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Posted by Moa Dickmark  |  25 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)


A few months ago, I was contacted by an organization called Women Engineers Pakistan, which introduces girls to the field of engineering and technology. Just reading the name made me curious. For those of you who don't know, I'm an architect, and I come from a family full of engineers and tech-heads. In other words, my choice of becoming an architect has never, at any point of my life, ever been questioned. I went to a technical high school in Uppsala, Sweden, always with the support of mom and dad, brothers and sister, my grandmother, aunts, uncle and most of all my wonderful grandfather. With 26 boys and 5 girls in my class, the male-to-female ratio was rather high, but my knowledge and competence was never questioned by anyone of the male gender. Not by teachers, nor by fellow students.

Hearing about an organization like this and its origins was inspiring, and it takes more then a bit of willpower and skin on the nose (Swedish expression) to start something as groundbreaking and controversial in a country where female students are told that they should reconsider their choice to study engineering and start studying something more suitable for women...

In this interview, I've had the great pleasure of talking directly with Ramla Quershi, the co-founder of Women Engineers Pakistan. She recently moved to the U.S. to study engineering on a full Fullbright scholarship. So even though she's busy with the big move and getting her bearings, she set aside some time for this interview. I hope you get as inspired by reading this as I did from writing it.


Core77: Tell us a bit about the organisation and the thoughts behind it.

Ramla Quershi: The organization is a budding startup, which looks to increase participation from Pakistani women in Pakistan in engineering. Women have always been by and large in domestic and agricultural jobs in Pakistan, and their participation in science and technology has been minimal. We realize that women make over half the Pakistani population and we're working to prevent that potential talent for technical prowess from going to waste. We're working with young girls at high schools to encourage them towards science and math

When did you start working on getting Women Engineers Pakistan up and running?

It started with a Facebook page last August. But it's wasn't until six months ago that we started working as an organization.

Why did you decide on starting WEP?

Throughout my engineering degree, I felt a nagging lack of women in this field. We were often discouraged by our professors that engineering is a 'big boy' area. It was disheartening to realize that there weren't many role models set out for us. So I created this organization to give women engineers a platform to represent themselves.

When the professors talked about it being a "big boy" profession, how did your fellow male students react to those sort of comments?

My fellow males knew that I was good at my studies, so they would often turn up for a group study option and ask me to explain things to them. So they had found out that the women in their class were just as good (some even better) engineers. Barring a few, many were courteous and encouraging. However, there were some 'go make a sandwich' sort of comments—but not many.

There must have been many ideas/incentives to make it go from an concept into reality, what were they?

Oh yes, there were. Initially it was just a Facebook page, but then it started getting attention, and I realized that I had hit a niche. We were contacted by the U.S. Embassy through the Facebook page for meeting with a NASA engineer coming to Pakistan. And i thought, 'Oh wow, not much representation for the women in engineering crowd.'



Posted by Moa Dickmark  |  19 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)


Cansu Akarsu is one of those people who you can't help but notice when she enters a room: Her bubbly and positive energy more than makes up for her small stature. I met her during the INDEX: Design Awards a few years back, and have had the great pleasure of seeing her grow as a designer with her many socially conscious projects. Her résumé includes projects such as Happy Baby Carrier, Pad Back and Soap Shish. She moved from Copenhagen to Stavanger, Norway, this year and is now working at Laerdal Global Health.

Tell us a bit about your background?

Cansu Akarsu: I was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. I studied at an American high school called Robert College in Turkey, followed by studies at Istanbul Technical University (ITU),
which lead to an exchange semester at TUDelft, Netherlands, and a year as an exchange student at Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Tech.


What led you to study design?

At the international school, I had a chance to chose courses more focused on my various interests, which gave me a chance to study and experiment with web design and graphic design. I was very lucky, my school was very good in this way. They also conduct various personality test as to help you understand where you fit on the job market, and how you can direct your studies in that direction.

If you think about your closest family and friends, have they influenced you in any way?

If you ask my mom, my 'design genes' came from my father's side :). They fell in love at the university as my dad helped my mom with her technical drawing courses. So far, I am the only industrial designer in my family of engineers. What fascinates me most about design is the human aspect—that we focus more on the everyday behaviors of people than technical solutions to products.

For the last few years, you have been working with socially conscious design. How did you get started with that?

There were many small events to lead to this decision. One of them being a trip to the eastern part of Turkey that I took with my class at ITU. I had traveled a lot to different countries, but i had never visited cities outside of Istanbul, and I thought that they were going to be more or less on the same level when it came to the standards that I knew growing up. I was surprised and shocked to see the lack of resources that existed in my own country. This inspired me to see what sort of impact that I, as designer, could have on peoples' everyday lives. I understood that I could do something to help the development of my country and the world as a whole and that was really exciting for me. This is one of the reasons why I decided to participate in OpenIDEO. Here I attended the design challenges, and it was one of the places where I found that design skills could be used to address worlds' biggest problems.



Posted by Moa Dickmark  |  18 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)


In part one of this two-part series, we introduced Natalia Ivanova, educator and founder of the Hal X parkour training center in Copenhagen; as a passionate traceuse, or parkour practitioner, she has long incorporated physical education into her work with children. Here is a more detailed outline of her method.


