Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Interviews with Top Designers

Design Matters with Debbie Millman is an opinionated and provocative internet talk radio show. The show combines a stimulating point of view about graphic design, branding and cultural anthropology. In a business world dependent on change, design is one of the few differentiators left.

Explore the challenging and compelling canvas of today’s design world with Debbie Millman and her weekly guests live every Friday from 3-4pm est. Listen to archived shows with design luminaries like Milton Glazer, Stefan Sagmeister, John Maeda, Ellen Lupton, and others.

Season Five of Design Matters launched on Friday, January 18th at 3PM on the Voice America Business Network with rock-star cover designer Chip Kidd.

VoiceAmerica is now the industry leader in Internet talk radio, and Design Matters has over 150,000 listeners. They were also voted a "favorite podcast" on IF's Marketing Podcast survey at, and the show is available as Podcasts on iTunes, where over 45,000 people download the show every month.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Take a Look at the Future

Stretch your mind! What comes after 4D? Here is a conference on the 5th Dimension - Immersive Design!

This international conference, October 4-5, 2008 in Long Beach, CA, claims to be the first cross-disciplinary, cross-media conference - with leading creative visionaries exploring the convergence of visual language and technology in narrative media.

This is a conference for and about visual storytellers -
production designers, art directors, architects, animators, game builders, digital and visual designers
- to blaze a path for the future of content creation for the next generation.

Even if you don't go to the conference, check out the speakers and topics to see where art and design education will be in the next 10 years.

Think about this quote:
"The tools have become so good, so fast, so nuanced, that we are now used to being masters of the design universe, true gods of virtual creation - where just because we can think it, we can make it so."

Check it out at

Monday, April 28, 2008

People Who Love to Draw

One of the problems for young people who like to draw is that they have very few chances to see drawings or to meet other people who like to draw. One of the best places to see the greatest number of people who love to draw is in what is often called "Artist's Alley" at major comic book conventions like ComiCon and Wizard World. (

At ComiCon in New York City, for example, there were hundreds of artists in Artist's Alley sitting at tables to chat with you, show you their work, give you an autograph and even do a sketch for you. They will also often look at your work and give you advice on what to work on so bring your sketchbook.

Some of the people are young and trying to break into the field. Others are accomplished artists with distinguished publication records. Others are independent comic producers and self-publishers. There are men and women of many ethnic backgrounds. Some are writers, some are artists, some are pencillers and some are inkers.

Considering what there is to see, these conferences are relatively inexpensive - $15-20 a day or $45 for the weekend.

There is no place else to see so many artists who love to draw in one place at the same time.

Figure Drawing

Many art schools no longer require life-drawing classes because few contemporary artists do figurative work anymore. Animators and comic book artists, however, are required to be masters of Florentine Renaissance style figure-drawing.

According to Dave Master, former Director of Artistic Development for Warner Brothers Animation, anyone interested in working in animation or comics should have examples of Renaissance-style figure-drawing in their portfolios. Companies don't usually want to see drawings of super-heroes or existing characters (especially their own) but prefer to see straight life-drawing examples from the model of people and animals in motion.

Perhaps one of the top figure-drawing experts working today is Jim Lee (right), founder of WildStorm comics, who redefined both Superman and Batman in multipart stories he drew while still running his business. Drawing a monthly, 22-page comic while doing all the administrative and public relations work that comes with being the head of a publishing company is a tremendous accomplishment. Creating drawings so striking that they redefine two of the most famous iconic comic characters in history is beyond imagination.

Here is Jim Lee's ink (before coloring) of the cover of issue 608 of Batman and Robin: The Boy Wonder which is considered to be one of the greatest Batman covers every created. While the musculature of the figure is exaggerated because it represents a super-hero, this is a masterful lesson in foreshortening and dynamic composition.

I heard Jim Lee say to a hopeful young comic artist that if he is drawing 2 hours a day (after school or work) that isn't enough! Anyone serious about being good enough to make it in the competitive world of comics has to begin drawing 6-8 hours a day. When you get into the business, according to Lee, you will be drawing 8-10 hours a day (and more) - start doing it now to get into good enough shape just to get into the business.

Three-Point Perspective

Art Teachers usually do lessons in perspective. This usually includes non-linear perspective (placement, size, overlapping, color, saturation, etc.), 1-pt. perspective and 2-pt. perspective. For examples of perspective drawing in the Art World we have to begin looking back at the Renaissance and end somewhere after the Impressionists. Very few contemporary artists use these skills today.

The most common applications of perspective drawing today are not in Art but in Visual Culture, Design and Visual Communication. Comic book artists and animators are masters of 3-Point Perspective.

