Car ownership was a fundamental idea of progress since Henry Ford came up with his Model T in the early 20th century. During America’s golden years, roughly from the nineteen- fifties until 9/11, owning a car was the first thing on every teenager’s mind. It was a sign of freedom and independence, the visible expression of the American dream, and ultimately a social necessity. The car you owned showed who you are, what you like, and where you stand in the social hierarchy.
Things have changed. Millennials own less cars than previous generations. Notorious traffic jams, CO2 pollution and parking problems make car ownership in cities difficult, and smartphone- based ride-hailing services such as Uber make it less necessary.
Mental models areideas of how things are. They are not about how things are in reality – they are beliefs about how things work or should work. People’s mental models can be wrong. If they are, they tend to be persistent, creating problems and at the same time impeding the ability to fix these problems. Here are two real-world stories about mental models.
Organisations often struggle to change. One fundamental hindrance are tacit mental concepts, the foundation for both daily decision-making and the long-term strategy formulation of organisations. Once mental models have become taken for granted, they are held implicitly and can be barriers to novel thinking around a common aim.
Larger shifts in social consciousness offer chances for new product concepts.
The green movement, the emerging consciousness of our environment, is a long-term influcence which in the nineteen-nineties gave way to concepts such as Body Shop, in the early 2000’s supported the emergence of organic and fairtrade food, and in the late twenty-tens leads to the popular adoption of Veganism. It also changed corporate communication strategies: Petrochemical company BP, for instance, changed their corporate identity from a shield to a sunflower in order to communicate an image of environmental consciousness. Continue reading →
Company structures changed dramatically over the course of the last century. The structures and processes behind the production of goods evolved, and with these also the relationships of products and their users.
Adolf Loos’ “Ornament and Crime” is still regarded by some as an important manifesto of modernist architecture. But it has been strangely overlooked that it was also a manifesto for a dangerous notion of “cultural superiority”.
President Trump recently tweeted about allegedly photoshopped pictures of Melania. It shows that in our social media age, the task of editing images becomes increasingly important. The current market leader in image manipulation is Adobe’s Photoshop, namesake of the now common verb “photoshopping”. Photoshop is part of Adobe Creative Cloud, a subscription service for image software which generated a revenue of over 1 billion US$ in 2017.
The playing field is changing with a new breed of image software powered by Generative Adversarial Networks. Photoshop features intricate workflow processes, making it useful only for trained specialists. AI-powered image manipulation is however capable of much more, with the potential for a much larger market.
New bridge for the Accademia, Alessandro Mendini, Biennale di Venezia, 1985
In European living spaces, the classical credenza was an important interior object full of meaning. Depending on the household, it was in the the kitchen or in the dining room, containing objects which could reveal the status, memory and history of a family – plates, cutlery, candlesticks.
For the event FUTURE CITY at MAK Vienna, I invited three creatives to collaborate and show perspectives for the future of cities. I asked: In the not too distant future, how will we get from home to work? How will we dress and express ourselves? How will we nourish ourselves?
Performance at MAK Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna with fashion by Dr Noki, sculptures by Kristiane Kegelmann, and visuals by myself
Form follows function: The most famous slogan in design. First formulated by Louis Sullivan in the late 19th century, it became a basic principle for rationalist design in the sixties of the last century. With machine learning, ‘form follows function’ turns to ‘form learns function’.
Digital machines such as smartphones frame behavior and instill new cultural and social practices. ‘Liking’, ‘sharing’, ‘following’ are relational activities which have been defined by social media and established as new normal in the shaping of human relationships. The phenomenon of communication devices prompting new behaviors and expressions is not new: for instance, the word “hello” did not exist until the development of the telephone.
Until the late 20th century, the process of design was mainly top-down: design was being made by designers, produced by manufacturers, and branded by corporations. In the 21st century, these processes of production and consumption are being rethought. The design process has to become circular.