2017/10/19 15:25 Max Jacobson, “A Building is not a Turkish Carpet:  Patterns, Properties and Beauty”, Purplsoc

Plenary by Max Jacobson #purplsoc Pursuit of Pattern Languages for Societal Change http://www.purplsoc.org/conference2017/

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting,based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted by David Ing.

Introduction by Hajo Neis

Last year at PUARL, emphasis on beauty

Max Jacobson was associate of Center for Environmental Structure at Berkeley, 1971-1974

  • 1973 Ph.D. on design process
  • With Murray Silverstein, formed architecture firm
  • Lecturer at UC Berkeley, and Vallejo Valley College
  • Now at USF

An Invitation to Architecture, 2014

[Max Jacobson]

Purplsoc Max Jacobson

Was asked last year, most important idea?

  • Beauty can be created and enjoyed in our life

Patterns, Properties and Beauty

Will talk about beauty and order

Chris Alexander has always had important coworkers, who rarely get mentioned

  • Always has been the guru
  • Teacher

The realization of his ideas often go with those who joined him to building the buildings, write the books

  • Many here have substantially helped him

The Nature of Order and A Pattern Language are both concerned with beauty, but take diametrically opposed approaches

  • Do these approaches have the capacity to generate beautiful buildings?
  • Shortcomings

Part-time teacher, doesn’t get involved in administration of universities

  • An architect of 35 years

What is beauty?

  • In the eye of the observer?  Can be more specific

4 descriptions

1. The beautiful object is whole

  • Complete, not lacking anything
  • Also economical, you can’t take anything away from it, without hurting it, may stop existing as beauty

2.  Beauty embodies a truth

  • Exposes itself
  • Hides nothing
  • Shows relationships, human and geometric

3.  Functional adequacy, excellence

  • Not just mechanical

4.  (not discussed often) We demand beauty is not evil, it be on the side of the good

  • Moral aspects of pattern

Beauty generates pleasure

  • Physical pleasure, smoothness of touch, comfort of a well-shaped chair, corner where sun comes in, we feel in our body
  • Psychological experience:  beauty comforts psychological fatigue, ennui, angst; elevates psychological frame of mind
  • Strengthens our inner landscape

Touched by beautiful story of building

  • Force of emotion, don’t know where it comes from, may overwhelm us

Intellectual pleasure

  • Source, truth
  • Can range
  • Beautiful distances, geometries

Beauty gives different types of pleasure

  • Comfort, satisfaction
  • Also, challenges, and can be a little fearful
  • We’re drawn to some these challenges

In the 1960s and 1970s in Berkeley, weren’t concerned with the highest achievement of architects

  • Surrounded by good architects
  • Modern
  • Good buildings would be removed by colorless structures
  • Didn’t like what was going on, not only in building, but also society, e.g. corporate model
  • Stiff, unnatural, were tired of it

None of us working on pattern language had any real experience on building real buildings

  • Had client, design
  • Were kids with passion
  • Sara Ishikawa had worked for 5 years in a firm, the only one with real experience
  • No experience, go back to basics
  • Find a building you like, and ask, why is this working?
  • Working with the site, with the sun, or circulation
  • Extract patterns that you think explain it

Chris had published Notes on the Synthesis of Form, a Ph.D. thesis that turned into a book

  • Very technical
  • Quite mechanical
  • Difficult
  • Method of dividing up all the things that don’t fit, clusters
  • Chris has a reputation coming to Berkeley as the theoretician and methodologies

Berkeley had design methods movement

  • Statistical methods
  • That group asked Max to interview Chris
  • I am definitely concerned with making a good building.  Smell and touch … but are you at peace with yourself?
  • This didn’t belong in the design methods group
  • In the interview, when he said good, he meant beautiful
  • Denied that Notes on a Synthesis of Form was a method
  • It was a way of getting at beauty
  • That would have surprised many people, an analytical work aimed at creating beauty

Being at peace with yourself, and beauty:  emerged in The Nature of Order, but not in the A Pattern Language book

  • A Pattern Language was just solutions, some good and some not so good
  • Beauty doesn’t exist in the A Pattern Language book

In spite of saying it’s not a design method, it’s pretty straightforward

  • Choose patterns from book
  • Apply in appropriate order
  • … That is a method

The book doesn’t give any advice on the proper attitude:  you don’t have to be at peace with yourself

  • If you do it, peace descends on you
  • Don’t have to worry about the design fads, what’s in the magazines, or what they’re teaching in architectural schools
  • Empowering to the person using it
  • Fun, a nice experience

Book was designed for laymen to use, anybody

  • Hoped architecture students would use it
  • Maybe architects would use it

Book has been popular with layman, but not with profession

  • The word architect never appears
  • Don’t need an architect

The book itself, in relationship to beauty

  • Has 1200 pages, yet comfortable, can carry around
  • Red cover, gold embossing
  • Pages are bible-like
  • Holding something valuable and beautiful in the book itself

Mainly Ingrid, find photographic images that could be the lead off for the pattern, inspirational

Six foot balcony:  show the beautiful experience, if the balcony was big enough for a group, a tea

  • Photo shows balcony covered, although that’s not part of the pattern

Structural of the book, from region to city to building to rooms

  • That is the beautiful structure
  • Each pattern is completing the pattern above
  • … and is fleshed out by the patterns later

Book is functional

  • Think people could use it
  • Was part of graduate work:  create a list of patterns, see if people could use it
  • Pattern gets used

Is the material true?  Yes

  • A problem is real
  • e.g. light falling on one side of a room may have glare, a problem
  • Light on two sides of a room is better

Is this a force for good?  Thought yes

  • Thought would move architecture in a more humane direction
  • Thought were were good guys

The majority of the Berkeley faculty thought it was dangerous

  • Some thought it was intellectually weak:  good for all, versus good for all
  • Basic human being
  • Others thought it presented a medieval aesthetic, rooted in Europe, not modern
  • Can see that, from looking a photos

Was taken seriously by Oregon, Kansas, Darmstadt

  • New school started in Italy (presentation at this conference)

Does the pattern language produce beautiful buildings?