Getting the kids involved and excited about a new project is normally never an issue—they are more than happy to get out of their routines and try something new. Seeing as this is the case with most projects, the challenge is to make the project become a part of the everyday culture, to ensure that the students continue to practice after the official project is over and Natalia and her crew leave the school. Unfortunately, she has yet to come up with an answer... so No, no formula to be found here. At least not yet.

(When working with co-creative processes at various schools, my colleague Heidi and I encountered the exactly same problem. No matter what approach we tried, we never really managed to implement the way of thinking and working we used when collaborating with the students and teachers in such a way that it became a part of their everyday culture.)

Breaking Down Borders

No matter how much we try to ignore it and think or act otherwise, the fact remains that we live in a system where the gaps between the various social classes are visible to the naked eye. Just as with other sports, parkour is a means of breaking down these imagined barriers and connecting people from various cultures and social groups

Parkour transcends these social borders by creating a common ground—wall, ledge or bench—for participants.


Posted by Moa Dickmark  |  17 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)


For those of you who conduct interviews with a voice recorder, you know that the transcription is typically a slow step. If you're lucky, the interviewee speaks slowly or spends a long time thinking before answering, and the transcription process only takes two or three rounds. This was not the case when it came to Natalia Ivanova: On the contrary, the words flow as quickly from her tongue as the movements that flow from her limbs. She has a fluidity and energy in her way of thinking that comes across in everything she does.

Ivanova is the founder of Hal X, a small indoor training hall for parkour in Copenhagen, and the coordinator of especially designed courses, where parkour is a force for positive change for youths.

Originally hailing from Russia, Ivanova speaks fondly about the memories she has of jumping from garage roof to garage roof in the oppressive heat during summers back home. She remembers how fun it was to run as fast as she possibly could, in bare feet on the burning hot rooftops. Jumping over the gaps between the buildings, she knew that one misstep could mean an unpleasant tumble into rubble that might contain rusty scraps of metal, crushed glass and used needles.

Needless to say, this love for exploring urban spaces and challenging herself with her surroundings has been the defining element of through life. As a child, the hijinks and hyperactivity were just called "fun"; now it's called "parkour," and it has spread around the globe with the help of aficionados and YouTube like wildfire.

However, you may not realize that—beyond the physics-defying wow factor of the sport—parkour can serve as a positive alternative to destructive social cultures. In contrast to several other street activities, the philosophy behind Parkour is not only to challenge yourself and push boundaries, but to develop the best version of yourself. You have to have a totally clear mind if you want to be able to get the most out of your practice. That means little or no alcohol, drugs or cigarettes. If you are under any kind of influence, you risk not being able to judge distances properly and having a serious accident. "Alcohol and other substances are off the table since your mind has be clear and focused for practice."

Observers who aren't familiar with the sport and the philosophies behind it might see nothing more than loose-limbed young folks jumping from building to building, doing double backflips and hanging from rails, which might lead one to the conclusion that these people are more than a little bit crazy. But as with any sport, parkour practitioners—known as traceurs or traceuses—must train extensively, with utmost dedication, and exercise discipline on every level of their life in order to do what they do. You will never see a traceur leave empty bottles or discarded sandwich papers smeared in mayonnaise behind—they don't want to mess up their surroundings, their space for practice.


Posted by Moa Dickmark  |  30 Jun 2014  |  Comments (0)


Schools kill creativity. This simple message was the point of Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk, now the most viewed of all time. Robinson challenges the way we view education in todays society, and highlights the fact that it hasn't developed in the speed that it needs to, but is stuck in the old way of thinking.

The talk was released in 2006. And while much has changed since then (how many of you are now reading this on a smartphone or a tablet?), our schools have remained dully familiar. In the UK, things have arguably got worse, with unpopular figure Michael Gove damning progressive education as a 'misplaced ideology' and swinging the curriculum back towards good old traditional methods.


Four students at Royal College of Art in London have decided to do address this issue by developing a summer program where kids can enjoy thinking and learning in different ways. Project 42 is expressly intended for creative learners (ages 9–12) who really don't fit into the framework of today's educational institutions. The program will take place between July 28 and August 8 at the Royal College of Art. Why Project 42? Well, according to the one the founders, Ed Tam:

The name is inspired by the book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In the story, a supercomputer was tasked to find the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything. Millennia had passed and the computer came back with the answer 42. But the people soon realized that it's going to take a much bigger, more complex computer to arrive at the question. Project 42 was set up to help young people discover the power of the question.


Posted by Kat Bauman  |   9 May 2014  |  Comments (0)


Time for adorable learning? It sure is!* Like most sane people, I think the Earth is a pretty amazing place. The solar system too. If you don't agree, you're probably part of the reason our incredible life-sustaining planet is going through some uncertain times and you should reconsider quickly. Perhaps if you'd had more approachable and intriguing science education, we'd have more in common today.

