Monday, December 17, 2007

Teaching Design: Introduction to Computer Graphics

At the conclusion of my second year teaching in the Visual Communication program at Prince George's Community College I can say I look forward to a long career teaching Design.

The rewards of building course content that provides an appropriate mix of information, instruction and inspiration through well thought out projects is in itself rewarding. The hope was that the students while learning, would also find their unique creative voice over the course of the semester.

Intro. to Computer Graphics is an entry level course in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. My goal with the course is to provide the appropriate balance between teaching design principals and software instruction that would allow the students to embrace the course assignments and produce meaningful (to the student) graphic products using the computer.

Assignment I (using Photoshop)
Create a Postcard using three elements: an image, text and a background.

Assignment II (using Illustrator) Create a color wheel organizing the colors to reflect the relationships between the primary, secondary and tertiary colors.

Assignment III
(using InDesign)
Create a multi-page brochure for a specific audience whose text content is the U.S. Constitution, two images manipulated in Photoshop and two objects created in Illustrator.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Design History: Harry Bertoia

I recently stumbled on this wire-framed side chair by Harry Bertoia in a local store that resales mid-century future.

The appeal was immediate and has led to the discovery of an artist/designer who introduced a series of welded steel chairs in 1950's. These chairs where all the rage at the time, for their visual lightness the result of its lattice structure. So if the consignee reduces the price slightly I have the perfect spot for a pair of the side chairs in my home.

Bertoia's Biography

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Gift Idea with a Purpose

Home Depot has introduced its first product offering on its private label - Orange. The award winning home fire extinguisher ($25) is my choice for a holiday or house warming gift (pun intended).

NY Times Article

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Video: Design will be Human Centered

David Kelley, founder of IDEO, a leading design consulantcy discussed in 2002 where he thought would be heading.

Ted Talks Video

Monday, December 03, 2007

Book: Design - Intelligence Made Visible

I love the title of this book, it acknowledges an often over looked part of successful design solutions - the cognitive effort that is required of the designer.

The Authors Profiled

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Graduate Education: Preparing Designers for Jobs that Don’t Exist (Yet)

Anne Burdick, looks at the condunrum of graduate design programs and the world in which design graduates enter into.

"While the profession has never been static, it seems like old news to report that the rate of change is increasing exponentially. Studio-based degrees such as the BFA and MFA have always involved learning how to design in addition to learning a specific body of knowledge. And for many years, professional categories such as graphic design or product design have defined what to design. But now both the how and the what changes daily."

The Complete Essay

DMI Article

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Product Design: MIT Designed Scooter

I can see scooters growing in acceptance as cities continue to draw people as the place to live and work. This electric scooter features the ability to fold in-half.

It also incorporates the motor within the wheels housing and only consist of 150 parts.

MIT News

Friday, November 23, 2007

Article: USA Change the Name

According to Paula Scher, one of the world's leading graphic designers and principle at Pentagram (NY), "The US needs to overhaul its image, brand promise, name and messaging, and change the meaning and emphasis of some of its symbols."

Monocle Article

Video Interview with Paula Scher

Film: Pentagram the Firm

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Amazon: Designs for Digital Reading

The online book seller Amazon has introduced a product called Kindle, which is their answer to the question: How should a digital book look and function?.

NYTimes Article

Government News Article

Information Week Article

Cnet Article

Will it Replace the Book?

Logo Design: Political Logo's Evaluated

One way to know that the country is moving towards a Presidential election year is the number of political charged graphic pieces being created. Campaign logo's are evaluated in this New York Time slide show.

NYTimes Article
Obama Branding

Obama's Gotham Typeface

Friday, November 16, 2007

Typography as Statement

Here is another graphic piece created to express a point of view in a light of the coming election cycle.

I thought that these posters created for the Democratic party by Rich Silverstein were great examples of 'type' being used to make a statement.

Huffington Post Article

More Added

Monday, November 12, 2007

Design Contest: Truck Tarp

For those interested a different kind of design contest, Freitag is solicating entries for its truck tarp graphics ideas.

