We needed a Talking About Design (TAD) mascot. Because, why not?
Meet Arti, The Artichoke Dog (TAD! see what I did there?), or Arti in my house. Arti is a 14-month old Australian cattle dog mix.
You might ask what does a dog have to do with design? Well since Arti joined my household in May, her presence has prompted me to redesign my home and routines. This redesign does not involve objects but experiences and processes where, as Herbert Simon said, we devised “courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.” Arti has effectively designed my life to be a process that she prefers.
Pre-Arti days I was an early riser and would listen to news radio while I got my coffee ready. I leisurely ate breakfast while scrolling through social media. Now my mornings consist of a different dance. Arti whines near my bed around 4 or 5:30 am. If she whines at 4 a.m. I quickly take her outside, and then we both go back to sleep. At 5:30 she starts play-biting my hands and feet to encourage me to get out of bed. If that does not work, she crams her head under my back and then rolls on her back, play kicking me with her legs. Why? She wants to go to the dog park, so she designs the perfect situation for me to want get out of my bed at 5:45am.
Once I am on my feet, she stops enticing me to play and adopts full cute, sweet, and obedient mode. She follows me around the house while I change, get water, and go to the bathroom. At each stop she lays at my feet, crosses her front paws, lays her head on them, and looks up at me, like she is the most patient dog in the world. She is creating an experience for me to be pleased with her and reward her with a walk and play time with other dogs.
She excels at reading people and especially other dogs. She will go up to the dog, sniff it and then determine how she can get that dog to play with her. I have received more phone numbers from people in my neighborhood in the last 4 months than I have in the last 2 years and it is all because of Arti. She can convince most dogs to play with her. I regularly hear people say “before meeting Arti, my dog went years without playing with another dog” or “I’ve never seen my dog play with another dog”. Arti somehow knows how to design the perfect situation for most pups to play; she knows when to jump, nibble at their ears, or lay in the grass with her paws out waiting.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been taking photos of Arti and putting them in a three-by-three grid, asking people to identify what emotion they feel that day. What was originally designed as a playful way to share pictures of my dog has proved to be an effective way to hear from friends that I don’t normally chat with or hear from on social media. Arti’s pictures help them to express how they’re doing in a very honest way. Arti uses her body language to design her life; I use Arti’s body language to design a tool to connect with others. Arti makes the perfect Talking About Design mascot. What Arti are you today? Please respond in the comments.