Posts tagged design

Terunobu Fujimori’s poesy

Terunobu Fujimori, architecture, design


Terunobu Fujimori (November 21, 1946) is an architect and architectural historian, a lateral thinker and surrealist.

Fujimori is known as a modern eccentric with an architectural sensibility drawn from ancient Japanese traditions and influences of Le Corbusier and Claude Nicolas Ledoux. His architecture is characterized by fantasy and humor, use of natural materials and the subversion of traditional techniques.

A well known author, cultural commentator, and TV host in Japan; as well as a longtime professor of Japanese architecture at the Institute of Industrial Science at the University of Tokyo. Fujimori came into his design career late in life—he got his first commission at age 44, 27 years ago—but he has since conceived some of Japan’s most startlingly original buildings, on average one per year.

Fujimori basically fell into designing buildings after his native village (a tiny, rural village two hours south of Nagano) commissioned him in 1991 to design a small history museum, Jinchokan Moriya Historical Museum. As he pondered what form the building should take, he felt the weight of all of architectural history bearing down on him. “Since I was a famous architectural historian,” he says, “I thought my architecture should be totally unique, dissimilar to any architecture that came before.”

His peers found the building intriguing. “Terunobu Fujimori has thrown a punch of a kind no one has ever seen before at ‘modernism,’” wrote the architect Kengo Kuma. Encouraged, Fujimori decided to continue designing. With no other clients in sight, he built a house for his family in a Tokyo suburb, the Tanpopo (Dandelion) House with strips of volcanic rock affixed to the facade, and flowers and grass blooming in the grooves between them. While Fujimori admits that his buildings tend to be ecologically sensitive and extremely energy-efficient, he is wary of the contemporary conception of green design. “As an architect, I deal with the visual effects. Energy conservation is an engineer’s work. My intention is to visibly and harmoniously connect two worlds—the built world that mankind creates with the nature God created.”

In a pioneering professional career now spanning almost 30 years, the architect has produced two-legged teahouses suspended 20 metres above the ground; homes whose chimneys are planted with pines and whose roofs are covered in leeks and chives; and guesthouses that perch precariously atop small segments of white wall. Whereas his contemporaries – starchitects like Tadao Ando and Toyo Ito, who he counts as close friends – embrace Japanese simplicity, conceptualism and new materials, Fujimori prefers eccentricity, tradition, character and natural elements local to the sites at which he works (mud, wood, stone, coal, bark, mortar and, often, living plants) evoking sometimes real life Hayao Miyazaki cartoons. “My work is all about keeping the fun of childhood alive,” says Fujimori.


Tobias Revell - Five Problems with Speculative Design (Pensee, Germinal, 227)

Tobias-Revell, SCD, design, speculative-design, futures, climate-change, 2019

We don’t have a good speculative design for planetary-change. The operating model of the business-design pipeline is exploiting the planet at one end and users at the other. The idea that these might in fact be the same thing would mean admitting that an operational focus on individual users and discrete time windows was ineffective design. And large sprawling change over massive time windows and shifting human/non-human interactions does not conform to the way in which revenue is reported. Again, this isn’t the fault of speculative design; designers need to eat. But, under these conditions we can’t to look at it as a catch-all solution for planetary collapse.


“The famous Marber grid is one of the foundation stones of Penguin mythology, a design so clever that it is still studied half…

design, book design, Penguin, Marber grid

“The famous Marber grid is one of the foundation stones of Penguin mythology, a design so clever that it is still studied half a century after it was made.Romek Marber was a well-trained Polish designer working in London. He had done two covers for Penguin when the new art director Germano Facetti invited him and two other Penguin illustrators, John Sewell and Derk Birdsall, to propose a design grid for the crime imprint. Marber won. His approach was very methodical, reflecting his interest in symmetry and proportion“

UnSchooling The Pioneers of Change

Medium, Leyla Acaroglu, interview, design, complexity, unschooling, education, 2017

Leyla Acaroglu —  It’s an experimental knowledge lab that I set up three years ago to help overcome what I call the knowledge-action gap, the difference between people knowing that there are problems in the world, feeling that they want to address them, but not knowing how to take action. I really struggled a lot with the mainstream structural system of education, I did a lot of research in pedagogy and the way in which we teach and the way in which the brain works, how a lot of the experiences we have in life educate us, and how actually a lot of those experiences de-educate us.


