Monday, August 31, 2009

Electrolux Announces Design Lab 2009 Finalists

Every year, Electrolux invites industrial design students worldwide to design appliances that will help shape how consumers think about cooking, cleaning, and storing food and other items around the home.

This year, contestants were asked to design appliances that will change the way we live over the next 90 years, allowing for personalization, learning, and time constraints. At stake for the 2009 competition is an internship at an Electrolux design center and a cash prize.

Le Petit Prince (right) by Martin Miklica of Brno University of Technology in the Czech Republic is a robotic greenhouse that's designed to facilitate our move to inhabiting Mars. The robot will care for a plant inside its mounted glass dome and will also have the capability to communicate with other robots in the area.

To see all of the finalists and vote on your favorite, you can visit the Electrolux Design Lab Web by clicking on the heading above.

Disney Buys Marvel

This will have a huge impact on the future of the action hero movie.

Walt Disney Co. (left) is acquiring Marvel Entertainment (right) for about $4 billion. Marvel owns the rights to 5000 popular comic-book characters, including Iron Man, Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Executioner, X-Men, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Thor.

Marvel has recently been making its own productions (vs. just licensing its characters for films), which has helped drive better-than-expected results the past few quarters. Based on the closing price of Disney stock on Friday, August 28, the transaction value is $50 per Marvel share or approximately $4 billion.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Michael Graves Design Exhibit in Minneapolis

"From Towers to Teakettles: Michael Graves Architecture and Design" is an exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts that runs Aug. 29 through Jan. 3, 2010. This exhibition, organized on the occasion of the ten-year anniversary of Michael Graves Design for Target stores, showcases Graves's celebrated style and the roles of context, accessibility, and total design in his work.

Over a career spanning more than 40 years, Michael Graves (right) has developed an individual approach to architecture and design that combines his love of classical forms and elements with a sense of sophisticated wit.

An architectural mini-retrospective section represents a range of the firm's projects, through models, drawings, and photographs, including the Fargo-Moorhead Cultural Bridge (1977), the Washington Monument Restoration (1998-2000), the Minneapolis Institute of Arts Target Wing (2006), and an extensive integrated resort in Sentosa, Singapore (2006 - present). A section devoted to product design, which has literally made Graves a household name, includes his iconic whistling bird teakettle for Alessi (1985) (left), jewelry designs for Belvedere (1991), selections from his "top 25" product designs for Target (1999-present), and a soon-to-be-launched line of accessibility products for Drive Medical.

Architect Michael Graves' new life is challenging. In 2003 at the age of 68, the internationally renowned "starchitect" - best known for his distinctive line of affordable housewares for Target - got a virus. The infection spread to his spine, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

GoodWorks Effie for Companies That Do Good

The Effies are awards for effective marketing communications. As part of Ad Age's GoodWorks initiative and to further promote such efforts, Advertising Age and Effie Worldwide are partnering on a new Effie Award to recognize and promote the idea of doing well by doing good – The GoodWorks Effie.

The GoodWorks Effie is for communications programs proven effective in addressing a social problem or in expanding an existing program in ways that benefit our society or our planet. Any effort that sets out to give back in some way for the greater good is eligible to enter.

This award is based on the belief that lines between brand marketing and a company’s reputation are blurring. Today, businesses believe that those that lead with a strong social conscience through things like sustainable business practices and philanthropic initiatives will succeed.

Like the other Effies, what will be judged and measured is the effectiveness of the communications program created. All GoodWorks entries will undergo the same rigor of evaluation as other Effie entries do. Any and all marketing communications efforts, whether full campaigns or unique efforts within a campaign are eligible to enter as long as measurable results exist. It can be for profit, or not. Projects could be for pay or pro-bono. Categories include profit and non-profit campaigns.

