Saturday, January 31, 2009

Technology Educators Teach Design

Many technology teachers belong to ITEA (International Technology Education Association). One of their magazines is The Technology Teacher and it often includes, among more technology oriented topics, articles about design.

The February 2009 issue of The Technology Teacher (right) has design articles about the resurgence of Industrial Design and one on Gaming in Technology Education.

Three of the ten standards in the Standards for Technological Literacy are:

Standard 8: Students will develop an understanding of the attributes of design;
Standard 9: Students will develop an understanding of engineering design; and
Standard 10: Students will develop an understanding of the role of troubleshooting, research and development, invention and innovation, and experimentation in problem solving.

The formation of an International Design Education Association would bring together educators who work in design from areas such as art, technology, journalism, communication design, architecture, media studies, media literacy, marketing, theater design, and others.

Click on the heading above to check out what ITEA has to offer.

What is good design?

If you were asked to define what "good design" is what would you chose as examples? We assume "good design" has to fulfill its function efficiently. What other criteria would you use?

Tim Brown, president of the world-famous IDEO design group in San Francisco, thinks some of the best examples of good design are the Flip video camera (left) (now available in an HD model) and Microsoft's electronic book, the Kindle (right).

Have your students find examples of what they think is great design.

Massively Popular for Game Designers

If you have students who like to draw and want to work in the video game industry then they need to be prepared a little differently than traditional art students. They will need some specific skills (like how to really draw) to work for game development companies like Electronic Arts or Massive Black (right). They need to be able to draw people, creatures, costumes, props, buildings, and environments. And they will often need to have good skills in creating digital art.

Five years ago, a small group of young artists formed a virtual company called Massive Black. They had met in school, online, and while working at various jobs in the film and games industry. They had $6,000, a passion for art, talent, experience and a desire to create top quality artwork for the top companies in the entertainment world.

Today, Massive Black’s 55 artists provide concept design, storyboards, graphic design, illustration, 2D concept art, 3D modeling, texture painting, 3D animation, and marketing materials to more than 80 entertainment clients worldwide. Currently, about 80 percent of the studio’s work centers on the videogame industry, with the rest spread among film, advertising and marketing, television, and toy manufacturing. With branches in Shanghai and Bangkok, the San Francisco-based company is able to be competitive in cost as well as quality.

Some resources to help you see what kind of preparation students need to have to work in this growing world check out:
Computer Graphics Society - http://features.cgsociety.org

To see the new book about Massive Black and page through the whole book go to http://www.ballisticpublishing.com/books/massiveblack/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=highlights&utm_term=massiveblack&utm_content=textlink&utm_campaign=20090126

Click on the heading above to go to the Massive Black website and explore their work in concept design, animation, illustration and 3D design.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

3-D Continues to Become the Future Movie Standard

There have been two great revolutionary events in the history of film. The first was the transition from silent movies to synchronised sound that happened in the early 1920s, and the second was the use of color in the 1930s. Now more than seventy-five years later, the movie industry is entering the third period of revolutionary change with the switch to 3D.

Thanks to the proliferation of home theaters, movies-on-demand and portable video players, moviegoers have fewer reasons to actually go to a theater to see a movie. Filmmakers and studios have decided the solution is to begin producing movies in 3-D. Disney and Pixar announced that it will release all of its films in 3-D, starting with Bolt, which opened in November. Dreamworks Animation says that by 2009 all of its movies will be released in 3-D. James Cameron is working on big-budget 3-D sci-fi flick called Avatar, and George Lucas is working on remastering all the Star Wars movies in 3-D.

Analysts predict that there will be a $25 bilion 3-D market by 2012 according to a new report from Piper Jaffray. The projected growth amounts to a compound annual growth rate of about 50%, with the analysts forecasting a $5.5 billion 3-D market this year. The technology could mean a boon for the U.S. boxoffice, which the Piper Jaffray team expects to go from flat in 2008 and 2009 to an average gain of 12% year-over-year in 2010 and 2011.

The value for studios is that the technology can't easily be replicated in home theaters (yet); and moviegoers are still willing to pay a premium for 3-D films. Unlike 3-D films of the 1950s, the new wave of 3-D pictures don't blur and they don't cause headaches. In basic terms, a 3-D film is shot in two frames -- one for the right eye and once for the left eye. The projector buffers the left and right streams and projects them in alternation at 144 frames per second, using a "triple flash" technique that shows each frame three times in order to smooth out the picture. The RealD 3-D system also requires theaters to install a special silver screen to maintain the polarization of the image.

