work in and I am really enthusiastic to have had the opportunity to extend my internship to December.

 

THE PROJECT

Recently, I have been working on a series of visualizations for the swiss newspaper “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” (NZZ) that is the sequel of the successful Swiss Maps released last year.

The main topic of this series is “Wohlstand” (prosperity) in Switzerland and has been analyzed in all its aspects such as economy, health, fertility and education. This series has been released on the NZZ Data section.

The whole project consists of 20 publications: 16 visualizations and 4 photographic reportages. The design of the visualizations was assigned to me and Simon Wimmer, a designer at NZZ, and I had to design 8 of them.

 

THE PROCESS

Since we had a short time available for this project, we had to finalize the design quickly to have enough time for the implementation and the work was organized in a very intense timetable consisting of two days for each visualization: one day for the concept and the following one for the design refinements.

Moreover, every morning we had a meeting at the NZZ office together with Simon, Benjamin Wiederkehr, the project lead from Interactive Things, Sylke Gruhnwald and Alice Kohli, NZZ data journalists, and, occasionally, some developers joined us too. During the daily review meeting I used to present my proposal, I got answers and feedback, and I gave suggestions and opinions about the other visualizations. This approach of continuing iterations was extremely important to clarify the story to tell with the data and keep the team up-to-date.

 

THE DESIGN

The dataset the journalists provided us was very heterogeneous and with different complexity for each visualization: one-dimensional or multidimensional, about one specific year or time-series data, global, european, national or canton level. Therefore, the design reflects this diversity shaping the mix of dates, locations, quantities and categories into a series of various visualization typologies.

The visual style was defined by the existing NZZ Styleguide and the visualizations previously developed by Interactive Things; moreover, we decided to color code Switzerland (in red) to let the user easily identify it when other countries were also involved.

The main challenge I faced was to dive into the data set and find the peculiarity, the engaging “story” (changes over time, comparison, interconnection, distribution,… ) that could interest the user and then choose a chart to emphasize it. For this purpose, I followed a more data driven process and I quickly prototyped the charts using Excel and Google Spreadsheet or using more specific application like Raw and Datawrapper. Afterward, I exported the chart and I refined it in Adobe Fireworks. Unfortunately, for some visualizations I had to use dummy data sets and, sometimes, this resulted in few problems during the implementation phase.

The mockups that I designed were used as guidelines by the development team that I continued to support with explanations, suggestions and feedback.

 

CONCLUSION

By working on this project I trained myself to present and explain my design and defend my opinion, to collaborate closely with the client and to develop my critical thinking. Moreover, I’ve gained a better experience in team work as being part of an heterogeneous team of designers, developers and journalists, each of us with different expertise, knowledge and opinion.

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Reflections about the Lift Conference 2014

Lift is one of the most important european events about innovation and digital technologies held in Geneva every year since 2006. This conference gathers together inspiring speeches, active workshops, spontaneous meet-ups and groundbreaking expositions with the aim to encourage reflections, opinions exchanges and discussions that make this event a catalyst of innovation. Lift is a key event for all people, individuals and organisations alike, that want to face current challenges and find solutions in relation with emerging technologies while considering economical and social implications of innovation.

When we talk about innovation we think about technology, computer science and software engineering, but the innovation could be possible also in other fields. This year, Lift’14 investigated many interesting topics such as company management, bio hacking, e-commerce or family business… and a lot of observations and reflections emerged from this.

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1. How to innovate?

First of all, a big question that emerges when we deal with this theme is about the methodologies and the processes we could innovate with. In the design field, innovation is synonymous of User-Centered Design focused on the thinking capabilities of the user. Certainly, placing the user in the center of the design process isn’t a new approach, but now we have to re-consider the idea of “the user” especially if we are designing digital products. While in the past users were considered for their shape, according to ergonomic studies, now designers have to consider them more for their abilities to understand process, for their memory. From this observation Nicolas Nova started his studies trying to define the methodology for the user research. Presenting his research during the workshop Design Ethnography. Beyond User-Centred Design he describes the designer more as an anthropologist and a psychologist than a simple problem-solver. He has to “understand the users” observing how they behave and interact with the environment and trying to capture their habits, rituals and needs, but it is also important to consider emotional and cultural aspects.

