Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sand Sculptures Provide 3D Inspiration

Teaching students to create 3D sculptures is hard because they have a tendency to do very low-relief and paint details on rather that create high-relief and in-the-round 3D forms. These amazing sand sculptures from Portugal provide some good inspiration for creating more interesting 3D forms.

The ANNUAL FIESA 2008 SAND SCULPTURE FESTIVAL is open to the public in October. Over 3 weeks sculpture artists from Europe, Brazil & the USA mold the sand into gigantic forms. 60 sculpture artists from around the world work with 35 tons of sand for this years theme, Hollywood Icons. The exhibition covers a large area with towering characters and sets such as King Kong, Casablanca,Star Wars, Alien, E.T., The Wizard Of Oz, The Lord of the Rings, and many others.

Click on the heading above to see more images at the Fiesa site.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Kinetic Design of Physical Movement

Ben Hopson is a designer, artist and educator working in Brooklyn, NY. He is the creator of the discipline of Kinetic Design, which involves the aesthetic design of physical movement. Incorporating elements of Industrial Design, kinetic sculpture, engineering, Interaction Design, and puppetry, the field allows designers to animate products and spaces in new ways. As a consultant, Hopson has worked with clients on projects ranging from kitchen gadgets to luggage, from concept cars to lighting.

Hopson says that "Industrial Design is poised to undergo major evolutionary changes. New technologies, new materials and increasingly sophisticated consumer tastes all demand colossal transformations. Perhaps most exciting among these is the development of Kinetic Design which entails the aesthetic design of physical movement. Through this practice, industrial designers will not just create forms, but choreograph those forms' movements through space. Kinetic Design will literally open a new dimension for the aesthetic development of physical objects and the world will be richer for it."

He says, "Because motion is so elemental and so completely unexplored in design aesthetics, there is no limit to how it will be capitalized upon in the future. Kinetic Design will lead to new kinds of architecture, food, and chemical processes just as easily as it will lead to a better DVD player aperture. Once viewed through the lens of Kinetic Design, the world is revealed to be full of lifeless objects awaiting animation."

Click on the heading above to read his excellent article about kinetic design and see some video examples.

Video is in the Future of Visual Communication

It is clear that video is going to play an increasing role in visual communication. With YouTube video content growing by leaps and bounds, inexpensive video editing software bundled on computers, and easy to operate and carry video cameras like the Flip HD video camera, shooting, editing and sharing video content is getting to be as easy as email and photo sharing.

The Flip Video Camera is now out in an HD version and the company that makes it (Pure Digital) has just been bought by Cisco Systems Inc. for about $590 million in stock.

Pure Digital sold its first camera less than two years ago. It quickly grew in popularity because of its small size (right), simple interface, its USB connector that flips out of the body (left), letting the user connect the camera directly to a computer, and editing software contained on the camera that starts up on the computer.

Pure Digital said it has sold more than 2 million of these cameras that cost between $130 and $230. Last year, Pure Digital sold more video cameras in U.S. stores than any other company except for Sony.

It is time for design educators to include video production along with drawing, painting, photography, model making, digital graphics, and animation as a basic visual communication skill in schools.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What is Visual Science?

I'm using Visual Science as the flipside of a coin with Visual Art on the other side. Visual Science is the use of images, objects, places and visual experiences to observe, think about, communicate and create new understandings in science, mathematics and technology.

There are many complex ideas that are virtually impossible to think, create or understand without strong visual skills to go along with knowledge of science and mathematics. The discovery of the double-helical structure of DNA (left) is one example. When Watson and Crick came upon this image in 1954 they had solved one of the greatest mysteries of our time. The picture was the solution.

Science teachers know that most of their students have a difficult time looking at a science concept picture in a textbook and understanding what the image is depicting. Pictures in science textbooks do not address multiple learning styles; they are designed primarily for visual/spatial learners.

More learning styles can be addressed through the use of visual design to teach science. This can be accomplished through the use of two dimensional and three dimensional images, objects, places and animations of science concepts. Animations are readily available on the Internet to provide visual design representations of science concepts. Mathematica is a computer program that enables the creation of images to help people understand incredibly dense mathematical concepts (right) that could not be comprehended as numbers alone.

Architecture is a visual science. Designing buildings requires strong visual and design skills coupled with the mathematical and engineering knowledge to actually build them. Video game design requires strong visualization skills combined with the intricacies of creating the game engine that makes the game work. Product design requires strong visual creativity coupled with knowledge of material science.

