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Updated: 12 hours 13 min ago

Jamie Wolfond Thinks Designers Could Benefit from Reimagining the Traditional Design Process

12 hours 13 min ago

This interview is part of a series featuring the presenters participating in this year's Core77 Conference, "Now What? Launching & Growing Your Creative Business" , a one-day event aimed to equip attendees with tangible skills and toolkits to help produce and promote their products or service.

Many designers follow a traditional design process, where selecting a factory to manufacture with comes after the design process is completed. Jamie Wolfond and his brand Good Thing, however, choose to put an emphasis on specific materials and production methods at the beginning of the design process, working with factories, manufacturers and outside designers to bring unexpected twists on classic home items to life. 

Jamie will be speaking about this method of "backwards design" to explain how it works and how it fits within Good Thing's unique business model at the 2018 Core77 Conference, happening next Thursday October 25th at A/D/O in Brooklyn. Ahead of his talk, we sat down with Jamie to learn about Good Thing's origins, understanding your customers and why putting materials and process first can help your products in the long run:

How did Good Thing start?

I started Good Thing because I spent a year after graduating from school attempting to license my designs to manufacturers for production before finding that there wasn't much of a licensing infrastructure in North America to work with. Or really very much of an infrastructure for young designers to see their work produced at all. My intention was to create an opportunity for myself to get work out there, and I pretty quickly figured out that by involving other people whose work I also admired and appreciated, I could go create a much more sort of visible platform to sell these products.

You've created a system where you consider materials and the manufacturing process first. Why is this approach important to you and how has it shaped your business model? Good Thing G3 Vessels

Good Thing, in general, works with designers who think about materials in a particular way, but I also have a process that I use in my own design work, whether or not it's a product for Good Thing or a product for someone else, that is a little bit more specific. Broadly speaking, at Good Thing, we like to make things that are asking to be made.

"If the manufacturing process is not involved in a very literal way at the beginning, then sometimes the result is stifled by someone's preconception about what that process might do."Good Thing Frank Trays

This usually means that the design process starts not with a particular category and product, but with an ambition to get more from a process that we already know something about. For me, that manifests as this process that I sometimes call "backwards design", which refers to sort of reverse engineering or solving an unexpected problem with a technique or process. I think for some of our external designers, that's present in varying degrees. Of course each designer that we work with has their own perspective but it is, I think, at the end still tied together with this idea of changing what's possible, not by introducing new technology, but by using existing technology in a new way.

What does "backwards design" mean to you?

On the other side of the supply chain there's usually a person who's making the product. If you involve the person, their tools, their equipment, their machines, their skills and even, in some cases, their personality in a product before you determine what it's meant to become, you end up with a product that is ultimately stronger for the way in which it's been shaped by different influences. Whereas if you come up with something and you know how it has to look and the surface has to feel exactly this one particular way, independent of the forces used to construct it, sometimes there's an unpleasant kind of tension left in the object, where what somebody envisioned it to be and what it was able to be. If the manufacturing process is not involved in a very literal way at the beginning, then sometimes the result is stifled by someone's preconception about what that process might do.

Good Thing Gather Vase

Even if you have a metal laser cutter locally that you usually work with, what you know about the parameters of that laser cutter doesn't normally help what can be done with some other laser cutter somewhere else. It takes practical experience working alongside the actual vendor with the actual machine in the actual place where the thing can be made to really shape an object such as it is.

What are some materials and processes that you've been particularly excited to work with over the years?

We've had the chance to work with a lot. They all have their different strengths, and we like having a big toolbox to work from. We know that there are certain methods that work really well at small volumes and they make for you a prototype and test things. Early in the beginning, we worked with a factory that would dip things in rubber. That one didn't last awhile. That was the best example of when we backwards designed ourselves out of a vendor. I think we've hit the gamut of conventional industrial practices. Of course, we're always interested in unconventional ones, but it's extra hard to find a open-minded factory ready to do something completely different. And that's when outsourcing work overseas can become very challenging.

Good Thing SoapWhen working so heavily with manufacturers from the start, how do you also consider your end consumer?

