Monday, December 29, 2008

What if Music Instruction was Designed with Visual Supports

In my many attempts to study and learn a musical instrument: trombone, piano and guitar all were less than successful. I ever mastered the skill of reading musical notes and relating them to the instrument and sound.

And so, after coming across this image of a keyboard with colored keys, I wondered what if music instruction was designed with additional visual supports like color associations between the page and the instrument would I had a better chance of getting it?

Oh well, I will leave this opportunity for someone to research and develop if it hasn't been done already. The one thing I know is that it would help those like myself whose ears aren't as useful as our eyes?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Conversation: The Business of Design

Video Link

Bruce Nussbaum of BusinessWeek discusses community and co-creation. This panel will explore what happens when consumers become producers and ask what impact this shift will have on the future global success of corporations. Panelists: Bob Greenberg, R/GA Marissa Mayer, Google, Inc. Amy Radin, Citi.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Video: Examining American Masculinity by Byron Hurt

Here is another example of a viral video. It looks into the concepts that have shaped masculinity in America particularly Black masculine imagery.

The challenge of using video media is selecting appropriate images and words to construct a cohesive, believable and persuasive story, which is not as easy as it appears. When it comes to motion graphics the key element a designer must learn to control the pacing/ timing of when various elements enter and exit the frame.

Wired Article: How YouTube Changes the Way We Think

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Green Revolution: According to Thomas Friedman

Tom Friedman on how America can regain its international stature by taking the lead in alternative energy and environmentalism.

Video: The Green Revolution

Video: How Flat is the World

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Business Plan to Provide Free Internet Access to 95% of Americans

To be better positioned to press his case, M2Z chief executive John Muleta -- former head of the Federal Communications Commission's wireless bureau has set up shop in Virginia.

The opportunity to address the divide between the have and have not's, in regards to the internet, has been a subject of great interest to me ever since discovering the potential a few year ago. While working on a solution my graduate thesis project I became aware to the role of governments in managing public spaces. The public space of this generation is clearly the virtual spaces that are controlled by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC).

This new startup's proposal states that it would provide internet access to 95% of the American population. So time will tell if this vision of opening the internet gets traction among the policy makers in Washington.

M2K Website

PC Article

Washington Post Article

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Better Place: A Company Building a New Model of Sustainable Transportaion

The innovative America spirit is alive and well and reflected in companies willing to tackle the opportunities that seem more possible as the traditional models of business are collapsing before our eyes.

Best Place Website

NYTimes Article

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Video Short: Obama Keeps it COOL

Video shorts animations are gaining in popularity and influence in creating viral messages which can be shared through peer networks. This SNL short is interesting in how it uses the visual aesthetics defined during the jazz age, most notably by the Blue Note record label.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

UK Designer: Thomas Heatherwick

Architects are designers too!

The separation of architecture from the other forms of design (graphic, interior, product...) is more about history and perception than it is about the process of creation which is shared by designers without regard to how they may label themselves.

This curious situation is one Thomas Heatherwick is looking to turn it on its head, or like his most notable project the folding bridge, its a gap he is willing to cross.

New Yorker Article

Friday, November 28, 2008

Design Conversations: National Design Policy Summit

Dr. Turnstall (pictured: in the printed dress) has begun to see the fruits of her labor having just concluded a summit on the possibility of developing a design policy for the United States.

This timely meeting of design professionals in Washington DC could be the beginning of something really good for the country as it struggles with charting a new course under a new administration.

Who better to help shape the future than a group of well intentioned designers?

Dori's Blog Site

Design Policy Website

Auto Design: Japanese Design Exhibition

The London Science Museum exhibition Japan Car presents a future view of Japanese car design. Small vechiles that provide comfort and more choices was the idea between the car include in the exhibtion.

This exhibition is a product of a nationalize policy that promotes the creative and economic development of the country and the industry to the world. This touring exhibit is also a first towards the development of a Design Museum of Japan.

I viewed this in contrast to the current troubles and question of whether support should be provided to the U.S. auto industry. On a boarder plane the failure to see the industry as an essential component of the American economy and takes a position that is categorically opposed any governmental support.

London's Science Museum

Article: Wallpaper Magazine

Japan Car on Flicker

Friday, November 21, 2008

National Museum of American History- Redesigned

The number of Museum's that have embarked on multi-million dollar renovation projects since 2000 is amazing. And so, as the main project for my Typography/Graphic Design class, I assigned the students the task of developing an identity program for a museum of their choice. It proven to be an inspired project that has produced some great work by the students.

