Sunday, May 27, 2007

Design magazines

As I’ve discussed before, I think young designers in Latin America would benefit from expanding their scope and trying to find new and wider sources of information. One of those sources are design magazines. Though the web has opened up many doors for designers, there may be some that will read this information for the first time.

Remember how I said that I used to think that my world was really small? Well, when I was at the university I used to think that design magazines were beyond my reach. In those days there was a really beautiful one called Abitare, italian, awesome… we used to see them at the design building’s library.

As years went by, I started working and got a credit card and what do you know…? Using credit cards, you can buy things abroad! I don’t know about you, but this never occurred to me when I was in college (I know, I know… I was either too innocent, or didn’t have good friends!).

So I wanted to let you know about two magazines I’ve been subscribed to for years.

How Magazine: This magazine focuses on graphic design, which being a designer, I love. And it shows some great examples of graphic design, they have contests and then they feature the winners and the contestants, so it’s a great source of visual culture.

Furthermore, what I really love about this magazine is its business edge. You will find design business related articles, from hiring an accountant for your design studio, to how to boost creativity and be a great design leader.

They also do a “Business Annual” every year (no kidding, huh?) that covers even more business related topics like salaries and legal stuff. To me, this magazine is a must read for every designer. It’s American, but I think it conveys the global design business trends of today.

ID Magazine: Sister of How Magazine, ID focuses more on my field, industrial and product design. It doesn’t have the same depth in business issues, but it’s a great showcase of the best of current design. I suggest you get this one too.

So my message for this short post is…

1. Get a credit card! I don’t care if you’re a student, banks always have special promotions for you.
2. Research and subscribe to design magazines. If there aren’t any good ones in your region, subscribe to a couple abroad!
3. Even if you can’t afford it, research local publications. It also doesn’t have to be on your design discipline, you can check some decoration magazines, or architecture… it’ll all become what I call “visual culture”, feeding and stimulating your brain with more design!

I mean, that’s why we became designers, isn’t it?
Hey, do leave a comment if you want to suggest more magazines!
All the best!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Gracias, Merci, Thank you, Danke, Grazie, Obrigada!

Last year I started writing about the design business as part of a networking strategy I was implementing. At first I thought I didn’t have much to say…

So I wrote about eight articles that were first posted on Ecademy. Late last year I got prompted to write again by a friend and that’s how I’ve been posting weekly all this year. I discovered I actually had some things to say!

So, technically, I am an amateur blogger, a newbie, a rookie…

Still, I’ve gotten such a positive response so far and I find amazing that people from all over the world visit my blogs both in english and spanish. I am aware that many of those visits are mere coincidences, but I’ve noticed I’ve got some regular visitors. So this post is to thank all of you who have visited, have left comments and continue to visit!

People from Australia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Finland, France, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, Spain, Sri-Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland , Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and USA have visited me during these months and I am so grateful for it…

So what’s in store for the future?

I will be starting at a new job soon. I’m not sure yet how my work load is going to be, but I intend to keep posting weekly. This new job represents a huge challenge for me and I’m sure it’ll give me plenty of topics to talk about! I am so excited about it!

I also intend to make some changes to optimize the blogs, maybe shorter titles, maybe more pictures, a new template? I don’t know. Actually, why don’t you tell me what you’d like to see?

Thank you again and I hope to see you around!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Designers beware: Podcasts

Last year I went to New York and bought an iPod, 60GB, black. Even though I was a bit disappointed in the beginning, I caved in to it, I love it and now I can’t live without it.
Anyway, this post is not about iPods. It’s about me missing out on a wonderful source of knowledge and inspiration for years!

As you probably know by now, I am a huge Harry Potter fan and after J.K. Rowling appointed Mugglenet as the best HP site, I was addicted to it. Some time in 2005 Mugglenet started podcasting with Mugglecast, and I discovered the wonderful world of podcasts, radio-like shows you can download to your iPod!

For those of you who, like me, have (had) been living under a rock for the last few years, keep reading! But of course, most of you will find this information redundant, I bet.

I use iTunes as my podcast aggregator, though there are several others out there. I don’t want to get too technical here, especially because I don’t fully understand how they work. What I can tell you is that using iTunes and clicking on iTunes Store>Podcasts, you can find podcasts about almost every subject imaginable, including, yes, you guessed it, design.

If you go to Categories at the left, and click on Arts and then go down a bit to More Arts, the first category is Design! And now it is your turn to explore. There are podcasts about many aspects of design, the different design disciplines…

Here are a few comments about some I’ve listened to:

The Accidental Creative
Host Todd Henry talks about being creative in an “on-demand” environment. Great ways to boost your creativity!

The Creative Venture
Host Tony Clark brings together the worlds of design and business. Though Tony stopped podcasting a few months ago, you can still download the 14 episodes which are full of great insight into the design business.

Other podcasts I listen to are related to business. My favorite one is Manager Tools, where hosts Michael Auzenne and Mark Hortsman discuss about management issues. I’ve found that most of their advice applies to the design business as well.

I also listen to podcasts related to leadership, finance and other topics in general.

So now that I’ve given you a few pointers, it’s time that you go into iTunes and explore for yourself! Or better yet, find other podcast aggregators and try some! Explore different topics and subscribe to those that you decide you want to listen to on a regular basis. You’ll find that some podcasts are not worth subscribing to because they’re just not very good (like Design Matters with Debbie Millman) or that they just don’t relate to you.

The best part of all this knowledge being shared through podcasts is that it’s free, you can carry it around with you in your iPod or mp3 player, you can save it for later use… did I mention it’s free?!

If some of you can add to this article, let us know more information about podcasts aggregators or other interesting podcasts you listen to, please comment! I’d love to receive your feedback!

