Design Thinking: Empowering Solutions for Wicked Problems
In today's complex and interconnected world, traditional problem-solving approaches often fall short when addressing wicked problems - those complex, open-ended issues that lack clear-cut solutions (Wahl, 2017). Design Thinking offers a refreshing and effective approach to tackle these challenges. Developed by Tim Brown, David Kelley, and the team at IDEO, Design Thinking is a critical process that fosters empathy, promotes integrative thinking, embraces experimentation, encourages collaboration, and sparks optimism. Through this innovative approach, designers engage in conceiving and planning solutions that do not yet exist, creating novel and transformative outcomes.
One wicked problem that has caught our attention is the impact of social media on the mental health of artists. Recent research has revealed the potential risks associated with excessive social media use, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, and poor sleep quality. Artists, in particular, are vulnerable to social pressures, peer opinions, and comparisons prevalent in social media environments. These challenges can lead to mental health issues such as identity crisis, creative blocks, and constant comparison, hindering artists from fully expressing themselves and their talents.
To address this wicked problem and support artists, we embarked on a collaboration with NotNot Cam Scott, an artist renowned for his thought-provoking and inspiring artworks. Our goal was to create a platform for artists to collaborate, share experiences, find inspiration, and ultimately overcome the negative effects of social media on their mental health.
The journey began with awareness. I became aware of Cam Scott's art and recognized the potential for collaboration. Acknowledging the impact of social media on our own well-being, we saw an opportunity to encourage self-reflection and start a conversation about its effects. I reached out to Cam via Instagram, initiating the consideration stage of the journey. Through ongoing communication, I shared my vision for the collaboration and discussed possible design concepts.
Collaborating with Cam and other creatives was a vital step in the process. Cam shared potential artworks for the collaboration, and together, we explored design ideas, refining concepts to ensure they resonated with the vision. Through a series of back-and-forth discussions, sketches, and design iterations, we landed on a handful of designs that captured the essence of the collaboration. “Making” a “Thing” that didn’t exist before. There’s a certain celebration that comes with the act of creation and this joy is epitomised by the “maker movement” (Parker, 2016).
In an in-person meeting, we finalized the details and designs and conducted an insightful interview with Cam. Journalist Luka Forman and videographer Isaac Thorpe played crucial roles in capturing Cam's thoughts and inspirations. These personal insights would later be incorporated into the collaboration's films, providing a deeper understanding of Cam's artistic journey.
The execution of the NotNot x Amaris collaboration involved a multifaceted approach, incorporating various individuals who played integral roles in bringing the vision to life. With the goal of creating a short launch film featuring Cam and Sean discussing the collaboration's significance, I recognized the need for additional expertise. Luka Forman, a talented journalist, accompanied me to Bondi, Sydney, where he meticulously researched Cam and crafted thought-provoking questions for the interview. Luka's genuine interest in Cam's art fueled his passion and commitment to capturing the essence of the collaboration. Additionally, videographer Isaac Thorpe joined the team, documenting the first meeting, interview, and Cam's street art. Isaac's shared interests in mental health support and guidance for underprivileged youth aligned with the project's purpose. Together, these individuals contributed their unique skills and perspectives, enabling us to create a powerful launch film that generated awareness and engaged our audience. Both Luka and Isaac Thorpe played key roles in capturing Cam's thoughts and inspirations. These personal insights would later be incorporated into the collaboration's films, providing a deeper understanding of Cam's artistic journey.
The creation of sample designs marked an exciting milestone in the process. We meticulously carved the designs from wax, embracing a sustainable approach by using recycled sterling silver for casting. This commitment to responsible consumption and production was aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12, which aims to promote sustainable practices and reduce waste.
Design thinking relies on our ability to be intuitive, to recognise patterns, to construct ideas that have emotional meaning as well as being functional, and to express ourselves in media other than words or symbols (Brown, 2009).
Each piece has its own meaning and story that gives it more value then just that of a simple piece of silver.
"Emotionally durable design provides a useful language to describe the contemporary relevance of designing responsible, well-made, tactile products which the user can get to know and assign value to in the long-term." (Chapman, 2009).
To showcase the beauty and creativity of the sample pieces, we collaborated with Jack Gallagher and Project Agency for a photoshoot. Models Brimshady and Kerry Thompson brought the designs to life, allowing us to capture captivating imagery that would generate excitement and engage our audience.
The launch the valentines day campaign and collaboration film was a pivotal moment. The short 2-minute film, featuring Cam and Sean discussing the collaboration's significance, served as a powerful tool to raise awareness and spark interest before the launch.
As the collaboration progressed, we prepared for the film premiere and collaboration launch party. This event was a culmination of our efforts, a moment to celebrate the collaboration's impact and introduce NotNot Cam Scott to a wider audience. The premier featured a 15-minute film , titled "Who is NotNot Cam Scott?", delved deeper into Cam's artistic journey and finless surfing aesthetic creating a profound connection between the audience and the collaboration.
We carefully curated the launch party, enlisting talented DJs Tallas Lynch, Henry Gralton, and Cosmic Cowgirl to create an unforgettable atmosphere. The launch party, hosted at Jams Karaoke Bar was a vibrant gathering where artists and supporters came together to appreciate art, music, and creativity. Seek constant improvement by the sharing of knowledge. Striving to encourage direct and open communication between colleagues, patrons, manufacturers and users to link long term sustainable considerations with ethical responsibility, and reestablish the integral relationship between natural processes and human activity." (McDonough, 1992). The event fostered a sense of community, encouraging collaboration among artists and aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 17, which emphasises the importance of partnerships for collective impact.
Throughout this journey, we were cognizant of the wicked problem at hand - the negative effects of social media on artists' mental health. By collaborating with Cam and creating a space for artists to connect, share, and find inspiration, we aimed to mitigate these challenges and promote mental well-being. Our commitment to raising awareness and addressing this issue aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3, which strives for good health and well-being.
Looking back, our individual roles in the collaboration were essential to its success. As a team we accomplished great things.
Wahl, C, D., (2017). Facing Complexity: Wicked Design Problems. Excerpt form my 2006 PhD thesis: ‘Design for Human and Planetary Health: A Holistic/Integral Approach to Complexity and Sustainability’. https://medium.com/age-of-awareness/facing-complexity-wicked-design-problems-ee8c71618966