Focusing on the relation between the user and the computation system, Alexis Lloyd, creative director of the New York Times R&D Lab, reflected on the necessity of a simple and efficient communication between the two. She identified three new design principles that should be built into new interactions: the transparency, the ability of the system to show the user what he needs to know; the agency, the sense of control and participation in the process that the system has to give to the user, and the virtuosity: the ability to use technology expressively (this is a result of systems that support agency and transparency).

Innovation is something that we usually connect to the beginning of a venture, but interesting things happen also when a company has to reboot their DNA, when it has to face its decline and have to change to survive, or maybe when it has to let itself die. According to Bracken Darrell, president and CEO of Logitech, design is a method of innovation. When the company had to reinvent itself, after the arrival of iPad, he decided to hire new designers able to o create simple, functional and aesthetic products. Moreover, he worked hard to keep the structure of the company similar to the ones of small companies, in order to avoid being stuck in bureaucratic processes and therefore maintain informal way of communication between people and to create a collaborative working space. If a company doesn’t manage to rebuild its identity, it happens what Philippe Silberzahn calls a “creative breakdown”, it is still performing but the creativity capacity is gone and the company  isn’t able to introduce new products in the market anymore. Focusing on the dead side of the innovation, Philippe Méda, founder of Merkapt, defined the innovation as a “killer rabbit”, a brutal force waiting for killing someone else innovation, with a better idea.

2. Creativity to make innovation happens.

Often when we speak of innovation we think of cutting-edge technology or the new hype product recently launched by some new shiny start-up. Although we forget that most of those disruptives changes are possible thanks to the action of creative people. Indeed, as stated by Dan Williams, hacker at Makeshift, “being an artist allows you to try things you would get arrested for if you weren’t”.

We can indeed find examples of artist using new technologies in creative and unexpected ways. Lia Giraud is a french artist working on the photographic process based on exposure and shutter speed. She discovered through the use of algae new way of exploring this century old technique. Algae are light-sensitive organism, therefore by exposing them to a given light shape it is possible to create picture. What is of interest in this process is that you can actually see the picture take shape by seeing the motion of the algae heading toward the light area. Lia Giraud gives us an example of how biotechnology, which can be considered as a cutting edge industry, can be used to re-explore older concepts and make them evolve. On the other hand, graphic designer such as Ariel Martin Perez are also using bio technology to create “biofont”, using services and education in the field of biology provided by open initiatives such as La Paillassein Paris.

Those example can appear as fancy and not having much impact on the society. But creative thinking can be used as a trigger of discussion around new technology and innovation. Therefore art and creative practice have a very strong social function. One very relevant illustration of this is the Holzmarkt urban project located near the Spree river in Berlin. This project, created by Juval Dieziger, was first a place to party, gathering people from all around the world. But authorities decided to close the place because of the Mediaspree development plan envisaged for this area which consisted in building skyscrapers. With the help of Mario Husten, Juval Dieziger was able to propose a viable and creative alternative which was supported by the local population (contrarily to the Mediaspree project). In the end this alternative was adopted by the city of Berlin. The Holzmarkt project is working as a cooperative where citizens gather and share their ideas which are taken into account for the future development of the area. The place is meant to evolve in a natural and organic way. Through the involvement of the population and the proposition of an original urban plan, the Holzmarkt project offers a real value to the city of Berlin and illustrates the role of creativity in social innovation.

On another level, the architect Fabio Gramazio is thinking about the use of technology in creative processes and how to enhance them through technology. With his research at the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore he is exploring with his team the use of machines, similar to the ones used in factories, to innovate in the way we are constructing and designing buildings. Notably, he is speaking of the notion of digital materiality, corresponding to architectural structures build from design data. This totally new practice allows for a new kind of materiality and a new way of thinking architecture: first the architectural process should use more generic and flexible machine completing human work. This would allow the rethinking of construction by making the design of processes more important and valuable than the design of forms. Finally the use of robots in architecture enable the creation of unique structure enjoying material sensuality which creates a new form of interaction and experience with the user. Moreover of this discoveries, Fabio Gramazio considers as essential to engage with technology to be able to shape the future of his profession.

