Solving the wrong problem

mich

I once had a figure drawing teacher who would (playfully) slap my drawing hand if I were working on a detail of a figure without first mapping out the entire body. Zoom in too soon and you might be drawing a perfect hand but in the wrong place. I love it that she did that.

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New Tech Adoption: Convenience vs Quality

If you pay attention to trends in new tech adoption, then the tension between convenience vs quality is on your radar. Time and time again, consumers give up some amount of quality for convenience. Think about mobile phones, even before smartphones. Mobiles don’t sound nearly as good as a landline nor is the connection as robust. But the convenience of mobility eventually won. You can think about this tradeoff with other products: Netflix, online news, digital photos. The list goes on.

Of course, there are instances in which we really do want quality. Medical solutions come to mind. Also, perhaps, in the B2B space. I’ve been watching online supply chain startups like Fictiv and Maker’s Row. These aren’t consumer-facing companies but rather, business facing ones. And I wonder how their business-customers navigate the convenience vs quality trade-off. It seems it might be a tough sell in the B2B space. But only time will tell.

TAKE IT FURTHER

The Lit Review of Technology Adoption Models, JISTEM 2017

The Quest for Convenience, The Nielsen Co 2018

Supply Chain Trends to Watch, Forbes 2019

Low Batch Production – take one

blanks

I’ve just started making leather totes. I’ve made two so far, one at a time. This week I decided to up my production game and try to make three at a time.

I started this challenge by writing out all of the steps in making a bag, hanging that list on my studio wall, and editing the list as I need to. I’ll share that list here:

  1. Rough cut the hide – this makes it more manageable
  2. Cut the straps
  3. Fine-cut the leather with a template including rivet holes
  4. Glue and clamp the sides
  5. Groove sewing lines and punch stitching holes
  6. Saddle stitch the sides
  7. Tamp down the stitching with a mallet
  8. Glue and clamp the gussets
  9. Saddle stitch the gussets
  10. Tamp down the stitching with a mallet
  11. Turn the bag inside out
  12. Rivet the straps

What I’ve learned so far:

STRAPS. I need to cut the straps when before I fine cut the bag. I still haven’t done this and I’ve already started stitching. Why am I procrastinating? Because cutting long straps is a pain in the butt. Hopefully, there’s a strap cutter in my future which will make things a lot easier.

ALIGNMENT. On one of the bags, I forgot to glue it up before I punched the stitching holes. So I’m not sure if things will line up but here’s to hoping that they will OR that I can re-punch the holes that need it without messing up the seam lines.

CLAMPS. I discovered a bottleneck in step three. I can’t glue-up 3 bags at the same time because I don’t have enough clamps.

Oof. Writing this out makes me feel tired but in a good way. I enjoy paying attention to the process. A few semesters back I taught the well-known operations book The Goal so I’ve got that model in the back of my mind, too. Nerdy fun.

 

FOR EVEN MORE FUN (process p*rn)

Making watch straps at Hermes

 

 

Industrial Revolution 4.0 – how smart is it?

There’s a lot of hype about it. There’s a lot of academic research about parts of it. But what is it?

The Industrial Revolution 4.0 is a part of a series. 1.0 was about manufacturing enhanced by mechanization and steam in the late eighteenth century. 2.0 was about manufacturing enhanced by the assembly line and electrical energy in the late nineteenth century. 3.0 was about manufacturing enhanced by automation and computing in the late 1960s. 4.0 is about manufacturing enhanced by cloud-connected computing today and in the early twenty-first century. 4.0 is about data. Lots of it. Analyzing and responding to events in near real time.

But as Dave Evans, CEO of fictiv points out in his recent SxSW talk, if you’ve visited a manufacturer lately, the 4.0 just isn’t there. Not only that, but you can see the problems that could be avoided if it were already in place.

So how do we get to 4.0?

Evans points to a framework developed by Michael Mandel at Progressive Policy in DC. Mandel proposes that we need to invest in technology that enhances three areas of manufacturing:

  1. Digital Machines – how might putting sensors right on the tooling enhance operations?
  2. Digital Distribution – how might we change distribution to maximize locations of connected factories?
  3. Digital Networks – how might we make the most out of manufacturing ecosystems by building networks that allow us to see them more clearly?

Seems like more investment in these areas would be great for the manufacturing sector. Plus, what’s exciting to me as a person interested in Industrial Ecology, is how these technologies might also be used to measure and respond to the environmental and social impacts of Industrialization 4.0.