  • A person said chose two patterns, and then contracted an architect
  • Authors of the book?
  • Before publishing the book, interest in responsive architecture
  • 1972 conference, presented 2 papers:  Alexander specified technical, e.g. no peculiar angles, a grid of posts, continuous …, angled braces between vertical and horizontal
  • Sketch:  humane room shape, suggests a post-and-beam structure
  • In Jacobson paper (with Alexander as coauthor) thick walls, easy to repair — Japanese House Plan
  • No Japanese layman could have built these joints
  • At centre, had to come up with a building system, had balsa wood and glue

Came up with not big posts in wood, by 4×4 posts in wood, would be easy to drill through and bolt together

  • Outside to be sheathed
  • As part of centre, asked people to come into office and design a house
  • Poeple said they could follow it
  • Schematic design, a beginning
  • Starts to work

Not in book

  • Need a system based in concrete
  • Structure too thin, not fat enough

Chris was more comfortable with mass

  • Had to build a test structure in the back yard of the centre, using lightweight concrete

Experimental house, build behind the centre

  • Max was a little embarrassed at the building
  • Too cute, too storybook
  • Rejection of wood — in some countries, there is no wood — but trees can be grown
  • Coming from Pacific Northwest, see trees that are being grown, ecologically attractive
  • Stuart Island Cabin, having fallen in love with balsa wood model, built a little cabin, bolting, creating thickness where there’s a window
  • Initially sheathed in plywood, no stone
  • Could participate in the building

Pattern Language book was done, last days

  • Max and Murray decided to become architects, Chris didn’t like this, felt a breach of loyalty, got mad
  • Got jobs to do houses, as so did Chris
  • Big difference:  he not only did design, he commissioned for construction, done by his students and associates
  • Max and Murray were typical architects, could have builders

Chris’ first house:  The Sala House

  • A post and beam house, he gave up on the concrete
  • Wood floor between beams
  • Sheathing is 2″ layer of reinforced concrete, in alternating colours
  • Used immediate labour, his labour, Seth Wachtel worked on this

Kuperman House:  standard construction

How did we do?

  • They both have some beautiful features, but also both had some ugly aspects
  • Neither was fulfilling the promise of the book
  • They were good-enough houses:  the neighbourhood is happy, the owners are happy, the contractors are happy

The pattern language improved the work of architects and lay people, no matter the level of skill

  • Beautiful enough to be good enough

Seth Wachtel, almost got fired by the Sala House

  • One way to get fired was to ask for a raise
  • Trouble:  Chris would set the budget, everything had to be done within the budget, no opportunity to expand, terrible for the workers

Chris felt the pattern language was inadequate to create beautiful buildings

An essay on the nature of building in the university

  • Essay is supposed to be a short book:  A Pattern Language is a little over 1 lb.
  • The Nature of Order exceeded 16 lbs.

The life of an object is similar to qi, the life energy inside the object

Think the 15 properties are a contribution towards beauty

  • The 15 properties define a type of beauty, an organic beauty

Cell structure:  all of the elements are there

  • They are the definition or organic

The mirror of the self:  Fractal Oak Tree

  • The similarity to your deepest self

Chris got better in his work, Max and Murray got better in book

  • Does The Nature of Order produce more beautiful buildings?
  • Same as asking if Chris produces more beautiful buildings.

In the book, he is undiscriminating in showing the work of his own building, others were also trying, and doesn’t criticize self

  • Not sense of growth or learning in the work in that book
  • Tried to apply the test of the mirror in own buildings, see some beauty, but don’t see the correspondence between what Chris is doing, and own inner self
  • More Maybeck, Frank Lloyd Wright — more bony, more slim
  • In Chris’ work, more European motifs, rather than a universal architecture

At some other occasiion, will talk about the limits of the Alexandrian approach

Alexander overlooks the sublime of beauty

Caspar David Friedrich, 1818, “The Wander” — standing on the brink of an outlook, precarious, sees the nature of the beauty bigger and scarier than himself

Starchitect:  Rem Koolhaus, Dutch Embassy in Berlin, have to walk across the glass floor, scary

Salk Center, La Jolla, sublime, not beautiful

Pantheon in Rome, has intellectual beauty, geometric ideas

Palladio, Villas:  interrelationships of numbers, nothing to do with beauty

Kahn, Kimbell Art Museum uses cycloid

Gaudi, Casa Milla:  catenary curve

Jefferson UVA library:  the rows of professors on two arms, students go into the professor, everyone at the commons —  a beautiful idea

Schindler House — Privacy for Two Couples — art studios, room for someone to stay

Be specific about what kind of beauty that Alexander’s whole thesis is about

Gropius House in Dessau — destroyed

  • We are problem solvers, we seek out puzzles, we don’t want everything answered for us, all of the time
  • Facade, not random opening
  • Looked for well-formed shapes, interpenetrations
  • No boundaries, Gropius didn’t give them, but that could have deadened the facade


15 properties and organic beauty.  House has levels of scale.  Good contrast.  It might not have much more.  Chris’ example include Japanese gardens (geometricity), Arabic gardens (abstract).  Don’t think just organic, not in the sense they usually mean organic.  Do bring together human artifacts and natural forms.  Chris’ problem is early work was it was too lose, not formal in the way organic forms are.

