Source: Canada Life

This is the Canada Life tower in downtown Toronto, Canada. It’s a beautiful building with a weather beacon at the top. The beacon’s lights indicate various weather conditions: snow, wind, rain, etc. It’s a great fun fact because most people who live in Toronto don’t know this. We just use the weather app which promises exact timing for when the weather will change. We spend our time looking down rather than looking up.

I was listening to a talk about Calm Technology by Amber Case and I began thinking about all the mundane, non-digital technologies that have evolved to become…

The Personal Care Bot that I designed back in 2015

Just a few years ago, I was applying for graduate school. I believe this was an application concept that I submitted and I believe I did not get into that school with this (so obviously amazing) design. Today, I was sitting in my studio flipping through some old sketchbooks when I found this creation. As I was about to laugh it off and throw this sketchbook in the trash, I flipped back and realized that the reason I designed this bot is to solve a problem that I think still exists today.

Lately, I’ve been overwhelmed with news and opinions of where the future stands. I generally like to follow and read a variety of sources before forming an opinion (that includes a day of just watching conspiracy theory videos). I have the belief that if someone thought of it, it’s true somewhere and if they are trying to publish it, they have a reason. So in times like this, I think it’s as important to understand the drive behind incoming news and opinions as consuming them.

What are they telling you about the future?

Some of us make decisions based on logic, some completely by emotion. Have you ever…

As a business owner, you face continuous complexity. The world is uncertain: times are changing, and you need to be prepared to deal with it. How do you know where to focus your effort and initiatives? One practical approach we have helped companies use is the “Known and Unknown” framework, especially when building new products.

The known and unknown framework is often applied by organizations that deal with a lot of ambiguous scenarios to gain foresight. NASA, for example, uses this framework to evaluate risks in space exploration. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) uses this framework to anticipate possible…

In the last month, we have all been overwhelmed, surprised, scared, numbed, and ultimately effected in some way. Around the world, the flow of information and changes that are happening are so rapid, it’s hard to really know what’s going on. This week, in addition to working remotely, I’ve tuned into live streams, participated in online discussions, been zoom-bombed, played more video games than ever, and consumed a lot of responses and opinions. All the world is in limbo, waiting for the temporary state to pass, but all the world has already changed.

Broadly speaking, design thinking is a mindset. It is often known as the empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test process prescribed to companies wanting to build innovative products. Unfortunately, instead of adopting the mindset, the problem is that we’ve diluted the thinking down to a repeatable process without context.

Michelangelo was design thinking

A half-finished fresco — Traditional Building

Once upon a time, artists created much of, well, everything; from the buildings we live in, to the things we use, and even concepts of “perspective” and “color”. In the time of Michelangelo, fresco was basically the AI of the era. Fresco was a technique used for painting murals, it became…

I was working as a designer for a few years after undergrad, but I got to a point where I was searching for something more as a designer than what my work allowed me to do. Thanks to the internet, I found that designers were building cities, companies, live experiences, and futures. All this made me realize that although most jobs allowed me to do what a designer is thought to do, they did not let me be a designer. Designers are thinkers, problem solvers, creators, and leaders; yes, on top of that, we also make things look pretty. …

Context: the web essay is a new format I’m attempting so I can find new meaning in my work. It is an exploration rather than argument. Not quite literature, not quite digital art but a melding of many artforms. Through this, I challenge the way I write, think, and create concepts. Writings are about my personal experience and not a commentary on anyone else’s experiences.

In Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, he argues that through reproduction, an Old Master’s painting’s modern context is severed from that which existed at the time of its…

2015 exhibition at Art Square, Toronto

When I graduated from illustration, I worked as a graphic designer while painting. For 4 years, I applied for almost every art fair/exhibition/event in the city and started selling my paintings, doing commission work, and even some performance and installation work to build an identity of being an artist. Whenever people asked what I do, I’d say, “I’m an artist”.

Overtime, I collected feedback through rejections, successes, and conversations with people who encountered my work. I found the right customers who are willing to spend, the right neighbourhoods to sell, the right time and add-on products which contributed to my…

The world is filled with options, plenty of fish in the sea. To meet the one is quite an exhausting task of trial and error. Some even wonder if there is a science to this, a way to make recommendations through your past habits, likes, and activities. The moment you think you found the perfect one, it starts to fall apart. You start seeing little details that make you feel so stupid and incapable. …

Betty Zhang

Strategist, designer, and researcher working in digital innovation, strategic foresight, and customer experience.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store