REPOST: How the creative economy and design thinking are transforming Philadelphia

Are we seeing the golden era of human-centered design? Across the globe, and not just in Philadelphia, innovative design is making great leaps in many businesses, helping them increase brand value and consequently, gain more revenues. Read the article below from the Philadelphia Business Journal for more insights:

Leaders of major corporations, universities, healthcare systems, and technology firms are investing heavily and integrating processes called Design-Thinking, Creative Leadership, and Human-Centered Design. With so many dollars at stake, we’re asking the very simple question, “why?”

Jefferson University and Health System acquires Philadelphia University, a design school. Why? To “start a revolution in how students are taught … so they can deliver even more value to society,” says President Stephen Klasko, “in recognition that design and healthcare are inextricably linked.” Chancellor Stephen Spinelli is bullish on “the robust value” of design and systems thinking, noting, “we’re thinking doctors who are designers…designers who are physician assistants, occupational therapists who are industrial designers…We will be an example from which a lot of people can learn.”

Electronic Ink, a design, research and content strategy firm sells to Liquid Hub a business technology solutions firm. Why? Design capabilities help Liquid Hub better “understand the human effect” of technology for clients. The firm now leverages designers, whose backgrounds range from architecture to anthropology, to do user experience and cognitive research. The result is a rich trove of data to guide design of the next product, platform and experience, a recognizable competitive advantage in the knowledge economy.

If it isn’t broken, break it,” says SEI’s CEO, Al West, on his approach to using art and creative to reinvent culture at the company every ten years. Why? Because the visionary behind the West Collection in Oaks, PA, believes a collection of 3,100 compelling contemporary art works by emerging artists—1,500 of which hang on the walls of SEI’s corporate campus at any one time—“challenges the SEI community and public to think differently about business.” With the help of Chief Marketing Officer, Mark Samuels, West has also evolved the SEI brand in ways that foster both organic and structured design-led innovation initiatives, including a new “Idea Farm,” meant to generate the next set of solutions to “drive lasting client success.”

Integral Molecular, a 16-year-old company located in uCity Square that focuses on antibody discovery for membrane protein involved in diseases such as asthma, Zika, cancer, and chronic pain engages with an artist in residence program with Orkan Telhan, Associate Professor of Fine Arts – Emerging Design Practices at University of Pennsylvania, School of Design. So why did the University City Science Center broker this “deal?” “The ability to interpret and communicate science to the larger community is an important goal of this program,” says Benjamin Doranz, President and CEO of Integral Molecular, as well as a part-time sculptor. Telhan adds he is excited to “make this invisible world more accessible to non-scientists.”

Philadelphia’s Mural Arts receives major funding from the Ford Foundation’s new $100 million Art for Justice Fund, aimed at investing in strategic efforts to reform the criminal justice system. Mural Arts’ long history of “incorporating art and social justice” has given rise to programs including the Guild, a paid apprenticeship program, giving formerly incarcerated individuals and young adults on probation the opportunity to develop job readiness skills as well assistance with access to GED and higher education support services. This funding catalyzes the launch of a major public art project in collaboration with the City of Philadelphia’s MacArthur Foundation-supported Safety and Justice Challenge initiative, a $3.5 investment in strategies that will safely reduce the average daily jail population over the next three years. The City is also doubling down in its investment in creative thinking, having recently launched a 10-month speaker series exploring strategic design and a multi-agency team called GovLabPHL using “the power and potential of human-centered design and behavioral economics to improve service delivery” across local government.

Continue reading HERE.

The most disruptive Internet companies today

The world has seen different transformations across several industries for the past decade and it’s all thanks to one important innovation that connected everything and everyone around the globe: the Internet. As it rose to popularity, several Internet platforms have been introduced in the forms of software, websites, and applications that have not only helped improved people’s lives but also given birth to the most disruptive companies that continue to drive the future to greater heights. In fact, many of them have become huge tech brands that they eventually became important components of many investment portfolios, including offshore mutual funds. Take a look at some of the leading Internet-based companies today:

Uber Technologies Inc.

Image source: standard.co.uk

Uber Technologies is a California-based taxi technology company known for its car transportation and food delivery mobile apps. It was founded in 2008 and is currently operating in over 600 cities worldwide. The company’s estimated revenue was reported to have reached 6.5 billion USD in 2016.

Netflix

Image source: iphonelife.com

Netflix is ranked 10th among the world’s largest internet companies in terms of revenue. It was founded in 1997 and started its operations in the United States. Based on a 2017 statistics, it has over 117.5 million streaming subscribers from around the world. This American company provides video and media streaming services both online and offline.