The GoodWorks Effie for Brands/Companies is for marketing communications efforts undertaken by for-profit entities that are ‘doing well by doing good.’ Examples of campaigns that would have been eligible for this award include:
- Pedigree, Echo
- Walmart, PSP 2007: Personal Sustainability Project
- Häagen-Dazs, Häagen-Dazs Loves Honey Bees (above right)

The GoodWorks Effie for Non-Profits is designed for communications of a public service nature for a non-profit organization or association, including political messages and special interest/trade group communications. Examples of campaigns that would have been eligible for this award include:
- Oregon Humane Society,End Petlessness Campaign
- Autism Speaks, Odds Campaign

Winners will be announced and awarded at a special cocktail reception in February 2010.
Click on the heading above to learn more about the Effie Awards

Contests for Design Students

Contests for art students are usually not a good idea because the prevailing philosophy of art education is to nurture the self-exploration and growth of a child's self-image through art. Contests, with the inevitable chance of not being chosen, are seen as counterproductive to the goal of creating a positive self-image and a sense that everyone can be an artist. The concept of "winners and loser" is often viewed as antithetical to the very nature of art in schools.

In design education, however, competition at some level is almost unavoidable. Designers, as part of their daily work, are often submitting designs to be judged against other submissions to determine who will get the contract to design a building, a sign-system, or a new product. Competition and doing work to satisfy someone else's needs and specifications are a natural part of the life of a designer.

Schools are inundated with contest opportunities, often as part of a self-serving promotional strategy on the part of a commercial business, sometimes in an attempt to get free designs, and often supported by the administration as a good community relations initiative. They are often called "art contests" but, if you look closely, they are usually really design projects.

Many times a design education program can be built on fulfilling design requests from the community and entering any of the available design competitions. Design students learn that their role is to solve a problem and come up with the best design for an outside client or user. Contest prizes range for supplies for the classroom to scholarships.

As an example, students in classrooms from Kindergarten through eighth grade can enter a drawing or model of a dream classroom in the RoseArt Design Your Dream Classroom Contest through October 22, 2009, for a chance to win RoseArt school supplies. Kindergartners, primary students, and middle schoolers are invited to use their imaginations to picture their dream classroom, be it full of inventive equipment like wheeled desks or simply located somewhere exciting, like floating at sea while searching for buried treasure.

Click on the heading above to see the website for the RoseArt design contest.

Other contests for design students include:
Lego Click! Awards essay contest for young inventors
Bendaroos Create Your Dream Contest for Kids
Henkel Helps Create! Kids Art Contest
2010 K'NEXpert Search building contest
LEGO Mini Model Design a Set Contest
Cray-Pas Wonderful Colorful World Contest
Ready, Go, Play-Doh® Contest

Friday, August 28, 2009

What Would Your Perfect Car Be Like?

The carmaker, Audi is asking its 300,000 Facebook fans to crowdsource ideas for a concept car of the future - for a 2030 concept car designed for young people.

They are asking what functionality and features you would like to see on a new vehicle in 2030 as part of a competition at the Los Angeles Auto Show, which has challenged vehicle manufacturers to design a youth-oriented car of the future.

Videos created by an online video company called TurnHere encourage fans to participate in the design challenge, while follow-up discussion questions solicit specific feedback, such as 'How will your car play a role in keeping you connected to your digital world in the future?'

The videos showcase real Audi designers sharing their design philosophies and visions for the future of the automobile.

Using Facebook, Audi is posting videos of their design process, information about the contest as it progresses, and soliciting questions and feedback to find out what the fans would like to see in a car of the future. It wants its 300,000 fans to know that as a company, Audi listens to its customers and wants to engage in a conversation about the future.

Click on the heading above to go to Audi's Facebook site.

James Cameron's Avatar Coming in December

Do they give awards for movie trailers? The trailer for Avatar has just become the most viewed trailer of all time.

Avatar is James Cameron's first movie since Titanic, and it's already setting records. The trailer for the film, which comes out December 17, was watched on's trailers site by over 4 million viewers.

The film's release date, says Paste Magazine, "is expected to become the moment when 3D ceases to be a ticket-selling gimmick and instead becomes an irrefutable artistic endeavor."

The film's 3D imagery is an amalgam of video game, CG animation, science fiction, and fantasy aesthetics. It takes us to a world beyond our imagination, where, of course, a reluctant hero embarks on a journey of redemption and discovery, as he leads a heroic battle to save a civilization. Nothing new there, but the character development is purported to hold its own amidst the over-the-top imagery.

The film was first conceived by Cameron 14 years ago, when the means to realize his vision did not yet exist. Now, after four years of actual production work, AVATAR delivers a fully immersive cinematic experience of a new kind, where the revolutionary technology invented to make the film, disappears into the emotion of the characters and the sweep of the story.

