CROWDSOURCING AND DESIGN
- January 22, 2011Crowdsourcing Lets the Masses Shape the LogoKaren von Hahn
TORONTO - Hey, did you happen to see the new Starbucks logo? What do you think of it? And what about that terrible one they came up with at the Gap? Lest you think these are idle questions, what I am doing here actually has a name. It’s called “crowdsourcing.” And broadly speaking, it means opening up the design process to commentary, input, even ideas, through social media and the Internet — a notion that, as quickly as it was coined, is rapidly making its mark on the formerly exclusive world of design.
Does it also mean that the rule of the starchitects and name-brand designers — with their brain waves scribbled on cocktail napkins — may be drawing to a close and that we, the grubby masses, are newly empowered as the designers of the 21st century? At Thursday’s Conversations in Design symposium (the second annual such symposium, hosted by the folks at the Interior Design Show), a number of the design world’s heavy hitters, including Canadian novelist Douglas Coupland, Matthias Hollwich of the influential website Architizer.com, and Bruce Mau Design CEO Hunter Tura, will gather to debate these and other issues.
Several weeks ago, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz — who, let’s face it, is Mr. Boss Man and doesn’t have to ask anyone for their opinion — did something his ruling counterparts at icons like Coca-Cola or McDonald’s would never have had to do back in the day. Before unveiling the new Starbucks logo, he released an online video explaining in detail the symbolism and intricacies of the brand’s new image. In a similar move, Hunter Tura set up a Facebook page in September to present design ideas as they evolve and solicit opinions from the community at large on the rebranding of one of his current clients, OCAD University.
It is safe to assume that neither Schultz, who invented Starbucks and made it a global phenomenon, nor Tura, who holds an M.A. in architecture from Harvard and whose thesis adviser was none other than Pritzker Prize-winner Rem Koolhaas, made this move because either were at a loss for ideas. In Tura’s opinion, the newly unleashed power of social media has made public consultation a necessary step in the design process.
“Look at what happened with the Gap unveiling their new logo and just being slammed with so many negative comments that they actually had to retract it the next day,” says Tura, citing Tropicana’s orange juice carton fiasco as another recent example. “What we’ve learned is we’ve got to engage people early, because it’s too costly not to get it right on the first try.”
When I ask him whether such engagement isn’t a form of kowtowing to the easy negativity that’s rife on the Internet, Tura faces the question head-on. “It is true that the anonymity inherent in digital media has allowed the public conversation to become very opinionated and at times, negative. But I’m fascinated by the way crowds have gone from being a ‘bad’ thing, as in the ‘vulgar herd,’ to the real voices you want to hear from because they will offer a fresh, unconnected perspective.”
Full article Toronto Star
Hunter Tura in Toronto Star