While studios move ahead with 3-D production, only about 1,000 out of 38,900 screens in the United States are 3-D.
In order to install a 3-D system, theaters must have digital projectors. And at the moment, there are only 4,600 digital projectors in the United States, according to the National Association of Theater Owners. It costs tens of thousands of dollars to upgrade to digital projectors, and $20,000 to $50,000 more to install a 3-D system. It's a rich investment, and theater owners may not see much of a return on it: Studios, on average, make 55 percent of ticket sales, leaving just 45 percent for the theater owner.

In four or five years, 3-D is expected to become somewhat standard. It may only be a matter of time before 3-D hits the home theater, which would leave theater owners back where they started. Some speculate that 3-D will penetrate home theaters in only four or five years' time. By then, to get viewers to suspend disbelief and become part of the movie, TV, or game experience, it will have to be in 3-D.

Students Can Have a Voice in School Design

In a program run by the American Architecture Foundation, architects and educators interpreted design ideas submitted by students across the U.S. to help rethink school designs for the 21st century.

When thinking about what schools should be like the voice of students should be part of the mix. Ron Bogle (left), president and CEO of the American Architectural Foundation (AAF), says “In the history of our nation, there has never been any serious research into what kids themselves say they really want in their schools.”

Last year’s “Redesign Your School” competition sponsored by the AAF and Target, gathered ideas from students on what schools should be like. Five thousand students registered for the competition, and 250 entries were completed. According to Bogle, many of the students were not sophisticated in the way that they expressed their ideas graphically but the written essays they submitted were rich in ideas. Schools need to include design education in the curriculum so students develop the ability to learn, think and communicate more effectively with images, objects and spaces (right).

Some themes that were not inherent in the entry materials students were given showed up in the students' ideas. These ideas included connection to the outdoors; safety and security; the shape of a learning unit; feelings and emotions. Students want their school’s spaces to be connected to the outdoors and the community. They want them to be refuges of emotional safety and security. They’d like alternative kinds of learning spaces that take advantage of multimedia offerings and accommodate many different learning styles. And, they want their schools to provide fun places for relaxation and socializing.

Last September the AAF convened a gathering of architects, architecture students, and educators. The groups worked for 24 hours to conceptualize new kinds of environments for schools. Click on the heading above to see some of the ideas they came up with.

Designing Schools for the 21st Century

Schools need to become more didactic structures - they need to be environments for learning and also places that teach. Considerations of space allocation and square footage (right) combined with a nod toward making a unique and attractive building (envelope design) (left) are not enough for 21st century schools. The contents of the envelope have to be designed as well as the envelope itself.

Architects have a lot on their plates and don't see their job as extending down to the curricular and pedagogical level of the school. From their perspective, schools are already complex structures that have to be designed by considering the needs of school boards, administrators, teachers and students, what is taught in the school (programmatic needs), the site and local climate, and practical concerns like budgets and building codes. Well-designed schools fulfill the needs of the students and educators, the school's curriculum and philosophy, and the natural and built surroundings.

Some common factors architects consider when designing schools include spaces for all the different types of classes and other functions (programmatic needs); noise (acoustic separation between classrooms); shared space where students can socialize and work together informally; how people find their way around (wayfinding); setting and views of the surroundings (including fenestration); fostering a sense of community within large schools; sustainability; maximizing the use of daylighting, costs and resource-conserving strategies (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning - HVAC); the design (exterior envelope); and creating an environment that is comfortable and conducive to teaching and learning. Sustainability today is not only a strategy for better-performing buildings, but one for better-performing students as well.

It is the job of design teachers to help turn their school into a place where the images, objects, spaces and experiences in the halls and rooms are part of the teaching staff. Schools need to borrow ideas from interactive museum exhibit designers to create schools that teach the way museums, zoos and aquariums do.

Click on the heading above to see 6 case studies of award winning school designs.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Animated View of Fallingwater

Frank Lloyd Wright was the greatest American architect of the first half of the 20th century and one of the greatest architects who has ever lived. At a time when people were designing and building the typical residential houses we still see in cities today, Frank Lloyd Wright was designing amazing structures that still somehow seems futuristic today.

Wright designed a home called Fallingwater on Bear Run in Pennsylvania in the 1930' and it still looks like it is a futuristic home today.

