I’d thought about starting something like this, but now that TechShop is making its Portland debut I will happily use their tools and facilities to learn more about the process of making things. I’m very excited about this development and will be one of the first to support an East Side Annex!
On the bus I get to know Dave, a self-proclaimed inventor and maker who’s excited about TechShop’s CNC router. Dave builds Fretted Dulcimers which are apparently coming back into fashion in the Japanese hand-made instrument market, and he needs access to the shop in order to build prototypes.
Dave seems to be the typical clientelle of TechShop; a maker with big dreams, little space, and no equipment. TechShop’s goal is to remedy this situation for the 300 or so potential members that came to the opening event. TechShop plans to have milling machines, lathes, welders, a laser cutter, an electronics shop, blacksmithing tools, a finishing room, workstations, a 3D printer, and of course the coveted CNC router. Along with all of this equipment there will be a tool and materials shop, a small library and a communal kitchen.
The greatest benefit of Techshop will be the probable development of community. The owner of TechShop, Jim Newton and the Portland shop manager, Denney Cole, claim that the community is one of the greatest drawing powers for continued membership. Most builders know that another’s experience and knowledge is the best tool available.
In addition to the tools and community, TechShop will offer offices for rent so that businesses may be based out of the shop. This will include access to the machines and tools as well. The monthly cost for a membership is $125 while a yearly membership is $1000. There may be a special rate if you get in now, which I would recommend since there are only 500 available memberships. The anticipated opening date for TechShop Portland is December 15, 2008 and the hours will be 10am-9pm, 7 days a week. Eventually Denney would like to have the shop open 24 hrs a day. Jim and Denney hope to open an annex on the East Side as soon as possible, sparing us more long bus rides.
I never took any art classes and I don’t know how to draw, paint, sculpt, etc… but I have been spending a large amount of time over the past several months getting more and more into my obsession with design. Trying to take apart what I consider “good design” into the process components that might have been involved in bringing those wonderful ideas, or reimaginations, to reality.
During my reading I came across some keywords that have opened my design education. Keywords are the keys to the kingdom when it comes to internet research. You find the right set and they will guide you to all the others. This time it was “Design Thinking”.
I came across the term when reading about Stanford’s d.School and how they were applying the Design Thinking process in a collaborative effort with their business school. One link led to another and I was hooked.
This is good stuff.
This is creative, analytical, visual problem solving.
Design thinking is a process for practical, creative resolution of problems or issues that looks for an improved future result. Unlike analytical thinking, design thinking is a creative process based around the “building up” of ideas. There are no judgments in design thinking. This eliminates the fear of failure and encourages maximum input and participation. Outside the box thinking is encouraged in this process since this can often lead to creative solutions.
Everywhere I’ve looked I have found applications for this type of problem solving. I like “what if” scenarios (to a point) and I like applying them in open problem solving arenas. I always try to see hurdles as opportunities. More often to run around than jump over.
I’d like to say I’ve been using this type of problem solving for a long time but there is a lot I can learn here. Maybe you can too, in your business, in your personal/social life, wherever.
Tim Brown of IDEO (one of the most successful design firms in the world) is largely credited with coining the term and is it’s lead evangelist. Check out his blog at http://designthinking.ideo.com for some thoughtful musings on the process. Also check out http://www.core77.com for some really hot designs.
I like information and I’m a very visual person. One of my favorite sections of any Wired magazine is the couple pages dubbed “infoporn” which display some sort of statistical information in a creative and potentially impactful way.
Bar and Pie charts just don’t cut it anymore.
I recently stumbled across a site that will give me my pretty data fix whenever I need it. Enter infosthetics.com, a blog dedicated to data visualization and visual design, that scours the nets for interesting infographics.