Click on the heading above to see the trailer if you're not one of the 4 million who already have. Choose the largest size.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

NASA and William McDonough Break Ground on “Sustainability Base” in California

August 26, 2009 was the ground-breaking ceremony for William McDonough (left) + Partners’ new Collaborative Support Facility called "Sustainability Base" (right) at NASA’s Ames Research Center, in Silicon Valley.

The 50,000-square-foot facility is expected to be the highest-performing building in the federal government, and will incorporate an array of green-building strategies (natural ventilation, a geothermal system, radiant cooling, on-site photovoltaic energy generation, etc.) as well as some of the latest NASA technologies. “I like to think of it as the first lunar outpost on Earth,” the center’s director said.

The combination of NASA's initiative to establish a habitable base on the Moon and the implications for how to live more sustainably on Earth make this one of the most important design projects on the planet. The "closed-loop thinking" that NASA has to do to sustain life on the Moon is what McDonough's group is trying to use in their designs for Sustainability Base on Earth.

Click on the heading above to learn more about the mission and features of the “Sustainability Base” in a five-minute video.

The Courage to Design Your Own Life

Madeline Uraneck left her position as International Education Consultant for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and spent two years in Lesotho with the Peace Corp. In a recent public letter she recounted "What I’ve Learned in Lesotho’s Mountain Kingdom".

Here are some excerpts:

If you have a dream, it’s easier than you imagine to explore it.
What is our fear of change, so great that we can’t break the routine of our daily life to pursue a dream?
I waited far too many years, lured by my salary, pension, job security, on-going projects and friends I loved. But what a great gift to discover a new land, new language, and small children without parents who truly adore me? Yes, it took a full year of indecision, medical tests, and applications to eject me from my comfort zone. But now these obstacles seem petty.

Addressing the elimination of world poverty is a worthy challenge.
In one public letter I wrote that one can substitute trivial work for challenging work. Addressing poverty, rape, HIV/AIDS is frustrating, maddening. But every day that I work hard, I work well. Perhaps I am simply spinning my wheels, “accomplishing” nothing, but at least I am trying.

I want every person in the world who thinks their current job is boring or trivial, to spend a couple years trying THIS. The world would be a better place if we all set our best efforts to living more equitably and sustainably on the planet.

But to tackle world problems, one needs the energy of idealism. Pessimism and cynicism can be fueled by the failures of international development to date, but pessimism and cynicism cannot move mountains.

Progress is impressive, even in poor countries.

The children of Lesotho demand so little, expect too little. I hang my head when I remember the children of the USA, whining in supermarkets, throwing tantrums in friends’ houses, storming about, sulking, sassing their parents. How can one child have summer camp, ballet lessons, a horse, after-school soccer, a closet stuffed with clothes, shelves overflowing with books and toys – and another child have none of the above?

It is not the children who are to blame, but we, the parents, who have spoiled them. Who have given them too much, and required of them too little. Who have not taught them about inequities of the world, or introduced the idea that they might share with others. While it is natural that we want to give -- and I am certainly one who wants to give much to specific children -- it is horrifying to see the unbalanced world that results. By the time we are adults, we no longer question our right to abundance.

Who’d have guessed that these two years have been my healthiest in decades? That learning to live on $200/month would be good pre-retirement training for the new economy? That one laughs a lot at funerals? That one can be intimate friends with 20-something’s? That one could begin a whole new career after the age of 60? That one could tackle her 4th foreign language? That one would be respected because she is older? That one could claim the front seat in public taxis, while others are crammed, with snot-nosed kids and sacks of corn and canisters of gas, in the back?

Khotso, pula, nala (peace, rain, prosperity) from Africa’s Mountain Kingdom.

The Olympics: An Event Design Challenge

Every four years the Olympics provide a good chance to highlight the importance of design in determining the success of any endeavor.

Three major design challenges stand out among the hundreds of design decisions surrounding the Olympics:

1. A signature structure (usually the main stadium)
2. The opening and closing ceremonies (designed last time by a famous film director)
3. A complex way-finding system for people who speak and read different languages

At the Beijing 2008 Olympics (less than a year ago) Beijing’s Bird’s Nest (left) made quite an impression.

