C2-MTL: a question of design
The first day of C2-MTL was launched this morning with great fanfare under the ubiquitous sign of design. To start, the CODE SOUVENIR MONTRÉAL pop-up shop was inaugurated by influent members of the city's design scene in presence of a few of the showcased designers. In total, the concept presented by the Ville de Montréal's Bureau du design displays more than a 100 products from 27 designers who are eager to show off the made-in-Montreal breed, perhaps in the hope of finding new outlets for their creations.
Among the bustling crowd, the quite acknowledgment of this city's talents was shortly followed by the awaited opening act of Fred Dust, partner and leader of Systems at Scale at IDEO. Although his speech was nothing unheard before, he did set the record straight on some of the fundamentals of a designer's role, façon IDEO. 1) Listen to your environment, including all shareholders, not just the immediate client; 2) interpret, translate and steal by adopting an empathic perspective on the problem at hand; 3) hypothesize, test and prototype as much as possible; and 4) the ultimate pick-me-up catching conclusion, be brave! After all, "the nature of a designer is to put things out there," isn't it? Although more deepness on the reasoning and processes behind a design-thinking methodology could have demystify the blurred incomprehension surrounding it, the Q&A session brought interesting insights. Again, roughly covered. Yes, the question of creativity in MNEs has been overused, but M. Dust made a point of reminding us the importance of humanity in his practice. Design remains the matter of human begins solving other human beings' problems not only in a rigorous fashion, but in a comprehensive way as well. This is why IDEO tries to keep its offices at a human scale.
His conference ended where it should have taken off: addressing concepts deeper and digging further for answers. As it has been stated before, design-thinking is merely understood by business executives and decision-makers. C2 would have been the perfect platform to first translate and shed light on a thorough methodology, and second bounce ideas on how to ameliorate it, as all processes are not meant to be static, but rather to evolve. Unfortunately, this will have to wait for a one-on-one dinner with the design expert.
At last, the design-filled day concluded with a humorously dazzling Philippe Starck. Paradoxes were in the spotlight as the French designer promoted democratic design while giving examples in the likes of Steve Job's luxurious yatch. In a comical way, Starck presented his principles of good design, which declined from ethics to education and actions. For those who had herd the design mogul before, he proved to be true to himself by amusing the crowd along the way, shawdowing his content at times. He perhaps even illustrated the stereotype most commonly addressed to designers: flamboyant characters with strong views on their practice. However, he did draw a pretty faithful portrait of the industry, evoking the issues at hand weather they be environmental, biological, technical or philosophical.
Still a question remains. With all the glitz and glam embellishing the creativied village, with all the design-oriented conferences by top-notch speakers, has C2 given enough weight to Montreal's designers in the overall picture? Although accurately showcasing the city's most creative designers is not an easy task, considering some of them are industrial designers, architects, and such, a third edition should give more room to the talents of the UNESCO City of Design. The pop-up store is a great initiative allowing out-of-town attendees to leave the three-day happenning with a wearable, eatable, or decorative souvenir of Montreal. Yet, this kind of design is only a ripple on an ocean compared to what the city has to offer. As a certain designer nammed Patrick Messier said, C2 is only at its second edition. Much like a 2-year old baby starting to walk, C2 is learning quickly and is most certainly on the right direction for future editions, as there is much left to do. We are thus eager to see if it will run next year, and more importantly how?