Up to 50 percent of all neo-natal deaths in the developing world occur within the first 24 hours of delivery, largely the result of inadequate access to healthcare and precarious conditions at birth. In this perilous environment, how can high infant mortality rates be reduced? That was the challenge frog was asked to solve by Bill Gates, as part of his guest editor stint for Wired magazine’s December 2013 issue focusing on lifesaving innovations. Jonas Damon, frog creative director and project lead, discusses frog’s prototype for a holistic support system to help mothers and vulnerable newborns.
Sometime around 1996 I found myself standing in the upstairs library of a drafty, suburban Chicago Victorian owned by a mentor, marveling at what seemed to be a neurotic collection of books. He had volumes on cooking, social science, biology, business, systems engineering, anthropology, architecture, comics, painting, science fiction, classic literature, graphic design, and a batch of academic papers, among others. When we went book shopping together, I often left with a stack in hand similar to what was on his shelves, despite other intentions.
The notion of "design thinking" has emerged as a topic of great discussion in recent years among design practitioners, educators across disciplines, and organizations of all kinds. Whether you’re a student, graduate, or seasoned veteran you’ll find value in the following dialogue which explores some of its many interpretations and applications.
This interview was conducted by Dianne Hardin, a Master of Design Candidate at The University of Cincinnati, College of Design, Art, Architecture & Planning as part of her research for the DMI FutureED project. Hardin wanted to get perspectives on design thinking from practitioners responsible for providing it to clients and teaching it to students. This past summer, she spoke with frog Design Research Director Jon Freach and Associate Creative Director Lauren Serota, who are also founding professors at the Austin Center for Design, which aims to transform society through design and design education.
The average, postage stamp-sized urban kitchen is a very inefficient use of space, as most New Yorkers will tell you. Sitting on the counter, in all their oversized glory, are any number of machines that grind, puree, juice, cook, brew and occupy valuable kitchen real estate. Each of these machines has its own motor, power supply and controls, and each is doing its own thing independently of the other. “It’s a very fractured environment, a redundant combination of one-off systems that don’t talk to each other,” says Jonas Damon, frog creative director.
When French philosopher and writer Gilles Ménage commented on the humanist translations of Nicolas Perrot d’Ablancourt some four hundred years ago, he was criticizing the re-interpreted dimension of beauty that the translator had added to the original work.
“Translations, like women, can be either faithful or beautiful, but not both” wrote Ménage referring to a brief romance he had once had in the past, and went on to describe the lost connection between the original piece and the translators’ repurposed sibling.
In 2007 frog opened its Shanghai studio in response to China’s growing economy. Today it serves as the company’s Asia-Pacific headquarters, servicing clients in markets including China, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Thailand.
The studio’s co-founder, Executive Creative Director Brandon Edwards was recently featured in the book Design Transitions, where he shares the changes frog has experienced in order to meet the wide-ranging needs of the Asia-Pacific market.
The use of digital banking and electronic payments is expanding in many countries, as consumers embrace technology that facilitates financial services. Yet in Russia, people still cling to cash for most of their financial needs. In fact, more than 90 percent of all commodity purchases are in cash, according to the Bank of Russia, and the country loses over one percent of its annual GDP due to the huge amount of cash circulating and its maintenance costs. This poses a challenge to financial institutions, like Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, which is eager to transition customers to digital services. Sberbank asked frog to design product and service concepts that could effectively support that transition.
The electric energy at SOCAP 2013 was palpable. This conference is dedicated to talking about ideas that could increase the flow of capital toward social good. The SOCAP platform connects leading global innovators, investors, foundations, institutions, and social entrepreneurs that build this market at the intersection of money and meaning.
In the second part of our three-part series exploring the evolving Internet of Things (IoT), Annie Hsu, Associate Strategy Director in frog’s San Francisco studio, examines what standards and platforms are needed to enable its expansion.
Throughout my recent ten-month research project in China, I sought to study examples of resource-constrained creativity across western China – particularly those related to mobility and transportation. Having spent previous time living and researching in Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar, I had come to recognize the importance of the Chinese-engine powered walking-tractor-turned-vehicle (and the many modifications to it) to rural life in these countries. From logistics to transportation to power generation and beyond, I hoped to catalogue and understand modifications to these vehicles in their country of origin before the machines became obsolete. I believed that by understanding various modifications and the forces that drove (or prevented) their widespread adoption that the pace of creative modification could be accelerated in other developing contexts, where the vehicle was still a pivotal rural workhorse.