The London Organising Committee of the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) chose the international design firm, Populous, as the Official Architectural and Overlay Design Services Provider. Populous has designed the 2012 Olympic stadium (right) that will be complete summer 2011 and will host 80,000 spectators during the Games.

The challenge in building a stadium for a specific event lies in creating a structure that is both temporary and permanent. Each component must take a sustainable approach that uses only what is needed for the event and then transforms to a long term future use; the whole process uses a minimum of services.

The scope of this work includes 36 competition venues located both inside and outside the Olympic Park as well as a large number of non-competition venues including the Olympic Village, and the International Broadcast Centre/Main Press Centre (IBC/MPC).

Click on the heading above to see what Populous has to say about the Olympic project.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Event Designers Check Out the Emmy Awards

With an expected 3,600 guests, the Governors Ball at the Emmy Awards is believed to be the largest formal sit-down event in the United States. Event designers across the world pay attention to how the designers for this event Sept. 20 at the L.A. Convention Center pull it off.

Designers of the 2009 Emmy Awards Governors Ball, (Sequoia Productions, caterer Patina and the Governors Ball Committee) have provided a peak at the "Let There Be Color!" design, featuring "Xanadu"-inspired Middle Eastern motifs and a vivid palette of lime green, teal, purple and green.

Golden scroll-back chairs will be set at rectangular and circular tables topped with gold-rimmed white china, trumpet stemware with gold bands, and gold-handled flatware from Unique Tabletop Rentals. Classic Party Rentals will oversee rentals.

Plush purple banquettes will create a circular stage in the middle of the room, which will be topped with a piano. To rein in the space, 38 giant, custom verdigris lanterns will be suspended from the convention center's ceiling. Also, 38 circular LED towers from Images by Lighting will dot the room; the towers will change color and create color chases to highlight moments in the event's program.

Florist La Premier will create both towering centerpieces and compact arrangements featuring orange circus roses and flame pincushion protea complemented by moss and sage-green succulents.

Design Revolution Book Available in September

"Design Revolution" showcases more than 100 contemporary products and systems-- selected by the author, industrial designer and Project H Design founder Emily Pilloton-- that empower people around the globe in myriad ways and demonstrate that design can change the world.

In January of 2008, with a few hundred dollars, a laptop and a conviction that design can change the world, San Francisco-based product designer and activist Emily Pilloton launched Project H Design, a radical non-profit that supports, inspires and delivers life-improving humanitarian product design.

“We need to go beyond ‘going green’ and to enlist a new generation of design activists,” she wrote in an influential manifesto. “We need big hearts, bigger business sense, and the bravery to take action now.”

Featuring safer baby bottles, a high-tech waterless washing machine, low-cost prosthetics for landmine victims, Braille-based Lego-style building blocks for blind children, wheelchairs for rugged conditions, sugarcane charcoal, universal composting systems, DIY soccer balls, the book makes the case for design as a tool to solve some of the world’s biggest social problems in beautiful, sustainable and engaging ways--for global citizens in the developing world and in more developed economies alike.

At a time when the weight of climate change, global poverty and population growth are impossible to ignore, Pilloton challenges designers to be changemakers instead of “stuff creators.”

Project H Believes Design Can Change the World

Project H Design is a charitable organization that supports, creates, and delivers life-improving humanitarian product design solutions. They believe industrial design can be a tool to address social issues, a vehicle for global life improvement, and a catalyst for individual and community empowerment.

Using a scalable local-to global model for all projects, design fellows and volunteers in 6 US and 3 international chapters work to create systems and solutions for the developing world, homelessness, education, foster care, health care, and more.

Project H is a global coalition of hundreds of designers worldwide who work with, not for, organizations, enterprises, communities, and individuals. Their mission is to provide enabling, sustainable, meaningful, and efficient design solutions.

One of their projects is the Hippo Roller Redesign (right) that is an improved version of a water transport device for the developing world, redesigned for better shipping efficiency and broader distribution. The Hippo Rollers are water containers that can be rolled from the water source to the village.

Learning Landscapes (left) is one of Project H's initiatives that is a grid-based math playground system for active learning that can be built anywhere in the world. This picture shows students using Learning Landscape to learn math in Uganda. Several games have been developed using the Learning Landscapes system.

Click on the heading above to see a 6 minute video about Project H's Learning Landscape project.
Project H believes design can change the world.