Visual science is the non-fiction side of the visual learning coin that helps people solve problems that can not be solved by science, words or numbers alone. Visual science is essential to answering the greatest mysteries yet to be unlocked in the universe and to create our future.

Click on the heading above to see videos about science and design from a panel at the 5D Conference in 2008.

Understanding Typefaces

With computers and desktop publishing, non-designers have access to powerful type design tools and detailed terminology previously only availabe to professional designers. Just about everyone knows the names of a few different fonts (Times New Roman, Verdana, Helvetica, etc.) and know the effects of actions such as alignment, justification, leading and kerning.

Students can quickly learn to be perceptive about the use of type in print, on screens, and in the environment. They can understand the role of serif and sans-serif, italic, boldface, kerning, ligatures, etc. Students coming from a fine art background have to learn to discipline themselves to use guidelines rather than attempting to free-hand all their letters and to warm up to the beauty of well-crafted letter styles rather than always reverting to 1970's style curvilinear hand-lettering. These are usually only appropriate now for an old-fashioned or nostalgic look.

See how many of your students know common type terms such as:
x-height, serif, ascender, descender, counter, ligature, kerning, italic, slab serif, etc.

Click on the images above to see them in larger version.

Why Teach Perspective or Anatomy?

It is still pretty common for K-12 art teachers to include lessons on perspective and figure drawing even though few contemporary fine artists use any of these skills in their work. Many university art majors are no longer even required to take a life-drawing course. About the only artists who are required to have very high skills in drawing people and drawing in perspective are designers, animators and comic artists.

Jim Lee, possibly the top comic book artist working today, did groundbreaking versions of both Batman and Superman in two separate series for those iconic characters. These popular culture works provide excellent examples of 3-point perspective, foreshortening, anatomy and figure drawing skills rarely seen in fine art today or taught in art schools.

Many art teachers forbid students to use such "low-brow" sources in their art work but some students are highly motivated to emulate the drawing skills of comic artists like Jim Lee. These students want to be designers rather than artists. They want to work in film, animation, architecture, game design, illustration, fashion and a variety of fields where these skills are still needed. They can learn a lot about 3-point perspective, foreshortening, and anatomy by studying and copying these examples the way we have fine art students do Cubist, Impressionist and Surrealist "studies".

Click on the images above to see larger versions and look at the 3-point perspective backgrounds, anatomical details and foreshortening.

Information Designers Meet in Paris

Information design is a basic skill equivalent to reading and writing only through visualization.

DD4D, Data Designed for Decisions, is a conference for people who work in the field of information design held in Paris, 18-20 June 2009. It is a conference for intermediaries between data, knowledge and empowerment interested in enhancing social, economic and environmental progress.

There will be speakers from 20 countries who investigate selection, visualisation, interpretation and communication of data.
Topics include:
1. Bringing personal meaning and relevance to statistics.
2. Sharing tools to access and understand data.
3. Finding stories in data and communicating them.
4. Helping people understand complex issues.
5. Graphic representation and decision-making.
6. Visualising progress and development.

One of the hosts of the conference is the International Institute for Information Design (IIID) founded to develop research and practice in optimizing information and information systems for knowledge transfer in everyday life, business, education and science. The main concern of the Institute is to contribute to a better understanding within the human community with respect to cultural and economic issues by means of improved visual and non-visual communication.

IIID works to:
a. develop information design as an independent interdisciplinary field of knowledge and professional practice,
b. document and to make generally accessible specifically relevant information,
c. carry out research within its possibilities and in co-operation with its members and
d. find new ways of educating information designers.

The aims of the IIID are achieved by interdisciplinary and international co-operation so IIID has established worldwide links to renowned universities, research laboratories and design companies.
IIID is Assoociate Partner to the OECD Global Project.

Click on the heading above to go to the DD4D site.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Periodic Table of Visualization Methods

Visual Literacy, (along with visual art, visual culture, and design), is one of the sets of skills students can learn in our broader perspective of the role of visual art and design programs in 21st century schools. Visual literacy means learning to see and make images, objects, places and visual experiences the same way reading and writing is the basis for communicating with words. Visual communication is a basic skill necessary for all children every year in school.

We can all think of some visual communication methods like pie charts, venn diagrams, maps, and cartoons but can you think of 100 different visual communication methods? Click on the heading above to see a "periodic table" of 100 visualization methods. Roll over each item to see an example.