Click on the heading above to see an amazing animation simulating the construction of Fallingwater. It is a wonderful opportunity to study the innate structural genius of Frank Lloyd Wright. This is a valuable resource to help students try to assimilate Wright's design genius.

Designers Design Bikes to Entice More Riders

Designers submitted proposals to a competition for the design of a bike for the many “potential cyclists” who do not currently ride. What kind of bicycle, or pedal powered machine, would it take to get those people out of their cars for trips to the store or to work?

The Design Brief for the competition went something like this:

Do you have an idea for a bicycle that might persuade the average person, with no prior interest in cycling, to park the car and pedal to work? That is the main idea behind this competition. The scope is up to you- choose to come up with a whole new form factor for a pedal powered machine, or focus on specific details that you consider key to accomplishing the goal of getting the average non-cyclist to consider riding a bike for transportation. Don’t be constrained by products that are currently on the market, but do make sure that your concepts are based in reality (don’t break the laws of physics, etc) and that they are manufacturable using existing technology. All concepts submitted will be considered, so be creative and have fun.

A jury of 6 industrial designers and 1 journalist reviewed and discussed the submissions to choose a winner. The jury was looking for creative and sound concepts that are clearly defined, original, and innovative. Presentation counted too, so participants were encouraged to do their best to sell their concept through the presentation.

Click on the heading above to see the winners.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Reinventing the Wheel

I'm fascinated when someone takes something so familiar to us (like a car tire) and rethinks it in a dramatically new configuration.

The Tweel (a combination of tire and wheel) is a rethinking of the automobile tire by Michelin that rides on rubber permanently attached to flexible spokes fused with a flexible wheel that deforms to absorb shock. Checking tire pressure, fixing flats, highway blowouts and balancing between traction and comfort could all fade into memory if the Tweel catches on.

Over a hundred years ago, in the 1890s, the Michelin brothers were the first to use air-filled tires on a racecar. Almost 60 years ago, the company introduced the radial tire.

At the Detroit Auto Show, Michelin showed a video with an Audi A4 running on concept auto Tweels. The Tweel doesn't look like a conventional tire, you can see through it, but it has some unconventional aspects that are drawing attention from the U.S. military. Stopping to repair flats can be dangerous for soldiers, making them vulnerable to ambushes. Landmines and other explosives can disable trucks. Preliminary tests by Michelin show that the Tweel can run over explosives and keep on rolling even if some of the spokes are broken and some tread ripped off. It also directs the blast energy of land mines and other explosives outward rather than up and into the vehicle like traditional tires.

Michelin can tune Tweels so vertical stiffness (which primarily affects ride comfort) and lateral stiffness (which affects handling and cornering) can both be optimized, and enable performance not possible for current inflated tires. The Tweel prototype, demonstrated on the Audi A4, is within one percent of the fuel economy of current tires. Michelin has also increased the lateral stiffness by a factor of five, making the prototype unusually responsive.

The Tweel probably won't be in the showroom for a least a decade. If all goes well in the lab, Tweels could replace radials, but that is a long-term prediction. It took radials 30 years to replace bias tires and become the universal tire standard.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oscar Nominees in Design Announced

The nominations for Academy Awards were announced on January 22, 2009 and the Oscars will be presented on February 22. Among the Academy Awards in the areas of design are Best Animated Feature Film, Best Animated Short Film, Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Makeup, and Visual Effects. Some big jobs like storyboarding are essential to films but don't have their own awards.

If you sit through the credits at the end of any film you will see that most of the names are those of designers even though they aren't the ones who get the top billing. Nominated films like The Dark Knight, Revolutionary Road, Changeling, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Wall-E, and Ironman depend heavily on the talent of designers.

Click on the heading above to see the complete list of nominees and have your students learn about some of the people who design the films that have been nominated. See what other films these people have also worked on.

Is Technology Making Us Smarter or Dumber?

There seem to be two clear sides to the question of whether we are becoming smarter or dumber. One side believes that technologies like YouTube, texting and instant messaging are making us dumber. The other side believes new technologies extend our brains and make us smarter.

Last summer the cover of The Atlantic (left) posed a question: “Is Google Making Us Stoopid?” Inside the magazine, author Nicholas Carr argued that the Internet is damaging our brains, robbing us of our memories and deep thoughts. “As we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world,” he wrote, “it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.”

