Monday, October 26, 2009

Spectrum Showcases Fantasy and Science Fiction Illustrations

Spectrum, the fantasy and science fiction illustration annual, (left) announced that submissions are now being accepted for Spectrum 17. The Call For Entries poster (right) is being sent to illustrators who indicated an interest in entering. This year's poster was designed by comic artist Paolo Rivera.

Spectrum is open to any artist. International entrants are welcome. Students, fine artists, and illustrators are all treated equally. There are no limits on the number of pieces an artist can submit and there is no pre-screening prior to judging.

Spectrum is sold in the mass market through all the major bookstores. Copies are also sent to many art directors and publishers to maximize exposure for the artists featured in the book.

Cathy and Arnie Fenner started Spectrum in 1993 beause there was a tremendous amount of high-quality fantastic-themed art work created each year that wasn't being represented in other annual art books and shows, Spectrum was established to provide creators with a regular showcase for the best fantasy, science fiction, horror, and otherwise uncategorizable artwork created each year.

In 1993 A Call For Entries went out to the arts community and the response was overwhelmingly positive. A blue-ribbon jury convened to make selections from the work submitted and the results appeared in the first full color book, Spectrum 1, published by Underwood Books in 1994. A new installment in the Spectrum series has appeared every year since. Spectrum is designed for readers who enjoy fantasy and science fiction art and serves as a resource for art directors, art buyers, and artists.

Spectrum was the first to specifically feature categories devoted to 3D, comics, and unpublished works. Likewise, Spectrum was the first book to significantly cut the time between the jury's selection and the appearance of the annual: some of the other books appear up to two years after the close of their competitions, whereas Spectrum appears within eight months of our jury's selection.

Click on the images to see them in larger size.
Click on the heading above to go to the Spectrum site.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Shanghai World Expo Provides Chance for Design Exploration

Major world events like the upcoming Expo 2010 Shanghai, China provide good opportunities to look at how different designers approach similar challenges. Expo 2010 in China will run from May 1 to Oct 31, 2010. The theme is Better City, Better Life. There are 70 million expected visitors and 200 participating exhibitors. Most of the participants who construct pavilions are countries (Spain - on left) but some are large businesses like Cisco (right).

Your students can select a country and, with a little research, try to design a pavilion for that country that represents the culture and unique characteristics of the people, land and industry in the country. Students can think about what the pavilion itself will look like, what the exhibits inside will contain and how they will be designed. Students might focus on the general theme Better City, Better Life.

Click on the heading above to follow preparations for the Shanghai Expo 2010.

The Intersection between Engineering and Design

Elementary, middle and high school teachers across the United States competed for thousands of dollars of classroom materials in the Engineering Education Service Center’s first Engineering Curriculum Contest. The winners were selected from over 20 entries and best reflected high levels of creativity, innovation and student engagement.

From Spider Silk to Tsunamis to Mini-Skateboards and Water Purification, this year’s entries were examples of hands-on activities that help students learn and retain more math and science concepts. By choosing to teach engineering, educators can help students make the links between classroom learning, their everyday lives and the wider world.

Winning curriculum is available as a free download on the Engineering Education Service Center’s website The Engineering Education Service Center’s 2009 Curriculum Contest was sponsored by the Engineering Education Service Center in an effort to reward teachers who are tackling this challenge.

Engineering Education Service Center (EESC) is an engineering education company that specializes in providing products for K-12 schools to teach and share the fun of engineering. From curriculum to books, DVDs, posters, T-shirts and other motivational products, EESC aims to make engineering understandable and accessible to everyone.

EESC is directed by Celeste Baine (right). Baine is a biomedical engineer, the director of the Engineering Education Service Center and an award-winning author. EESC has also published many books on various aspects of engineering (left).

Click on the heading above to go to the EESC site.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Visualization is Essential to Thinking

While no state education agency or university recognizes visual literacy as a core skill (like verbal communication and numerical literacy), it is clear that even scientists and mathematicians rely on visualization skills to solve complex problems.

Look carefully at this photo of a Nobel Prize winning scientist in a seminar room. Look at the blackboard and notice that, along with words and mathematical formulas, there are drawings. Look at the tables and notice that there are models of various Fullerene structures. Even consider the fact that these structures get their name from the famous architect, Buckminster Fuller, who realized early on that these were very stable structures and used them as the basis for his famous geodesic domes.

The drawings and models are standard visual techniques used in science, mathematics, the social sciences and the humanities to solve problems too complex, too large, or, in this case, too small without the aid of visual images and objects.

