Monday, December 8, 2008

iphone case enables the blind to access touchscreens
Posted by: hipstomp

Portugal-based designer Bruno Fosi has developed a prototype iPhone case that would enable the sight-impaired to use the device. The silicon case has debossed, tactile logos, icons and characters, yet is still thin enough for the screen to register touches. Used in conjunction with text-to-speech features, it opens up a world of possibilities for those without sight. Not to mention the blind could eke out some extra battery life by turning down the backlight.

Expandable Bookcase Design
Posted by: hipstomp

We're totally digging the new extendable REK bookcase, by Rotterdam-based designer Reinier de Jong.

REK is a bookcase that grows with your book collection. The more books, the bigger the bookcase. The zigzag shaped parts slide in and out providing as much space as needed. Regardless of the quantity of books REK will always be full.

Also with the different spaces that appear you can arrange your books according to their size.

The five-part bookcase is finished with white high-gloss laminate on the outside surfaces, and warm grey stain laminate on the inside. And this is no one-off concept that will never see the light of day--you can order one right here, if you've got 5,500 Euros.

Ironically, the only way I could afford one of these is if I were to sell all of my books. Man, if O. Henry was putting together a gift guide....

Drops in the ocean - and in the sky

Posted by John Thackara

Steve Messem (who led our sustainable tourism design camp at Dott 07) writes with news that his next installation - Drop - takes up residence beside Crummock Water in the Lake Distrrict, UK. You'll find his 7 metre (20 foot) reflective raindrop near Haus Point between Buttermere village and Lorton from 7am tomorrow morning (11 Sept). It will stay there - or so Steve hopes - until the end of Saturday.

This the second amazing droplet I've heard about today. Just before Steve's email arrived, I was reading about "cloud albedo enhancement." This is the proposal, first made in 1990 by a scientist called John Latham, that controlled global cooling - sufficient to balance global warming resulting from increasing atmospheric CO 2 concentrations - might be achieved by seeding low-level, extensive maritime clouds with seawater particles. The sprayed seawater droplets, Latham proposes, would "act as condensation nuclei, thereby activating new droplets and increasing cloud albedo". Latham reckons that spraying clouds with seawater on a large scale could help hold the Earth’s temperature constant for many decades.

The scheme is ecologically benign – the only raw materials being wind and sea water - and "if unforeseen adverse effects occurred the system could be immediately switched off, with the forcing returning to normal within a few days". Latham acknowledges that "questions and concerns would need to be satisfactorily examined before any justification would exist for the operational deployment of the technique" - but I reckon he can speed up that process by going into partnership with Steve Messem. If Latham's planet-wide aerosol spraying looked as gorgeous as Steve's Drop, surely none of us would complain.

I'm not being unserious here. I learned about Latham's proposed feat of "geo-engineering" from a book called Kyoto2: How to Manage the Global Greenhouse by Oliver Tickell. Kyoto2 is basically the blueprint for a new global climate treaty. Based on the latest climate science (summarised clearly in the book) a replacement to the existing Kyoto protocol must achieve a level of atmospheric CO2 below 350 ppm. Otherwise stated: if we are to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent "dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system", the North will need to reduce its carbon impacts by 98 per cent.

Put baldly like that, most of us will feel like giving up on the whole enterprise. I know I do. The thing is, Kyoto2 describes a plausible path from here, to there in policy terms. What's missing is the aesthetic-cultural impetus that we'll also need to make that change happen at a political level.

That's where projects like Drop come in: 98 per cent less has got to feel like 98 per cent more.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

BOX TOP (pop-up) SHOP in Miami
Posted by: core jr

If you're heading to Miami for the 2008 hoo-hah, make sure to check out BOX TOP SHOP, presented by I.D. Magazine, Charles & Marie, and Areaware. They'll be selling limited-edition (natch) design objects from Areaware and Charles & Marie, as well as an edition of 300 I.D. tote bags featuring exclusive graphics by Konstantin Grcic, Tord Boontje, and the Bouroullecs. The space is designed by Rich, Brilliant, Willing (you'll recall them from our Greener Gadgets Design Competition last year), who've devised " a practical solution to create a temporary retail environment":

By using flat-packed hollow volumes (cardboard boxes), a shop is assembled in a single day. The boxes provide the necessary presentation requirements of merchandise using a minimal amount of material--the boxes themselves are readymade components drawn from a variety of manufacturers and industrial suppliers. Rich Brilliant Willing assembles these ubiquitous elements into a cohesive, functional whole: The Box Top Shop.
I.D., Charles & Marie, and Areaware present
A four-day retail experience
Design Miami, December 2-6
Miami Design District
4141 NE 2nd Avenue, inner foyer
More info here

Saint-Etienne Design Biennale 2008: Energy Solstices, by Anais met den Ancxt
Posted by: Allan Chochinov

One of our absolute favorite projects in the Saint-Étienne Design Biennale was Anaïs met den Ancxt's Energy Solstices, a project completed as part of her post-diploma at Ecole Supérieure d'Art et de Design de St Etienne, partnered with EDF R&D. The project was one of many inspiring design investigations in the school's "Réalisme énerg#233;tique" exhibition, and had us scrambling for our cameras and sketchbooks.

In Anaïs's project, the notion of daylight savings time is explored, arguing that its practical advantages have been blurred by technology, and that the purpose today would be to transform the practice "into seasonal rituals with a symbolic dimension."

