Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Social Design Project 1

For the first project in Social Design, we were supposed to work with a DIY/ Guerrilla art tactic. I decided to do my project on consumption. We consume a lot in our daily lives, lots of it is unnecessary and quickly thrown away. I narrowed the focus down to consumption of food and specifically raising awareness of how much choice we have regarding nutrition in America, and the choices that people make regarding food. In most of the world, rice is a staple if not the staple of diets. You can live on rice, it certainly isn't the healthiest choice, but it is an abundant grain and many people depend on it. I found a great site- FreeRice that donates rice, and has some great information on what you need. According to them, 400 grams of rice will give you 2 meals a day. They of course recommend adding other ingredients to get more balanced nutrition. I took that number and measured it out- about 2.25 C of uncooked rice. 

My project had 2 parts. One is takeout containers that are filled with the rice and have a slip of paper that says "This is enough food to feed you for one day. How much do you consume?". I sealed these containers with "free food" stickers and both put them in the food cases at the cafe (then photographed) and then left them just before lunch stacked underneath the microwave in the art building. Hopefully people will take them and think about their choices. As of an hour later, 2 of the containers are gone, the other 2 have been opened.

The second part was packaging the rice in vellum envelopes such as those you see food packaged in at cafes, and printing on the envelopes- This is all the food you need for a day. I put these into the food displays at the Art Cafe (Thanks to the wonderful ladies there and Liz (my partner in crime for this)!) and photographed them among all the muffins, donuts, and chips.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

London Design Festival- 100% Design

Some of the awesome things from 100% Design...

Susan Bradley Design's Oscar (outdoor carpets)

noodle's digitally printed roller blinds and wallpaper (these remind me of x-rays somehow...)

Vitamin's Urban Creatures, Urban Gnomes, and Hoodies

Thorunn Arnadottir's Blush radiator (there seems to be several reimagined radiators... are they making a comeback somewhere?

Smarin's LivingStones (I can so see Liz having these....)

Ulrika Jarl's Stardish and pendant lamp

Freedom of Creation's Trabecula tray
Ok, so I thought that this tray was pretty sweet. So I chcked out their website, and this group also did several other things I thought were great when I saw them- the RP chainmail pieces, and they have a trabecula table which Doug showed us in CAD last semester....

U+'s Wobble Chess Set and Shatter Cup and Saucer- didn't realize Umbra had gone awesome.

what I could do without: the crazy amount of Tord Boontje clones... and the deer fetish (wtf?)

Thomas Friedman!

Thomas Friedman is coming to DC to give a talk about his new book. The talk is Tuesday at 7pm at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue (600 I St. NW, Washington, DC). His new book is "Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution- and How It Can Renew America". The talk is $12.....

wonder if I can make it in time after class..... talk about timely!

stuff to go see

From Village to Vogue: the Jewelry of Art Smith
Brooklyn Museum of Art- through May 2009
Oceans, Rivers, and Skies: Ansel Adams, Robert Adams, Alfred Steiglitz
Nat'l Gallery- Oct 12- March 2009
Gothic Fashion
FIT- through Feb 2009
Seduction in Fashion
FIT- begins December 2008
Elegant Armor: The Art of Jewelry
Museum of Art+Design
Richard Avedon: Portraits of Power
Corcoran- through January 2009
Jim Henson's Fantastic World
Smithsonian's Internat'l Gallery- through Oct 5
O'Keefe and Adams
Renwick- starting Sept 26
Frank Gohlke photos
Renwick- starting Dec 5
Reality Check: Truth and Illusion in Contemp. Photog.
pretty much everything at MOMA
MOMA- always...
Tim Burton exhibit!!
MOMA- starting in December 2009

Friday, September 19, 2008

Project 1

So for our first project in Social Design, we are focusing on DIY/Guerilla Art tactics. This is not my strong suit by any stretch, so I'm going to throw out what I am thinking and go from there. In addition to the Guerilla part, I'm also going to be making both the locket and the bracelet that I was talking about earlier. In 2 weeks.... we'll see how that goes- and there goes my not making things overly complicated for this semester....