Alibaba

Image source: digitalerra.com

In terms of revenue, the Chinese multinational Internet company Alibaba is ranked the 6th largest in the world. It was a small startup founded by Jack Ma in 1999 from his apartment in Hangzhou, China – the same city where the company’s headquarters is now located. The company is a recognized innovator in the world e-commerce, internet, retail and AI technology. One of the reasons for Alibaba’s success, according to experts, is its unique business model as well as the company’s unconventional profit model.  

REPOST: The cosplay economy: How dressing up grew up

Pop culture can have a massive impact on the economy. Even the relatively simple concept of dressing up as a fiction character (costume play) has brought—whether directly or indirectly—considerable revenues to the industry in which it is most associated with. Here’s an interesting piece from The Independent:

 

Cartoon character: Svetlana Quindt makes a living from the medium /

 

To the cynical, it may seem like a childish hobby, but, says Katryn Furmston, it’s not just a release for the disenfranchised, it’s giving people vital skills and even launching design careers

Comic conventions have steadily risen in popularity over recent decades and, as a corollary, cosplay – dressing up as a favourite character – is becoming more than just a hobby to many people. You only have to look at some of the costumes to realize the effort that some people put in – whether that involves handcrafting or sourcing the perfect piece – to realise the devotion involved.

The most recent major events in the UK have attracted record turnouts. More than 133,000 cosplayers attended the London MCM Comic Con event in May this year. When you consider that tickets can cost more than £20 per person, it suggests this strange new industry is generating money for the UK economy. And it’s not just tickets to events – people often spend upwards of £200 on materials, paints and fixings to make their costumes.

There has been a debate on whether the rise of cosplay has been a sign of hard economic times: young people without jobs spending far too much time wanting to become someone or something else. James Pethokoukis, a columnist and fellow for the American Enterprise Institute think tank, wrote – referencing mainly the cosplay craze in Japan – that “any rise in people fleeing reality for fantasy suggests problems with our reality”. Citing surveys that showed that young people in America are now less likely to spend their time playing and watching sport, economist Adam Ozimek argued that this is just a sign of changing youth culture – and actually, reflected a relative rise in prosperity: “I bet being a fan of cosplay is more correlated with higher wages than being a fan of football.”

But regardless of the numbers, it’s the creativity of cosplay which really enthuses me, as a teacher of design. Cosplay is giving (mainly young) people a new-found creative output. Many will have skilled up in researching properties of materials to the point where they become real masters of those materials. Creative skills such as sketching and design development also become the norm for many people who were novices.

For a large number of people, cosplaying can be the start of a lifelong journey into a design career – whether this be costume design, SFX make-up or product and prop design. For instance, the person who first got me into cosplay, Sorcha McIntyre, launched a graphic design career after attending events. It opened the creative doors to a vocation by giving her a chance to display artwork and exhibit her design flair.

Continue reading HERE.

What billionaires do in their free time will surprise you

Image source: investopedia.com

Almost everyone knows the success stories of some of the world’s wealthiest individuals but have you ever wondered how their life is like beyond what you see or read about online?

Not surprisingly, just like ordinary folks, high net-worth individuals (HNWIs) also need some time to escape from the everyday routine and pursue their passion outside work – but unlike normal people, they do it on a grander scale.

According to a recent Wealth-X study focusing on ultra-high net worth (UHNW) individuals, these are the top three passions and interests of the planet’s richest people:

  1. Art

Most billionaires possess an exquisite work of art and collecting the world’s rarest visual and artistic creations has been one of the top passions of many ultra-rich people. Some of them invest in thousand to million-dollar worth of art works not just as a way to diversify their portfolio but to simply have the full right to claim ownership to a beautiful masterpiece.

  1. Sports

Just like ordinary individuals, the ultra-rich love sports and they would invest not only their money but also their time just to support their favorite teams. In fact, their passion for the games also make them want to play it themselves. Some examples of popular sports among the wealthy are yachting, football (soccer), golf, tennis, and skiing.

  1. Philanthropy

Topping the list of the most popular hobbies of the uber-wealthy is philanthropy. According to the same study, more than a third of the world’s richest support and organize charitable activities. Many high net-worth individuals have been known to provide generous funding for humanitarian causes, child education, medical research, and even scholarship grants through several foundations. Examples of famous philanthropists are Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim Helú, and Li Ka-shing.