Contest Rules

Freitag Home Page

New Product: "Y" Water

Yves Bher, industrial designer, has really pushed beyond the traditional limits of a product designer by addressing a non-tradtional design problem. In this case he brings a concept to life that could aid in changing childrens attitudes towards water as a beverage.

Here is a product, organic water, aimed at children as a healthy alternative to sugar laiden soft drinks. The cleaver container packaging that also functions as a toy, thus promoting reuse verses disposal.

Business Week Article

Fuse Project's Website/Case Study

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Design and the War Effort?

Dr. Elizabeth Tunstall entertains the question: “How should the design community respond if the U.S. Army asked us to join teams to do “service design” projects in Afghanistan?” What if Uncle Sam wants our design thinking?

Elizabeth (Dori) Tunstall is a leader in field of Design Anthropology. She is an Associate Professor of Design Anthropology in the School of Art and Design and Associate Director of the City Design Center at University of Illinois at Chicago.

Design Observer

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Design Planning: The New Frontier

What does it take to improve the cell phone? The IPhone is a step in the right direction, but it is a cool product constrained by an antiquated business model. So consumers are ready for telcom companies to improve their offerings to better serve their needs, or at least this consumer is.

The rumor is that Google is working on a phone that could be a game changer because of the business model that would that would be designed to circumvent the limiting forces (i.e. the major league players like Verizon, AT&T and Microsoft. The current markert leaders are comfortable an unwilling to shift their businesses to provide consumers the benefits (i.e. freedom of choice) that can be offered if the will was there.You my remember this was the position take by the music industry during the age of Napster when consumer express their desire to have a better way to get, share, purchase,experience music to which Apple responded with iTunes and the iPod.

The article below describes the path Andy Rubin has taken to now be in a position to lead Google and consumers along the path to the future of mobile computing/communicating. His plans to bring the next generation of smart phones to the market not only considers the product and the technology but more importantly in this hyper competitive space the business model.

Design and the Google Phone

Chicago Tribune Article

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Auto Design: Tokyo Motor Show

It appears that the American entries are generating little interest at the biannual auto show taking place in Chiba Japan.

But the German auto makers are turning heads by taking the wraps off the Audi and BMW small and sporty entries.

NYTimes Article

Slide Show

USA Today

Friday, October 26, 2007

AIGA's Twelve Step Design Process/ Cases Studies

The America Institute of Graphic Artist (AIGA) website has an interesting and nicely organized explaination of the steps in designing visual solutions.

the process of designing solutions


Wall Plug Plate Made Functional

There is something very practicle about this solution that I have not seen before.

This is an answer to a common problem, extraneous cables, that works so effectively on a functional level that I hope its creator earns a buck from the idea.

Karl Zhan

Blogging For a Year!!

Its was a year ago that I embarked on blogging about design.

I can say I am pleased at how this venue has been personally useful as an outlet for sharing my views on design, sharpening my writing and analysis. And on a very practical level this site functions as a digital repository of various design related resources and stories that I have found to be interesting.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Design Conference: Connections 2007

I am looking forward to attending the International Council of Industrial Design (ICSID) conference this week. It should be "cool" to be in a space with a few hundred other designers discussing issues surrounding the profession.

San Francisco Chroncile Article

Event Photos

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Auto Design: Honda New Hybird

Wow! Japan auto makers are proving that they understand the beauty of form as evidenced in the early photos of Honda's Concept CR-Z. Japanese car companies have led the race to making new hybrid technologies availble, now adding style points this could be a tough act for American companies to slow the decline of their combined marketshare.

The vehicle will be introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show on October 27th.

The fact that it is a hybird did not seem to cost it styling points.

More Photos

USA Today Article

Why Design is Important?

The following essay was written by Niti Bhan.

"Design is first and foremost a philosophy, based on a system of values, which seeks to solve problems. What are we creating? Why and for whom? Are we correctly framing the problem to be solved? These are the questions to which the answers are then manifested tangibly in the form of a new product, service or business model.

Human-centered design approaches the task of problem solving by always seeking to understand the end-user’s needs and aspirations, goals and the environmental conditions and constraints in which they live. When we can design a product or solution that meets an unmet need or challenge successfully that becomes good design.