To that end, I offer the adorable and informative videos of Kurzgesagt. Kurzgesagt is a science-obsessed video series, run (in their own words) by a team of underpaid birds who figured out some computers and video stuff. A very impressive origin story, but even more so when you look at their scope and aesthetics. Kurz gesagt means "to make a long story short" in German, and they deliver on it. Their subjects range from evolution, to fracking, to how our moon stacks up against the many other moons nearby (hint: we bagged a big one).

kurzbirds.jpgPortrait of the artists as young birds

Discussing climate change or astrophysical relationships in quick and understandable jargon is a rare and beautiful thing, and I love them for it. The accompanying animation drives even complex information home in clean, compelling bursts of color. They provide moving infographics that don't get bogged down in too much data visualization, and do a great job stimulating the imagination. It may seem unfathomably distant from our immediate lives, but I believe that keeping an eye on developments in astrophysics and trying to think in terms of geologic timeframes gives me better perspective and stimulates creative and ecologically aware design. Are you a little uncomfortable thinking about human existence as a tiny fragile blip on the cosmic radar? Hold on to that feeling and I bet you'll be more likely to do work that matters. Check out Kurzgesagt on YouTube and some of my favorites here, starting with winning ways of killing the universe:


Posted by core jr  |   8 May 2014  |  Comments (0)


The Community. Design. Initiative. is a project located in one of Canada's most at-risk and diverse neighborhoods, facilitating a conversation about architecture's responsibility to engage across not only physical, but economic, social, cultural, and environmental environments. In short, it's kids building buildings—under the watchful mentorship of a few brave social work and design professionals. In Canada, it is pushing the envelope around truly participatory architectural processes.


The project itself is unique collaboration project between a social service delivery hub (East Scarborough Storefront), an architectural think tank (archiTEXT), and an architecture firm (SUSTAINABLE.TO). Based in the priority neighborhood (a neighborhood defined as at-risk) of Kingston Galloway Orton Park in East Scarborough, the building project has engaged youth to design an 8,000 sq. ft. addition to the social service delivery hub, the East Scarborough Storefront. Over the last three years, local youth have been engaged with architects, landscape architects, planners, designers, etc.—over 45 professionals involved in the conception, design, fundraising, approval process, and construction of the building. The complexity of this building process' eco-system continues to engage all ranges of stakeholders, with the youth-led participatory process demonstrating broad reaching positive impacts on the community (and at-risk neighborhoods at large).

Both social workers and designers want to help to improve people's lives, yet they use entirely different words, tools and processes. The Community. Design. Initiative. has allowed (or made it necessary for) the two groups to learn to work together, to share their words, tools and processes.


Posted by Kat Bauman  |  11 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)


Yep, it's Friday, get ready to waste some time and feel fine doing it. Skip your next Facebook break and try out the addictive game Super Planet Crash—build planetary systems, watch as they destroy themselves, collect points and think about gravitational relationships for fun! Super Planet Crash was made by Stefano Meschiari, whose real job involves real planets. As a postdoc astronomer at UT Austin and a big contributor to Seismic 2—software to aid "exploring and analyzing exoplanetary data"—Meschiari knows what's up with interplanetary intrigue.

The goal: Build the most complex star system that can last for 500 years. Simple, right? It is simple to play, but dang if it isn't hard to gather planets in a stable way. Choose up to 12 planets, ranging in size from Earth-sized to Dwarf Star. Choose their proximity to the central star and their rotating speed, and try to anticipate their orbits. If you've done good, your collection will stay within the 2.00 AU range, won't crash into one another and will be complex enough to rack up points until you pass the five century mark. Extra points for incorporating denser fellows in the pack and sacrificing orbital simplicity. The current high-scorer clocked over 320,000,000 points, which after a few runs might seem impossible, but remember that you're competing against actual astrophysicists. As Meschiari told Motherboard, "People are berating me because it's making them waste valuable time when they should be writing proposals for the Hubble telescope." So don't feel bad if you're not quite able to predict your planets complex relationships over time. But do try it—nothing says mindless fun like playing God.

Via Motherboard.

Posted by Kat Bauman  |   4 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)


"Shape" is a fun animated exploration of what design can mean and how it shapes our experiences. It's the heart of a project by PIVOT Dublin that has grown over the last few years to include an informative website, educational program and outreach campaign. All of the elements aim to educate the youths (and the public at large) about creative work and history around design. Gently soundtracked and wordless—the better to communicate universally—it invites you to think about what you'd change to make your world work better. And, of course, it's beautifully executed.

Happy Friday, you're almost there. Let this adorable short ring in the weekend.

Posted by core jr  |   1 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)


If there's one thing that'll kill the creative process quicker than a computer crash with no Time Machine backup handy, it's a lack of understanding and communication when creating a new product in a collaborative environment. Our friends at IDSA have teamed up with Loughborough Design School to create a simple way to keep us all on the same page during the New Product Development (NPD) process. If you've been to a previous IDSA conference, you may remember their token informational fold-out iD cards (not to be confused with these). The cards break down the names, descriptions and images for 32 different design representations in four different groups—sketches, drawings, models and prototypes. The cards share what the representation stands for in terms of use and the information it provides.


