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Unlimited: Designing for the Asia Pacific – In Review – Day 4

October 8, 2010

Bubble and Speak Breakfast Series

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, the Design Institute of Australia (DIA) Queensland Branch runs a series of breakfast seminars with creative people across multiple disciplines called Bubble and Speak. During Unlimited, interior designer Sam Parsons, Director, Studio Sam, Natalie Wright, interior designer/design educator (FDIA) and Leigh Carmichael, Brand and Marketing Director, Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania talked about their creative process and projects.

Even though it was an early start (6.45am for 7am), it was a fantastic way to kick of the day with inspirational speakers talking about innovative projects.

Emergent Cities Workshop: Keynote Address

Then, it was a quick leg across the river to the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) to hear CJ Lim’s keynote address to launch the Emergent Cities Workshop. Due to time constraints, I chose to attend as many talks, presentations, launches and exhibitions as possible, but leave the hard slog of workshops up to the dedicated participants…

This two-day workshop was to explore strategies for designing healthy, sustainable, equitable and socially balanced urban environments. CJ spoke about his Smart City projects and how a Smart City is “a vision, a manifesto and a provocation”, which integrates land with the urban condition to incorporate urban farming. His work is prolific and includes the design of China’s second Eco-City, truly a new way of planning to secure the future of our cities and provide quality of life for all.

Exhibitions and Launches

The rest of the day was a mad, but enjoyable rush to a bunch of great launches and exhibitions including: Tinsmith: An Ordinary Romance, by Barbara Heath at Artisan (check out my Q&A with Barbara here); One: Part II a group exhibition of one-off works by contemporary designers in the Asia Pacific at SGAR; Quench launching their new range of products at SLQ; Make Change: Design Thinking in Action (officially opened on Day 2) at The Studio, SLQ; Where we Live at Raw Space Gallery was Christina Waterson’s mid-project window exhibition talking about the role of the veranda in Brisbane architecture and Finely Bound: An exhibition of book cover design at SLQ. Unfortunately, I missed out on the Audio Design Museum launch and tour, but luckily I live in Brisbane and can plug into this great new venture at any time.

Small Answers, Big Questions with Paul Bennett

Then, catching my breath, I made it to Paul Bennett’s key presentation, Small Answers, Big Questions, which was well worth the scramble and bid to find a seat in the sold-out auditorium. Enjoying much of what I’d heard Paul talk about so far on various Unlimited panels, I was interested to hear more. Advocating for a shift in business and consumerism towards commercially viable, socially significant models for consumer products, services and experiences he ran through a bunch of IDEO’s projects as case studies to get across the importance of “talking to people”. Simply, “ask people what they need and they’ll tell you!” That approach alone seems to cut out a lot of the ‘fluffing’ around that occurs in project assessments, getting to what’s important: action.

Another couple of gems from Paul included something I whole-heartedly agree with: “if you want to solve the problem, you can’t ‘own’ the answer”. In other words, check your ego at the door and allow others to have ideas and be smart. True collaboration allows this and allows the process to run organically and efficiently. The other point was his definition of ‘modern leadership’ as “having the questions, but letting everyone answer them”. The role of the designer is to frame the questions we all want to answer – something that Kevin Finn spoke about in his presentation at AGDA‘s Queensland Talk Series, posted here. I’m really digging the whole ‘reframing’ approach as a new way of working, something that is quite liberating, allowing for really fresh ideas to spring forth.

No, the day was not over yet…

Aesop Late Night Supper

To finish off an amazing day, holistic, Australian skincare company, Aesop, hosted a Late Night Supper in their Adelaide Street Store (Karl Hilton and I photographed below by Tobais Titz). I nice way to wind down and talk with like minded Unlimited participants about the program so far and other things. I ran out of puff and had to make an early exit for dinner around 10.15pm while others stayed on… What a day!


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