We invite you to indulge in the scientific, philosophical, wonderfully creative and very practical thoughts of John Maeda. With degrees from MIT and Tsukuba University Institute of Art and Design, Dr. Maeda has served as associate director of the MIT media laboratory and been a professor of media arts and sciences and of design and computation. He went on to become President of the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. He’s now Design Partner for Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield and Byers, and chair of the Design Advisory Board for eBay.
So get ready to exercise your brain. Sit back. Watch. Think about Maeda’s words. And ENJOY!
The Laws of Simplicity
Take in Maeda’s musings on simplicity and complexity: He wrote the book, The Laws of Simplicity, to figure out life. Insisting that though human beings love complexity, they are, at the same time, deeply intertwined with the notion of simplicity, he shares his belief that “simplicity is about living life with more enjoyment and less pain.”
Inspiration All Around Us
Inspiration can come from anywhere, and one of the richest sources of inspiration is the stuff that’s around us already. In this talk, we learn that animators study their everyday lives rather than undertake other kinds of more abstract or theoretical research for their animations. Maeda encourages us to recognize the importance of local cultural knowledge – stories, values and insights from “regular” folks – and to not fear failure, as both can lead to a sense of wonder.
Technology, Design & Art
A combination of the old and the new can lead to great things. Content can be changed dramatically if we alter its form. Art is about asking questions. Maeda, with a background in art, math and technology, touches on those topics and more. He discusses the interrelationships among technology, design, art and leadership and asserts that the biggest question facing us is how we are going to approach leadership.
A World of People
Whether talking about leadership styles (those who prefer to sustain order vs. those who thrive on taking risks; those who work hierarchically vs. those who establish networks and collaborations; etc.), or the relationship between technology and art, Maeda keeps returning to the notion that all our work takes place in a world of people, and that humanity matters.
The Art of Critical Making
On a hunt to understand design, Maeda speaks of both comfort and awe. If design is about achieving familiarity, it’s also about being novel. It doesn’t intimidate, yet presents sufficient unfamiliarity to be intriguing. Both artists and scientists are attracted to mystery, and to crafting questions and inventing materials—puzzling out aspects of our existence. They look at the world with a keen and analytical eye: Critical making (of a design; of an object) is a form of critical inquiry.
Featured Image Photo Credit: Robert Scoble (Flickr Creative Commons)