Label a Designer

If you would ask me what I call myself, I would say “a human being – just like you”.

I don’t like labels and I remember that, on my first business card, I titled myself as an Illustrator. My second contained Illustrator, Designer and Artist. I was trying to identify tags that could explain the kind of work I do – or at that moment did. I was struggling to find my place in the Design – Art World. I was considering to have all round designer on the next one, but I realised that it actually didn’t say anything. Nobody would understand what I actually did by calling myself all round. On my current business card, there is no title. I do have 3-4 web links on them, which I hope explain or cover my field of work.

During my post graduate study, I designed another card, to use for my project. Here I had a different approach. On the front it simply says “YOU ARE GREAT”  and on the back of the card there is a web link to my project. The approach, in this case, was to focus on my receiver and use positive affirmations. Instead of explaining what I did, I attempted to provide him/her an experience.

Recently, I was asked to teach the 1st year students of my former academy. Showing my graduation project, tell about Relational Design and what that means in a SRVD ( Socially Responsive Design) context. There were two things that struck me. 1) even though quite some of the students knew about my work from before, it was still very odd and new to them. 2) they didn’t understand what I did or how I could make a living out of ‘my way of design’. Questions as “So what do you call yourself?” “How do you earn money?” ” How do you approach organisation and institutions, when you want to work for them?” were asked. I felt my answers didn’t satisfy them in the sense that, it didn’t fit their reality of what a designer does, what a designer is and how a designer works.

At that moment, I found it quite surprising. Apparently my work was so accepted during my studies, that I saw it as something so natural and obvious, that I stopped questioning the label it should have. I just didn’t see the necessity of it. Now, I see that for certain groups it needs an explanation and every group needs a different language, a different tone of voice wrapped around the same arguments. Arguments yes. Sometimes it feels like I need to defend everything I stand for, even though I use design for the social good. These students were new to this field of Design and I know that, in their BA education the notion of  more traditional design departments prevails. When you are not exposed to other ways of thinking and working, you can’t know. When you are not encouraged, stimulated and incited to explore every kind of boundary there is – and dare to cross it – you don’t look further. Another experience related to this, was working – voluntary – for I was asked to help and organise actions and events for this cause. I found out, that I was perhaps thinking too much in my own language and forgot that I wasn’t working with people who have a creative background. All well hearted people, coming from fields as biology, economy, environmentalism, activism, ecology, etc.

We all had the same aim.

We all had ideas about how this should be done.

Our ideas didn’t align.

I felt and feel that I have some expertise in this. Studying and experimenting on how to reach, engage and empower people, for over 2 years in theory and practice. Though, in the end of this collaboration between various fields – something I like to see as THE solution for many issues – I felt left alone. Likely, because I wasn’t explaining my arguments and reasons in the right way.

Back to my starting point: I still don’t like labels. But I understand the need to be able to explain what I do, to various kind of people. Preferably short and concise. So what am I then? Let’s try some terms and see how that feels and what it says:

Social Designer

Conceptual Designer

Meta Designer

Process Designer

Queen of Creativity



long time no see

It’s been a while and soon I will start to write regularly again. Now a short response I received upon the tasks I provided during my graduation exhibit at Doga.

To clarify, the task was: make drawings around trash in the street. (in this case dog poo)

Written by goodindeed in: feedback,fun,good work,play | Tags: , , ,

theater workshop

I am preparing for the 1-afternoon workshop for theater students. To engage them in my project and experiment with theater as a social intervention. It will be challenging since I have no experience with teaching nor theater. But isn’t that the thing? We all don’t have the experience of a social conscience. And that is what I want to explore.
With these students I need to be specific, a director, strict and playful at the same time. Let them be the theater in the public space acting out their role. The one I am writing for them. I will need costumes of accessories of some sort. They have to make these simple attributes come to live.

The criticism the theater teachers gave me was- next to me having no experience and what the pedagogical value could be- that it is too much I want to do with these actors. It needs more background and introduction, they say. Time is ticking (away) in my project, but also in the world. If the whole world needs to be educated elaborately with loads of information, change will take forever. I think there is an easier way. It just needs to be found. Now I am wondering, cause I am of the opinion that it should be easier for creative people to relate to these global problems, but sometimes it seems to me that in this setting the ego gets even more ahead of us than in the non-creative scene. Maybe I am wrong. I hope I am.

Important for me when working with theater is to be aware of who is reading and what has been read (which is part of the evaluation afterwards) . Step outside what is known. Define for myself what the design is in this social theater situation.


Theatre Reflection

I had a lot of meetings with people connected to the Black Nordic Theatre so far I met 3 actors/performers (former students) who gave me a lot of good feedback and want to create some events with me. Next to that I have suggested some ideas to the teachers of the theatre school of Black Nordic and I will be doing an afternoon workshop with their students the 19th of January. The teachers were very critical and these questions make me think about the uncertainty and vulnerability of my project..and me. Learning by doing is a sentence that repeats itself all the time. Creating an open participative framework means placing oneself in uncertainty. The end is open and unpredictable, the white spots will be colored in the process. The colors can be defined and analyzed afterward. BUT as the teachers said or asked: “what is the pedagogical part in this for the students and what is my experience in this?” pedagogically I reckon it is being open for improvisation and working with a social dialogue and the 4th wall theory.

