Category Archives: Thoughts

etymonline.com: O.E. þoht, geþoht, from stem of þencan “to conceive of in the mind, consider” (see think). Cognate with the second element in Ger. Gedächtnis “memory,” Andacht “attention, devotion,” Bedacht “consideration, deliberation.”

Metamorphosis

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these are some of the slides which I used for my Pecha Kucha last week. We have to start with ourselves if we want to change the world to the better…

 

 

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Norwegian Woods

I just came back from a trip to the forest which I helped to organize. My initial idea was to use this trip as a small test project for my MA research (and I also encouraged my other classmates to do so) – but I forgot about something very important: TIMING and TIME OFF. I realize that I start to see my whole life as “a project”. Work and life merge into one and it feels great because I can do what I love to do in the very moment.
But it is also important to remain aware of the difference between the both – the forest trip for instance was for life and not for work. After working on our research portfolios and after a long semester, no one of us felt like driving our projects forward. Instead we wanted to have some quality time together, share food, laughter and space. However, I’m sure that ideas are often born in life and then translated to work, thus life and work remain interrelated. A useful tool for this “translation” is documentation – taking pictures, writing diary, drawing etc. This is what I always enjoyed doing (and still do) and who knows what will grow out of it…

Something that Mads and me tried on our forest trip, was, to make a dinner with ingredients from the forest. In a global world we tend to lose sight of the local and a lot of local knowledge disappears. If we can have bananas and strawberries all year long, who cares about the edible plants from the forest next door? Don’t misunderstand me – I embrace global food and I’m happy that I can make sticky rice or pasta in Oslo and don’t have to eat only potatoes all year long. But I think we should combine this with local sourced food.
It was a challenge to gather the plants – Mads and me both don’t know a lot about them and were afraid of accidently poisoning everyone. (I realized that we always suspect nature trying to kill us, isn’t that weird?). We also wondered how our classmates would react to that kind of food – and were surprised by the positive feedback. Mads and Qi even made chopsticks by themselves and in the end our self-made fishing rod got two fish at the same time – but our “forest-food” couldn’t compete with the chocolate cake xue ting made for dessert. But as I said: it’s all about the right combination :-)

Design as Catalyst

I want to share some thoughts and notes I took during the lecture by Ezio Manzini at KHiO, thursday 3rd of March.

Ezio Manzini – designer, engineer, architect, educator and author – is one of the most important thinkers in design today. Manzini’s works are based on strategic design and design for sustainability, with a focus on scenario building and solution development. He acknowledges the influential role design can play in changing our ways of thinking and living. Manzini challenges designers to re-orient creativity towards sustainable solutions.

(http://www.rethinkclimate.org/debat/rethink-technology/?show=bvc)

Even though the lecture was about very general issues and I did neither learn new things nor did I have many “Aha-moments”, I still enjoyed being there. The lecture was about Design as Catalyst for Social Innovation and it mainly dealt with a sustainable future where people are not only seen as part of the problem but as part and possible agents of a sustainable solution. Design not only for the need of people but design with using people as a resource: what can they do and what tools can they use to solve problems by themselves? Manzini says (and I completely agree) that there is a lot of technological innovation – but what we really need are social innovations that are based on a set of sustainable values and qualities. We have to learn how to live better with consuming less considering and improving our quality of relationships, the quality of (public and private) space and quality of time. I somehow missed quality of food :-) – but this would probably come under technological innovation.

Furthermore, Manzini mentioned that many things are happening right now in social innovation, which give positive impulses. People start to organize themselves, finding sustainable solutions for current local problems. I liked the metaphor he gave for sustainability: that first there were only some stars and then, constellations began to form. And even though people and projects are different, they move in a convergent way. Seeing historical examples, this might at one point result in a “revolution”.

Manzini also mentioned the advantage of developing countries and used farmer markets as an example. The modern farmer markets do not only sell products – they are selling a story which is a reason of their re-vival and success in western countries. Developing countries can move directly to this stage – avoiding negative impacts of mass-production and supermarkets that we face in our part of the world.

What I missed a little bit in this talk were examples of where designers actually worked as catalysts. In fact, Manzini asked the questions what professional designers can do in a world where everyone is a designer but he did not give any answers. The projects he shared with us, seemed to work fine without the help of professional designers…

The Power of Questions (appendix)

Talking to Maziar several days ago, I realized that my previous entry about the “Power of questions” was in some aspects misleading. Maybe I should add a new post about the power of words :-)

To be clear: I’m not for a rigorous education and I don’t think it does any good if professors/examiners only criticize students and ask questions just for the sake of asking questions and to see how you handle them. As in everything else there should be a balance – and particularly a constructive critic.

Maybe defense was not the right word. The part of a presentation where people ask questions shouldn’t be a defense but rather a discussion or a dialogue where everyone can learn and understand something. Actually, this is also what I understand under the “socratic method” – even though it uses the idea of defense in some sense, I think in its’ core, it’s not about defense but rather about gaining insight and having a dialogue. Today, I found a quote in my diary that I wrote down several month ago and which I like to share: Who has the openness and confidence to participate in dialogue rather than monologue? From my experience I must say that there are hardly any people who have…

The Power of Questions

Last Sunday, I went to Germany in order to hold a presentation for a scholarship I applied for. The presentation lasted around fifteen minutes and eight professors listened and asked questions. I was quite confident with my presentation but the part with the questions was rather tricky. A friend of mine told me that at some universities in Germany, a presentation is not called presentation but defense. This is exactly how I felt: the professors did not discuss “real” problems or deficits of my work but they simply tried to provoke me in order to see if I can bear up against it and to find out how much of my heart blood is in my work. I had to think about something that I wrote a month ago: that sometimes, I miss a positive negative feedback at KHiO – something that helps me to go further, a critic that challenges me and makes me rethink or question myself and my work in order to reach new dimensions… And even if I do not find the answer right away, I now realized that every question (and the attempt to answer it) helps me to understand myself and my work – so there is actually something good in defense. I guess it can be useful to integrate a sort of socratic method in our MA-studies. I will think about this and discuss it with my fellow students…

Needs

I started a small self-experiment (actually it was for my Pecha Kucha which I hold at the beginning of last semester at KHiO). These pictures show almost all cosmetic products I found in the bathroom of my parents. I counted 72 different products. None of these products lasts more than two or three years (the average rather one or two months) and none is refillable.

I think that more than half of these products are dispensable. Or is anyone of the opinion that we need three or four different bodylotions?? One for cellulitis another for wrinkles, the next to make our skin more shiny and so on? I have the impression that we buy those products rather because of advertising and fashion than because we really want and need them… And by the way: do we need ANY of these products?

These are pictures of all T-shirts I possess. When taking the picture, I found out that I have 30 T-Shirts  and I asked myself why I just bought a new one when I have so many fine ones.. I think it must have been one of these situations when I walk down the streets, look into a shop window and think: “Wow, this looks nice. Just 10 Euros? Ok, I take it.” When I look closer at my T-Shirts, I realize that I wear only few of them often – the ones that you can see in the second picture. There are even some T-Shirts which I wore not more than two or three times.

And I always thought that I am a conscious consumer!

On this picture you can see all mobile phones which I found at a friends’ appartment. In Germany (and maybe in Norway as well) many people have contracts with communication companies so that every second year, they get a new mobile phone for free. I really don’t understand why we need something new, when the old one still works (but actually I’m benefiting from it since I always get the outrated mobile phones for free!).

Can you imagine the impact all these products have on our environment? Maybe I wouldn’t mind if we really need these things. But seeing that we have so many stuff that we don’t need at all, makes me really sad! How do you feel about this?