Whenever a visual image (like any of the 100 on the table) is used, people should recognize this as visual communication. Visual communication can be used to convey data, information, concepts, strategies, metaphors and combinations of these. Help students learn some more of these visualization methods to enrich their visual vocabulary.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The World Wide Web is (only) 20 years old

We seem to be continually blind-sided by new technologies so that we often find ourselves wishing that the pace of technological advancement would slow down to allow society to catch up. We are often afraid that technology is growing faster than our ability to safely manage it.

The World Wide Web (WWW) is such a huge part of global culture today that it is difficult to believe that 20 years ago it didn't even exist. Twenty years ago this March 2009, a software consultant named Tim Berners-Lee (now only 53) developed an open computer network which would become the blueprint for the World Wide Web and forever change the world of human communication.

The three main innovations were HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol); URLs (universal resource locators); and HTML (hypertext markup language). HTTP allows you to click on a link and be brought to that document or Web page. URLs serve as an address for finding that document or page. And HTML gives you the ability to put links in documents and pages so they connect. Tim Berners-Lee created all three of these pieces of software code from October to December of 1990.

Click on the heading above to see Berners-Lee talk about what he has in mind next.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Wearable Computer Interface

We have seen the Surface computer where you can move things around on the table-top screen with touch-sensitivity; have seen Tom Cruise using a gestural interface in Minority Report; and saw an imagined depiction of newspapers with moving images in a Harry Potter film but, at the TED conference in February 2009, Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry (right) from MIT's Media Lab, demonstrated an actual working device with a miniature projector that paves the way for an interface that is in a wearable unit the size of a cell phone that doesn't rely on any special surface or screen. Imagine "Minority Report", Harry Potter's newspaper, and the Surface computer without a touch screen or electronic paper. It's called the "Sixth Sense".

At the MIT Media Lab's new Fluid Interfaces Group, Pattie Maes researches the tools we use to work with information and connect with one another. Pranav Mistry is the genius behind Sixth Sense, a wearable device that enables new interactions between the real world and the world of data. You use hand gestures to manipulate data and can use any surface (even your own hand) as the "screen" (left).

Click on the heading above to see the video of Patti Maes and Pranav Mistry demonstrating the prototype of this interface of the future .

Students Help Design Schools in the UK

The Sorrell Foundation in the UK has an amazing program where students take part in the design of their schools. Architects work with students to get their advice and ideas (right) for projects that are actually built. The Sorrell Foundation Young Design Centre opened with the What’s Next For Schools? exhibition in May 2007 to explore what young people want from design at school and in their daily lives.

The Sorrell Foundation Young Design Centre is the first of its kind in the UK. Open 7 days a week, the exhibition looks at future schools as well as at historic school design exhibition. It draws attention to what young people expect from the designers of their schools and encourage local authorities to use the significant body of practical evidence that The Sorrell Foundation has gathered over 7 years, through its joinedupdesignforschools program.

Over the next three years, the Centre will present exhibitions, run a comprehensive workshop program in the Somerset House Lecture Theatre and Learning Centre, and create a unique Research Centre with a new archive exploring what young people want from school design.

Click on the heading above to see resources, books, videos, and examples of what students can accomplish working with designers at the Sorrell Foundation website.

The Boy Who Saved Superman

Superman, created by writer Jerry Siegel and drawn by Joe Shuster, made his debut in Action Comics #1 (June 1938) (left) which is famous for having in its pages the debut of the “Man of Steel”. That comic sold at that time for 10 cents.

In 1950, twelve years after the first edition came out, a 9 year old boy begged his father to buy him a copy of this first edition. The boy had found the edition in a second hand book store and convinced his father of the importance of making the “investment”- at that time the issue cost 34 cents - 24 cents more than its original price. The boy took great care of the comic book for 58 years until he decided to capitalize on his investment.

John Dolmayan, drummer for System of a Down and owner of Torpedo Comics, just paid him $317,200 for it at auction.

You Can Make a Positive Contribution to the Future

Buckminster Fuller set up this challenge for himself - what can one individual with few resources (little money, little power or influence, not particularly handsome or brilliant, etc.) do in their lifetime to make a difference that will positively influence life on the planet for all people?

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago, presents Buckminster Fuller: Starting with the Universe, the first major American exhibition in decades devoted to the visionary mind and work of Buckminster Fuller, and the most inclusive show to date of Fuller’s work. On view from March 14 to June 21, 2009, the show is organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art with the cooperation of the Fuller family.

