TED Talks That “Talk The Talk” : Finidng Inspiration Through The Correct Questions

Ted Talks are a series of online lectures on various topics, all meant to teach and inspire people around the world, creating a community of enlightened people. So it comes as no surprise that many people invited to give Ted Talks are architects and designers. Designers tend to see things differently and explore ideas which make for good discussion and learning curbs and ultimately promote lessons worth sharing.

Many architectural magazines and online communities have provided the top 10 or 20 most inspiring Ted Talks to watch for architects, being the obsessive human being that I am, I have religiously watched these and was inspired by almost all.

Having watched these relatively short clips, ranging anywhere between 12 minutes to 25minutes, I was inspired! I was also sometimes bored. This epiphany led me to create my own list of inspiring Ted Talks but all centred on a common theme.

The list below includes not only architects but designers and people from different walks of life, but the common thread being “asking the right questions” and speakers with a personality, something I believe all architects and designers need to do in order to respond to their design and keep people interested long enough to appreciate their hard work. These 5 speakers came up with different questions and applied the answers differently and they all are honest enough to admit their flaws and failures. I find this particularly inspiring as most people in life don’t succeed at first yet are made to feel inadequate and become demotivated. So it is with these focuses in mind that I chose 5 Ted Talks to talk young architects through 2015.

ALASTAIR PARVIN | Architecture for the people, by the people

Alastair graduated as an architect only to realise that architects were working themselves out of a job. According to Parvin, architects are fixated on producing buildings as a solution which in reality only respond to 1% of the population. This statistic prompted his question of: “who caters to the remaining 99% and how do we make the remainder our happy clients”?

TIM BROWN | Designers think big

He poses the question of the importance of design over design thinking. Brown reflects on the importance placed on design through consumerism and therefore starts to question the concept of design on the whole which leads him to the answer of implementation of design through thinking. He questions the problems of the daily user to focus on producing products that are smaller but address the problem in a bigger way.

TIMOTHY PRESTERO | Designing for people not for awards

Timothy Prestero uses the analogy of human life phases in association with design development. He relates how people become precious about design as if it were their precious baby, too complete to improve on. He furthers his argument by appropriating design as a process that needs to go through that awkward adolescent phase which is where he considers all the questioning to happen. Throughout the clip he emphasises, through the example of his baby incubator invention, how their intervention failed on numerous accounts throughout the process and mostly in terms of being manufactured. It was through failure that they questioned their product which helped them forward their design rather than being precious about a final product that doesn’t help the client. His motto is that designers should not design for solutions but rather for outcomes.

CHARLES LEADBEATER| The Era of open innovation

This very interesting Ted Talk focuses on more on open innovation in terms of IT and emerging markets unlike the previous talks from designers and architects. This was chosen as an example of how as architects we can learn from everyone and become inspired to produce products for people based on what people want and learning from other markets around us. He looks at the question people pose to developed ideas to create an even better opportunity. People who usually ask these questions are frustrated consumers rather than professionals which questions the role of designers today. He urges designers to look at smaller, simpler interventions that lead to a more useful product for the masses in all aspects. Consumer driven innovation is the product of questions that are asked by the majority of people who need it.

DAVID CARSON| Design and discovery

Possibly one of the most entertaining talks I have watched. David Carson talks of an emotional response to design by listening to your intuition. He believes that a designers intuition are the answers to questions that manifest within ourselves and result in great design. Happy designers produce good design.

By: Zakeeya Kalla

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