  • Chris is specific in the nature of order, i.e. mathematical order — isn’t going to get you where you want to be

Which patterns in book?  Patterns that aren’t in the book?  Procedure, how long did it take?

  • One that got into book that shouldn’t:  any building over 4 stories will drive you crazy
  • Process: sit around in the living room, Chris is silent.  Frowning, not happy.  We’re sitting around trying to figure out, what’s the problem.  After an hour, ask Chris, what’s the problem.
  • Other times, joyous, bowling over
  • There’s a limit to how much of the depressing process it can take:  the group came to an end after that

A House is Not a Turkish Carpet.  Flat, 2-D

  • Second part of talk was reduced
  • Principles weren’t developed from nature, but from carpets
  • Chris had studied carpets for years
  • Surprised that these properties are so applicable to the organic world

#pattern-language, #purplsoc-2017

2017/10/19 15:00 Richard Sickinger, “Pattern Primer”, Purplsoc

Plenary @richsick #purplsoc Pursuit of Pattern Languages for Societal Change http://www.purplsoc.org/conference2017/

Mag. arch. Richard Sickinger, Danube University Krems – University for Continuing Education, Faculty of Education, Arts and Architecture

Purplsoc Richard Sickinger

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting,based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted by David Ing.

What is a pattern?

  • A pattern can have a template
  • Can be geometric

3 attributes

1. A solution to a problem

  • 2. A way to do something, describes a need, an action
  • The core of a solution which can be applied in many different ways

Examples: in a farm in Austria

  • Dry milk can:  milk in the bottom stinks, so knock the can over
  • Properly cut tree:  cut the tree for uphill, so the sap can flow out

2.  A quality without a name

  • A quality of being in balance, free of inner contradictions, one with itself — whole
  • A quality of being in tune, fully intense, true to its own inner forces — alive
  • A quality of being original — free

Of Alexander 6, picked three:  whole, alive, free

3. A society which is alive and whole

  • Alive:  will not be able to become alive, unless they are made by all the people in society
  • Understanding:  By enabling simple access to key problems and answers
  • Participation:  By enabling an active implementation of the one best solution in many different ways
  • Identification:  By entitling people to actively build society through their work

Laying bricks, putting up a wall, or building a cathedral?

Whole:  like a seed, is a genetic system which gives our millions of small acts the power to form a whole

  • Supportive
  • Coherent:  each part enables and supports the whole

A Pattern is an entity with three dimensions

  • a universal solution
  • affirming whole

Grappling with destructive forces

  • Old patterns are losing validity and relevance
  • New patterns are needed and in demand

We need a new approach, pattern language approach of Christopher Alexander serves this

What is a pattern:

  • Solution, problem, context
  • What, how, why
  • Capra:  I definine meaning as the experience of context
  • Embedded in universal, reaches for quality, wants to support and enable the whole … in a network of pattern

Pattern 140

Example:  Business models, Tiina Gruber-Muecke, 55 patterns

The building blocks of societal change.



#pattern-language, #purplsoc-2017

Ubuntu L2TP VPN

Now with Ubuntu 17.04, since Ubuntu 16.04, I’ve had problems with connecting to a VPN that uses L2TP.  I found a fix through a series of steps, beginning with “Enabling L2TP over IPSec on Ubuntu 16.04” | Zaid Daba’een | Aug. 22, 2016, updated Mar. 29, 2017 at http://blog.z-proj.com/enabling-l2tp-over-ipsec-on-ubuntu-16-04/ .

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nm-l2tp/network-manager-l2tp
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install network-manager-l2tp

Trying to then configure L2TP, I found that I was missing a component. Instructions were at “Connect to L2TP over IPsec” | July 2017 at https://askubuntu.com/questions/934350/connect-to-l2tp-over-ipsec

sudo apt install network-manager-l2tp-gnome
killall nm-applet
nm-applet &

The “VPN Connection Failed”, so I needed some diagnostics. These were found at “How can I troubleshoot ‘VPN Connection Failed’?” | Jan. 22, 2016 at https://askubuntu.com/questions/16105/how-can-i-troubleshoot-vpn-connection-failed

journalctl -u NetworkManager.service

Based on those error messages, I found that the problem could be the ciphers. A similar error was found with “Unable to connect L2TP IPSec VPN from ubuntu 16.04 [duplicate]” | March 30, 2017 at https://askubuntu.com/questions/904217/unable-to-connect-l2tp-ipsec-vpn-from-ubuntu-16-04

$ sudo systemctl stop strongswan
$ sudo ike-scan .com

Ike-scan returned a result similar to that example, So, in the advanced section of the IPsec dialog box, I added:

Phase1 Algorithms : 3des-sha1-modp1024
Phase2 Algorithms : 3des-sha1

Unity Network Connections L2TP Advanced


#ipsec, #l2tp, #ubuntu

2017/10/08 13:10 Alice Rawsthorn, “Good or Bad Design”, EditDX

Keynote @alicerawsthorn @EditDX

Introduction by Nina Boccia @nboccia Director of Programs, Design Exchange

[Alice Rawsthorn]