The new app that consolidates the cards and information in one convenient, color-coded resource, taking the mystery out of unknown terminology with straightforward appeal to all levels and genres of design, making it easy for for teams to work together cohesively. Check out the video overview of the app and its features:


Posted by Moa Dickmark  |  24 Mar 2014  |  Comments (5)


When I look at schools, I walk into schools, when I interact with schools, I feel like they belong to a different universe. As soon as I set my foot in a school, it feels like I've stepped out of the real world and into a something alien and unnatural.

Most people call it an institution, in the same way that we call a hospital or a prison "an institution."

Institution—this says it all. A public or private place for the care or confinement of inmates, especially mental patients or other disabled or handicapped persons.

Throughout history, it seems like we've been dead set on designing educations and education facilities as to make the students feel locked-in, both body as well as soul.

It doesn't sound very inviting or inspiring, it normally doesn't look very inviting or inspring, and still we want students of all ages to spend a lot of time in these place, we want them to want to learn, to get inspired, to grow as human beings and to become the next generation when building our society. Yet hardly anything about the ordinary education facilities can be called inspiring, or showcase which direction we want our society to go.

For many years, one of of the questions roaming around in my mind on a daily basis has been, 'How can we create an good education that builds the sort of minds we want and need in our society, when we don't even seem to know which sort of society we want?' Which leads to: How can we go about re-arranging our education over and over and over again, without seemingly taking into account that education and society are undeniably intertwined?

This leads back to what I wrote in the very beginning: How come we have been designing institutions that separates, and in some cases, alienates, rather than intertwines education and education facilities with society? And how can we integrate education in such a way that it becomes a more natural, and less alien, base pillar of the society we want to create?

Is it just me, or is this something that we need to start a serious discussion about that crosses national, social and occupational borders...?

Posted by core jr  |  10 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)


This is the third article in an ongoing series about working with kids by Copenhagen-based architect/designer/educator Moa Dickmark. Her last article was on the Future of Learning Environments.

There are a few things that one should think about when it comes to working on a project using co-creative processes. There are the basics, such as how you develop and structure them, and then there's the small things that make the process go more smoothly. Sometimes these small things end up making a big difference, so I'm going to let you in on some of the ones that my colleague and I use more or less every time we are out working. Most (but not all) of them are applicable also when working with teachers, leaders, politicians etc.

The Necessities

Start the process with a few meetings with the headmaster and school leadership, where you can decide on a common goal and make sure that you are on the same page. A goal for a process can be something along the lines of:

Develop spaces that students and teachers feel comfortable in and that can be used in various ways depending on subject and the individual students needs.

Decide on a timeline, a budget, how many hours you will spend with the students per workshop and ask them to find a class with teachers that are open-minded and up for the project. No point in hitting your head against the wall with teachers who don't want you to be there; the students will probably take on the sentiment of teacher and the process to reach the set goals will not be enjoyable for anyone.


1.) Make sure that everyone involved in the project feels like they are truly a part of the project, and that they have an important role in the process and outcome.

When working with students, invite their parents for a meeting where you tell them about the project, tell them a bit about the basics of co-creative processes and what sort of things their kids are going to come home and ramble about. It's really good to let them try what you are talking about, so let them do one of the exercise—i.e. a quick and dirty model-making session always bring out a lot of laughter—in order to provide a greater understanding of how fun it can be, and so they have something to talk about when their kid comes home from school.

This is also a good way to get them more involved—maybe one of the parents works at a warehouse and can arrange some sponsorship deal with the boss or something of the sort, or that some of them want to spend some of their free time helping out at one of the workshops. The more support you get from the parents, the better.

2.) Also make sure that people who are not directly involved of the project feel welcome.

For example, shortly after starting working with a 6 grade class in a small school in the middle of Jylland, Denmark, the biggest ambassadors for the project and for what the students were working on turned out to be the librarian and one of the cleaning ladies. They showed parents what their children were up to, and talked about the vision developed for the various areas.

Moa-Chart_880.jpgClick image to view full version [PDF]


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  26 Feb 2014  |  Comments (1)


One of our first assignments as industrial design students should have been to design and build our own carrying cases. But no, we students were too busy being taught crap like theory, so we all coughed up twenty bucks for a plastic ArtBin. Which is a shame. A simple modular toolbox would have been relatively straightforward to design and build, while providing us with the perfect, individualized product to field test and tweak the design of over the course of a semester.

From Germany comes what they're calling the Toptainer, seen here. Once loaded up with tools, it's meant to fit into an older plastic Systainer design.



Posted by core jr  |  26 Feb 2014  |  Comments (0)


What purpose does a library serve in a contemporary middle school? Beyond its broad definition as a place to read, relax, explore and discover, we also feel that educational spaces should be designed with the input and ideas from the users—the students themselves. Now, with the help of Studio H and Ms. Nini (Hallie Chen), a cohort of 108 eighth graders at Berkeley's REALM Charter School have done exactly that, and they need your help to make the library of their dreams into a reality.