“Words have power, and in systems thinking, we use some very specific words that intentionally define a different set of…

systems thinking, design, economics, systems, Leyla Acaroglu

“Words have power, and in systems thinking, we use some very specific words that intentionally define a different set of actions to mainstream thinking. Words like ‘synthesis,’ ‘emergence,’ ‘interconnectedness,’ and ‘feedback loops’ can be overwhelming for some people. Since they have very specific meanings in relation to systems, allow me to start off with the exploration of six key themes.”



Medium, solarpunk, speculative fiction, art, fashion, design, environment, civilisation, bright green

“#SOLARPUNK is a movement in speculative fiction, art, fashion and activism that seeks to answer and embody the question “what does a sustainable civilization look like, and how can we get there?” The aesthetics of solarpunk merge the practical with the beautiful, the well-designed with the green and wild, the bright and colorful with the earthy and solid. Solarpunk can be utopian, just optimistic, or concerned with the struggles en route to a better world — but never dystopian. As our world roils with calamity, we need solutions, not warnings. Solutions to live comfortably without fossil fuels, to equitably manage scarcity and share abundance, to be kinder to each other and to the planet we share.


Story Thought and System Thought

Medium, system thinking, story thinking, narrative, psychology, design

Many disputes reflect differences in how people think as much as in what they think about a particular issue. We can’t always persuade one another simply by expressing our positions, introducing information, and counting “pros” and “cons.” Instead, our disagreements often start upstream, so to speak, as we and others diverge in which modes of thinking we consider legitimate. Frameworks for understanding these modes can help us to translate between them, the “story thought” vs. “system thought” framework.


Umbra, a Black Design Story

Medium, Dan Hon, design, umbra, dark patterns, black design, design fiction

Matt was in a foul mood this morning and had shut himself away in One, the meeting room with the large, black conference table and the Polycom with a custom red paint job that in a company with a higher Whimsy Score on Glassdoor (not a real thing, I need to remember to write that down for work) would have a name like Monolith or Kubrick.


Murat Pak: Designing the Mind of an Online Curator

Medium, bots, aesthetics, Archillect, design, fashion, art, technology, curation, AI, character

From the very beginning, since Archillect was made to find images by following a certain relational structure, I had to trust that Archillect would have a certain character in what she found and shared, which would create an almost personal profile. This is the reason I wanted to present Archillect as a person rather than a random bot. As people perceived Archillect as a character, a personality, they also contributed to the project through the ways they interacted with the project as a result of this perception. This was important to me.


“Means Well” Technology and the Internet of Good Intentions

Medium, ndkane, technology, design, scope

Means well technology seems to exist in isolation of how we normalize and understand objects, never quite understanding or using them how the designer wants us to, because we are humans with doubts and fears and cultural ‘stuff’ that often rubs up against the technology that is supposedly meant to help us.


Rockets of India

Medium, Anab Jain, Space, space programme, design, India

A while back I roamed the streets of India with tiny Mars probes, speaking to strangers about space missions, aliens, climate change and nationalism. It was the start of a thrilling adventure exploring the history and future of India’s space program within the context of global geopolitics, militarization and cultural imperialism. From astronauts to afronauts, from cosmonauts to vyomanauts, how can deep space exploration inspire us to create more democratic future visions?