Good or bad design in light of sustainable development goals

Machine Art, exhibition at MoMA 1934

  • Curated by Philip Johnson, a student, who had gone to Baushaus
  • Championed modern movement
  • A year after joining, added design
  • Machine Art was first project in 1934
  • Speed, economy, convenience
  • Amelia Earhardt
  • Visitors weren’t accustomed, reviews were dreadful, letters of complaint flooded in
  • Now seen as an enduring influence on popular perceptions:  what something does, and what it looks like

“The Beauty of Life”, William Morris — lecture similar to Johnson

  • Nothing in your house that isn’t useful
  • William Morris hated this

Then, art context, like Pompidou Centre, more how it looks, not so much function

Citroen car, 1955 in exhibition

  • Fall from the sky


Fostered idea of industrial design

  • Can be damaging
  • Symbols of design beauty

Alice Rawsthorn at EditDX

Valentina typewriter 1969 for Olivetti, but it didn’t work, stopped production to so many complaints

  • Yet it’s still in design museums worldwide

Businesses and NGOs only thinking of design in this way is limiting

Accra, outside Ghana

  • Where waste goes to die
  • Can design be used to clean this up, instead of filling it with junk like this?

Use in healthcare?

Not just unfit for purpose, but irrelevant

  • What should replace it?

Defining design

Design is an agent of change that can help us to make sense of what is happening, and to turn it to our advantage.

  • Changes could be economical, social …
  • Doesn’t have to be scary
  • Need this, right now, for speed and scale

Women’s march on London:  Too much to fit on one sign

  • Terrorism
  • Accelerating science and technology
  • Refugee crisis

Design isn’t a panacea, but can help … if society allows it to do so

  • Only if process includes design as good and bad

Non-negotiable quality since 1880, usefulness

  • Why consider desirable if not useful?

New Bus for London 2012 (new Routemaster), replacing 1954 model Routemaster

  • Named the Boris bus
  • New Routemaster looks good, when you see a lot more together
  • Quality of engineering is so poor, it breaks down
  • Diesel breakdowns
  • Overheating for passengers
  • It’s too unreliable to be useful
  • Tasteful rubbish is still rubbish:  Reyner Banham

Digital product:  Google Glass

  • Seems so exciting at Google, thought the rest of us would wear them
  • The look dodgy, don’t do much more than phones
  • Triggered court cases
  • Mocked
  • Sales poor, stopped making them in 2013
  • Wasn’t useful, although it serve function

Useful needs to be combined with third, integrity

  • If concerned with manufacturing, distribution, etc. … it can’t be consider as good design

Roland Barthes:  any pleasure from car is blighted by it being a gas-guzzling economic bomb

Apple iPhone:  following physics in the hand

  • But environmental impact, and workers?
  • Apple has made some progress, but still worry
  • Can’t possibly look at them anymore
  • Or Dublin taxes

Fairphone:  sustainable

  • Know they’re trying to develop as responsibility and sustainable as possible
  • Without integrity, can’t be designed responsibility

Razor wire on fence at Calais, to prevent refugees from leaving France

  • Homeless spikes to stop people from sleeping there
  • Purpose is odious
  • No integrity

Another response:  Talking Hands, Treviso in Italy

  • Many refugees on their way through
  • Most living illegally, nothing to do
  • Can’t be employed legally
  • Local designers set up and run talking hands workshops
  • Hand skills, focusing on skills the refugees already have
  • Carpentry, embroidering
  • An example of good design, empathic, useful

Useful and integrity, changes beauty

Material quality

  • Shapes come in and out of fashion

Postmodernism 1980s

  • Neo-rationalism in 1990s
  • Now, Chinese design:  objects 3-D printed, reminiscent of what we see on our screen
  • 3D printing, ever more innate intricacy

Cookery, bone china with chisel

  • Chisel was thought too coarse for porcelain
  • Singularity
  • Looks different from different heights and views
  • Creates an optical illusion that each piece is unique

Singularity rising, because of digitalization making things uniform

Politics of personal identity, radical redefinition of identity and gender

  • Being biologically black
  • Feminism, transgenderism
  • Increasing fluidity gender
  • Facebook tried to add 58 types of options, but then people complained that they couldn’t express themselves, Facebook responded with a freeform field
  • Fashion graphics can reflect colours, political concerns
  • Can use digital manufacturing systems, become more affordable and accessible

Are we going to exercise choice?

  • Not everyone wants to cook their own food
  • But do-it-yourself is becoming popular
  • Pleasure of making
  • Exposure to digital technologies, making us more sensitive to touch


  • Light fixture manufacture, Simon 100, no physical cues
  • We’re so accustomed to using phones by touch, we know how to use it
  • Too sharp, too wet, too slippery is uncomfortable

Hardware of tablet:

  • Pull to refresh, scrolling down a screen
  • NY Times:  few scientific articles on touch
  • Haptic software

Greater understanding of materials

  • Form becoming function is less important, with material become more important

Some important design projects that are good

Georg stool by Chris L. Halstrøm, a simple wooden stool manufactured in Denmark

  • Won awards, on old fashion merits
  • Political subtext, gender fluidity
  • Visualizing how it will be used, despite gender
  • Uses texture, as sense of touch is less likely to be stereotyped
  • String attaches to stool, individual can adjust to be comfortable
  • Everyone is free to interpret as they wish