Besides the bookmarks, stamps and bags, the students have also designed an X-shaped unit of modular shelving, STAX, which is made of low-cost plywood and fabricated with CNC technology, courtesy of Autodesk's Carl Bass. "You can do anything with STAX: you can make your new favorite shelf," reads the project page on Kickstarter. "You can make supports for a table or legs for a bench. You can make a mile long wall if you want. Whatever you do with them, they'll definitely be the coolest piece of furniture you own."


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  11 Feb 2014  |  Comments (7)


Is it a commercial for SCAD's ID department, or a commercial for Wacom? We don't care; anytime you take us inside a school's industrial design department, we're all eyes and ears. (Advertisers please take note.) Here we get inside SCAD's Gulfstream Center for Industrial and Furniture Design, where the current generation of students has been graced with Cintiqs aplenty.

To you SCAD ID kids: As someone who clawed my way through an ID program carrying an ArtBin full of markers, pens, pencils, rulers, French curves and geometric templates, I officially hate you. Do you realize that if we wanted to do a rendering in, say, orange, we had to run out and buy markers in a half-dozen shades of orange? And that when you or the store ran out of orange, you were screwed? Enjoy your digital color pickers, you little...

Posted by core jr  |  10 Feb 2014  |  Comments (2)


Following her first article on her experiences as an architect/designer working with kids, Moa Dickmark offers her insights into the future of pedagogy and learning environments, an issue that raises various questions around the world. Here, she shares her vision for learning spaces in the future, how to go about developing them, and why she believes that students and teachers should have a say and be a part of the development and implementation process.

What do I believe will be the future for education and education facilities?

Einstein, who said something to the effect of "If you can't explain the problem simply, you don't understand it well enough," would not be happy with my answer.

The question seems so simple, but the answer, as most of you probably have noticed, is oh-so complex.

More and more, we see that newly designed schools around the globe is that the majority of architects rely on the teachers and the school administrators' feedback regarding their work environment as the basis of their designs. Like most of you, I agree that this is an important part of developing a more multi-faceted school then what we have seen in the past.

And it is without a doubt important, as an architect, to listen to and truly understand the needs of the people who use the school spaces on a day to day basis. It is also vital that the architects read between the lines and interpret what the users can't put into words themselves. We are fluent in the language of space, but we have to remember that not everyone is. This is also important when it comes to developing an environment that not only works better than the ones they had before, but becomes a way to develop and challenge existing ways of teaching and learning.

One thing I have noticed when studying various projects and architecture studios around the globe is that very few of them consult the students on a serious level. Don't get me wrong, there are some really good projects where they are doing just this (and i will write about them, i can promise you that), but they are few and far between.

There are many reasons for this: the students (kids, tweens, teens) ideas can seem unserious, far fetched and unrealistic. They can also be hard to comprehend, and hard to implement into the design because of a lack of understanding of why the students are asking for whatever they are asking for. And then there is of course the problems that all kids have with adults: that the adults believe that they know best and know what the kids truly need.

Once more we have to keep in mind that not everyone speaks the language of space, but most people, no matter what age, have an opinion about it, and kids are no different. It can be hard for anyone to understand and pinpoint why they think, work, concentrate or come up with better ideas in one area of a learning space, and not in others.

There are various ways to get around this little hurdle—by guiding them through various small workshops where they explore and question everything from existing spaces at the school and the surrounding areas, as well as where they hang out after school and in their homes.

In the beginning, you (as an architect, designer or teacher seeking more insight to the students minds) will probably find it rather tricky—I know I did. But in this way, both you and the students will get a greater understanding of which areas are best suited for which sort of work, what areas work best for them and why, which areas do not work and why, and how you together can develop the areas that don't work so that the students start using them.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  31 Jan 2014  |  Comments (1)


Your final, graduating presentation at ID school is an intense experience. Unlike academic majors, with industrial design everything you've learned in the past few years is embodied in physical objects sitting on pedestals and in drawings pinned to the wall; it is out for all to see, not hidden away in your brain. You likely feel an overwhelming combination of exhaustion and relief from completion. So imagine all of this—and then in strolls Dieter Rams.

That was the lucky experience of last year's Product Design and Graphic Design grads at Art Center, as the school got design legend Rams not only to make an appearance, but to walk the halls to interact with students and give on-the-fly critiques. Imagine, as one student recounts, that Rams is studying one of your projects and you hear the words "I really like this" come out of his mouth!

Rams also sat down on stage for an hour-long chat on design.

Posted by Jeremy Faludi  |  28 Jan 2014  |  Comments (0)


Halfway through its second year, Minneapolis College of Art & Design (MCAD)'s Master of Arts in Sustainable Design program continues to represent the leading edge of advanced design studies. This year, four companies—Cascade Designs, Hamilton Beach, Anthro and Rayne Longboards—all had their products analyzed and brainstormed for sustainable redesign.

MCAD's entirely online program gives students from around the world two years of training in analysis and creativity for sustainable design, from packaging and graphics to products. This past semester, I once again taught collaborative product design, which brings groups of students together across different industries and time zones to redesign consumer products. They start by video-chatting their product tear-down, to perform life-cycle assessment and determine top priorities for sustainability. Groups redesign their products using the Whole Systems and Life-Cycle design method created for the Autodesk Sustainability Workshop. This structures and unifies their ideation over the weeks, which spans energy effectiveness, design for lifetime, materials choices, biomimicry, and persuasive design.