As said before, creativity has an important role on a social and innovative level. But it is also a perquisite for sustainability. As Philippe Silberzahn explains us the death of creativity in an organization leads to a creative breakdown leading eventually to the death of the organization itself. This pattern has been observed in the decline of many societies, as for example the Roman Empire. Once an entity is too important it becomes stuck in administrative processes which kills the overall creativity of the entity by silencing the creativity of individuals. Although the creative breakdown which emerge from this takes years to have impact on the entity and at this moment it is often too late to take any action against it. This highlights the fact that creativity is an essential motor of innovation but also sustainability.

3. Ethic and innovation

When we are speaking of innovation, the idea of pushing boundaries seems strongly linked to it. This implies that a dialogue exists between innovation and the society: how innovation disrupt the social rules and in return how the society shapes the use of technology.  

Indeed, technology enables us to tackle some of the big challenges of our society. For example production of meat as we are doing it today produces massive amount of carbon dioxide. Moreover it will not be sufficient to cover the need of the global population in the years to come, especially because of the growing market in Asia. Although this meat production could be replaced in the future by laboratory grown meat. This is the aim of the research conducted by Mark Post at the Maastricht University in the Netherlands, who created the first in Vitro-burger. Even if this is just a first step, a lot of quality such as taste and texture have to be improved on this lab meat, it can be considered as a sustainable solution to this problematic. Actually this lab grown meat is made from stem cells found in animal muscle. One stem cell can potentially, through successive division, creates 10000 kilos of meat, equivalent to 300 cows, using only some sugar and fat to grow. Another example of this sustainable use of technology is the pen created at La Paillasse. This pen has the particularity that its ink is created by bacteria living in the pen. Those bacteria are harmless for humans and totally biodegradable which is an ecological alternative to the highly toxic ink used until now. One funny thing about those bacterias is their ability to produce ink of different color according to what their eating. In the end the idea benign those two projects is to use organic and minor resources consuming processes to replace current products in a sustainable and eco-friendly way. 

On the other hand, this reveals a new side of technology and science. It would seem that we are relying more and more on it to resolve all our problems to the point that science is becoming some kind of new religion. This is defined by two main elements: the lack of critical thinking and the lack of transparency. The lack of critical thinking is explained by Ian Bogost by talking of algorithm in particular. He considers algorithms as a metaphor of the world. This is due to the partial view of the world we are putting in them, we are making them from. Most algorithm are made to answer a specific problem and to do so it is designed according to just one aspect of the reality. This is not the first time that human kind is doing the confusion between the real capacity of its creation and what he wants it to be. For example the same confusion exists with machine and manual creation, where we thought that the manual creation could be entirely automated and even now we are trying to believe in this. However most of the factories around the world are using human hands for most of the crafty works. The second point, the lack of transparency, is directly linked on the way technology and science is conceived. The modern world is build on science and technology, although the understanding of those is limited to a bunch of people in the world, and is hardly accessible despite the open initiatives and the world wide web. Most of the person using their smartphone don’t have much clue on how it works and how it is linked and interacts  with a global complex network. The need of transparency, as pleaded by Alexis Lloyd, should be one of the most important point in the future development of technology. I also personally think that education has a great role to play in increasing the awareness and understanding to technologies and science. 

To answer those threats some think about opening the science to all. This is one of the main goal of the Fab Labs where anyone could build objects thanks to the availability of computer controlled tools. Thomas Landrain has the same approach with his open bio space: La Paillasse. Here the idea is to make available to the greatest number of people biotechnology: you can potentially play with bacteria, analyze your food or your DNA. Although this openness of high-tech technologies, even if trying to answer to an overall lack of knowledge in the science field, also brings its share of problematics. Being open, no one can really control the use of those tools and therefore it can be used in some dangerous ways. One of the most obvious misuse of these technologies is the open sharing of 3d printed gun models. But thinking of biotechnology, you can think about the creation of drugs or the creation of viruses. One answer is the creation of manifestos or moral code around those practice, as done for La Paillasse. Another one is the intervention of states and legislation, which could potentially lead to a surveillance society.