That's where my talk at the conference will fall, so I don't want to give away too much. It's a very challenging thing, and it's not something that was intuitive in the same way that working with the factory to figure out how to make something was intuitive. When I started Good Thing after graduating from art school, I knew that products that adhere to conventional industries and norms were not the kind of things I wanted. For that reason, it seemed like making something that a large audience wants and making something that I think is beautiful were mutually exclusive because there are so many things our audience buys that are not inside my canon of beautiful things. I think the way that we came to understand our consumer at the beginning was really with a lot of trial and error. By analyzing the soft data that came out of releasing products and seeing how they sold over and over, we were able to figure out a collection of items that sort of operate on multiple levels.

_________________________

You want to start a creative business. Now What? Come to our 2018 Core77 Conference to learn more about launching & growing a product line or design studio of your own on October 25th in Brooklyn!

Buy "Now What? Launching & Growing Your Creative Business" Tickets here.

Primitive Timing/Lighting Device: A Self-Extinguishing Coiled Candle

12 hours 13 min ago

This seems like an industrial design student project that actually got picked up by a manufacturer. It's a coiled beeswax candle made by a company called Candle by the Hour, and it was supposedly "part of the 1600s dating scene. Known as a 'courting candle', protective parents would light one to limit the time prospective suiters [sic] could spend with their daughters."

I say it seems like a student project, because I can just imagine the copy about how this "Urges us to reconsider the nature of time" or "recontextualizes the passage of minutes by forcing us to manually advance the candle," you get the idea.

In any case, the object is popular enough that they've scored Home Depot distributorship.


Entertaining Video of How Banksy's Self-Destructing Artwork was Supposed to Function

12 hours 13 min ago

At a Sotheby's auction this month, Banksy had one of his pieces on offer, mounted in a baroque, self-created frame. After the bidding war ended at a staggering £860,000 (USD $1.1 million), an alarm sounded and the frame revealed a surprising capability. Here's how it went down, followed by footage from Banksy of how it was supposed to go down:

An Easy Way to Build Retaining Walls: Leave the Concrete in the Bag, Stack Like Legos, Wet With a Hose

12 hours 13 min ago

Building a retaining wall in the conventional ways (above) is not a trivial matter. So DIYers have come up with an interesting trick: Rather than messing around with mortar, they lay the walls down like Lego pieces, using concrete while it's still in the bag.

That's right, the idea is that you don't open the packaging. Once the bags are laid, you wet everything down thoroughly with a hose, saturating all of the bags.

Once the concrete sets up, you can either wait for the paper to biodegrade, peel it off, or burn it off.

Prior to wetting the concrete, you can easily drive rebar into the bags as reinforcement.

You can also use the technique to build sunken fire pits.

Once cured, you can tell that these were made using bags, but I don't find the effect unpleasing.

If you want to use "bricks" that are smaller in size than your standard concrete bags, you can put in some extra work and re-bag the concrete in smaller lunch bags. That's what the fellow below did to create a retaining wall, and even a short series of steps, to brick in this culvert:

I wonder if, as in the entry about fenceposts, you can simply wait for a thunderstorm and forgo the hose step.

2018 Core77 Conference Ticket Sales End This Monday, October 22

12 hours 13 min ago

Next Thursday, October 25th we'll be gathering in Brooklyn for the annual Core77 Conference. This year's conference is focused on highlighting the realities of launching and growing your own creative business. Through a series of talks and workshops, you'll hear from other successful creative professionals in various design-related fields on how, exactly, they got to where they are and what tools, tricks and techniques they use to get ahead. 

Don't miss out on the best design party of the year—join us next Thursday for the Core77 Conference in Brooklyn, NY. Buy your ticket today!


Currently Crowdfunding: Notable Campaigns of the Week

12 hours 13 min ago

Brought to you by MAKO Design + Invent, North America's leading design firm for taking your product idea from a sketch on a napkin to store shelves. Download Mako's Invention Guide for free here. 

Navigating the world of crowdfunding can be overwhelming, to put it lightly. Which projects are worth backing? Where's the filter to weed out the hundreds of useless smart devices? To make the process less frustrating, we scour the various online crowdfunding platforms to put together a weekly roundup of our favorite campaigns for your viewing (and spending!) pleasure. Go ahead, free your disposable income:

Tired of being a pawn in the modern advertising game? Have no fear, IRL Glasses are here. These glasses, which look like regular sunglasses, remove the images on all digital screens to the eyes of the wearer, thus eliminating the majority of the advertisements encountered on a daily basis.

