Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Takk!

Now back in Ottawa but thoroughly depressed to find it cold, dark and rainy, I'm nursing a nasty cold I picked up and wishing I was still in warm and sunny Oslo.

By all accounts, my lecture went well and Timo Arnall and I even got interviewed for Norwegian national radio! The local news (in Norwegian) chose to focus on Nokia senior designer Tapani Jokinen's presentation, which reminded me that presentations broken down into easily digested chunks and slogans are more amenable to being repeated. I didn't give people anything that clear-cut to take away, but that's actually part of the point I was trying to make: Life is messy but protocol is not.

I also spent two days in a workshop with Timo and Mosse Sjaastad's physical computing and interaction design students, learning about their projects and helping them get to know what anthropologists do. This was truly a highlight for me because they were incredibly talented students who quickly grasped some of our basic methodologies and were completely open to getting out there and seeing what's going on. Of course, many designers find this sort of thing interesting but struggle to see how it can directly contribute to, or improve, their work. If I succeeded in communicating only one thing, I really hope it was that they should question their assumptions and value what people already do.

After six days hanging out in west, central and east Oslo, I could still attest to how beautiful the city is. The streets are clean and safe, public transport is good (I really liked the ferry) and people take advantage of public spaces. I particularly enjoyed spending time in the wonderful cafes and restaurants in Grünerlřkka, where I made friends with skillingsbolle and had some really excellent sandwiches. Timo and I also visited the Viking Ship Museum and the Folkemuseum. I had underestimated how beautifully engineered and crafted the Viking ships were, and the building in which they're displayed, designed by Arnstein Arneberg, really cultivates a sense of reverence. Both the ships and the small collection of artefacts also offer a lovely take on notions of mobility: the Vikings were great travellers and they used a wide variety of materials and decorative styles from the places and peoples they encountered. We spent most of our time at the Folkemuseum admiring Norwegian vernacular architecture. The large open-air museum has a collection of farmhouses and gorgeous storage buildings from 1200-1900, as well as a stunning stave church from the 13th century. I also enjoyed the small Sámi exhibition which included a section on contemporary life, including political struggles, which prevented the museum from acting as a tomb.

Special thanks to Finsk-norsk kulturinstitutt, Norsk Form, AHO and DogA for sponsoring the lecture, to Grafill for the beautiful accommodations, and to Timo, Mosse and Even Westvang for their excellent hospitality and conversation. I can't wait to return!

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5 Comments:

Blogger njyo said...

Thank you, the pleasure was ours. Yes, I totally enjoyed your (and Timo's) talk. I found both very refreshing and interesting. And in that sense I should contradict your second paragraph with the words "know your audience":
Everybody I talked to afterwards was disappointed about Jokinen's talk or even said that Nokia's public talks on this level always seem to be banal marketing sessions. In this sense he might have appealed to the local news (and common people) but your talk was definitely more appreciated by the audience....
And I am pretty sure you know that. ;)

In this sense I wish you good luck and am looking forward to the chance to listen and read. Best regards,
_Wolf

03:48  
Blogger Ed said...

After Oslo, Ottawa must be sooo depressing... :)

03:59  
Anonymous Craig said...

Congratulations on the lecture in Oslo - it sounded quite interesting from what you've posted here. Fortunately for you, you missed the worst of the storm. About three and a half inches of *slush* fell Sunday night. It's the first year that slush has fallen from the sky, as far as I know. And it's happened a couple other times this "spring."

07:46  
Anonymous molly said...

Oslo is achingly lovely, isn't it? I've now made three trips there (the last of which, I spent much time in the very neighborhood you're talking about--Timo brought me there when I met him in Oslo!). Glad to hear your trip was a joy.

08:41  
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