These qualities are what make design a powerful tool for not only increasing shareholder value for corporations but also benefiting their customers by providing elegant yet effective products, services and business models."more

Tradeshow: Home and Houseware Products

A great place to hangout for aspiring inventors and designers is in Chicago at the annual housewares tradeshow. This is were one can get a sense of what it takes to get a commerical product to market. Also, I have found that the design component (i.e. speakers and related programming) seems to grow each year.

IHA Website

Reflections from Sitting on a Design Jury

This is a great essay from a non-designer, Micheal Schrage, who was invited to sit on the jury of one of the most prestigious American design award competitions.

"I confess that I had a hoot of a time and learned a lot--both about design and about myself. More important, I gained a very keen insight into the way that great design does--and does not--align with great innovation. You're fully welcome to disagree (this was originally written in July), just as did Lord Rees. But if you do disagree, please make a better argument.

Serving on a criminal jury exposes one to unpleasant realities about the legal system and human nature. Serving on a design jury, on the other hand, merely exposes you to unpleasant truths about corporate innovation and creative talent.

Much to my surprise, being a design juror gave me a far more useful and revealing glimpse into pop culture than a criminal trial. The experience radically altered my perceptions--and preconceptions--of how designers design and what "good design" really means. I literally do not look at "designed" objects or services the same way anymore. Neither would you."

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Parking in Chicago: The Need to Innovate

It is encouraging to read that the city of Chicago is seeking for ways to improve the parking experience in the city.

They are implementing one part of a solution I proposed in my 2003 thesis project: theLINC Parking System (creating an digital parking infrastructure for a city environment).

Earlier this year Chicago walked away from a more ambitious plan to create a city-wide WiFi network, which was the core concept in my proposal.

The challenge for any large city grappling with the parking issue is finding a solution that addresses multiple layers of problems associated with managing public spaces, while building inter-agency collaboration and leverging technological innovations. Any city that takes on the opportunity must be willing to develop a new model for managing the public spaces. The benefit will be a city able to face the 21st century with an infrastructure that supports growth, new revenue stream as well as an enhanced quality of life of its citizens.

Currently, Chicago appears to be approaching the opportunities around parking without coordination between agencies. Therefore, it can be expected that a quality and sustainable solution will not be achieved. It will take broader support from the city's leaders along with a systematic rethinking of the problem.

Tribune Article

Tribune Article Leasing Meters

2007 Solar Decathlon: Designing an Energy Efficient House

The Department of Energy (DOE) sponsors the biannual event where 20 colleges unveil their solutions to energy efficient homes on the National Mall, Washington DC, October 12-19, 2007.

DOE Team Links


Photo Gallery

Friday, October 05, 2007

Where are the Best Design Schools?

Business Week magazine compiles 60 profiles of "the best" design schools found around the world.

It is impressive to see how much interest there is in the profession, but some countries seem more invested in the development of thinking creative people based on the number of students and quality of corporate support.

The List

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Design Masters: Paola Antonelli

This MOMA curator can lay claim to being the most influential woman in design, though she would not say so herself.

I remember coming across her book Mutant Materials and finding it the best book on materials for a non-chemist/ student of design. By the way I am still looking to get my hands on a copy that I can call my own.

This month's Fast Company magazine profiles Ms. Antonelli and other designers in their annual Design Masters issue.

Fast Company Article

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Designing for Medical Needs: Diabetes

There is tremendous opportunity to improve the function and appearance of medical devices for the benefit of those whose suffer from chronic diseases and whose lives are dependent on ongoing therapy.

It is estimated by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that 7% of the U.S. population, over 20 million Americans, have need for diabetes management tools and that number is expect to continue to grow. The link below looks at some solutions that are being launched to address the need.

Business Week Article

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Architecture: Frank Lloyd Wright's- Falling Water

One of the most influential residental structures in American history was designed in 1935. Here is a video animation of its construction.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mid-Atlantic Conference: NeoConEast

If you are in the Washington DC/ Balitmore area you might want to consider checking out the tradeshow focused on the built environment (interiors and furnishing) and more.