R. Buckminster Fuller (right) (1895-1983) was one of the great American creative thinkers of the 20th century. Philosopher, forecaster, designer, poet, inventor, and advocate of alternative energy, Fuller is probably best known as the originator of the geodesic dome (left), but his theories and innovations engaged fields ranging from mathematics, engineering, and environmental science to literature, architecture, and visual art. Fuller was one of the great transdisciplinary thinkers and made no distinction between these spheres as discrete areas of investigation. He devoted much of his life to closing the gap between the sciences and the humanities, a schism he felt prevented a comprehensive view of the world. He believed in the significant interconnectedness of all things and concluded that certain basic structures and systems underlie everything in our world.

Today, his prophetic concepts are a touchstone for discussions of issues including environmental conservation, the manufacture and distribution of housing, and global organization of information. Fuller’s concepts are ripe for reexamination by artists, architects, designers, scientists, and poets among others.

There are many videos, books, and other resources about Buckminster Fuller that design students should know about to shape their resolve and understand how one small person can make a difference in the world through design. Click on the heading above to see an example.

From Drawings to Film

The Computer Graphics Society includes those people who turn drawings into digital images. Dr. Manhattan, the CG (computer graphic) character in The Watchmen movie is an example of the work done in computer graphics today. The designers had to capture the acting of Billy Crudup combined with the original drawings by Dave Gibbons and create a digital actor who could exist believably alongside real actors.

Many design education students would like to be taught the knowledge and skills that would get them jobs in the digital animation industry. It is our responsibility to help them achieve their dreams and become part of the Computer Graphics Society.

Click on the heading above to go to the Computer Graphic Society website to see how Dr. Manhattan was created.

The Power to Design

Aimee Mullins has over a dozen pairs of legs that she uses for different occasions. Her "Cheetah" legs are what she uses to run faster than most people on the planet. Her "tall" legs make her 6' 2" and make her look stunning in a knee-length black evening dress. People have been designing legs for her including a beautiful set of hand-carved wooden legs that look like the most amazing boots you could imagine.

The power of design has enabled Aimee to move from being seen as someone with a disability to someone who has an unfair advantage. Runners are jealous of her speed and beautiful women are jealous of her statuesque beauty. In her presentation at the TED conference she talks about the interesting role of design that gives us the power to create whatever we want to create.

Much of this started when Chee Perlman put Aimee on the cover of I.D. magazine (International Design) (left). This has so many teachable moments for design educators to talk with students about the power and importance of design.

Click on the heading above to hear Aimee Mullins talk about the power of design in her TED talk and see her beautiful wooden boots.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

David Kelley Promotes Design Thinking

We almost lost one of the world's greatest design thinkers to throat cancer last year. Fortunately, modern medicine has given us some more time to learn from one of the great design educators of our time. David Kelley is the founder of IDEO, one of the leading design firms in the world and, more recently, the d.school, an interdisciplinary program to spread design thinking across many departments at Stanford University.

People across the world are trying to figure David Kelley out and learn how to do what he and his innovative design team does. Kelley says one of the greatest leaps for his own thinking was when he realized the task was not "designing" objects but applying "design thinking" to any challenge.

Kelley says, "We moved from thinking of ourselves as designers to thinking of ourselves as design thinkers. We have a methodology that enables us to come up with a solution that nobody has before." This is a quote from an article about Kelley by Linda Tischler in Fast Company magazine. Click on the heading above to read Tischler's excellent article in Fast Company magazine.

Design thinking is a methodology, very much like the scientific process, that can be learned and applied to creating practical innovations in products, services and any place where new ideas are necessary. As design educators, our task is to teach and apply the design thinking process as a basic skill for all students. Our challenge is to re-design K-12 education for the 21st century by applying design thinking across the curriculum and transforming the experience of schooling for all students, teachers, administrators and parents.

Share your stories about how you are applying the design thinking process in K-12 education at http://designeducationk12.ning.com

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Create Your Own Magazine Cover Illustration

Here's a clever idea from the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). To go along with their exhibition of Norman Rockwell's cover illustrations for the Saturday Evening Post they created a DIA Evening Post template and invited people to create their own cover depicting their family. You could create a template for your favorite magazine and have students create their own cover illustrations.

