We're back from the Hollywood Hills, which is a topographically crazy place to build houses. Each one sits on a precious lot that has been carved into a slope. L.A. being a city of cars, parking is obviously at a premium here. These two parking spaces, hemmed in by unattractive
Most people think of Honda as a car and motorcycle company, but they view themselves as a mobility company. That's why, nearly 20 years ago, an internal team of engineers was formed to help a subset of people who are functionally immobile: Stroke victims. By adapting the technology from their
We had the pleasure of catching up with Phil Balagtas, brainchild behind the first-of-its-kind PRIMER conference and the international Speculative Futures meetup group. He shares insight about starting PRIMER and where it is going.
On my recent trip to L.A. I crashed with a friend in the Hollywood Hills. It is an incredibly unlikely place to site so many houses. It makes San Francisco look flat. I asked my friend what the story was with this place. She explained that this used to be
Access+Ability is an exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum on view now through Sept. 3, 2018. It features products, projects and services developed by and with people with disabilities—physical, cognitive and sensory—in an effort to improve their ability to lead independent lives and engage with the world.
The hills in this godforsaken city are insane. I'm used to walking long distances in Manhattan, but the constant up-and-down in Bernal Heights is nutty. I saw this one-person bench outside of a residence. It appears to be DIY rather than city-sanctioned. I tried to shoot the photo to give
I stayed in the Bernal Heights area and didn't have much time to explore, but observed what I could. I was surprised to see that the municipal government goes to the added expense of having the street names etched into the sidewalk at the intersections. I don't keep my
This past Wednesday night kicked off Water Futures, a first-of-its-kind research program hosted by A/D/O in collaboration with Jane Withers. The year long program of events and workshops will focus on water in the urban environment, from the tensions around how we manage water in large cities to the push
Once a month the Con Edison man comes to my building, buzzes every apartment, and enters each in turn to read the gas meters. It's a pain in the neck because I have to leash my intruder-unfriendly dogs and hold them at bay while he enters. In the San Francisco
I'm from New York, so everything in San Francisco looks bizarre to me: The hills, the architecture, the parking meters, the street furniture. A good case in point is this public trash can, spotted on Cortland Street in the Bernal Heights area:
With the world's plastics problem spiraling hopelessly out of control, the least we can do is find ways to re-use disposable plastic items before they go into that landfill forever. It's particularly galling to see all of the plastic in the ocean where it causes harm to aquatic creatures that
Design requires, by necessity, a lot of iterations of an object before you get it "right." What do you do with the eleven 3D-printed models you cranked out before settling on design #12? A company called ReDeTec (which stands for Renewable Design Technology), was in attendance at the World's Fair
In the last post we looked at the accidental street furniture that Siamese connections make. Buildings that have them are required to provide signage labeling them. These signs are usually simple and workmanlike. But the designer of this ground-floor business somehow convinced the client to go for more, and spend
In the city you've seen these convenient two-headed pieces of street furniture sticking out of buildings or the sidewalk, and perhaps even sat on them from time to time: So what exactly are they? It depends, at least in New York City, on what color they're painted. You'll see them
I hate taking the subway and I generally Citi Bike everywhere, including over one of the bridges if I have to go to Brooklyn. But the other night I had to go to Gravesend/Sheepshead Bay, which is out of Citi Bike's docking network. One of the reasons I hate
The Global Futures Lab is a series of international workshops that aims to counteract the bias and stereotypes of so-called "Western futures" and foster different futures linked to specific geo-cultural locations.
These are the signs that road crews use in NYC. You don't want a texting driver slamming into a bunch of repairmen, and the bright orange color of these, topped with flags and fronted with cones that have reflective tape on them, fulfill their function of being highly visible. These
We think of sidewalks as level, until the first time you drop something round or cylindrical and watch it roll towards the curb. Sidewalks are of course graded to send rainwater into the gutters. Just how sharply they are graded can be seen anywhere there is scaffolding. Look at the
Cyrill Gutsch talks about plastic use the way doctors talk about drug addiction. In a way, he's not far off. Although wildly harmful to the environment, plastic has become engrained into the worlds of design and manufacturing as a go-to material that simply gets the job done. Cyrill Gutsch and his company Parley are on a multi-faceted mission to end this mentality by ridding the world of plastic—entirely.
This laundromat in Chinatown/Little Italy offers free entertainment to waiting customers. When it's warm enough out they'll sit in one of two chairs provided outside the facility. Against the window on the left is a free library of books. They look to be Chinese versions of steamy Harlequin romance novels.
Ant farms are lame because the ants don't really do much, other than walk around showing off how much weight they can carry. Wouldn't you rather have an indoor beehive, where you can see the little buggers making honey? "I sure would," you say, "but I don't want to get
You reckon someone came home, and found their things by the curb after their live-in partner discovered infidelity? Or maybe someone just threw a bunch of stuff out and someone wrote on it after the fact, I don't know. By the looks of it, this stuff has been here a
I typically take my dogs out for their first walk well before most people wake up. So we pass a lot of shuttered storefronts. Although NYC's crime rates have dropped precipitously in the past several decades, rolling security shutters are a must for storefronts; when the Michael Kors store was
The clichéd gifts for Valentine's Day are always flowers and chocolates, but things have been changing in this holiday business for a while now (Galentine's Day, for example). This year, enter Racket—a grassroots organization aimed at de-shaming menstruation and providing hygiene products to women in need, have written, produced, and
Remember those police barricades I wrote about earlier? The Parks & Recreation employees who maintain this park on the Lower East Side's Chrystie Street have snagged a few. Someone has removed the gates that seal off this fenced-in soccer field, which are usually locked at night. With the gates gone,
Your dog shits free energy. As do mine. And every day I pick it up with a plastic bag and throw it in the garbage, where it does no good. British inventor Brian Harper is doing something about this. Harper lives in Worcestershire's Malvern Hills, designated an Area of Outstanding
Last week, the head of BlackRock, one of the biggest investment companies in the world, sent a letter to the CEOs of each of the companies in which his own $6 trillion company invests: "Consider the social implications of your business," he said. From now on, BlackRock will be evaluating
These are my coffee mugs. Some I got at colleges when I was on the lecture circuit. One I stole during the dotcom boom, others I got as gifts from clients when I was doing freelance industrial design. I've had these for years and none of them have much meaning
When Erik Ahlström moved from Åre, a ski resort town in central Sweden to Stockholm, he had a strong first impression of the capital: "Det ser ju ut som en soptipp," which translates as "It looks like a dump." Ahlström, an environmentalist, was put off by the amount of litter
Bit of a mystery on yesterday morning's dog walk. On the east side of Columbus Park I spotted these. I wouldn't touch these any more than I'd grab and shake a ticking backpack with wires sticking out of it. But I was curious, as these were purposefully placed where they
Pesticides are bad for humans, and they've been linked to everything from birth defects to cancer. They're not much better for the environment: In "Sustaining the Earth," textbook author G. Tyler Miller--the man who literally wrote the book on environmental science--points out that over 95% and 98% of sprayed herbicides
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