Onto the ideas.I'm of 2 minds on what to do, and since I'm already doing other pieces this is not a "do both!" scenario.

Idea 1 is focused around the idea of calling attention to the lack of involvement in yourimmediate society- i.e people not caring. It also for me wraps back into the idea of increasing tolerance of other people. This is one of the key issues that I see affecting and creating more social problems. I'm thinking of doing a pay it forward style thing. Maybe buying X cups of coffee at the cafe. I'm thinking of putting stickers on some of the cups, and if you get one of those cups, your coffee is paid for. This way it's random and not all at once. I'd like to make the stickers removable from the cups so that they can be reused and reposted. Not sure what they'll look like yet. Also considering having a (something) that you get if you get free coffee that nudges people to do something nice for someone esle during the day. Maybe a 3"ish size that has suggestions of things to do, also either a page that detaches or another sticker togive to the person you do something nice for.... That way people keep being reminded to keep the chain going. I believe that if I can get this idea started, it will at least enter into the collective mind... and hopefully by being aware that this is going on, people will start acting on it. I'm sure that a decent percentage of people won't do anything on their own, but if I can get people at least thinking and aware of it, maybe it will change something. slowly. maybe.

Idea 2 is to draw attention to how much people consume and discard everyday. I'm thinking of measuring out enough rice to feed a person for a day and contrasting that with how much we have to choose from. I'm not sure if this would be a free standing display or if I could package the rice into packets and put them out in the cafes like the rest of the food they offer....
Another thought is to display all the trash that the arts building accumulates- sorted out into what is actually trash, compostable, recyclable, etc. Still thinking on how to work in the guerrilla aspect in on that though....

DesignThinking and Faberge Eggs

There's a new blog by Tim Brown on Design Thinking, somehow I think this will be a must read.... (via Core77)

also the Instructables website has a Make a Faberge Egg contest! I can't wait to see what people come up with, and maybe I can squeeze in making an egg.... (via Make)

Monday, September 15, 2008

So while running yesterday, I got onto a train of thought about wondering whether good design needs to be the same or overlap with green design. My instinct is that they don't. But I'm having trouble finding examples of that, and I'm not sure if that's because the good design boom hit at pretty much the same time as the eco-design craze or if at this point in time, good design means green design.
I tend to think of good design as anything that communicates or interacts well with its audience. By "well" I mean products that seamlessly fit into their place and purpose. Objects that make tasks easier or simpler, things that really do make a difference in the way people live/use/work. These can be objects that you didn't have a need for beforehand, but now you can't think to do without. So they aren't necessary design, just good design. Or smart design. That may be a better phrase.
I tend to think that while smart design doesn't need to have overlap with green design, eco-awareness is so big right now that it tends to. Should it?
I've been reading Cradle to Cradle and so far it has left me frustrated and annoyed at it, and also just depressed. I've gotten through the first 3 chapters and I hope it gets better because right now it just makes me want to throw up my hands and say forget it. The message that came through to me is that adressing these issues in the framework that the world exists in right now is pretty much worthless. It's the equivalent of sticking a bandaid on a serious injury. The authors are advocating redoing the enitre framework. Maybe I'm too pessimistic, but I don't see that happening. So I'm left thinking that we're either tilting at windmills or screwed. Cheery.
The reason I tie this in is that they do seem to equate good/smart design with both social design and green design. This may be because of their architecture emphasis, but it leaves me questioning the future of our field (the larger object design field) as we make stuff. Most of which isn't needed, or necessary, or for a larger purpose than personal statement. So where do we fit in?

Friday, September 12, 2008

(De)Light: Liquid Light project from the Royal College of Art
This looks like it could have some great applications for portable lighting and lighting in tough spaces as well as looking really sweet. According to the post, the possibility exists for rechargability- even better! (from Core77)

I love Benjamin Hubert's Yumbrella bowls! (from Designboom)

Also Seizure by Richard Hiorns- chemistry+ art, turning a delapidated flat into a magic cavern....
(from Make) more photos here

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


So one of my Independent Studies this semester is on wearables. By this I mean the integration of fashion and costume into my work. I'm excited to actually things like pattern-making and better sewing skills than my current DIY version- which while it can get the simple jobs done, not pretty. For the first project I'm looking at making a corset using the bone/vein structures from last semester.