Little Printer: designing the new domestic landscape

Medium, design, little printer, 2013, BERG, IoT, connected devices, Dan Hill

Little Printer is a product of now. It is a product, a tangible thing, but is also a product, in the sense of a consequence, of contemporary culture. It humbly and accessibly exemplifies how physical and digital have merged to become one, to become hybrid objects, to demonstrate how objects might become networked, and how domestic objects might behave.


Exploring energy futures through design fiction (Part 1)

futures, energy, design


With the autumnal equinox upon us, Crap Futures is nearing its first anniversary. We began shooting ideas back and forth last September when James arrived in Madeira. Now, after a long, hot summer, it seems like a good moment to take stock and reflect on the past year whilst also making plans for what comes next.


In the post When the sun shines we gave an overview of our ongoing design project. This has been ticking along in the background since early 2016, with time spent articulating the research methodology, transforming the concept into funding proposals, and identifying and discussing with potential collaborators. Back in April we described the problem of using renewable energy sources on the island (and beyond), identifying some of the factors currently hindering their implementation - for example historical legacies. The project asks:

What might our energy infrastructure look like if it were not constrained by these outdated constructs?

A key motivation has always been to move beyond the discursive, the critical, the speculative and the fictional. As we wrote at the time: ‘With this project (unusually) we’re not interested in fiction.’ In retrospect this statement seems a bit rash. So before moving into the making phase, we thought it necessary to probe a little deeper into the relationship between fact and fiction. Or more precisely, What is the role of fiction when trying to make change - desperately needed change - in the real world?

To start with Bruce Sterling’s familiar definition:

Design fiction is the deliberate use of diegetic prototypes to suspend disbelief about change.’

There are several keywords here that demand closer examination. First, fiction - in The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, Slavoj Žižek describes the viewer’s reading (of cinema) by stating that, ‘if something gets too traumatic, too violent, even too filled in with enjoyment, it shatters the coordinates of our reality - we have to fictionalise it’. This statement is helpful as it succinctly describes two states of being and the relationship between them: the nonfiction world, defined by the coordinates of reality, and its fictional counterpart (diegesis).

Second, diegetic - from diegesis: the world in which the story takes place and for which the prototypes are designed. Through the manipulation of a particular set of coordinates, a fictional or alternative world can be constructed.

Third, a more complex issue is raised by the use of design when combined with the term change. The recent emergence of counter or oppositional forms of design (such as design fiction etc.) suggests that there are problems or limitations with mainstream design; for example, design’s affiliation with the market and the prevailing demands of consumption and innovation. These are the (normative) designer’s coordinates of reality: in practice experienced as constraints that limit the potential of design to make substantive change (see Future nudge). Designing for a carefully crafted diegesis can provide new constraints, in turn facilitating new solutions.

Fact and fiction should not exist as a dichotomy but rather an elastic scope of possibility. Good design fictions do not shatter the coordinates of reality; they stretch and manipulate them in carefully crafted ways, hence the suspension of disbelief. But, and this is important, to what end? Sterling’s phrase ‘deliberate use’ suggests purpose … but what is the purpose?

In Building Imaginary Worlds, Mark J.P. Wolf examines why authors find it necessary to invent other worlds. He concludes that the answer lies in ‘ the changing of Primary World defaults, to amaze, entertain, satirize, propose possibilities, or to simply make an audience more aware of defaults they take for granted’.

In his introduction to Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury offers some additional motivations:

‘Sometimes writers write about a world that does not yet exist. We do it for a hundred reasons. (Because it’s good to look forward, not back. Because we need to illuminate a path we hope or we fear humanity will take. Because the world of the future seems more enticing or more interesting than the world of today. Because we need to warn you. To encourage. To examine. To imagine.)’


In the closing sentence of his book Technophobia! Daniel Dinello suggests that ‘At its best, science fiction projects a dark vision of the Technologist’s posthuman future that encourages us to create a better one.’

But does highlighting wrong paths lead us to preferable ones? 

