Creative participation

by Wojtek Tusz in

I recently participated in an interesting experiment during one of our class sessions in Managing Interdisciplinary Teams taught by Jeremy Alexis at the Institute of Design. The course puts graduate students from ID as Team Leaders in the IIT Interprofessional Projects Program otherwise known as iPRO. Week by week we are introduced to various leadership techniques as well as exposed to actual team dynamics through interactions with undergraduate iPRO teams in the program.

The experiment was a prototype of an exercise meant to reduce boundaries of participation for interdisciplinary professionals from fields not typically associated with creativity or creative "doing". It was designed by Shiyi-Li who facilitated as well. Short (~3min) clips of music were played and participants were encouraged to explore the different tools available to express what they were hearing. After completing 4 sets (songs) of drawings we shared our creations and discussed the way the experiment unfolded. 

Here are some images of the exercise with captions of some of the things that we learned from our experience. 

Images by Wojtek Tusz 

Welcome new and returning ID'ers

by Wojtek Tusz

Another exciting year at the Institute of Design has kicked off with weeks of orientation and the ritual "class shopping". On behalf of The New Idiom I would like to welcome all new and returning students. There are many exciting changes going on in the school as well as very exciting research and projects going throughout the semester. We will do our best to bring some of our thinking to the virtual space and hopefully inspire some new level of thinking in your everyday.  

As a little taster check out some of the work that our colleagues Knowl Baek and Keta Patel did over the summer with fellow designers at Moment NYC

"We are exploring emerging technologies, and environmental interactions leveraging heads up displays, specifically Google Glass, and design a new visitor experience at the Bronx Zoo. The new service will enable park visitors to access headsets, navigate the zoo, explore animal habitats, and stay connected with their party" -says Knowl a second year student @ID

Enjoy and for all new students make sure to follow the blog via your favorite RSS reader or on twitter @thenewidiom

-Wojtek & Adam

New Idiom Co-editors


Failing Well

by Laura Mattis

I have been hearing a lot about resilience lately. It's the core topic of Andrew Zolli's book, Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back, the central theme of PopTech in 2012 (directed and curated by Zolli) and the theme of this year’s Compostmodern conference about design and sustainability. What’s so interesting about resilience?

For me, it’s the implied optimism. Even when everything “goes down the toilet”, you know in the end that things will work themselves out. The natural world adapts and evolves to changing conditions; for example, coral reefs documented as completely destroyed could be thriving in 10 years time. We can expect little to stay unchanged for long.

Designers and engineers have had to confront these issues head-on, especially in planning for the degradation of parts and materials. What designers create won’t last forever and as long as we make products, there will be a weak link and failure point somewhere. The key question is not if it will fail, but when. WIRED magazine explored this issue in depth with Ford and their own dangerous issues of gas-pedal hinge reliability and fallibility.

Designers are frequently challenged to create the next best thing, but we should be reframing the problem. In a world where we can build anything, have you ever considered what would happen if our old products could find a life after our desire and use for them is gone? Design is all about "failing early and failing often" and is comfortable with ambiguous answers.

Next time you’re considering a design solution, I’d like to offer these thought-starters:

  • What if failure became a problem that was solved for instead of avoided?
  • Instead of failing early, what if designers built products to fail well at any point?
  • What about a future where products are easily fixed or could fix themselves, no matter how complex they are?
  • Over time as a product fails, can it become another, different usable product?

That’s sounds like a greater and more exciting challenge to me than creating the next big thing. Designers are optimistic people and I think people and product resilience fits well with our M.O. The ability to embrace failure is what makes the design process unique so let’s take it to the next level.

If we fail, we’ll just adapt to make something better, right?


recruit ID on the way...good luck everyone!

by Wojtek Tusz

We would like to wish all our fellow ID'ers good luck landing their dream summer internship or full time job. We are keeping our fingers crossed for all of you. Special thanks to our ID Student Activity Board co-chairs Maggee Bond and Sarah Ekblad for providing the much needed, New Bauhaus inspired, breakfast sugar and caffeine boost on Day 1. :) (Illustrations by the one and only John Trotti)

The bi-annual recruitID event attracts companies from around the world for a three day opportunity to interview and network with the Institute of Design students and alumni. Companies represented this year include Microsoft, Facebook, SC Johnson, Nurture by Steelcase, United Health Group, Yahoo, Goodyear, Jump Associates, Moment (NYC), Artefact Group, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Teague, Thoughtform, Morningstar, Siren Interactive, MJV Technology & Innovation (Brazil), Aquent,, ClearStory Data, Design Concepts, fuseproject, IA Collaborative, Inflection, Johnson Controls, Lancaster General Health, Lincoln Financial Group, Sears, Thrive and Trek Bicycles.

On behalf of all the ID students we would like to thank all the companies and recruiters represented at this year's recruitID for their new and continued support of Institute of Design graduates.

And finally a special thanks to Ashley Lukasik, Raina Russ and the rest of the faculty and staff in their support leading up to and during this event.


Hug a Rotman ID'er if you see one...they need it!

by Wojtek Tusz

The annual Rotman Design Challenge is taking place this weekend in Toronto, CA and two ID teams are making a run for it this year. The annual competition is a design business challenge attracting ambitious young minds from some of the world's top business and design schools such as MIT Sloan, Darden, NYU Stern, Stockholm School of Economics, Aalto University in Helsinki and others.

ID's Team Beta (Lauren Braun, Helen Wills, Janice Wong, Jorge Angarita, and John Shin) took top honors last year with their TD Stacks solution so the pressure is on this year's participants to defend the title.

This year's team's have been working hard for the last few weeks on a challenge brought forth by Target so if you see a lifeless Rotman ID'er in the hall somewhere, either a hug or a high-five will go a long way.

Good luck to both the ID teams!

Click here to learn more about the RDC and check out the video from last year's competition.

Wonderful India: a photo essay by Wei Sun

by New Idiom

Street life in India captured through the lens of Wei Sun's camera during the ID India Immersion Program (January 2013).

The Paradox of Transcultural Design

by aashika jain

The premise of Transcultural Design is that differences among people exist. That these differences pervade a geographical region and vary with change in location. Yet, we are weary of being cast in one and we talk in defiance or fear of them. In order to understand a culture that is different from our own, it is imperative to build or adopt notions that can be tested. These notions are usually an impression of the culture from the outside which help us work inwards.

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On storytelling...

by Wojtek Tusz

Almost anything can happen. This is where you find the creation of light, a fish wriggling onto land, the first word of Paradise Lost on an empty page.

Think of an egg, the letter A, a woman ironing on a bare stage as the heavy curtain rises. This is the very beginning. The first-person narrator introduces himself, tells us about his lineage. The mezzo-soprano stands in the wings. Here the climbers are studying a map or pulling on their long woolen socks. This is early on, years before the Ark, dawn. The profile of an animal is being smeared on the wall of a cave, and you have not yet learned to crawl. This is the opening, the gambit, a pawn moving forward an inch.

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