Now that would be a smart use of tech.

TAKE IT FURTHER

The 4th Industrial Revolution – Kemp Technologies

Michael Mandel’s work at Progressive Policy

Michael Kors on Embracing Self-Doubt

michael-kors-collage

There’s this moment from the show Project Runway that I wish I could find on youtube. In this moment, a contestant is up on the stage receiving critique from the judges. As I remember, the judges liked his work in this round and were giving him positive feedback. Relieved, the contestant starts crying and says, “I had such a hard time with this challenge [sob]. One minute I was happy [sob] the next minute I was in tears and questioning myself….”

At this moment, judge and world-famous designer Michael Kors interrupts the contestant to point something out. He holds up his left hand, points to the contestant and says, “You know that feeling that you are having right now? [long pause]. That feeling [another long pause]. It. Never. Goes. Away. [hold silence].”

When I heard him say that, I felt such relief for the contestant and for myself as a creative person. I thought, ‘If Michael Kors, one of the most famous and successful designers in the world, felt that he needed to stop this contestant to share this insight about his own creative life, then it must be true and it must be important.’

Self-doubt and questioning, this is what creatives do. It’s just how they work. Yes, it makes them a little crazy and it drives their friends a little crazy too (especially the accountants!). That tortured artist thing isn’t a myth. It’s real as alluded to in a well known Kors quote, “Fashion isn’t for sissies.”

So what can we do about this doubt? As with most things that are hard, be mindful of it, even accepting of it. And learn how to manage it. Because that feeling? That feeling that you’re having about your work right now? It. Never. Goes. Away.

 

TAKE IT FURTHER

Michael’s Night at the Met Gala

Build to Learn – leather tote edition

leather work

I recently scored some bargain hides in OKC and mailed them home to Ithaca. They arrived last Thursday and bit by bit, over the past week, I’ve been working toward making a full-scale leather bag.

You can see my iterative prototyping here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/wySRTm8M2rdiyWke9

I started with a tiny prototype just to learn how the stitching would feel in this material. But it was so tiny that I couldn’t even turn it inside out when it was sewn up.  So I moved up to a half-scale version of the bag, first in EVA foam. This prototype was really quick and gave me some good intel–I just wanted to see how the bag would hold up when I turned it inside out after sewing. Turned out ok.

From there I moved to a half-scale in leather. From this prototype I wanted to experience each step of the process: cutting and preparing the leather, gluing and clamping, sewing, and turning it inside out. All went well except for the proportions. When I turned it inside out, it was too tall because the leather, unlike the foam in the previous model, brought the side seams in significantly.

But my prototypes gave me the confidence to move to full scale even though I hadn’t yet gotten the proportions I wanted. I made proportional adjustments in my full-scale template then cut and prepped and glued and sewed. I rushed through the rivets a bit because I was running out of time, but overall I am very pleased with the bag. I’ll carry it around with me for a week before I make another, just to test how it behaves in the wild. But I have a feeling that I have a design that’s close to production ready.

Hoorah! Now the question is, can I buy myself a fancy rivet press? Uh, tools are cool.

 

Externalities aren’t external

Seth Godin posted a piece last week titled “Embracing Externalities.” “Externalities” is a concept from the field of economics that is used to describe the side effects of industrial activity. For example, the pollution that gets dumped into the river by the factory is considered an externality to the factory’s business model.

In Godin’s piece, he asks the reader to reject this concept. He admits that rejecting it, in theory, isn’t that hard to do. The hard thing is to create and put systems in place to dismantle the concept. Sure this would be challenging but it’s not impossible.

We value ourselves as innovators, don’t we? Let’s innovate our way to a more sophisticated system–one that embraces externalities.

Read Godin’s original post here

TAKE IT FURTHER

Circular Economy – Ellen Macarthur Foundation

 

Paper Snowflakes

Cool-Ideas-for-Kids_Name-Snowflakes-tutorial copy

I was going through my pinterest boards this morning and saw this silly snowflake with my name on it. My name starts with an X which is rare in this country.  It’s not something that I see in the media very often. Anyways, it made me giggle.

For the tutorial on “Name Snowflakes” from which this image comes, click here

To see more beautiful snowflake designs and templates that are made here in Ithaca, check out Mariellen Brown’s site here