Internet of Things for Social Impact with Chris Parlato

The 2015 Design Exchange Boston, a conference hosted by AIGA, featured a talk and workshop led by one of Essential’s design researchers, Chris Parlato. Chris’s talk, titled “Internet of Things for Social Impact,” discussed the tendency of connected devices to be superfluous and the challenges of designing connected objects to produce meaningful change in modern society.

In the workshop, participants were asked to consider macro-level societal issues ranging from environmental to human rights, and identify specific problems within those categories. The audience was split into smaller groups in which they identified the actors impacted by their defined problem to better understand the actors' contributing problem behaviors. From there, each group generated and evaluated design ideas, working to develop a connected solution that sought to resolve a targeted aspect of the problem. The solutions included independent connected devices, as well as connected ecosystems, with storyboards to represent the system experience.

Through careful consideration of all direct and indirect influencers of a social issue, the participants were posed with a challenge that many designers face daily—how can I leverage advances in technology to drive sustainable systemic change?

Design Museum Mornings with Naz Mirzaie

The September Design Museum Mornings featured Essential's Design Researcher, Naz Mirzaie. Naz spoke about the importance of design research and explained how her industrial design background has driven her interest in visual information strategies and experience mapping. Check out the video for a recap of the morning, and find event information on the Design Museum Foundation's website here: Now - July 20th

A curated weekly digest with thought provoking articles covering some of our favorite topics: design, robotics, service experience, IoT, healthcare, and innovation strategy.

The world’s first hotel staffed by robots with a focus in environmental sustainability through decreased energy usage and reduced waste.

Turning public lighting into smart-lighting networks that can collect data to communicate patterns in consumer behaviors or traffic congestion.

The online pharmacy, PillPack, launches a mobile medication reminder app for iPhone and Apple Watch.

A lamentation for lost tools in design and architecture, and a quiet manifesto describing a desire for slowness.

Target’s rethinking how they showcase connected devices, showing how the IoT products like Nest and Sonos work together using interactive storytelling.  

Essential + Youth Design, a Summer Tradition

Essential is excited to announce the beginning of our fourth year hosting an intern through Youth Design, a summer mentorship program that introduces inner-city youth to careers in the Boston design profession. Dashaun Johnson, a rising senior at Brighton High School, has a knack for Adobe Illustrator, a passion for graphic design, and his finger on the pulse of the latest trends in all things sneakers. He brings fresh eyes and enthusiasm to our team as he is introduced to the world of design consulting through the designers at Essential. During his time with us, Dashaun will be exposed to the range of services offered at Essential. We hope that his experience at Essential guides and prepares him as he begins to think about what he wants to study in college.

While getting geared up for the 2015 Youth Design mentorship, we enjoyed reflecting on last summer’s experience with Daniel Smelansky, a highly motivated intern who will begin college this fall at Mass College of Art and Design. Over the course of the summer, Daniel shared the story of the people and the culture of Essential through a video that expresses the vibrant and dynamic studio environment.

Check out Daniel’s video, “A Day in the Life of Essential”.  

Design for Social Impact: Promoting Trust, Authenticity, and Innovation through Design Thinking

Design for Social Impact: Promoting Trust, Authenticity, and Innovation through Design Thinking

Designers have the expertise essential for driving social innovation.

As a researcher with Master’s in Design for Sustainability, “Design for Social Innovation” has always been a huge part of my personal and professional life. My work is inspired by field leaders like Victor Papanek and Victor Margolin. Last week, I had the pleasure of attending an event “Learn. Leverage. Lead.” sponsored by Boston+Acumen. Thought leaders from different social impact fields shared their expertise around tackling poverty through solutions that involve mobilizing systems and investing in leaders.

Eleanor Murphy, Business Development Manager from Acumen, kicked off the event by presenting Acumen’s approach and grassroots efforts towards supporting and scaling early-stage companies who tackle poverty. She illustrated how Acumen invests in financial and human capital, technical assistance, and strategic guidance with platforms in different sectors, such as housing, energy, education, and healthcare. Acumen also provides education and leadership through online and fellowship programs. Such training is focused on developing moral imagination, operational, and financial skills. Since these skills are taught in the design thinking approach, designers are in a unique position to play a more significant role enacting social change.

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