Designed by former Dyson designer, Oliver Chambers, the Herston Self-Balancing Desk Lamp smoothly adjusts to any position using precision engineering. The lamp uses a counterweight system to self-balance as the light source is moved around. No need to tighten any screws—once you move it, it just stays there.

It's important for designers to learn the art of self compassion, especially because it's so easy to get down on yourself after a tough critique or marketing meeting gone wrong. The Art of Imperfection is a digestible (and nicely illustrated!) way to remind yourself that you're still human. Cut yourself some slack occasionally, you deserve it.

"WEAR SPACE" is a functional—and humorous—commentary on open offices and our overall decline in focus. Strap the device onto your face to instantly block out the sounds of your annoying coworkers. Bonus: you won't be able to see them either.

We covered Prepd back when it smashed its initial Kickstarter goal in 2016, but now the crowd favorite lunchboxes are back—with new colors. Prepd Colors are essentially the same as the original Prepd lunchbox, but they are now completely plastic, have a bit of an updated design and come in a variety of new colors. If these don't encourage you to bring your lunch everyday, I'm not sure what will. 

Do you need help designing, developing, patenting, manufacturing, and/or selling YOUR product idea? MAKO Design + Invent is a one-stop-shop specifically for inventors / startups / small businesses. Click HERE for a free confidential product consultation.

Panasonic's Noise-Canceling Office Blinders

12 hours 13 min ago

So here's what it's come to: Penny-pinching corporations insist on stuffing us workers into open office plans, which everyone hates. It's impossible to concentrate in a bullpen. Thus Panasonic has invented Wear Space, a pair of noise-canceling headphones combined with visual blinders, in hopes of focusing your attention.

The partition on the side of the main body can narrow the view of the left and right when wearing it, and can interrupt troublesome visual information such as the movement of surrounding people and light. Cutting the horizontal field of view by about 60% will promote concentration in the work in front of you.

All told, Wear Space provides visual focus, noise cancellation, audio playback via Bluetooth, and the necessarily anti-social feature of blocking your face from view. As Panasonic explains:

Have you ever experienced that your concentration has [been broken by] being spoken to by your colleague or your boss, despite [attempting to focus] on your work while listening to music with earphones or headphones? With WEAR SPACE you can tell the surroundings that you are "concentrating on the work" just by wearing it.

Panasonic is currently attempting to crowdfund the Wear Space. At press time they were just over half of the way towards their ¥15,000,000 (USD $134,000) goal.


Jaguar Demonstrates the Artificial, Safety-Minded Sounds Their Electric Cars Will Make

12 hours 13 min ago

The noise of an internal combustion engine provides important feedback not only for drivers, but for pedestrians. For the vision-impaired pedestrian, the sound a car makes may be the only warning that it is approaching at all. Hence electric cars, which produce no engine noise at all, present a problem.

To solve this Jaguar is rolling out their Audible Vehicle Alert System, designed by sound engineers:

I still think consumers should be able to download EV sounds of their choice. Then again, perhaps people would abuse the technology and select obnoxious audio (farting noises, barnyard animals, engine sounds designed by Kanye, etc.).


I Learned This Labor-Saving Trick for Installing Fence Posts in Concrete—Without Having to Use Water

12 hours 13 min ago

As I learned during the construction of my dog-fenced run, erecting farm infrastructure is a combination of hard work and clever labor-saving tricks.

The fence is 300 feet long, with thirty 4x4 posts set ten feet apart, welded wire stretched between. Sherman, the fellow I hired to put the fence up, was raised on a farm and has built things his entire life; and though he's now in his 70s, he dug 20 post holes in a fraction of the time it took me to dig the remaining ten.

We set all 30 posts into the 24" deep holes, ensuring they were plumb as we filled the remainder of the holes with Quikrete. But getting water to each of the holes was going to be a challenge, as the house the fence is attached to has no hose connection. I could fill buckets at the other house on the property and carry them over to the post holes, but that would be a slog, particularly since the fence is built on hilly ground.

Sherman explained that we wouldn't be carrying buckets of water to each hole, nor buying a hose extension.

"But doesn't the concrete need water to set up?" I asked.

"Yes it does," he agreed.

"So how are we going to get the water to the holes?"

"Wait for it to rain," he said.

Two days later there was a thunderstorm, which handily filled each hole and mixed with the concrete. Afterwards Sherman checked the posts to see if they had shifted any, and tapped a few of them this way and that while the concrete was still wet. Then the posts set up, and now they're rock solid.

