Last week my wife, Leslie, and I ran a workshop together at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle (Ensci, or Les Ateliers at it used to be known) in Paris. The topic we were asked to do it on was West Coast design - how design is done on the west coast of the US. We gave it a theme of “Change is Good”, with sub-themes of optimism, risk, experimentation, human-centered technology, and democratic design. Through a combination of presentations and activities we gave the students a taste of how and why things are done here the way they are, including how to do user research, brainstorming and personas. There were 14 students who were a mix of bachelor level French students and foreign students from various parts of Europe, mostly spending a year at Ensci as part of the MEDes. (Master of European Design - a joint, nomadic program created by 7 European design schools. Our friend and host for the workshop, Liz Davis, is the Paris leader for the program) .
There were two intensive days of activities, including the students going out in the rain the afternoon of the first day for a spot of “visual anthropology” to find problems with the Metro and Parisian streets. They came back with some great photos and insights that we were able to work with the following day in a synthesis/brainstorming session. This resulted in a casual presentation of their ideas at the end. We got the students introduced to the magic of Post-it notes, and as you can see from the photos they quickly got the hang of them! At the end of the first day we got some pizza and showed Dogtown and Z-Boys, a movie which nicely captured many of the themes we had talked about earlier. Most of them were completely unfamiliar with the history of skateboarding, and they really enjoyed it.
The students seemed to enjoy it, and Liz was “dead chuffed” as she would say (being English, like moi). Leslie and I enjoyed running it, though we were exhausted at the end of it - we slept for 16 hours the following night/day.
Madame Davis, our host, as always on the move
And here’s a wonderful prototype in miniature of a Metro station design, made out of Post-it notes!
And lastly a full-scale mock-up of a design for preventing litter caused by freebie newspapers on the Metro: buckets on poles and various other places in the Metro cars that people can put their papers into when finished, encouraging others to read them (less likely if left on floor or seat).
Thanks to Liz for the invite to do it and making it happen, and to the students for letting us use them as ginuea pigs for the experiment!