Years ago my dad came home withsomething spectacular: a Palm organiser.Given I was ten years-old at the time,I was a little excited.It could do so many different things,had one of those cool touch screens andwas way smaller than our desktop PC.
It was the coolest thing ever.
I realise now that that might have beenone of the key moments that helped merealise what I wanted to do when I grewup. Making Cool Things, things just likethat PDA.
I translated that idea to a Bachelor’sdegree in Industrial Design Engineering atthe Delft University of Technology. There Ilearned about everything there is to massmarket products: the mechanics,ergonomics, material science, aestheticsetc.. But while I was learning all that, Istarted to realise something else…
By that time, the thing I used for the samekind of jobs was one of Google’sweb-solutions. And although that was astep up from the Palm in terms oftechnology, as far as I recall, switching toit wasn’t quite the spectacle. My realisationwas that maybe it wasn’t just the objectthat I fell for. Even if I were to make theultimate, most perfect product it would notmean it’s the coolest and most successful.The best Japanese Quartz would still lackthat something an original Patek Philippehas, the perfect Chinese LED-TV can stillsomehow lose out to a Bang & Olufsen.
A product is a part of a bigger story.
That made Making Cool Things becomeway more complicated. I needed to learnabout creating that bigger story, aboutshaping the whole of what the humangets to experience. For that reason, Istarted reading up on UX/UI designand started building websites, meanwhile Ilooked for graduate degrees and found theStrategic Design and Management MSprogram at Parsons in New York. A degreewith a contemporary perspective onbusiness and (product) innovation, thatemphasized talking to customers over coldnumbers and excel predictions.
The sum of all this is what I stand for.
A multi-facetted human-centred way of approaching the world’s challenges.
To ultimately Make the Coolest Things.
“Drawing things out really helps, not just to communicate,but to capture all of what you’re thinking about.”
Taking type-1 diabetes from burden to blessing.
AnalyzingBriefed by Inreda, I started off by reading upon the disease and how it affects people.What struck me the most was that,for kids, diabetes often resulted in beingbullied and even depression.
EmpathizingOften I also stepped away from my desk, toto talk to kids, their parents and theirclassmates to see for myself what theywent through and how they dealt with it.
CreatingAfter (but also during) I was drawing out solutions,the main goal being to shift the perspective on their situation.
TestingI made many prototypes, sketches etc. and went backoutside, to find out what was the best fit.
The end result of the project was a device that would providean experience that was seamless but could also be interacted withThrough sensors, computing hardware and multi-day reservoirs for glucagon and insulinthe child’s blood sugar level would be automatically regulated, allowingthem to act, play and live in the same way as any of their peers.But I set out to do more than just making the kids fit in:I wanted kids with diabetes to stand out, be different, by being the coolest kids.This culminated in the cyborg-esque design of the product and with it(through glowing elements and haptic motors) a number of play opportunities.
“Prototypes, even the ugliest ones,serve as a great reality-check for whatever you’re making.”
Fixing what’s broken. Together.
Analyzing & empathizingMy first car, a yellow ’78 Vauxhall,broke down all the time. In most cases,luckily, I could count on friends for help.Looking into this together with a close friend,Nyckle, resulted in the notion that there’sreally no way to find handy and helpful peoplelike those friends, if you don’t already know them.
CreatingWe set to bring some change to that and startedworking on a website, a platform to connect the peoplewith broken products, to people that could help around them.
TestingWe launched a first version that was build in between both our dorm roomsthat got attention from radio stations, magazines and newspapers.From that and the people that reached out to us because of that we learned so much,we took that to heart and worked further, improving everything from design to mechanics.
The platform now presents users witha very complete experience: it hasprofile pages with reviewsto make trusting each other easier,city-specific pages and detailed searchto support finding exactly what you needand instruction articles and videos to help,even if there’s no neighbour available.See it in action here: www.Repareer.com
“The best ideas can come whenever, wherever,best to bring a pen at all times.”
Smarter shoes to help celebrate durability.
AnalyzingThis concept originates from a group projectI worked on with Indiana and Gayatri.We were invited by NIKE to look into solutionsfor sustainability and ethics problems in fashion.As a group we initially worked hard onunderstanding the entire system, througha lot of desk research and expert interviews.
EmpathizingWe complemented this by also taking time for interpretationWe made up personas, drew out storyboards andcreated Business Origami maps, to name a few.
Creating & TestingRealizing that systemic change needed to happenas there was no one stakeholder solely responsible,we each took a separate angle of the problem to create for.I took on the consumer side and developed several concepts,particularly using labeling and mnemonic devices, that we then tested at Parsons.
On average, US consumers buy 7 pairsof shoes, every single year. A massivenumber: imagine the production andtransport that is needed to keep upwith that. The Personal Gem conceptsets to encourage people to buy lessby gamifying how much you wearshoes: through embedded pressuresensors, users build up ‘durability levels’and unlock colors for the small color-changing icon on the heel. The moreyou wear it the better the colors get.
“You can get so much just from observing people,all kinds of tiny details, that can turn into major opportunities.”
A new identity,getting sportsto speak to everyone.
AnalyzingAt the New School I played intramural soccerand at one point I was asked by the Athletics &Recreation director to take a look at their website.I started by working my way through all the pagesand archives, to learn about what it stood for.
EmpathizingI discussed it with various people at school, peoplethat were involved and ones that never used it. Iobserved several A&R events and felt there was asizable disconnect between the web characterand the real-life character of the department.
CreatingI took up my pencil to merge the factual nature of the websitewith the personal, communal experience, of what I had seen outside.
TestingAfter a number of drawings and discussions with the director I then builta beta environment that I continued to tweak to comments from stakeholders.
The final result was a design that hassomething for every user and presentspeople with a much completer view ofwhat all Athletics & Recreation entails.It is no longer the factual data about thedepartment’s activities that sets the tone,but because of the colors, fonts and thethe use of many pictures, it now revolvesaround the stories of the activities andthe people / community that partook in them.
See it in action here: www.Narwhalnation.com
“Design and business go hand in hand,the coolest things only happen whenthe spreadsheet matches the visual.”
Shoot me an email.
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Drop me a musical note.