Wecyclers, Lagos Nigeria

  • African designers at the vanguard, compelling projects, with humanitarian goals
  • Adebiyi Fatai Mabadeje
  • Recyclable waste building up in slums
  • Streets in slums too narrow for city trucks
  • Develop a service so that citizens can text cyclist, then trade for points, e.g. useful for food
  • 7,000 houses in Lagos use this, created 80 jobs
  • Contributes to sustainable production

Sehat Kahani:  improvisational design, to improve healthcare to women in Pakistan

  • Pakastan has shortage of women doctors, even though there are more in university
  • After graduation, women are pressured to marry
  • Network of tele-clinics, so that women doctors can practice at home
  • Tele-clinics staffed by nurses, in Karashi
  • Problems:  problem shortages, believing the women are real doctors
  • Addressed
  • Contributes to good heath and well-being

Forensic architecture:  Israeli architect, Eyal Weizman in London

  • Uses data to reconstruct scenes of criminality
  • Cameroon, evidence
  • Fostering peace and justice

All inspiring projects of good design in a contemporary sense

  • Challenges stereotype of design
  • Improve quality of life, rather than rubbish


Scale?  Grassroot projects.  Big powers?  Barriers?

  • Think scale is becoming more flexible
  • Empowering designers to work independently on complex problems
  • More funding, e.g. Ackerman, Gates Foundation
  • Downstairs:  Bruce Mau exhibit
  • The Ocean Cleanup project from Dutch designers, controversial, but has also generated a lot of support, clearing up plastic trash in oceans
  • $100,000 to launch project, ended up raise $2 million, now $31.5 million
  • Has prototyped in North Seas, next year will go into Pacific
  • If it flops, it will make it harder for other attitudinal designers, but if it works, it will make it easier
  • Projects have to prove merit

How can raise design philosophy?  Wanted to become a software designer, thought could change the world, build with information. Frustrated that there isn’t a language, but it isn’t practical.  Multidimensional.

  • Good news, there needs to be more debate on this issue
  • This festival shows this
  • May not come from specialist designers
  • Families will think of design differently, from coming here
  • Awful if people thought there’s not point in trying
  • The war continues, a lot of battles have been won

Example of female doctors in Amsterdam, trust?

  • Don’t know specifically
  • Have 20 tele-clinics, planning to have 150 by 2020
  • Have a lot of media support
  • Design community saw as improvisational
  • Medical professionals dealing with design in a practical way
  • Process will have been speeded up
  • Could serve dlderly women, who have a lot of medical problems

Comment, some families will go home and have pizza, others will have hand china.  Culture, we’re far away from that.  Affluent get to choose.

  • True.
  • General public awareness of sustainability and recycling has increased
  • While not at level we would like, it’s significant
  • Middle England, conservative, are skeptical
  • Local city councils providing an effective recycling service, there’s been a radical shift from landfill towards productive
  • Even 10 cent fee for plastic bags in Britain, skin flints don’t want to spend, so drastic shift
  • Some people can trade for food, cell phone minutes
  • Design has a lot to do

#design, #editdx

2017/10/02 13:05 Richard Florida, “Urban Futures Keynote”, EditDX

Plenary @richard_florida @EditDX intro by @alexbozikovic


This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted by David Ing.

First time meeting Alex in person, Twitter buddies, direct messaging earlier today about World Architecture Day

First time in Toronto was with Lunch with Dick and Jane (Jacobs) at Distillery District

  • Then also lectured at Design Exchange that day

Today is World Architecture Day:  see the city as a giant design problem

Toronto as now regularly top 10 in rankings

Starchitecture:  now coming to something else, what is next after iconic buildings and starchitecture?

Born in Newark in the 1950s

  • City declined
  • Turned age 10:  wanted to be in rock and roll
  • Was there in 1967 when Newark burned

1980s:  Rutgers, Urban Geography course:  walk from Penn Station to the West Side, through meatpacking

  • Architecture at that time?
  • Architecture was to keep dysfunction out:  barbed wire, fenced themselves off, keep themselves out of the neighbourhood, or neighbourhood out of them.
  • Thesis:  neo-Marxist, structuralist, mother threw it out the front lawn

1987:  Moved to Pittsburgh, money by Senator Heinz

  • Even though factory jobs left, there were good jobs in research and development
  • Turn around with that?
  • By continued to wall out neighbourhoods
  • Why wasn’t Pittsburgh renewing itself?
  • Not a data person, decided to look at the numbers
  • Pedestrian problem in Toronto is similar to gun problem
  • It’s a design problem
  • 13 pedestrians killed, 33 cyclists killed
  • Saw interesting companies leave Pittsburgh, including Geoff Hinton (hated Ronald Reagan)

Ask students where they want to live, led to Rise of the Creative Class

3 T’s:  technology, talent, tolerance

Creative class, then have starchitecture — a signature building that you had arrived

  • Cautioned against this, in the book
  • Cautioned:  (i) building of the sports stadium in Pittsburgh, convention centre; (ii) watch out for the SOBs, the symphony, opera and ballet were part of the problems
  • Starchitects and SOBs aren’t part of the creativity
  • Street level creativity

Even Toronto got carried away:  architecture of great buildings

Contradiction of the Highline Park

  • Two gay people who loved their neighbourhood
  • Park in NYC means money
  • Became magnet for spectacular towers along Highline Park, that may be can afford, $15 to $20 million for 1 or 2 bedroom

Roger Martin calls, money for a Prosperity Institute

  • In the working class, you don’t lie
  • At Rutgers, learned that middle class people lie, people don’t fight every day
  • Houses in Toronto were hideous, had to double budget