Professor Sir Harold Kroto (right), recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, is shown sitting in one of the seminar rooms of the University of Sussex on the day after his Nobel Prize was announced. He won the prize with Robert Curl and Richard Smalley for their discovery of C60 (Bucky balls) and other Fullerenes, models of which are shown in the foreground.

It is time for state education agencies and universities to quit pretending that visual literacy is not as "scholarly" as mathematical and verbal literacy. It is time for all to admit that human brains use not only words and numbers to process ideas but also sounds, movements, images, objects, environments and experiences.

There is an entire lobe of the brain devoted to visual imaging (the occipital lobe at the back of the brain in both the left and right hemispheres). How can every leading educational institution in the country continue to ignore that visualization is a key way humans learn, think and communicate? How can our school systems pretend America can remain competitive in scientific, technological, mathematical, economic, or any other area, by focusing on English and mathematics to the exclusion of visual thinking?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Sense of Entry: Designing the Welcoming School

One problem with many school designs is that, like many homes, there is a front door that is rarely used by the people who use the building everyday. Students, teachers, and staff often enter the building by a back door off the playground or parking lot. Those entry areas often are drab and unadorned, leading them past garbage dumpsters and loading docks. Is it any wonder that students often are not eager to come to school? The real places people enter the building should be inspirational and inviting, not just the ceremonial front entrance used by visitors.

There was a similar problem at Walt Disney World in Orlando because employees actually enter underneath the park through a long underground corridor. That entry, however, is designed in such a way, with pictures, displays, uniform pickup spots, etc. that by the time the employee is ready to enter the park through a hidden doorway, they are fully "in character" and have forgotten any troubles with which they might have arrived.

In a book entitled A Sense of Entry: Designing the Welcoming School, authors and architects Alan Ford and Paul Hutton show exemplary entryways that embody basic principles of design that have been influential over the centuries.

After providing a history of the entryways of iconic structures such as the Parthenon, the Taj Mahal, the 1958 Seagram Office Building, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the authors demonstrate their theory by looking at successful entryways of schools. A brief text introduces each of the projects, describing the elements of design they believe are vital to a welcoming entryway: "identity"--telling the building's story, "wayfinding"--helping users understand where the main entrance is, "influence of streets"--the school's relationship to the surrounding area, and "procession"--creating layers of entrance that transition users from exterior to interior spaces.

Exploring 25 unique design solutions by Denver-based firm Hutton Ford, this book is a visual celebration and analysis of the role of entrances in architecture. Entrances serve many purposes. From defining the character of the architecture to the more practical aspects of the transition from outside to inside, they momentarily protect us from inclement weather as we launch between exterior and interior, like an environmental buffer to mitigate temperature changes, even allowing our vision to adjust to light changes. In the book, the architects illustrate the important role that successful entrance and movement design can have on creating a positive architectural experience.

Since most architects have not yet learned principles of user-friendly design they offer few design options for the real users of schools. Students and teachers, however, can learn the principles outlined for how to create an inviting front entrance and apply these ideas to making small but important changes to the back and side entrances students and teacher actually use.

Challenge the students to design elements that would make entering their school welcoming and motivational. Christopher Alexander's book "A Pattern Language" also provides a description of key elements of successful entryways.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

One Design Fix for the Future Challenge

Here's an interesting design challenge that could prove to be inspiring for our students (whether or not they actually enter the competition.)

METROPOLIS magazine's 2010 Next Generation Design Competition has issued its call for entries.

Good design determines how well products, spaces, and systems work from the beginning. Metropolis magazine thinks that great design ideas can make things work even better. One Design Fix for the Future challenges you to prove them right—whether you are an architect, interior designer, product designer, landscape designer, graphic designer, communication designer. They’re looking for ONE design fix you can make now in your designed environment—the products you use, your home, your workplace, your city, or any commercial application—that, in scale or as inspiration, can improve our future.

To enter, provide one small (but brilliant and elegant) fix—leading to an incremental (or dramatic) change in sustainability. Your fix needn’t have anything to do with “environmentalist engineering” to make a difference. Concentrate on what you know best, are aching to improve in a way that deploys your training and imagination.

DEADLINE: January 29, 2010 but, since the contest is really for professionals you may just want to make it a class assignment and then compare your students' results with the professional entries when Metropolis releases them.

Click on the heading above for details.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Next Generation of Computing is Fabricating

This is one of those times in which something is so revolutionary (like the automobile and the computer) that we will miss its significance until it has been around for another decade. This article will mean very little to you but ten years from now you will remember having read something about it somewhere. Just file this away and watch as the implications start to roll out in the coming years.

The future of computing lies in the capacity for ordinary people to design and produce real objects the way we design and print documents now. This kind of "printing" is currently referred to simply as fabrication and Neil Gershenfeld (left) wrote a book called "Fab" (right) about the concept a few years ago.

