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Design Thinking & Craftsmanship

As a small design studio, our goal/mission is to bring great ideas to life through innovation, authenticity, and passion. We help brands tell their story using words and pictures that resonate with the end-user. Whether it's how we write code or the process we use to print a poster, there is an attention to detail that is felt, not just seen. It helps set our clients, and our studio, apart from competitors.

Design Thinking: What is it anyway?

Design Thinking is extremely useful in tackling problems that are ill-defined or unknown by re-framing the problem in human-centric ways. Design Thinking is a creative process that uses innovation and empathy to solve a complex problem. It's a holistic approach bridging a client's goals with the end-user's needs to create a superior experience.

Companies like Apple and Target have capitalized on this. Not just because it's profitable, but because a superior user experience has the ability to generate results in everything from fewer call centers complaints, to fierce brand loyalty.

 

DEFINE
When we apply Design Thinking, first we listen to a client to gain insight into the nature of their products, who their target audience is, and what their goals are. We could be exploring improving part of an underutilized internal system, or how to better communicate the benefits of a great product to a particular audience. Here we define the problem that is to be solved.

 

EMPATHY
We study, observe, and listen to end-users. We identify trends. We look at competitors to see what's working and what's not. Every audience has its own unique set of motivations, we find how they are best reached or served.

 

IDEATION
Next we ideate. The ideation process involves ongoing experimentation: sketching, prototyping, testing, and trying out ideas. Here we bridge the insights gained clients and users to develop the look and feel of the user experience. We take these concepts and refine them to close in on the best solution.

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Design Thinking was first described by Nobel Prize laureate Herbert Simon in The Sciences of the Artificial in 1969.

Hasso-Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (also known as d.school) is at the forefront of applying and teaching Design Thinking. They break Design Thinking into five phases:

Empathize – with your users

Define – your users' needs, their problem, and your insights

Ideate – by challenging assumptions and creating ideas for innovative solutions

Prototype – to start creating solutions

Test – solutions

Craftsmanship: What makes us unique

If Design Thinking is the eyes, ears, and brain of our process, craftsmanship is the hands, heart, and soul.

Craftsmanship is driven by passion. This passion leads to a level of quality, individuality, and authenticity that is difficult to duplicate and sets us apart.

When most people think of craft or craftsmanship, they think of woodworking or jewelry. But it's more than that, especially for our studio. The passion of craftsmanship is in everything we do. From the way we write clean and well-documented code, to how we meticulously design and print a poster.

At several points over the past 200 years, craftsmanship has been challenged by industrialization, mechanization, and automation. In 1811-1816 Luddites destroyed machinery if fear that it would steal their jobs. In the early 20th Century as part of the Art Deco movement, manufacturing replaced handmade items in everything from furniture to jewelry. Steve Jobs promised a publishing revolution that would supplant the need for designers, printers, and traditional media in the 1990s. Next, the internet promised everyone their 15 minutes of fame regardless of skill or talent. Even now there are predictions that AI may replace it. But craftsmanship endures. Coca-cola still uses its secret recipe. Craft beer is challenging industrial brewers market share. Etsy and other online boutiques are the shopping choices of millennials, leaving many malls empty.

Maybe it's because craftsmanship connects with people on a more human scale. It touches our soul and uniquely connects us to one another not only in the present but throughout history. Even as technology continuously becomes outdated, craftsmanship remains timeless.

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"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."
- William Morris

Design + Craftsmanship = DesignCraft

Though Design Thinking is important to our studio, it's a process. It can be taught, learned, and duplicated. In fact, that is one of the greatest strengths of Design Thinking. It democratizes the ability to solve ill-defined problems, by re-framing them in human-centric ways. But function without form is ill-equipped to connect with the human spirit and thus perceived as utilitarian.

On the other hand, craftsmanship embodies the human spirit, but if it does not consider function as well as form, it becomes merely decorative.

Bridging Design Thinking and craftsmanship removes the inherent weakness of each. Using this combination sets us apart from other design studios. From coding for WordPress to printing on a letterpress, from font choices for a website to hand-lettering for a poster, we not only find innovative solutions to complex problems, but inject authenticity, integrity, pride, and passion into everything we do.

We call this DesignCraft

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"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."
- William Morris