22
Apr 12

My quest to Understand Why Brazilians are so Happy

When I came to Brazil I was struck by how the people are so warm and friendly. I’ve never experienced people being so inquisitive – not necessarily about your social status, but just to really get to know you (or as my DesignThinkers’ associate Simone says ‘to really get to feel you’!) Maybe sometimes Brazilians can be a bit too inquisitive, like always asking how old you are (to which my response is now Portuguese for “NEVER ASK A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN HER AGE”).

Last week I started to get really homesick after getting food poisoning – I was really craving a Sunday lunch or a fry-up, as I’m living with vegetarians! But also I was really missing my friends and family back home.

Simone’s advice for my homesickness was: first, eat lots of Brazilian chocolate. Second, realize that the people at home are missing you more than you miss them. Third, it’s really important at this stage to laugh at yourself. And fourth, realize that you will make friends for life here. I thought that Simone must have been on to something when I was in Amsterdam and she told me about the W Curve, or the stages of culture shock. I didn’t really experience homesickness while I was in Amsterdam – I didn’t really get the chance! As my family and friends kept coming out to see me and I knew I could just get on a plane back home very easily.

The W Curve begins when you are very excited about the new culture, and also very naïve. You think everything is wonderful because it’s so different. For example, the bins here are raised off the ground and look to me more like postal boxes or basketball hoops! Things like this can fascinate you, but then you hear about parts of the culture that you don’t really like or understand or things that don’t go with your values. After you experience some of that you start to feel homesick, because you’re so out of your normal environment culture is affecting your behaviour. You’re now at the first dip of the W, and at that point you have to really start understanding the culture. Researching the W Curve led me to tweet a quote I’d found by Gandhi:

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22
Apr 12

Why do the people of Belo Horizonte walk so slow but never stand still?

This week on my design walkabout, I discovered a couple of reasons why people in Belo Horizonte walk so slow. The first is because the weather is so lovely and warm, and they don’t want to sweat (similar to the people of Amsterdam who ride their bikes slowly to avoid sweating so they can wear lightweight clothes).

But there’s another reason, which is specific to the people of Belo Horizonte (as I’ve been told the people of Sao Paolo walk extremely fast!). Here is my explanation:

I’m really not sure how safe the place I’m living is, I only know that the mindsets of the locals who I talk to are always switched on to security. I haven’t seen any violence or robberies anywhere while I’ve been in Belo Horizonte, and I’ve been told it’s okay to walk the ten minute journey to and from my Pilates class at night, although I do sometimes see homeless people on the streets searching for food and I have to use 5 separate keys to get into the place I’m staying!

Something last week made me question the security mindset of the locals. It was nighttime and I was waiting on the street outside the main security bars of my ‘casa’, just standing still waiting for a lift from one of the Voël team. Some people started shouting at me through the bars from inside, they were on their way out to get into a waiting car and told me ‘Get back inside it’s not safe’. I asked myself ‘How is it okay for me to walk to class at this time of day, but not okay to stand outside on the street?’ This is my street:

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03
Apr 12

Key observations so far about Brazil (causing mischief at Voël Design!)

I’d like to share with you a couple of things that I’ve noticed from my time in Brazil so far.

I’ve been learning a lot of things: firstly, how to make a caipirinha! (See my Youtube video below, and give it a go yourself). I’ve learned that the Voël team can help me get up to a lot of mischief – see the pictures below.

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03
Apr 12

The WHY of Mozaiko

As mentioned in the previous post, the project I am working on with Voël is called Mozaiko, which is a space to connect people, learn and share experiences to solve local problems in Brazil. Over the last couple of weeks we have been exploring the ‘what, how and why’ of Mozaiko using Simon Sinek’s ‘Golden Circle’. Sinek argues that the ‘why’ is the most important thing to discover, as people don’t believe in what you do rather they believe in why you do it.

The ‘why’ of Mozaiko is: exploring the following question in the context of Belo Horizonte:

’How can we help people in our local community to solve the problems that really matter to them?’

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03
Apr 12

Video Five: International Design Walkabout continues at Voël, Brazil

In this video I share reflections on my move to Brazil, talk about the fab team at Voël and Mozaiko, a great social innovation initiative that I am very honoured to be helping them to develop. If you want to follow the progress of this initiative you can find it on twitter @mozaico_cc .
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18
Feb 12

Iridescent Publication

The first volume of Iridescent: Icograda Journal of Design Research has just been published. The joint paper that I wrote with Joyce Yee and Kath McKelvey on the Design Collaboration project is included in this journal. The publication was launched during the Icograda General Assembly 24 in Taipei on 27 October 2011 and can be downloaded as PDF.


20
Nov 11

Share with us which companies design practices inspire you?

Design practices are always in a state of flux, currently there is not enough known about how design practices change and where they are moving to next.

In a book called “Design Transitions” Joyce Yee (@jsheau) and myself seek to capture and share inspirational stories of how design companies practices are evolving.

So we are now on the hunt to capture new and untold stories from across the globe. We are looking for practices who are challenging the traditional notions of designing and are operating in new design spaces.  It may results in new responsibilities and outputs as professional boundaries expand into management, strategy and policy areas. Examples may include designers working as innovation, service or user experience consultants.

If you know of design companies with inspirational practices and their stories not been told yet we would love to hear about them – all you need to do is comment below.

As comments are posted I will visually map the design companies people are inspired by and why. Follow the development of the book on Twitter: @DesTransitions.


05
Nov 11

Month one: Emma’s International Design Walkabout

Every month of the International Design Walkabout, I will reflect with the inspirational people I meet through video to share new insights into the global views on design. In first month of my International Design Walkabout, I have moved to Amsterdam to work and learn from the inspirational people at @DesignThinkers from September 2011 till February 2012. In this first video DesignThinkers.nl and myself, talk about what DesignThinkers do, my mindset shifting from a design academic to a design practitioner and the creative strategy behind Amsterdam’s development.

DesignThinkers feature in this video from left-right are: Camera lady – Marjo Staring (@MarjoStaring),Tim Schuurman (@SLOEP), Simone Veldema (@GreenbizStartup), Peter (a famous cartoonist that was visiting DesignThinkers), Me, Arne van Oosterom (@DesignThinkers), and Johannes van den Eerenbeemt (@JohannesvdE).


10
Sep 11

Emma’s International Design Walkabout

Hi! I am Emma Jefferies. I’m starting a new adventure working with DesignThinkers in Amsterdam till January 2012, where my International Design Walkabout begins. This video describes what I can offer design companies as a design researcher/UX design and ‘The Design Doctor’ on the International Design Walkabout I am about to take in 2012.

If they’re gaps in your company, and you see value in what I can offer could be of benefit, get in touch via twitter @dremmajefferies or email emma.jefferies@gmail.com, also you can view my downloadable portfolio and CV.

If you are interested in The Design Doctor service click here to read more.


10
Aug 11

What is the purpose of a design coffee table book?

The question What is the purpose of a design coffee table book? came from a conversation with a couple of friends about if we were to write a design book it would be a bit like a coffee table book, mostly as we didn’t wish to write an overly academic design book, also having given this question further thought, mostly designers prefer coffee table books anyway; however what purpose do they actually serve? On Wikipedia the main elements of a ‘coffee table book’ communicates information through visual and small text boxes; they provide a light read, however this could indicate a superficial approach to the subject. In addition as they do not need to be moved around, they are generally hardback books. From the wiki entry, the main purpose they serve is as a talking point or to stop boredom. From looking at a couple of design coffee table books, insights can be gained into their purpose.

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