Gershenfeld and his colleagues at MIT have created the Fab Lab program (logo on right) with sites around the world. The implications for developing countries are significant.

The Fab Lab program, with connections to a number of partner organizations, is exploring the emerging possibility for ordinary people in India or Africa to not just learn about science and engineering but actually design machines and make measurements that are relevant to improving the quality of their lives.

Fab labs provide widespread access to modern means for invention. They began as an outreach project from MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA). CBA assembled millions of dollars in machines for research in digital fabrication, ultimately aiming at developing programmable molecular assemblers that will be able to make almost anything. The scaled down Fab labs comprise roughly fifty thousand dollars in equipment and materials that can be used today to do what will be possible with tomorrow's personal fabricators.

Fab labs have spread from inner-city Boston to rural India, from South Africa to the North of Norway. Activities in fab labs range from technological empowerment to peer-to-peer project-based technical training to local problem-solving to small-scale high-tech business incubation to grass-roots research. Projects being developed and produced in fab labs include solar and wind-powered turbines, thin-client computers and wireless data networks, analytical instrumentation for agriculture and healthcare, custom housing, and rapid-prototyping of rapid-prototyping machines.

Fab labs share core capabilities, so that people and projects can be shared across them. This currently includes:

A computer-controlled lasercutter, for press-fit assembly of 3D structures from 2D parts
A larger (4'x8') numerically-controlled milling machine, for making furniture- (and house-) sized parts
A signcutter, to produce printing masks, flexible circuits, and antennas
A precision (micron resolution) milling machine to make three-dimensional molds and surface-mount circuit boards
Programming tools for low-cost high-speed embedded processors

These work with components and materials optimized for use in the field, and are controlled with custom software for integrated design, manufacturing, and project management. This inventory is continuously evolving, towards the goal of a fab lab being able to make a fab lab.

Click on the heading above to hear Gershenfeld talk about Fab Labs at the TED conference.

Looking for a Good Design School?

High School students interested in becoming designers are looking for good design schools to attend after graduating.

Some of the factors that will determine what would be the best design school for any particular student include:
How far are you willing to move from home?
What part of the country do you want to go to school in?
What area of design are you particularly interested in?
How good is your portfolio?
Are you ready for the big time or do you like an intimate, caring environment?
How much can you afford to spend for school?

Brian Hoff (right), who created the website The Design Cubicle in 2008, has provided a useful collection of websites of some of the top design schools. His idea was to use the school's websites to speak for themselves so the list may be more of a reflection of good websites than good design schools but there is surely some overlap there.

The 27 schools on Brian's list range from Cal Arts (left) on the West Coast to Harvard Graduate School of Design on the East Coast and everything in between. There are a few good schools that weren't included but readers have provided those in the comments.

Brian also has several other great articles on his site about things like logo and type design. Click on the heading above to check out the website and see the splash pages of 27 top design schools.

Designers Seek the Coveted G-Mark Sign of the Good Design Awards

The Good Design Awards is a comprehensive program for the evaluation and encouragement of design organized by Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organization (JIDPO).

The award’s parent organization is the Good Design Products Selection System (commonly known as the G Mark system), established in 1957 by the then Ministry of International Trade and Industry (the current Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry). This award system was born out of the belief that design was essential in breaking out of the cycle of poverty in Japan at the time. Since then, the Good Design Award has been given to outstanding designs for more than 50 years in the pursuit of prosperous lives and industrial development. Approximately 35,000 Good Design Awards have been given in continuing these efforts.

The most distinguished designs are selected from those submitted for consideration for the Good Design Awards. JIDPO receives approximately 3,000 submissions from more than 1,000 companies and designers every year. These designs are screened by about 70 design experts, who select and recommend those designs worthy of the Good Design Awards.

The Good Design Awards aims to channel the power of distinctive designs to build prosperous lives and encourage sound industrial development - to brighten and enrich society through design. Design is essential to improving the lives of every individual in the twenty-first century.

Click on the heading above to learn more about the Good Design Awards.

Designing for a Sustainable World Theme of World Usability Day

World Usability Day consists of over 200 events in more than 43 countries held Worldwide on the second Thursday in November each year to raise awareness for the general public, and train professionals in the tools and issues central to good usability research, development and practice.

This year the theme for World Usability Day is Designing for a Sustainable World. According to the organizers, World Usability Day is about making our world work better. It's about "Making Life Easy" and user friendly. Technology today is too hard to use. A cell phone should be as easy to access as a doorknob. In order to humanize a world that uses technology as an infrastructure for education, healthcare, transportation, government, communication, entertainment, work and other areas, we must develop these technologies in a way that serves people first.