The students did a fantastic job, deftly showing the companies which aspects of their products were the biggest concerns and which needn't be bothered with, based on both LCA and green certification systems, showing companies a larger context around their products and generating a plethora of great ideas, from subtle tweaks to radical re-envisionings. Below are some samples of their work (click to enlarge in new window/tab).


Posted by core jr  |  13 Jan 2014  |  Comments (1)


Text & photos by Moa Dickmark

Let me start off by saying that this is solemnly based on personal experiences and opinions! Sure, there's some facts to back it up seeing that we have done our research, but the sources are long forgotten. Not because they weren't relevant, but i've mixed them up in my mental blender...

To the point: Working with kids has many sides. It can be hard, it can be challenging, you have to plan the day down to the minute, and make sure that you can rearrange your plans depending on the day play out, but most of all it's good fun, inspiring and amazingly awesome to be let into their world.

As an architect by training, I have worked with my lovely colleague Heidi Lyng to develop various methods when working together with kids, teachers and leaders on developing educational spaces using co-creative design processes. We've been doing this for over two years now, and have been working on everything between concrete projects such as developing more active playgrounds to more fluffy projects such as developing a common vision for a gymnasium. We see everyone involved—from the 7-year-old student to the 62-year-old principal—as experts in their field. No one is as good at being a 7-year-old girl as a 7-year- old girl...

As I've already written, working with kids have many facets—it can be hard, it can be tricky, it can be hilarious, it can be oh-so-many things, but most of all it's fun, it is inspiring and it is vital if you want to reach the optimal result with the project.


First, the Good

No matter what their age, kids have an insight into, and a view of, how it is to be a kid of their own age that no one, no matter how good you are at putting yourself into the shoes of others, can do to the same extent. Figuring out why a certain space works, and why another one doesn't is something only the kids you work with can tell you. It's their field of expertise. They know, instinctively, where they prefer to work, where they get inspired and where they feel safe etc. What we, the architects, do is help them define and understand theses spaces by playing games and asking questions.


Posted by erika rae  |   8 Jan 2014  |  Comments (0)

IFYBI-Lead.jpgThe finished farmer's market at dusk

As every designer and design educator knows, the hands-on experience of bringing an idea from paper to product goes far beyond a letter grade. Yet primary and secondary school curriculums rarely inspire the depth of dedication required to these kinds of potentially transformative workshops. Designer/activists Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller are among the exceptions: following their "design revolution roadshow," they've since brought design thinking to underprivileged areas like Bertie County, North Carolina—the poorest in the state—through Studio H, the education arm of their larger Project H initiative. Even more, they did it with a mid-project salary cut, forcing them to depend on grant money and credit.

IYBI-Students.jpgStudio H students Kerron Hayes (left) and Cameron Perry (right)

Directed by Patrick Creadon (the man behind Wordplay, a documentary about New York Times puzzle editor Will Shortz), If You Build It is a documentary about their experience teaching ten students the power of design and what a community-focused effort can do to the moral of the area. Over the course of the year-long curriculum, Pilloton, Miller and a few volunteers worked with the students created a farmer's market pavilion from the ground up. The class turned out to be much more than a mere —check out the trailer:


Posted by core jr  |  23 Dec 2013  |  Comments (0)


You might want to use the holiday break as a great opportunity to polish up your portfolio and apply to the MFA in Products of Design program at SVA in New York City. You could be part of the class of 2016, studying with such design luminaries as Paola Antonelli, Helen Walters, Sigi Moeslinger and Masamichi Udagawa, Jason Severs, Emilie Baltz, Ayse Birsel, Steven Dean, Carla Diana, and dozens more. Classes take place in spacious and sun-drenched Chelsea studio, as well as in the New York City-based offices of IDEO, TED, Material ConneXion, SYPartners, and Aruliden. Here's a bit more about the program:

"The MFA in Products of Design is an immersive, two-year graduate program that creates exceptional practitioners for leadership in the shifting terrain of design. We educate heads, hearts and hands to reinvent systems and catalyze positive change.

Students gain fluency in the three fields crucial to the future of design: Making, from the handmade to digital fabrication; Structures: business, research, systems, strategy, user experience and interaction; and Narratives: video storytelling, history and point of view. Through work that engages emerging science and materials, social cooperation and public life, students develop the skills to address contemporary problems in contemporary ways.

Graduates emerge with confidence, methods, experience and strong professional networks. They gain the skills necessary to excel in senior positions at top design firms and progressive organizations, create ingenious enterprises of their own, and become lifelong advocates for the power of design."