This question was raised in Republic of Salivation, a post on MoMA’s ‘online curatorial experiment’ Design and Violence:

‘Do violent, dystopian visions ever lead to positive, substantive change?’

Design fiction futures, it is true, are often dystopian - this is one of several lines of critique aimed at design fiction projects. The upcoming Speculative Now! conference in Split, Croatia, for example, has chosen to focus debate on the role of speculative design in the ‘real world’. Similarly with our project we aim to advance the goals and practice of design fiction by defining positive paths. Our approach will bring fiction-based prototypes back into real life, seek to produce tangible societal outcomes, and work to turn (positive) aspects of fiction into fact. Design fiction can help us work toward ‘the future we actually want’, imposing our own agency in how the future happens.

In our next post we will examine three stages of design fiction, explaining how a carefully contrived diegesis can provide the ideal framework for redesigning the real world.


Christian Schussele - Men of Progress [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; SAFEGE test track at Châteauneuf-sur-Loire, France (used in filming of Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451), via Wikimedia Commons

In 1999, Dave Eggers managed to get an entire David Foster Wallace short story onto the spine of the third issue of McSweeney’s…

design, book design, spine, DFW, title

“In 1999, Dave Eggers managed to get an entire David Foster Wallace short story onto the spine of the third issue of McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. Just getting the title on there – Another Example of the Porousness of Various Borders (VI): Projected But Not Improbable Transcript of Author’s Parents’ Marriage’s End, 1971 – is quite a feat in itself.”

Daniel Benneworth-Gray, On the challenges of designing a book spine

Twine as a Process Modeling Tool

Medium, twine, hypertext, computing, documents, writing, dynamic documents, CYOA, design, process

Twine is a tool that lets you make point-and-click games that run in a web browser—what a lot of people refer to as “choose your own adventure” or CYOA games. It’s pretty easy to make a game, which means that the Twine community is fairly big and diverse.
There are a lot of tools that you can use to do information architecture and to sketch out processes. Visio, PowerPoint, Keynote, or Omnigraffle, for example. In the programming world, some people use UML tools to draw pictures of how a program should operate, and then turn that into code, and a new breed of product prototyping apps are blurring the line between design and code, too. But it has always bummed me out that when you draw a picture on a computer it is, for the most part, just a picture. Why doesn’t the computer make sense of those boxes and arrows for you? Why is it so hard to turn a picture of a web product into a little, functional website?
This is a huge topic — why are most digital documents not presented as dynamic programs? (One good recent exploration of the subject is Bret Victor’s “Up and Down the Ladder of Abstraction.”) And in some ways the Twine interface is a very honest testing and prototyping environment, because it is so good at modeling choices (as in, choose your own adventure).


Visualizing the Crisis

Medium, design, crisis, finance, economics, politics, infoviz

When we started to think of a possible topic for this year’s Information Design course at IUAV, Venice (after exploring the world’s technology and networks in two consecutive editions of an illustrated Atlas of the Contemporary) we realised that in trying to understand how — and if — this crisis would have unfolded, there was a great potential for design to help illuminate this conjuncture. Given the increasing importance of economical data and the financial landscape over our lives, the lab was then established as an ongoing, real-time workshop in data-visualisation, which would track and explain the crisis that the analysts predicted for 2016. Its purpose was to better understand the broader network of causes and implications which every financial turmoil exists within, providing context to economic reports, and looking at the socio-political framework of news stories. From a design perspective, the intention was to develop new ways for visualizing financial news, in order to move from the rather bi-dimensional and dispassionate language of bar and pie charts, into a richer territory made up of maps, cartograms, illustrations and diagrams.


