Saturday, May 14, 2011


Last Thursday and Friday (5 May) I went to Copenhagen. I wanted to see what Scandinavia was like, and Copenhagen was the closest city. Why did I want to see what Scandinavia was like? Because it seemed like all my European friend pointed to Scandinavia as examples of great societies.

Mermaids, Windmills, and Bikes
Of course in Copenhagen everybody must see the little mermaid. It is very underwhelming. why not make it more exciting?

Much more interesting are the huge windmills and bikes throughout Copenhagen.

Danish Design
I also wanted to go to Copenhagen, because I wanted to see Scandinavia and its design influences ( especially after taking UOCD*)

First I went to the Danish Design Center. Their exibhts seemed like they were straight out of a UOCD textbook. If you have taken UOCD these things might look familiar to you.

I also ran into the Scandinavia show room for Tesla Motors. The sales person was very interested in talking to me, even though it was obvious I was not trying to buy a car. Evidently there are only several dozen such cars in Denmark. I asked how can this be, since Scandinavian society as a whole was more on the cutting edge of green technology then the U.S. The sales persons said that this was true, but there is not a culture of showing off possessions as statis symbols. Thus the wealthy Danish business man might still bike to work if it was convenient. This is exactly what I found as I saw many gray-haired men in suits bike around Copenhagen.

Finally I spoke to some desighners I randomly ran into they invited me to their office to chat. Turns out they work for INDEX, an orginzation that organizizes the largest design prize in the world. Later I recollected that I actually saw the head of INDEX speak at a conference I went to last year (Better World By Design).
One question that I was left with: why is the design profession- the people, lingo, education, still dominated from an art perspective?- by industrial designers, artistic terms/exhibits (the way they’re displayed sembles modern art exhibits), I don’t know the answer. If you do. Let me know!

*UOCD stands for User Oriented Collaborative Design. It is the required introductory design course at Olin. Most engineering schools do not teach their students this user oriented approach.

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