Tokyo Design Week: Exhibit on IDEO and Human Centered Design

Tokyo Design Week 2009, Akasaka Tokyo
Shown at Tokyo Midtown in partnership with Hakuhodo

How can design thinking help us tackle abstract global problems? With creativity and teamwork, as IDEO and Hakuhodo (I+H) demonstrated in their Future Present Exhibit at Tokyo Design Week 2009.

Built around the theme “Small Steps Toward a Better Future,” the exhibit and its related activities showcased design thinking, an approach to creating solutions through experimentation, collaboration, evolution, and action. The space invited onlookers to immerse themselves in human-centered design and participate in the process during a four-day workshop — and thus experience first-hand how design can render the abstract concrete and make the seemingly unimaginable possible.

The exhibit comprised three core elements:

A timeline of IDEO’s work over the past 30 years. The chronology featured highlights from the company’s portfolio (physical objects, services, experiences, strategies) and charted its history of encouraging innovation, growth, and social change. It began with the first mouse designed for Apple in 1980 and ended with the free Human-Centered Design Toolkit for NGOs and social enterprises in 2008.

A collection of 13 provocative, experimental ideas called Small Steps Concepts. Prior to the exhibit, IDEO called for designers to develop concepts with the potential to support “small steps toward a better future.” It chose a diverse selection of ideas — from objects to interactions through campaigns and environments —for the exhibit. Each presented a way to inspire subtle shifts in our daily behavior that, if adopted widely over time, could effect large-scale meaningful change in society’s financial, environmental, and physical health.

A participatory public workshop that tackled design challenges in real-time, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the process. Three Tokyo families and members of the public were asked to provide inspiration, feedback and ideas as they participated in the effort. Their contributions gave rise to Palette, a holistic, color-based guide that makes eating healthy, simple and delightful.

Overall, this event was a huge success. More than 100 people participated in the open source-style workshop and nearly 20,000 visited the exhibit between November 23 and October 3, 2009.