Focus on Design (FOD), a DC based non-profit programming aim is to promote and empower design students and professionals, has invited Dr. Elizabeth Tunstal to share her insights on Wednesday October 17th at 2PM.

NeoCon East Conference Link

Forum:Designing Experiences

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Redesign of the Five Dollar Bill

In an attempt to stay a few steps ahead of counterfeiter's America's paper currency is being overhauled.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What Does it All Mean? Fashion (Week) Design

Last week in New York was the star studded affair called fashion week.

What I fail to understand is the disconnected reality within which the industry exists. The continuing criticisms: 1) the absence of people of color - notably excluded from those chosen to strut down the cat walks and 2) the inappropriate garments that do not consider "real people".

The point of interest for me was seeing the rapper LL Cool J (aka Todd Stephens) sitting front row at a number of shows taking notes (figuratively). Specifically, it was the contrast of his personal aesthetic to the models and designers on show. So what I see is the power of a hip-hop aesthetic coming to fashion week to provide some diversity to this fantasy land of fashion.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Adobe CS3 Video Tutorials

The Adobe Product tutorials are brief and informative. They can be an aid in understanding how to use key features offered in Photoshop, Illustrator etc..

Adobe Tutorial

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Auto Design: Small and Attractive

The Frankfurt Auto appears to be a significant show for the industry based on the quality of the vehicles introduced there over the past week.

The number of beautiful forms coming out of this show demonstrates a new level of consciousness about proportion that results in very attractive cars, even when it length is less than ten feet like the Toyota iQ concept. The shape of the iQ provides this micro car with the appearance of girth and a stance that is really very nice.

The smooth flow of lines are reminiscent of BMW's approach of using the vehicles lines to connect and unify its parts into a whole.

Toyota's iQ

Video Review

Monday, September 10, 2007

More On Parking Meters

I am encouraged each time I come across an article that reinforces the ideas embedded in my graduate research project. It means that my proposal is inching closer to reality.

NYTimes Article

Cities Abandoning WiFi

Graphic Design: Developing a Magazine Cover

The New York Time's real estate magazine includes a slide show of the thought process that led to its cover design. The influence of the client on the final design is an interesting detail not to be over looked.

Slide Show

John Meda

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The New iPod's have Arrived

After many years (3) of faithful service my 4th generation iPod died. In meantime what has happened to the competition? The Sony Walkman once king of mobile music players is surprisingly absent from my view. Microsoft's Zune does not seem to have captured the imagination of many,or it is just me?

And so I am left to select among the expanding varitions of the iPod for one that best suits my needs. This is something I will do gladly, partly because Apple is "pushing the envelope". In other words addressing the needs of consumers (me) with products that provide a level of freedom/independence that the other industry leaders refuse to trust consumers (me) with. As music companies had before itunes, now cell phone providers are resisting the desires of consumers to be free...

NYTimes Review

Friday, August 31, 2007

Resource: An On-line Materials Database

This is a great source of information on materials.

The site is well organized and provides useful descriptions as well as photos. The structuring of the data is also a short lesson in information architecture.


Thermoplastic Folding Technique: CUT'N FOLD®

This answers a question that I have been entertaining regarding simple methods of producing low fidelity protypes for design students.

Foam and Wood both tend to be pretty costly and messy materials in which to create 3D models.

So it would seem ideal for design students to explore the art of Origami, to construct representive 3D models then repeat the process in plastic to create a finished model. The goal would be to allow students to explore in 3D and better understand how forms are constructed.

Hannecke, Inc.

Graphic Design: Album Art

This CD cover caught my attention with its straight forward use of 2D design principles.

Here we can see the use of negative and positive space manipulated in a way to enhance the contrast between the forground and background. The designer may use of two strategies used to make compositions interesting. First, the of the subject, musician Kirk Whalum, is pushed to the far right of the frame and cropped. The second technique employeed was, the centering of text within the negative space which provides balance to the composition which is comforting for the viewer. Finally, within the text itself is an expression (symbol) of the driving concept behind the album and the cover graphic. The circle with an arrow head substituted for the letter 'O' reflects the artist revisiting older works and mixing them with newer pieces.

