#2

designthinkbot

20MYY6W

zine.ideo.com

#2

THIS IS A SERIOUS ZINE ABOUT BEING LESS SERIOUS.


A letter from the zine team

At IDEO, we have to be both

naive and aware, uninhibited and

responsible. To come up with new

ideas and solutions, we need to

balance a six-year-old’s openness

with the mind and discipline of

someone twice our age.

One of the crucial processes we

use to keep our spirits optimistic

and ideas generative is play.

Play at its best creates a mental

space where we shed judgment

of ourselves and others. It helps

us reframe tricky and serious

problems so we can find a new

entry point into tackling them.

In this zine, we’ll explore why

play is so important and how

different people incorporate it

into their work. Our hope is that

after reading, you’ll find yourself

playing more and experiencing its

value firsthand.

Play on players.


Most people think

that the opposite of play is work

(especially in the corporate

world) but the opposite is

boredom or even depression.


Stuart Brown said that

in his TED Talk about play.


I’M NOT THE CREATIVE TYPE

We think playfulness PLAY = is WORK important. But why is it

important? Playfulness helps us get to better creative

solutions. It helps us do our jobs better and helps us feel

better when we do them.

When an adult encounters a new situation we have

a tendency to want to categorize it as quickly as we can.

There’s a reason for that: we want to settle on an answer.

Life’s complicated, and we want to figure out what’s going

on around us very quickly.

Kids are more engaged with open possibilities. When

they come across something new, they’ll certainly ask,

“What is it?” But they’ll also ask, “What can I do with it?”

We’ve all heard stories about how our kids end up playing

with boxes on Christmas morning far more than they play

with the toys that are inside them. This behavior makes

complete sense because you can do a lot more with boxes

than you can do with a toy.

Another thing we tend to do as adults is self-edit as

we’re having ideas. The ability to just go for it and explore

lots of things, even if they don’t seem that different from

each other, is something that kids do well. It is a form of play.

This might feel like it’s a message to just go out and play

like a kid. To a certain extent it is, but the first thing to remember

is that play is not anarchy. Play has rules, especially when it’s

group play. When kids play tea party, or they play cops and

robbers, they’re following a script that they’ve agreed to.

And it’s this code negotiation that leads to productive play.

It’s very easy to fall into the trap that these

states are absolute. You’re either playful or you’re

serious, and you can’t be both. But that’s not really

true: you can be a serious professional adult and, at

times, be playful. It’s not an either/or; it’s an “and.”

— Tim Brown said this in his TED Talk, “Tales of creativity

and play.”

A nephew and a daughter of IDEO New York

designers with the forts they built.

INTRODUCTION

1

ISSUE No. 2


PLAY = WORK

TYGERSHARK

I’M NOT THE CREATIVE TYPE

ISSUE No. 2

2 3


PLAY = WORK

TYGERSHARK

I’M NOT THE CREATIVE TYPE

FROM LEGOS TO MODULAR SPACES -

AN INTERVIEW WITH ASMBLD. ROBOTICS

Fedor Novikov, 27, and his brother Petr 2 , 25, moved

from Russia to Brooklyn to start asmbld. (asmbld.

com). From their office in South Williamsburg,

they’re developing small robots that will allow us

to “A/B Test” the spaces we live in 4 . Fedor talked

with us about how their passion for building as

kids led to their work today.

A Recipe for Play

1. Constraint: Healthy

limitations give focus.

2. Collaboration: Combine

minds and manpower.

3. Open-Mindedness: Don’t

self-edit. Dream big.

4. Reframing: Attack problems

from a new angle.

ISSUE No. 2

Were your parents mechanical?

In Russia when I was young, a lot of country

houses were self-built. My grandfather built our

country house himself.

Whenever we had to fix anything around

that house, we just had to do it or build it. My

father worked a lot around the house, but he is

not mechanical by trade. He’s a geographer and

our mother is as well. With them, we got our

inspiration for traveling, for cities and for the

planning that goes into spaces.

Above

The “ugly” shack.

Right

Petr & Fedor

Novikov

playing in the

garden. 2

What did you build with when you were younger?

We spent every summer at that country house.

Most of the time, Petr and I were just building

stuff, like forts or small models of houses or chairs.

There was wood all around, so we would just saw

some and use that. 1

We built this structure once that was like a

treehouse or a shack. We thought it was a castle at

the time, and now I look back on it and it was just

utterly ugly, just crazy ugly, but we did it without

help from adults. 3

We also had Legos at some point, of course. In

Russia, when Legos arrived it was like, “Wow!”—it

was a big deal.