As museum managers have sought to refresh the image of their institution to maintain and attract visitors they have had to consider how the museum could best present its image to the public.

Article: National Museum of American History

Article: on the Museum of Art and Design

Article: Museums Look Inward for Survival

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

For Fun: Video by Pop Singer - Rihanna

The visual and sonic strategies along with the artist's style makes this video worth sharing. Enjoy!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Books to Read: Outlier and Who's Your City?

""Outlier" is a scientific term to describe things or phenomena that lie outside normal experience. In the summer, in Paris, we expect most days to be somewhere between warm and very hot. But imagine if you had a day in the middle of August where the temperature fell below freezing. That day would be outlier. And while we have a very good understanding of why summer days in Paris are warm or hot, we know a good deal less about why a summer day in Paris might be freezing cold. In this book I'm interested in people who are outliers—in men and women who, for one reason or another, are so accomplished and so extraordinary and so outside of ordinary experience that they are as puzzling to the rest of us as a cold day in August."

Macolm Gladwell

"How the Creative Economy is Making the Place Where You Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life.

It’s a mantra of the age of globalization that where you live doesn’t matter: you can telecommute to your high-tech Silicon Valley job, a ski-slope in Idaho, a beach in Hawaii or a loft in Chicago; you can innovate from Shanghai or Bangalore.

According to Richard Florida, this is wrong. Place is not only important, it’s more important than ever."

Richard Florida

Who's Your City?

Gladwell Article

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Environmental Graphic Design

"Environmental Graphic Design embraces many design disciplines including graphic, architectural, interior, landscape, and industrial design, all concerned with the visual aspects of wayfinding, communicating identity and information, and shaping the idea of place.

Some common examples of work by EGD practitioners include wayfinding systems, architectural graphics, signage, exhibit design, identity graphics, civic design, pictogram design, retail and store design, mapping and themed environments."


Society of Envoronmental Graphic Design

Works by Pentagram

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Poll Place Project

The New York Times and AIGA have created a program to collect photos of the voting process, view images or submit images by visiting this repository.

The Polling Place Project

Bag Design: A Growing Business for a Mobile Generation

The Kata line of bags are designed for the technology carrying consumers that need protection for their consumer electronics.

Company Website

Graphic Designers: Shephard Farley and Sol Sender

Shephard Farley, the street and graphic artist behind the popular image of the new president elect shares his thought about politics and the future.

Interview: Shepard Farley

Article: Why Obama needs Design

Sol Sender, a Chicago based graphic designer talks about the evolution of his "O" logo design.

Interview: Sol Sender

Shepard Farley Enters the Smithsonian

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Policy Decision: The FCC Opens Access to the Radio Spectrum

The FCC decision has the potential to spur the development of new types of wireless devices that could provide access to the internet.

Press Release:

In its continuing efforts to promote efficient use of spectrum and to extend the benefits of such use to the public, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today adopted a Second Report and Order (Second R&O) that establishes rules to allow new, sophisticated wireless devices to operate in broadcast television spectrum on a secondary basis at locations where that spectrum is open. (This unused TV spectrum is now commonly referred to as television “white spaces”). The rules adopted today will allow for the use of these new and innovative types of unlicensed devices in the unused spectrum to provide broadband data and other services for consumers and businesses.

Article: Fast Company

Article: NYTimes

FCC Website

Designing for the Abled and Disabled Amongst Us

Here is a new idea bubbling in the design community that pushes universal design theory a little down the path of acceptance at least as it might apply to toilets.

Article: Designing for All

Designs for a Universal Toilet

Sunday, November 02, 2008

When Times are Tough the Smart Companies Innovate

It has been common practice that during economic slow downs businesses cut back on design initiatives, as well as broader research and development investments.

This article argues that the smart companies continue to support the search for the next innovation.

NYTimes Article

Friday, October 31, 2008

Transportation: Bike Sharing Programs

I noticed a bike sharing program started this fall in here in DC, but Montreal's programs appears to be a well planned an thoughtful approach to providing a comprehensive and sustainable business. BiXi is short for Bike Taxi

Its use of solar power bike stands, RFID chips to track a bike where abouts, as well as bikes designed to weather the harsh Canadian climate all point to the establishment of a successful solution that provides an alternative transport option for urban environs.

How it Works

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Design Pioneer: Present - Saki Mafundikwa

Saki Mafundikwa whom I met earlier this year at a design summit to address the issue of designers of color and their declining numbers within the profession.

Saki has accepted the challenge to pioneer the development of a design program in Zimbabwe after years of study and work in America.