It is evident, therefore, that innovation and society are inseparable and they shape each other. For instance, the e-commerce was a real success in Europe and America, but in other societies this practice has really struggled before being established. In China, for instance, the current biggest e-commerce business, Alibaba, 14 years ago encountered lots of cultural and social problems to seep through because people didn’t trust in strangers or in electronic payments. As explained by Porter Erisman, ex-VP alibaba.com, entrepreneurs tried to transform Alibaba in a more human experience, integrating chat and allowing people build relationships, community and groups and discuss about products. They also innovated the payment method founding Alipay, an online payment platform that introduced a broker between the buyer and the seller and introducing the culture of returning as guarantee. Africa is today in the same stage Asia was 10 years ago because of logistic, delivery and payment problems that prevent the growing of the e-commerce, as Isaac Nii Noi Nortey, co-founder of RetailTower in Ghana, told. 

And what next? What change is our society waiting for? Our economy is becoming more and more sharing-oriented instead of shopping-addicted and this is a current social and cultural transition provided by technology; what is really important is not what people have, but what they don’t own. We are now changing our habits, the way we travel, eat, and, mainly, we are changing the value we give to money, hospitality, friendship, respect, etc. Wouldn’t it be great if we could share meals and connect people with food? This is exactly the concept behind Eatwith, presented by Joel Serra, an innovative web-based service that allow people to share a meal and a kitchen table with strangers. This is a good alternative to restaurant and a chance to experience local culinary for visitor and an opportunity to meet new people for locals -and also to gain some money.

Innovation relies mainly on creative processes where technical progress should be used as a tool and not as a driving force. Most importantly, those creative processes have to be deeply social and consider the society and the individuals as the base of any thoughts. This is one way to create alternatives to our current living style in order to tackle challenges of our modern society and hopefully find solution to other threats which can emerge from technology. 

My Goals for my Internship at Interactive Things

I’ve discovered information visualization during my studies at the university of Venice, where I had the opportunity to combine my initial interest in graphic design and illustration with interaction design. During my master I became fascinated in working with data and complex informations, always challenging myself to explain and synthesize content and make it clear, understandable and significant. I discovered my interest in telling stories in a visual way and this interest brought me deeply into information visualization which soon became a real passion and also a real focus in my work. The step towards interaction design was spontaneous, driven by the desire of better understanding users and their needs to design deeper and richer experiences.

I believe in information graphics and data visualizations as powerful tools for translating data and informations into stories that can deeply touch and influence people. I believe those disciplines have a strong value and a deep social impact.

Becoming an intern at Interactive Things is an important achievement and at the same time is an exciting new step towards my future career. I’m very excited to spend the next months working closely with experts, designers and engineers, dealing with real projects, real clients and real design challenges.

From this experience I expect to increase my knowledge and capabilities in the design process, mainly on how to ideate and design interactive visualizations, but also I would like to explore coding and learning how to make a project real and alive. I expect to learn new methods and new tools. In general, I expect to get inspired but also to inspire the people working with me. On a pure personal level, I wish to improve my communication skills, to train my critical thought, and to become an active member of the studio life.

July review: Arealstatistik & Substratum

After one amazing month in Zurich, full of adventure as would testify my passport, time has come to do the first review on my internship at IXT.

So far I have had the opportunity to work on a broad range of projects, from conception to implementation/coding, and in different working environments, which has been very enriching in term of personal experience but also of skill learning.