After living in Toronto for 2 years, in 2009 Rob Ford is elected

  • Backlash
  • Intuition
  • If Rob Ford could win, then Trump could win
  • Brexit

New Urban Crisis:  Trump nailed it down

  • Growing inequality isn’t between income, it’s between places:  Nechansky?
  • Winners:  Toronto, Hong Kong, Vancouver
  • Middle of country:  Detroit, Cleveland
  • Winner take all urbanism
  • Crisis of success
  • Also suburban crisis

David Lewis:  the Jane Jacobs of urban design, Carnegie-Mellon

  • Cities will come back
  • Newark has its own Whole Foods
  • More poverty in suburbs and then in urban
  • That’s where Ford backlash comes from

Need to shift to urbanism for all

  • Maybe federal government in Canada will help, but in U.S. and UK they won’t
  • University, medical companies
  • Amazon pledge of affordable housing
  • More public goods, more public parks
  • Architecture has to change

Need a communing architecture, a shared architecture

  • Not cutoff-architecture, not starchitecture
  • If Amazon doesn’t want to put in a public cafeteria, don’t let them do it

Now seen a generation of students who get this

Article published today:  Trump’s gift to Canada

  • It will happen, but how will it happen

Are we going to something different?

  • Are we going to build a city where a cafeteria work can own a home and raise a family

Question:  Republished guidebook to Toronto architecture.  Annex and Chinatown haven’t changed much.  In those buildings, have fewer people with more money.  Streetscape has become exclusive.  Beyond the government, what can the design profession do to help?

Economics of design:

  • MBA students, 95% say they’re going to live in Toronto, then need the bank of mom and dad
  • In the past, it was about historical preservation, because wrecking balls were coming
  • Heritage, because the buildings weren’t worth very much
  • Let’s build towers in the neighbourhoods
  • Jane Jacobs said density in the absence of pedestrian scale is dangerous
  • Need to build more, but need to right sort of stuff that preserves pedestrian interaction

Comment:  Toronto architects were good at infill

Can mix architecture styles

  • Economic and design problems

Question:  Scarborough, plazas are incubators of immigrants.  Asked Jennifer Keesmat, what will happen to those people, said she hasn’t figured it out yet.

Scarborough discussion is about how to connect with transit.

  • Problem will have to be solved with Hamilton, Kitchener Waterloo

Question:  How to approach improvement?  Downtown, but most of cities, nothing going on.

When starting Rise of the Creative Class, was criticized about being a romantic urbanist

  • People will go back to cities?
  • Couldn’t have anticipated people coming back
  • Narrative emerged, e.g. Nuit Blanche
  • Happened before coming to Toronto
  • Pittsburgh, Newark, Detroit had emerging urban narrative
  • Want to spread the narrative, of inclusion
  • Not just a creative neighbourhood, need good parks and houses so that people don’t have to include
  • In book tour since April
  • Can rebuild cities, but making

Write florida@creativeclass.com, he’ll respond

2017/09/29 16:35 “Future of Design Thinking”, EditDX

Panel @EditDX @rsomerson  @CodeZebra  Luigi Ferrara, @jamescowan as moderator


This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted by David Ing.


  • by moderator:   James Cowan, former EIC of Canadian Business, and head of Maclean’s University department
  • Rosanne Somerson, President of Rhode Island School of Design
  • Sara Diamond, President of OCAD University
  • Luigi Ferrara, Dean of Centre Arts, Design and Information Technology at George Brown College, and Director of Institute Without Boundaries

James:  Start with “what is design thinking”?

Roseanne: doesn’t like the term design thinking

  • Designer at IBM:  Design thinking is a term used by non-designers
  • Term is used as an add-on, but designers thinking of it as a rigourous practice, strategy, making, doing, much more than thinking
  • Adding wellness to knowledge doesn’t made a doctor

Sara: Historical evolution

  • Northern Europe:  rather than technological change coming from above, best users are at the table
  • User-centered design
  • Then wicked problems
  • Ideo formalized it as pulling methods together, so multidisciplinary groups could think outside their boundaries in a wicked problems
  • Tools from ethnography, UCD, adopted
  • Sketching (using the body), brainstorming, creating personas
  • Has been reduced, partially by business schools
  • Designers are good at ideation
  • Thinking and making, thinking and making
  • Have used the concept a lot in Canada, with federal government to push outside the box of how funding is done

Luigi:  Term designing thinking has come out of business community for something they had previously had a limited need for

  • Was design, capital investment, then stewardship for 30 to 40 years
  • Changed in 1970s and 1980s, product innovation
  • Adaptive skills weren’t enough to handle rapid change
  • Who is able to do something, and work at the rate of change?
  • Saw design as a critical factor in success
  • Led them to understand there’s another approach beyond analytical, creative with scenarios
  • In design, opening up possibilities
  • Globalization is driving competition
  • Problem:  they want to latch onto design thinking, but aren’t comfortable with the design process
  • Messy, iterative lead to places that are uncomfortable
  • They want to systematize to find as something comfortable
  • Roger Martin, borrows from Greek philosopher, the opposable mind
  • Business isn’t ready yet, to have that much oppositional thinking

Sara:  Don’t want to generalize on organization’s ability to absorb

  • Some businesses find too disruptive
  • Have to be coupled with design making, generous design (respect for the earth)
  • Diversity inclusion lens
  • Systems thinking based
  • Will talk about Strategic Foresight

James:  Concrete examples of what design thinking looks like?