Bikers Seek Cool Bike Helmets

Here is a design opportunity waiting for your solution. What will the bike helmet of the future look like that doesn't look dorky and will get more people to wear helmets? You can set a fashion trend and save some lives.

People don't wear bike helmets when they should largely because they don't like the look and it messes up their hair. For many it is literally true that they would rather die than wear a bike helmet.

Commissioned by the city of New York, the NYC Bike Helmet (right) is designed with every rider, every season and a greener environment in mind. The modular system has a protective polystyrene inner shell and a soft fabric outer cover with integrated straps. Each owner can customize and personalize the outer cover, which easily separates from the protective shell for better storage and cleaning.

Famous designers involved in this project include Yves Béhar, Josh Morenstein, Nick Cronan, Matt Swinton, & Giuseppe Della Salle of fuseproject.

Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design

You probably can't make it to a lot of the conferences and events we report on. They may be too expensive, too far away, or in this case, by invitation only. We keep track of these events because it helps us know who the major players are and what big ideas are being addressed in the design fields. This gives us clues about what a design education curriculum might include and you might get a lesson idea or two.

A Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design hosted by the Design Futures Council will be held Sept. 30 - Oct. 2, 2009 in Chicago. The theme is "Voice, Influence and Power: Taking the Reins of Leadership". One hundred delegates from the world’s most influential design firms will convene to identify change drivers, analyze emerging data, and explore innovation in sustainable design at this unique meeting, which is co-hosted by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Speakers will include:

Daniel Pink, the New York Times bestselling author of A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, and host of the PBS series “Daniel Pink: Living on the Right Side of the Brain”.

Moshe Safdie, an architect who has been an innovative force in architecture and urban design since he first attracted global attention with Habitat ’67, a unique concept for urban living.

Stefan Behling, a senior partner, Foster + Partners, specialist in ecology, sustainability, and energy conservation, who has pioneered new techniques for energy management.

David Adamson, a leading sustainable development consultant in the United Kingdom and former director of construction in Her Majesty’s Treasury.

Jane Poynter, CEO, Paragon Space Development Corp., one of eight Biosphere 2 crew members sealed in a self-contained world for two years, TV host, author, and sustainability consultant.

Richard Saul Wurman, information architecture pioneer, TED conferences creator, and author of more than 80 books, including the upcoming "33: Understanding Change & the Change in Understanding".

Adrian Smith, partner, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architects, internationally acclaimed architect of some of the world’s most significant high-performance skyscrapers

Wellington Reiter, President, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and an award-winning architect, artist, and urban designer, whose installations and drawings are found in museums across the country

Sadhu Johnson, Chief Environmental Officer, Mayor’s Office, City of Chicago

Summit registrations are intentionally kept to a maximum delegation of 100 leaders in the AEC and related professions. This ensures that participants have ample time for meaningful dialogue with peers and speakers. The conference is by invitation only.

Many of the presenters are people you should be following and including in your curriculum planning. Click on the heading above to go to the conference link of Design Intelligence.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Learning Online Tops Face-to-Face Instruction?

Here is something to make us re-examine our ideas about what makes good education. A recent 93-page report on online education, conducted by SRI International for the Education Department, concludes:

“On average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.”

Over a 12-year span, the report found 99 studies in which there were quantitative comparisons of online and classroom performance for the same courses. The analysis for the Education Department found that, on average, students doing some or all of the course online would rank in the 59th percentile in tested performance, compared with the average classroom student scoring in the 50th percentile. That is a modest but statistically meaningful difference.

Online education has evolve from little more than electronic versions of the old-line correspondence courses to Web-based video, instant messaging and collaboration tools. More and more, students will help and teach one another.

The real promise of online education, experts say, is providing learning experiences that are tailored more to individual students than is possible in classrooms. That enables more “learning by doing,” which many students find more engaging and useful.

Click on the heading above for a video about the growth of social media.

Objectified Movie Available on DVD

"Objectified", Gary Hustwit's movie about product design, is still touring the world but it is now also available for pre-order on DVD.

"Objectified" is a feature-length documentary about our complex relationship with manufactured objects and, by extension, the people who design them. In his second film, director Gary Hustwit ("Helvetica") documents the creative processes of some of the worlds most influential product designers, and looks at the creativity at work behind everything from toothbrushes to tech gadgets.