Subsequent rains washed the local soil over the top of the concrete, and the grass has already grown back in around it, making the concrete invisible.

Design Job: The MET Is Seeking a Junior Graphic Designer to Work on a Diverse Range of Projects

12 hours 13 min ago

General Description: The Junior Graphic Designer in Communication Design works independently under a general supervision of the Senior Design Manager and partners with various graphic designers and Senior Graphic Designers on exhibition concept, identity, design, and execution for a range of exhibitions and installations across the museum

View the full design job here

Tools & Craft #111: Making Stuff, and Other Human Impulses

12 hours 13 min ago

Several months ago a gentleman who runs a local maker space invited me to teach some hand tool classes at the space. I was happy to have the discussion, but we got hung up by a central question: How do you get students to the point at which they can produce something?

My own answer thus far as a teacher has been to teach classes in which the product is the skill itself. I teach classes in making dovetails, sharpening, installing hinges with hand tools, and so on.

I admire those who are developing schools teaching a class with a PRODUCT - most recently we offered one on building a collapsible shave horse, so I guess TFWW is also in this group - but these classes often highlight the tension between several contrasting human impulses.

As woodworkers, we feel making things, especially with our hands, is deeply satisfying. People also love learning new skills, and most people also enjoy the social aspects of learning in a group.

But we also have conflicting desires. The desire not to be the laggard, in danger of being left behind the group. The desire for instant or near-instant gratification. I want it now! And - crucially - our identities as consumers.

Nowadays shop class has been consigned to the dustbin of history for most people. Many students come to woodworking classes thirsting for the satisfaction of creation. Andrew Zoellner, the new editor of Popular Woodworking, wrote an inspiring call to arms,The Joy of Woodworking - Out on a Limb as his inaugural editorial. "We're here to inspire people to make more of the stuff they have in their lives and to learn the virtues of craft," he writes.

For those who make our livelihood from making stuff with our hands, or teaching others to make stuff with their hands, getting paid is also a challenge.

Hand tools teach us to be responsive to subtleties and ignore the pace of contemporary society. Tuning out competing fundamental needs is a much harder act -- one I am still learning.

PS - My wife is actually the chief writer of this post. I am a lucky fellow in a bunch of ways, and at this moment grateful to be with someone who can turn a bunch of thoughts into a blog entry under deadline.

N.B. The pictures are of some spoons Pate, who teaches the City Dweller's Collapsible Shave Horse class, made on her shave horse.

___________________

This "Tools & Craft" section is provided courtesy of Joel Moskowitz, founder of Tools for Working Wood, the Brooklyn-based catalog retailer of everything from hand tools to Festool; check out their online shop here. Joel also founded Gramercy Tools, the award-winning boutique manufacturer of hand tools made the old-fashioned way: Built to work and built to last.

Apple Releases Online Tool That Lets You See What Data They've Collected On You

12 hours 13 min ago

I've pretty much accepted that if I discuss something out loud, ads start popping up for that thing when I go online. If I tell you that I think my phone is listening to me, I sound like a crazy person. So I have no explanation as to how this happens.

Apple wants to assure you that they're not surreptitiously collecting data on you, that private things like your call log, heart rate and browsing habits are not stored on their servers. To make this transparent, today they've updated the Privacy portion of their website so that you can log on and request a report showing you precisely what data they've collected. It can be accessed here (follow the link to the "Manage Your Privacy" section).

Have any of you noticed the enduring phenomena mentioned in the first paragraph? I'm going to start saying "bananas" out loud several times throughout the day to see if I get banana ads.


Off-Road Problem Solving: How to Free Your Stuck Vehicle Using a Spare Tire, or a Polyester Sling

12 hours 13 min ago

This unattributed photo of a stuck off-road motorist has been making the internet rounds. As you can see, the driver has dug a hole, wedged his spare tire in there with his jack and is using it as a winch point to pull himself out.

If you're in a situation where you've got a winch but no tree to hitch it to, and no spare tire (shame on you) to use as above, there's a simple--and apparently hot-selling--device you can use called the Deadman Earth Anchor. It's essentially a super-strong polyester sling, and while it can be lashed around a tree, it can also be used in the following way on barren terrain:


The brilliance of the Deadman is that it weighs next to nothing and can easily be folded up for storage.