Norman Rockwell made many pictures of families for the cover of The Saturday Evening Post being displayed in American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell, an exhibition on view at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Today Norman Rockwell’s illustrations look a bit dated but he inspired generations of illustrators such as C.F. Payne. Today we have different conceptions of family that may or may not match Rockwell’s, so the Detroit Institute of Art asks the question, "Who’s your family?" You can come up with your own themes if you do your own version of this project.

People are invited to go to the Museum to do their drawing or do it online and post it to the DIA website. Click on the heading above to see some of the covers.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Native American Comic Strips

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian opened “Comic Art Indigène” in the Sealaska Gallery. This small exhibition is not about depictions of Native Americans (which were often offensive) but is about the role of narrative art and sequential images created by Native Americans. It features more than 35 artworks, including paintings, works on paper, jewelry and clay figurines, and shows the evolution of narrative art through early examples of rock art, ledger art and ceramics and reveals how these traditional art forms are adapted to contemporary pieces of expression such as comic strips and panels. The exhibition is open until May 31.

Storytelling has long been an integral part of Native culture, and the exhibition looks at how stories are told through comics and comic-inspired art to express the contemporary Native American experience. Similar to American Indian cultures, comic art is amazingly complex and adaptive. As the first widely accessible mass media, comics were consumed by Indian people as a recognizable form of storytelling; they express cultural stories through pictures.

Featured artists include Marcus Amerman (Choctaw), Jason Garcia (Santa Clara Pueblo), Lisa Holt (Cochiti Pueblo), Eva Mirabel (Taos Pueblo), Harlan Reano (Santo Domingo Pueblo), Diego Romero (Cochiti Pueblo), Mateo Romero (Cochiti Pueblo), Rose Bean Simpson (Santa Clara Pueblo), Ryan Huna Smith (Chemehuevi/Navajo), Marty Two Bulls (Oglala Lakota), and Jolene Nenibah Yazzie (Navajo).

Click on the heading above to go to the website for the National Museum of the American Indian.
Click on the image above to see a larger version.

Prototyping is an Essential Step in the Design Process

Prototyping is a key factor in developing designs. Along with ideation, visualization and presentation, prototyping is one of the key steps students should learn in attacking a design problem or any challenge for that matter. In any design assignment, students should be taught how and expected to create several prototypes.

It is often hard to determine whether a new design will actually do what is desired because there are often unexpected problems. A prototype is often used as part of the product design process to allow engineers and designers the ability to explore design alternatives, test theories and confirm performance prior to starting production of a new product. Some prototypes are used to confirm and verify consumer interest in a proposed design whereas other prototypes will attempt to verify the performance or suitability of a specific design approach.

Prototyping is an iterative process in which prototypes are designed, constructed and tested as the final design emerges and is prepared for production. With rare exceptions, multiple iterations of prototypes are used to progressively refine the design. A common strategy is to design, test, evaluate and then modify the design based on analysis of the prototype.

Some of the main reasons prototyping is important include:

A. Prototypes make your designs better.
B. Prototypes make it possible to communicate progress visually.
C. Prototypes enable others to provide input and try out design concepts while they're being developed.
D. Prototypes help reduce development time because design flaws can be caught ahead of time.

It's a good idea to get your design ideas in front of people in order to gather feedback. Prototype early and often.

Click on the heading above for an excellent article about the prototyping process by Dave Cronin on the Adobe website.

Henry Dreyfuss Helped Establish Industrial Design

Part of the challenge of teaching design is that many of the design fields are relatively young. Most fields of design were first identified as "professions" in the 20th century. Henry Dreyfuss (right) was one of the founders of industrial design as a recognized profession in the early 1920s.

Dreyfuss designed the iconic early black phone (left) molded in black phenolic plastic that was originally introduced in 1937 and produced until 1950. He became the first President of the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA).

In 1955 Dreyfuss wrote Designing for People, an autobiography which features his "Joe" and "Josephine" simplified anthropometric charts. In 1960 he published The Measure of Man, an ergonomic reference book showing measurements of the human body for designing many common objects.

Click on the heading above to go to the Henry Dreyfuss Associates' website for the company, still in operation today, that he started in 1929.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Kids Design Fashions at ByKidsOnly

A new website called ByKidsOnly.com gives kids ages 5-13 a chance to design clothes they would like to wear. Many children, even at a young age, have very specific ideas about what they like to wear, from color to design to fabric to less visible components like tags and seams. Other children have very real physical aversions and behavioral responses to these factors. ByKidsOnly.com gives both types of children, and everyone wanting to express their sense of style, an outlet where they can submit and vote on ideas and see some of them turned into actual clothing that can be purchased from the site.

