Workshop with Oscar Pena

In the assignment plus ONE minus ONE, the aim was to change one aspect of an existing product.

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I wanted to expose the students to the following issues that I consider relevant today in the practice of product design:

  1. Team work (multidisciplinary).
  2. Intuitive design (our sixth sense).
  3. Story telling (products need to tell a story and people appreciate them).
  4. Making decisions.
  5. Having a point of view or position about design.
  6. Understanding change/consequences.
  7. Having fun!

My project was over five days for 42 students of the second year Product Design Department of the Cape Technikon. On the first day I gave them the assignment. I had sent preparation in advance to bring a manual or electrical product, but many had just brought the manuals to electrical products!

Initially the students were confused, but I showed some examples of what I meant, and what I was looking for and that really helped them.

Also they were surprised that they had to work in groups, particularly not chosen by themselves but by me and the director of the product design department at random.

By the next day things improved and I could also see that the teams were becoming stronger. I gave them an exercise to help them express their intuitive sensibilities. Surprisingly they found this difficult and they recognised how much they were stuck in their boxes.

The next day we played a game for team building, and for illustrating the power simple solutions and thinking over more elaborate solutions. At this point people started to make models and build, to play with materials and to give shape to their final projects.

The group dynamic was interesting and different to the Netherlands. In South Africa the women took over!

Looking at the final results I believe we succeeded, they were of high standard in content and visualisation. It was a worthwhile experience and it introduced me to another kind of South that I did not know.

My week at Cape Technikon was intense and full of creativity. I really enjoyed the time spent with the students and appreciated their enthusiasm and commitment to the project.

Thank you again Design Indaba.

Watch the Talk with Oscar E Peña