World Usability Day 2009 is approaching design from Cradle to Cradle. Coming from a user-centric perspective and looking beyond form and function, they are exploring the impact design has on our World. The ‘Cradle to Cradle’ approach is to start the design with the premise of using materials that can fully enter a new life cycle by either going back to nature or going back into the design process as a new product. This holistic approach to sustainable design shows how usability can apply to all of what we do and build.

Designing for a Sustainable World focuses on how our products and services impact our world. They look at all products and services, whether they are buildings, roads, consumer products, business, services or healthcare systems; throughout their life cycle. The impact focuses on - our environment, energy, water, soil, and more. Have the materials and processes that have been used been recycled and are they re-usable? Are they user and environmentally friendly? These are questions we all must consider as we design, purchase, use and dispose of products each and every day.

World Usability Day was founded in 2005 as an initiative of the Usability Professionals' Association to ensure that services and products important to human life are easier to access and simpler to use.

Click on the heading above to learn about this years event.

Job Descriptions Reveal Education Needed for Designers

Below is a job description for a position seeking a designer to work as an Information Architect. It occurred to me that the description, not unlike many design job descriptions, illustrates two important points about design education. One is that designers do a lot of things other than make things look pretty. The other is that design education is a solid foundation for general education because it includes a wide range of knowledge, skills and abilities.

Here is part of an actual job description under the category

* 4+ years working as an information architect or interaction designer including experience designing organization, navigation, and search for, complex consumer websites and simpler marketing microsites
* Versed in user-centered design methods and techniques
* Experience conducting competitive reviews that led to strategic insights and recommendations
* Excellent verbal, written, analytical and process oriented skills
* Experience working on multiple projects simultaneously
* Prepare IA documentation: use cases, interaction models, site maps, wireframes, workflows
* Ability to work collaboratively on multi-disciplinary teams and with clients
* Thorough understanding of common web and digital interface conventions
* Experience working beyond the web site with emerging mediums: mobile, social, gaming, kiosk
* Proficient in InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Visio, Microsoft Office
* Understanding of Flash, HTML, DHTML, JavaScript and Content Management Systems
* Varied client and/or agency experience a plus

Have your students look at a few job descriptions for positions they might like to have when they are older. Show some design job descriptions to your school guidance counselor so they take what you do more seriously.

Media Piracy or Fair Use?

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) (left) is trying to protect its movies and other content from being illegally copied and sold on the streets, sometimes even before the movies make it to theaters. The MPAA is the trade association of the big Hollywood film companies whose mission it is to look out for the interests of the film studios.

Some media piracy is being done for financial gain (often in foreign countries) but other "piracy" is more like people sharing videos with friends. Like the failed attempt to stop the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol during Prohibition from 1919 to 1933, some feel media regulators need to provide more legal alternatives for people to share media because it can't be stopped.

The industries had some success by shutting down The Pirate Bay (TPB) (right) but many of the people who used to use the service have not stopped downloading movies from the Web. According to the Los Angeles Times, The Pirate Bay is "one of the world's largest facilitators of illegal downloading", and "the most visible member of a burgeoning international anti-copyright or pro-piracy-movement". The Pirate Bay has over 3,800,000 registered users.

In 2006, The Pirate Bay's website servers in Stockholm were raided by Swedish police, causing it to go offline for three days.
In 2009, four administrators of TPB were found guilty of copyright infringement and sentenced to one year in prison and payment of a fine of 30 million SEK (app. $3,620,000 USD). Despite the trial the website remained relatively unaffected.

Media piracy has been around in some form or another for a long time but the Internet and the common practice of file-sharing has changed the rules somewhat. Rather than embracing the new technology or offering fair alternatives to obtaining digital copies of movies, television shows, music, games, etc. the media industries persist in trying to stop the practice of file sharing. The MPAA and the movie studios it serves may have to take advantage of the very system and practice it is currently trying to stop.

Cardboard Construction and Animation

As budgets get tighter with an ailing economy one material that is still easy to come by is cardboard. Regular box cardboard can be used to make models for architecture, product design, and even animation. If you want bigger sheets try appliance stores or you can buy 4' x 8' sheets at cardboard supply places.

The Center for Understanding the Built Environment (CUBE) has a curriculum for developing a Box City - a miniature version of your whole community made out of cardboard.

TreeHugger is a great website promoting environmentally friendly activities that showed some examples of design projects done with cardboard (left and right). Notice that the trick to making good cardboard structures is to create all the details with cardboard and avoid just painting on flat surfaces.