In a new book, Txtng: The Gr8 Db8, (rignt) the English linguist David Crystal demonstrates that many of the dire warnings about texting are little more than urban legends. Texting doesn’t lead to bad spelling, he finds. In fact, Crystal writes, “texting actually improves your literacy, as it gives you more practice in reading and writing.”

According to Carl Zimmer in Discover magazine, "the ominous warnings feed on a popular misconception of how the mind works... In fact, the mind appears to be adapted for reaching out from our heads and making the world, including our machines, an extension of itself." His article is "How Google Makes Us Smarter."

Click on the heading above to see Zimmer's article in Discover.

Truly Innovative New Car Design

Every once in a while you see a new design that has features you know are destined to be part of design in the future. A concept design company called EDAG has created just such a design.

EDAG has designed a car called the Light Car that can communicate with other drivers, utilizes OLED lights, has independent electric drives on each wheel and is recyclable.

EDAG’s Light Car is poised to be the design to beat in the auto industry. This electric car can go 150km on a single charge, and is made of a lightweight basalt fiber (which is similar to carbon fiber or fiberglass) that is 100% recyclable. A large portion of the cars body is covered in individually adaptable OLED lights which can be configured in a number of ways to communicate messages to other drivers beyond the standard brake and turn signals. Propulsion is by intelligent, electric drive systems in the wheels.

The body of the car is an individually adaptable desktop, that looks as though it is made of glass, that, when it is started up, comes to life as the (O)LED lamps in the glass panels mark out the outlines of the headlights and rear lights. The driver can design the outlines of the lights to his individual taste to give the car a unique appearance.

The driver also can arrange the cockpit. Whether the tachometer will be in the middle or the climate control gauge on the right-hand side, the driver can individually configure his cockpit as far as size, position and style of the instruments is concerned.

With the aid of state-of-the-art (O)LED technology, EDAG uses the transparent tailgate as a projection screen, making car-to-car communication visible and usable to all motorists. For instance, the braking force can be communicated to the next vehicle by means of an illuminated scale on the back of the car. Other information, such as a distance reading or if there is the tail end of a traffic jam ahead, can be clearly displayed on the back of the car, even if the vehicle behind does not have a car-to-car communication system of its own.

The basalt fiber of the body is 100% recyclable and an almost infinitely available raw material that is not just lighter and less costly than aluminium or carbon, but also has practically the same strength properties as conventional materials. This new quality of basalt fibre, which is to be utilised in the construction of rotors for large-scale wind power plants in the future, can now be put to systematic use in the automotive industry.

The body concept of the EDAG Light Car Open Source is based on a rolling chassis (sometimes called a skateboard chassis) which is a universal platform to which the modules for various bodies can be added. This enables any body shape to be developed more quickly and at lower cost.

The car's exterior dimensions put it in the compact car size range, but since both engine (that thing under the long hood) and gearbox (that hump in the middle) have been eliminated, the wheelbase is equivalent to a luxury class level with enough space to seat five passengers in comfort.

The drive concept of the light car is based on an all-electric, monovalent drive system with a range of up to 150 kilometres, making it suitable for everyday use. Propulsion is accomplished by intelligent, electric drive systems in the wheels, which not only feature a high degree of efficiency to get the power of the lithium-ion batteries in the rolling chassis onto the road, but will also provide considerably greater creative scope for the vehicle design.

The car is the first Open source vehicle enabling new designs to be applied to the car of the future. Other designers, and even the vehicle owner, can change the vehicle to suit their own needs and desires.

Click on the heading above to see a video at the EDAG website.

Students Learn Design, Engineering and Architecture Skills

The Build San Francisco Institute, directed by Will Fowler (left), is an academic program created by the Architectural Foundation of San Francisco designed to help high school students earn up to fifteen hours of credit learning design, engineering, and architecture skills.

These resources are helpful for teachers in grades 8-12, especially math, art, or design educators, school administrators who want to initiate a similar model,and students in grades 8-12, but much of it is adaptable to other grade levels.

The materials (lessons, videos and tips, articles, and contacts) can be viewed in any order. Everything is customizable to your teaching style and academic requirements.

Through the six-part lesson plan, students design, present, and build holes for miniature golf courses in accordance with design and math standards. Each lesson includes objectives, required materials, a plan, and assessment strategies. Information can be used to supplement current lesson plans or used in their entirety. If implementing entire lessons, reserve about four to six hours for each lesson, which can be extended across a semester or completed over several weeks.