Met with David on Monday, and he gave me a tremendous list of people/sites to check out. Also now have ~a dozen books either in hand or requested from the library to read....
So here's some of the people I've been looking at:
Alexander McQueen- Love,love,love. Have for a long time (like a decade+). His aesthetic is spot-on for me.

Lucy Orta- I love the multi-purpose and urban survival aspect.

Thierry Mugler- again Love. Before McQueen and clearly an influence, and in addition to the aesthetic, I also love the theatrical quality of it all...

Francesca Lanzavecchia- amazing mashup of function+ style and repositioning (total Jan word) medical braces as fashion.
also: Hussein Chayalan, Shinmi Park, Gareth Pugh, Junya Watanabe, Troy Hortubise, Rebecca Horn, and Nancy Grossman

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

social design project

Looking around at social problems, one that I react to pretty strongly is the issue of trash. Especially after having just returned to the "real world" from Burning Man, the differences in the level of the population in the preservation and care of their surroundings is vast. I see the genesis of many of the social issues that bother me split into 2 groups: lack of empathy with those different than yourself, and a lack of personal responsibility for your actions. The first set is harder to solve, so for the moment, I'm focusing on the second set.

For me trash falls into this catagory. At Burning Man you have a created city where nothing stands naturally, and is inhabited by upwards of 50,000 people. The event is a Leave No Trace event, everything that comes in, goes out with you. Trash is referred to as MOOP (Matter Out Of Place), and if you see MOOP on the ground, you pick it up. People are expected to be responsible, and it works. A city of 50,000 people cleans up after themselves. Then I come back, and I see trash everywhere. It seems tht you can't get 50 people to clean up after themselves, much less 50,000. So what's the difference? People care. People feel like a real part of the culture and their surroundings. There is no "they", there is only "us". Your actions determine the future.

On to the project. So I have 2 thoughts on possible projects. One is directed at the larger problem of litter. (on left side of sketch) I see trash, and I would pick it up, but I don't have anything to put it into, and carrying around germy trash bare-handed seems like a bad idea. So a solution is to create a carrying device that would contain bags to use to put the trash into. The inspiration for this came from a friends dog leash. He has a clip-on holder that has a roll of doggie bags, so that when you take the dog for a walk, it's convenient and easy to pick up after them. Initial concept is a bracelet that has several bags. Further thoughts have led to the following considerations: using biodegradable and compostable bags- biobags. Jan has a box of them in the office and these are the perfect solution- I don;t want to create more waste in solving waste.... They have a pet size which should work well. The design should be attractive and lightweight enough to wear. Opening for the bags: should they be elegant? Cheeky? Refilling the bags should be easy and simple. Also, what do you do with the filled bags if there is no trash can nearby? Solution: Have a stylish reusable washable bag as the inside liner of the bracelet that can be removed and the bags can go in there. Possible use of antibacterial liner?

Second concept was inspired by Amy- a place to put cigarette butts when there isn't a trashcan/ashtray nearby (on right in sketch). The idea on this is to do a locket where the butt goes in the top either through a hinged opening or a rubber membrane. The locket has an air filter worked in so that the smell is neutralized. The locket would also open on the bottom to allow for easy emptying of the butts. Considerations: easy to insert cigarette butts, spill proof, no smell, easy to clean

social design

I've been thinking on Social Design (since I'm in the class and all) and for my own personal definition, Social Design is designing for the greater good. Considering not only the aesthetics of the piece, but the method and materials if construction, the place and use in society, and what the message of the piece is. For example, a necklace made of recycled materials that is purely for decoration I wouldn't consider to be social design. Pieces that make a statement about society or offer social commentary, and don't propose or promote change I also wouldn't consider social design. A necklace that is partially made of recycled materials that doubles as an air filter or a trash bag would be social design. Social Design form is design that is aiming to change something about the outer world through existing. The change can be small, and the change might not even be noticable, but the intent is there.