Want to be paid by the hour or the job?

I used to divide people into two types, when I was thinking about how they work. One type works according to elapsed time. That type gets paid (or expects to) according to the amount of time that they spend on the job. It’s a bit like a metered taxi. As long as the meter is […]

Building steps

The line between rules and freedom I’VE BEEN LOOKING AT THE WOODWORK on this little island in the Andaman Sea, tucked in between coastal Thailand and Burma. Its rudimentary, to be sure, but not without interest. Most of the use of wood is architectural and the buildings are small. They are fairly minimal, and that […]

Back door of a gratifying career

When I first arrived in Toronto, newly removed from the Peace River country of northern Alberta, I lived, by chance, very close to the Art Gallery of Ontario. This was very lucky for me and it became one of my favourite places in the city. The context was that before I came to Toronto, I […]

Courses and horses

As I near the time to hang up my teaching hat, I’ve become reflective. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into being a teacher, and I’m left feeling that I’ve finally learned a few things about it. It has taken a while, and, like most learning, it didn’t come without its costs. Maybe […]

Harvest time: Cultivate design ideas like crops

Fall is a magical time of the year. The light is golden. The farmers’ fields are golden. The leaves change colours, to warmer and richer and even golden hues. There is something going on within us that cause us to adjust our rhythms and outlook. We might slow down a bit and probably become a […]

Designing AND making

Design is a word that is in popular and common use now. It is broadly understood to be a means to brand and product differentiation, as well as a tool for personal expression. The business press writes about design thinking within the context of the need for innovation, which is considered a very important challenge […]

What design has done for me

When I was 19, I stumbled on the knowledge that there was an occupation called Design. This momentous discovery made me feel like I had won the lottery. Designing was something that I did instinctively, and if I could get paid for doing it, than I had found my life’s work. Even before I knew […]

Chasing glory and marketplace success

I have just walked through the large ‘pop-up’ craft market in San Cristobal De Las Casas in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. There were hundreds of booths displaying many things, but there was a definite emphasis on textiles. The colours are spectacular and the workmanship is both highly skilled and conspicuously laborious. It was very […]

Objects tell stories

  Every picture tells a story. So does every object. And we know that some have a more important or interesting story to tell than others do. A lot of these stories are very personal. The objects we use take on a meaning that is a story that only we will know. I have a […]

Too many stuffs

  Too many stuffs. I’m borrowing this expression from one of my students, an English-language learner as we now call them. I’m charmed by the compound plurality. Too many stuffs indeed — a sign of our times. How did we get to this state of affairs? My take on it is that industrial design has been crucially involved. In the early […]