Click on the heading above to see a two-minute video showing how to create and animate a cardboard animated film. The video ends with stop-action shots of the animator moving each piece incrementally between clicks of the camera.

The story below includes a link to an interesting animated cardboard film.

Portfolios and Show Reels for Motion Designers

Any design student hoping to have a career in motion graphics, animation, film, advertising or other areas involving motion graphics will need to have, in addition to a portfolio, what is called a show reel. A show reel, sometimes called a demo reel and sometimes written as one word (showreel), is a compilation of motion graphics work edited to show the range of work you have done.

Wikipedia describes it like this: A demo reel, or show reel, is the motion picture or video equivalent of an artist's portfolio. It is typically used as a tool to promote the artist's skill, talent, and experience in a selected field, such as acting, directing, cinematography, editing, special effects, animation, or video games and other graphics. The demo reel is frequently submitted with a résumé to a prospective employer. When a reel contains scenes from actual productions, a shot list or credit list may also be submitted to describe the artist's specific involvement in each portion of the reel. While the usage of video excerpts on such showreels can be regarded as a breach of copyright, it is generally accepted in the film industry to do so, as it is the only tool of an artist to actually self-promote her/his work.

Click on the heading above to see an amazing animation done with large sheets of cardboard (left) by a Dutch designer named Sjors Vervoort (right). Then go to his website to see his portfolio and showreel at

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Can Design Transform the World?

There is a new book from Penguin called Glimmer: How Design Can Transform Your Life and Maybe Even the World (left) by Warren Berger. The book investigates the “glimmer” moments in design: the moment when a new solution to an old problem is revealed. It features the insights of designer Bruce Mau (right) going beyond the how-to approach and looking at design as a force of change in today’s world.

Berger talked with over 200 leading design experts and discovered ten major principles of “design thinking”, which he outlines in the book. They include innovative ways to solve community problems and improving your creative flow.

The author says, "What designers do, first of all, is to question the way things work. Then they begin to reimagine the world we live in, and come up with new alternatives—fresh ways of doing things. This can run the gamut from a new way to peel a potato to a new way to design healthcare systems. In the book, I take readers inside the design studio of Bruce Mau, while also profiling other designers, primarily to study how they approach problems—how they seek out new possibilities and bring them to life. So I interviewed, observed, and analyzed quite a few designers, including non-professionals who are designing everyday objects that solve problems. But the one designer that I really focus on is Mau."

Berger chose to focus on Bruce Mau because he is a superstar in the design world and an inspiration to a lot of young designers. He’s controversial and outspoken, and talks about how design can save the world which some people think is overly-ambitious. In his own book "Massive Change", (right) Mau evokes a sense that, with all the problems of the world right now, this is actually a great moment in time – a time of amazing possibilities. It’s a time when we, as a society and as individuals, can really design a better future.

Click on the heading above to go to Bruce Mau's website.

Visualization Plays a Big Role in New Math Standards

The so called "core" standards that only include English and math still have to acknowledge the powerful role visualization plays in learning. Two of the eleven mathematics standards are about the use of images, visual objects, and spaces to learn and express mathematical concepts. Schools and universities, none-the-less, refuse to acknowledge visual communication as a core skill.

Standard 7 is about Modeling.
Modeling uses mathematics to help us make sense of the real world—to understand quantitative relationships, make predictions, and propose solutions.

A model can be very simple, such as a geometric shape to describe a physical object like a coin. Even so simple a model involves making choices. It is up to us whether to model the solid nature of the coin with a three-dimensional cylinder, or whether a two-dimensional disk works well enough for our purposes. For some purposes, we might even choose to adjust the right circular cylinder to model more closely the way the coin deviates from the cylinder.

Standard 8 is about Shape.
From only a few axioms, the deductive method of Euclid generates a rich body of theorems about geometric objects, their attributes and relationships. Once understood, those attributes and relationships can be applied in diverse practical situations—interpreting a schematic drawing, estimating the amount of wood needed to frame a sloping roof, rendering computer graphics, or designing a sewing pattern for the most efficient use of material.

Understanding the attributes of geometric objects often relies on measurement: a circle is a set of points in a plane at a fixed distance from a point; a cube is bounded by six squares of equal area; when two parallel lines are crossed by a transversal, pairs of corresponding angles are congruent.

Students understand that:
Shapes and their parts, attributes, and measurements can be analyzed deductively.
Mathematical shapes model the physical world, resulting in practical applications of geometry.
They can solve problems involving similar triangles and scale drawings and
apply properties of right triangles and right triangle trigonometry to solve problems.

Click on the heading above to see the standards.

