Friday, July 31, 2009

Winners of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge

Sustainable Personal Mobility and Mobility-on-Demand Systems (SPM/MoD), submitted by an interdisciplinary student team headed by Professor William Mitchell at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab (MIT) has been selected as the winner of the 2009 Buckminster Fuller Challenge.

Entries in the annual competition must present a bold, visionary, tangible initiative that is focused on a well-defined need of critical importance. They should be regionally specific yet globally applicable, and backed up by a solid plan and the capability to move the solution forward.

The jurors were looking for entries that are:

Comprehensive — addressing the interaction of key issues responsible for present conditions; aims to solve multiple problems without creating new ones;
Anticipatory — factoring in critical future trends and needs as well as potential long term impacts of implementation;
Ecologically responsible — reflecting nature's underlying principles while enhancing the Earth’s life-support systems;
Feasible — relying on current technology and existing resources;
Verifiable — able to withstand rigorous empirical testing;
Replicable — able to scale and adapt to a broad range of conditions.Each year a distinguished jury awards a $100,000 prize to support the development and implementation of a strategy that has significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems and the results are in!

In the opinion of the jury, the Personal Mobility project best represents the comprehensive, anticipatory approach to design pioneered by R. Buckminster Fuller - it is a, bold, visionary idea and beautifully reflects the spirit of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge.

SPM/MoD isn't just about the design of these lightweight, highly efficient, electric vehicles, it is about inserting that technological innovation into the social and cultural environment and designing an intuitive system within which they function. The technological innovation embodied in these vehicles is just one piece of a larger system design which addresses issues from pollution, to congestion, to urban space, to economics, to energy use, to the very idea of personal transportation and what that means in a world with nearly seven billion inhabitants. It is - in the Bucky tradition - a transformative solution rather than an isolated piece of technology.

Click on the heading above to see a video about the Buckminster Fuller Challenge.

Design is Focus of Sloan Management Review

According to MIT's Sloan Management Review design is not a thing, but a way. Design thinking — distinct from analytical thinking — has emerged as the premier organizational path not only to breakthrough innovation but, surprisingly, to high-performance collaboration, as well. “It’s not about the pretty,” says one design-thinking practitioner, “it’s about the productive.”

In the current special section of articles, interviews, illustrated cases and research findings, the Sloan Management Review explores how to put design thinking to work.

Articles include:

USER EXPERIENCE: Designing Waits That Work by Donald A. Norman
“Perceptions are more important than reality, so manage [them]. Make the reasons for the wait clear, give feedback about the status, and provide a conceptual model.”
UNABRIDGED: “The Psychology of Waiting Lines,” the original version of this essay, to be featured in Norman’s upcoming book, Sociable Design.

IN PRACTICE: Usability for Evil by Chris Nodder
How do some companies get their customers to do something that’s useful for the company but not really for the customer? Maybe by trying hard.
ELSEWHERE: Evil by Design “Discover purposefully designed interfaces which make users emotionally involved in doing something that benefits you more than them.”

PROBLEM SOLVING: How to Become a Better Manager … By Thinking Like a Designer
Interview by Jimmy Guterman
Presentation experts Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds help world-renowned executives, politicians and thought leaders deliver stronger presentations. Here they reveal how to influence and persuade in a different way, regardless of whether you ever have to communicate via PowerPoint.

COMMUNICATIONS: How Facts Change Everything (If You Let Them)
By Edward R. Tufte, as told to Jimmy Guterman
Information-visualization guru and famed PowerPoint debunker Edward Tufte explains how businesses would think better, make better decisions and present themselves more powerfully if only they would learn to talk — both internally and externally — in facts.

DIGITAL BUSINESS: Morph the Web To Build Empathy, Trust and Sales
By Glen L. Urban, John R. Hauser, Guilherme Liberali, Michael Braun and Fareena Sultan
We’ve long been able to personalize what information the Internet tells us — but now comes “Web site morphing,” and an Internet that personalizes how we like to be told. For companies, it means that communicating — and selling — will never be the same.

INNOVATION: Toyota’s Secret: The A3 Report
By John Shook
How Toyota solves problems, creates plans, and gets new things done while developing an organization of thinking problem-solvers.

CREATIVITY: Elegance By Design: The Art of Less by Matthew E. May
Great designers understand the role subtraction plays in creating elegant solutions. The author of In Pursuit of Elegance shows what managers can learn from the principles of Symmetry, Seduction, and Subtraction.

Click on the heading above to go to the Review's website.

School Arts Magazine Available Online

School Arts is offering a digital companion edition to its long-standing print magazine.

A digital companion edition is a replica of the print edition available on the Web with live links. Subscribers will receive an e-mail link providing access to the companion edition on the same day that the issue mails. The print edition will follow in a week or two depending on the mail.

