10-Q-2-D-i : Evaluating a concept through the 10 Questions to Design ideation

Design processes have evolved over the time and every design initiative formulates their own design processes which they have mastered in. As a design student, it’s often tough and riskier equation to compare the processes and evolve accordingly in time. Although the beauty of a creativity process seemingly lay in the evolution journey, an organized methodology helps in evaluating a journey and return back to milestones if and when needed.

It has often been experienced, spoken of and written that a design idea has to be assessed from multiple horizons so as to understand the overall impact of the idea and also predict the future scenarios the design intervention can lead to.

The linked article by Bert Brautigam beautifully compiles the holistic perspective one requires for a design to survive and evolve.

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Bert’s illustration of the holistic product preview

Pursuing my graduation project on systemic well being cultivation through circular economy, I was researching on the initial concepts for designing for circular economy, and compiling the various levels of upgradations that design can offer whether intervening from a product design purview or a system design one, the following process integrates all of them:

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With the given direction (section 2), the design process can either begin with (A) a projected change (backed by references in terms of case studies, ethnographic researches, and experiments), (B) a problem statement (a perceived problem, locally or globally or both), or (C) an ideology (the ideology needs to become a theory first, validated and backed by facts and figures for universal understanding).

All of these, together, forms the method for solution and directs us towards proposing a concept solution or action. There are approximately 10 important questions that we need to be sure about while proposing or conceptualizing a design intervention (the questions are highlighted in the above map). These questions facilitate the following: (i) perceived social and environmental impact, (ii) offered user experiences, (iii) narrative for process awareness and empathetic relationship, (iv) evaluation of manufacturing and production-consumption cycle, (v) opportunities for future development, and (vi) cognitive evolution in the projected project timeline. 

With this in mind, I was curious about how the idea originates and the holistic factors that help us in narrating the design thinking to systems thinking and move for a zoomed-out preview of the given area of intervention. This led me to the compile the following study map:

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Analyzing the quest to think holistic

Compiling all of them, here’s a new tool to evaluate an ideation and conceptual model holistically and creating a systemic view of the developed concept. This tool is intended for self-assessment while co-creating ideas and concepts. You can use it in groups or all by yourself and have a holistic impact assessment of the ideated concept.

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10-Q-2-d-i : Evaluate a design through 10 set of trigger questions

Cheers!

Play, save, build – an interactive replacement to throw away behavior

In these recent years, there has been an enormous increase in the amount of plastic wastes trying to penetrate the consumption behavior of the inhabitants of these aesthetically calm and usually careful-about-environment places, I stumbled upon this snacks packaging at a small chai-ki-laari (shops selling tea and snacks) alongside the highway NH-52.

With offering a common game in place of nutritional and more-branding-oriented product graphics in its packaging, this brand has been trying to cultivate a playful behavior and also as an incremental step towards reducing throw-way of them.

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“I have sold these for quite some time now, people tell me that these packets are worth keeping, they will come handy during their recess breaks. Who doesn’t mind to have something nice as ludo and saanp-siri (ludo and Snakes & Ladders), they play a lot”

“Usually contractual construction workers, truck drivers and travelers come here who want a short break and chit-chat. They collect it and save them. This free gift is actually something people want”

“Yes, I think many local people buy this over the the big ones (names a few brands) because it’s cheap and also with a free gift”

– the shop-keeper

With this incremental design change – a playful product graphics rather than an extensive branding, this product packaging has definitely been contributing to the overall waste-creating behavior of consumers even within its design constraints and available machinery  and material for production. An affair worth its effort for sure.

 

Design for tomorrow is not about mere problem solving but cultivating a better co-living ecosystem

Design has always been considered as a showcase of a plausible tomorrow that is aesthetically beautiful and meaningful to human lives. With the exponential growth of wicked problems in the world like climate change, design has to now move away from mere problem solving and re-design to something more inclusive – cultivating a tomorrow that is holistically more meaningful to everyone living in this ecosystem.

