All posts by Bryan Boyer
Who is this mystery performer doing a sound check?
Not the greatest weather for our guests, but it's the content that counts. We're one day away from HDL Global 2010.
To summarize week 076 it would be easier to make a list of the things that we did not do rather than those that we did, so here are a few items:
- We did not finish the memo to the photographers telling them when and where to be
- We did not have a slow, multi-course lunch while basking in the sun
- And we did not make a playlist for after dinner
Since it's technically Monday as I write this, our big event starts in two days. In light of that, let's pretend that these pictures are each worth a thousand words and this weeknote goes on for pages and pages.
For the rest of the week this site will transition into a tumblog format, meaning that posts will be snippets rather than fully formed ideas. This is so that we can keep a steady stream of images and ideas flowing during the run up to, and during, HDL Global 2010. Hope you enjoy it!
For Yrjö Sotamaa, being able to visualize ideas, think on a global scale, and bind together different kinds of expertise is an inspiring mix of capabilities that design offers to the world. As he mentions, these competencies are just as important today as they were 40 years ago, which is why we're excited about continuing the discussion at HDL Global 2010.
This was the spirit championed at HDL Global 1968, which Yrjö organized with four other colleagues, including Juhani Pallasmaa and Jaakko Ihamuotila. In this video interview, I met with Yrjö at his home outside of Helsinki to discuss the 1968 event, its lasting impact, and the friendships it fostered between people such as Buckminster Fuller, Victor Ppanek, and Marimekko-founder Armi Ratia.
This week at HDL we began doing things labeled "final." Final venue visits, final guests lists, final head counts, final prep meetings. This is appropriate with HDL Global now less than 10 days away.
In anticipation of panel discussions which will use the HDL Studios as starting points, we wanted to share some of the outcomes of the Studios... but how do you present something that is in flux, under development? The format we've developed is called the HDL Dossiers. Go check it out—and if you like, you can read below as I share a bit of the thinking behind this format.
A slightly nerdy introduction to the HDL Dossiers
If your process is non-linear, as the design process often is, forcing yourself to use a linear tool is counter productive. Since most blogs and other content management tools are rigidly linear, we needed a new tool to support the work of HDL. We needed a new way to see our work.
The ease of use that a blog allows, as a simple long list of stuff, is great. But its not designed for content that is evolving. We wanted a format that would enable us to evolve a presentation of information and ideas as our understanding develops and changes. One of the important aspects of this is the ability to have control over how bits of information are located. Does A need to sit next to B to make sense? With a normal blog you don't have control over that. The best you can do is to post things in chronological order.
We needed the ease of use of a blog, where content is stored in a database and easily manipulated, with the flexibility of a sketchpad, where the presentation is freeform and maleable. And since this is a tool that we intend to use in the daily course of HDL's work, it needs to have a sense of history as well. It needed to be able to keep track of time by allowing versions which the user can then "scrub" back and forth between.
The result is something like this. Here's an image of the Sustainability Dossier in two different states. The left shows what it looked like before the studio. In that state we've just assembled the bones of the challenge briefing. But on the right the studio has concluded and their recommendations are starting to filter into the mix. Between the versions some information becomes less important (and thus smaller) or disappears altogether because it's no longer important.
It was a squeeze to get this work done with our already-ambitious HDL Global preparations, but I'm glad we did because we are finally reflecting a bit of work from the Studios. I hope you enjoy digging around the Dossiers and please direct any tips to @HDL2010 or the contact form on this site. We'd love to hear from you.
Leading up to HDL Global 2010 we've been digging into the HDL archives and talking to some of the organizers of the event in the 1960s that has grown up to become part of the Helsinki Design Lab initiative.
Jaakko Ihamuotila spent decades running Neste and Fortum, two of Finland's largest corporations, but as a young student he was one of the organizers, together with Juhani Pallasmaa and three others, of HDL Global 1968.
Jaakko kindly sat with me in his home for this video interview discussing his role as one of the organizers of Teollisuus Ympäristö Tuotesuunnittelu (Helsinki Design Lab Global 1968), and in particular the value of design when exploring new areas of knowledge.
For once I'm getting to the weeknote during the actual week itself. To start, a recap of some new things here in case you missed them.
The first of three interviews is now online. We started off the series with Juhani Pallasmaa recounting his experience at HDL Global 1968. Next week we'll have an interview with Jaakko Ihamuotila and ending with Yrjö Sotomaa the week after that. In the meantime, you can have a look at the Clues to Open Helsinki, a quick project Sitra did with OK Do to get the brain juices flowing in advance of Helsinki's World Design Capital year in 2012. One bit looking backwards and one looking forwards. We like balance.
This week was more of the same with regards to HDL Global: catering, AV, venues, transport, logistics. We've taken to joking about being wedding planners. Government, do you promise to love and care for design, in sickness and in health?
As part of the event we will be hosting conversations around each of the studio themes. This is an opportunity to leverage the work of our HDL Studios to frame a conversation about the globally relevant themes of ageing, education, and sustainability with particular attention to facets where strategic design may have a role. To kick off these sessions we've created video recaps of the three Studios. Those videos will be posted here after they premiere at the event.