With the digital edition, subscribers can:

search through the issue
zoom in on specific pages
access content-related Web links quickly and easily
view it with most Internet browsers and doesn’t require you to download any programs
view your edition from anywhere you have access to the Internet
view archived editions.

Subscribers who sign up for the digital companion edition will still receive the printed magazine in the mail as usual.
Click on the heading above to learn more.

Cooper-Hewitt Hosts City of Neighborhoods Program for K-12 Teachers

The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum is hosting A City of Neighborhoods, a professional development program for K-12 teachers, in San Antonio Aug. 3–7, 2009.

A City of Neighborhoods brings together 32 educators from all disciplines from across the country for a five-day workshop of interactive activities—walking tours, workshops and presentations by leading design experts—that demonstrate how to incorporate design thinking into classrooms.

Cooper-Hewitt’s education programs provide teachers with the resources to impart essential 21st-century skills, such as critical thinking, visual literacy, teamwork and problem solving. Participants will learn about the design process before returning to their schools, where they will incorporate this content into their lesson plans and curricula. All lesson plans will be posted on Cooper-Hewitt’s online Educator Resource Center (, where they will be accessible to educators around the world. “This program teaches teachers and students to think like designers,” said Caroline Payson, director of education at Cooper-Hewitt. “Educators can use their own communities as a vehicle for change and civic engagement.”

The Educator Resource Center is creating the largest online design resource for educators. Participating teachers will engage in a close follow-up process with Cooper-Hewitt’s education staff through evaluations, lesson plans and completed classroom projects submitted to the center. The site features design-focused lesson plans and discussion boards for teachers interested in incorporating design into their curriculum. More than 250 lesson plans for K-12 educators, aligned to the national standards for all grade ranges, help teachers learn ways to promote innovation, critical thinking, visual literacy and problem solving in their classrooms.

A community-based design education and advocacy program, City of Neighborhoods aims to foster civic engagement and apply design education to a neighborhood context, providing access to primary resources, such as streetscapes, maps and historic and cultural materials. The program will use San Antonio’s Five Points community as its focus neighborhood. The Five Points area has played an important role in the development of San Antonio, the second largest city in Texas, since its inception. Presenters will include Ellen Lupton, Cooper-Hewitt’s curator of Contemporary Design and director of the graduate program in graphic design at the Maryland Institute College of Art; Meredith Davis, director of the doctoral program in design at North Carolina State University and co-author of “Design As a Catalyst for Learning”; Stephen Tillotson, principal of Kell Muñoz Architects; and D.J. Stout, a partner at Pentagram, a design studio.

The City of Neighborhoods program in San Antonio is part of a multicity initiative that aims to create a model of community-focused, project-based learning that can be replicated throughout the country.

International Design Excellence Awards Announced on

The IDEA® (International Design Excellence Awards) program is the premier international competition honoring design excellence in products, ecodesign, interaction design, packaging, strategy, research and concepts. Entries are invited from designers, students and companies worldwide.

In May, 20 of the world's top designers, over the course of three days, selected prize winners in this year's International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) program, organized by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) and sponsored by Target and Autodesk.

"Design is not just about making things pretty," says Claudia Kotchka, former head of design at Procter & Gamble, who was one of this year's judges. "Designers are about making the world a better place."

One of the winners is the NIKE Trash Talk (left) which is made from scraps of leather and synthetic materials that are stitched together and attached to a recycled rubber sole. This high performance basketball shoe is made from manufacturing waste. It incorporates leftover materials—leather and synthetic leather, foam, and rubber—into new shoes without sacrificing any of the performance aspects that come from shoes made from virgin materials. The shoe is constructed strong enough for an NBA player but has enough style to win Best in Show in this year's International Design Excellence Awards.

Winning entries are announced on and receive coverage in hundreds of print and broadcast media networks around the world. IDSA has been honoring design excellence via the IDEA Awards since 1980. IDEA was formerly known as the Industrial Design Excellence Awards. The name changed in 2007 to emphasize the international reach and influence of the competition.

Click on the heading above to go to the Business Week site and see a video about the judging.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Next American City magazine

Next American City is a national quarterly magazine about making cities better. The magazine seeks to observe, document and conceive realistic solutions about how to improve cities—how to ensure that future generations’ lives are improved, and not made more dangerous or unnecessarily complicated by the decisions we make. In each issue of the magazine there are investigative features, essays and interviews from the front lines of urban change and innovation.

Next American City is published by The Next American City, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting socially and environmentally sustainable economic growth in America’s cities and examining how and why our built environment, economy, society and culture are changing. They seek to achieve this goal through the publishing of a print and online magazine, events across the country, and advocacy on issues central to the future of cities.

Click on the heading above to see their website and learn more about their programs.