Lightweight and easily stowed under your seat, it's the self-recovery anchor that's always with you, allowing you to explore with confidence! While the Deadman loves to go around hugging trees or rocks, he is also an extremely capable ground anchor as well. Instead of debating whether to carry a heavy metal ground anchor, the Deadman becomes the ground anchor that's a permanent member of your recovery kit. With a Minimum Breaking Strength (MBS) ranging from 16,600 - 66,400 after assembly (depending on its configuration), the Deadman will be the strongest member of your recovery kit. We've gone to great lengths to ensure we get every last ounce of strength out of these American made, Class VII polyester industrial slings. The Deadman won't let you down!

I say "hot-selling" because the $200 object is backlogged. If you want one, be prepared to wait for a couple of weeks.

In any case, the Deadman is a great use of materials, and I call this good design.

Design Job: Design Furniture for Education & Healthcare Environments with Global Furniture Group

12 hours 13 min ago

General Accountabilities The conceptualization and design development of new furnishings and related product for the Education and Healthcare environments. Specific Accountabilities • Working with stakeholders to define new product objectives and strategies • Developing multi-concept product proposals • Defining and

View the full design job here

An Optical Illusion…That Relies on Sound to Work

Fri, 2018-10-19 12:04

I was skeptical when I heard about this--but I "fell" for it. Researchers at Caltech came up with an optical illusion that relies on sound to make you see something that isn't really there. Try it:

Did it work on you?

Their full description:

"Caltech researchers have developed these two new illusions that reveal how the senses can influence each other—in particular, how sound can give rise to visual illusions. These illusions occur so quickly that they illustrate a phenomenon called postdiction (as opposed to prediction) in which a stimulus that occurs later can retroactively affect our perceptions of an earlier event."

I'm still not sure I buy the "postdiction" part, as I feel I perceived the illusion in real time. You?


How to Create Faux Marble Slabs Using Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete

Thu, 2018-10-18 11:53

Whether you're an ID student or an independent designer/builder, at some point you might want to create something using marble. But while that material is beautiful, it's pricey, tricky to transport and difficult to work. It would be ideal if you could create your own marble, in whatever form or size you desire.

Here Mike Clifford, a/k/a Modustrial Maker, shows you his technique for doing just that. Clifford combines GFRC (glass fiber reinforced concrete) with his special blend of herbs and charcoal pigment spices to create faux marble that he can cast up himself:

Vintage UI Design Gold Mine: Here's a Photo Database of Old Control Panels

Thu, 2018-10-18 11:53

Did you like that look at Vintage Soviet Control Rooms from earlier this year?

An Unusual Design Aesthetic: Photos of Vintage Soviet Control Rooms An Unusual Design Aesthetic: Photos of Vintage Soviet Control Rooms An Unusual Design Aesthetic: Photos of Vintage Soviet Control Rooms

If so you're going to love Control Panel, a Tumblr-esque blog "In praise of dials, toggles, buttons, and bulbs." Moderated by Stephen Coles and Norman Hathaway, the page draws its images from the Control Panel group on Flickr. Here's a bunch of samples to get you started:


Reader Submitted: A Sleek Wireless, Portable Lamp that Can Charge Your Devices

Thu, 2018-10-18 11:53

Benjamin Hubert of experience design agency LAYER has designed a wireless lamp for London-based tech brand nolii. Called Rise, the lamp is the first product in the brand's first collection of wireless tech products, which will launch next year. It has integrated charging capability for up to two devices and can also be used as a "digital sunrise" alarm clock. Hubert co-founded nolii with tech entrepreneur Asad Hamir, and acts as the brand's Creative Director.

Rise was launched this September at designjunction as part of London Design Festival 2018. nolii also launched its retail-ready inaugural collection of tech products—Collection 001—which was soft-launched at London Design Festival 2017 and also designed by LAYER.

View the full project here

I'm Confused. Design Sprint or Lean Startup?  

Thu, 2018-10-18 11:53
I guess if you landed here you are confused. That's okay because it is confusing. Well, at least if you try to look at it from a binary, reductionist, point of view. 

Let me start by saying that, in my experience product developing, it is never about choosing between one or another (IMHO).

If you are still here after reading through the first paragraph it means you are also not looking for a silver bullet methodology. Great, me neither. The pursuit of a Holy Grail innovation methodology is a silly narrative that serves the purpose of keeping the lights on at innovation consultancy firms. I'm not rocking this type of business initiative. Nothing to worry here. So, let's get to the bottom of it—no strings attached.  