How an internet mapping glitch turned a random Kansas farm into a digital hell

geography, GPS, mapping, MR, VR, AR, kansas, US, glitch, GIS, bugs, design

For the last decade, Taylor and her renters have been visited by all kinds of mysterious trouble. They’ve been accused of being identity thieves, spammers, scammers and fraudsters. They’ve gotten visited by FBI agents, federal marshals, IRS collectors, ambulances searching for suicidal veterans, and police officers searching for runaway children. They’ve found people scrounging around in their barn. The renters have been doxxed, their names and addresses posted on the internet by vigilantes. Once, someone left a broken toilet in the driveway as a strange, indefinite threat. As any geography nerd knows, the precise center of the United States is in northern Kansas, near the Nebraska border. Technically, the latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates of the center spot are 39°50′N 98°35′W. In digital maps, that number is an ugly one: 39.8333333,-98.585522. So back in 2002, when MaxMind was first choosing the default point on its digital map for the center of the U.S., it decided to clean up the measurements and go with a simpler, nearby latitude and longitude: 38°N 97°W or 38.0000,-97.0000. As a result, for the last 14 years, every time MaxMind’s database has been queried about the location of an IP address in the United States it can’t identify, it has spit out the default location of a spot two hours away from the geographic center of the country. This happens a lot: 5,000 companies rely on MaxMind’s IP mapping information, and in all, there are now over 600 million IP addresses associated with that default coordinate. If any of those IP addresses are used by a scammer, or a computer thief, or a suicidal person contacting a help line, MaxMind’s database places them at the same spot: 38.0000,-97.0000. Which happens to be in the front yard of Joyce Taylor’s house.


Madlove: A Designer Asylum, a mental health space designed by patients in the U.K.

design, psychiatry, asylum, hospitals, UCD, UK, redesigning-madness

Convinced that psychiatric wards’ bland, bad design directly affects patients like himself, Leadbitter and collaborator Hannah Hull spent months conducting workshops around the U.K. to crowdsource ideas from more than 300 patients, psychiatrists, architects, and designers on how to build visually appealing, patient-centered spaces in place of grim and institutional settings. Leadbitter told me in an email that the feedback was wide-ranging, including one memorable comment from a young man in Birmingham, England, who said: “All I want is a room with Fabergé eggs and a hammer.”


investigations, experiments, theories of colour and light, abstract displays of light-images — as yet far too fragmentary and…

experiments, abstract, photography, design, László Moholy-Nagy

“investigations, experiments, theories of colour and light, abstract displays of light-images — as yet far too fragmentary and isolated — point towards the future, though they cannot as yet provide a precise picture of anything like the future’s scope.”

László Moholy-Nagy, Telehor.

Cameron’s World

internet, design, retro, web, web1.0, personalisation

Cameron’s World is a web-collage of text and images excavated from the buried neighbourhoods of archived GeoCities pages (1994–2009). In an age where we interact primarily with branded and marketed web content, Cameron’s World is a tribute to the lost days of unrefined self-expression on the Internet. This project recalls the visual aesthetics from an era when it was expected that personal spaces would always be under construction.

How to design a metaphor

Michael Erard, metaphor, design, metaphor design, language, linguistics, psycholinguistics

Pretty much every metaphor designer is inspired by Metaphors We Live By (1980), by the Berkeley linguist George Lakoff and the philosopher Mark Johnson at the University of Oregon. It’s the classic look at how metaphors structure the way we think and talk, and once you’ve read it, you can’t help but agree that, at a conceptual level, life is a journey, and arguments are wars (you take sides, there can be only one winner, evidence is a weapon). However, for the practical metaphor designer, psycholinguistic research turns out to be much more useful than philosophical commentary, because it studies how people actually encounter and process new metaphors.

No one cares about your jetpack: on optimism in futurism

jetpacks, futures, design, innovation, Madeline Ashby, optimism

America’s problem is not that it needs more jetpacks. Jetpacks are not innovation. Jetpacks are a fetish object for retrofuturist otaku who jerked off to Judy Jetson, or maybe Jennifer Connelly’s character in The Rocketeer. “We were promised jetpacks!” they whine. Yeah, dude, but what you got was Agent Orange. Imagine a Segway that could kill you and set your house on fire. That’s what a jetpack is. Jetpacks solve exactly one problem: rapid transit. And you know what would help with that? Better transit. Better telepresence. Better work-life balance. Are jetpacks an innovative solution to the problem of transit? Nope. But they sure look great with your midlife crisis. But railing against jetpacks isn’t an answer to the question. Why so negative?