At the right is a background sketch by comic book artist Joel Gomez showing the kind of work expected of comic book artists and animators. These skills are essential for Designers and Visual Communicators but less important for contemporary Artists today. Check out a great video interview of Joel at

Serious animation and design students should know that this is the level of perspective drawing they should be striving for. For continuity, students could be introduced to non-linear perspective in elementary grades, 1 pt. perspective in upper elementary grades, 2 pt. perspective in middle school and 3 pt. perspective in high school. Anyone interested in working in animation or comics should have something like the image to the right in their portfolios.

People who don't plan to become professional designers should none-the-less understand the principles of 3 pt. perspective, be able to recognize it when they see it, and have an appreciation for the tremendous talent and skills of comic artists and animators.

Design Science

Art is usually linked with the Arts and Humanities and when we think of interdisciplinary work we usually think about art along with music, dance, theatre and the social sciences.

Design, being an application of visual learning, is easier to link with science and technology which are also applications.
Fritjof Capra's new book, "The Science of Leonardo", helps us see how many of the thousands of pages of Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks are more about sicence, technology and design than they are about art.

R. Buckminster Fuller referred to the connection between design, science, technolology, and engineering as "Design Science".
Books by Henry Petroski and Donald Norman are excellent resources for this line of thinking.

Design educators need to work closely in schools with science, technology, media specialists and computer science teachers the way designers work with engineers, scientists and computer scientists in their work.

Leonardo da Vinci was a Designer

Leonardo da Vinci is often thought of mainly as an Artist but, if we wanted to be more precise, much of his work should be considered Design, and still other work is a form of Visual Communication we would refer to today as Scientific or Medical Illustration.

One of da Vinci's designs for a parachute was actually tested successfully recently. He also did designs for vehicles, tanks, cities, and a variety of other designs.

Here is one of many good sites for more information:

A recent book called "The Science of Leonardo" by Fritjof Capra talks about these "non-art" aspects of da Vinci's work that would be more accurately referred to sometimes as Design and other times as Visual Communication.

John Maeda Becomes President of RISD, June 2008

John Maeda, designer, will be leaving his position at MIT's Media Lab to become the President of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). (John and I are pictured here following a presentation he did at the University of Pennsylvania April 23, 2008.)

See a video of John talking about his ideas regarding his new position by clicking the title of this entry above or at

John's recent book "The Laws of Simplicity" is drawing national attention. Check out

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The History of Design

Anyone teaching art history (or any history for that matter) should inlcude important design figures who have shaped the world.

All students, not just design students, should know about:

Frank Lloyd Wright - included in the top 100 Americans
Raymond Loewy (to the right) - the father of Industrial Design
Paul Rand (on the left) - the father of Graphic Design
Frederick Law Olmsted - the father of Park Design
Walt Disney - a pioneer in Experience Design
Haddon Sunblom - the creator of Santa Clause as we know him today.
Charles Eames and the Eames chair

And then there are a bunch of contemporary designers who have already entered the status of design "icons":

Bill Stumpf and the Aeron Chair
Frank Gehry and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain
Oleg Cassini and fashion design
Will Wright and game design (the Sims)
Philippe Starck and product design
William Ivy Long and costume design
David Rockwell and set design

Why should everyone know these people? Because they have helped shape the history of the world as much as any other world leaders.
Who would you add to this list of designers everyone should know?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Making a Model of a Concept Car

Go to the Links at the left and click on Auto Design (model making) then, under the picture (to the far right), click on Recap to see a video of a full-size car being modeled out of clay at the LA Auto Show. This gives us a great glimpse into how we could teach model-making to students.

Auto designers actually make a model full-scale just like this but, for class purposes, groups of students could do a smaller version. Don't make it too small because it is important to get the flow of the lines.§ionparameter=exhibitions2008Autoshow

The clay used for these models is a plasticine type clay that isn't designed for firing like the clay used in traditional ceramics classes. Some model-makers use Super Sculpey because it can be sanded to a smooth finish after being hardened in an oven.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


This website is perfect for designers interested in environmentally conscious discussions and connections.
Begin checking it out now to develop ideas for design projects to honor Earth Day next year.

Milan Design Week

If you're looking for examples of product design you can't go wrong with this site:

The coverage of Milan Design Week is extensive
and teachers have access to a vast collection of product design images from around the world.
There are many inspirational works for students to analyze, critique, imitate, and use for ideas in general.

There are more designers and designed objects at Milan Design Week
than all of the other major design shows in the world combined.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Toy Design

Here is an event for anyone interested in Toy Design
who can make it to MIT in May.
Check out this website for great materials about toy/product design!