This sounds super suspicious. 

When we look back at the Industrial Revolution, we see the origins of the production processes that evolved to become today's Lean practices and ultimately served as inspiration for the Lean Startup approach. 

However, what many do not know is that Design was born at that very same age, out of the same influences, struggles and technological advances brought on by the mechanization of humankind. As siblings sharing the same mother, they, of course, have their differences. 

One is scientific, extremely rational, while the other is humanistic, empathetic and has a soft heart for emotions. 

Both attitudes are needed to build a product so, in the end, it is not a matter of choice between Lean Startup and Design Thinking. There should be no science without empathy, and innovations are only useful if they leave the sketchpad.

That being said, there is no point in focusing on being fast if you are not also striving to build an emotional bond with the people you intend to serve. After all, you don't want to end up creating something pretty fast that no one will give a damn about. 

So let's jump right into it. 

Design Sprints carry Design Thinking at its core, and as such, they add three major superpowers to the mix when compared to standalone Lean Startup practices. 

1 - The power to Deep Dive.

Techniques that give the team the opportunity to deep dive into the challenge before trying to solve it, resulting in less hip-shooting when brainstorming new ideas. 

2 - The power to Co-Design.

Tools that allow the team to co-create with the very same users they intend to serve. The chance users are already working to overcome their challenges is high. Worst case at least they have put a lot of thought into it.

3 - The power to Simulate. 

Design Sprints use fast early prototyping techniques to help the team and users work together to test solutions, way before they commit resources to build them up.

Design is a balancing act. (source: Design Sprint School)

These three key superpowers — Deep dive, Co-Design and Simulation — have the power to completely upend certainties, opening space for new quality discussions that will most likely create a positive impact in whatever it is that you are building.

Let's look back and into a very peculiar characteristic of the old iPod.

I know what you are thinking, that's too old of an example. Well, you are right, but stick with me here and you may learn something new about this superhyped gadget. 

The iPod is arguably one of the most iconic pieces of 21st-century innovation. Shortly after Apple managed to engineer a way to put a thousand songs into everyone's pocket, a question remained: How will people browse through all these songs? 

That's a challenge fit for a Design Sprint. 

I'm not sure they sprinted through this though. However, what I am sure about is that instead of obsessing over creating a new and super advanced browsing control, Apple's designers stepped back in time and found inspiration on the old radio dial.

The new and the familiar shake hands in the iPod design. (source: Design Sprint School)

Although the iPod was a unique and modern device, the choice to make use of such familiar control gave users the immediate impression of familiarity. The easiness to browse songs delivered the final blow to the super clunky MP3 players market back then. 

A tale of two approaches to innovation.

The Design Thinking approach focuses on stepping back, absorbing the challenge's big picture, looking around, and getting inspired before moving forward into developing a solution. Its sibling, engineering thinking, takes a troubleshooting approach to solve problems, isolating variables and addressing issues as they present themselves.

As a designer and software engineer, I find myself having to switch modes pretty often. It is not comfortable, and usually, it costs me a full day of stupidity to switch from Gestalt (design) to troubleshooting (engineering) mode. 

I can attest first hand there is no better or worse here. 

I tried to design screens thinking like an engineer, and code them feeling like a designer, trust me you don't want to do that. The first resulted in horrible functional crap; the later had me spinning around trying to find better ways to write code I should have pushed to Git many days before.  

The Lean Startup approach preaches teams should be laser focused in finding a Minimum Viable Product; A minimalist solution that has had its viability verified, and then asks the team to test this minimal solution with real people to see how they feel about it.

My primary goal when founding the Design Sprint School was to cast a light on this discussion by, along with tools and methods, providing entrepreneurs and product managers with a solid intellectual discourse to be employed whenever trying to convince peers and their leaders about the value Design Thinking and Service Design can bring into the product development mix.

Three things I believe to be at the core of the differences between the two approaches to innovation.

1 - Running experiments. 

Lean Startup tests ON people. 

Lean experiments are scientific experiments. Hypotheses are formulated by the project team "inside the lab", then tested on users. A classic scientific test is the A/B test, in which users are presented with different versions of the solution. Each user then gives feedback about what they've seen, and the winning version moves forward. 