How To Be Ugly: Design Observer

ugly, ugly design, new brutalism, design, fashion, graphic design

Whether reactionary spasm or irrevocable paradigm shift, if history is a guide, once the game is afoot, scores of designers will be eager to get with the program. Obviously, doing ugly work isn’t difficult. The trick is to surround it with enough attitude so it will be properly perceived not as the product of everyday incompetence, but rather as evidence of one’s attunement with the zeitgeist.

Design Fiction: “Speculative Everything” by Dunne & Raby

book, review, bruces, design, deisng fiction, speculative everything, Dunne & Raby

Much remains unclear. Does “critical design” have “users” or an “audience?” Does it have “patrons” or a “viewership?” Is it a craft, or some form of activism? It’s also unsettled whether its main concerns are, or should be, functional prototypes, diegetic special FX, speculative online videos, design-museum dioramas, or performance art and/or experiential happenings. It’s hard to believe that any designer, however Eamesian and polymathic, will ever be good at doing all these things at once.

is it is it is it: Bred to be Boring

design, type, new ugly, homogeneity, layout, abundance, ego

There’s no distinction between anything, I find it impossible to tell where one person’s work ends and another’s begins. The desire to stand out, to add any iota of personality to the now so sacrosanct content has been eradicated. Often when I’m sent a link to a prospective employee’s personal website, I honestly don’t know whether I’m looking at a Tumblr of ‘inspiration images’ or their folio site. It’s a sea of clumsily pared down and timid work, conforming to one or another of a small handful of accepted layouts, my particular bugbear being the art gallery pamphlet with a few images randomly placed on the cover, with one word the right way up at the top, the second word rotated 90° at the right hand edge, the third word upside down at the bottom and the fourth word rotated -90° at the left edge. All set in Aperçu or a font with a weird lower case g designed by an ECAL student. Sometimes if I have further knowledge of the work, the designer will claim weeks of heavy research behind it, but I’m not so sure it takes reading countless Hans-Ulrich Obrist tracts to come up with that one.


food, online, elBulli, cuisine, creativity, design

The ini­tial idea of Bul­li­pedia was to cre­ate a the­matic ency­clo­pe­dia from elBulli by using all the infor­ma­tion that we had in our Gen­eral Cat­a­logue. In fact, in a press release in Jan­u­ary 2010 where we announced the trans­for­ma­tion of elBulli, we already talked about cre­at­ing an ency­clo­pe­dia of tech­noe­mo­tional cuisine. In order to turn this project into a real­ity we started doing the­matic works for the dif­fer­ent fam­i­lies of the evo­lu­tion­ary analy­sis. How­ever, already in Feb­ru­ary 2012, we real­ized that in order to do a cor­rect evo­lu­tion­ary analy­sis, we needed infor­ma­tion ear­lier than elBulli itself. At that moment we decided that Bul­li­pedia was not going to be just about elBulli. In fact we decided to extend the project to include all the west­ern culi­nary art.–2

An introduction to infrastructure fiction

Paul Raven, infrastructure fiction, design, futures, improving reality, ireal13

For artists, writers, designers and theorists and thinkers, however, infrastructure fiction is best described as a call for you to radically change the way you understand the role of technology in your lives, to look afresh at the relationships between the things you do and the systems that make it possible to do them. I’m not asking you to “think outside the box”, here. On the contrary, I want you to think exactly about the box. Infrastructure fiction isn’t about transcending constraints, it is about coming to terms with our constraints as a civilisation, about understanding their nature, and internalising the systemic limits that come from living in a sealed ecosystem with finite resources.–2013/

Ecce Animal

art, design, cocaine, diddo, ecce animal, skull

Ecce Animal

Dimension 12 x 18 x 22 cm
Compression molded Cocaine (street sourced) and Gelatin.