REPOST: Treasures: Getting a handle on secure investments

While they may seem impractical, items such as designer bags, fine art, and jewellery can actually serve as good investments. Luxurious objects are often rare and are therefore highly sought by niche markets. More insights from Independent.ie:

Matte-white Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond Birkin

Back in the early 1980s, the actress Jane Birkin was on a flight to London when she spilled the contents of her handbag. As she gathered her belongings, the passenger in the next seat suggested that she should have a bag with pockets.
She replied, presumably with gritted teeth, that when Hermès made a bag with pockets, she’d have that one. The man then announced himself as Jean-Louis Dumas, creative director of Hermès and the pair spent the rest of the flight designing Birkin’s ideal handbag.
According to Caitlin Donovan, handbag specialist at Christie’s in New York, the original design was sketched on the back of a sick bag.

Now, the Hermès Birkin holds the record for the most expensive handbag ever sold at auction. This May, a matte-white crocodile skin Birkin 30 with 18k white gold and diamond hardware sold for HKD 2,940,000 (€318,497) at Christie’s, Hong Kong. On November 29, the same auction house is selling another, similarly diamond-encrusted crocodile skin Hermès Birkin handbag (est €162,910 to €217,213).

Louis Vuitton Speedy 25

Handbags can be a serious investment. In January 2016, the online marketplace Baghunter published a study compared three different types of investments: the S&P 500 (an index that reflects the stock market); gold; and Hermès Birkin handbags. The research concluded that the handbags are by far the safest investment of the three as they’re not subject to fluctuations in the market.

Successful investment in anything requires knowledge, skill, and a keen investor’s instinct. These qualities are rare. So are Hermès Birkin handbags. You can’t just rock up and buy one. Only a few are made each year and there’s a six-year waiting list. It also helps to be a valued Hermès customer.
“Connections must be made and brand loyalty displayed before a Birkin is offered,” wrote Colleen Kane in an article for Fortune on June 23, 2015. “Or, if you have double the retail price to burn, you can hire someone else to source a bag.”

Handbag collecting combines luxurious objects with glamour, exclusivity, and a cloak-and-dagger aspect. It’s all very exciting. According to Monika Arora, founder of the online handbag boutique PurseBop, every serious aficionado has a Holy Grail Handbag (HGB). If your objective is to make money, the Financial Times (November 17, 2016) concluded that the best investment handbag was the Chanel 2.55 Medium Classic Flap Bag, which rose in value by more than 230pc between 2004 and 2016.
Paddy Coughlan of Designer Exchange, a shop that both buys and sells designer handbags, agrees that the Chanel Flap is a good investment. “If you’d bought one for €1,800 12 years ago, it would now be worth around €4,480,” he says. “We’ve had people buy one and sell it back to us a few years later. We’ve actually paid them to use it!”

There are also good returns on older handbags. Coughlan recalls a young woman who recently brought her grandmother’s vintage handbags into the shop. The old lady knew that the handbags were valuable. She’d been given them by her husband, who was a diplomat, in 1968 and she’d kept them very carefully. Before she died, she showed her granddaughter the collection.
“I’d like you to have these,” she said. “But I know you’re not that keen on handbags. Keep them if you want to. If you don’t, they’ll help put you through college.”

Continue reading HERE.

The most iconic company logos in their respective industries

There’s a reason why many companies invest in a good and well-designed logo and the most prosperous of them successfully created emblems that can only be associated with their brand.

In definition, a logo is more than just an icon or a visual design – it is a mark of identity that represents your entire organization. As a significant part of your company’s brand, it helps you stand out and get noticed even in an extremely convoluted marketplace. Let’s take a look at some of the most recognizable and iconic logos that captured the world and see how they contributed to the success of their respective companies.

  1. Apple

Image source: cnet.com

The company’s current logo utilizes several variations of their famous monochromatic apple design; it also uses gray, black, and white finish.

Why is it effective? Aside from being one of the richest tech companies in the world, it has also become one of the most influential across continents so that anyone who see Apple’s logo is instantly reminded of its line of products: iPhones, iPod, iPad, to name a few.

  1. Nike

Image source: sneakernews.com

It was in 1971 when the company adapted their current logo, the same year when they changed their name to Nike, Inc.

One interesting fact about it is, it was a graphics design student from Portland State University who created the design for the rate of $35.  The artist’s attempt to convey “motion” gave birth to what the world now knows as The Swoosh.

