Design Thinking 101: Small Things, Big Ideas

Welcome back to another exciting edition of Design Thinking 101, where we point you in the direction of the best resources to educate yourself on the subject of design thinking and then let you do all the work yourself.

TED talks are often the first place that people get a look at what design thinking really is. Watching experts use it as a tool to pry apart some facet of everyday life and lay bare all of the inner workings. But if you are looking to get a solid grounding in design in the shortest possible time, then you could do a lot worse than to settle in and watch the “Small Things Big Ideas” series of videos.

Each one of the videos explores the history and design of one object to highlight why it is a “humble masterpiece;” an object so well designed and perfect in its execution that it blends into the background of life seamlessly.

Every one of these videos is worth the few minutes that they take to watch, but some of our personal favourites are highlighted below.

The London Tube Map

This one hit close to home for the London Labs team; the most famous map in the world that isn’t really a map. In this video famous designer Michael Bierut discusses the accidental success stories that led to its creation, and the ways in which the “obvious way to do things” was obviously wrong.

The Hyperlink

In this video, Facebook’s User Experience Master Margaret Gould Stewart talks about the Hyperlink, and the way that this clever little widget made the entire modern internet possible. Reaching all the way back to the earliest days of the internet and beyond, all the way to the ideation of the Memex back in the 1940s.

The Button

You know that we love to talk about buttons here at the Labs, but normally we are discussing the kind that you push to get a result, not the kind that keeps your cardigan shut. In this video fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi explores the ways that this fastener shaped fashion history and expresses some amusement that it took humanity a solid thousand years between inventing the button as a decoration and the creation of the button-hole.

The Progress Bar

In this tiny TED talk, tech journalist Daniel Engber discusses the way that the progress bar helps to manage the user’s irritation at having to wait for technology to catch up to their demands. Both as a way to keep users informed and sane, and to provide them with opportunities to complete other tasks.

This is far from being a comprehensive list of every TED talk that you might want to watch, and we’ve barely scratched the surface of the “Small Things, Big Ideas” series, so have a little explore and see what else you can learn before you join us again next time for another round of design thinking 101.

The Labs Team

Sutherland Labs