With a background in crafts and design, accompanied by a deep theoretical foundation and years of experience working as a teacher, my personal field of interest is connected to creative physical making and the effect this has on the perception of self-efficacy and creativity. Thanks to CAD technologies such as 3D-printing, digital modeling and places like TechShop (San Francisco), where machines are accessible and knowledge is shared, we are quickly moving towards a general access to tools and making. However, this process needs mentoring. I see a great challenge for designers to test, improve and develop functional, safe and supportive frameworks in which users can expand their critical, analytical and creative potential to actually bring their ideas into the world.
The methods of a design process differ from other problem solving strategies as Horst Rittel already pointed out back in 1973 in his famous essay about the “wicked problems”. Those design problems he talks about are complex and underlie several unforeseeable influences and circumstances, so a perfect solution can never be achieved, yet the aim is to get as close as possible to that perfect solution. How do designers do this? Of what does their strategy consist? Intuition? Life experience? Scientific facts? Common sense? Assumption?
I believe that observing designers and their specific problem solving strategies can further lead to great insights into the creation and innovation of methodologies in general. We are facing major challenges on a global scale to which we mostly don’t have an instant solution. Not only do I believe that approaching these challenges should happen locally and in small communities, I also believe we can learn from the designer’s approach to solve “wicked problems”. As Harald Welzer put it, the time of experts is over because the complexity we are confronted wit is so unprecedented, it can not be solved with looking into books or using established strategies. Thus everyone is an expert and we have to look at how to empower them in a pristine way.
I also strongly believe that it is physical action that needs to happen. We are mostly in our heads. To be fully in the moment and in a consciousness of presence we have to reconnect with our bodies. This of course can happen through practices like yoga or meditation, but I am convinced that a creative process of making and crafting can have the same effect, with a deeper impact on our experience of self-efficacy. Understanding, grasping and improving a simple physical structure will eventually open the space to understand, grasp and improve the conditions within our society.