She's done this with a set of incredibly poetic objects--all housed in a sweet wooden box, with which users can equip themselves for the changes that happen twice a year. Our favorite objects are the wind-up light bulb above, One hour of light (LED, small clock wind-up key, battery) which is used during the Winter solstice--when night falls one hour earlier. Its small clock wind-up key produces a symbolic hour of light.

Another favorite is Recto-verso clock, which slows down or speeds up the time over a four-day period, helping users to "update" their own internal clock. (That's the amount of time it takes us to adjust, apparently.) There are lots of other great items in the set, so be sure to check out the site to see them all.

More pics after the jump.

Virtual skyscraper: Everyone's got a story
Posted by: hipstomp

A fun blast-from-the-past piece of eye candy is Mr. Wong's Soup'parmtments, a "pixel by pixel" project that had volunteers add their own illustrated "apartments" to an ever-growing virtual skyscraper. With everything from swimming pools and automobile showrooms to Lightsaber academies and zombie attacks, the endlessly scroll-able, virtual Tower of Babel is an entertaining low-res delight. Load it up on your iPhone for the perfect airport lounge time sink.

Monday, November 24, 2008

no more …
posted by pantopicon

ironing shirts, wasting energy, shortening the lifespan of your shirt’s cloth. The Swedish brand Eton shirts has developed a coatingless cotton-fibre which returns to its original shape after washing. In fact bodyheat is enough to iron your shirt as you wear it. The fibre responds to heat - not unlike shape memory alloys) - to maintain its form.

Let’s extrapolate such a development for a second: imagine a world in which no shirts need to be ironed any longer. Consequences: significant decrease of energy usage since irons no longer need to be heated, presses are no longer necessary, thereby also increasing the lifespan of the shirt since the cloth is spared from several aggressive interactions. Combine that with a waterless washing machine such as Electrolux’ Airwash system. In terms of saving the environment. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how energy- & eco-efficient the production of the special cotton fibre (and the rest of its lifecycle) is before we can truly assess its impact. From a socio-economic perspective however - like any technological development which renders human (inter)action obsolete - the no-iron cotton fibre - if used on a large scale - might put extra stress on or obliterate ironing shops.

On a higher level of abstraction: think of all the kind of products which nowadays, because of their systemic or material makeup, require labour (implying usage of all kinds of other resources) in order to remain functional, usable etc. Windows need to be washed, houses need to be heated or cooled, etc.

What if … changes at the material/systemic level of these products, which nearly all of us use, could make these ‘wasteful cycles’ of energy. If employed at a large scale, effects (both positive and negative) of these changes can often be exponential in nature as they work their way through the chain of reactions linked to the lifecycle of the product. They alter the system of their ‘ecology’, their context (whether bio-, techno- or homosphere). Glass can be self-cleaning, houses can go without or using a minimum of heating/cooling energy, etc.

Monday, November 10, 2008

SNIF tag: Social Networking for dogs
Posted by: core jr

If you feel it's time for Fido to get into that whole social networking thing then this may be for you. The SNIF tag is a wireless gadget that clips onto a dog's collar. As you take your dog for a walk amongst all the other SNIF-enabled hounds at your local park, the tag records your dog's erm, interactions and shares the data with other tags.

Back at home, the tag uploads its data to your online SNIF profile, which allows you to share as much personal information with other SNIF owning dog lovers as you can handle. Creepy or cool? It depends on how hot the other SNIF owners are I guess.

For the designer backstory, here's a video clip of SNIF tag production and a Flickr set of SNIF's quest for a production facility together with their industrial designers from Readymade.

It's interesting. I have a dog and I really like this little staff. It is $199, too expensive! 

Sunday, November 9, 2008

John Maeda: Line Calendar

Good idea, I can see every second of my life in this calendar.

I Want You To Want Me / by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar

What an amazing project! This program not only is a wonderful interactive installation, but also it is an affectionate art work. It shows the vulnerable but sincere emotions needs of human. I was deeply moved when I saw the small balloons which embrace thousands of people connecting each other and forming a DNA shape. The visual presentation and the background music works very well too. I just can't help to watch it again and again.

When designers anticipate the next Big One
Posted by: Mark Vanderbeeken

A few weeks Core77 featured After Shock, the world's first massively collaborative disaster simulation, about a major earthquake affecting much of Southern California.

It turns out - as one could have expected - that there is quite a lot behind this unique serious game. It is actually part of a larger design initiative The Los Angeles Earthquake: Get Ready, led by Designmatters at Art Center College of Design, that has allowed them "to investigate the contributing role of design in disaster mitigation and public awareness".

Mariana Amatullo, (vice president and director of Designmatters at the Art Center College of Design), just wrote a long article on Design21 outlining the project's philosophy and ambition, that is recommended reading for anyone interested in serious games.

In a recent email to me, she said: "Our hope [...] is that the paradigms for communication created by this project can test the efficacy of different communications approaches in a contemporary media environment, and provide a blueprint for vitally needed mitigation efforts elsewhere in the world."

