Monday, June 25, 2007

A Sustainable Material: Bamboo

I recently discovered that bamboo has qualities that would make it a material ideally suited to be used in developing countries to provide food, housing and to develop their economy. To my new eyes it seems to offer some real advantages over other materials. So is Bamboo the miracle material of the 21st century?

This fast growing and durable grass will be used more and more by organizations and individuals to support ecologically sensitive projects. Today this plant with all its potential is not ready for prime time, thus there are numbers of studies looking into harnessing Bamboo's potential.

Bamboo: The Material

More on Bamboo

NYTimes Article: A Cane The World Can Lean On

Boo_Shoots Gardens

Exhibtion: Modernism - Designing a New World

I hope to take in this exhibition on Modernism this weekend. If anyone is in the Washington DC area before its closing on July 29,2007 could also drop-in.

Corcoran Gallery

Reflections on Modernism the Exhibition

Friday, June 22, 2007

Typography: Assignment III - Step 4/Final Results

The final step in building an identity package for a self-selected retail was to apply the new logo and build a container to transport the items of the retailer.

The solutions (shown) by students Shelley Hawkins, for Old Navy and Ernest Smith, for the on-line retailer Eastbay. At this step the new logos were applied to prototype containers designed for the retailers.

I was really pleased with how this multiphase project evolved. The students were walked through a connected experience that allows for a portfolio piece that tells a complete and compelling story

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Designer: Marc Newson

There few designers that are truly talented and get an opportunity to exercise their talents in the image commonly held by the public as how designers function. Mark Newson is one such designer whose work is both board, outstanding and recognized internationally.

His latest project the interior of the Astrium leisure spacecraft will take people into space for three hours and passengers will be charged up to $265,000 for a ticket when commercial flights start in 2012.

Newson Interview

Newson's Bio

Newson's Site

Icon Article

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Home Furnishing Brand: IKEA

The largest home furnishing brand in the world grew out a simple concept: to offer a wide range of well designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.

The name IKEA comes from the initials of its founder, Ingvar Kamprad, I and K, plus the first letters of Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd, which are the names of the farm and village where he grew up.

IKEA is a demonstration of the potential of design to play a leading role in an successful organization. Today, with more than 235 stores in more than 30 countries and more than 110,000 co-workers IKEA should not go unnoticed.

Birth of an Idea

New Product: Dyson's AirBlade

James Dyson, a product designer and creator of the vacuum of the same name, that kicked an industry in the pants by bringing new technology to sucking dirt from floors, just may do the same thing to the hand-dyer industry.

He is proposing that there is a better way to dry wet hands than the traditional hot air blowers. Can fast moving air alone dry wet hands?

James Dyson is not shy about challenging companies/industries that are slack on bringing innovations to the market. And so, I guess that proves that an individual can move an industry forward with a little help from the consuming public.

Dyson's Airblade Site

USAToday Article

Business Week Magazine

Monday, June 18, 2007

Architecture: The Seattle Public Library

Thought to be one of the most signficant buildings constructed within the past ten years, cllick on the embedded video to understand the thought process that led to the design.

The Architect's Bio

Video Link

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Patagonia: A Company with a Sustainable Business Model

It has come to my attention that I need to look further into this company's history and future. Patgonia was founded 30 years ago around principles of sustainability before its was fashionable and has grown into a $250 million a year business.

Since its beginning Patagonis has run its organizatino based on principles that have come to define a sustainable business philosophy. The organization has sought to balance: societal, ecological and economic concerns while creating quality products. A sustainable business model has come to be defined as one that measures its success beyond profit and takes into account (that is measures and rewards) achieving social and environment goals.

Build the best product, do no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.

–Patagonia's Mission Statement

On a recent visit to a Patagonia store I found their products technically sophisticated and has a unique aesthetic which I suspect has been copied and tweeted Nike, Northface...