Roseanne:  Just think of it as design

  • A lot of industries are in flux
  • Have to reinvent:  design re-thinking, reinventing, not starting with existing paradigms
  • Notion of wicked problems, global challenges, rely on more than just one body of knowledge
  • Designed outcome:  intersections, collaborations, bringing rigour from different bodies of knowledge that inform that
  • Have a lot to do with education and training
  • Printmakers can always look at things in reverse
  • Group of students working with cadets at West Point, structures of cities to look at cities in the face of nuclear attack can be solved more humanly:  military mind and design mind
  • Student textile artist working with West Africa, wove stories into fabric to education of women on how bodies work and how to take care themselves
  • Then did visualizations on immunizations
  • Working with government:  institutes with members of CIA, DoD, running studio exercise for human-centered public policy:  how do you define a civic society?

Luiigi:  Design thinking uses the capacity of imagination

  • Not decidable problems, but undecidable problems
  • Change and time
  • Also seen design thinking in theatre
  • Disney Corporation used theatre metaphors
  • Theatre is a process unfolding over time
  • Industrial paradigm is always looking at the end product, functional perfection
  • But functional perfection changes over time
  • Design over time, that’s what’s different
  • Designing not a solution, but an evolution of solutions over time, that include communities of users of a postential problem
  • Not designing a chair, designing for sitting over time
  • This is the unexplored power
  • Many problems that have been intractable over time, people have been trying to solve them with one thing:  you change one thing, and then another, and slowly it all changes
  • How it’s generative, is at the core

Sara:  OCADU at undergraduate level teaches design thinking

  • Ideation, iteration
  • Has been a demand to ask about positionality:  design and feminism
  • How does my position play out into the power:  self-critical and interrogative
  • Different from design thinking previously, not asking about position
  • Foresighting is a more contemporary way of looking at future studies:  developing secondary research, maybe even primary research
  • Context and environment, looking at drivers, signal:  social, economic
  • Requires a depth of prior research
  • Developing scenarios, instead of a single solution
  • Baycrest, aging and brain health:  built carts that go into care environments, with caregivers and clients (receiving care), students undertake processes about the care environment, the positionality of people, taking in the knowledge of context, and how would be ways of transforming radically, particularly for the care receiver
  • Public policy:  client-facing services of the federal government, making it digital, online, seamless and client-centric, using design thinking tools in a deep way, with innovation centres, have received a lot of training, then piloted in acceleration centres, then in client-facing situations
  • Take a hierarchical environment that has been policy driven, administered, flipped
  • Use both foresighting and design thinking
  • Working with Heritage Canada, policy involved heritage should always involved artists:  what if you put artists at the first, instead of the grant giver
  • Coming for user-centric design

Roseanne:  Taking a blank pieces of paper, building something new

  • Artists and designers are comfortable in uncertainty
  • Not scary territory for them
  • People coming through sequential thinking
  • Problem when seen as an add-on
  • People come with questions, but spend a lot of time a the beginning reframing the question, due to rapid change
  • Multilingual abilities, see something differently, tweak the code, sometimes subverting it

Sara:  Intuition, other ways of knowing

  • Being highly sensitive to impact
  • Job as designers is to constantly remind human beings where they fit in technology change
  • Affective economy, how we live in the world
  • Capacity is important in design thinking, have to be careful not to strip it out.
  • Why are we doing this?
  • Can’t be value-free, has to be value-driven
  • This is why indigenous knowledge is important
  • Not moving away from disruption, but moving towards disruption

Luigi:  Business people deal with words, can be impoverished way of dealing with the pace of change

  • Massive change
  • Diversity:  we used to live in more homogenous
  • Future ways of living:  global village is now among us, it was predicted by McLuhan, now we’re living it
  • Have people with radically different backgrounds coming together
  • Language is a problem
  • The power that design brings is digitalization and simulation
  • By using tools, can start to use this
  • e.g. people arguing about density, but then have a visualization can discussion, and then simulation is more powerful
  • Skills then in interaction:  if you can create a design (systematics) that allows people to interact with the design, work through, and change, can change paradigms
  • Rather than a product, can create a system

Sara:  Traditionally, designers didn’t work with data in the same way, unless in infographics world

  • Now, showing that data can be represented in many ways
  • Now, data is god
  • Visualizations and simulations are important

Roseanne:  Perception, has to do with diversity and inclusion

  • As becoming better with perception
  • Big data, from the point of massive confusion into experience that helps others make sense of it


Question:  Responsibilities of designers to support things like the environment?

Roseanne:  Don’t inherently have the responsibility, but do have the capacity

  • Can bring the new ways to think about it, but not more than others in society
  • Designers can appreciate the experiences of others
  • Everyone’s responsibility

Luigi:  Most designers have an affinity, environment and social change

  • Over last 30 years, there’s been an isolation of the community
  • Designers can’t do things alone
  • Also a problem in the artistic community
  • Artists and designers need to work as citizens, and with other citizen
  • Was a broad social movement
  • Don’t just to things on your own, engage with others, and do projects

Sara:  importance of systems thinking

  • Commitment to teach sustainability, and teach techniques that are sustainable
  • Responsibility to hire diverse faculty
  • In Canada, need to look at truth and reconciliation, have to step up

Question:  Role of the educator in helping facilitate design thinking?

