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Design Stories


The allure of this TED talk by Yves Behar ‘Designing Objects That Tell Stories’ is that it brings together two powerful threads for me:

  1. Design is my lifelong passion
  2. Stories are my current focus

This video is really a showcase of Yves Behar’s design work upto 2008 (The talk was presented February 2008). And, there are some really interesting projects from flat pack furniture to the $100 laptop project. Whilst the title suggests he is going to talk about design and stories, in my view, he mostly doesn’t. Perhaps I missed it?

Two Design Stories

For me, there are two distinct design stories.

Firstly, the creation story – what are we creating, why are we doing it and how should it work? For instance, the backstory to the $100 laptop is a dream for computing access for every child on the planet. And, inside this story there are conditions of use that go way beyond and outside how we would use a laptop in an office.

Secondly, the user story – once an object has been created, how do we talk about it? What meaning does it have beyond its usefulness. Yves makes a beautiful point with a slide of an African woman walking with her lime green $100 laptop on her head. The significance is that African women always carry their most important things on their heads. Wonderful!

My Favorite Things

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Apple - Magic MouseOne of my all time favorite things is my Apple Magic Mouse. Whilst mostly it slaves away partially hidden under the palm of my hand, when I stop to look at it I gasp in admiration. In my eyes, it is such a beautiful thing. Its smooth curved surface and precise design makes it sublime piece of everyday technology. It’s so beautiful it could sit in a gallery as a piece of art yet it performs such a simple, almost menial task – letting me point to stuff on a screen. Even better, it costs under $100. I feel like it should be bigger, cost more and serve some greater purpose.

Your Design Stories

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What are your favorite things? And, what the stories you have about them? For instance your laptop, your car, your handbag, your favorite piece of clothing, your furniture…

This is a great exercise because simply asking you to identify your your favorites and why starts a dialogue for exploring design in your life.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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