It feels very good to have these three videos done. Not only was it a significant and hectic effort on the behalf of Seungho and I, but they're also our first foray into using video to explain our work. We've wanted to do this for a long time and the biggest outcome of the past two weeks is a reminder that sometimes you just have to force yourself into new territory rather than waiting for the calendar to magically clear itself up.
If you're doing your first video project while organizing your first major event, why not also throw in the first piece of HDL software? One of the difficulties we've been struggling with since the very start of the challenge briefing work is a way to organize research around fuzzy topics. Most of the research and info gathering we're engaged in comes into focus over a relatively long period of time, and we're often fickle when it comes to categorizing, arranging, weighting, and editing our sources. We like to test out different editorial decisions—arguments, ultimately—quickly and often.
Unable to find the right tool on the market, we decided to build one for internal use. We needed something more accessible than a raw database of content and with the possibility for more articulate relationships than a typical reverse-chronology blog. After experimentation with just about every knowledge management tool we could find, nothing felt right. Instead, we've been working with XOXCO to build the HDL Dossier tool, which is at it's core a 2-dimensional blog. If your average blog is a linear list of diverse content, we've created a place to keep bits of information organized in 2 dimensions, therefore allowing for more specific relationships to be built up between the bits. We'll have some more thoughts on this when it goes live. Next week, hopefully!
So it goes.
Last November Helsinki edged out Eindhoven to win the status of World Design Capital for 2012. This is a big thing for our small city and it has spurred many conversations about what should, could, might, and hopefully will happen. Everyone here is anxious to have the world come see what design means to Helsinki.
We're especially happy to be helping Helsinki's World Design Capital foundation imagine new roles for design within the public sector and there will surely be more to talk about on that front as our collaboration evolves. But in the meantime...
To get our minds working we teamed up with OK Do for a quick project speculating on the hows that could enable the many good ideas already flowing around town. This became Clues for Open Helsinki: a pack of 17+1 postcards from the near future.
Each card features a nice idea (illustrated by Nene Tsuboi) and a set of speculative suggestions for how the city might use everything at its disposal to enable activity in this area.
We're interested in 2012 becoming the year that structural tools such as laws, taxes, permits, leases, financing, and metrics become part of the global design discourse. In other words, we'd like to see designers more actively involved in—and engaged—by strategic decisions and Clues to Open Helsinki is a small step in that direction.
Check out all of the ideas on the site.
In addition to being a prolific author, Juhani Pallasmaa is one of Finland's most prominent living architects and he also happens to have been one of the organizers of HDL Global 1968. In this video interview, Marco Steinberg met with Juhani in his home to talk about the state of the world and design's role in the 1960s and 1970s.
As we near HDL Global 2010, it's fascinating to look back at these historical roots and see how things have both changed immensely and stayed the same. Next wednesday have another interview coming up, this time featuring Jaakko Ihamuotila.
If this was any indication of what we can expect for the whole of August, it's going to be a crazy month as we narrow in on HDL Global. Lots of things cooking right now—probably too many.
XOXCO are nearing completion on the HDL Dossiers, a new part of this site which will help us keep track of our focus areas in a new and exciting way. That should launch in another week or two, depending on whether we send them timely feedback or not.
Seungho has been drawing like a madman as he finishes up the artwork for a series of animations that Eetu and I are putting into motion. As I type this, one of nine animation sequences is rendering in the background.
We've also started sending things to press. This week was 14 A-frame signs to be used in our venues. Next week we will be sending badges and other bits. From now until September 1st there are deadlines every few days so it's marathon mode.
Tomorrow: catering decisions. Have you ever had a Sea Buckthorn Berry? They're delicious, good for you, and plentiful here in Finland. Highly recommended.
Speaking of food, Kigge, Liza, and Adam from INDEX stopped by for lunch while there were in town on other matters. It was nice to catch up and to hear about the Designing for Education student challenge they've just launched.
Everything else is proceeding as usual. The whole team is finally back from summer holidays and things are moving quickly. This week was tiring but good, a formula that we're anticipating a lot of in our near future.
Emil + Stephanie are developing the visual identity for HDL Global 2010 as something that's more dynamic than a logo and less rigid than a system. The approach is to create a mood in the imagery that hints at a broad territory of possibilities as we invite our event guests to explore new territories in leadership, decision-making, and strategic redesign. The material prominently features a photo illustration (seen here if you scroll down) which was created in a frenzied weekend of creativity. It looked something like this:
This kicks off a month of films for HDL. Each wednesday between now and the end of August we'll post a short film. Following this are a series of three interviews with some of the people who organized HDL Global 1968.
Things were already picking up in the Sitra offices this week as people begin to trickle back from summer holidays. We were occupied with a full checkup of our operational plans for September. This was a pragmatic follow up to last week's review of all HDL Global 2010 content.
Over a long lunch Marco and I looked at the calendar week by week through August, and then day by day in the final week leading up to the event. There are a lot of loose ends to tie up in the next month, but it's coming together pretty well.
And we also have something nice to look at. This sneak preview of what HDL Global 2010 looks like is from Emil+Stephanie: