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Teshia Treuhaft

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Posted by Teshia Treuhaft  |  18 Sep 2013  |  Comments (0)


We've seen our healthy share of design conferences over the years, but a Better World by Design in Providence, Rhode Island, takes the cake for top-notch interdisciplinary social innovation. Begun just six short years ago as a collaboration between students of the Industrial Design department at the Rhode Island School of Design and engineering at Brown University, the conference has since grown into a three-day event boasting some serious firepower in their recently announced line-up for 2013 covering a multitude of disciplines.

This year's conference will take place from September 27–29 at locations on the campuses of both the Brown University and RISD, who will host some of the major movers and shakers in design, engineering, education and more to share their ideas, stories and plans for action under the event's theme of "Pause + Effect."

The theme for this year's conference is Pause + Effect. It is a decision to make reflection a part of your creative process. Not stagnation, but rather, a state of dynamic equilibrium. Our conference is an opportunity for attendees to pause—reflect, revise and redirect their perspectives—and effect change wherever they go from here.


We asked the a Better World content team to give us a sneak peak. Here are a few of our most anticipated speakers and workshops.

speakers.jpgSpeakers Former AIGA President Doug Powell and Lead Breaker Juliette LaMontagne

Speaker Spotlight on Juliette LaMontagne: Breaking New Ground

The Breaker model of teaching and learning takes its lead from designers and entrepreneurs because these methods and mindsets help young people create value for themselves, for organizations, and for the world. Each short-term project answers a different challenge, convenes a unique set of collaborators and industry professionals, and results in viable business solutions. LaMontagne will discuss Breaker's most recent challenge, The Future of Stuff - a collaboration with the at Stanford that tested a hybrid (online/offline) version of Breaker's design-driven model.

Speaker Spotlight on Doug Powell: Social Design - Where Do We Go From Here?

How does a designer who has been self employed for his entire career enter a new chapter, with a new employer, in a new city? Moreover, where does his passion for design-driven social change fit into this new experience? Doug Powell will tell the story of his life and career transition and connect this all to the emerging practice of design-driven social change.


Posted by Teshia Treuhaft  |  29 Aug 2013  |  Comments (2)


Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) recently unveiled a new concept car to add to the plethora of electric and space efficient vehicles. The research group headed by In-Soo Suh, Associate Professor in the Graduate School for Green Transportation, revealed a vehicle inspired by how an armadillo in the wild responds when faced with a predator. KAIST has been making major contributions to the electrical vehicle movement recently with their road charged buses and now with their car aptly named the Armadillo-T. Employing textbook biomimicry, the vehicle achieves its armadillo-like transformation when the rear body of the car tucks over the front covering the windshield. The resulting decrease takes the body of the car from a fully extended 110 inches to 65 inches in its folded position.

Professor In-Soo Suh comments on the car,

I expect that people living in cities will eventually shift their preferences from bulky, petro-engine cars to smaller and lighter electric cars. Armadillo-T can be one of the alternatives city drivers can opt for. Particularly, this car is ideal for urban travels, including car-sharing and transit transfer, to offer major transportation links in a city. In addition to the urban application, local near-distance travels such as tourist zones or large buildings can be another example of application.



Posted by Teshia Treuhaft  |  28 Aug 2013  |  Comments (0)


With aging populations all over the world, its no surprise that healthcare and health monitoring devices have become big business. Japan in particular boasts one of the lowest birth rates in the world and thusly one of the largest elderly populations. It is against this backdrop that the University of Tokyo's Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology (ERATO) research group led by Professor Takao Someya and Associate Professor Tsuyoshi Sekitani, in collaboration with Johannes Keplar University in Linz, Austria, have developed the world's lightest and thinnest circuit. In contrast to similar circuitry designed to come into direct contact with skin (the lick and stick circuits from UIUC come to mind), the ultra-thin electronics from U of Tokyo are incredibly robust for their discreet profile.

Professor Takao Someya commented on the design of the circuitry as having great potential in a number of different arenas.

The new flexible touch sensor is the world's thinnest, lightest and people cannot feel the existence of this device. I believe this development will open up a wide range of new applications, from health monitoring systems, wearable medical instruments, and even robotic skins in the future.


The prototypes of the feather-light circuits exist as a 12×12 array created by two thin layers, one a integrated circuit and the other a tactile sensor. Additionally, they boast a fairly incredible bend radius of 5 microns, ability to endure 233% tensile strain—impressive for electronics that are just one-fifth the thickness of your average saran wrap. While all of this may sound fine and dandy, its pretty incredible when compared to traditional IT device manufacturing that typically employs rigid silicon.



Posted by Teshia Treuhaft  |  26 Aug 2013  |  Comments (1)


The natural inclination to escape from the fast pace and constant visual stimulus that is city life is a pretty common response for any human (and particularly any New Yorker). When the skyscrapers and constant car horns get to be too much, why not steal away to a personal oasis? Better yet, carry that oasis with you at all times... in your own jacket. If you do happen to be seeking escape on a moment's notice, the recent design projects of Justin Gargasz will jettison you out into the wild—or at least the nearest park.


It appears we are destined to be a generation of new-age nomads as a result of technology, constant career changes and unprecedented mobility. Is a constant search for how best to return to nature an inevitable side effect of modern life? Maybe, maybe not... but enough people cringe at the idea of life in the big city that need to escape is a viable design problem.

When we first encountered Gargasz's wearable tent structures in 2009, it was an interesting concept placed somewhere between the blurred realms of fashion, furniture and architecture. At the time, he was fresh out of design school and we were impressed with the Boston-based designer's first 'modern cocoon,' named Vessel. Four years later, Gargasz has spun the project into a full-fledged line of nomadic structures that can just easily be warn on a chilly day in the city as a hiking trip out west. His designs are created not only to shelter the wearer physically but as a play on the need to escape psychologically from a world filled with distractions.



Posted by Teshia Treuhaft  |  14 Aug 2013  |  Comments (0)

highres4.jpgModel Chair

The opportunity to be surrounded by young and bright designers is never a great as in the midst of design school. The unfortunate downside is that being educated among a wealth of talent may lead to homogenous approaches to design through traditional university education. The RISD Furniture Department undergraduate class appears to have avoided that pitfall, producing some very interesting (and diverse) young designers in 2013. The work runs the gamut from the elegant compound curvatures of Laura Kishimoto's woodworking to the Playful Pop of Jamie Wolfond's approach to design for manufacturing.

So to does their fellow classmate Benjamin Kicic offer yet another approach with a selection of furniture objects that seem to only be described as politely subversive. Paying both homage to centuries of furniture design history with a dash of dry humor about the future of manufacturing, Kicic strikes a chord dealing with old forms and new materials. Oftentimes, projects that attempt to bridge the (expansive) gap between traditional making and the age of digital reproduction can fall into the 'lukewarm novelty' category, but Kicic's work makes the jump successfully. The careful blending of what should be strongly opposed design elements open up a mature conversation about the canon of design history and uncertainty of design future.

modelchairnobronze.jpgModel Chair Mock-up without Bronze Joinery

Kicic's Model Chair, in particular, was devised as an exercise in departure from the traditional approach to furniture making. Although object design is often heavy on hands-off planning and forever married to craft, Kicic inverted the process, embracing an ad-hoc approach. The chair attempts to celebrate temporary joinery (composed here of hot glue) by making it permanent through bronze casting. This dedication to diverting the 'usual' approach to construction or material is a thread that runs through much of Kicic's work, culminating recently completed BFA thesis.

Jointcomposit.jpgInitial Joint created with Hot Glue and later cast in white bronze

With furniture, an object's value can often be determined by the way the parts are connected and how much craft and time goes into these connections. With this chair, the form was chiefly dictated by a process largely removed from craft and much more gestural. Preciousness and joint strength was returned through casting the hot glue in white bronze. My goal [with the Model Chair] was to create something that was both calculated and gestural, that played with a new way of working and thinking, a structurally sound object created with a quick and messy gesture.