  1. McDonald’s

Image source: wired.com

The company has millions of branches scattered around the world and this makes them one of the largest fast food franchises globally, and inevitably, among the most popular.

Their logo, popularly known as The Golden Arches, was introduced in 1968. It resembles the capital letter M (clearly, for McDonald’s).  The original inspiration for the logo is from the actual arches that were part of the fast-food restaurant’s stylized architecture in its early years.

  1. Starbucks

Image source: dailyhive.com

Starbucks is a global coffee giant and is among the world’s most profitable beverage franchises. While the Seattle-based company’s current logo does not make any sense (a siren with a crown and two tails?) to the regular coffee-loving customer, it is extremely recognizable. In fact, the emblem has been so iconic that it successfully garnered the company numerous prestigious design awards for its futuristic design and intricate details.

REPOST: Bigger than agriculture: How design became a multi billion dollar industry

Today’s economic and business spheres have been all about offering something unique and extremely useful. Companies have to continuously reinvent themselves in order to remain relevant and profitable. And in order to do so, they have to start from the very basic: creating value through design. Read this blog on The Spinoff to know how this creative aspect business is building a multi-billion dollar empire:

According to a new report, the design sector contributed over $10 billion to the New Zealand economy in 2016. Henry Oliver asks Thomas Mical, the head of AUT’s School of Art and Design, what that means for New Zealand design.

Designers know that their work creates value, but a recent report from DesignCo – commissioned by ten New Zealand institutions including AUT – confirms it, by quantifying design’s growing impact on the New Zealand economy. According to The Value of Design to New Zealand report, the design sector contributed approximately $10.1 billion to the New Zealand economy in 2016, about 4.2% of New Zealand’s GDP.

And if design were treated as its own industry rather than a sector within various industries, its contribution to the economy would be larger than agriculture ($8.1 billion) and on the heels of retail trade ($10.6 billion) and food, beverage and tobacco product manufacturing ($10.6 billion). Product design and interactive design are the two biggest contributors towards design’s economic impact, along with manufacturing, human health, financial, environmental and construction industries.

But it’s not just design for design’s sake. The report shows a strong design sector and national prosperity and economic growth. Further, design is a powerful tool of urban regeneration and a way to help solve complex and hard-to-solve problems in both the private and public spheres.

Thomas Mical, the head of AUT’s School of Art and Design, was trained as an architect and has thought a lot about the interaction of public and private spaces. He sees reports like The Value of Design as vital, not just for the design industry to prove it’s worth to the government and the private sector, but for designer’s themselves to understand their economic impact and the value of the work they do. And for Mical, who sees the future of design everyday in his student’s work, its value is only going to grow.

Continue reading HERE.

Why successful individuals invest in offshore mutual funds

Image source: moneycrashers.com

Success stories are often described as something achieved by hard work, perseverance, and having the right connections. However, not everyone knows that the most successful people in the world have relied on one strategic move that has not only made them financially stronger, but has also helped them grow their wealth over time: investing in offshore mutual funds.

In definition, offshore mutual funds refer to a collective investment system strategically situated in offshore financial centers (OFC) where non-resident investors can enjoy an attractive list of benefits: little or no tax liabilities in the jurisdiction, geographic diversification, and asset protection and privacy. Let’s take a closer look at the major benefits of investing in offshore mutual funds.

Low to neutral tax liabilities

Investing in offshore mutual funds means enjoying its primary incentive: favorable and most of the time, zero tax rates. This is because of the government’s initiatives to promote healthy and more attractive investments. Since these small countries have relatively few resources of their own, they have focused on attracting wealth from the outside to effectively boost their economic activity.

Smaller stakes with bigger potential returns

Investing in offshore mutual funds have been attractive to investors around the world because knowledgeable fund managers are able to outperform onshore funds. LOM Financial’s mutual funds, for example, have consistently posted strong growth figures year after year. The company’s investment experts have experience in managing the nuances of mutual funds for the last two decades, proven by the funds’ impressive track records of out-performing their benchmarks on a consistent basis.

Effective Portfolio Diversification

Many financial and investment experts believe that diversifying one’s investment portfolio is an effective way to improve one’s risk-adjusted returns—and investing offshore can add more to the list of its benefits. Offshore mutual funds offer investors opportunities to create a diversified portfolio.

Secrecy Policies and Regulations

Offshore centers provide the liberty in regard to regulations as well as policies that allow security and privacy of investors’ assets.  With these investor driven regulations, the process of establishing and more importantly, administering funds, are simplified.

These advantages mean less paperwork, reduced headaches, and worry.