What will be important is that I write a script for these students with a strict framework as a guidance and a scenario with specific roles. So this test-project will be a more directed and maybe more closed performance/theatrical setting than the thing I hope to be doing with the 3 actors (and hopefully some more participants). Today I also met a man who is a sound-painter, which is a lot about experiment and improvising and could be interesting in a guerrilla setting.

I notice that these meetings give me a lot of feedback and input, but I need not forget some design reflection and keep in mind what the visual communication part is in this theatrical setting. Next to that I have some fears or better called challenges with organzing these events/interventions in the public space. Will I be able to arrange them in this short time left? Or will I be able to just do small tests which will give me clear (enough) conclusions? It is a lot of work and I need to make some distinct decisions, to have a strong focus.


Problem Intervention

Today I started spreading these in public transport:

A gift package with a one of the problems I have collected in it and printed inside is a voting form. I hope to encourage people to vote for the best problem on and for the best problem of the month I will be doing another Design Intervention which will bring a possible solution!! So come on everybody, VOTE!


The Sun is Shining

It is dark weather in Oslo, but the sun is shining in my project! I found some very nice people who want to work with me, which is great. I will be having some meetings the next couple of weeks and discuss ideas, but now I will be able to create a theatrical setting. My plan is to work with the problems I have collected.

In the blog KNOT REALLY I have all tagged them. You can, for instance look for the city/country where the problem comes from. I have also categorized them in personal and global problems. So far there are 50 personal problems and 8 global problems, which is quite striking. Logical as well, I guess, since we are all very human we tend to think first of ourselves. Which is a sort of selfish behavior. My challenge is: how can I bring more reflection and balance in these problems?

The coming weeks I will be doing quite some interventions in the public space ( hopefully one performance intervention as well) and one of my ideas is to see if I can encourage people to bring out their vote for the best problem. For the winning problem I will be designing a solution in the form of an intervention.

Voting is open, so MAY THE BEST PROBLEM WIN!!!

Written by goodindeed in: feedback,my work,repsonse please! |

Come Together

How to

I am really noticing my own struggle in gathering people to help me with this project: to design social engagement. How do I design forms of social engagement if I am not able to engage people in the first place to participate in my project? I realize it is busy times and looking at my own choices and behavior I know I say/said a lot of No’s as well. I am wondering how much of this No comes forth out of selfishness and how much is put upon us through societies pressure and choices. How to break this spell? These questions I am asking myself and also questioning my intentions with my project and what i would like to achieve with it, stop me from doing. Which is exactly the thing thing I shouldn’t stop. I saw a talk of Malcolm Gladwell on AIGA, called the story of success. He spoke about how even the greatest geniuses and successful people in history reached their success by an endless process of trial and error. Learning by doing, growing by making mistakes. It is a vulnerable position, but the only way to get results, either good or bad.

Next step. Can I direct/provoke people to gather at the same spot, at a certain time through messages left in the public space. ( step 2; can I provoke/encourage them to do something out of the nothing?)



I am trying to explore different ways of monitoring ( the success of) my project. Virtual and real time.
These are some pictures after the intervention or spreading the 50 problems through the city. Almost all of them were taken. And as you can see here, the problem was taken out of the envelop.

Virtual- or via internet- I am testing out if the  six degrees of separation is true. How quickly or in how few steps can I reach people all over the world. I have sent emails to almost everyone I know- especially people who have an international network- and now I am waiting for response..

Written by goodindeed in: feedback,my work | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Knot Really

I am working on a test project now, which if it works as planned will be a BIG project. Let’s see if my theory can work in practice. I have and am collecting problems to see a) what is on people’s mind b) offer a moment of contemplation and self reflection c) if I can place these problems as challenges on a platform. This is at the moment the blog knot really.

I hope to create an open social dialogue. Where I will come up with design solutions and offer people the inititive to visualize answers and solutions as well. Can I connect people’s problem to each other so they’ll both benefit from it. Can I give local actions as a solution to the problems people send in, which would result in a contribution to society and the person feeling better about himself.

Anyway ideas are spinning and thwirling through my mind. On monday I plan to do an intervention in the public space related to these problems- see if I can get the viral working- and meanwhile I am exploring this idea to its limits and beyond!

If you want to send in problems/solutions in word or picture please send it to and/or post comments at KNOT REALLY…bring it on!


What makes us appreciate?

I have sent the I love you notes to 50 design agencies in Norway, asking them if they could think about the universe or one of the other immaterial things on the note for two minutes and send me their response.

I will think about Sunshine today, since I am realizing how much I miss sunshine in these dark days. Do we take these things for granted? Do we start missing – and appreciating- their value once it isn’t their? And how do we appreciate things, what are the reasons to acknowledge value? Is it beauty? Is it love?

I wonder if we realize what it means to live in a society where we take so many things for granted, even when or maybe especially when the economic market falls, which should be the perfect moment to approach things differently.  Aren’t we selling our love and natural resources when we try to get a grip on the material things?

I came upon this article yesterday, which is elaborates much more on this subject.


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