"Objectified" is about the people who re-examine, re-evaluate and re-invent our manufactured environment on a daily basis. Its about personal expression, identity, consumerism, and sustainability. What can we learn about who we are, and who we want to be, from the objects with which we surround ourselves?

"You may not ever think about what kind of planning goes into designing simple, everyday things like toothbrushes, wastebaskets or hedge trimmers, but after seeing this movie, you will never look at any one of those objects the same way again." Wired

"The clarity of Hustwit's approach, and the unabashed frankness of his curiosity, are just the qualities you want in a documentary filmmaker. Hustwit has clearly asked these designers the kind of straightforward questions that elicit thoughtful, if sometimes complicated, answers."

Along with "Helvetica" for graphic design, teachers could build a product design curriculum around the movie and the designers featured in it.
The movie features:

Paola Antonelli (Museum of Modern Art, New York)
Chris Bangle (BMW Group, Munich)
Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec (Paris)
Andrew Blauvelt (Walker Art Center, Minneapolis)
Tim Brown (IDEO)
Anthony Dunne (London)
Dan Formosa (Smart Design)
Naoto Fukasawa (Tokyo)
Jonathan Ive (Apple, California)
Hella Jongerius (Rotterdam)
David Kelley (IDEO)
Bill Moggridge (IDEO)
Marc Newson (London/Paris)
Fiona Raby (London)
Dieter Rams (Kronberg, Germany)
Karim Rashid (New York)
Alice Rawsthorn (International Herald Tribune)
Davin Stowell (Smart Design)
Jane Fulton Suri (IDEO)
Rob Walker (New York Times Magazine)

Click on the heading above to go to a site where you can order your own copy of Objectified.

Roof-Top Real Estate Going Green

Architects, Urban Planners, and Landscape Architects are discovering that there is a lot of unused real estate in cities - roof tops. Unlike the beautiful tile roofs found in many European cities, most American cities seen from above are an ugly collection of flat tar roofs and HVAC units.

Some hotels and high-rise work and living inhabitants are realizing that the views from their windows are the ugly roofs of their neighbors. Roof-Top Real Estate is the idea that you can improve the quality of your property by changing the roofs of your neighbors.

Turning ugly roofs into landscaped green spaces is having economic and aesthetic payoffs. It turns out that these roof top gardens are not only more attractive but they are environmentally friendly and economically rewarding.

Click on the heading above to see Treehuggers slide show of green roofs.

Art Zone for Kids Also Great for Design

There is a great interactive website for kids called Art Zone (right) that is part of NGA Kids, a National Gallery of Art website promoting museum visits and providing auxilliary activities for students.

While it is called "Art Zone" and all of the examples are drawn from the fine art museum collection, many of the interactive activities are perfect for learning about design and could be adapted for design education activities.

The 3-D Twirler (left), for example, is much more applicable to designing products, buildings, spaces and digital animation than it is for creating fine art. There is also a virtual digital camera that enables students to crop and adjust photos. Both of these are more design activities than they are fine art and could be used to help students understand graphic, product, environment and experience design.

Use some of the interactive activities to create graphic design, architecture, animation, digital imaging or some other design education application and share them at

Click on the heading above to go to the NGA for Kids site.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Red Dot Design Awards Are Tops in the World

There are more than 11,000 submissions from 61 countries for the international “red dot design award” (left). It is the largest and most renowned design competition in the world. It is divided into the “red dot award: product design”, the “red dot award: communication design” and the “red dot award: design concept.” The award-winning products are put before an international public in the red dot design museums (Singapore and Germany) and published in two books (right).

Each year an international jury reviews and evaluates the submitted products according to criteria such as degree of innovation, functionality and the formal quality. This ensures the seriousness of the competition and its international acceptance. The group of jurors is made up of renowned designers and design experts from all over the world who reach their decisions on which designs are good enough to receive a red dot award independently and impartially. The constellation changes from year to year and guarantees a high degree of objectivity and reliability.

The award is a seal of quality; it stands for membership of the best in design and business. The winners receive the awards in person on the occasion of the gala ceremony in the Essen Aalto-Theater, which is witnessed by more than 1,200 guests. In addition, the annual “red dot award: product design” also rewards one design team with the special title of design team of the year. The award, the “Radius” challenge trophy, has already been received by the design teams of many renowned companies, including LG Electronics, adidas, Apple, Mercedes-Benz, Nokia, Philips, Siemens and Sony.

