Andrew Harder

Experience Strategy and Design Research

Modern Life

Regardez moi (1962)
February 16, 2013

Regardez moi!

Malick Sidibè is a Malian photographer. He captured the explosion of youth culture in the capital, Bamako, in the 1960s. Dansez le Twist! (1965) From an interview with Sidibè in the Guardian “The arrival of the twist, the cha cha cha and rock’n’roll in Mali in the late 1950s, and ­independence from France in 1960, proved a heady cocktail. Bamako’s nights […]

February 4, 2013

Not another alarm clock

An old workmate of mine has launched his first commercial product, the Alarming Clock. It’s beautiful and thoughtful, and you should check it out. Alarm clocks are pretty mundane. We take them for granted so much that the function itself is now commoditised and diffused into many products across our lives. Phones, watches, kitchen timers, […]

January 30, 2013

A glorious future beats a glorious past

In the technology and business community, there is a tendency to see a company’s share price as an overall validation of its efforts. Facebook dropped sharply after its IPO, and the gut-feeling reaction (from the conversations I had at least) was that this marked (another) start of decline for the whole company. They disregarded user […]

January 24, 2013

Of rats and achievement

A billboard of Deng Xiaoping in the Shenzen Special Economic Zone

A billboard of Deng Xiaoping in the Shenzen Special Economic Zone

In the early 1960s China was leaving the Great Leap Forward, an intensive push by the new Communist goverment to modernise and industrialise their economy. The promise was clear: to radically improve the Chinese economy by tapping into the enormous population and to create a cohesive communist society. By 1961 the program had failed and resulted in mass starvation, in part driven by a collapse in grain production caused by collectivisation.

At this time, a senior leader in the Communist party, Deng Xiaoping, argued against ideologically-driven economic planning and for pragmatic economic reforms to alleviate the disaster.

“It doesn’t matter whether it is a white cat or a black cat, a cat that catches mice is a good cat.” Deng Xiaoping, 1961.

Fast forward 40 years, and China is indeed transformed. According to a cheeky game on the Economist’s website, China will become the world’s largest economy as soon as 2018. How has China done it? Who thrived in this transformation and how did they do it?
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January 24, 2013

Horror and empathy

A few years ago, I led some ethnographic research for Nokia in South Korea. One of the unexpected things we kept hearing about was how often our female respondents mentioned plastic surgery. Everyone talked about it, and I mean everyone. We met generally younger women; some wanted plastic surgery, some didn’t, but everyone knew someone who had it.

Following up on the advice of one of our translators, we flicked through a couple of copies of Korean Vogue and found these enormous spreads from plastic surgeons describing their procedures. There was something horrifying yet hypnotising about seeing the before-and-after pictures of surgery; seeing what women were and what they became. I’ve wanted to blog about it ever since.

I was in Seoul again in December and sadly there are no more plastic surgery ads in Vogue. But where print fails us the internet can provide.There are countless websites for plastic surgery clinics on the web nowadays. This screenshot is from the clinic that just happened to be co-branded with my hotel.

IP Clinic Korea

Page after page of eyes getting bigger and rounder. Click a tab and see noses getting longer, cheeks getting fuller and jawlines becoming more slender.
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