Design is: Your Vehicle
Of course, we wouldn't leave you hanging without more direction than that. So, to begin, take a look at this old fella.
This is Saint Brendan, a 5th century Irish monk, traveler, and writer of the Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis, a chronicle of a sea journey through the British isles in the North Atlantic, Iceland, and even what appears to be Newfoundland. Obviously, if true, this is a staggering re-writing of history; Many people know that Christopher Columbus was nearly 500 years late for the "first European to discover America" party. But if Brendan the Navigator really did reach the new world, he beat out Leif Ericson's landing by a further 500 years!
Unfortunately, scant evidence of the voyage has survived, probably because it was more of a pilgrimage than a colonizing trip, and it's probable that very little physical record would have been left. Luckily, Brendan and his disciples kept a careful record of their travels in the form of the Navigatio. The text describes enough geographic characteristics to suggest a probable course. It also describes the materials which went into building the boat. This is where the story gets incredible, and it doesn't stop once it gets started. Brendan's boat was based on Ireland's sea coracles, which are leather and oak, and nowhere near sturdy enough for anything more than a day at sea. Brendan's voyage was recorded as taking 7 years, so obviously something special was going on.
Tim Severin wanted to find out what this special thing was. He had always been fascinated by the Brendan mythology -- the monk speaks of eating easter dinner on a whale's back, sailing through crystal castles, and being attacked by fire demons from hell, presumably a volcano off of Iceland. And in Tim's mind, the best way to decide whether the voyage was real, or a fantastic construction, was to re-build the boat, and re-sail the voyage.
So he did it. This is the Brendan, the only known leather ship to cross the Atlantic (not counting Brendan's), and a perfect (as much as they could make it) replica of the original ship. With an oak skeleton soaked in lanolin grease for water proofing, and just one thickness of ox hide between them and the icebergs, it might have seemed like a ship of fools. But for Tim is was a dream come true.
That's because he's a born explorer. But in an age of satellite navigation and ubiquitous mapping, uncharted territories are in short supply. So too are sponsors like the king and queen of Portugal. But by mixing a historical goal with a popular Irish legend that helped him get the donated wood, leather, and supplies he needed, Tim was able to make his dream reality.
Of course, you don't have to be nearly this hard core to mix business and pleasure. In this Living on Earth radio program, Claire Schoen follows one contestant in the UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition as he competes to win the $25,000 prize with his bio-diesel invention. Chris Carstens is an entrepreneur who's interested in being able to buy bio-diesel himself, but he doesn't want to have to make it in his backyard. In order to make his dream a reality, he designed a business plan that appeals to local fleets of vehicles who can realize lower operating costs in the short term, then hopefully sell their surplus on the open market, to consumers like him. His goal may have been to use greener gas, but that doesn't meant he can't make a living doing it, with a little careful planning.
That's the case with lots of love/work relationships. Sure, it's easy to sacrifice one for the other, but when you can design a way to create income from your passion, then everyone's going to win. The skills you learn as a designer -- looking at stakeholders, economic flows, and market opportunities -- are just the ticket for solving this riddle.
Copyright 2004-2006 Dominic Muren and IDFuel Team