All the best!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

25 things about me

My friend Wayne Smallman from Blah Blah Technology recently did an article on 25 things about himself and I thought I’d follow his lead and roll with it…

So for once you get to know a little bit about me. Here goes:

1. My full name is María Carolina Ayerbe Castro, however nobody calls me all that. There are many shorts for my name, like Caro, Carito, Caroline, Carol, Carriolo…

2. There are two things I don’t like to talk about: Politics and religion.

3. My friends talk about the “relativeness of Carolina”. For example, I’ll say “I don’t like to dance, unless I have to”.

4. I don’t like to exercise (unless I have to, lol) in general. However I used to play tennis and started jogging about two years ago. I jog one day and work out the next.

5. I taught myself english when I was about 12 by means of closed captioning in TV shows.

6. My eyes tend to water whenever I’m talking about something serious.

7. I’d worn glasses since I was 9 until I was 26, when I had lasik surgery.

8. I have poor short term memory, which is really the reason why I create so many systems and databases to control everything and why I became so organized.

9. According to what I’ve researched, I was one year old when my first memory was created. It’s of my Mom taking me to the doctor.

10. I’ve always loved books. Books with lots of pictures, like design, architecture, science or art books.

11. I’m known for being honest and direct which, granted, has brought me trouble sometimes.

12. I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan, I lost count of how many times I’ve read the books and heard the audiobooks and I never miss an episode of Mugglecast.

13. Although I’m a latina girl, I enjoy rock and pop… though no mixes for me, I like the originals, thanks. Latin music is not for my iPod, it’s for dancing!

14. I love to travel. I’ve made it a goal to travel at least once a year.

15. I am fascinated by ancient cultures, especially Egypt.

16. I didn’t use to be a disciplined person, but in the last few years I’ve discovered true freedom in discipline.

17. My favourite color is red and I have to restrain myself from buying everything red.

18. I love to sing. I don’t have a good voice, but I’ll even sing to the commercials on TV.

19. I have no vices, except an addiction to chapstick and biting my fingernails.

20. I’m usually either too cold or too hot, but almost never quite confortable. Living in Bogotá (Colombia), most of the time, I’m too cold.

21. I love sci-fi, movies and novels and for a girl, I am quite interested in technology. I love gadgets and I will read their manuals thoroughly.

22. I never learned to skate and I wish I had. It looks like so much fun!

23. I love speed with safety, like rollercoasters… or just speeding up in the car (not that that’s safe at all).

24. When I smile, I get a dimple on my right cheek, but not on the left.

25. I love people who are passionate about what they do.

Phew! That was hard…

All the best!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Designers beware: 5S Phase 5, Shitsuke (Improve)

Welcome back to my series on 5S, the methodology to improve organization, order and cleanliness. In this article I cover the fifth phase, Improve. If you’ve made it this far, allow me to congratulate you!

But first, if you’re seeing this article and haven’t read the previous four:
Introduction to the methodology
Phase one, Select
Phase two, Organize
Phase three, Clean
Phase four, Standardize

Phase five, Improve

The purpose of this phase is to maintain the achieved conditions and establish new goals for improvement. When you improve you:

- Keep the order that you achieved during Seiton.
- Items return to their assigned place.
- Hardware and workstations are cleaned regularly.
- People enjoy a great work environment and are proud of their places of work.

And the steps:

Step 1: Redefine
You’d establish a standard, right? Now go back to the questions you asked yourself during phases 1 and 2 and ask them again against your current standard. Is there anything that can be done better? Something that doesn’t need to be in the work space?

Step 2: Document
Once you’ve gone through the questions again, see if the standard changed. If so, document again, take a new picture and post it in a visible place.

Here is a picture of the final standard for my desk, though I later on replaced the CD burner for an internal drive. Where are the pens you ask? Neatly stowed away in the drawers.

As a bonus, here I’m showing you a picture of my current desk, still applying the 5S philosophy.

This is my pencil box. It includes only what’s needed. Black, blue and red pens, a pencil, a highlighter and a calendar (Though now that I think about it, does the calendar need to be there? I have one in my computer dashboard… hmm…)

Step 3: Audit
Ok, so by now everybody in the organization has their standards. It’s time to audit their implementation. How to measure and evaluate progress is really up to the team and the criteria they want to apply.

Here’s an example I’ve used to audit offices. We did it weekly, for about a month.

Criteria to evaluate in each step:

I haven’t selected anything (Earns 1 point).
I’ve selected some things (Earns 2 points).
I have only what I need (Earns 3 points).

I haven’t organized anything (Earns 1 point).
I’ve organized some things (Earns 2 points).
Every item has and is in its place (Earns 3 points).

I haven’t cleaned anything (Earns 1 point).
I’ve cleaned some things (Earns 2 points).
My work place is clean (Earns 3 points).

I haven’t standardized anything (Earns 1 point).
I’ve established the standard (Earns 2 points).

I’ve improved the standard once (Earns 1 point).
I’ve improved the standard twice (Earns 2 points).
I’ve improved the standard three times or more (Earns 3 points).

Here’s an example of an Excel table to record and count the points:

After counting the points the person gets a card:

Red card, if the person earned between 5 and 10 points. There’s big room for improvement here.

Yellow card, if the person earned between 10 and 12 points. There’s still room for improvement.

Green card, if the person earned between 12 and 14 points. The work space is very neat and clean!

The idea is for the cards to be displayed in the work area so that maybe a little competition between the people in the team sparks up to get to green in the four weeks of the audit process.

And that’s it for this phase and for the 5S!

It’s a good idea to repeat the audit process in a few months, to see if the team keeps the new conditions.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and that your workplaces are areas of productiveness and pride!
All the best!