Design Dictionary

Here is a great resource for any design educator.

Design Dictionary: Perspectives on Design Terminology

(Board of International Research in Design) by Michael Erlhoff, Timothy Marshall, L. Bruce, and S. Lindberg (Paperback - Jan 28, 2008)
$54.95 Paperback: 472 pages blurb:
This dictionary provides a stimulating and categorical foundation for a serious international discourse on design. It is a handbook for everyone concerned with design in career or education, who is interested in it, enjoys it, and wishes to understand it.

110 authors from Japan, Austria, England, Germany, Australia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the United States, and elsewhere have written original articles for this design dictionary. Their cultural differences provide perspectives for a shared understanding of central design categories and communicating about design. The volume includes both the terms in use in current discussions, some of which are still relatively new, as well as classics of design discourse. A practical book, both scholarly and ideal for browsing and reading at leisure.

Design Squad TV show for Teens

Design Squad Season 2 Premieres
Season 2 of Design Squad premiered on April 2 with an innovative, eco-friendly Cardboard Furniture design challenge from IKEA. And even though the season has started, it’s not too late to join in the excitement.

All season long, it’s a crash course Design Squad style as host and twenty-something mechanical engineer Nate Ball guides eight new contestants in 13 half-hour episodes as they compete at building Hockey Net Targets for a Boston Bruins player, designing Underwater Prostheses for an amputee dancer, and developing and racing Gravity Bikes (no pedals!) with a little help from famed inventor and founder of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), Dean Kamen.

Keeping their eyes on the grand prize—a $10,000 college scholarship provided by the Intel Foundation—and their cool when things get hot, the Design Squad cast soon discovers that good design, a little humor, and of course engineering (!) can make anything possible. Check your local listings for a PBS station near you.

To watch streaming episodes and more, check out And get kids in your community excited about using Design Squad at

Join in a discussion about the relationship between Design and Engineering at the social network site for design:
Go to the Design Thinking Group to find the discussion.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

American Institute of Architects Convention in Boston

Last year the AIA 2007 National Convention and Design Exposition was in San Antonio. This year the 2008 convention will take place in Boston, May 15–17 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The 2007 theme was Growing Beyond Green and this year the focus of the Boston convention, titled We the People, will explore the power of architecture on behalf of all people and society.

Registration for the AIA 2008 National Convention and Design Exposition opened December 10th. Please refer to the website for further information regarding this year's event including enhancements to the continuing education programs, a wide array of networking and business events , and tours highlighting Boston's architectural history as well as surrounding areas.

International Contemporary Furniture Fair

Public Day at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF)
Tuesday, May 20, 2008 10:00 AM EDT (9:45 AM Doors) - 4:00 PM EDT
at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center - New York City

Those who aren't trade professionals can still go to ICFF on Public Day, May 20. The 20th annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) May 17-20, 2008 will convert New York City's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center into a worldwide wonder for design disciples.

North America's singular showcase for contemporary design, the Fair draws the most intrepid seekers of design truth and design trends to an extraordinary exhibition of the most inspired models of design on the forefront, as well as thought-provoking programs and a schedule of supplementary exhibits and features.

More than 600 exhibitors will display contemporary furniture, seating, carpet and flooring, lighting, outdoor furniture, materials, wall coverings, accessories, textiles, and kitchen and bath for residential and commercial interiors. This assemblage of national and international exhibitors affords the chance to experience the most selective scope of the globe's finest, most creative, individual, and original avant-garde home and contract products handily and temptingly showcased in one venue.

During the Fair's four days, 145,000 net square feet (14,500 net square meters) of the Javits Center will bustle with more than 25,000 interior designers, architects, retailers, designers, manufacturers, representatives, distributors, and developers. Members of the general public are welcome on Tuesday, May 20 when the ICFF is open to all comers.

Milan Furniture Fair

The Milan Furniture Fair is considered to be
the most important design fair in the World.

It is held in Milan City, Italy, this year from Wednesday, April 16, 2008 to Monday, April 21, 2008.

Now it is unlikely that you will actually go to the Fair so what does it have to do with our teaching of design?
For designers it is major news - ranking up their with the SuperBowl, Academy Awards or the Olympics.

You can get design education lesson ideas by following the discussions and press coverage on the Internet. For example, this year there is an interesting discussion about whether or not you prefer the clean lines of Danish Modern or the stylish curves of Italian Style. Showing examples and getting students to talk about their own choices of clothes, decorations in their rooms, etc. in relation to simple clean design or elegant Italian styling would be a good starter discussion for a class of Middle or High School students. Plan a lesson to coincide with the Fair next year so students can join in the excitement.