“The analysis started with the preparation of the 100% Cocaine standard and sample solution. An amount of standard was dissolved in a mobile phase followed by a series of trial runs to calibrate and identify the HPLC method that gave adequate separation of the standard. After several trail runs the preferred mobile phase consisted of 20% Acetonitrile, 80% water and contained 0,1% Trifluoroacetic Acid (TFA).”

The Viridian Years

viridian, green, design, bruce sterling, landline, obsolesence

On October 14, 1998, science fiction author Bruce Sterling stood on the stage at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and announced his plans for the new millennium. Y2K was going to come and go, he predicted, and then in early January, journalists were going to be desperate for novelty. A new millennium needed new ideas and as a noted science fiction author, he expected they’d be ringing his phone off the hook (phones were on hooks back then — in 1998, everyone still had a landline)


relearn, constant, OSP, workshop, pedagogy, pattern, free software, design

By and large, graphic design students bring a laptop to school, and create their work using digital software tools. This hard- and software represent a technological and cultural heritage that is seldomly questioned, and a potential that goes unexploited. Using free and open source software and engaging in its culture provides an alternative by making a design practice possible with a more intimate and experimental relation to its toolbox. Beyond the implications for design practice, the culture of free and open source software challenges traditional education paradigms because knowledge is exchanged outside institutional borders, and participants move between roles easily (teacher, student, developer, user). Following from their series of workshops and Print Parties, OSP proposes a summer school experiment. A first try to move across the conventional school model towards a space where the relationship to learning is mediated by graphical software.

Frontiers, Fringe and Farmification

Lisa Ma, futurism, design, protoyping, speculative design, futures

Speculative design generates proposals that, rather than problem solving for our current state, which is much of the focus of traditional design, look to digest the large, complex and ambiguous issues related to our futures. It uses rigorous research to first understand and then rewire different information, experts and emerging technologies to turn these complexities into understandable narratives that allow a kind of design for debate. The outcomes intentionally trigger a user to go beyond traditional need, solution, and consumption, and to question, consider, and speculate. In this way changes and findings that would normally seem irrelevant or overwhelming are teased out into scenarios, objects and services. This is achieved by breaking down unfathomable issues and making them more emotionally approachable. The results are ‘cultural prototypes’ in a way.

John Hagel: Getting Stronger through Stress

Taleb, Hagel, Black Swan, Antifragility, system thinking, design, adaptive systems

In thinking about system design, it’s important to avoid the temptation to develop detailed top down blueprints for systems. Taleb observes that “if about everything top-down fragilizes and blocks antifragility and growth, everything bottom-up thrives under the right amount of stress and disorder.” Nevertheless, there are certain design principles that emerge from Taleb’s work that can help reduce the fragility of the systems we design.

A Dictionary of Surrealism and the Graphic Image

book review, surrealism, design, typography, 1920s, 1930s, Rick Poynor

Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design uncovers the presence of an alternative tradition in graphic design. The Surrealist movement of the 1920s and 1930s focused on literature, painting, photography and the object, and the Surrealists’ publishing activities provided only hints of what a fully conceived Surrealist graphic design or typography might look like. Many of the most suggestive early examples came from Czechoslovakia, where Surrealism would become a lasting influence. Subsequently, Surrealist ideas and images had a profound impact on image-makers in every sphere of art and design, and by the 1960s the effects of Surrealism were widely felt in international graphic communication.

