25 questions about design, art and tech to Michael Wolf.
Two weeks ago Catherine Henderson, who organises the Cape Town’s Creative mornings, asked Formula D interactive’s Michael Wolf 25 questions about design, art and tech via Twitter. Questions and answers were limited to 140 character each. Here are all Q & A’s in one thread.
Q: Michael Wolf, what do you do?
A: I am founder, CEO and Creative Director at Formula D interactive. I have a vast collection of hats.
Q: What is Formula D interactive?
A: Formula D’s a design consultancy specialising on interactive learning strategies, learning technology & spatial experiences.
Q: Could you give us an example your past achievements?
A: We designed the 1st multitouch wall & app in South Africa in 2008 for Two Oceans Aquarium, just before the iPhone hit the SA market.
Q: What is are your current projects?
A: We currently design an Energy Game for Eskom SA, a Virtual Chemistry Lab for schools & interactive learning apps for SA Gov.
Q: What do you feel abandons normal methods and presents new perspectives?
A: Design needs methods & tools but mustn’t become methodological. We constantly explore new tools & methods. This keeps it fresh.
Q: Michael,where were you educated?
Q: What do you mean with ‘integrated design approach?
A: Design is not segregated into fields like product or graphics. It’s understood as a holistic approach to problem solving.
Q: What is your opinion of John Maeda’s (RISD) stem to steam initiative?
A: It’s great! But innovation also needs social studies to understand needs of people & entrepreneurs to make it happen.
Q: Is our current education system failing our future?
A: Yes, it is. Apart from a few exceptions learning is still ticking of boxes in silos. We need to rethink education from scratch.
Q: How are you making a difference?
A: Our design projects support extramural learning in Science Centers & at home as alternatives to stagnant learning institutions.
Q: What do you think is the link between arts and science?
A: Arts and sciences both seek new land with different approaches. Art envisions & evokes, science discovers & explains.
Q: What have you learned in art class?
A: Sadly, my art classes at high school &college were all about learning a technique and not about inventing a technology
Q: So, can art inform technology?
A: Artists are constantly at the pulse of emerging technology. They may not invent it but evoke new ways of looking at things.
Q: How important is art for your work as a designer?
A: I learn from media arts e.g. interaction experiments. Designers often lack the ‘luxury’ to play outside of the brief.
Q: Name your favourite example where art spurred technology and innovation.
A: I love the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Project: Science, Arts, Learning. We’ll have a reef in Cape Town:
Q: Tell us 5 qualities of good design?
A: Good design should be functional, sustainable, beautiful, accessible, and invisible.
Q: Why is good design invisible?
A: Design shouldn’t cry for attention, unless it’s a fire engine. We’re surrounded by good design we don’t notice & that’s good.
Q: Name one example where you see design getting it right?
A: EzyStove is a flat-pack, wood burning, slow combustion stove for USD 10.
Q: What is a noticeable obstacle for our local designers?
A: I think the Cape region lacks a product design ecosystem with investors, entrepreneurs, manufacturers who see value in design.
Q: What can be done to change that?
A: We’re working on a strategy with government, academia & industry to make design count for economic dev in the Western Cape.
Q: What is the most important thing in a design project?
A: YOUsers! Designers too often design for designers. Frequent sharing & testing sessions with focus group is crucial.
Q: Name one risk you would recommend any designer to take?
A: Risk to abandon a tool you’re familiar with in a project, e.g. software or process. You will be in for a positive surprise.
Q: What is a time waster for designers?
A: Getting caught up in details before having an approved base concept is a frequent time waster in design studios.
Q: Where do designers get inspiration from?
A: Design doesn’t come as ‘inspiration’. It’s an intellectual process. Observation & questioning will ‘conspire’ answers.
Q: What is the recipe for ‘magic ‘design?
A: A client taking some risk; multi-disciplinary team members who’re not afraid to leave their turf; 2 measures of passion
Q: Last question for today … From your vast collection of hats, which one is your favorite?
A: The designer hat is the most comfortable. It’s wide enough so I can wear it on top of all other hats!