The things that inspired me
This year’s been one with a lot of change for myself personally (and quite sadly for everyone on the planet for that matter, but in this blog I’ll be focusing mainly on the ‘bright spots’.)
A year ago I moved my small family back from London to my native Helsinki, and a process of separation started from my partner. The storm that is divorce is just too thick and still too close for me to analyse but parenting is one that has kept us somewhat sane. With the move, I also joined a new studio, which is part of the global team but still, every face was new to me and mine was new to them. With relief I can now say that’s not the case at all. As proof, some DIY photo booth moments from our last Friday’s Winter Games Xmas Party 😂
So the list of things that inspired me is a slightly haphazard one; they’re things that I remember _now_ rather than me going through the past 12 months of tweets and picking the coolest.
Slush talks, in particular Alex Mahon (A mum-boss)
I sat in the primarily male audience of a very cool Fireside-stage at Slush a few weeks back and listened to Alex Mahon, now CEO of channel 4 UK, tell her story and thoughts on entertainment and media in general. TV had already become irrelevant in my mind as a media (just because I don’t watch it) but this talk shook me out of a bubble a bit.
Channel 4 was actually set up by the state, (therefore having a legal remit yet not funded by the state) so they use advertising to run.
‘…also because we don’t seek to make a profit so, at a scale; you come in to work and you’re only there to do new exciting cool stuff and broadly to do good with it in a noisy provocative challenger-brand way — with maverick and risk-taking alongside that.’
God, how I wish I could be saying that sentence!
Don’t get me wrong — I love my job. And I’m not some super fan of TV or Channel 4 now either, but the session did inspire me. Alex talked about their audience a lot (very diverse, very vast) and the reach that TV as a media can have with people who may not use other digital much. And valuing intuition alongside process.
If you watch the talk (20mins on Youtube) maybe keep things like Service Design and Public Sector Design in mind.
Also, not only was Alex making me career envy, she’s a mum of FOUR — whilst having a full time job. (You may hear me go ‘WHOOOOP!!!’ from the otherwise silent audience when she casually drops it in).
Inspired by the traditional Finnish kuksa, you can find these porcelain mugs from Helsinki’s Why Join The Navy When You Can Be A Pirate café-bar for some excellent winter-cocktails. I’m lucky to have some early versions in my kitchen cabinet and they make me smile, the idea sounded (I admit) not so cool when I heard the concept but that was me in a ‘closed mode’. They are modern, simple and beautiful.
Our sofas got more followers than all of us combined
Our studio got a new space early this spring and it got a lot of attention on social media. Yes, the furniture is stunning but that’s not what’s inspiring (or most interesting) — it’s the fact that the space was designed for us to work in the way we work; oftentimes quite messy and loud, sometimes private, delicate even. An environment you spend eight or more hours in on a daily basis is just so influential in the way you feel when you walk in, and when you walk out. And the fact the design is simple and beautiful lets me make a mess without everything feeling like I live in a skip. Home away from home 💜.
Oldie but a goodie
This video pops in to my head at least twice a year while I’m in a project. For one reason or an other. If you have a half an hour to listen (whilst working or traveling etc) or watch, do it.
John Cleese on on creativity, open mode, and closed mode.
This year more than ever I’ve found more meaning in doing good design. I’ve written some posts on the topic and read many, many others and I so heartily welcome it to all project/design, not just the ones that are for public services but for absolutely everything that interacts with an actual human being. And actually, with a non-human being. A few highlighted words that I’ve nearly printed out(but actually only book-marked) are:
‘…as designers we need to design for accessibility not only for folks who are visually impaired, hard of hearing, or have severe motor issues right now, but also for our future selves.’
“The main thing I keep coming back to is that accessible interfaces aren’t usually any harder to make than inaccessible ones. You just make them differently. If you hire people who know how to make interfaces accessibly (read: properly) then it’s no more cost.” — Heydon Pickering
Okay so this might not be like the most sexy, exciting topic (or it might) but for me personally it’s been more of an inspiration for how I look at or feel about graphic design than anything in the past few years, or more.
My son, Lucas
who is wild and crazy and wicked cool little Calvin & Hobbes kinda boy. I’m taking him to Sydney this New Year for an adventure, looking for ‘sharks that don’t bite and catching spiders’. Sometimes I suck at parenting, and other times he makes me feel like it’s gonna be all alright.