The use of these few graphic design techniques results in an appealing visual message.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Fashion Trend: Exposed Belly Buttons and Bottoms?

I have admitted in earlier postings to finding it difficult to relate fashion design to the other design disciplines.

And here I ask, How would a fashion designer explain the trend of exposed belly's and bottoms?

Article: NY Times

Interior Design: A Vibrant Solution

Parking garages are often boring and difficult to navigate, but this award winning solution found a way to add excitement and communicate direction in an interesting way.

"This solution transforms the space and cleverly uses words, dimension, and color to help you move around. It would have been typical to use large type and arrows, but this design works by breaking out of the box and claiming the whole landscape, so that you ignore your surroundings and are grabbed by the humor and boldness."

More Photos

Building a Wireless Internet Infrastructure in Chicago?

I tackled this question in 2003 as one part my graduate research and demonstration project. (See the concept map below)

My research lead me to recognize the opportunity for municipalities to extend their control of their public spaces, in this case virtual space, as they had for decades with physical spaces. My solution idea rested on rethinking the parking meter, extending its functionality to include service as a wireless node, thus allowing cities to parse virtual space as they have for physical space.

So it is of interest to me that cities continue to struggling to find a viable way to provide wide spread Internet access to its citizens.

Maybe I should drop a note again to the parties mentioned in this news report to see if they would be interested in my thinking on the subject.

NPR Audio Report

San Francisco Plan

Monday, August 20, 2007

Designing Business: Six Tips for Success

The intersection between Design and Business is discussed in an article by Mark Dziersk. He provides some insight in the form of six tips on how to navigate the narrow path to productive collaboration.

"Business is hungry for design thinking and needs strategy to have a reason to believe. Designers have to understand their role in the business imperative and embrace business strategies.

"Visual thinking, storytelling, DNA, and adaptable processes all help enormously. For designers today, a good understanding of the" business comfort zone" with ideas and concepts is a tool as powerful as any Alias rendering or beautifully executed aesthetic prototype."

Article: Design Meet Business...

Article: Design Spotting

New Material: Aerogel (Frozen Smoke)

When new materials appear, finding appropriate applications for their use can lead to new design solutions.

The propeities of Aerogel, this weight light solid also known as "frozen smoke" has the lowest density of any material.

"It is expected to rank alongside wonder products from previous generations such as Bakelite in the 1930s, carbon fibre in the 1980s and silicone in the 1990s."

London Times Article

Houseware Design: The Smile Bowl

There are times when a design solution is simple and addresses a function without much fanfare.

The appropriately named product Smile bowl does more than just hold small food items it puts you in a good mood.

The decorative bowl from Eva Denmark A/S won the Formland Design Award – Autumn 2007.

Practical Design: Wrist Magnet

A great gift for the craft person in your life. A very practical solution, useful for the seamstress or other engaged in task based cores with a need to keep small parts close at hand.

Uncommon Goods

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Student Film: What Is (Product) Design?

Stanford Design School student David Ngo asks and answers - What is Design?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Study in Type Design

The efforts to make road signs more functional is told in detail in the NY Times article: Road To Clarity.

This is a marvelous example of design (typography) being used to improve life by addressing the changing needs of America's driving population.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Package Design: What It Is and Isn't

Package design is the execution of a solution that protects a container's contents, facilitates shipping and storage, communicates with customers, allows repeat use, ensures safety and limits environmental impacts just to name a few considerations. It isn't simply pasting bold graphics on a container.

More companies are striving to match the constitency of great package design as demonstrate by Apple Computer, whereby the packaging itself has meaning for the consumer.

There are a number of blog postings on the subject of how many customers prefer to hold unto and even display the Apple product packages.

NY Times Article

Apple Packaging Article

Doing Packaging Right

Slide Show of Barbie's Packaging Redesign

Package Design Magazine

MS 2007 Box Poor Packaging

iPhone Packaging Video