IDEO's new city guides

Leave it to IDEO to re-make the city travel guide in a way that reflects the company’s distinctive approach to successful experience design. Chronicle Books is publishing the first two volumes in the IDEO: Eyes Open series, guides to two great urban environments: New York and London.

Square, spiral bound, and replete with pages of Post-it-style stickers (which readers can use to mark entries with “love it” or “skip it” notes), IDEO’s city guides reflect the snapshots and quick, pithy texts that the firm uses when doing ethnographic research for major corporations. Even the inclusion of Post-its suggest IDEO’s signature style of brainstorming, which incorporates jotting quick ideas on small sticky notes to quickly share succinct ideas.

Some of the entries might seem surprising: in the New York guide, for example, series author Fred Dust, an IDEO partner and head of the group that focuses on innovation in communities and real estate, includes such unusual, suggested must-sees as "Moms of Central Park West." Full disclosure: I'm actually on maternity leave right now, and am now an Upper West Side mommy -- who happened to take her baby on his very first Bugaboo ride down CPW on Saturday. But I'm not biased here -- the sight of the multitasking metropolitan mommies navigating the concrete, crowds, and traffic almost in a choreographed way, and the remarkable plethora of them (er, us), is pretty crazy.

While some of the other New York entries might seem quite familiar to New Yorkers and anyone who watches, say, Sex and the City re-runs -- the ubiquitous Magnolia Bakery, for instance, makes an appearance -- the guides are fun and fresh, both as city guides and also as a cool new way of applying innovation and design "strategies" in a commercial manner. IDEO's creation of these guides diversify the firm's portfolio in a an imaginative direction. And of course they reflect personal lists of where to go and what to see that IDEO staffers and family and friends share. Consider ourselves lucky that now we're all in the loop now, too.

IDEO is also launching a related Web site: to get tips from us non-IDEO-ers as well. Look out for it.

(As far as the London guide, I'll leave that up to Helen to review, as she is an ex-Londoner, and I haven't been there for several years now...)

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.