The project is, in my opinion, also particularly strong and commendable, because of the thoroughness with which it has been prepared, and the sense of civic engagement that drives the people behind it.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Assignment 5

  • Theme:
         Genetically Modified Crops for Healing

  • Tagline:
         Planting for Health
  • purpose/uses/service: 
  1. treat illness
  2. help to prevent diseases
  3. improve people's health
  • treatment/scenario
  1. A soybean is lying on a culture dish.
  2. The soybean begins to germinate.
  3. It outgrows a stem, several branches and leaves.
  4. At the top of the branch, it brings forth a capsule.
  • Story Board
Get your own at Scribd or explore others:
  • style frame

Get your own at Scribd or explore others:

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Assignment 4

posted by pantopicon

At the inspiring Venice Architecture Biennale - this year’s edition curated by Aaron Betsky, former director of the NaI - the famous Dutch design studio Droog Design & KesselsKramer showcase S1NGLETOWN.

S1NGLETOWN focuses on the world of contemporary singles. Its relevance is broad, as all of us are likely to belong to this group at some stage in our lives — and likely more than once. In fact, some sources predict that a third of people in developed countries will be living alone by 2026.

S1NGLETOWN is an exhibition that’s also a town, an abstract interpretation of a new kind of urban space. Visitors will be able to walk its streets and interact with its products and citizens, and view their homes.

The concept is a beautiful illustration of a persona-like approach, typecasting different types of singles and imaginatively describe their world, ways of living using their point of experience as a point of departure. Although designed in a beautiful, powerful yet fairly abstract way, one is fully immersed in this ‘view on the world’ being able to walk around in S1NGLETOWN through an exhibition.

wfs outlook 2009
posted by Pantopicon

The World Future Society recently published their top ten of future developments to keep an eye on in view of 2009 and beyond:

Everything you say and do will be recorded by 2030.
Bioviolence will become a greater threat as the technology becomes more accessible.
The car’s days as king of the road will soon be over.
Careers, and the college majors for preparing for them, are becoming more specialized.
There may not be world law in the foreseeable future, but the world’s legal systems will be networked.
The race for biomedical and genetic enhancement will — in the twenty-first century — be what the space race was in the previous century.
Professional knowledge will become obsolete almost as quickly as it’s acquired.
Urbanization will hit 60% by 2030.
The Middle East will become more secular while religious influence in China will grow.
Access to electricity will reach 83% of the world by 2030.
As 2008 flies by and 2009 approaches, prepare for more lists.

obesity system influence diagram
posted by Pantopicon

Within the ‘Foresight tackling obesities’ project, which we blogged about earlier, our friends over at Shiftn created an amazing map( depicting the forcefield surrounding obesity. Congrats Philippe & Co.!

The causal loop map provides systemic insight into the wide variety of factors influencing the obesity epidemic. A thorough analysis of about 40 science reviews led to the identification of 108 drivers of obesity, interrelated through positive and negative effects.

Reflecting on the potential of maps like these: a next step of increasing the interactivity of the map could further enhance its value as an information insight or what-if tool. For example, select a relationship arrow and see what the relationship stands for. Or furthermore … select a few drivers, confirm or alter the parameters of their cause-effect relationship, push the action button and see what happens. Or … describe an effect (wishful or to avoid) and see which buttons need to be triggered in order to change the outcome as mentioned. In other words: the map, as an information visualization tool, can be a first step toward a full-fledged knowledge tool.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Multi-Sensory Experience

Obviously the web offers a great platform for telling a story, and in the past this was usually done in a very linear way. There was only one way to view information, and really no way to interact with any of the content.

“Interaction Design” in the past only referred to having the user move through the content on the entire site from an information architecture point of view, but didn’t allow any actual interactions or choices within the article or posting.

Now the options are endless. The way we tell stories on-line have become more non-linear, and now allow the user to view the content in any way they choose. Previously static stories (news articles etc.) are now able to offer alternate ways to engage with through streaming web-cam, animation, feedback, comments, sound, video etc.

You prefer reading your information? This is possible. Are you more of a visual thinker? Check out the video. Care to listen to the content while working? Stream the audio. Wonder what other people are thinking? Read the comments.

Web design is moving into a realm where we have to think of all the possible senses, all the possible preferences, all the differences of all the different users, and it’s slowly becoming the most tailor-made experience you can have with a product, brand or service.

This is exciting stuff…

With the up and coming of blogs as a legitimate source for information, Web 2.0, social network sites, and the prevalence of broadband, what “interaction design” means is changing. Web designers are now designing less in the traditional sense (sure we’re still interested in type, color and layout, but it doesn’t end there anymore), and we are now focusing more on designing highly personalized experiences.

Today’s web designers are looking at the whole thing more holistically. Before any design even starts we are now interested in telling a compelling story, and creating a memorable experience. The whole focus has become much more user-centered.

We listen first, and design later…

When you enable your users to choose their own path through your content, and allow them to have a highly interactive and personalized experience you can make them feel less like a faceless user and more like a human being, which sometimes we forget that the users accessing our sites, are well… euhm, actual people.

Good human-centered design is now not only simplicity, support, clarity, encouragement, satisfaction and accessibility, it's also about creating a platform for a highly personalized experience. Allowing the user control of your content is a great way to create affinity and foster positive attitudes towards your brand, company, product or service.

The Pratt Preview of "A Day in the Life of a Networked Designer's Smart Things or A Day in a Designer's Networked Smart Things, 2030"

Tom Klinkowstein and I have been working on this project for about 6 months now, and last Friday was the preview mini-opening of the project at Pratt. Which means, well... it's finished! The project was made for the Singapore International Design Festival and is about an imagined designer's day in the year 2030.

