Innovation at Pixar

It goes without saying that Pixar are one of the most innovative companys around today. From the very outset they have made creative thinking an artform and have created a working-environment that encourages their employees to explore and embrace ideas on an ongoing basis, in turn ensuring that the innovation so critical to their success is both maintained and nurtured.

Brad Bird, whom Pixar hired after seeing his animated version of The Iron Giant, recently discussed in an interview the innovation process at Pixar. In this interview he stresses that for imagination-based companies to succeed in the long run, making money cannot be the focus. He then goes on to discuss 9 key lessons which give great insight into the companies culture and the approaches they use to ensure they remain at the top of their game. Those lessons on fostering innovation are an absolute must read and can be found here.

Steve Jobs hired Bird, because after three huge box-office successes, namely Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, and Toy Story 2, he was worried Pixar might struggle to stay innovative. Jobs told Bird: “The only thing we’re afraid of is complacency—feeling like we have it all figured out”.

Jobs had stated in a letter to shareholders in 1997 that

“We believe there are only two significant brands in the film industry– “Disney” and “Steven Spielberg”. We would like to establish “Pixar” as the third.”

Disney purchased Pixar earlier this year for the princely sum of $7.4 billion so it could well be argued that Jobs has seen to it that Pixar achieved its goal of becoming the third significant brand.

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On Sunday, October 4th, 2009 at 9:23 pm Comments Off

The Way Things Go

RFID and NFC will both undoubtedly play a huge role in the field of Interaction Design in the coming years. The Institute of Design at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design in Norway have been carrying out some very interesting research in the field and have in turn come up with some very innovative applications utilising these Near Field Communications technologies. Their Touch initiative is a research project that investigates Near Field Communication, a technology that in short enables connections between mobile phones and physical things.

For their Nearness project they put together a nice short video in collaboration with BERG which illustrates some of the potential applications of these technologies.

Whilst watching the clip I was immediately reminded of the mind-blowing Honda Accord Cog Commercial which was made a number of years ago. You can watch the advert below.

The Touch group have obligingly acknowledged their influences and also included a mention of the art movie filmed by Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss called ‘Der Lauf der Dinge’ or ‘The Way Things Go’. For their film they built a enormous, precarious structure 100 feet long out of common items. Using fire, water, gravity, and chemistry they created a mind-blowing chain reaction of physical and chemical interactions and precisely crafted chaos.

As a child I was fascinated by dominos and can recall watching with amazement those videos in which thousands of carefully placed pieces of plastic ran meandering paths on massive high-school gym floors. There is something hugely captivating about watching a chain of self-triggering events, and all of these movies use this technique to great effect.

From the world of art to the business of advertising and eventually arriving in the field of interaction design, the ‘visual chain of events’ device has been used to great effect. Lets see where it turns up next.

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On Sunday, September 27th, 2009 at 8:37 pm Comments Off

Happy 1234567890 Day

So here it goes. I’ve decided to begin a blog – a blog you say? I know, I’m a little late to the party, indeed some are saying it may well have ended, and that everybody has reconvened at the more hip soirée next door called Microblogging.
Regardless I’ve been intending to blog for years but have always spent too much time deliberating over various platforms, designs and what have you – the paradox of choice and all that. It’s also quite easy to harbor the kernel of an article but never actually get around to penning the actual piece for various reasons. I think a Mr. Goldman put it best when he once observed that:

“The easiest thing to do on Earth is not write.” – William Goldman

Indeed I have spent the last number of years doing exactly that – not writing. However I recently sat down installed a copy of WordPress and put together a simple design for this blog. It’s a work in progress but I am somewhat content with it for the moment – though it is subject to change. So now with all the initial technical jiggery-pokery out of the way I stand before that most intimidating milestone – The First Post. It may well prove to be the most awkward and rambling post I’ll make to this journal but once I get it out of the way I figure I’ll be able to get on with writing the type of articles which made me wish to start a blog in the first place. Either way I don’t recall reading many, if any first posts, so they may well be the modern equivalent to a books copyright page, forever consigned to the gigantic wastebin of neglect. Today my procrastination will finally succumb to poorly structured passages of thought.

Why today? you ask. A fair question, let me explain – I agree that Friday 13th does seem a somewhat peculiar day to launch a blog. I could have began yesterday or indeed waited until tomorrow. But despite the somewhat foreboding day there is also a particular significance to the date as well as the precise time of this, my initial post. At least enough of a reason to push any inclinations of paraskavedekatriaphobia to the side. Geeks (a club to which I am a fully paid up member) especially the ones who spend time tinkering with websites, software or other similar pastimes, will be familiar with UNIX. For the uninitiated, it is a computer operating system originally developed in by a group of AT&T employees at Bell Labs. UNIX uses a system for describing points in time, defined as the number of seconds elapsed since midnight January 1, 1970. Which means that at precisely 23:31:30 (GMT) tonight that numerical representation will take the form of:


Interesting, huh? Well I figured that this impending date would be enough to motivate me to set-up a blog on one of my slumbering domains and undertake this here project, all within a short imminent timeframe.

I am a designer, I also code a bit too, I reckoned it would be useful to gain an insight to both sides of the coin, and as it transpired it was. I design and build interfaces for all manner of things including web applications, mobile devices and some things which you may not have heard of as of yet. I am especially interested in the ways people engage & interact with technology and the way these experiences are shaping modern day lifestyles. You can now assume that any subsequent posts will contain copious amounts of design & technology flavoured content in a hopefully more structured form – this is a fact which may determine whether you bookmark, subscribe or indeed vow never to return to this website again. I can also assure you that despite the somewhat meandering nature of this initial stream of consciousness, future efforts will be based around thoughts and ideas I have on subjects such as interaction design, user interfaces, user experience, web thingamabobs and HCI matters as these are the grasses upon which I graze.

CLICK – Did I just hear somebody switch off the Internet?

So there it is – my manifesto for this blog, however misguided or irrelevant it may be. On that note that I bid you a good day, thank you for your patience and for taking the time to let me introduce myself and I will hopefully see you in the near future.

One more thing – Happy 1234567890 day.

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On Friday, February 13th, 2009 at 11:31 pm Comments Off