Just Google "Milan Furniture Fair" and you will see much more than furniture in this most important design event every year. The official web site is good to see but is in Italian so some of the World press coverage in English might be more practical for those of us who can't read Italian.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Design Competition for Technology Student Association

The Technology Student Association fosters personal growth, leadership, and opportunities in technology, innovation, design and engineering. Members apply and integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) concepts through co-curricular activities, competitive events and related programs.

High School Design Challenges
Architectural Modeling
Computer Aided Design (2D-3D)
Cyberspace Pursuit
Desktop Publishing
Dragster Design
Engineering Design
Imaging Technoogy
Manufacturing Prototype- Action Figure
Promotional Graphics
Technical Sketching
Transportation Modeling
Video Game Design

The 30th National TSA Conference
Orlando, Florida
June 28 - July 2, 2008
Rosen Shingle Creek Resort
9939 Universal Boulevard
Orlando , Florida 32819
(407) 996-9939
2008 National TSA Conference Theme: "TSA, Imagine It"

2009 National TSA Conference
Adams Mark, Denver, Colorado
1550 Court Place, Denver, CO 80202
Hotel ph: (303) 893-3333 / fax: (303) 626-2542
June 28 - July 2, 2009
Conference Theme: "Shape the Future"

Engineering by Design

Engineering by Design™ (EbD)
A Standards-Based Model Program

"The Engineering by Design™ Program is built on the belief that the ingenuity of children is untapped, unrealized potential that, when properly motivated, will lead to the next generation of technologists, innovators, designers, and engineers."

The International Technology Education Association's Center to Advance the Teaching of Technology and Science (ITEA-CATTS) has developed the only standards-based national model for Grades K-12 that delivers technological literacy. The model, Engineering byDesign™ is built on Standards for Technological Literacy (ITEA); Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM); and Project 2061, Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS).

The International Technology Education Association (ITEA) is the professional organization for technology, innovation, design, and engineering educators. ITEA's 71st Annual Conference will be held in Louisville, Kentucky on March 26-28, 2009.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Clio Awards for Advertising, Design, and Interactive Media

The 49th Annual Clio Awards and Festival will take place May 14-17, 2008 in South Beach, Florida. The Clio Festival is world's most recognized global awards competition for advertising, design, and interactive media.

The Festival is four days of the best creative work, the best talent in the industry,
and the best parties in South Beach.

Using the Clio Awards entries and winners as a starting point for a lesson about Advertising, Design or Interactive Media is a combination of Design Education and Media Literacy. A simple way to start is to just analyze some of the examples with your class. Who is shown in the images? Who isn't? What do they look like? What are they wearing? How is the image composed? Why? What sounds and music are used? Why?

One of the principles of media literacy is to be aware that all of the hundreds of choices made in composition, color, clothing, people, sound, music, etc. are consciously made by professionals who are experts in manipulating our emotions. Becoming aware of the techniques they use is one way to protect ourselves from being manipulated in ways we aren't even aware of.

Zaha Hadid to design museum in Vilnius

Zaha Hadid and Denise Scott Brown are among the few women who have achieved international status in architecture. In April, 2008 a six member jury awarded Zaha Hadid the architectural competition to develop a design for a proposed museum in Vilnius. The architectural competition is part of a feasibility study undertaken by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and The State Hermitage Museum. The directors of both institutions participated in the jury selection process. In addition to Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, New York, (World Trade Center site) and Massimiliano Fuksas, Rome, had submitted designs for the proposed project.

"The creation of the new center of contemporary and media art in Vilnius would be an important phenomenon in European cultural life,” said Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director of the State Hermitage Museum . “We are honored that The State Hermitage Museum is participating in such a significant undertaking. The project in Vilnius would be an excellent complement to the programme we have recently developed exhibiting contemporary art at the Hermitage."

Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said, “ has set its sights on becoming a premier international center of art. We can think of no better institutions -- The State Hermitage and the Guggenheim Foundation -- to help guide us in this project. Their participation on our jury has led to selecting Zaha Hadid to design the new venue, which we believe will best enable our capital city of Vilnius to achieve this goal.”

An exhibition organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, entitled “Imagining the Future: Design Proposals for a New Museum in Vilnius” will open to the public on April 10th at the Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Center in Vilnius and will allow visitors to view the works of all three architects who competed for the project.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

National Design Week

October 16-22, 2008
Free admission all week!
National Design Week hosts a series of public programs surrounding the National Design Awards, and organizations and schools nationwide sponsor events in the classroom and online.