The diagram goes through her day and explains how she gets things done with the help of all her smart things.

We began with 4 presentations, Tom Klinkowstein spoke about "Experience Design", Leo Bonanni from the M.I.T Media Lab spoke about "Living Objects", Anthony Townsend from the Institute for the Future spoke about "Living Environments" and I spoke about "Blogs".

It was really a fascinating night about what the possibilities could be in the future of design.

Smarter Design Choices for the Environment

Okay so sustainability is totally hip right now. Everyone cares about the environment. Green is the new black. Al Gore's film was the most watched documentary ever. Yes, yes, yes and yes, but what can designers do to help the environment?

Not many designers know how to properly design with the environment in mind, and us designers are some of the world's greatest polluters. Packaging, printing, recycling, paper-making, inks, foil stamping, binding... All this and more is what we are putting out there in terms of energy (ab)use. According to the Environment Protection Agency, as much as a third of the developing world's non-industrial solid waste streams consists of packaging.

There are some myths out there that the energy needed to recycle minimizes any savings in the use of recycled papers versus virgin paper (paper directly from trees), but by using recycled papers there is less energy consumption, fewer greenhouse gases, less waste paper and less solid waste.

So designers. What can we do? Turns out we can do a lot. Here are some ideas.

Plan ahead
Consider 100% PCW uncoated paper, or elemental chlorine free or totally chlorine free paper.
For long shelf life, choose a paper that meets the American National Standards Institute standards for product longevity.
Plan ahead to avoid air shipping, and use targeted, updated mailing lists.
If designing packaging, design it to last, can it be used for something else?
Design packaging closest to the product's size, and at a most efficient size for shipping. As much as 50% of packaging waste is from the outer packaging that the consumer will never see.

Use the fewest materials necessary to be effective.
Consider standard paper sizes to maximize positioning and bleeds (4up? 6up?).
Design with multipurpose use in mind (can an invitation also be self-mailer?).
If the printed piece isn't reusable, ensure that it is recyclable.
Use digital photography when possible.
Use PDF digital proofs instead of paper printouts.

Inks & Finishing
Consider vegetable-based inks.
Use fewer ink colors, consider 2 color jobs over 4 color jobs (less inks are also cheaper for the client, and can have amazing graphic impact).
Consider less ink coverage.
Avoid metallic and fluorescent inks when possible.
Consider using aqueous varnishes and coatings instead of UV coatings and laminates.
Consider alternatives to foil stamping.
Consider water-based glues.

Choose an FSC-certified printer.
Consider filmless and plateless digital printing for small runs over off-set printing.
Send artwork to printer electronically.

Then lastly there is that old myth that recycled papers always look, well, recycled, and that 2 color jobs miss out on the graphic impact. I couldn't disagree more. Here's a self-mailer I designed that was printed on recycled paper and made by only using 2 inks (purple and black).

Can you tell it was designed with the environment in mind?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Posted by Pantopicon

For those of you who have not heard yet: Superstruct is live! Our colleagues over at the Institute For The Future have launched the world’s first massively multiplayer forecasting game.

“By playing the game, you’ll help us chronicle the world of 2019–and imagine how we might solve the problems we’ll face. Because this is about more than just envisioning the future. It’s about making the future, inventing new ways to organize the human race and augment our collective human potential.”

Superstruct is developed by the IFTF’s Ten-Year-Forecast team led by Kathi Vian. Jamais (Cascio) is scenario director. Jane McGonigal (cf. iLoveBees) watches over the gaming aspects. Game interaction is a perfect match to the ‘what if?’ question central to futures studies: people are presented with challenges, they make choices which have consequences leading to new challenges. Several have advocated tapping into the opportunities that games offer to explore, learn about, envision and prepare for futures and future-oriented action (e.g. Eliane Alhadeff at Future-Making Serious Games ).

While gaming in general is getting more serious attention, especially so called serious games are on the rise within educational, corporate and policy contexts (e.g., see here). As such, the timing of Superstruct probably could not be better. In a recent blogpost Jamais notes how once again we are ‘flirting with the boundaries of the participatory decepticon’, as also Superstruct uses the fakes-as-real strategy (e.g. news items, commercials, blog posts, etc.) to bring the future to life. Yet again, these ‘alternative realities’, even infused in real reality (e.g. ARG’s), are exactly what attracts people as well. Considering its massive size as well as its develop-as-we-go approach, as a learning tool - not only for the IFTF - but also for their player audience, Superstruct offers lots of potential.

Stay tuned for more reflections …

Everyone could help to invent the future, this game is so attractive cause we all curious about tomorrow. The more people join in this game, the better we can augment our collective human potential. Also this game has serious meaning to evoke thinking of changing the world.

The rain in Spain stays mainly in the Hog
Posted by John Thackara

Harvesting rainwater is key for any town or city determined to use its water sustainably. Rainwater HOG is a rain rescue and storage tank designed as a water-filled building block. It was conceived and developed by an Australian architect, Sally Dominguez, who had been designing drought-ready buildings but was frustrated by a lack of options for domestic scale urban rainwater catchment. HOG’s flat walls, and use of through-holes as bracing, allow water to flow in any direction. This enables HOG to store water horizontally and vertically. Because HOG modules are deliberately slim and compact, they are easy to retrofit into the tightest spaces. As Dominguez explains,"the problem with a drought is that when it rains, it often gathers in the wrong areas for it to be of use. As an architect I wanted to fit in rainwater storage without giving up valuable real estate". The product has taken off so fast in California that Dominguez has moved her family and the business to Marin County. Hog is on display at the Autodesk Design Gallery in San Francisco as one of the winners of the Spark design awards.