Click on the heading above to learn about the Red Dot Design philosophy, museums, awards, etc.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

High School Students Attended Fashion Camps

High school students interested in fashion had opportunities to attend a variety of summer camps devoted to fashion design.

Fashion Camp NYC (right) and a similar program at Central Michigan University (left) provide students the opportunity to learn how to design, fabricate and present their own clothing designs. They meet fashion designers, merchants, product developers, stylists, beauty editors and others to learn about potential careers in the fashion industry. Topics include fashion trend forecasting, fashion illustration, cad software, fabric dying and sewing.

Central Michigan's Fashion Camp can be seen at
and Fashion Camp NYC can be seen at
or click on the heading above.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Fine Line: the Founding of frog design

What we see in the world today is already old hat. We have to project ourselves five or ten years into the future and conceptualize designs for that. That's the philosophy of the founder of one of the world's top design firms.

Hartmut Esslinger, (left) the founder of the incredibly influential design firm "frog design", has a book called "A Fine Line: How Design Strategies Are Shaping the Future of Business" (right) in which he tells how he founded "frog" and his philosophy of design. A Fine Line offers a step-by-step overview of the innovation process — from targeting goals to shepherding new products and services to the marketplace — in order to reveal how to arrive at an authentic human design that connects strongly with consumers.

Esslinger believes that if you don't understand business and the whole idea of economics, ecology and sociology you can not be a designer. He is the founder of frog design, inc., a leading global innovation firm, and one of the most respected designers and business consultants in the world.

Esslinger sparked a design revolution when he founded frog design in his native Germany around the guiding principle “form follows emotion.” He has done such revolutionary products as the Apple Macintosh computer, Sony's Trinitron television, Lufthansa's brand and fleet image, Disney's Cruise Lines and Consumer Electronics, and Louis Vuitton's brand aesthetic. His designs are in the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum in New York.

He is also Founding Professor of the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe, Germany and Professor for Convergent Design at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria.

Click on the heading above to see a video of Esslinger talking about his book and the philosophy behind frog design.

Data Visualization of Complex Information

This is a tough idea for some creative types to get their heads around - it is our responsibility to teach all four areas of visualization in K-12 schools not just fine art. That means, whether we are personally interested or motivated, we are obliged to include visual communication, design and visual culture as well as fine art in K-12 curricula.

So here is the test - can we get past our own personal preferences to accept that data visualization is an interdisciplinary form of visual communication that may seem boring and "uncreative" but needs to be part of the knowledge and skill sets taught to all students in our classes?

Artists and designers are turning to data visualization to interpret the deluge of information around us and it goes beyond recognizing that tessellations sometimes make pretty pictures. At the intersection of visualization and mathematics, data visualization abstracts information to bring about a deeper understanding of the data. For artists and designers, data visualization is a new frontier of self-expression, powered by the proliferation of information and the evolution of available tools.

Data visualization is an interpretation, a different way to look at and think about data that often exposes complex patterns or correlations. Data visualization goes beyond pie charts, bar graphs and "infographics," which tend to be about objectivity and clarification. Rather than simply offering another version of the data—restating it visually and making it easier to digest -data visualization is a way to make sense of the ever-increasing stream of information with which we're bombarded.

Click on the heading above to see the complete article by Maria Popova in Business Week with links to a slide show.
Click on the images to see the detail in a larger size.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

3D is Coming to TV

If you recently bought an HD TV you might soon be tempted to buy a 3D HD TV. You might want to wait to see whether you will need the traditional red and blue glasses, polarized glasses or a version that doesn't require any glasses. Like any new technology, the dust will have to settle on what format will prevail and the prices will be high at first until demand hits the right price point.

Three dimensional movies are becoming common in theaters and slowly the immersive experience is headed toward home television. Satellite-TV operator British Sky Broadcasting is preparing to launch an entirely 3D channel sometime next year in the U.K.. It will be the largest push for three dimensional television yet with the company brainstorming content ideas beyond pure “gimmicks.” Price will initially be a problem since expensive 3D ready television sets are necessary to receive 3D content.