During National Design Week, Cooper-Hewitt will offer free admission to all Museum visitors. Additionally, the Museum will host a series of free public programs in the Target National Design Education Center and Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden.

Design Events Across the Country
Join individuals, design organizations, and schools nationwide as they host design education events during National Design Week.

Design Philadelphia Moves to October

Part of National Design Week
Inaugurated in Spring 2005, DesignPhiladelphia (DP) returns on October 16 thru 22, 2008, to run in conjunction with National Design Week. Now in its fourth year, this citywide cultural initiative recognizes this region's distinguished design history and celebrates its contemporary significance as a center for the advancement in the design disciplines. Drawing an audience of 160,000 last year, visitor numbers are expected to increase significantly in 2008. For one week, the city of Philadelphia will become an arena of design with over 50 events, including: exhibitions, lectures, gallery openings, book signings, studio tours, and workshops all taking place under the DesignPhiladelphia banner. (To review the 2007 roster of events, go to

The focus of DP is on design with a capital "D" and showcases the disciplines of architecture, graphic design, product design, textiles, fashion, multimedia and urban design. Our mission is to enlighten the public about the breadth and depth of visionary work taking place behind closed doors, to promote student retention, and to foster business growth. Past participants include: star design firms such as Kieran Timberlake Associates, Mio Culture, and Josh Owen LLC; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the American Institute of Architects, Philadelphia Chapter; the Fabric Workshop and Museum; Ed Bacon Foundation; the Industrial Design Society of America; Freeman's Auction House; the seven area universities that offer design degrees, plus a cadre of boutiques and galleries around the city.

The selected theme for DP 2008 is Down to Earth: Evolving Design in the 21st Century, a subject matter that recognizes and gives voice to the enormity of eco-culture initiatives taking place locally, across the country and around the world. A symposium exploring this topic is planned as DesignPhiladelphia's kick-off event.

Still a young enterprise, DP continues to develop and evolve, creating new networks, stimulating growth in the creative sector, increasing the opportunities for trade, and enhancing the reputation of Philadelphia as a place for creative excellence and innovation. We welcome you to join us as a participant and/or a sponsor.

DesignPhiladelphia is directed by Hilary Jay, who is also Executive Director of The Design Center at Philadelphia University. Beth Van Why, architecture and industrial design professor, is the Project Manager. DP is administered through The Design Center at Philadelphia University.

* * * * * * * * *

Contact information: or 215-951-5338

Monday, April 7, 2008

Designing Campaigns

Graphic designer Michael Beirut was interviewed by Newsweek magazine and asked to analyze the graphic designs created to "brand" the presidential candidates. He marvels at the consistency and discipline Obama's campaign seemed to maintain in controlling the visual messages of his campaign.

Students could look at the consistency (or lack of consistency) in the logos, letterheads, publications, etc. of their own schools or local businesses and organizations. They can look at slow changes over time of famous brands like Nike, IBM, Apple, Coca-Cola, etc. How have the looks of these companies (and other companies) changed over time?

If this seems like a trivial aspect in comparison to more serious world issues consider the often quoted idea that we used to distinguish products by price, then quality and now DESIGN. Businesses, Fortune 500 companies, Presidential candidates, education reformers - everyone today - underestimates the importance of design at their peril.

Check out Beirut at and use this as an opportunity to make people more aware of design. For example, the typeface used with Obama's logo is called Gotham. Use this as a chance to make students aware that type styles (fonts) are carefully selected, have names, and were designed by typographers.

Beirut also analyzes the candidate's website designs so that suggests another "teachable moment" for design awareness. Have students look at the websites of the candidates and see what the designs say about the candidates' personalities and beliefs.

Michael Beirut works at one of the top design firms in the world called Pentagram. Check out their website and see what students can find out about this exciting place to work.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Pritzker Prize for Architecture

French architect Jean Nouvel has been awarded the 2008 Pritzker Prize, the highest honor for architecture, for his creative experimentation and buildings that speak to their surroundings.

The annual Pritzker Prize is a good opportunity to call attention to the design field of architecture since the announcement is in the news and there is information available about the architect on line and in print. Create a lesson based on the prize winner's architectural style and philosophy of design. Plan to include a lesson next year to coincide with the announcement of that year's Pritzker Prize.

Complete information about the Pritzker Architecture Prize, past winners, etc. can be found at (Also included in the Links on this blog site.)

Start a collection of Pritzker Prize winners by printing out their photo, bio and examples of their buildings to display in your classroom. This will provide inspiration to students who may be interested in becoming architects. Zaha Hadid was one of the few female architects to be recognized so she would be a good addition to a display.