I can't judge whether the system can be used as it stands in a European context, but the potential market in London must be 35 million units on its own. It never rains but it shines, at least for this designer.

Good design. We designers should always concern about environmental conservation. 

Food information systems
Posted by John Thackara

Two days ago I was in London to talk with design school tutors about the design competition concerning food information systems that the Royal Society of Arts is running together with Dott07. Today I learned from CalorieLab via SmartMobs that McDonalds is now placing codes on the packaging of many foods so that eaters can scan the package with their cell phones and find out the nutritional information. "Known as a QR Code, these printed codes look somewhat like a barcode and are scannable by many photo cellphones. All sorts of information can be packed into these little codes, from the website to find the amount of calories and fat in a Big Mac to a company's contact information on a business card," the site explains. This is good news for any young designers seeking to win a trip to Doors 9 (the prize for winning the RSA competition): you don't have to invent a QR food application - McDonalds has done that: take that as your starting point and amaze us with how much further it could go.

This is a good idea. It saves time for the eaters looking for nutritional information printed on the packages. Another good idea leaped into my mind. Perhaps we can import our health information into our cellphone. When we scan the packages, our cellphone will automatically tell us wether the food is suit for us. Then we do not need to check the nutritional information.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Maps to Change the World
published by pantopicon

Our friend and Berlin-Based-Belgian-Blogger Regine over at wemakemoneynotart recently hosted a panel on Cartography of Protest and Social Changes at Conflux 2008. “The panel was an attempt to demonstrate that maps have the potential to bring about social changes.” Check out her blogpost for some fascinating examples of “mapping for social change”.

Although maps are often portrayed as an objective spatial basis on which to ‘map’ data, they are always about perspective and the change of it: which country is in the center, where does most projection-distortion occur, which colours are used, … As tools of communication, they can easily become tools of manipulation, allowing one to lie with maps as easily as with statistics. Yet, put in a positive sense they can convey and enhance complex messages in a powerful visual way and shift people’s perspective on even abstract developments through spatial contextualization.

As such, Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Map is a famous example of a map, specifically devised to minimize distortion caused by projection. In its modular form it is a powerful tool to shift perspectives on the world and assess developments from a variety of angles.

Related to maps as tools for thought or insight, there are of course also the cartograms. We blogged about them before as a powerful means to visualize information otherwise obscured by statistics or illegible, unattractive text. Some of you might have played around with Show/World as well, an online tool which allows you to create your own cartogram-like maps (within a limited range of dataparameters).

Harman Kardon Makes Crystal Bling Speakers

Posted by: elle

Ok, we're over the crystal-bling craze, but crystal-bling-steampunk?! Yep. Hold onto your blowtorches n' chisels, design fans, the new Harman Kardon GLA-55 speakers are exactly that. Kurt Solland, the VP of ID at Harman and Core 77's very own 1HDC judge, gave us the low-down:

"The idea was to meld high-tech with craftsman styling and pushing 'Steam Punk' in an elegant way. For the technology side, there are integrated digital amplifiers with special drivers and a proprietary port to allow this to be your complete sound system. All you have to do is plug it in, throw away your old 'boxy' speakers and enjoy. For the design side, I balanced the outside, inside and refractive aesthetic. The outside surfaces had to work harmoniously with the inside surfaces which both had to combine with the refractive nature of the facets…whew! It a way it was kind of like painting with light by utilizing each individual interior as an art installation, it certainly was a very delicate 'chord' to balance just right."

And when you consider these are stuffed choc-full of treats like a 100-watt bi-amplified digital amplifier coupled with DSP equalization, Atlas AL drivers and woofers, PLUS a CMMD tweeter as well as optimisation for digital sound -- oof! -- these beauties won't stay quiet for long. To top it off, the faceted cut-glass enclosures house touch-sensitive volume controls. Yowzas.

The Big Picture
Published: September 26, 2008

The same week that scientists at the CERN laboratory outside Geneva were getting ready to fire up the Large Hadron Collider, the artist Josiah McElheny was conducting a test of his own ideas on the Big Bang theory at Andrea Rosen Gallery in New York City. Inspired by the Lobmeyr chandeliers at the Metropolitan Opera House and informed by logarithmic equations devised by the cosmologist David H. Weinberg, McElheny’s chrome, glass and electric-light sculpture “The End of the Dark Ages” is part of a four-year investigation into the origins of the universe. What began with “The End to Modernity,” a sculpture commissioned by the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University, will culminate next month in a massive installation titled “Island Universe” at White Cube in London. “I had this quixotic idea to do modernized versions of the Lobmeyr chandeliers as sculpture with secret information behind it,” says McElheny, who upon first encountering these “gilded age/space age” objects immediately thought they looked like pop renditions of the Big Bang.

