Mira Kirvesmaki

Design with heart

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Change of address

So it has come time to pack my virtual bags and move the blog under my own hosting. I’ve out grown the usefulness of wordpress.com and even though it’s a very nice platform for starting I’m now yearning for the freedom that hosting the blog myself can bring (hurrah for CSS).

So I thank all of you who have visited me here and I kindly welcome you to visit me from now own at mirakirvesmaki.com/blog where I’ll continue to document my honours year journey. See you there!

Lots of love, Mira

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Mapping the journey

For the past two days I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the things I want to do in relation to the time I have (and I have to say, the ratio isn’t looking good). To start doing this yesterday me and one of my peers, the ever so talented Virginia Vila, did three exercises that came together to form a plan on how to tackle our projects.

The first thing we did, as you might expect when performing time management exercises, was a calendar. The idea for this calendar came from a blog post by Fast Co.Design on the benefits of having a linear calendar. Essentially the post describes linear calendars as a very effective way to help people focus over a longer time scale, a very important aspect in our projects. So we made our own version, marking down dates relevant to the project on it.

The linear calendar being born

The second part of this exercise was about creating a pool of design tools that we could refer to during the project. We basically jotted down all the ones we have used in the past or would have liked to use and then complimented these with couple of extra ones from the IDEO method cards. After getting them all down we performed a little bit of affinity diagramming magic and sorted them out into groups that we felt made most sense.

Searching for methods

Then on to the third stage. This was about creating a structure that can work as a reference point to guide us through the process. Thinking about the journey as a whole, what needs to be included, how long to spent on each part and in what order to perform them. Here, we were lucky enough to get valuable input from Lauren Currie (Director of Snook, she is also known online as Redjotter) who was quite conveniently at the university giving a master class to the Master of Design for Services students. She was kind enough to give her input on how she sees the design process as well as give us some more specific pointers on how to get the best out of our final year.

I have to say I throughly enjoyed the process of making this physical map, actually doing something, not just talking about it. I feel like having a physical board will really help to me keep track of things. This has gotten me throughly excited for the project and I really can’t wait to see what the journey will have in store for me.

One of the method clusters

The board and a peek of the view from our studio

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Design hero: Naoto Fukasawa

Last weeks tutorial discussed our design heroes and heroines, and the role they can play in forming our projects, so I decided that it was about time I introduce you to one of my favourite designers: Naoto Fukasawa

Naoto Fukasawa himself. Source

Naoto Fukasawa is a Japanese industrial designer with a pinch of an interaction designer in him as well. He is most well known for working as the head of the Tokoy studio of IDEO as well as his work for Muji, most notably the pull cord CD player. He himself describes his work, not as a showcase of his own personality or style, but as something that aims for clarity of idea and appropriateness. Working on each piece so that the shapes meet the conditions comfortably making sure that it is appropriate for all the different contexts of use. He sees the worth of design in everyday, small and unconscious actions as well as in listening and observing people. In his own words: “design isn’t something that I generate, so much as something that already exists in situ; all I do is give it concrete form.”

The CD player for Muji. Source

This quote really exemplifies why I find him so inspirational. His approach to design is something that I can really relate to and aspire towards. He bases his projects on beautifully simple insights and has elegant design responses to these. He has a deep understanding of human behaviour and the materials he works with and can use these to his advantage when designing. His objects are beautiful, bit it is really the story behind them that gets to me. But, it really would be silly to just talk about a designers work when I can actually show you, so here are few of his projects that I love:

Rice cooker for Muji

This is a pice of work Fukasawa did for Muji, which stems from discovering a break in the flow of actions people had when using a rice cooker. The object itself is beautiful, no doubt, but the reason I wanted to include it here is the simple, understated brilliance that can come from understanding behaviour. What sets this rice cooker apart from your average joe rice cookers is the way the lid has been designed to accommodate the serving utensil to be set on top of it.

In the task flow diagram you see how Fukasawa identified a moment of hesitation that breaks the fluidity of the task. He then used this insight to design a solution that allows users to over come this break. As he puts it: “If small problems indicated by discontinuity in a behaviour are resolved, then everything runs smoothly once again.”

Part of the task flow for using the rice cooker

The rice cooker. Source

Cordless telephone

The starting premise for this phone design was the realization that ever since the mobile phones started conquering the world the home and office phones have become almost obsolete. So this design allows the phone to take a dignified bow in the space it inhibits. To me this thought is beautiful and sophisticated while managing to be even little humorous at the same time.

The bowing phone. Source

Juice skin

This project is a true ode to affordability. These juice boxes have been designed to have a multisensory appeal, and not only in the taste of the juice or the visual appearance of the box. They aim to communicate the content through the actual feel of the box, creating an ultimate visual communication piece that gives the often overlooked sense of touch a place in the design.

Juice boxes designed for an exhibition. Source

I’m feeling very genorous today so as a special gift I’m also sharing two TED talks from two women, who also inspire me immensely (you are welcome).