The Six Steps in the program are Inquiry, Research, Construction, Production, Presentation, Assessment.

Students progress from creating designs on graph paper all the way to three-dimensional software. The project climaxes when students present their golf-hole designs. As a project extension, designs can be built using cardboard and a free corner of the classroom, or with help from community members at an actual event.

Although the lessons are focused on material for teaching students, the Articles, Videos and Tips, and Contacts sections also include materials for administrators, such as setting up a similar program and tips for recruiting and developing mentors.

Click on the heading above to learn more.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Porsche Museum Opens in Germany

Designers get two hits in one with the opening of the Porsche Museum in Germany. Not only will Industrial Designers get to see dozens of auto design exhibits but architects will want to see the amazing building itself.

The futuristic building that houses the new Porsche Museum will be inaugurated on January 28 and will open to the public on January 31, 2009 after three years in the making. The 5,600 square metres of exhibition space are supported on just three cores of reinforced concrete so it seems to hover in space. There are approximately 80 exhibits in the museum.

Other areas of the new building include the museum workshops, the museum shop, the Porsche archive, an exclusive restaurant, a bistro and large event areas. A restaurant on the second floor – which has both a view through the glass facade onto the Porscheplatz as well as through the glass partition into the exhibition itself – has its own separate entrance and is also open at hours different from those of the museum itself.

With the new museum and its range of catering facilities and additional capacity for conferences, company and private events in exceptional surroundings the area around the museum will prosper as well.

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

Who Designs Events?

With 2 million spectators, a $170 million budget and a security force of nearly 43,000, the inaugural events for U.S. president Barack Obama in Washington were quite a design challenge.

Who designs events like these? There is an organization, a newsleter and an annual conference for event designers that students should know about. Click on the heading above to learn about the upcoming conference for event designers.

The 10 "official" inaugural balls ranged from the Commander-in-Chief's Ball to the Western Inaugural Ball. Six of the 10 official balls took place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Other ball venues were the DC Armory, Washington Hilton, National Building Museum and Union Station.

Festivities started Sunday with the public "We Are One" celebration at the Lincoln Memorial. Monday night saw the Kids' Inaugural Concert at Verizon Center and the series of three bipartisan dinners, which honor Americans who have devoted their lives to public service. Yesterday began with the official swearing-in, followed by the inaugural luncheon and parade.

Lanham, Md.-based Hargrove (http://www.hargroveinc.com/) --a major contractor for every presidential inaugural since Harry S Truman took office in 1949--designed much of the Obama inauguration. As official general contractor for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, Hargove fabricated stages and other decor for the official inaugural balls and seven parade floats, along with decor for related events.

Hargrove's event slate alone included more than 40 official and private events in more than 30 venues over a six-day period. The company used 45,000 board feet of lumber, 3,000 sheets of plywood, 500 gallons of paint, 400 rolls of carpet, 100,000 yards of fabric and 100,000 square feet of signs, seals, banners and other graphics to help create the decor.

Chicago-based Event Architects (http://www.eventarchitects.net/) was asked only three weeks before the event by the Presidential Inaugural Committee to produce events including the bipartisan dinners and the Commander-in-Chief's Ball.

IDSA is the Organization for Product and Industrial Designers

The Northeast District of the Industrial Design Society of America is having their annual conference on "Revolution" in Cambridge, MA on March 27-29, 2009. Even if you can't attend, it is good to see who is speaking and what topics industrial designers talk about. IDSA has several districts and chapters so you can check out what is going on in your area.

IDSA (Industrial Design Society of America) is the national organization for industrial designers. According to their website, industrial design (ID) is the professional service of creating and developing concepts and specifications that optimize the function, value and appearance of products and systems for the mutual benefit of both user and manufacturer.

Industrial designers develop concepts and specifications through collection, analysis and synthesis of data guided by the special requirements of the client or manufacturer. They are trained to prepare clear and concise recommendations through drawings, models and verbal descriptions.

The industrial designer emphasizes those aspects of the product or system that relate most directly to human characteristics, needs and interests. This requires an understanding of visual, tactile, safety and convenience criteria, with concern for the user. Education and experience in anticipating psychological, physiological and sociological factors that influence the user are essential industrial design resources.