Hypothesis: Given the choice between a hotel and a rented home, a backpacker traveler will choose to stay at the rented house. (source: Design Sprint School)1

Sounds reductionistic, right? That is because it is. 

By presenting two choices, scientists are literally trying to reduce the number of variables being tested which helps to determine variation from sample to sample more easily. 

Typical A/B test experiment. (source: Design Sprint School)

This is not to say A/B scientific tests are not useful, they are, but they usually shine after the idea generation stage is over and the goal is to uncover incremental change opportunities and errors in the proposed designs.

Design Thinking tests WITH people

It approaches testing sessions in a more collaborative way. When experimenting with users designers think of users as co-developers. 

In a Design Thinking experiment users have a participative role. (source: Design Sprint School)

During a Design Sprint prototyping session, users will not only test but may also take the role of designers themselves. They are given the power to ideate fixes and improvements, and even to help the team think of new possible solutions. These tests go beyond the dilemma of A/B hypotheses, resulting in richer and often unexpected solutions.

2 - The user recruited for the experiment.

Contrary to the Lean Startup approach, users in Design Thinking are not necessarily customers or "Earlyvangelists," people likely to buy early from you. 

Design expands the idea of core-users into an ecosystem of people affected somehow by the problem. (source: Design Sprint School)

Design Thinking extends the term 'user' to represent any actor relevant to the challenge at hand. This is key when working with complex challenges like healthcare-related ones. When tackling healthcare challenges, friends and family members are as important as doctors and patients for the co-design and simulate phases. 

3) A completely different idea of what the word "value" means. 

The Lean philosophy was created during post-war times in Japan with the sole objective to find ways to fine tune the machine and increase production efficiency in factories. 

The Lean Startup philosophy treats the original Lean's obsession with production-value, namely efficiency, as the same as end-users value, namely human emotions. 

But these are completely different animals. Production value is about efficiency, sometimes at any cost. User-perceived value is driven by meaning and often goes against efficiency.

Yes, what I am saying is that a lot of times we, humans, choose inefficient things to fall in love with. 

If humans were always bound to choose efficiency over meaning, all kitchens would look the same. They would be designed for maximum efficiency in meal preparation. 

Needless to say, that is not the case. 

I mean, there is a degree of efficiency you want in your kitchen, of course, but it stops when ugliness and discomfort start to show up in the model. Then you ditch the efficiency mindset in the pursuit of comfort, beauty, and other intangible, very hard to measure emotional values. 

Study extracted from THE NEW HOUSEKEEPING - Efficiency Studies in Home Management (1913) by Christine Frederick 1Production value is a hideous but extremely functional kitchen. 

Like the cooking spaces you find in high-schools, prisons, and other high-efficiency driven facilities. Trust me most people don't want theirs to look like that.

Designed for optimal efficiency. Production value is not the same as the user-perceived value. As such, generating the first is not the same as having created the latter. The Lean Startup book makes this jump and fails to mention it. People was left talking about "creating value", without realizing there are two very different meanings to the term. 

Focusing on viability first and then, only then, running experiments on people to determine if they like it, even if on a minimalistic level, is still wasteful.

Let's say your challenge is to give a birthday present to someone you've just met.

Based on the scientific or lean startup approach this would mean executing the following steps: 

1. Think about things you consider cool and that you can afford to buy.
2. Pick one of those things.
3. Try and see if they like it. If not, learn something and go back to step one.

Trying to come up with solutions inside the building and testing them. Lot's of waste.

Alternatively, if you use Design Sprints you would be doing the following:

1. Deep dive in the way this person live, work and relate to others.
2. Now, think about things that would be of good service to this person and that you can afford to buy.
3. Try and see if they like it. If not, learn something and go back to step one.

Deep diving and co-developing solutions with users, friends, and family. Higher relevance accuracy. 

As you can see, it is smarter to anticipate what is valuable to users first, and this can be swiftly done with a Design Sprint.

As someone who has dedicated the last five years to educate product developers on how to Design Sprint, and that launched a book about it two years before Google Venture's released theirs, I confess I am biased, but here goes my truthful perspective: 

As a movement, Design Sprint is already bigger than Design Thinking ever was, and this is only the beginning. It will become ubiquitous. The ability to Design Sprint a project will be as necessary for a product developer as the management skills required to get it off the ground. Learn it.