We didn’t have Lego sets though, we just

had mass amounts of the standard pieces. 1 I think

it was actually much better that way. A lot of

children now just do designs exactly like what’s

on the box and they get bored. There are all these

custom pieces for, say, an astronaut or spacecraft.

It’s almost like an IKEA job. We didn’t have that.

4 5


PLAY = WORK

FROM LEGOS TO MODULAR SPACES

I’M NOT THE CREATIVE TYPE

Right

Initial prototypes

of the mini robots

that can build

interior walls.

Below

Three different

configurations

of the same

apartment made

possible by asmbld.

ISSUE No. 2

Robot prototypes built by Petr and Fedor test their core hypothesis.

Given you grew up spending so much time

making things with your hands, what gets you

both so excited about using robots to build our

spaces?

When you look at industries with a history

of robotics like manufacturing, which has been

using robots for 30-40 years, they just took the

process humans were using on a conveyor belt and

automated that. In construction, it’s pretty much

the same—automating human processes. For us,

that’s not the interesting part.

Take a simple concept like brick laying for

example. In every country when the concept of a

brick first appeared, they were all about the same

size and shape. The reason for that is that bricks

are designed for one hand. 1 A worker can grab a

brick with one hand, use the other to lay cement,

and then place the brick down.

When you look at a robot, it has completely

different capabilities in terms of the weight it can

lift, and of speed and precision. Automating brick

laying for a robot becomes silly. You are taking old

constraints and building around them, but when

you design around the capabilities of a robot, you

might come up with an entirely new system. 4

Above

The brothers

build their robots

in a warehouse

in Brooklyn.

With asmbld, you’re working to fundamentally

alter how we relate to the spaces we live in. Can

you tell us more about what you’re tackling?

The average building’s lifespan is 40 years.

After that it gets demolished and only a small

portion of the materials get recycled and

repurposed. It turns out that up to 40% of landfills

in the United States are materials from

demolition waste.

Through research, we found 40% of that waste

comes from renovations. So, we asked ourselves if

we can make buildings that qualify for two things 1 :

1. Reusable. Nearly every element you put into

the building can be reused after it’s disassembled

or recycled.

2. Adaptable. Throughout the building’s

lifetime, they adapt based on your needs so you

don’t have to renovate and create waste.

We believe robots are the tool that will allow

us to sustainably shape-shift our spaces. We’re

focusing on indoor spaces, starting with floors. We

can’t share too much about the technical details

for IP reasons, but to describe it broadly, you’ll be

able to say where you want something to be built,

and it will come out of the floor and disappear

back into it when you’re done. 3 Robots do the

assembly and disassembly layer by layer, and also

handle the movement of building elements under

your feet.

1

2

3

6 7


PLAY = WORK

TYGERSHARK

I’M NOT THE CREATIVE TYPE

Dr Seuss

I like nonsense, it wakes up

the brain cells. Fantasy is a

necessary ingredient in living, it's

a way of looking at life through

the wrong end of a telescope.

Spaghetti Towers

The purpose of this exercise is to

experience three key principles of

good play: building with your hands,

collaborating, and creating within

limitations. It’s also simple and makes

for a great icebreaker. Do it yourself:

1. Grab some friends / colleagues,

marshmallows and spaghetti.

2. Divide into teams.

3. Set a 10-15 minute timer.

4. Build a tower.

Highest tower wins. Go!

Built a good one? Send it to us:

creativetype@ideo.com

ISSUE No. 2

8 9


PLAY = WORK

AN INTERVIEW

I’M NOT THE CREATIVE TYPE

A VISCE AL FORM OF

LEARNING.

Source: An interview given to 99U

First off, when I say the word “play”

what does it mean to you?

Brendan Boyle: To me, play is what

you’re passionate about doing. You

want to do it because it’s enjoyable

and you want to keep doing it

because it brings you joy. But play is

a ton of effort.

Joe Wilcox: Play is a state of mind.

I’ve heard it described as a visceral

form of learning. It really doesn’t

matter what the activity is, it’s the

way you approach the activity that

makes it play.

What common misperceptions do

organizations have around play?

Brendan: People tend to think a

couple things. That work is work and

play is frivolous and it’s only for kids.

Or when they do try and incorporate

it, they treat it separate from the

work and schedule it in almost like it

was recess. The core difference we’re

trying to incorporate at IDEO is that

play is part of the innovation process

not just something you do when you

roll out the ping pong tables at a

specific time.

What mindset should a creative

have when approaching play?

Joe: Try to encourage open-ended

behavior. It’s not about goals, it’s

about pushing the boundaries and

discovering something.

For those that work with digital

tools, how do you replicate playing

and prototyping?