The first one is from a lovely designer/artist called Kelli Anderson. She has an amazing way of seeing the world and using the everyday as her inspiration. She inspires me in the way she can reinvent the most common place of things, like paper, and bring forth qualities we didn’t even realize they possessed.

This next one is a hugely talented paper cutter called Béatrice Coron. She inspires me in the way she tells stories through her work and how wildly broad her sources of inspiration are. I’m also in awe of the sense of humor she brings to her work as well as a sense of location and sophistication. She makes the art works relevant to the places they inhibit through incorporating local stories and historical facts into them.

I used the brilliant book: Naoto Fukasawa as the resource for this blog post. This is where all the quotes are from. I’ve only started to skim the surface of who Fukasawa is as a designer, so if you got interested, I recommend this book as a great place to learn a bit more.

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Week 5 of project

Okay, so I know it isn’t sunday, but I’ve been experiencing some problems with my blog and I’m still in the process of trying to migrate it from wordpress.com to my own hosting. The look of the blog will also be changing along the way (maybe even few times, before I find the one that is just right) so I thank you for your patience while I figure things out.

But lets get down to business. So the previous week was already week 5, which is bit of a scary thought. The week started with a personal tutorial during which I was guided to look for an example of few examples that I could really draw inspiration from. Something that could really ground and exemplify whatI want to achieve. So the rest of my week was divided between the hunt for an example and more academic research into behavioural economics.

This weeks board then gathers few things that I found along my search that I think might be useful. And believe me it wasn’t an easy choice on what to include. There are several aspects I wanted to include, but there just simply wasn’t space for all of them. Some of them I couldn’t even capture (silly iPhone is giving me problems with screen capturing certain things). I still quite haven’t really found that single example that I could use as a grounding pillar for my project, but that just means that the hunt must continue this week as well.

Click on the image to see it bit bigger

Apps included on the board:

Day One





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Inspirations: notfound.org

For inspiration in the domain of doing good I present: notfound.org

Notfound.org is a project that aims to make better use of the 404 pages on websites. The idea is that people can sign up their websites to become part of the cause. If they do then all the 404 pages on their website will display an image of a missing child. Posting photos of missing children is the most effective way to find them and now anyone with a website can contribute in a small way.

I love this idea as it allows people to do good but in a way that is doable by companies and individuals alike. It does not actually effect the website as such as it will only appear on a 404 “page not found” but if enough websites sign up for it, it could actually make a difference in getting the images to a bigger audience. I like the simplicity of the idea as well as the connection they have made between their cause and an already existing platform. They are repurposing something that is currently underused and essentially only asking people to give something that they aren’t (in most cases) currently using anyway. 

Here is a video that allows the people behind notfound.org explain their concept:

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Making progress

As promised (see I keep my word) I’ll tell you a bit about the process I went through last week for getting forward in my project. As you might have read previously I was quite stuck with my project. I had several aspects clear but had a hard time deciding on a topic. It seemed intimidating to make such a decision without having considered all the aspects first. What if I chose something but then it turned out to be the wrong decision?

One of the things that helped me was just time. Having the time to do research, look into all the aspects and have a good think about it. But in the end this wasn’t enough to push me to a decision so I decided to compliment this with two small exercises.

The IDEO method card. Source

My first exercise, suggested by a fellow student, was about getting everything down. Writing all the questions I had and really trying to get everything I was holding in my head out. This was similar to an exercise I did earlier in the project but instead of just getting things out this time I was more critical. I started by asking myself why am I really stuck and really tried to drill deep into this by applying one of the IDEO method cards, the Five Whys?. So really trying to cross-examinate myself and understand the situation I’m in. So asked questions like why am i stuck, what is my goal, what am I passionate about, who I want to be as a designer, etc.

This gave me a better understanding of the ground I was standing on and allowed me to use these for another exercise. I identified the most important concepts that popped up during my Q&A session, the ones that could end up being the focus point of my project, and then gave myself only 10 minutes to research each. This exercise came from the insight that I want to base my project on something real, so clearly research was in place. By limiting the research to such a short time period I got a sense of what I felt most passionate about, what I wanted to know more about. Through doing this I identified good deeds as something that really struck a cord with me.

Doing flash research

As I explained in my end of the week post the idea I had was to be inspired by the progress principle but use that in trying to inspire people to do good. So using the idea that one of the major aspects of making people happier and more productive is simply making progress in a meaningful way and giving people the channel to record their good deeds, give what they do a prominence. Hopefully allowing them to feel like they’re doing something meaningful and through that inspire them to keep it up or even do more.

I’ve started doing some research into this and identified some other projects done in this domain. What has become quite clear is that tone of voice will be extremely important to get right. I do not want to to be preachy but I want it to be something to be taken seriously. I don’t want it to be childish but I want to incorporate playfulness and humour to it. Getting the balance right between these will require careful consideration and iteration. Another critical aspect of this project will be understanding the motivation and drive behind doing good.  So hopefully I’ll get to really utilise the behavioural economics theories that I’ve been researching.