Let’s begin with the Arealstatistik project. I worked on this project with Martina, the former intern who sadly left us mid-july. We had to create different concepts for an engaging and funny experience using the 3 sets of picture of Switzerland provided by Arealstatistik, which is basically a photographic mapping of Switzerland. Those sets are representing different period of time (one set is taking place on 12 years) of Switzerland’s landscape. Points of interest have been spotted indicating the places where the most important changes have occurred over time between those different sets. From this brief and three days streak of brainstorming, which is intense and where it is hard to detach yourself from the first  ideas to  come up with new ones,  we came up with five refined concepts properly documented. One of the most promising concept was the creation of a collaborative map around those points of interest recording the memories of people around those places (using videos, texts, sounds…). We also imagines more playful solution oriented toward children using a physical piece to navigate in the map displayed on the screen of the tablet device. Another approach was to let the user to play around with the data and allow him to create some abstract and emotional visualization that he would be able to print to keep a physical trace of it.

Substratum is another project that I am currently working on, and that I particularly like. This is basically a redesign of the existing website. Therefore, I went first through the whole website to identify all the navigation and user experience issues. Then I began to work on different solutions from the existing website and its content. I first thought of using a vertical navigation instead of a horizontal one, adding some playfulness and life to the homepage (using animation to slide from one issue to another for example) and being easely reusable in the interview part.

From this point I decided to go back to the “data” and analyze the interviews, their content and structure, to identify pattern and what is really mattering regarding this interviews. I came to realize that the structure was the same, following a defined set of question, and what was really defining the soul of the whole project is the person interviewed. From those insights, I decided to totally detached myself of the current design to explore a new way of navigating through the interview, focusing more on the people and their way of thinking, and having a more data centered approach.

This new way of seeing the project lead me first to the ideas of mind mapping and storytelling. I aimed to go toward a human approach of the data. After several exploration I came up with an idea of “paneled” navigation as illustrated in the following visuals.

The window is divided in two axis: the horizontal one corresponds to the questions composing the interviews, the vertical axis corresponds to the different interviewees classed by issue. Then every most important thoughts is accordingly mapped on the main canvas. In selectionning one interviewee you can identify his specific way of thinking compared to others. One thought can be linked to different interviewee, but is really “owned” by one person. It allows to spot the difference and similitude between the different interviewees.

The second approach is to condensed way of seeing the data and let the user to play around with the data, visualizing them in a way corresponding to his own need. A circle/treemap representation was first the most appealing but doesn’t fit well for website. It mutated toward a vertical layered visualization as shown in the visuals bellows.

The visualization is divided in three vertical portions. The top one corresponds to the questions, the bottom one to the interviewee. In the middle a word cloud of the most important thoughts is displayed corresponding to the user way of crossing the data. This visualization also allows connections to be made between the different interviewee, showing which one has the most in common or not. 

So far, I have lived a wonderful time at IXT, working on stimulating projects within an amazing team of super funny geekish guys, and in Zurich, a city full of surprises (yeah seriously speaking). Just hope it will be like this for the five months to come!

Internship at IXT: Goals & expectations

I’ve always been interested in understanding how things were working, more as a system than separate elements. So it is quite naturally that I have come to the field of datavisualisation during my bachelor’s degree thinking it was one of the emerging best way  in design to make complex systems understandable. As a result during those two last years, I have worked quite often on visualisations, going from very practical work to more artistic projects. It allowed me to experiment with Processing and discover a lot of new visualisations tools.

This leads me to choose information design as my specialisation for my master’s degree. As a part of the first year I have to do a semester abroad and I have decided to carry out an internship, considering it would be a great opportunity to be confronted to the reality of the field contrarly to what I can experience in a school environment. I’m aiming to have a rich experience and get a good insight into the data-driven design process in a professional environment.

Joining Interactive Things is really a big step for me and I hope to gain a diverse experience, especially working with people outside of the design field. Additionaly, I aim to gain knowledge in project management and client relationship.  I also think that the agency can really help me build an important and varied working network.

On a more personal level I wish to improve my overall knowledge of the design field thanks to conferences, books and afterwork sessions… Also, I believe it is a great opportunity  to grasp another aproach of design due to cultural differences.

Hausarbeit zur Eignungspruefung an der ZHdK

Nun folgt ebenfalls die Hausarbeit zur Eignungsprüfung an der ZHdK. Diese ist bereits im vergangenen Winter entstanden.