With countries trying to upgrade their GDP as usual and create more businesses and avenues for employment for its ever growing population, there is a heavy growth of required infrastructure as well as unaccounted consumption. With a growth in average purchasing affordability, one owns multiple cellphones, laptops, TVs, cars and what not, all in the name of getting upgraded to the latest technology; though the need and actual usage could speak a completely different story than the one the owner will in order to rationalize his/her purchase.

Another example of consumerism, if you look at the city of Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat, for the purpose of drinking water, people are habituated and prefer water pouches of INR 2.00 (as in 2017) than getting water bottles from home, just because it’s readily available at every nook and corner of the city, plus you get it chilled too. Since only a smaller percentage of the used plastic pouches reach the recycling facility, the rest (mostly unaccounted and unrealized) goes to the only hills the city has – the hills of waste, landfills in southern Ahmedabad. The roots of the problem, if observed carefully, is not easily traceable but is entwined among human behavior, cultivated habit, available products, evolved desires, awareness and induced ignorance. Merely solving one of the inherent problems may not give a sustainable solution for it might require a more systemic intervention directed towards creating a newer ecosystem – a potential ecosystem that takes care of the need and the environment and yet cultivate a new behavior of usage with responsibility.

Recent major industry inclination towards circular economy, social sustainability and environmental preservation has fueled many design projects in recent times that cater to a holistic ecosystem creation rather than just mere problem solving. Jack Barrie’s Hakysak (https://www.hakysak.com/) aims to build an environment of collaborative consumption and peer-to-peer sharing by bringing rent-and-lease more readily available and experiential – creating an ecosystem of re-use where one knows what to do with the unused stuff in their lockers. The fabric of Social Seva (https://goo.gl/onKyNL) is one of our previous projects that aimed to build collaborations, share resources, and facilitate design thinking among social service organizations to co-learn and co-create. Malav Sanghvi’s Life Cradle aims to cater to the infant mortality cases for low-income groups and and facilitate an environment of innovation of affordable medical solutions. Hasit Ganatra’s ReMaterials (re-materials.com) aims to recycle agricultural and packaging wastes to cater to building materials for the developing nations, exponentially decreasing the dependence on virgin construction materials. Sahil Thappa’s blog and graduation project Ek Prayog (https://ekprayogblog.wordpress.com) explores facilitation of an ecosystem of makers and making-culture, building co-creation and co-innovation an inherent part of product innovation.

Building an understanding on how design-for-tomorrow can work, I created a basic design framework that one can use to build an understanding and compiling thoughts for design intervention in order to build a world of well-being. The design process (as illustrated in the image below) can either begin with (A) a projected ecosystem change (backed by references in terms of case studies, ethnographic researches, and experiments), (B) a problem statement (a perceived wicked problem, locally or globally or both), or (C) an ideology (the ideology needs to become a theory first, validated and backed by facts and figures for universal understanding).

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Looking at the newer innovations and the global mega-trends (as compiled by Sustainia100, http://www.sustainia.me) the following trends are predicted as change makers in the world – (1) Cities as health promoters, (2) Making profits from unlikely materials, (3) Disrupting the electrical grid and (4) People-powered data for better infrastructure. This calls for collaboration among individuals and group of individuals from both the same and also diverse backgrounds and expertise, to achieve the goal of designing products and services that are both biophilic, humane and circular economic at the same time.

The time has come when the design pedagogy at design institutes should start looking beyond desire satisfaction and mere re-designing towards fostering innovations for a better tomorrow. Design pedagogy should be directed towards helping budding design students to challenge themselves, build sustainable ideologies and experiment on processes to tangibilize them into designs that can build a more meaningful and acceptable tomorrow.

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This article is also available at – https://medium.com/@bhaskarjyotidas

FULLUSE IT! – Sharing consumption

In the month of March 2015, Ellen MacArthur Foundation organized the DIF Hackathon 2015 simultaneously with at NID India, MIT USA and Cranfield University UK for 48 hours. Our team, we called it “Learn and Innovate”, participated with a team comprising of information technology hackers, strategic designers, product designers and engineers, all focused on helping the transition of the current market from being linear economic to completely circular economic. The hackathon was sponsored by Cisco and Phillips.