The developers of the site are motivated to help students who have special needs in relation to fabrics, touch sensitivity and related issues. For more information check out the Fun and Function site at http://www.funandfunction.com/

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

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Women of Design

Despite the huge volume of work produced by graphic designers around the world, in publications, conferences and other public realms, women designers tend to be overshadowed by their male counterparts. "Women of Design", written by Bryony Gomez-Palacio and Armin Vit, is a book that brings attention to the work, careers and contributions of women designers, writers, teachers and entrepreneurs around the world.

The female graphic designers in this book are divided into three groups representative of the time in which their influence was most pronounced: Groundbreakers, Pathfinders and Trailblazers. These three generations helped shape the modern landscape of design. This book explores the work, ideals and ventures that have helped define the last fifty years of the graphic design profession. The book provides an opportunity to learn about the women who helped establish design’s relevance, importance and impact — and the ones who carry their tradition into new territory.

Click on the heading above to learn more about Women of Design.

New York Toy Fair Held Each February

While most teachers weren't able to attend, each year the Toy Fair provides a good opportunity to see the latest news about design of toys. The annual New York Toy Fair, located at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, drew over 20,000 attendees this year. Industry professionals took the isles to check out over 100,000 products from over 1200+ exhibitors.

Toy Fair is the largest international toy trade show in the Western Hemisphere where the newest and hottest products in the $22 billion children's entertainment marketplace are exhibited. It is the premier meeting place for manufacturers, retailers, importers, licensors and reps from around the world.

Toy Fair 2010 will take place February 14-17, 2010 (Sunday - Wednesday) at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and showroom locations in the Toy District.

Click on the heading above to see the Toy Industry Associations website and learn more about the Toy Industry.

Watchmen Movie Opens Nationwide

The long awaited movie, "Watchmen", based on the comic series that was later released as a graphic novel opened in theaters March 6, 2009. This is another in a growing list of movies that started as a graphic novel but this one is special because "Watchmen" is considered one of the best graphic novels ever published.

The cult status of "Watchmen" puts such high expectations on the movie that it is likely to disappoint at least some of the fans. The movie has tried to do justice to the original graphic novel written by Alan Moore, considered to be one of the best graphic novelists. He has created a superhero comic that maintains many of the conventions of the genre but takes it to places never tried before.

For those unfamiliar with "Watchmen" it is probably a good idea to check out the website for the movie and/or one of the many books available about the graphic novel and the movie.

Click on the heading above to go to the official "Watchmen" movie site.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Brad Pitt Wanted to be an Architect

This is the second time I've written about Brad Pitt's love of architecture and I know some people are offended by someone getting to work on architectural projects without putting in the years of hard work it takes to become an architect but there are few people as famous as Brad Pitt with the power to inspire students with a love of architecture.

Pitt has been working on the rebuilding of New Orleans since the destruction brought by Katrina and is working with one of his personal idol's, architect Frank Gehry, to promote the importance of architecture in building and rebuilding the world.

Pitt and his wife, Angelina Jolie, had their picture taken in front of Frank Lloyd Wright's iconic Falling Water (right) in Pennsylvania just like any number of us who admire Wright's genius.

Build Big Objects and Environments with Cardboard

Students can learn a lot of conceptual skills for working on 3D and Spatial awareness development by creating buildings, ships, etc. with large appliance boxes.

There's even a website with sample plans that suggests you use their special plastic rivets for joining the cardboard pieces together. Mr. McGroovy's Box Rivets™ are inexpensive plastic connectors that make building fantastic cardboard creations quick & simple. Their website has sets of instructions for building a great cardboard rocketship playhouse (right), a pirate ship (left), a castle, and a variety of other projects out of washer-dryer boxes. They even provide tips for getting ahold of free boxes.

Worried about where to fit such big projects in your school? You'll be surprised how many unused spaces there are in schools, especially if you look in corners and up high. Suspend these creations from the ceiling if necessary.

Worried about the fire marshall or principal complaining about the dangers of cardboard? Check out fire retardant products on line (example: http://www.fire-retardant.biz/)

Design students need opportunities to work large and to learn how to collaborate. This is an inexpensive way to teach spatial and 3D design.

Don't think this is just for younger children. High school students can create these projects for use in elementary classrooms or they can create more age appropriate designs of their own.

Click on the heading above to go to Mr. McGroovy's site and get ideas to use in your design classes.