Six months of my year at CIID has passed. I should call it “our” year, because the amazing people who surround me in this program feel like family. We were given a week and a half of time for activity around reflection and collating our portfolio of work. This is a brain dump of some of the stuff I’ve been thinking about.

On My Own Learning
This journey is about trying to become a designer, moving back up the road from implementation, towards the point from where ideas originate. Four words surround what I’ve learned so far, and they’re all about ideation.

Ideas are intangible, ethereal entities which occur to designers at unpredictable intervals. If you have an idea you still don’t know if it’s a good one. “Process” in the sense of that which we have been taught at CIID is about creating a habitat for those ideas. Facilitating their birth, encouraging their development and aiding their assessment. It’s a habitat for ideas and as such, it’s not a perfect art. Trust your process, adjust your process, use your process, but most of all, trust your process.

The people behind Processing, and probably predecessors, had an incredible idea when they deployed the word “sketch” as the name for a Processing project. Sketches are steps along a journey. Everything we do should be in the mode of “sketching”. In the woodshop, at the hot wire foam cutter, with a breadboard, on paper, if you’re designing something it’s all sketching. It should start as soon as possible, and continue as long as possible.

Note: conversations don’t make good sketches. Pick something up while you talk.

Haltung (Opinionated Design)
Timm Kekeritz and Frank Rausch introduced us to the German word “Haltung”. They cleverly used it as a tool to make us comfortable with our own “opinions” as designers. We’re not scientists, we work with human factors. We also work in a very broad discipline. Haltung helps you focus on what you believe in, it can help drive ideas along and gives your work, and you an identity which always shines through.

I’ve always been thoroughly petrified of failure. My closest friends have never once pointed it out. It took the faculty at CIID to tell me. I’d like to fix this, and make some mistakes. Mistakes are a way forward.

On Teamwork
From my Twitter stream during the week…
#CIIDReflections There’s always a Project Lead role. You’re not always it. Deal with it. If you ARE always it, step back and start learning.
#CIIDReflections User research is time consuming, scary and hard. But it’s like food. Even if it feels like you don’t need it, you do.
#CIIDReflections Don’t work with the people you want to be. Best way to learn new skills is get into a group that doesn’t have them.
#CIIDReflections Work real hard, so that one day, you can pay someone else to do everything vaguely related to video. I hate video.

On Copenhagen
Copenhagen is an amazing city. It’s beautiful, accessible, it’s on a human scale, there’s water everywhere, restaurants and bars are great fun and the city itself just works. In conversation I joke that it’s bad place to be as an interaction designer because there is very little left to fix here. The winter is bitterly cold and ruined the first four months of my experience. I think in “real life”, with an income, time off and a comfortable place to call home (none of which exist at CIID) this city would be an amazing place to live. I’d recommend learning Danish though. I like to be able to have the craic with people comfortably.

On My Final Project
Being an “implementation” person, my gut tells me the coming weeks and months, before the project begins, will be the hardest. I want to take a path that inspires me and gives me the opportunity to build something to be proud of. I already have a backup plan… work in the field of education, specifically second level science education. But, quite frankly, I think that’s too easy, and not enough fun.

CIID is about personal development for me, and I’ve always intended that I emerge with a project that makes people smile, provokes thought and conversation and most of all, makes me proud. One of last year’s graduates @ishacbertran reassured me… “no fear”.

To the next six months…