Department website: LINK
Blog and projects: LINK
Apply page: LINK

Posted by core jr  |  17 Dec 2013  |  Comments (0)

IxDA-Hilversham.jpgHilversum, the Netherlands, where interaction14 will take place

Arguably for any discipline to advance in its practice it needs to have a solid means for educating its future practitioners. This is doubly true when the demand for that discipline is at a pace that is far exceedingly the rate at which practitioners can be "created" otherwise. In 2009, Jared Spool saw this reality coming. He led an amazing panel at the Interaction Design Association's (IxDA) annual conference, Interaction09, in Vancouver, British Columbia. The panel was called "Hiring the Next Generation of Designers," in which Jared asked, "Where are the next 10,000 interaction designers going to come from?" While in most academic terms four and a half years is not very long, in the digital design world it is a very long time ago.

For me, the Interaction09 conference was on the heels of a major moment in my own life. I moved away from practice and into Education because, like Jared, I felt the pressure that was and continues to be on interaction design education. And for over four years, I led the interaction design program at a prestigious Art & Design college, the Savannah College of Art and Design. During that time, I felt the pressures on interaction design education. I was trying my best to make students that were better than what industry needed and at every turn my successes felt limited to only a small selection of outstanding students. Students who brought the soft skills they needed to me and whom I just curated a collection of knowledge and tools to make them better prepared and those that came ready left ready getting hired into positions directly out of school at organizations like frog, Adaptive Path, Philips, Siemens, Smart Design and IBM.

But through all this success, it was still clear to me that there was a growing disparity between what I was offering and a what a large number of employers were looking for in their Junior employees. We have entered an industry that is increasingly unforgiving compared to design careers in the past. I felt at odds with much of my peers who were still 100% in industry. I started to look for ways to engage industry through my connection with the IxDA. Right after the 2009 conference, I started a conversation with people both in education and in industry interested in helping me start a competition geared towards highlighting how awesome both students and design education institutions were. We called it the International Interaction Design Student Competition. We had about 15 judges, of whom eight made it to the main conference and of whom five were part of a panel of "mentors" for the finalists, who were all given a free trip to Savannah, GA, for Interaction10. They were given a challenge to design something in a short time and find ways to present their skills and mindset to the community of attendees as a whole. The event was a success in so far as it got a new conversation happening among industry and design educators.


Posted by An Xiao Mina  |  13 Dec 2013  |  Comments (6)


"Good artists borrow. Great artists steal."

These words have been attributed multiple times to Pablo Piccaso, though the source itself is dubious. But as with every myth, there's a kernel of truth: we learn best by learning from the best. That's the theory behind the age-old practice of going to museums to sketch and draw.

Mobile designers have their own version of a museum through a large and extensive collection of apps for both iOS and Android.  But how do we sift through everything? How can we contextualize the workflow? UX Archive, which I learned about recently, is one such museum. A collection of UIs and workflows from popular mobile apps for iOS, documented by actions and tasks like "Getting directions" and "Onboarding."

"UX Archive aims at helping designers in this process," notes the site's About page." We lay out the most interesting user flows so you can compare them, build your point of view and be inspired." Right now, it's very iOS heavy, focusing on the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5, though they point to other popular workflow sites like pttrns (including Android Patterns) and the always popular UI Parade. Each app contains detailed imagery, and it's easy to sift and click through. There's even a section that compares iOS 6 and 7, so you can school yourself on the differences.

UXArchive-iOS6vsiOS7.jpgUX Archive documents and displays the differences between iOS 6 and 7 for different actions.

Not that this is a substitute for good, solid interaction design research. "Before comparing any user flow," the site's founders note, "start by trying them out! Once you have been through them on the actual apps, use UX Archive to compare them!" Good advice indeed.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   9 Dec 2013  |  Comments (1)


This is the second part of Hipstomp's reporting from the inaugural Autodesk CAVE Conference, which took place in conjunction with their annual Autodesk University event last week in Las Vegas. See Part One here.

Following Tibbits' talk, the entirety of the CAVE conference attendees filed into a ballroom at The Venetian to see a rare presentation from the legendary Syd Mead. (Mead will typically not travel in December to give presentations, but he relented for CAVE, a testament to the conference's attractiveness.) At 80 years of age, Mead has the killer combination of a lifetime's worth of experience and an irreverent, devil-may-care veteran status that allows him to say whatever the hell he wants; I won't name the Hollywood stars or clients he skewered in passing asides, but I will say his stories were funny.


More importantly, we were treated to a narrated slideshow of Syd Mead images projected onto a gi-normous screen so that we could see every detail, every dot of gouache. And of course there was Mead himself to explain the thinking behind the vehicles and sets of Blade Runner, how he's managed to "future-proof" his concepts—making futuristic sketches from the 1960s still appear futuristic today—and showing us the sketches (and exact drawing) that got him the job on Elysium.