Article:By Saki Mafundikwa

Interview: Saki mafundikwa

Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts

Career Profile: Information Graphics

A fellow Detroiter, and now visual op-ed columnist for the New York Times Charles Blow will be entertaining questions from readers this week.

Ask a Questions:

NYTimes Profile

Video Conversations

Monday, October 27, 2008

Book Jacket Designer: Chip Kidd

In support of a book cover project I assigned to my class, here is an noted book designer's work and interview.

Chip Kidd Book Covers

Times Interview

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Prototype Defined: A Model of a Purposed Solution Idea

In the attached article one doctoral student finds sharing his ideas has brought name recognition and career opportunities.

NYTimes Article

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Packaging: A Case for the iPod

This solution: affixing and iPod to your clothing while working out is a great example of a case that solves a portability and containment question for this commonly used consumer electronic device.

This also serves as a good example for the students in my packaging design course to think creatively about solving a problem that addresses the needs of a specific user group. By focusing on the needs of a unique segment of users if is more likely that a designer would arrive at a conventional remedy.

Invention and Technology News

iStick Website

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Production Methods: New Apple MacBook

Once again Apple takes a unique angle in presenting it newest product. They have decided to tout the method of production and the qualities that brings to the final product - strength and durability.


Apple's Management Team

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Book: Desonstructing Product Design

This book is not scheduled to be published until late 2009, but the authors are allowing input from you. Submit your comments about the collection of products they consider significant.

Deconstructing Product Design Website

Contextual Research: Gaining Understanding of a Subject

Here is a proposal for developing a tool that would assist field research. This concept idea is being considered by the Bresseler Grouup.

Designing for Humans

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Fading Possibility of Free Wireless Internet Access

This article looks at the challenges that that have slowed if not premanently side-lined any chance of free and open internet access.

Wired Article

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Mobile Phone: BlackBerry Storm

I have reached a point were it is time to consider updating my cell phone.

I have a sense that the latest generation of cell phones are significantly better than the generation of phones that were on the market two years ago.

This fall besides the introduction of the new 3G iPhone and the eagerly anticipated Google open platform approach, is a solid update of the BlackBerry with a "touchy" screen which will be the first touch screen to provide tactile feedback.

BlackBerry has been a solid performer for years supported by business professional, there move into the consumer segment has been slow and without comprise to its established customer base.

Wired Magazine Preview

Time Magazine Preview

Tech Watch

NYTimes Review of the Google Phone

Engadet Review

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Redesign of Museums for the 21st Century

Museum's are seeking ways to update their public image, many are using architecture as the ultimate expression of a new 21st century attitude.

Museum of Art and Design

Copper-Hewitt Future Plans

National Museum of African American History and Culture Request for Proposals

Reforms at the Smithsonian

New Product: Bamboo Pen Tablet

This attractive pen tablet offers additional functionality to the creative person who would like an alternative to the ubiquitous mouse or a means to simply exercise their sketching skills.

Wacom/Bamboo Site

Video Tutorials

Design Thinking: A Process that Informs the Act of Designing

The attached article demonstrates that the phase Design Thinking is be tossed about more and more as a concept that begs to be unpacked.

My use of the phase is based on all the considerations that a design should be aware of in addressing a design problem. It is the ability to access a broad range of knowledge to address the needs of a situation by utilizing the tools appropriate to provide the understanding that would allow for the best solution ideas to be generated and weighted by the designer and client.

NYTimes Article: Design is More than Packaging

Sunday, October 05, 2008

National Organization of Minority Architects -NOMA

NOMA's 2008 Conference was held here in DC over the weekend, it was a very impressive gathering of the nation's design talent.

Most impressive was the student design competition that allow 12 schools to present their design solutions for a National Memorial and Interpretive Center of the Civil Rights Movement. The Cornel University design team won, with a beautifully rendered story and model entitled "Breaking the Silence".

NOMA's Website

Friday, October 03, 2008

Magazine: Fast Company Design Issue

The annual Design issue of Fast Company is now out.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Bicycle Design: The Brompton

I am fascinated by the concept of a folding bike primarily because I think it would provide an opportunity to bike more.

I envision tossing a foldable bike in the trunk of my car when I travel and therefore I would have the option to pedal around town as an alternative to walking or mass transit.

My personal opinion is that I prefer the looks of the Puma/Biomega foldable bike to the Brompton bicycle pictured here.

NYTimes Article

The Brompton

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Information Graphics

Given America's current economic woes the documentary I.O.U.S.A. deftly uses information graphics to represent the situation in such a way that information is a main character in the film.