Design Museums Provide Lesson Ideas

Design museums have educators on staff who create lesson ideas for school groups who visit their museums. These lessons can often provide inspiration for ways we can teach design in schools.

In the United States, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum provides hundreds of design lessons that were developed and tested by teachers in every subject area. In the UK, the London Design Museum provides programs specially developed for school age kids.

GET INTO PRODUCT DESIGN (right) is a 3-day course at the Design Museum in London for 12-16 year olds inspired by the influential style of Dieter Rams, where students explore innovative product design with industry professionals to create their own product design solutions and prototypes.

MARVELOUS MARISCAL (left) gives students a chance to create a giant comic strip inspired by the work of Javier Mariscal and add 3D designs models to a magical Mariscal landscape. Students get help from a team of talented designers and are inspired by the work of Javier Mariscal to create kooky cartoon chararcters.

MAKE A MODERN HOME is a workshop for budding young architects and 3D designers. Taking inspiration from the craftsmanship and building techniques of leading UK architect David Chipperfield, students use construction kits from Meccano to make a 3D model of their ideal modern home with expert designers and architects on hand to assist and a bumper range of design materials to choose from for making a landscape for their home,

Click on the heading above to go to the Design Museum in London's website.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cumulus is an International Association for Design Schools

Cumulus is an International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media which have a common desire to enhance the quality of education through co-operation, and student and teacher exchanges within the European Union Erasmus program.

Cumulus positions itself as the only global association to serve art and design education and research. It is a forum for partnership and transfer of knowledge and best practices.

The 150 member institutions represent most of the European countries and during past years several countries around the world have also joined Cumulus. Member universities now represent 42 different countries. They are represented by people like Luisa Collina (left) from Milan, Christian Guellerin (center) from France, and Fred Murrell (right) from the USA who argue that education is at a point where thinking globally is not just a nice idea, it is a necessity.

The University of Art and Design in Helsinki and the Royal College of Art in London, in co-operation with Danmarks Designskole, Gerrit Rietvelt Academy, Universität Gesamthochschule Essen and Hochschule für Angewandte Kunst in Wien initiated the Cumulus Network in 1990. The Network was transferred to Cumulus Association in 2001.

Cumulus has been a pioneer in developing jointly organized MA-programs, intensive workshops, projects and biannual conferences. It has published 'working papers' which have documented the discussions and seminars in conferences, and a First Aid Kit to help students and professors in planning mobility actions.

Click on the heading above to go to the Cumulus website.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dean Kamen Helped Develop Coca-Cola's New Dispenser

We had an earlier story about the new Coca-Cola fountain dispenser called Freestyle (left). There is an interesting connection to inventor Dean Kamen (right), the developer of the Segway.

Kamen's company, DEKA, (DEan KAmen) had already developed a wearable system for injecting insulin for diabetics. Coca-Cola talked to him about using that technology, which carefully measures and mixes liquids, to help them develop a new way to mix Coca-Cola fountain drinks. The result is Coca-Cola's Freestyle fountain dispenser.

The Freestyle won't be showing up in every fast-food restaurant immediately, but the new fountain is seen as the biggest single innovation in Coca-Cola's history. Tests have already shown that, in addition to providing fresher-tasting drinks, the Freestyle system boosts sales, provides a greater number of choices, and, since the machines communicate electronically, can provide instant data on sales of each product.

Kamen was paid a fee by Coca-Cola but, since he is already a billionaire, what was most important to him is leveraging Coca-Cola's global beverage distribution system for his dream of figuring out how to get clean water to every child in the world.

For years, Kamen's company, DEKA, has been developing an innovative water-purification machine. To get the machines into production, however, to scale it up, and bring down the cost curve, Kamen needs a big company like Coca-Cola. Kamen's scheme aligns with Coca-Cola's business because they depend on clean water—the single biggest ingredient in the company's products.

What if, while meeting Coca-Cola's desire to distribute it's products around the world, Dean Kamen's dream of providing life-saving clean water to kids around the world could be met at the same time?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Where the Wild Designers Are

The upcoming movie "Where the Wild Things Are" is a designer's dream. Start with the book by one of the world's great illustrators, Maurice Sendak, add one of the world's most innovative film makers, Spike Jonze, and then roll in cinematographer Lance Acord, (Jonze's collaborator on "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation"), and production designer K.K. Barrett and you get one of the most visually stunning adaptations of a children's book to film. This, from start to finish, is a movie made by designers.

Despite school counselors and parents still telling students not to go into art if they want to make a living, design is one of the biggest career fields for visual thinkers today. Like so many movies, designers play a huge role in making stories come to life on the screen. Sit through the credits of most movies today and you will see the names of some of the top design firms followed by the designers who work for them. Most films employ several different design companies who specialize in particular visual effects.