Fächerübergreifend war das vorgegebene Thema “Global - Lokal”. Jedes Fach hat dazu eine etwas spezifischere Erläuterung bekommen. Die Aufgabenstellung für Interfacedesign gab vor in einem erdachten System Zusammenhänge und Situationen aufzuzeigen, in denen Daten/ Informationen eingegeben und ausgelesen werden - kurz: ein Interface. Die Idee sollte das Konzept wie auch die Form betreffend umgesetzt werden.

Meine Arbeit behandelt einen Dienst, der sich die Allgegenwärtigkeit von GPS-fähigen Geräten zu Nutze macht, geolokalisierte Fahrraddaten zu sammeln, diese in einen Datenpool fliessen zu lassen und der Öffentlichkeit zugänglich zu machen.

Privatpersonen sollen die Möglichkeit erhalten ihre eigenen lokalen Bewegungen und Aktivitäten - ähnlich wie bei Nike+ - zu verfolgen. Durch eine hohe Beteiligung könnten so schnellere und sicherere Fahrradrouten ermittelt werden. In einem globalen Kontext können solche Daten bei der Städteentwicklung helfen, indem sie Vergleichsmöglichkeiten zwischen Metropolen ermöglichen und ein verfeinertes Bild der Gewohnheiten der Bewohner wiedergeben.

In einem wirtschaftlichen Zusammenhang sind solche Daten ebenfalls sehr wertvoll. Einerseits könnten Gesundheitsorganisationen und Krankenkassen grosses Interesse an den Sportlichen Aktivitäten der Bevölkerung/ihrer Kundschaft. Andererseits können solche Daten in Bereichen wie Marketing (auch wenn anonymisiert) von grossem Nutzen sein.

Hausarbeit zur Eignungspruefung an der FH Potsdam

Dies ist meine Eingabe zum Bewerbungsverfahren an der FH Potsdam. Das Thema “Service Avatar” gab vor auf einer konzeptionellen Ebene ein digitales Abbild eines realen Services zu machen. Auf Grund des Preisverfalls von Dienstleistungen sollte ein virtueller Service geschaffen werden, der einen realen Service mit den Möglichkeiten der digitalen Welt erweitert.

Ich habe mich mit dem Service eines Supermarktes auseinandergesetzt. Aufgrund der grossen Verantwortung, die ein Supermarkt auf unser Kaufverhalten hat, habe ich mir die Aufgabe gestellt den Service so zu erweitern dass es Kunden möglich ist bessere Entscheidungen zu treffen bezüglich der Nachhaltigkeit eines Produktes. Die Produktinformationen, die ein Kunde zu Zeit in einem Supermarkt zur Verfügung hat beschränken sich auf die vom Marketing geprägte Vorderseite und die neutrale Inhaltsangabe auf der Rückseite. Um aber über die Nachhaltigkeit eines Produktes urteilen zu können und sein Einkaufsverhalten zu verbessern fehlen gewisse Informationen.

Meine Idee ist es deshalb die verfügbaren Informationen um zwei Komponenten zu erweitern. Auf der einen Seite brauchen wir Hintergrundinformationen zu einem Produkt, die uns über die Herstellung, Transport etc. aufklären. Zusätzlich brauchen wir diese Hintergrundinformationen in einer Form, in der wir Vergleiche zu anderen ähnlichen Produkten anstellen können. Auf der anderen Seite sollten dem Kunden seine eigenen “Benutzerdate” resp. Daten zu seinem Kaufverhalten zugänglich gemacht werden, die es ihm ermöglichen in einem Iterativen Prozess sein Kaufverhalten zu optimieren.

Die Kombination dieser zwei neuen Informationen - die Nachhaltigkeit der Produktionsweise und die Aufzeichnung des Eigenen Kaufverhaltens - habe ich unter dem Namen “Sustainability Record” zusammengefasst.

Ich habe mein Konzept in vier screens veranschaulicht - Zwei screens eines Mobile Devices, die es ermöglichen sollen vor Ort Informationen zu einem Produkt abrufen resp. mehrere Produkte gegeneinander abzuwägen und zwei einer Desktop-applikation, die es dem Kunden ermöglichen sein eigenes Kaufverhalten zu untersuchen und mit alternativ Vorschlägen zu verbessern.

