Archive for May, 2008

GrafiQa Hearts You, Boston

May 22, 2008

Boston Skyline

We’re all finally back at our desks after 4.5 days in Boston attending the HOW Conference. Boston was amazing and revitalizing and surprisingly chilly (by which I mean it was still warmer than Upstate New York).

The sessions themselves were something of a mixed bag, but overall the GrafiQa contingent came away pretty darned inspired and more than a little recharged. One of the most inspiring sessions was a presentation by Joe Duffy titled “A Designed Life.” One of the many insightful points he made was about the impact of design on the quality of life.

In Japan, he noted, design is an integral part of even the most ordinary daily activities.

The presentation of food, architecture, the landscape.

Duffy’s assertion is that, because impeccable design is so culturally ingrained, Japanese people live with a more sophisticated grasp of good design principles.

Another speaker, Bill Strickland, shard a similar philosophy in his closing presentation. Strickland, who is the author of the book “Make the Impossible Possible,” created an amazing arts and technology center for inner-city kids and adults. The centers are beautiful – inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture and filled with beautiful works of art and fresh flowers.

To quote his speech: “People are a product of their environment and expectations. When you build a beautiful place, you get beautiful people. When you build prisons, you get prisoners.”

You can see his entire speech at his website (and I highly recommend it).

These two speakers, who essentially book-ended the conference drove home a simple, but resounding truth: Good design should not be reserved only for a special class of activity or an exclusive class of people. Design surrounds us, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the gum wrapper in your trash bin to the trash bin itself.

Good design is important enough, influential enough and life-changing enough that we should all learn from it, embrace it and demand it.

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HOW do we love thee?

May 16, 2008

Boston Citgo Sign

Some of us here at GrafiQa are counting down the days and hours until we set off for Boston for the How Conference. It will be 3 1/2 days of pure design immersion in an amazing city. We love Upstate New York, don’t get me wrong, but there’s nothing like an intense few days in a big city to stir the creative insights.

The great thing about GrafiQa is that we all have very different talents and expertise, and yet our goals and guiding principles pull them all together. Getting ready for the conference, we’re all excited about something a little different.

Our fearless leader, Chris, is looking forward to the Boston studio tours, and a chance to peek behind the curtain at the inner workings of some of the best shops in the business. (He also tells me, “And I’m looking forward to spending so much time with you guys.”) Yeah – we don’t see enough of each other during the ordinary 45- to 50-hour work week.

Susan, our resident design maven, is excited about the chance to sit in on a session with Debbie Millman, a designer whose work she loves.

Meanwhile, I am all aflutter about a session led by Kelly Goto, goddess of process and usability.

And at the risk of getting sappy, I really am looking forward to spending time with the rest of the GrafiQa envoy. These are some of the brightest, funniest and most creative people I know, and it will be a rare treat to learn and brainstorm and hang out with them outside of the daily deadlines.

More from Boston…

Communication 2.0

May 14, 2008

I’ve been thinking today about the curve on which people adopt innovation. Out in front, you have people who are innovation junkies. They are so far ahead of the curve, always knowing what’s in development long before it ever hits the street. By the time the latest software or mobile device or Internet innovation is actually available, it’s already old news to this group. They’re looking ahead to what’s next.

If you can imagine innovation like a wave turning under the surface of the water, the junkies are the ones who are pushed forward far ahead of any visible wave.

Then there are the innovation surfers who zip in and out of the curl, enjoying the thrill of a new toy or a new trick.

Behind them are the folks who miss the first wave, but still manage to catch the next one.

And then there are the people who think they can’t swim, so they stand on the beach and every so often get their toes wet.

When a lot of people hear the words Web 2.0, they start to feel like one of those beach sitters. They’re not quite sure what Web 2.0 is. They think it has something to do with blogs and MySpace. It sounds like a lot of work. So they spread out their beach towels and pull out their romance novels.

Learning new technology can be daunting. But the beauty of Web 2.0 is that it boils down to making things easier and – key for business – more efficient.

Instead of playing phone tag, technology and the web have allowed us to email. Web 2.0 takes it a step farther and allows you to meet in cyberspace – either at the same time or at different times, so everyone is always on the same page.

Sites like Slideshare and Google Docs and others can make the organizational and workflow parts of your life easier, as well as help connect you to like-minded people.

Web 2.0 allows you to not only reach out to your consumers, but allows them to find you. It allows you to have a conversation – a real relationship.

And relationships are increasingly the driver of consumer decisions.

Not every organization or business needs to use every single Web 2.0 application. You have to be smart about it. Look at your overall goals, look at what gets in the way of meeting them, and then look to the Web for the solutions that will make your life easier, make your goals easier to reach and make your time more efficient.

GrafiQa Recognizes New York State History Day Contestant

May 1, 2008

The annual New York State History Day competition took place today in nearby Cooperstown. Students from all over the state were there with their exhibits, papers, documentaries, performances and websites. Their work was really amazing.

For the first time this year, GrafiQa Creative Services sponsored a special award for excellence in design.

Our CEO, Chris, judged the competition, and was blown away by the quality of the students’ skills. The award went to Lauren Reisig, Berner Middle School, for her Junior Individual Exhibit titled “Equal Vote. Equal Voice.”

Congratulations, Miss Reisig.