A double treat of Naoto Fukasawa and Bruce Sterling capped off Friday morning, sending the throngs into the lunch break with some solid inspiration of the present and future kind. Fukasawa is a favorite of many, and his book holds a special spot on the coffee tables of his fans these days, but I'd have to say that his presentation--like his work--was an amazing display of poetic clarity. Seamlessly shifting between design intention and design artifact, he showed a selection of work that was a perfect combination of the two. He built his case by teasing out the theme of a "core of awareness"--applied to the users--but not bad for an audience of designers neither. He alluded to Matisse's statement that a good designer is capable of objective sketching, but Fukasawa's work seems equally subjective in the best sense. The connection between him, his work, and the audience was palpable.
Bruce Sterling, futurist, author, critic and provocateur, took to the stage and brought us up to speed on the spimes introduced in his now seminal book, Shaping Things. (Check out an over-the-top video here.) He asserted that 6 things were happening on the ground to make it all possible: Digital plans; Tags; Computer fabrication; Search engines; Tracking capacities; and the Ability to recycle things. Spimes, and the attendant internet-of-things, may be be shortly upon us, of course, but what, Sterling asks, is the killer app for ubiquity? Well, sustainability; if you can actually see your material flows, manufacture, lifecycles, usage and "waste," then, it follows, there won't be any. If you can track it all, someone can find a use for it all. Sterling has most recently moved to Torino (Design Capital of the World), and sounded like a kid in a candy store there. He opined that "Torino is the Detroit of Italy ("they hate being called that, but it's true"), and reasoned that since they've got so little to lose, they've got so much to gain. This was one of the more optimistic presentations of the conference--there were several, btw--but Sterling's got a way with words that can cut it both ways: "The ruins of the unsustainable are the 21st century's frontier." Yowza.
Allan Chochinov is a partner of Core77, a New York-based design network serving a global community of designers and design enthusiasts, and Chair of the new MFA in Products of Design graduate program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Allan lectures around the world and at professional conferences including IDSA, AIGA and IxDA, has been a guest critic at various design schools in including Yale University, IIT, Carnegie Mellon, Ravensbourne, RMIT, University of Minnesota, Emily Carr, and RISD. He has moderated and led workshops and symposia at the Aspen Design Conference, the Rockefeller Center at Bellagio, Compost Modern, and Winterhouse, and is a frequent design competition juror. Prior to Core77, his work in product design focused on the medical, surgical, and diagnostic fields, as well as on consumer products and workplace systems. He has been named on numerous design and utility patents and has received awards from The Art Directors Club, I.D. Magazine, Communication Arts, and The One Club.