Project collaborators: Abhisekh Verma, Bhaskarjyoti Das, Gaurav Yeotkar, Kabyashree Borgohain and Tanya Swami.

 

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Designing a tech-enabled P2P sharing of lifestyle goods for the Indian urban population.

 

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Thank you for your time.

The fabric of Social Seva – Facilitating social service through design and systems thinking

Project collaborators: Alisha Nisar, Bhaskarjyoti Das, Ramanuj Nanhoriya and Prof. Praveen Nahar, NID Ahmedabad, India
Project Summary: Click here to download

In our last assignment under the module of system design, a part of the course of Masters of Design in Product Design, we evaluated the concepts of design intervention for creating a fertile-for-innovation ecosystem that celebrates the act of doing-things-together and develop the quality of interaction among all stakeholders.

The journey started with developing a complex mapping of the global and local wicked problems that existed in the current world and evaluating opportunities for design intervention. What intrigued us the most was the act of doing social service which, although existed in huge numbers, was still to make an effective action and keep up with the  exponential rise of population, rapid urbanization and overall demographic social change.

In India, there are around 31 lac NGOs, almost 1 for every 600 people for 1.2 billion people today. The population is exponentially growing with more people missing a good quality of life. This demands the social organizations and initiatives to be much more efficient and effective, and needs active collaborative effort from the country’s idea-rich growing population.

While studying the wicked problems prevalent in the society, we saw various levels of complex inter-dependencies and solving one aspect of the problem at a time gives rise to several others. Hence, solving such wicked problems require a system level approach rather than a linear one. One has to intervene into not just the problem but all its inter-dependencies simultaneously in order to find an effective solution that adds value to the society.

Systems thinking, as a design tool or methodology, put into action to understand the complexity of the inter-connected factors for social service can help us celebrate the inconsistencies of the problem and yet facilitate designing and devising processes to realize the vision of action.

Compiling and mapping some of the different design tools and approaches to understand the well woven fabric of social service, we started to look at the entire arena by zooming in and out. Following are few of the theoretical research mappings: (the subject of the map is highlighted on each image)

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We simultaneously created a holistic and discreet understanding of the intent of the project and also evaluated the driving forces that projects a probable design intervention in the arena of social service.

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The intent of the project had developed to the idea of transforming to a new civilization which understands the need of a quality interaction and the idea of creating and doing things together in a much more engaged and holistic manner which encompasses the need of empathy between stakeholders and understanding not on a point-to-point basis but also understanding the bigger picture with the points as leverage points of the entire designed or evolved system.

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We reached out to several individuals, groups and NGOs working in the field of social service based in and around Ahmedabad and understood their layers of work, visions and ideologies, quality of interaction and empathy among the volunteers and participants of the social work.

We conducted several design workshops with the volunteers and workers of NGOs in order to assess the overall societal and social impact and co-create both efficient and effective ways of reaching their vision along with celebrating their own and unique ways of engaging in a social activity. These also helped us in understanding the problems discreetly and much more empathetically. We also realized that apart from putting across an analytical and logical perspective to co-research the leverage points and co-create ideas for change, it was important to understand and evaluate through subjective and individualistic perspectives.

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We subsequently created several iterations to visualize the problems and generate tools to facilitate the design upgradation of actions and actions in systems for design disruption.

Compiling the entire study, we devised a connected systems giga-map to understand the global picture of the project as a whole:

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The Fabric of Social Seva

Simultaneously, we co-developed a workbook for facilitating and enhancing the act of social service and help humanitarians do a self-impact-assessment, using design tools specifically developed for this context. This document can be printed, shared and collaboratively used for realizing effectiveness along with efficiency.

 THE SOCIAL SEVA WORKBOOK  v alpha 1.0, Published on May 10, 2016

 The complete documentation of the project,

THE FABRIC OF SOCIAL SEVA,  Complete Documentation, Published on May 10, 2016