Here is a sampling of the people and jobs just in the Art Department for Where the Wild Things Are:
KK Barrett, Production Designer
Lisa Thompson, Set Decorator
Will Hawkins, Art Director - Pre-Production Art Director
Jocelyn Thomas, Art Department Coordinator
Honi Keller, Set Dresser
Josephine Johnson, Art Department - Assistant Art Finisher
Josh Sheppard, Storyboard Artist
Steve Orefice, Painter - Paint Foreman
Jack Elliott, Greensman
Michael Bell, Set Designer
Maya Shimoguchi, Model Maker
Glen Hanz, Sculptor
Stefan Dechant, Illustrator
Ralph Moser, Concept Artist
Andy Robinson, Scenic Artist
Bo Haldane, Assistant Set Dresser
Kent Jones, Sculptor
Daniel Engle, Model Maker
Tel Stolfo, Set Designer
Mario Peraic, Greensman - Greens Foreman
Eric Ramsey, Storyboard Artist
Cheree Miller, Art Department Coordinator
Tuesday Stone, Art Department - Art Department Assistant
Ben Barber, Set Dresser
Christopher Tandon, Art Director - Pre-Production Art Director
Rohan Dawson, Set Decorator - Set Finisher
Hugh Anderson, Set Decorator - Set Finisher
Jeff Thorp, Art Director
Flynn Kavanagh, Set Dresser - On Set Dresser
Anna McGrath, Art Department - Art Department Assistant
Federico D'Alessandro, Storyboard Artist
David Swanson, Greensman - Greens Leading Hand
Sonny Gerasimowicz, Set Designer - Wild Things Designed for the Screen
Cleve Gunderman, Model Maker - Mold Shop Supervisor
David Simon, Sculptor
David Smith, Sculptor
Brian Rae, Model Maker - Mold Department
Paul Daffy, Greensman
Darryl Henley, Storyboard Artist
Adam Mull, Art Department - Art Department Assistant
John Santucci, Set Dresser - On Set Dresser (2nd Unit)
Lucinda Thomson, Art Director
Gus Lobb, Set Decorator - Set Finisher
Tim Disney, Art Director - On Set Art Director
Oliver Anderson, Set Decorator - Set Finisher
Adrienne Ogle, Set Dresser - On Set Dresser (2nd Unit)
Duke Cullen, Art Department - Creatures Art Supervisor
Glen Johnson, Greensman
Ray Harvie, Storyboard Artist
Jeffrey Small, Model Maker - Mold Department
Carol Koch, Sculptor
Lyle Conway, Sculptor
Michael O'Brien, Model Maker - Mold Department
Pilo Silva, Greensman - Greens Foreman
Kevin MacCarthy, Storyboard Artist
Robin Dufay, Art Department - Art Finisher
Claire Kaufman, Set Decorator
Ben Bauer, Art Director - On Set Art Director (2nd Unit)
Peter Andrus, Art Director
Amanda Nelis, Art Department - Art Department Production Assistant
Michael A Jackson, Storyboard Artist
Jaudi Negri, Greensman
James Ojala, Model Maker - Mold Department
Nick Vanderwert, Sculptor - Sculptor Leading Hand
Charles Kuc, Sculptor
Jason Barnett, Model Maker - Mold Department
Johnny Torres, Greensman
Frank Musitelle, Greensman
Thomas Hebert, Model Maker - Mold Department
Anna Meszaros, Sculptor
Daniel Power, Sculptor
Erika Olson, Model Maker - Mold Department
Edward Guerrero, Greensman
Brant Lavalla, Model Maker - Mold Department
Danny Fraser, Sculptor
Hamish Alderson-Hicks, Sculptor
Ken Niederbaumer, Model Maker - Mold Department
Amber Skowronski, Model Maker - Mold Department
Lis Johnson, Sculptor
Maudie Brady, Sculptor
Timothy Phoenix, Model Maker - Mold Department
Russell Lukich, Model Maker - Mold Department
Melanie Poudroux, Sculptor
Jonathan Lawrence, Sculptor
Selenia Rios, Model Maker - Mold Department
Anthony Lucas, Model Maker - Model Unit Supervisor
Patrick Meade, Sculptor
Paul Allen, Sculptor
Simon Bowland, Sculptor
Steve Carroll, Sculptor

There is an even longer list for the designers of visual effects, not to mention wardrobe, hair, and makeup design. Show this list to your students, their parents, and your school guidance counselor.
Click on the heading above to see the trailer for the movie.