Sara:  Needs to be curricula that starts earlier than college and university

  • We don’t have design education K-12
  • Not just design thinking, but also innovation and design
  • Position design and sustainable
  • Haven’t talked enough about helping companies start companies
  • IBM and banks are hiring designers, but a lot of being a designer is to start own practice
  • Responsibility in a radicalized way, in the criticized way

Luigi:  Need to start earlier

  • Design education, need to start projects, but never took projects into implementation
  • At George Brown, now trying to take the project to reality, and that can inform you
  • Otherwise you’re only learning practice, and not getting the feedback from reality
  • Don’t really know what’s effective

Roseanne:  Have been starting design towards K-12

  • Can test and evaluate, culture changers need that
  • Looking at curriculum itself, don’t have baked instructions
  • You can’t erase history, but whose history?
  • Role of education, designing of 2048 when there isn’t ethnic majority, and gender fluidity is change communities, need to create curricula that are leading, rather than putting into margins

Question:  Artists and designers?

Sara:  A lot of fluidity

  • There are different methodologies that they learn
  • Art world:  Creative Time conference, artists role in transformative social change … similar, but maybe more disruptive than designers are comfortable with
  • Interrogation, critical irony
  • Design is more solution-ridden
  • Designers more problem solving, artists are going to construct and deconstruct the problem
  • Documenta, almost like being at Architecture Biennale
  • Needing to plan for nuclear war

Luigi:  Division in industrial design towards specializatoin

  • If you were an artist in the Renaissance, you were also a designer and an architect, part of a guild that created pottery, etc.
  • Creating art for people is an industrial concept
  • Traditional cultures, industrial world, then post-industrial
  • Pre-industrial, culture was created by communities together

Roseanne:  Audience, learning

  • Artists used to be about developing self
  • But now art is more community-based, more crossing disciplines
  • Designers were thought of creating for others
  • Self-conscious design
  • Harder and harder to categorize
  • Tradition in a contemporary way:  haptic, heart, mind
  • Design education has more formality in tools
  • Artists may have more inputs
  • Crossing and morphing
  • Steve Jobs as starting from calligraphy as a way to start designing
  • How do you find what you love, and what should you do with the educational path

Sara:  Reliance on different types of theory

  • Visual art was based on 19th and 20th century philosophy
  • Psychological, structuralist … ways of explaining the world
  • Not just visual world, but also text
  • Now reading across art theory:  critiques of race, more than design theory has, recently
  • Trying to converge in diverse ways

Question:  As chef, know design, how to use design thinking in antoerh way

Sara:  Would be fun to run a workshop on that

  • Urban agriculture, where you think from

Luigi:  At George Brown, are supposed to be designing the platter, Trevor is designing the food

  • Difference in looking at the sensory:  mouth feel

Roseanne:  Two food future communities at RISD

  • The way food interacts with taste buds differently
  • Nutrition
  • Food science
  • Set up lab, and play

Question:  Successful design and empathy?

Sara:  A huge history of design without empathy

  • In worst case, building of gas chambers
  • History of modernism, particularly anti-empathetic
  • Look at an empathy economy
  • It will influence what will be designed

Luigi:  Question may not be important

  • Wife is architect, and she was just tested with 3% empathy

Sara:  Being good at user engagement, she can fake the empathy!

Roseanne:  Self-conscious, ego-driven, unique, making it about me

  • Issue is a set of values
  • The more personal they are, the more that they will connect
  • Designing from a different set of values
  • Key:  understand the values, as you drive ideas forward
  • Work environments where you can bring those ideas forward into experience

Question:  Resources inspiring?

Luigi: Not a good book on design thinking, yet

  • Latest book from Ideo is about learning how to design, but it doesn’t describe design thinking
  • Go into projects, looking, finding out, visiting
  • Maybe it’s not a book, it’s an experience
  • Book is 19th century way

Roseanne:  How to inspire, build intuition

  • Not on the topic, different way of approaching the problem
  • Outdoors:  looking at things in a different way
  • Try a sketchbook, to design your own way
  • Can use camera in your phone as your sketchbook

Sara:  Believe in reading

  • Tim Brown, recent book
  • Idea Couture, idea thinking (for free)
  • Carl diSalvo, looking at adverserial design, agonism, support debates in democracy
  • Feminist theory:  Helene Frichot, How to make yourself a feminist power tool
  • Inclusive design research centre

#design-thinking, #editdx

Dissertation committees and privilege

Is a dissertation about the content, the student, or power dynamics?

Dissertation writing is very stressful, what with the looming job market, the high cost of living in many cities, the balancing act of life and health — all while being expected to produce intellectual gold. To that, add the anxiety caused by those committee members who either: (a) are not reading your chapters, or (b) are reading your drafts but have confused your writing for theirs.

The student will need those same people to write “stellar” letters of recommendation. So how should you deal with conflicting committee advice? Should you push back? Students who don’t might find themselves between Associate Professor Rock and Full Professor Hard Place.

Such situations are difficult for committee members as well. I’ve had several of my advisees tell me that a professor down the hall does not like my personal writing style and won’t approve chapters that follow my writing advice. And I was chair of those committees. I would hate to jeopardize my students’ working relations with those other faculty members, so I haven’t said anything. Until this essay, I guess.

As a mature student who isn’t seeking recommendation letters from the university, I may not be subject to the oppression that young career starters may have.  However, my dissertation has not yet been officially approved to move forward.

“Our Mysterious Dissertation Committees” | John Smith (pseudonym) | Sept. 6, 2017 | The Chronicle of Higher Education at http://www.chronicle.com/article/Our-Mysterious-Dissertation/241107

Our Mysterious Dissertation Committees