AI is creating an unrecognizable future for the Design Industry—and it’s a good thing

Image source: computer.org

Technology has contributed to the unprecedented growth of different industries, thanks to the innovations that have continued to deliver outstanding results, bringing humanity’s future within arm’s reach.

As one of the products of the recent revolution of technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been the most impressive. In fact, AI has been finding its way into areas and industries that focus on both critical and creative tasks, outperforming and delivering outcomes efficiently and effectively.

The design industry, for instance, have recognized the role of artificial intelligence in introducing a new era of creative work. Centering more on time and space, we’re looking at an age where technological contributions beyond the traditional focus on graphics and products, is at its peak.

Image source: skilledup.com

For instance, robotics and smart environments will provide creatives with a limitless source of space and boundless abilities that will enable the once impossible and often time-consuming tasks of creating hundreds and thousands of variations of a design. This increase in productivity and better tools will open up new ways and means both for amateur and professional designers around the world.

In fact, experts have predicted that the first impact of artificial intelligence will be more directed at non-designers and how the change will create opportunities to develop their creativity as well as social intelligence: two factors that have been considered to determine the factors that promote the highest employability in present design jobs.

Without replacing human creatives, AI in design will enhance human ability by providing context-specific options, algorithm-based and multi-perspective solutions to the most common design problems through smart platforms and problem-solving bots.

REPOST: Welcome To The Future Of Marketing: The A.I. Based Design

Even for functions once thought can only be performed by the human mind, artificial intelligence is proving that it may soon be able to replace human creativity—although not entirely, of course. Especially in design-based marketing, AI can improve many aspects of the whole process. Here are more insights from TNW:

Many people believed that modern technology will first replace the low wage jobs from the industries that are dependent on manual labor rather than intellectual work. However, the latest innovations in robotics and A.I. tend to contradict our previous beliefs: we are now entering a new era, of A.I. based design that hopefully, will change everything for the best.

Until recently, computer generated design was regarded more as a sci-fi idea rather than a reality. The development of artificial intelligence was focused on other goals and nobody could have dreamed about it being capable of actually delivering something useful to mankind. Sure, we all have at least once admired beautiful fractals generated by computers but let’s face it, they were not actually visual designs. They were visual math and nothing more.

 

Design and marketing

While artists draw for pleasure and sometimes for fame and money, digital design is esigners and web developers. Every brand needs a logo, every website needs a header, every marketing campaign needs a banner and a slogan.almost exclusively focused on marketing. Sure, there are people who are drawing or designing just for fun but at the same time, the professional designing software programs are mostly used by designers and web developers.

We cannot separate design from marketing and vice versa. However, we have reached a point in our technological development in which we can expect to rely more on automation and save our precious time to find inspirations for a marketing campaign. How? Well, thanks to the newly developed A.I.s, we can now take a look into the future of design and marketing. And we can see that our world is changing and so are the ways we work.

 

How did A.I. design change the world?

Well, let’s not jump to such a conclusion, at least not yet. They didn’t change the world, at least not yet. While design and marketing go hand in hand and we are already aware that there are A.I.s out there capable of performing both these tasks, we are now only grasping the beginning of what the future will look like. Nevertheless, there are at least three examples of great A.I.s that worth to be mentioned for the purpose of this article. Let’s find out about each of these successes:

 

Tailor Brands

Over time, there were some really great improvements and innovations in A.I. based design. However, the greatest news comes from Tailor Brands and their artificial intelligence logo design software. While other similar apps are quite basic and cannot deliver many alternatives to the user, the A.I. used by Tailor Brands s adaptable and capable of learning, considering it is used on a frequent basis. Moreover, Yali Saar, CEO of the company, believes that their software is capable to “design logos, promotional products, and even social media campaigns”.

 

Why are logos important?

A company or a brand logo is the first thing that people see when they land on your web page, when they see your banners or other types of ads. In a blink of an eye, your logo gets to be noticed or forgotten, depending on how representative it is for your brand, and how easy it is to be mentally associated with it. A company or a brand logo is therefore, the first and most important step of your branding process. Everything you do from now one in terms of marketing depends on your logo’s visual style.

How does this work? Apparently, things are quite simple but you should already know that nothing is as it seems. The A.I. will help you design your brand logo but you have to pay attention to all the following steps, in order to help the machine learn about your business and generate relevant and accurate designs.

After you have signed up on their website and write down your brand name, the machine will ask you a series of questions. First, you have to describe your business and what you are doing.