SydMead.jpgSyd Mead artwork, courtesy of BravinLee Gallery

It was during Mead's presentation that CAVE started to come full circle for me, and I began to see the light. Mead was discussing one of his more technical renderings for Honda, and as he went in-depth, explaining the drawing's composition, content and framing, it echoed what Louis Gonzales was discussing that morning. Gonzales is a storyboard artist and Mead an industrial designer, so the terminology and context was a little different; but the principles they were discussing were precisely the same. Whether you are Gonzales, Robertson, Gaiman, Tibbits or Mead, you are creating something and attempting to convey ideas to others. The brilliance of CAVE is to get all of these creative bodies into the same space, and to allow us attendees to connect those dots.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   9 Dec 2013  |  Comments (1)


As we reported back in August, at this year's Autodesk University they decided to try something different, kicking the conference off with a sort of pre-conference focused on "creative talent from multiple disciplines." The idea behind this new Autodesk CAVE Conference was to assemble some of the finest artists, designers and storytellers around and throw them into the same event in the hopes of yielding an entertaining and informative cross pollination.

With such a nebulous description, I didn't know what to expect. But now, having attended, I'm here to tell you the event was a rousing success—everything it was billed to be and more—and that you must check it out next year!

The speaker list was an embarrassment of riches, and the packed schedule meant I'd only get to attend three sessions. Unable to decide which to attend first, my mind was quickly made up for me: I walked past an open door and heard the distinctly rapid-fire Bronx patter—of someone passionately discussing the movie Dumbo. Before I knew it my legs had brought me into the packed room where not a single seat was available.


The man presenting was Louis Gonzales, an animator and storyboard artist for Pixar. (If you don't know his name, you know his work: Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, et cetera.) Gonzales is both a gifted artist and a student of story, and his childlike enthusiasm for Dumbo's tale was coupled with a trenchant, technical analysis of how certain scenes were framed, and why they create particular kinds of emotional punch. Just as it began dawning on the audience that there was way more packed into Dumbo than the story of an elephant with big ears, Gonzales took us through a comprehensive slideshow of movies both classic and contemporary—his knowledge of film and film visuals is encyclopedic—showing us the insane level of construction and forethought that the creators had put into every frame. Before a single word is spoken by any of the characters, information is conveyed via lines, triangles, squares, circles, lighting, color.

After seeing script pages for Brave that Gonzales had covered in his red-ink notes, and him explaining what visual elements he knew he had to inject into particular scenes and why, I don't think I'll ever look at film or animation the same way again. I've been watching movies my entire life, and in the mere 55 minutes I saw Gonzales speak, he completely changed my perspective on visual presentation. And these were lessons anyone creating industrial design renderings could have drawn from.


Next came the keynote presentation, where we were treated to both Angelo Sotira's story of how he started up DeviantArt followed by a chat from the wonderfully weird Neil Gaiman. Gaiman began his talk by explaining how the Chinese government had traditionally frowned upon science fiction, as that genre is often used to obliquely criticize institutional flaws, then recounted how they eventually relented and invited him to speak at their first-ever sci-fi convention. Intensely curious as to how this had happened, Gaiman tracked down the party official in charge of this action and asked him why sci-fi had suddenly been given the green light. "We [the Chinese] make everything," the Chinese official explained, referring to his country's manufacturing base, "but we don't invent anything." Science fiction, it had been decided by the party bosses, would be an effective way to stimulate the imaginations of Chinese youth, whom they hoped would subsequently provide original thought for the next generation of manufacturing.


Posted by core jr  |   6 Dec 2013  |  Comments (1)


In May of this year, 12 Master of Industrial Design (MID) candidates from the Pratt Institute led by Professor Rebecca Welz, had the opportunity to spend two weeks in the town of Malinalco, Mexico, where they collaborated with 13 local artisans to design and fabricate their projects. Each artisan/student pair spent full working days brainstorming, conceptualizing, designing, sourcing and finally fabricating a variety of products, from tabletop to furniture pieces.

Challenging in many ways, it became an incredibly enriching and educational experience for everyone involved. It was a simultaneous exchange of thoughts, knowledge and interests and a walk through the creative process, with two points of view, hand in hand. It was a human experience, which situates the designer in a very humbling and real place—one that is long way, both geographically and figuratively, from a Brooklyn classroom.


Text by Etty Beke

Malinalco is a small town located two hours southwest of Mexico City. It is a charming tourist destination, which features the only monolithic Pre-Columbian structure in Central America, the Cuauhtinchan sanctuary complex. As you enter the archaeological site on a typical bustling weekend (weekdays are incredibly quiet in this town), you will run into dozens of little stands selling local crafts. This is how the artisans make a living: Selling leather bracelets, small woodcarvings of mushrooms and humming birds, and handmade books, among various other things. Many of the artisans also join the annual local wood carving competition, where they make larger scale sculptures and sculpted traditional musical instruments. They are incredibly talented and love their craft, even if it often means barely making a living.

Most of the artisans who participated in the Malinalco Project are master woodcarvers, but the locals also included carpenters, weavers and jewelers. The wealth of knowledge and respect towards their craft, marked with a deep sense of humility, was evident from the very moment we met. The particular wisdom and sensibility, a rich inheritance from their Aztec traditions, was also present in their interests and thought process. Through their work, the artisans represent and interpret the natural world surrounding them, with layers of meanings and a system of symbols that has been passed down through generations. As we, designers and artisans, brainstormed on product ideas, we looked for new applications, in form and function, of each artisan's craft. Our path involved working with both abstraction and representation, with surface treatments and variation in scale, as well as new uses of materials and techniques.