Industrial designers are also concerned with technical processes and requirements for manufacture; marketing opportunities and economic constraints; and distribution sales and servicing processes. They work to ensure that design recommendations use materials and technology effectively, and comply with all legal and regulatory requirements.

In addition to supplying concepts for products and systems, industrial designers often consult on a variety of problems that have to do with a client's image. Such assignments include product and organization identity systems, development of communication systems, interior space planning and exhibit design, advertising devices and packaging and other related services.

Click on the heading above to check out the IDSA website.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Major Disney Art Exhibition in New Orleans

The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) is the only North American venue for the exhibit Dreams Come True: Art of the Classic Fairy Tales from the Walt Disney Studio, Nov. 15, 2009-March 14, 2010.

The exhibition features more than 600 original artworks that shaped legendary animated features including Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.

Dreams Come True: Art of the Classic Fairy Tales from the Walt Disney Studio also will include artwork from the upcoming Walt Disney Animation Studios musical, The Princess and The Frog, an animated comedy from the creators of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, set in New Orleans and due for release at Christmas 2009.

Visitors to the exhibition will encounter themed rooms showcasing artwork related to specific animated features. Arranged chronologically by year of release, the rooms will feature, in order: Silly Symphonies, Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and The Princess and The Frog. Film clips will accompany the artwork to demonstrate how individual sketches and paintings lead to a finished celluloid masterpiece.

Fantasy Artists Display Work in Spectrum

Spectrum is an annual collection of fantasy art that was established in 1993 by Cathy and Arnie Fenner to provide an annual showcase for the best fantasy, science fiction, horror, and otherwise uncategorizable artwork created each year.

Each year a Call For Entries goes out to the arts community and a jury convenes to make selections from the work submitted. Spectrum was the first to specifically feature categories devoted to 3D, comics, and unpublished works.

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.

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

Monday, January 19, 2009

David Carson Thinks Legible Type is Over-Rated

David Carson is sometimes referred to as a grunge typographer because his often tortured layouts sacrifice legibility for emotional impact. He is often quoted as saying "Don't mistake legibility for readability." As a result he is often attacked by more formalistic designers. His designs for the magazine Ray Gun helped explode the possibilities of text on a page.

Carson's boundary-breaking typography in the 1990s, in Ray Gun magazine and other pop-cult books, ushered in a new vision of type and page design. He quite simply, broke the traditional mold of type on a page and demanding fresh eyes from the reader. Squishing, smashing, slanting and enchanting the words on a layout, Carson made the point, over and over, that letters on a page are art. You can see the influence of his work to this day, on Flash intro pages, skateboards and T-shirts.

His first book, with Lewis Blackwell and a foreword by David Byrne, is The End of Print, which he wryly points out is in its 5th printing. He has written or collaborated on several other books, including Book of Probes, an exploration of the thinking of Marshall McLuhan. His latest book is Trek, a collection of his recent work.

Click on the heading above to see his often humorous review of his work at the TED conference.

Graffiti Artist Creates Iconic Obama Images

Shepard Fairey is a graffiti artist who made his first image of Barack Obama in poster format which he pasted on to walls in Los Angeles and San Francisco at the beginning of 2008 to support the Obama campaign. After it was reproduced on the cover of Time magazine it became so popular that it was turned into badges and T-shirts with the word "Hope" emblazoned on them. Screenprints were then made and sold on the Obama website to raise funds for the campaign.

In January 2009 it was announced that a unique stencilled portrait, based on the ubiquitous poster image, had been commissioned by US collectors Heather and Tony Podesta, whose brother, John, is one of Obama's advisors, and donated by them to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington. Martin Sullivan, director of the gallery, said: "This work is an emblem of a significant election, as well as a new presidency."

Fairey has done alternative versions for Esquire, Time, and Washington Life magazines which were spoofed by Mad Magazine in its own unique way.

Toyota to Introduce Plug-in Hybrid Prius This Year

At the North American International Automotive Show, in Detroit, Toyota announced that, later this year, it will release a version of the Prius hybrid car whose battery can be recharged from an ordinary power outlet. By moving up the delivery date of the plug-in vehicle--originally scheduled for 2010--Toyota has slipped ahead of GM, whose Chevy Volt plug-in is promised for late 2010.

Toyota's devotion to hybrid technology contrasts with others such as Renault and Mitsubishi, which are planning to leapfrog the hybrid in favor of fully battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs). At the auto show, several U.S. automakers appear to be leaning in the same direction, with Ford Motor, in particular, vowing to release an EV commercial van next year and an EV commuter car in 2011.