3D television shows are not entirely new. Ever since NBC’s 1989 Super Bowl halftime show, “Bebop Bamboozled,” the medium has been flirting with the technology. The 3D technology is becoming increasingly stable and producers are worried about keeping up with the CG film industry as it steadily moves toward 3D.

Upcoming films using the blue and red glasses as a selling point are Toy Story 3D, Avatar, and X Games 3D. The last Superbowl marked the first 3D ad event with placements for Sobe alongside ‘Monsters and Aliens.’ Interactivity is being included in Asteroid Storm, a 3D game where audiences will steer a spaceship with their hands.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

University Students Discuss "Cradle to Cradle"

As the school year starts, all of the incoming freshmen in the Fine and Performing Arts at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania will be discussing the book "Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things" (left) by architect William McDonough (right) and environmental chemist Michael Braungart. Assigning a freshman text is a tradition maintained by Dean William Mowder and having this year's reading on the topic of design is significant.

This extraodinary manifesto for more sustainable design of objects and environments puts forth a new model for industry that proposes to aim higher than "being less bad" and seeks to "grow prosperity, celebrate community, and create more habitat, more health, more clean water, and more delight."

They say "we can re-design the very foundations of industry, creating systems that purify air, land and water; use current solar income and generate no toxic waste; use only safe, healthful, regenerative materials; and whose benefits enhance all life."

Some are not as optimistic as McDonough and Braungart about the willingness of big business to do more than pay lip-service to their claims of being "environmentally friendly". This should lead to lively discussions. You might want to try this out with your students.

Click on the heading above to go to McDonough's site about "Cradle to Cradle."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Celebrate National Design Week in October

On Oct. 19, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum will launch its third National Design Week, an initiative that aims to draw national attention to the ways in which design enriches everyday life, through outreach to school teachers and their students, and partnerships with design organizations across the country.

In addition to events at the Cooper-Hewitt in New York City, National Design Week events are taking place across the country. For example, DesignPhiladelphia is a week-long design extravaganza in Philly that consists of competitions, exhibitions, events, and more. DesignPhiladelphia is in its 5th year and has changed it's dates to October 7-13 this year to associate with National Design Week in an effort to spread the word that Philly is a thriving design city.

You can take advantage of National Design Week as a teaching opportunity by organizing an event in your school or participating in an existing event in your community. Your Design Week events can take place anytime in October. Plan to highlight design education in your school all week with displays, special guests in the classrooms, student design projects, etc.. Call upon your local design community for ideas and volunteers.

Click on the heading above to see the map of all National Design Week Events in the country and to register an event you are planning.
Go to to learn more about how folks in Philadelphia are celebrating National Design Week.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Re-Designing Space Suits for Mars

There apparently isn't enough time to redesign the space suit for the planned trip back to the moon (late next decade) but NASA hopes to have a more flexible, and less bulky suit ready for the planned trip to Mars (two decades later).

MIT has been working on a more streamlined version of a space suit that looks more like the form fitting suits seen in popular science fiction (left)-shown here without the necessary oxygen backpack.

To get its form-fitting look, MIT's prototype space suit wraps tight layers of stretchy spandex and nylon around the astronaut. That exerts a force on the body and uses mechanical counterpressure to deal with the vacuum of space. By contrast, traditional space suits use gas pressurization, which is part of what gives today's orbital explorers their Michelin Man look (right); the bulk also stems from multiple layers and the astronaut's life support system.

For use in space, the BioSuit must deliver close to one-third the pressure exerted by Earth's atmosphere, or about 30 kPa (kilopascals). That's about 50 percent more than the current prototype can exert consistently, though the researchers say new models have ranged up to between 25 and 30 kPa.

Today's big suits --which can weigh in at around 300 pounds--are manageable for working in microgravity environments, such as when a resident of the orbiting International Space Station does a space walk. But in land-based missions like the Moon and Mars there is more need for walking and running, or loping.

Central to the design of the BioSuit is this pattern of lines, corresponding to the "lines of nonextension" on the skin that don't stretch when an arm or leg moves. The suit's lines are meant to provide structural support while also allowing mobility. The BioSuit is also designed to let astronauts wrap a small, isolated puncture much as they would use a bandage.

Click on the heading above to see some of the design issues regarding space suits.