According to McElheny, physicists continue to struggle with the question “is the world this way because it must be, or is it just random?” In 1965, the year that the Lobmeyr chandeliers were designed, it was suddenly evident that our world is not in fact the center of the universe. This idea that there could be an infinite number of possible narratives was becoming popular not just in science but also in literature and art — so why not in interior design, too? As it turns out, Wallace K. Harrison, the architect for the Met, having rejected the original design for the chandeliers, gave Hans Harald Rath of Lobmeyr, the Vienna-based glassmaker, a book about galaxies and sent him back to the drawing board.

“The End of the Dark Ages” is a scientifically accurate model: the shortest rod represents 100 million years, the longest about 1.3 billion; the clusters of glass stand for galaxy formations, the lights for quasars. Still, McElheny is less concerned with the conceits of exact science than the limits of reason and knowledge. (The White Cube show proposes a “multiverse” and “speaks to what Kant describes so well as an endless world made of imperfection, complication and specificity.”) “Politically, I’m against finding the single answer,” McElheny insists. “I’m more interested in what these questions mean to our sense of who we are.

Monday, September 29, 2008

3D body scans used to create 2D sewing patterns

posted by squee.gee

The T-shirt Issue is an experimental project by Berlin designer's Mashallah Design and Linda Kostowski who converted the 3D files of 3 digitally scanned bodies into simple polygon forms that were used to generate unique 2D patterns for the garments.

The 3d data is turned into 2d sewing patterns by the use of the unfolding function which is a common tool in industrial design process to make paper models with, the single fabric pieces and the inner interface which defines the edges are cut out by the help of a laser cutter.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The secret of the web (hint: it's a virtue)
posted by Seth Godin


Google was a very good search engine for two years before you started using it.

The iPod was a dud.

I wrote Unleashing the Ideavirus 8 years ago. A few authors tried similar ideas but it didn't work right away. So they gave up. Boingboing is one of the most popular blogs in the world because they never gave up.

The irony of the web is that the tactics work really quickly. You friend someone on Facebook and two minutes later, they friend you back. Bang.

But the strategy still takes forever. The strategy is the hard part, not the tactics.

I discovered a lucky secret the hard way about thirty years ago: you can outlast the other guys if you try. If you stick at stuff
posted by Seth Godin

that bores them, it accrues. Drip, drip, drip you win.

It still takes ten years to become a success, web or no web. The frustrating part is that you see your tactics fail right away. The good news is that over time, you get the satisfaction of watching those tactics succeed right away.

The trap: Show up at a new social network, invest two hours, be really aggressive with people, make some noise and then leave in disgust.

The trap: Use all your money to build a fancy website and leave no money or patience for the hundred revisions you'll need to do.

The trap: read the tech blogs and fall in love with the bleeding-edge hip sites and lose focus on the long-term players that deliver real value.

The trap: sprint all day and run out of energy before the marathon even starts.

The media wants overnight successes (so they have someone to tear down). Ignore them. Ignore the early adopter critics that never have enough to play with. Ignore your investors that want proven tactics and predictable instant results. Listen instead to your real customers, to your vision and make something for the long haul. Because that's how long it's going to take, guys.

Is Apple Innovative or Just Adaptive?
posted by: Bruce Nussbaum

There is an interesting thread of a conversation about Apple’s innovation going on among those commenting on The Most Innovative Companies lead story for this issue of IN-Inside Innovation.

Andre started it off by saying that Apple was not innovative—it didn’t invent anything. It only adapted things others invented. That generated a storm of discussion about just what innovation really means. My take on “innovation” is that it is not invention. That’s a classic mistake people make. Innovation is creating something new of value. In the business world, that means creating something new of value that generates revenue and profits. Disruptive innovations that change the game are often business model innovations that integrate five or six or eight different types of innovation.

That's what Apple is so good at these days. In its earliest incarnation, Apple was great as user-friendly innovation. Apple is now in a second, more sophisticated and impactful stage of generating platform innovation. Both the iPod and iPhone are platform innovations that incorporate many kinds of innovation. There were lots of MP3 players around before the iPod, a few of them quite beautiful. But Steve Jobs brought together a legal/business innovation (getting the heads of music studios to agree on 99 cent downloads), a software innovation (the iTunes store) and a great industrial design--the iPod. That's what makes for powerful disruptive innovation.

The iPhone is similar--it's a platform that thousands of developers are building new products for.

Life and the Big Screen: Media, Design, and the Apocalypse

posted by William Bostwick

For weeks, Iron Man has had the design world convulsing with what can only be called a grand maul geek-out. The lead character, Tony Stark, represents the tech-happy dad in all of us. A billionaire industrialist/master engineer, he builds a powered exoskeleton and becomes the technologically advanced superhero and all-around bad-ass, Iron Man. The cars, the girls, the computers: he's like Inspector Gadget in a mid-life crisis.

But the future hasn't always been so pretty. Let's rewind, way back, to 1996, when high-tech gadgetry wasn't a blessing, but a curse, when the blue glow of Stark's mechanical heart heralded nothing less than the end of the world. I'm talking about Independence Day.

Here, Jeff Goldblum's computer scientist is a straight-up nerd and the world's armies use old-school Morse code to coordinate their attacks. The blue light that pours out of the alien spaceships is deadly and depressing, like the TV glow from suburban windows. Independence Day didn't come up with this idea—here's Jack Kerouac almost 50 years earlier describing the lone poet in a wasteland world: "I see him in future years stalking along with full rucksack, in suburban streets, passing the blue television windows of homes, alone, his thoughts the only thoughts not electrified to the Master Switch." Will Smith's Capt. Steven Hiller sees that switch flipped on, full blast, and watches the White House go up in electric flames.