Interview with Brian Oakes

I.O.U.S.A. the Movie

NYC Bike Rack Design Competion

Urban environments are experiencing an increasing number of bikers, and NYC has sponsored a competition to find a bike rack suited for a city streetscape that recognizes the need for security, ease of installation and maintenance, and efficient use of space.



Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Don't Design the Box: Merchandising

Here is a warning provided by designer Christopher Fahey not to miss the point of product packaging by getting carried away with the marketing aspects of presenting a product to the consuming public.

Don't Design the Box

"Merchandising can be defined as the strategy and implementation of how a product is presented to customers as they decide whether or not to adopt or purchase. It is the aspect of design that focuses on a product’s desirability (as opposed to its utility, price, usability, etc.). It is where product design and advertising intersect...

Merchandising is the strategy and implementation of how a product is displayed in stores, how it shows up in photography, how it is described on a web site. It’s a consciousness of — and responsibility for — the final step in the product supply chain."

- Christopher Fahey

The video below is a parody of Microsoft's packaging approach if it was applied to the iPod.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Technology: E-Ink

Esquire Magazine introduces the first E-Ink (electronic-ink) cover on newsstands in October.

How E-Ink Works

Design History: Yves Saint Laurent

This reflection on the career of YSL, repeats a conclusion I mentioned a week ago on how important it is for a designer to understand SHAPE.

"More particularly, in St. Laurent’s work, while this change was in part one of fabric and visual reference, it was most significantly one of geometry, of form, of shape, of profile. That first post-Dior collection essayed a sort of triangular dress sillhouette, followed by something linear, then by something convex, and on and on. One quality that ostensibly distinguishes “designing” from its sister “styling,” as modes of applying form to objects, is the seeming constancy of the former, and the seeming changeability of the latter. A good design solution is a good design solution, goes the argument, regardless of the calendar or clock. But as for style, what’s lively in April is deadly in September."

- Thomas de Monchaux

Thomas de Monchaux Remembers YSL

Apple: Upgrades its IPod Franchise

How does a company who has arguably the most successful consumer electronics product introduced in the last generation maintain its relevance?

NYTimes Article

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Interface Design: Google's New Web Browser-Chrome

Google introduces their new web browser using illustrations to communicate the story of its latest product. Do we need another browser? Well if Google thinks it has value then could it be that the web browser will become the new operating system?

NPR's: Audio Review

Chrome Comic Book

Analysis: Poplar Mechanics

Article: How Google Will Change the Users Experience on the Web

Article: Industrial Design and Human Factors

Appliance magazine has a great online interactive magazine. This month it features an article on Industrial Design.

Appliance Magazine

Interactive Article on Industrial Design

Design Educator: John Meda

"A designer is someone who constructs while he thinks, someone for whom planning and making go together," says Mr. Maeda, cocking his head, widening his eyes, moving his hands as if he were shaping a pot. Mr. Maeda considers himself post-digital; he has outgrown his fascination with hardware and is driven by ideas. "I want to reform technology. All the tools are the same; people make the same things with them."

Illustration by: Ismael Roldan

WSJ Article


Boston Globe Article

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Shape of Things

On a recent trip to NYC, I realized how important it is for a designer to understand shape. In this case I am thinking of shape as the form or outline of an object.

This was a conclusion that was partially formed by seeing the popularity of the converse sneakers on so many New Yorkers. I thought how well the low profile of converse "all star" worked with the slim leg/ saggy bottom jeans that so many new yorker's have adopted. And so, the look (shape)that these two pieces of clothing create is part of their overall appeal. The the slim slacks and the low profile of the "all star" make a union that highlights the owners legs and feet, allowing them to be visually connected in away that works so well.

Shape is also a concept that I am currently teaching in my Typography class. And so, I realize how one most develop the ability to see figure and ground relationship such that beyond seeing the object one can also see the space around it.

Pharell talk and sings about his Chucks.

Converse Video

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Marc Newson Strikes Again

Design superstar Marc Newson reworked Quantus airlines new jumbo aircraft.

I marvel at the scale of the project he and his team undertake, before this he took on Virgin's space flight aircraft (see posting 2007)

NYTimes Article

Article: Virgin Spacecraft

Flight Global Article

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Auto Design: New Leadership at Mercedes and Chrysler

The poor performance of auto companies of late seems to be helping to move the design managers into retirement. Both Ford and Mercedes design directors have moved on to be replaced by new blood. Chrysler has moved Ralph Giles into the position of Director of Design, making him one of two African American's currently leading design at a major American car company, the other being Ed Wilbun at General Motors.

