Los Alamos lab China
Running effective charrettes
One of my professors at the IIT Institute of Design who is a founder of Gravity Tank, and prodigy of product design has started a blog with his partner called “Foghorn: Sounding off on Innovation“.
Chris is insightful and an exceptional facilitator of innovation workshops.
As he mentions in his blog, I am really looking forward to conducting a design charrette with a client that I am working for who is looking to create sustainable energy solutions for the Chinese rural and peri-urban household.
Although I am familiar with conducting product-oriented workshops or 1 day charrettes, I’ve never tried a service or product/service combo. I have a strong conviction that it is possible, depending on the materials and team’s collective imagination. I am excited that I’m working with a multi-disciplinary team too. It’s almost like having a team of Foundation students at ID with interesting experiences to bring to bear on solving a problem.
I will post a debrief following the workshop to let everyone know how it went. In the meantime, have your fill of all things innovative over at the Foghorn.
CasePlace.org, which provides teaching modules and case studies for various relevant industry topics has just released a teaching module called “Bottom of the Pyramid”.
It contains three case studies that might be relevant if you’re an educator or just someone who is particularly interested in this space:
Oh. Also, this is the first post from WP for yakshaving that I am doing over email. I don’t know why I never thought of this earlier, it’s much, much easier.
Today after K and I left work, we had dinner with two ID friends (Ying and Jun Jie) at a place called Shun Feng (the one on Huangpi Bei Lu).
I had the brilliant idea of trying to walk there, because Huangpi Rd is literally right next to our office in Xintiandi. I just didn’t know how far the city blocks were. At first, we started walking in the totally wrong direction, on the right street. Then, we turned around and started waiting for a cab. It was IMPOSSIBLE to find a free cab today, though we spent more than 20 minutes trying to do so each time. In fact, there are some clever entrepreneurial guys who ride their mopeds around, and offer to take people for rides. I guess you have to get on the back of a scooter or motorcycle without a helmet with a random dude and pay him/her a certain arbitrary amount of money. In Xintiandi, I saw one of these guys arguing with a Caucasian woman about shortchanging him. It looked like she paid 11 kuai, which is sort of the standard cab fare, but he demanded more and kept pointing to her bag. Craaazy.
Anyway, we finally got to Shun Feng, 30 minutes late, to find Ying and Jun Jie waiting for us with a GINORMOUS menu sitting on the table. This thing was a perfect bound, 70 page, hardcover, full color USER MANUAL for the food that must have weighed 10 pounds. I promised myself I wouldn’t judge the food here.. it’s just not fair, considering that I’m a vegetarian…. but on the menu today was something that rivaled the grossness of the stuff on Wangfujing dajie in Beijing: an entire suckling pig (a baby pig) that was served on the table. I guess you had to reserve it ahead of time, though.
We found a fair share of su cai (vegetarian) food, including this delicious 蔥油餅 (cōng yóu bǐng.. green onion pancakes). But MAN, was it heavy on the oil. I feel like I might have clogged 2 or 3 arteries just eating dinner today alone.
I love eating out with people, but this unhealthy food is REALLY getting to me. I need some oatmeal soon. When I get back to Chicago, I think I’m going to do a serious wheatgrass detox for 5 days. By then, I’ll really need it.
In any event, for those who are carnivorous, the restaurant seemed like a good choice with a pretty large selection. Actually, it was the largest selection I’ve ever seen in my life. Here is the address in case you’re particularly interested:
3/F Central Plaza, 227 Huangpi Bei Lu
near the Grand Theatre, Metro Line 1 People’s Square Station
Here is a hint for the ‘su cai’ people that decide to come to Shanghai.
There’s a place called the Jade Buddha temple that has a nice restaurant attached to it. We went to it, and it had a plethora of interesting dishes, some of which were faux meat. One bizarre thing is that there was a Chinese man in the restaurant that couldn’t remove his gaze from our direction. Actually, he was just plain staring, and wouldn’t even look away if you turned to look at him. I think he was amazed that Westerners might actually want to eat vegetarian food though meat is so abundant and relatively inexpensive in China now.
Here is a further listing of vegetarian restaurants in Happy Cow:
And finally, here is a place that I can’t wait to try that comes highly recommended by this guy who has a vegetarian girlfriend:
I’ll post about Vegetarian Lifestyle when I visit there soon.
We’re leaving tonight via train to reach Beijing, as we are meeting with a Design professor and his students at Tsinghua University.
Depending on my net availability, posts may be limited until Sunday, when we will return to Shanghai.
Until then, enjoy the many pictures uploaded recently on Flickr.
I am sitting in a Starbucks in Shanghai right now, in an area known as Xintiandi (although I don’t have wireless access here, surprisingly this Starbucks does not have any access, so this will inevitably be posted later). If I close my eyes, there is absolutely no way to know that I am at a Starbucks in Shanghai and not in Kansas City. I guess everyone, the world over, has need for a “third place”.
Here in the office, there is very little space and no wireless access. I have a short ethernet cord, and it is a pain to disconnect and connect to move from the office to the meeting room. So, I thought it best to work across the street at this Starbucks.
Right now, I’m putting together a user guide for conducting ethnographic interviews, although it will soon have to be translated into Mandarin. I should really learn Mandarin, it seems like it would be extremely valuable. And I wouldn’t have to rely on people to translate for me. From the looks of the hanzi script, I think it would take months of intense learning.
Tonight, I’m flying to Beijing and tomorrow we will be meeting with a professor at the design department in Tsinghua. Also, sometime I will meet up with Christine, a friend from UMMUN (U of M Model United Nations) days. I haven’t seen her in 4 years, so I’m very excited.
… because you can always paint your side….
I may be sheltered, I realize, but I have never seen fertilizer that is this vividly green. This, my friends, is nook-yuh-lar green, and it is a bit scary that the hotel worker here is using a power sprayer to cover the lawn with this pigment.
Don’t get me wrong, the lawn looks great, but if it comes at the expense of this guy dyeing it on a weekly basis, I think I’ll pass. The particularly weird thing about this is that there were women walking just downstream of this spray, completely oblivious. I’m sure its got all sorts of delicious neurotoxins and carcinogenic substances.
When you’re in a country of so many people, you have to learn to deal with lack of personal space. There isn’t always abundance, so you have to make do with what you have. I have seen remarkable reuse of containers, objects that one buys at the store. In fact, there has traditionally been very little use of product packaging. Most of the stuff that is bought is self contained. You can bring your own cloth bag to the markets, for instance, and put food directly into your bag after purchasing it.
Despite the large number of people that inhabit one area, there is minimal waste.
That is, until, the disposable, wasteful, bigger-is-better, American culture was imported here. As evidenced by this abomination you see to the right, which was parked outside our hotel.