Ferran Adrià and experiments in design

food, design, Ferran Adrià, dialogue

Then you can see how old we are, we still have this discourse of separate disciplines of art, design and cinema. I want a dialogue between these disciplines. With regards to innovation, cooking has a very important character, which is its immediateness. If you go to a café and order a coffee, you want it now. When you apply that to innovation, cooking can be brutal. All the designers with whom we have worked at elBulli are very surprised, because we work 10 times faster than they do. In cooking you can’t do things later, you need to do them now. Designers pick up this characteristic from us and that’s achieved through dialogue.

Little Printer: A portrait in the nude

domus, BERG, little printer, object, mary poppins, magic, design, UI, UX

Little Printer is a product of now. It is a product, a tangible thing, but is also a product, in the sense of a consequence, of contemporary culture. It humbly and accessibly exemplifies how physical and digital have merged to become one, to become hybrid objects, to demonstrate how objects might become networked, and how domestic objects might behave.

Why Things Fail: From Tires to Helicopter Blades, Everything Breaks Eventually

design, failure, product failure, simulation, reliability, manufacturing, engineering

Product failure is deceptively difficult to understand. It depends not just on how customers use a product but on the intrinsic properties of each part—what it’s made of and how those materials respond to wildly varying conditions. Estimating a product’s lifespan is an art that even the most sophisticated manufacturers still struggle with. And it’s getting harder. In our Moore’s law-driven age, we expect devices to continuously be getting smaller, lighter, more powerful, and more efficient. This thinking has seeped into our expectations about lots of product categories: Cars must get better gas mileage. Bicycles must get lighter. Washing machines need to get clothes cleaner with less water. Almost every industry is expected to make major advances every year. To do this they are constantly reaching for new materials and design techniques. All this is great for innovation, but it’s terrible for reliability.

The “Drinking Coffee and Stealing Wifi” 2012 World Tour

design fiction, design, curating, collection, cooper hewitt, design museum, aaronland, artisinal int

We think the War of Terror has not only reshaped our very notion of service design methodologies but also pioneered new and challenging experience design paradigms. We have been in extensive negotiations with the United States government to secure the necessary rights to create rich and engaging user experiences in the museum to support this most important of contemporary design interventions. Okay, not really. But as design fictions go it’s a great way to explain to people why I chose to come at work at a design museum.

Centralization vs. Decentralization: Two Centuries of Authority in Design

Smári McCarthy, design, society, architecture, authority, turing, general purpose computing, Turing

First, I’m going to tell you a bit about the war on general purpose computing. Then, we’ll talk about 19th century terrorism. Then a bit about urbanization and industrialization, before moving on to some weird ideas about languages. At the end, with any luck, it’ll all be interwoven quite nicely.

Distance 01: “What Designers Know” by Jon Whipple

research, design, dsign

Because we already know a great deal, we can move research from a step in the design process to an ongoing, agency-wide activity: we can adopt a distributed research model. This model would result in better, more focused work, allowing us to spend more of our energy on specific issues relevant to the project at hand. It would also help us meet deadlines, because we can capitalize on the experience of the designer and community while maintaining a good relationship with the client. In this essay, I’ll describe how research is built and distributed across teams, and how it can benefit all of us to focus on institutional knowledge.

“The Power of Fear in Networked Publics”

design, technology, control, culture of fear, socialmedia, privacy, networks, danahboyd, attention

When it comes to talking about social media, it’s easy to get trapped in utopian and dystopian rhetorics.  My goal is not to go down one of these rabbit holes, but rather, to critically interrogate our participation in the culture of fear.  Many of you are technologists, designers, pundits, and users. How are we contributing to or combating the culture of fear?  What are our responsibilities with regard to the culture of fear?  What kinds of things can and should we do?

Immaculate Telegraphy

development, telegraph, design, science, communication, history, diy, art, technology

Immaculate Telegraphy was an experiment to build electronic communication from scratch in the wilderness. In summer of 2009, I set out in the mountains of western Montana without any modern tools or materials except information, and constructed a working electric telegraph from materials found on the ground. The experiment showed that electronic communication could have been constructed at any point in history given the right information.