International Design Conference, Manila

I was honored to have been invited to give the closing keynote presentation at the Design Center of the Philippines’ First International Design Conference, focused on design thinking. It was a packed room of business leaders and designers (as far as I can tell around 300 people.) Natalia Bednarek opened the final session with “8 Signs You May Not Be Design Thinking.” My talk discussed present and future directions in design and its impact.

Side discussions with Rhea Matute, Executive Director of the Design Center of the Philippines, and others centered on how can we brand and position the Philippines. Despite an incredibly diverse array of high quality products, many of them hand-crafted by expert artisans throughout the country, does the phrase “Made in the Philippines” elicit any positive thoughts? Brand thinking can be applied to companies, organizations, and celebrities – but also to political movements, social causes, cities and countries.


I’m starting my third week of a 2-month appointment as”Visiting Professor” in the Industrial Design department at KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) in Daejeon, South Korea. Topics I’ll be covering over the 8-week course will include data visualization, quantitative methods in design research, statistics, basics of biomechanics, design and behavior, and design and gender. I’m pretty much settled in at this point, I’ll post more over the next few weeks.

Guitar Pickups 101

Following up on my speaker article in Premier Guitar magazine’s July 2017 issue is this August 2017 article explaining how guitar pickups work, Guitar Pickups 101.

Pickups are based on the same basic principles as speakers – how coils of wire, placed in the vicinity of magnets, behave. The fundamental principles are 5th grade science stuff. However, the type of magnet, the copper windings on the coil, the effect of mirror-imaging two coils in some pickup designs to cancel unwanted hum, and the varied arrangements of the components in different pickup designs all make a difference in sound performance. As does the type of guitar strings.

Illustrations this time were relative easy – colorize (and color code) various pickup patent drawings.

Gimlet Media’s “Design For All” podcast

Thanks Katelyn Bogucki and Cristina Quinn for including me in Gimlet Creative’s .future podcast series, sponsored by Microsoft. Along with my thoughts, the Design For All episode includes discussions on Inclusive Design in tech with Angela Glover Blackwell (Founder of PolicyLink,) Jenny Lay-Flurrie  (Chief Accessibility officer at Microsoft,) Sean Marihugh (Escalation Engineer at Microsoft,) Crystal Jones (Escalation Engineer at Microsoft,) and Erin Williams (Senior Supportability Program Manager at Microsoft.)

The subtitle for the episode: “How designing technology with people with disabilities in mind makes it better for everyone.”

Jordan Jackson’s “Branded” podcast

Jordan Jackson has been creating insightful podcasts on the topic of branding. I’m happy to have been asked to record one of them with him. It’s titled The Power Of Purpose, When Executed Through Promise.

The discussion falls under Jordan’s theme for the series: “As new technology encroaches upon all aspects of our lives, and changes the nature of how all businesses operate, brand building will have to adapt.”


Speakers 101: Premier Guitar

For the July 2017 issue of Premier Guitar magazine I was asked to write an article explaining the basics of speaker design (All About Speakers.)

Guitar amplifier speakers are quite different from those for audio amplifiers. Speakers intended for listening to recorded music are designed to produce an even response across a wide frequency spectrum. Their goal is to accurately reproduce the sound the artists and engineers intended you to hear, without coloring it in any way. Clearly and without distortion.

In contrast guitar speakers are designed to add character. An ability to smoothly break up into distortion, for instance, can be desirable. Each speaker component—the cone, the surround (which attaches the cone to the frame), the spider (which holds the voice coil in place), the voice coil, and the magnet—affects the speaker’s tonal character in some unique way

For audio or guitar, the article discusses their history and explains the function of each component. And their effect on tonal characteristics.