Archive for: MARCH 25, 2009

25.03.2009
02:14

21st of March, leaving Vienna: I did travel a lot in my life, but still this trip makes me nervous. What am I going to experience? How are the design offices going to react, when we are hanging out at their work place observing what they are doing? Will we find any differences in the design-pace at the different studios around the world? Or has globalization hacked us all?

on my way to Dublin, from (ugly) Vienna airport

on my way to Dublin, from (ugly) Vienna airport

About the project:
“Pace of Design” is the title of the exhibition I am curating for ExperimentaDesign, which tries to convey the different working processes in seven different design studios around the world. How much are culture and the location itself influencing the pace of design? Is there a difference in rhythm and speed in the working processes? Are there special rituals connected to this specific culture, country, city, or just the specific design studio? When does an average day start, when does it end? Do they have lunch together? A coffee break? How formal or informal is the daily routine organized? How controlled or how free?

My attempt is to come as an outsider and try to observe as much as I can, through watching the people working, asking questions, spending two days at each place. A young Austria photographer, named Eva Engelbert, is joining me. Both of us will try to blend in and observe and absorb as much as we can. This blog is about my experiences. The outcome and our interpretation will be seen at the exhibition in September.

22nd of March,early morning start, leaving Dublin to San Francisco

good morning Eva! 22nd of March,early morning start, leaving Dublin to San Francisco

Our first trip will take us from Vienna via Dublin to San Francisco - then from there via Chicago to Sao Paolo, after that via Johannesburg to Cape Town, and via Munich back to Vienna. Later in April I will be in Munich again and in May will do Delhi, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Leaving Vienna you can see an ugly airport, only Dublin isn’t any better too. Neither is San Francisco – so if this would be a survey about airports, it wouldn’t be too exciting aesthetic wise. I met Eva at the airport in Dublin, next morning we continued our trip to San Francisco, where we visited  Lunar Design.

22nd of March

Leaving Dublin and arriving in San Francisco.

another airport waiting area / this time Dublin

another airport waiting area / this time Dublin

 

what a man

what cool guy!

 

and his ultimate boot bag!

and his ultimate boot bag!

We travelled okay and the city of San Francisco welcomed us with a pristine, sunny and crisp weather! What a lively city, beautiful architecture, steep hills and great views. Later we had a rather strange Chinese dinner in China Town, but it was fun. Went to bed very early, woke up very early as well. Actually it is strange, that I am doing a project about time and will be more or less constantly out of the local time zone, because I am either late or ahead, with the schedule of travel we chose. Two days at each place don’t give us much time to adapt, or maybe we will develop our very own pace?

leaving San Francisco airport

leaving San Francisco airport

 

San Francisco looking downtown

San Francisco looking downtown

 

San Francisco looking uphill

San Francisco looking uphill

 

San Francisco being uphill

San Francisco being uphill

San Francisco looking downhill

San Francisco looking downhill

23rd of March

9am arriving at the office of Lunar Design., which is one of the most successful industrial design consultancies in the USA, next to Ideo, Frog or Fuse maybe. All of them are based in the bay area in or around San Francisco. What is probably special about Lunar, is that they always tried to work on non client projects, next to doing great design jobs with clients like hp, Oral B, Sandisc and many more. There are about 40 to 50 people in both the offices in San Francisco and Paolo Alto, the majority based in San Francisco. They have two other offices, one in Munich, one in Hong Kong.

Entrance of Lunar Design in San Francisco

Entrance of Lunar Design in San Francisco

What struck me most about our first day, was the atmosphere of a very focused concentration at all the desks. It stayed peaceful and quiet all day, some people actually almost never left their desk and their computer. Spontaneous meetings around a desk disrupted the quietness for a moment, meetings at the kitchen are used for a brief chat. For lunch each person brings in some sandwich or such and eats it at the mutual table in the kitchen, sometimes at his desk. Nobody seems to take more time off, than it takes to eat his meal. Special meetings happen in the meeting rooms to discuss a project. One of the two founders, Jeff Smith, and the Creative Director Ken Wood came in from Paolo Alto to work on a project with the team and it was interesting to watch the very informal and relaxed way of working between the group of four. But otherwise it was a very concentrated Monday here in the office of Lunar Design.

The street in front of Lunar Design

The street in front of Lunar Design

First people came in around 8am, late arrivals around 9.30 / 10.00 maybe. Some came much later, because they had meetings outside. The studio consists of Industrial Designers, Graphic Designers, Interaction Designers plus the biggest group – the engineers. Are you interested in the relation male female? Like in all design studios traditionally heavy on the male side! Most females in graphic and Interaction, less in ID, none with the engineers, even so Lunar is paying a lot of attention to have more female employees.

this is Eva again, more awake this time

this is Eva again, more awake this time

Most of the people left between 6pm and 7pm, some stayed late until around 7.30 / 8.00.

24th of March

We started really early this time, coming to the office with the first engineer. If you are dissapointed, that I am not showing any images of the studio - well I dont want to destroy the surprise at the exhibition. Eva was very busy taking a lot of images. But before publishing we have to get back to Lunar due to confidentiallity. This office is working an exciting projects with big clients. That means we have to be very carefull.

However: our second day was interesting as well. To me it seemed more relaxed than the first day, which was monday… maybe that is the reason? More chatting, more informal meetings around work desks or in the kitchen, was my impression.

 

Dodgeball tournament

Dodgeball tournament, won by Lunar, this year organized by Fuse

Yesterday I talked to a South Korean designer, Junggi, working at Lunar for  years (?). It was interesting to listen to him and his perception of the studio - which he likes very much - and the USA, with a horizontal hierarchie (which he likes again) and the fact, that people are working 8 hours straight (and many more if necessary) but take almost no time to have lunch, like they do in Korea, also the working days are much longer usually. Sandrine, a french senior industrial designer I talked to today, said something similar, about her first shock, when she saw people eating their salads next to their computer, never taking a break, changing the surroundings, breaking the day in two halfs. Even so the afternoon might be longer in France, after lunch break. So my first two days leaves me with the impression, that the Americans are very focused and dedicated to work. More details in the exhibition, more facts to compare this impressions to, when I arrive at the studio of the Campana brothers in Sao Paolo!

Dodgeball trophy

The Dodgeball trophy!

And I promise to blog every day from now on, so nobody has to read such a long text anymore.