Company Website

Interview with the Founder

Design Activism: Seminar at NeoCon Tradeshow

This past week I had the opportunity to attend a seminar sponsored by Focus on Design (FOD), a Washington DC based group that creates opportunities that encourages diversity, social responsibility and professional development among design professionals.

The group brought together the panel: Paul Kusz, Associate Director of the Stuart School of Business Center for Sustainable Enterprise at Illinois Institute of Technology; Dr. Elizabeth Turnstal, Associate Professor of Design Antropology at University of Illinois at Chicago; and David Walker, of RTKL Associates - Chicago, an Architect and Urban Designer; and Ricardo Gomes, Professor and Chair of the Department of Design and Industry at San Francisco State University to discuss examples of designer's facilitating positive solutions to some of society big issues.

The unifying theme of their presentations was that each speaker establish a case on a broad "systems level" the opportunity for designer's to participate in the identifying appropriate answers to societal questions of sustainable organizations, governance and the production of artifact's, building sustainable cities and designing for aging populations. I look forward to more presentations where designers are asked to look beyond product issues to uncover systematic problems and how both should be considered on the path to leading to the best design a solution.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Design Beyond Industry: Effecting Policy and the Developing World

It seems as though the idea of using the power of design to address needs beyond is establishing a foot hold within the design world. Traditionally, design has been used as a service to industry to feed the needs/desires of a narrow 10% of consuming marketplace. But, have paid little more than lips service to the needs that were not defined by business.

Though the potential has been talked about for decades more tangible evidence is coming to light on how design thinking can be used in facilitating the discovery of solutions that could effect some of the worlds most pressing problems.

The Cooper Hewitt National Design Musuem's Exhibition, Design For the Other 90%, highlights projects that are focused on solving problems impacting the developing world.

Copper Hewitt Exhibition

Reflections on the Exhibition

Fast Company Article

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The 2012 Summer Olympic Logo

This rendering of the 2012 Logo for the Olympic games to be held in London is sturring up controversy.

There are many detractors that think the design misses the mark. I guess we will see if over time it will grow on us?

London Daily Mirror Article

Is Industrial (Product) Design Dead?

This question was brought to my attention first as a graduate student studying product design.

Yes, I was shocked by the suggestion, but grew to understand how dominate the digital components of many products had become in creating the value of a consumer device. At the same time manufacturing capabilities worked to cheapen the value of form as a design element that created value through appearance.

"Say it Ain't So: Some say designers working today on consumer devices are merely making a container for software. We're not using physical products anymore, we're using software products. Software has made hardware irrelevant."
-Brad Weed, director of user experience for Windows

In the interview posted earlier, Steve Jobs states clearly and more than once that he holds this belief. He describe Apples as a software company. So what is a product guy/gal to do?

Gates and Jobs Side by Side Interview

The architects of the information age sit down and share their views of the other's company and more. This rare occasion to witness these two visionaries and titans of industry discuss the making of this era of information technology: its makings, what going on now and what the future holds is truly revealing.

Interview Link

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Design History: Motorola Star Tac Phone

Considered the first mobile phone when introduced in 1996, the Star Tac would lead a revolution in personal communication devices. Motorola was the market leader, but has since been eclipsed by Nokia.

To think that the ubiquitous cell phone is but a decade old is amazing even for one the has lived through its adoption into popular culture and life.

At the end of the month Apple is about to up the ante (public expectations) of what a mobile phone should offer.

Motorola's 2007 Strategy

The Phone: Center of Our Universe

Latest iPhone Story

Automotive Design - Volvo C30 and BMW 1 Series

Volvo and BMW are introducing a new line of vehicles that carry their company's design language and brand image to a smaller class of car.

Its nice to see the consistent transfer of the same visual ques carried through their line of vehicles. This often indicates a recognition and value of a unified design strategy. And it successfully communicated in the form of the product it reinforces the company's brand.

The models come in time for a change in American consumers tolerance for over sized SUV's and fondest for the cache of European name plates.

Volvo C30