Ralph Giles

Peter Pfeiffer

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Design as a Business Strategy: Coke Considers Design

Coke takes a serious look at how design can extend and already successful brand.

BusinessWeek Article

Technology: Touch Screens

The touch screen technology delivered to the consumer market in the iPhone is now coming to other products.

NYTimes Article

Intel's Touch Screen Tablet

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Package Design: Tide Detregent

Rob Walker in The New York Times offers an analysis of a branding icon -Tide.

(illustration by Peter Arkle):

"the effectiveness of the original Tide package, which communicated “cyclone in a box,” he says. “There’s this great dynamic tension there. The word ‘Tide’ is bursting out of the circle, and the circle is standing out of the box. It’s almost a baroque composition; it’s like what Steven Spielberg would do if he were designing a brand.” The idea was that Tide is “a force of nature — it’s a phase shift.” After all, an effective synthetic detergent was a real innovation in 1947, a result of years of expensive research and development. The bull’s-eye look was actually borrowed from earlier P.&G. products, Dash and Oxydol. But in his memorable culture and design book, “The Total Package,” Thomas Hine noted that “some sophisticated color research” — involving a psychologist who specialized in such things — went into selecting a bright scheme that would suggest “sufficient power,” tempered with the “likable” blue that had a more “sensitive” connotation. Reaching the market just as automatic washing machines were catching on, Tide was a sensation; anecdotal accounts from the time suggest people lined up to get hold of the stuff — as if it were an iPhone."

NYTimes Article

Design History: Typography in the Publishing World

In preparation for a new semester teaching Typography course, I discovered this interesting history on type used on the magazine Vanity Fair.

Design Observer Article

New Concept: Design- art

Design-Art is a new marketing construct created by the big auction houses to boost the sales of one kind or limited edition pieces often created by Designers. Much like in the "Art" world the value for a work is created by a few well-heeled, self-appointed purveyors of taste whose opinions can create interest were there was none the day before.

Marc Newson's Lockheed Lounger (pictured) fetched just shy of $1 million at a Chirsite's auction, making it the high price piece sold by a living designer.

For this designer, this new phenomenon will make it a little more difficult to educate the uninitiated as to what design is and the value of good design to life and culture.

IHT Article

Business week Article

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fashion Designer: Patrick Robinson

The Gap has entrusted its brand in the hands of designer Patrick Robinson.

For years Gap sales have been shrinking from the highs reached in the 90's as retailers like Abercrombie and Fitch have grown in popularity. Robinson has the task of introducing the Gap brand to a new generation of shoppers.

NYTimes Article

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

TV Program: Architecture School

As evidence of the growing national conversation around Design, the Sundance channel brings to television a program that focuses on the process of designing homes for the Katrina damaged area of Louisiana.

I have not seen the program but I have seen comments that state how surprisingly interesting it the process of designing and building an practical homes is.

Series Video


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Product Design: Vertical Ice CubeTray

Here is a cleaver solution to making, chilling and storing ice.

Iceorb Site/ Video

Sketching Demonstrations

Being able to visualize one's thoughts is the basis for design thinking, drawing by-hand has been losing to computer generated images to the point where many design students graduate lacking the confidence in the drawing skills, fortunately employers are not holding this against them.

But, for those with basic drawing skills in place will no doubt be found more equipped to perform basic generative development sketches if important to the employer.

Sketching Site

Black Designers Summit

I had the pleasure to attended a gathering of designers brought together to discuss the value of developing a network of black designers, and how it might offer something different than the other design organizations that currently exist.

The working title for the group is BD-13, representing the thirteen designers able to gather at this meeting held at the University of Illinois at Chicago's campus.

One common concern was the need to address the declining numbers of black design professionals. The group asked how might we work to increase the ranks of blacks who select design as a profession. It was a day of good dialog, teaming exercises that began a conversation among designers who see a problem and are ready to use their skills to find a solution.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Fashion Design with a Political Message

Tracey Reese and other fashion designers have been asked to produce politically inspired pieces for the Obama campaign. Does this recognition of the fashion industry as a means of communicating a message mean that an Obama presidency would bode well for the profession of Design?

Washington Post Article

The Brand Called Obama

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Website Redesign: IDEO

One of the worlds leading design consultancy's launched its redesigned website after more than a half-dozen years. Do take a moment to see what they are up to and how they do it.

IDEO: Design for Social Impact