Brendan: We were recently working

on an iPhone app for Sesame Street

and were trying to think of how

Elmo should dance. So, we cut out

a giant iPhone from foam core and

filmed different people dancing

inside the window. It was a very

playful way to prototype and, more

importantly, we learned quickly

which dance moves wouldn’t work.

Our goal with prototyping is to

build something quickly and learn

and then make it better on the next

round.

How do you handle skeptics

of play?

Brendan: In Tom Kelley’s book The

10 Faces of Innovation, he talks

about the one guy in the meeting

that anoints himself the role of

playing devil’s advocate. For some

reason, he then gets to shoot-down

everyone’s ideas. Tom makes a great

point around, “What if this person

had to play a different role? What if

they had to play the ‘experimenter’

role?”

Joe: Those skeptics are in every

walk of life. You can certainly

combat it with the experimenter

role. Show people it’s possible,

don’t just tell them. It’s always

been the seemingly improbable,

boundary-pushing ideas that have

created this world around us, and

none of that would have been

possible if they’d listened to all the

people who said it never would have

worked. We’d still be living in caves

if we relied on the skeptics.

ISSUE No. 2

10 11


PLAY = WORK

CHINDŌGU

I’M NOT THE CREATIVE TYPE

CHINDŌGU

A playful Japanese art form mashes up existing products and

everyday needs as a starting point for innovation.

They must have a spirit of anarchy

Chindōgus challenge the need for usefulness.

ISSUE No. 2

Chindōgu are not for sale

Chindōgu cannot be sold. That

would go against the spirit of the

art form.

In the 1980s, a Japanese designer

named Kenji Kawakami developed the

art of Chindōgu or “unuselessness.”

Chindōgu inventions are eccentric

and extremely inconvenient tools that

solve everyday problems.

At the heart of Chindōgu is a sense

of playfulness. The embrace of

ridiculousness removes any fear of

judgment, while the emphasis on

problem solving offers focus and

constraint.

There are a few guiding tenets to the

art form. Read those on the pages

that follow, then we’ll challenge you

to design your own Chindōgu.

Chindōgu cannot

be for real use

They are impractical

enough to be useless.

Chindōgu tools are for everyday life

They are solutions to problems

encountered every day around the world.

12 13


PLAY = WORK

CHINDŌGU

I’M NOT THE CREATIVE TYPE

A Chindōgu must exist

A Chindōgu must be something

that you can hold in your hands.

Chindōgu are without prejudice

Everyone should have an equal

chance to enjoy a Chindōgu.

ISSUE No. 2

Humor is not the sole reason

Even though Chindōgu are inherently

ridiculous, they are still created to

solve a problem.

Chindōgu are not propaganda

They are innocent and made with

pure intentions.

Chindōgu are never taboo

Chindōgu must adhere to

society’s basic standards.

Chindōgu cannot be patented

Chindōgu cannot be copyrighted

or patented. They are meant to be

shared with the world.

Thanks to mentalfloss.com for teaching us about Chindōgu. Images from the internet.

14 15


PLAY = WORK

MAKE YOUR OWN

CHINDŌGU

Solve a problem by repurposing an existing product.

EVERYDAY NEED - Look around you. What’s frustrating people or making them uncomfortable?

EXISTING PRODUCT - What’s something you could buy at Home Depot or a gag shop?

DRAW & NAME IT

This second edition of I’m not the

creative type by IDEO is limited

to five hundred copies, all of which

have been assembled by an IDEO

New York designer.

This is copy _________________

Will you send us what you came up with? We’re curious:

creativetype@ideo.com

16


IDEO (pronounced “eye-dee-oh”) is a

global design firm that takes a humancentered,

design-based approach to

helping organizations in the public and

private sectors innovate and grow.

We were founded in 1991 with the faith

that everyone is creative.

www.ideo.com

COLOPHON

I’m not the creative type – “Play=Work”. Zine #2

Printed & assembled at IDEO New York

Limited edition of about 500

Published on 10.14.2015

Curated by Bailey Richardson & Thom Huxtable

Design by IDEO NY

Typeset in Gotham, Calibre

Cover: French Paper. 100lb cover weight. Pop-tone

Blue Raspberry

Fly Sheet: Mohawk VIA Smooth Bright White,

Fibre. 24lb.

Interior: Mohawk Paper. 24lb & 28lb writing weight.

Superfine in Ultrawhite Eggshell

zine.ideo.com

THANKS TO

Fedor Novikov

Petr Novikov

Brendan Boyle

Joe Wilcox

Tim Brown

Stuart Brown

Ashlea Powell

Ben Swire

Chris Milne

T&B


I’m not the creative

type is a zine to spark

imagination. Everyone

is born with an innate

creative ability, it’s just

a matter of shedding

fear of judgment

through inspiration,

process and craft.

Play is one of those

processes.

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