MAYA: Most Advanced Yet Acceptable


Are you familiar with the MAYA principle? It was created by the industrial designer Raymond Loewy, who was responsible for the Coca Cola bottle, and logos for the US Postal Service, Greyhound Bus, and many others. Loewy’s philosophy was to design for the future, but to introduce it incrementally. While pushing for advancement, he sought a balance between the novel and the familiar, looking for just the right mix so that his ideas would be seen as forward-looking, but not alienating.

In his words:
“The adult public’s taste is not necessarily ready to accept the logical solutions to their requirements if the solution implies too vast a departure from what they have been conditioned into accepting as the norm.”

I’m pretty sure I‘ve had this conversation about the AEC industry once or twice, and I’m guessing you may have, too.

The Interaction Design Foundation has prepared some helpful tips for applying the MAYA principle in your work. They include:

  • Advance your design gradually over time – Do not make a lot of major changes right away as you risk scaring off your users. Understand what context your users are familiar with and which features have to be changed. When in doubt you should distinguish between: Nice to have and need to have.
  • Include familiar patterns in the visual design – so users can orient themselves
  • A design should be self-explanatory – if you have to explain it and need to include a manual or elaborate “help” features, your product is overly advanced or too complex to use.

Do you agree, or disagree? Have you tried this approach, and if so, in what context? Have you found it to be useful, or is there a better way? Please join us at DTS 2017 and share!

Photo credit: Author/Copyright holder: Raymond Loewy

Registration Opens Soon!

Have you ever thought “I wish I had someone to talk to who understands what I’m dealing with”?  The Design Technology Summit is a great opportunity to collaborate with a room full of design technology leaders just like you… and registration is right around the corner!

We all have similar struggles, architecture and engineering alike.  It’s nice to get together with others who are experiencing those same struggles or have experienced them in the past and found a solution.  If you’re anything like me, it really helps to know you’re not alone.

If you haven’t attended DTS before, this is a great year to register.  We’ve modified the registration process and now anyone can apply to attend.  See Robert Manna’s blog post DTS New Year, New Faces, New Changes describing this and other exciting new changes.

DTS is full of high-level conversation that makes gears turn and sparks fly.  I can personally say I’ve come away from each summit with multiple ideas on how to improve our company workflows, as well as confirmation on the direction we should be headed.

If you’re a design technology leader in the Architecture and Engineering (AE) industry who has ideas to share and is looking to learn from others, then add your voice to the conversation at DTS 2017 in Toronto this summer!

Keeping Up

Sometimes you just can’t keep up. The constant demands of developing and maintaining design technology standards, supporting staff, ensuring BIM Quality and efficiency across the profit centers, supporting projects and staff members, reviewing RFP’s and contracts and BIM execution plans, and leading BIM meetings and task forces, among other things, leaves little time to keep a finger on the pulse of the design technology industry. Trying to do it all risks spreading resources too thin. Focusing on a limited number of initiatives risks missing opportunities. A firm’s Design technology and/or BIM strategy should account for some of this. Even so, the breadth of scope for design technology leaders in the AEC industry is significant such that working without a community of peers in similar industry roles slowly stifles a firm’s ability to be competitive.

That’s why the community of design technology leaders that make up the Design Technology Summit, have been so valuable to so many firms over the years. Participants value having access to the breadth of experience that makes up this event and the community that has developed because of it.

The upcoming Summit looks to cross-pollinate with individuals and expertise outside of our industry to inspire ideas and solutions to challenges you face. Discussion of your firm’s design-technology challenges is part of every Summit. Join the community of Design Technology Leaders this July and take a step towards driving increased efficiency, new client opportunities or better quality in your firm.

Technology as a Starting Point?

A couple of weeks ago, on a long drive, I found myself listening to a show called Radiolab. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a radio show in which two musically passionate hosts discuss what interests them in contemporary music – styles, artists, or individual pieces.

This particular episode* featured a group called Dawn of Midi. They play acoustic music, contrary to what the name might suggest. As the hosts played bits from the album ‘Dysnomia’, they marveled at the sound – it was very electronic, yet was created entirely with acoustic drums, bass, and piano. I think I heard a guitar in there, too, but it’s hard to be sure. The longer it played, I, too, felt increasingly like I was listening to a modern electronic piece.

One of the hosts noted that machine-like music is clearly part of the group’s musical aesthetic, but what really sets the music apart is that it’s both electronic and ‘human’ at the same time. I’m paraphrasing, but he commented that this type of music could very well have not been made without machines – it took a machine to show humans the possibilities, but humans then took the idea and improved upon it, adding dimension and depth.

Naturally, I was led to finding parallels in design technology. Have you seen a great design develop with the aid of technology, only to become even better after tech has been abandoned? If so, what are your thoughts on that? Is it because technology has a limitation in design, or have we not figured out how to use it most effectively?

*If you’d like to listen to the Radiolab segment, you can find it here:
(Image credits: Autodesk community forum user diagodose2009/ Gerard Petersen/ muzikdiscovery)

Innovation + Plus One?

If we operate from the perspective that “true” innovation is something that is new “in the world” and has a significant impact, then it’s fair to say that most of us as individuals are not likely to reach what is a very high bar. That is just the realist in me talking, I’m not suggesting we should sulk away, giving up on any hope of being creative or coming up something new. Holding that goal in our eye is only likely to make us more successful rather than less (in my opinion). So, if alone we are not likely to meet that rather high bar, what are we to do (by the way, someone will, and if you don’t try, it won’t be you)? One of the first things we can do is look at organizations or people who have met that bar, and perhaps even seek their opinions and thoughts. Continue reading “Innovation + Plus One?”