Der Service sollte es den Kunden eine grössere Transparenz im Lebensmittelmarkt bieten. Während einige Produzenten diese Transparenz gerne gewähren werden sich andere stark (wenn auch im Hintergrund) dagegen wehren. Auf eine Längerfristige Sicht, werden sich aber auch diese gezwungen sehen ihre Prozesse zu überdenken um Transparenz bieten zu können und somit wettbewerbsfähig zu bleiben.

The things we have to learn before we do them, we learn by doing them.

—Aristoteles

Eine der wichtigsten Erkenntnisse, die ich in den letzten 3 Monaten gewonnen habe. Dieser Satz hat für mich zwei Bedeutungen, die nicht ganz eindeutig zu trennen sind.

  1. Sich Gedanken zu machen ist wichtig um nicht zu sagen unentbehrlich. Da wir aber in unserem Denkevermögen ziemlich eingeschränkt sind, müssen wir zu anderen Mitteln greiffen um unsere Ideen und Pläne auszuarbeiten und umzusetzen. Wir gewinnen Erkenntnisse im Machen und Ausprobieren. Wir müssen Fehler machen um weiterzukommen. Wir können nicht alles im Voraus wissen.
  2. Ich habe immer das Gefühl gehabt ich müsse, bevor ich etwas mache/ kreiere alles darüber wissen, und zwar von Grund auf. Falsch! Theorie und intelektuelle Grundlagen sind gut, aber in der Praxis nicht einmal die halbe Miete. Viel wichtiger ist es ein konkretes Ziel vor Augen zu haben und dieses zu verfolgen. Alles, was nötig ist um zu diesem Ziel zu gelangen lernt man auf dem Weg dahin.

Substratum

Dies ist mein bisher umfangreichstes Projekt. Es beinhaltet verschiedene Arbeitsschritte und hat mich mental und zum Teil auch physisch für 3 Wochen in Anspruch genommen. Was ich aber alles dabei gelernt und realisiert habe ist grossartig. Vieles ist schwer zu beschreiben, da es meine gesamte Vorstellung von einem gestalterischen Prozess - “wie funktioniert ein gestalterischer Prozess?“, „wieso braucht es einen solchen? - beeinflusst hat. Ich werde jedoch versuchen mich so gut wie möglich zu erklären. Auch das Endresultat ist erfreulich. Eingebettet in einer grossartigen Website sieht meine Arbeit natürlich noch einen Schritt professioneller aus.

Zum Thema: Die Aufgabe war ein Teil des internen Projekts „Substratum“. Dies ist eine Serie von Interviews mit Persönlichkeiten aus den Bereichen der generativen Gestaltung und des Interaktionsdesigns. Es wurden 14 Personen/ Duos 10 Fragen zu ihren Motivationen/Einflüssen/ Interessen/ Tätitgkeiten etc. gestellt, wobei jeweils zwei Personen zu einem übergeordneten Issue zusammengefasst wurden. Meine aufgabe war es nun für jedes dieser 7 entstandenen Issues ein passendes Icon, zu sowie eine Illustration die als Coverseite dienen sollte zu gestalten. Die Issues/ Themen die sich während der Analyse der Interviews herauskristallisiert haben sind folgende:

  • Space
  • Visual Systems
  • Truth and Beauty
  • Superhumans
  • Algorithms
  • Facts and Figures
  • Collective Responsibility

Ich werde nicht den gesamten gestalterischen Prozess beschreiben, den ich durchlaufen habe. Vielmehr versuche ich das, was ich gelernt habe zu beschreiben. Um aber dennoch einen groben Überblick zu darüber bieten, liste ich die wichtigsten Schritte auf:

  • Icongestaltung
  • Recherche
  • Konzept
  • Entwürfe der Icons
  • Fokus auf einen Approach
  • Variationen der Issues
  • Definitive Icons
  • Illustration
  • Recherche
  • Entwürfe von verschiedenen Approches
  • Fokus auf einen Approach
  • Ausarbeitung der Issues
  • Variationen mit Farbe
  • Farbraum finden
  • Definitive Illustrationen