Brainwashed or blown apart, it's a tough way to go, but we're welcoming the end with open arms. Media technology courses through our veins, and we love it. We're tapped in, turned on, Iron Man-style by its cerulean glow. We bask in it like tourists at "Take Your Time." And instead of designing the architecture of our lives to shield us from it, we're doing the opposite. From bookcases to billboards, design has gone media crazy.

Think of these projects as psychics, moving their divining rods to map the space we can't see, channeling the spirits of our geekdom.
Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby, industrial design provocateurs, call this glow Hertzian space. The idea is that our media gadgets—phones, radios, TVs—leak out a sea of electromagnetic waves. We can't see it, but it's there, as powerful and intangible as Eliasson's light. Don't believe it? Try reading this post near Petra Farinha's Jealous Furniture. Farinha, a student in NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, designed furniture that spies on you. Click through a couple links, fire up a few videos, and the lamp, hooked up via Bluetooth to your computer's internet connection, will start to flicker and shake and books will jump off their shelves as they sense how much bandwidth you're using.

Then there's fellow ITP-er Andrew Doro's Table for Electronic Dreams (the name references Dunne: "Electronic objects are not only 'smart,' they 'dream,' in the sense that they leak radiation into the space and objects surrounding them"). Drop your iPhone on the table, and its leaky radiation—its dreams—trigger an LED web that makes the table glow. Get a call, and the lights get brighter. "The electromagnetic spectrum has become increasingly noisy and dense," Doro says. "But we do not have direct access to this medium or an awareness of its invisible contours." Think of these projects as psychics, moving their divining rods to map the space we can't see, channeling the spirits of our geekdom.

Our cars are plugged in too, with navigation screens taking up more and more of the dashboard and Bluetooth connectivity an increasingly standard option. They don't just light up when we get a call, they feed it through the stereo system, giving hi-fi, immersive surround-sound urgency to "don't forget to buy milk."

Check out Apartment Therapy's Unplggd blog for homes that are wired (or de-wired) for media technology. Their motto, "smarter homes, fewer wires," says it all. You can take drool-worthy slideshow tours of digitized digs where AirPorts replace Aalto vases and big screens seem to grow right out of the exposed brick.

But what about the houses themselves? Media technology is here too, in the literal nuts and bolts of building construction. Last month, the The New York Times ran an article about Los Angeles developer/Blade Runner buff Sonny Astani. Astani wants to rig up 10-story-tall LED video screens on the sides of two of his downtown towers to flood the skyline with ads and art. Anyone who has looked up New York's Seventh Avenue at night and seen the glow of Times Square bubbling up over the rooftops knows this isn't a new idea, but the sheer scale of Astani's vision makes it understandably head-turning. Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, GreenPix, the largest color LED screen ever, opened last month on the side of a building in Beijing. It's just plain massive: a 24,000 square-foot 2-D museum showing digital media art.

You can't talk about signs and buildings without talking about Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. In Learning From Las Vegas, they lay out a manifesto for post-modern, symbolist architecture by contrasting ducks and decorated sheds. A decorated shed is a building wrapped in signs, literal or metaphoric (a firehouse that says "firehouse" or a bank with Greek columns, signs for classical power and stability). A duck is a building that is itself a sign, like the Big Duck on Long Island: a duck-shaped building that sells, you guessed it, ducks.

What better way to push L.A. into the future than with a sci-fi-grade media project? That glow Kerouac feared isn't a sign of society's decay; it's the pulsing blue heart of modern life.
The screens in L.A. and Beijing are signs—ads for art projects, cars, and clothes—but they're not just decoration, they're identity-changers, not make-up but plastic surgery. Tony Stark in his armor suit isn't Tony Stark in an armor suit; he's Iron Man, a transformation powered by the ark reactor's cool blue glow. The GreenPix wall is built into the building's structure, an integral part of the design, turning the whole thing into a giant TV. The building isn't a shed; it's a duck, a literal embodiment of the modern, media-soaked world.

These giant screens—and the media glow they pump out—are symbols of a modern city. We know Blade Runner takes place in the future because of the building-sized billboards (OK, and because of the flying cars). We know we're in New York when we see Times Square. "Everyone wants downtown [L.A.] to happen," Astani told the Times, and what better way to push it into the future than with a sci-fi-grade media project? That glow Kerouac feared isn't a sign of society's decay; it's the pulsing blue heart of modern life.

In fact, you can even buy an LED box for your house that sends would-be burglars scurrying by mimicking the glow of a TV—a sure sign that someone is home. But in case you want to give criminals a real light show, there's Philips's Ambilight TV. It leaks out the energy of the show you're watching in the form of color-coordinated light, immersing you in a media glow.

The same idea extends to audio. Most hotels have iPod docking stations, some hooked up to a room's built-in speaker system. (The Tribeca Grand, admittedly not like most hotels, has the "iStudio," a room fully stocked with Apple gear. You know it's a hotel party when someone chucks a G5 out the window, right?) Hotels are pros at the immersive experience, from lobby pianos to elevator music, and now even your room can be bathed in media.