Designers Are Beginning to Think Bigger

Rather than designing the next useless gadget, designers are trying to think bigger and solve large real-world problems by switching their mindset from "designing" to "design thinking". This is an approach that moves designers from designing products to designing systems. It moves people from being consumers to being participants.

Tim Brown (right) is the CEO of innovation and design firm IDEO, taking an approach to design that digs deeper than the surface. Having taken over from founder David E. Kelley, Tim Brown carries forward the firm's mission of fusing design, business and social studies to come up with deeply researched, deeply understood designs and ideas - IDEO calls it "design thinking."

IDEO is the kind of firm that companies turn to when they want a top-down rethink of a business or product -- from fast food conglomerates to high-tech startups, hospitals to universities.

IDEO has designed and prototyped everything from a life-saving portable defibrillator to the defining details at the groundbreaking Prada shop in Manhattan to corporate processes.

Click on the heading above to hear Tim Brown discuss the idea of thinking bigger at a TED conference.

Systems Design Replaces Product Design

The cutting edge of design today is, rather than designing a product, designing an entire system related to the product. For example, rather than designing a running shoe, design a whole system for runners to have their shoes track their distance, time, pace, calories burned, etc., connect it to their iPod, iPhone, or wrist band and let them compare or compete with other runners around the world.

The Nike + is an example of such a systems design. When you buy a pair of Nike shoes you can become part of a world-wide running community. In 2008, Nike + was launched with the Nike+ Human Race - the World’s Largest Running Event. Nike hosted race events in 25 cities around the world, and by logging into, every city and every road became a race-day course.

By using tools like Nike+ and the Nike+ SportBand, people participated from anywhere: a country road, an urban sidewalk or at one of the 25 designated Nike+ Human Race cities. The Nike+ Human Race took place anywhere a registered runner chose to hit the pavement. Nike organized 25 physical race cities, but the Nike+ Human Race was open to everyone, everywhere. If you don’t live in a race city, you just signed up at to participate and run in your city. Using Nike + iPod or Nike+ SportBand runners tracked their miles on race day and then downloaded miles on to have their results officially counted as part of the race.

The 25 race cities had finish-line parties with major bands performing and included:
Austin, Bogotá. Buenos Aires, Caracas, Chicago, Istanbul, London, Los Angeles, Lima, Madrid, Melbourne, Mexico City, Munich, New York, Paris, Quito, Rome, São Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, Warsaw, and Vancouver.

Click on the heading above to see a video about the program.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

AIGA is the Organization for the World's Greatest Designers

AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) counts among its 20,000 members some of the most influential designers in the world, like Michael Beirut, Chip Kidd and Clement Mok.

Michael Bierut (left) leads a team of graphic designers at Pentagram who create identity design, environmental graphic design and editorial design solutions. He has won hundreds of design awards and his work is represented in several permanent collections including: the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York; the Library of Congress in Washington, DC; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA); the Denver Art Museum; the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg, Germany; and the Museum für Gestaltung in Zürich, Switzerland. He was the national president of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) from 1998 to 2001 and is a senior critic in graphic design at the Yale School of Art.

Chip Kidd (right) is associate art director at Knopf, an imprint of Random House. Turning out jacket designs at an average of 75 a year, Kidd has freelanced for Doubleday, Farrar Straus & Giroux, Grove Press, HarperCollins, Penguin/Putnam, Scribner and Columbia University Press in addition to his work for Knopf. Kidd also supervises graphic novels at Pantheon, and in 2003 he collaborated with Art Spiegelman on a biography of cartoonist Jack Cole, Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to Their Limits. His output includes cover concepts for books by Mark Beyer, Bret Easton Ellis, Haruki Murakami, Dean Koontz, Cormac McCarthy, Frank Miller, Michael Ondaatje, Alex Ross, Charles Schulz, Osamu Tezuka, David Sedaris, Donna Tartt, John Updike and others. His design for Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park novel was carried over into marketing for the film adaptation. Oliver Sacks and other authors have contract clauses stating that Kidd design their books.

Clement Mok (far right) is a designer, software publisher/developer, author, and design patent holder. He has founded several design-related businesses — Studio Archetype (acquired by Sapient), CMCD and NetObjects, Inc.. From 1998 until 2001, he was Chief Creative Officer of Sapient. Currently, he leads a new subscription-based royalty-free stock image business and consults on a variety of product development projects. In 1996, Mok set out his design philosophy in his book Designing Business. Most recently, he published the second edition, Designing Business 2.0 (2000), which highlighted design application and business principles within the context of today's digital media. Mok currently serves on the board of trustees of the Art Center College of Design, the board of directors of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and sits on the advisory boards of numerous technology companies and colleges.