Dies ist wahrscheinlich die gröbste Übersicht, die ich bieten kann um dennoch die wichtigstn Schritte zu berücksichtigen. Etwas was ich aber hier bewusst weggelassen habe, jedoch nach zwischen allen Schritten stehen müsste ist „Entscheiden“. Dies ist etwas, das mir in dieser Zeit bewusst wurde. Gestalten besteht hauptsächlich aus zwei sich wiederholenden Phasen: Machen und Entscheiden. Natürlich gehört auch das „Denken“ dazu. Dies ist jedoch in beiden Schritten vorhanen, und manchmal ist jegliche Abwesenheit von rationalen Gedanken auch sehr hilfreich.

Das „Machen“ beinhaltet alles, was vorher nicht da war und alles was zu einer sichtbaren Veränderung der Arbeit führt - Entwerfen, Ausbessern, Ausprobieren, Reinzeichnen etc. Oft ist es wichtig mit möglichst wenig genauen Absichten zu „Machen“ - etwas, das mir sehr schwer fällt, da ich immer allem gleichzeitig gerecht werden will. Es gehört ein gewisser Mut dazu etwas auszuprobieren, das den Rahmen sprengt (manchmal in einem sehr bildlichen Sinn). Es erfordert eine gewisse „just-do-it-Mentalität“, Dinge aunzupacken, deren Resultat noch nicht einmal im Kopf exisitiert. 

Das Entscheiden seinerseits erfordert es jeweils eine Teilmenge des Gemachten auszuwählen. Dies geschieht jeweils anhand von unterschiedlichen Kriterien. Zwei Hauptkriterien sind die Dienlichkeit für den Zweick, sowie persönliche Vorlieben. 

Das Gestalten besteht also aus verschiedenen Wiederholungen vom Schaffen von Vorschlägen und dem Treffen einer Auswahl, mit der die nächsten Vorschläge gemacht werden. Ich habe gemerkt, dass es für den gestalterischen Prozess genau so hinderlich sein kann keine Entscheidungen zu treffen, wie keine Vorschläge zu haben. 

Ist die auszeichnende Fähigkeit nun das Treffen der richtigen entscheidung? Wahrscheinlich nicht.  Das Treffen von Entscheidungen ist zwar essentiell, jedoch kann es nur soviel bewirken, wie die Qualität der Vorschläge es zulässt. Schlussendlich ist das Gestalten immernoch ein komplexer Prozess, der viele Faktoren beinhaltet und auf Erfahrungen, Wissen und Gefühlen beruht. Jedoch habe ich gemerkt, dass es immer wieder hilfreich ist sich das Prinzip vom Machen und vom Entscheiden in Erinnerung zu rufen. Vorallem dann, wenn man das Bild vor lauter Striche nicht mehr sieht.

Dies ist natürlich nicht immer ganz so einfach. Im Kopf entstehen sehr schnell Ideen. Diese dann auf Papier resp. auf den Bildschrim zu bringen ist etwas anderes.

Um doch noch etwas von der eigentlichen Arbeit zu zeigen, habe ich zu den einzelnen Schritten jeweils ein Bildschrimausschnitt gewählt und kurz beschrieben.

Dies ist ein Ausschnitt aus der Recherche. Ich habe die einzelnen Bilder nach grafischen Kriterien wie Farbe, Formen und Räumlichkeit geordnet.

Dies sind verschiedene Entwürfe und Konzepte, wie die Icon Familie einwickelt werden könnte.

Bei der oberen Hälfte geht es um verschiedene grafische Stile/ Möglichkeiten die Ions zu verändern.

Unten sind Varianten zu sehen, die Themen der Issues darzustellen.

Dies sind verschiedene Möglichkeiten zur Ausarbeitung der einzelnen Ions.

Dies sind Entwürfe der Illustrationen.

Dies sind verschiedene Farbpaletten für die Hintergrundfarbe der Coverbilder.

Die fertigen Ions sowie Illustrationen resp. die Interviews werden ab Anfang November im Wochentakt veröffentlicht.