While Toyota is developingg a battery-powered EV and promising to begin selling an EV commuter car in the United States by 2012, they ruled out abandoning hybrid technology anytime soon, issuing a definitive statement on the eve of the Detroit show calling hybrids its "long-term core powertrain technology."

The 2010 Prius available to consumers will still come equipped with a nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) battery pack and no plug, but Toyota says that it is "plug-in ready"--designed and engineered to accept a lighter and more energy-dense lithium-ion battery pack that can be charged from the grid. Toyota will also produce 500 lithium-powered plug-in Priuses for its commercial and government leasing customers starting later this year. Toyota-Panasonic joint venture Panasonic EV Energy will supply the lithium batteries.

Thinking Ahead of Your Time

There have been people throughout history who spent most of their time thinking and living their lives based on their concepts of the future. Leonardo da Vinci, Buckminster Fuller, Paolo Soleri and Jacques Fresco are examples of these futuristic thinkers.

Jacques Fresco, like da Vinci, Fuller and Soleri, has devoted his life to thinking about the future. He has a self-promoting video, Future by Design, worth watching for it's beautiful drawings, models and simulations of his futuristic ideas. Like most futuristic thinkers, Fresco draws a good deal of skepticism and ridicule. In the video, while certainly self-serving, he still sounds pretty rational.

Take another look at these futuristic thinkers because our technology is catching up with their ideas to the point where, within the next 100 years, we will be able to actually create in the world that which they imagined in their mind's eyes.

Click on the heading above to see more of Fresco's ideas and his Venus Project.

Expanding Creativity Through Virtual Museums

Ted Kahn (left) has been working at the intersection of creativity, design and learning for decades. His Design Worlds for Learning organization has developed concepts for the use of virtual museums to enhance student understanding.

Dr. Ted M. Kahn is the co-founder, President and CEO of DesignWorlds for Learning, Inc. and Chief Learning Officer for DesignWords for College and Careers. He has been actively involved in developing and marketing innovative uses of interactive technologies for creative lifelong learning for over 36 years. Over the past 18 years, his special areas of expertise have been in the uses of digital video and multimedia, as well as the Internet and the Web, as media for supporting distributed learning and knowledge design communities.

Kahn and his DesignWorlds team applied this background in creating the key web content and web educational marketing messages for Apple in 2000 to support their launch of iMovie, and some of this web content still remains on Apple's digital movies and education web site today.

Click on the heading above to see one of Kahn's slide shows.

Kids Can Curate Their Own Museums

This sounds like a sensible, straightforward idea for great hands-on learning - have students create little museums in their schools as a way to learn about any topic. Creating mini-museums in schools as a strategy for learning and assessment makes a lot of sense and teachers who take the effort to work with their students to do such a project find that it changes them, their teaching, and their students love of learning forever.

Linda D'Acquisto (right) has been working with schools on this concept for years and calls her effort Kid Curators. She wrote a book about the process called Learning on Display: Student-created Museums That Build Understanding (left) that was published by ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development).

The exciting challenge is that doing museum displays calls upon many design skills that are often not taught in schools or known by teachers. In order to create museum exhibits, teachers and students have to develop skills in spatial design learned by architects, set designers, interior designers and landscape architects. In many schools spatial design is not often taught. They would also need knowledge and skills about object design like product designers and production designers for films. In addition, they would need skills in experience design such as those of theme park, restaurant, and hospitality designers.

Schools should have someone on their staff who knows how to use images, objects, spaces and experiences to teach. They need someone who knows how to work with students to create interactive environments for learning. Schools need design educators skilled in designing spaces and experiences that communicate information and ideas. Schools need teachers and students to learn how to design!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Design High School in Los Angeles

The number of design oriented schools is growing slowly. Schools like DASH (Design and Architecture Senior High) in Miami and CHAD (Charter High School for Architecture and Design) in Philadelphia are now joined by Design High School in Los Angeles.

The vision of The Design High School is to empower 9th –12th grade students from underserved areas of Los Angeles to be lifelong learners, problem-solvers and creative leaders. It is a suburban charter school program affiliated with Art Center College of Design in Pasadena that fosters in students the qualities for leadership, communication, creativity and develop lifelong learning skills.

The new principal of The Design High School in Los Angeles is Andrea Steffan (right). Click on the heading above to see their website.