u.lab’s BIKETANK is featured in Object Magazine 62: Studios & Eco-Fashion


Issue 62 focuses on ‘studios’: we talk to architects Donovan Hill about exploring the site rather than the building, as well as architecture-based Healthabitat, about the process they use to merge health and design. Design thinking appears to be taking the world by storm as we highlight three practices using the emerging methodology in different ways: BikeTank, 24HRs2MC and Design Emergency. Meanwhile Collider merges art and design with their work for the likes of the Sydney Theatre Company and the 18th Biennale of Sydney.


BikeTank & EntrepreneurshipLab – Flashbacks on Vimeo

Here is some footage from one of the early BikeTank and EntrepreneurshipLab Sessions. It’s amazing what has become out of these early ideas and discussions throughout the last semester at u.lab. Hope to see you all again in the next year.

u.lab’s BIKETANK joins ‘Design meets NSW parliament’ today

Sir George Cox. Image: Sir George Cox

The Australian Design Alliance and NSW Department of Trade and Investment present an interactive forum on the state of design – how strategic design can help to find new pathways to devising innovative solutions to key policy challenges and how NSW can take a lead role in design for innovation in service delivery, trade and investment.
Sir George Cox will deliver the keynote address. Sir George is the past chairman of the UK Design Council and author of the Cox Review (on creativity in business) for the UK Government.
Speakers and panelists
  • AdA patron Michael Bryce
  • AM AE NSW Government Architect Peter Mould
  • UTS dean of business Roy Green
  • Hael Kobayashi (Creative Industries Innovation Centre)
  • Sam Bucolo (Queensland University of Technology)
  • Paul Pholeros AM (Healthabitat)
  • Steven Pzel (Object)
  • Kees Dorst (UTS)
  • Joanne Jakovich (UTS)
James O’Loghlin, host of the ABC’s New Inventors, will be the MC for the day.


u.lab at UTS, by Ross Colebach @ Object – via object eye

Earlier this week I went to BikeTank, a think tank you cycle to run out of the University of Technology, Sydney (and you can read about that here.) BikeTank is actually a creative project run out of u.lab, an ‘emerging interdisciplinary framework for innovation projects at UTS.’

The seed for u.lab was planted last year and solidified in January, and from there three ‘projects’ developed this year: Creative Minds, BikeTank and the Entrepreneurship Lab. This morning, at the u.lab ‘headquarters’ in an old warehouse space in Chippendale the Entrepreneurship Lab students presented Launch Pad, effectively delivering their final projects.

Basically, the students have spent the semester working alongside BikeTank to develop four projects in interdisciplinary teams made up of postgraduate students from the schools of architecture and business. The teams had to develop these projects from an idea to a fully-fledged pitch, and then present these pitches to an audience today.

It’s quite an extraordinary task. Many of these students are working in a cross-disciplinary environment for the first time, striving to create a fully functioning project that incorporates design and business attributes. Feedback from the panel of professionals took into account everything from the reality of the project to the business model presented — they were viewed as real pitches with the possibility of market development. Indeed, despite feedback suggesting some refinement was needed, the projects did all seem fairly ready to roll out as commercial propositions.

u.lab is another great cog in the UTS design thinking wheel, accompanying the Design Camp on Cockatoo Island covered in issue 61 of Object magazine. One of the students I spoke to after the pitch highlighted the fact that this was the first time he, as a business student focusing on financials, had really been exposed to the design process. His group spent two months working on an idea before throwing it away, something some in his group saw as a waste until the realisation came that, without those first two months ending in failure, they never would have arrived at what is arguably a superior final product. That failure, as it were, is one of those important elements of design that it takes exposure to to truly understand.

Head to ulab.org.au for more information. If you can get your hands on it, there is a book (u.lab: it’s about you) that will give you a much deeper insight into the lab and the three projects rolled out in 2011. I’m sure much exciting work will come out u.lab, and I personally can’t wait for what might happen in 2012. And look out for the article in Object magazine Issue 62, focusing on Studios and available in March 2012.

Teaching Creativity: The Answers Aren’t in the Back of the Book – by Brian D. Cohen

“Genius is the error in the system.” — Paul Klee

When a student asks me, an art teacher, how to do something, I often don’t answer. It’s not that I’m especially possessive of my acquired knowledge; to the contrary, I don’t think knowledge belongs to anyone; it should be shared, or better yet, discovered.

As teachers, we imply there are definite answers and that we possess them. Sometimes teachers play a kind of game in which they encourage students to guess the answer in the teacher’s head. It might be better played the other way around.

Figuring things out for yourself has a high value. Thinking is the best way to learn. But it’s painful and a lot of work, and lengthy uncertainty is uncomfortable.

There are rules, and there is much an art student needs to learn. We must recognize when a rule is a convention or a convenience, rather than a universal law, and we must recognize assumptions underlying what we believe. To learn to apply rule-based solutions without understanding them is incomplete learning.

I think of knowledge as familiarity with facts or formulae; and understanding as the ability to apply the principles of knowledge to new conditions and circumstances. Creativity (I would never limit this term to the arts only) involves understanding and, paradoxically and simultaneously, not knowing; entering a process where ready answers are inadequate to the task, and where the resolution at first uncertain. You can be know a lot about something and be thought to be good at it, yet not know for sure where things are going to come our.

And often when things do come out, and they usually do though it takes a while, they don’t look so good at first. Gertrude Stein, quoting Picasso, said, “When you make a thing, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly, but those that do it after you they don’t have to worry about making it and they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when the others make it.” (from The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas.) When you work something out on your own, you often do so awkwardly, haltingly, even blindly, without fully knowing the outcome ahead of time.

The best arts schools are not vocational schools. Students are “trained” to learn the rules and to speak the language of their medium, but more importantly, they are encouraged to develop their own habits of mind and to acquire the discipline of continuing to work in the face of not being able to get the answers right away. They learn how to not give up until they get there.

What else do students learn how to do in arts education?

They learn how their first answer may not be the best. They learn how the last answer may help you get to the next, but it won’t be the next answer. They learn how there might be more than one way of interpreting or doing something. They learn how skill and knowledge in their discipline is a means and a beginning, not an end.

They learn how to live with uncertainty, to pursue outcomes that are not predetermined.
They learn how one must risk the thing one cares most about.
They learn how to look anywhere and everywhere for answers.
They learn how nothing is sacred and everything is sacred.

They learn how to let go of the shore and push off into the middle of the river.





Last BikeTank for 2011 today with guest thinker Alex Cheek from 2nd Road



We’ve had a fabulous time with you so far and would love to hit it off
one more time for 2011!

BikeTank is an urban connectivist think-tank that doubles as a bicycle
pitstop cafe. BikeTank intensive workshops explore how design can make
cities more human.


At BikeTank workshops we prototype modes and spaces of innovation,
embracing multi-generational inspiration and sharing. Each week is an
intensive exploration into a defined topic hosted by emerging design
entrepreneurs and leading thinkers, contributing to a bigger picture
project: http://biketank.org/thebiggerpicture.php

Tickets include free barista coffee and pastries, but we’d like you to
register (so we can get enough goodies).

See more at: htttp://biketank.org/
@BikeTank #BikeTank

We look forward to collaborating with you!