November 4, 2012

Chicago CreativeMornings #12 with IDEO’s Brand Experience Lead Sara Frisk, inspiring change

Sara Frisk, Her conclusion, Attendees. View more photos.

Sara Frisk leads Brand Experience at the Chicago office of iconic design company IDEO. She previously designed at Pentagram under the mentorship of Michael Beirut. At the 12th CreativeMornings session in Chicago, she shared what she’s learned from her path so far:

Intuition is a quality all designers strive for when people use products, services, spaces—anything. Co-founder of 37signals Jason Fried, who spoke at the second Chicago CreativeMornings, emphasizes rock-star work environments—not rock-star designers. It’s the kind of environment where intimidation is healthy, there’s accountability, hard work is evident, toolkits appropriately adequate, and time precious. That is, it’s an environment where employees are set up to work toward satisfaction. In his talk at the IIT Institute of Design’s Design Research Conference, Fried was straightforward: “If the environment isn’t good, you’re really not going to have a chance to do good work.” Jason’s emphasis echoes urbanist Jane Jacobs’ belief, “Design is people.”

The “value chain” is visible. Designer Scott Ballum took it upon himself to come into direct contact with the people—those who contributed to making the products he purchased. He called it the
Consumer®econnection Project, which lasted a year. Ballum matched things with faces. Products are the result of relationships. In fact, seemingly everything is the result of relationships: every relationship counts.

While intuition sounds practical, inspiration sounds profound, but not without traction. Couldn’t help but connect this statement with Election Day and the earworm of “change.” As author Seth Godin advises, “The opportunity of a lifetime is to pick yourself. Quit waiting to get picked; quit waiting for someone to give you permission; quit waiting for someone to say you are officially qualified and pick yourself. It doesn’t mean you have to be an entrepreneur or a freelancer, but it does mean you stand up and say, ‘I have something to say. I know how to do something. I’m doing it. If you want me to do it with you, raise your hand.’” The bottom line: to achieve satisfaction, elect yourself—without excluding others who can also put their minds and hearts into something—and without losing creativity.

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IDEO was co-founded by designer, author and educator Bill Moggridge, who passed away on September 8, 2012. He designed the first laptop computer and wrote the book Designing Interactions. He summed up his attitude and aptitude: “If there is a simple, easy principle that binds everything I have done together, it is my interest in people and their relationship to things.”

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Big thanks: to Digital agency Doejo for hosting Chicago CreativeMornings #12 and to Bowtruss for their “classy coffee”; to organizer Mig Reyes, videographers Chris Gallevo and Erick De La Rosa, for their great volunteer work on making CreativeMornings happen in Chicago.

Especially big thanks: to Tina Roth Eisenberg—Swissmiss—for inventing CreativeMornings in 2008. The fifth chapter was launched in Chicago, June 2011—my write-up and photos.

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Typeface of quotes is Massive designed by Shawn Hazen, who also makes wonderfully bold typographic illustrations for Design Feast series Creative Roles.

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Photos by Nate Burgos. View more.

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2011 was Chicago CreativeMornings excellent debut year. Download a collection of insights.

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