Back home, you can build speakers into your walls, of course, but lately you've been able to design the walls themselves to capture and channel sound. Arup (the engineering rock stars who brought us GreenPix) are on top of this with SoundLab, a computer program that maps buildings' sonic spaces. Even houseware designers like Mio are releasing acoustic wallpaper that, Mio says, "gives individuals the ability to customize and re-define space on a budget" by manipulating sound.

If you want to see the immersive audio media space taken to its extreme (and seriously, who doesn't?), check out David Byrne's "Playing the Building", up through August 10th at the Battery Maritime Building. Byrne hooked up an old organ to motors that he connected to the structural elements of the room—pillars, beams, water pipes. Hit a key, and the whole place vibrates with sound. The building is one, giant speaker, coursing with energy, and the organ just plugs into it.

That idea—using design to tap into the media sea—made one of the smallest pieces at ICFF this year also the most intriguing. The Bocci 22 outlet sits flush with your wall—no more face plates—giving you the feeling that you're plugging your TV (real or fake) right into your house. It's a small detail, but one Tony Stark would love.

Project Theme

"Genetic industry is a newborn infant. barely christened, fawned over by anxious venture capitalists and medical ethicists, it's mewling there in its crib, trying to find its toes. When it gets bigger, genetic engineering will radically expand our knowledge-especially our medical knowledge."

Theme: Genetic engineering will contribute to improve people‘s lives in the future.

genetic industry


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Sunday, September 14, 2008

optimistic future

posted by pantopiconon Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Doom is so passé … and essentially does not get you anywhere. User experience evangelist Richard Anderson gave ACM’s Interactions an overhaul. The latest issue offers a fascinating read, including an article by UK designer Richard Seymour bearing the title “Optimistic futures”. In it he points to the potential, the role, the necessity and the responsibility of designers to dream and design bright, positive futures.

“Designers cannot be, by definition, pessimists. It just doesn’t go with the job. We’re supposed to be defining the future, aren’t we? [...] If we can’t see the world as a better place to live in, than what chance does anyone else have?”

“History tells us that before great business can happen, it first has to be a mission. And a mission starts with a dream. As designers, we potentially hold enormous power. And with it comes responsibility. Wield it imaginatively and wisely. And optimistically. Or f@#k off and do something less dangerous.”

Richard is not alone in his crying out for positivism in imagining and designing the future. We already wrote about Peter
Lunenfeld’s notes on ‘the vision deficit’ (see here). Also, most of you are familiar with Alan Kay’s well known “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”. Yet the much needed optimism to design our way out of dystopia goes far beyond the designer. We seem indeed increasingly unable to draw up optimistic stories of bright futures in which it will be better to live and engage people en masse. Have Hollywoodian apocalyptic disaster movies numbed us that much?

The past years have shown many examples of how fear, doom-scenarios, dystopia, bad news, are powerful tools to move the crowds (see also Michael Crichton’s “State of fear”). The negative has a strong impact on the way we act and react. It must be that through times the growl of the bear left a deeper engraving in our brain to make us run, than that of the beautifully colored flower.

Also Alex over at Worldchanging notes the necessity and the difficulties of creating positive narratives of the future with the same impact as their dystopian brothers. He asked Bladerunner futurist Syd Mead what it would take?

“He paused for a second and said he thought it’d be very difficult, that catharsis is so important to people, and people are so terrified of the future, that you’d need some completely new vision of what the future will look like to even set the scene for a new narrative… and that is obviously no mean feat.”

Alex Steffen calls optimism a political act. Sir Karl Popper called it a moral duty. Yes, it is a must, because it gives that much more in return.

device manners policy

posted by pantopicon on Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Microsoft moves to patent technological means to enhance or enforce good manners on people with respect to their ways of using technological devices. Think of it as the digital ’service’ equivalent of the no-smoking sign.

First it was the family, the home where children received their basic education in terms of norms, values, good and bad manners. Then it became the school’s job. Now technology steps into the equation as well …

Let us hope that people find more poetic ways and means of getting the message of good manners across than showing a dialog box message on the screen of your electronic gadget. Will your cell phone whisper to you “don’t shout”? or increase the volume on the other end so you don’t start screaming in the first place? Context awareness of technology is one of the - if not the - primary prerequisite for smart behaviour. Linking social values to the concept of smart is one way to enhance user experience not merely for the user but also his/her surroundings (human/natural/physical. It is important to note however that these values are often culturally defined or biased.

For those interested in more experimental/poetic ways to influence people’s behaviour when using for example mobile phones, check out IDEO’s Social Mobile Phones ’shock-therapy’ project by Crispin Jones & Graham Pullin.

The first law of mass media

Posted by Seth Godin on August 27, 2008

Organizations will work tirelessly to de-personalize every communication medium they encounter.

Radio ads used to be live, personal and spoken by an individual.
TV ads used to feature actual people, demonstrating something, usually live.
Phone calls involved a live speaker, talking, with permission, to another person.
Email used to be honest interactions between consenting adults.
Facebook pages (and Wikipedia, too) were built by people, not staffs.
Twits came from real people, and so did instant messages.

One by one, the mass marketers have insisted on robocalling, spamming, jingling and lying their way into our lives. The pronoun morphs from "you" to "me" to "us" to "the corporation" ...

The public works tirelessly to flee to actual interactions between real people, and our organizations work even more diligently (and with more leverage) to corporatize and anonymize the interactions.

The irony, of course, is that an organization with guts can go in the opposite direction and win.

My name is Seth Godin and I approved this message.