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And Now Award-Winning…

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Frequent Ambi contributors Jorge Cham and Dwayne Godwin were just awarded 1st Place in the Informational Posters and Graphics category in the NSF International Science and Visualization Challenge for their comic “Brain Development” from the Developing Issue (#9) of Ambidextrous, Stanford University’s Journal of Design. We congratulate them on the honor!

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brain_dev_lg.jpg Ambidextrous is Stanford University’s Journal of Design.


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Happy Bday Amanda’s Fresh Food

Ambidextrous profiled Amanda West in our Fall 2006 Picking Things Up issue (“Creating a Healthy America, One Hamburger at a Time” by Angie Heile). At that time she was just in the planning stages for a feel good fast food restaurant experience.

Her vision has become a reality. Now it’s celebrating it’s 1st birthday! Amanda’s Feel Good Fresh Food Restaurant is in Berkeley on Shattuck Avenue serving burgers and baked french fries and apple fries.

Amanda’s Feel Good Fresh Food Restaurant in Berkeley celebrates its anniversary from noon to 8 p.m. July 25. Highlights of the daylong celebration include free food, entertainment and raffle prizes. The free bite lineup includes organic cookies, noon-2 p.m.; baked fries, 2-4 p.m.; organic apple fries, 4-6 p.m.; and freshly made sodas, 6-8 p.m. The restaurant is at 2122 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. 510-548-2122.

It’s a result of applying design thinking to the fast food/dining experience. From the article:

West’s simple plan to feed Americans better burgers reminds designers of the compromises struck between what’s best for the people who use their products and what most people really want in their hearts: the same old junk they’re already grown to love.

Check out the full article Creating a Healthy America, One Burger at a Time here.

Ambidextrous is Stanford University’s Journal of Design.


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4 Design Thinking Lessons from Douglas Engelbart

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The Tech Museum of Innovation will host a book launch party Wednesday evening for The Engelbart Hypothesis by Valerie Landau and Eileen Clegg in conversation with Douglas Engelbart.

Ambidextrous Co-Editor-in-Chief Bjoern Hartmann sat down with Douglas Engelbart for a Point of View article for AMBIDEXTROUS Issue #6 The Future. In What Would Douglas Engelbart Do?, Bjoern captures four lessons we can glean from on of our favorite visionaries:

  • First off, be stubborn. Very stubborn. His adviser at Berkeley told him that he was wasting his time. For more than a decade, Engelbart couldn’t find reliable financial support. He kept his project afloat with fringe grants for “wildhaired guys” because he was convinced that his ideas were important. The time it takes to convince others of your ideas is measured in years—so plan for the long haul.
  • Second, experiment. A lot. The mouse was not a fluke. The Augment group devised chorded keyboards, nosecontrolled pointers, foot pedals, and knee controllers. They partnered with Herman Miller to develop experimental workstation furniture that you would straddle like a horse. Some innovations stuck, many did not. Expect failures—if nothing else, they make for entertaining anecdotes.
  • Third, put yourself out on the line. In 1968, Engelbart staged the “mother of all demos.” He introduced his mousecontrolled workstation to an audience of a thousand engineers in San Francisco by using it live. During the demonstration Engelbart brought up a data and video link with team member Bill Paxton in Menlo Park and showed how the two could remotely collaborate on a document in real time. Nothing like it had been done with computers before. It was a high-risk plan, but it paid off with immediate public recognition.
  • Finally, and, maybe most importantly, bite off more than you can chew. Improving the collective IQ of mankind was a larger-than-life goal. But for Engelbart it meant he never ran out of intermediate steps to accomplish. His most successful innovations were born out of necessity— they were the means needed to augment collaborative intelligence. Having a bigger picture helped him to solve the real-world problems at hand—and then move forward towards the next challenge.

Check out the full article of What Would Douglas Engelbart Do?.

Ambidextrous is Stanford University’s Journal of Design.  


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World Beard and Moustache Championships

beard illustration

The 2009 World Beard and Moustache Championships is scheduled for this Saturday in Anchorage, Alaska.  You still have time to book your flights.

Frequent Ambi contributor Hugh Musick talked to Phil Olsen, the self-appointed captain of Beard Team USA in the Ambidextrous Spring 2008 Developing Issue in an Thinking article entitled The Hair of Their Chinny Chin Chins.  Phil talks about his personal approach:

I prefer boldness over extravagance.  My full beard has grown practically untrimmed for years. I mold it into a bold,  solid, symmetrical shape that I think makes a statement. more

Good luck to Phil and Beard Team USA!

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An Interview with Hugh Musick

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Delight of Uncle Mao by Hugh Musick

IIT Institute of Design’s Hugh Musick was interviewed recently by Scrapatorium‘s Angelica Paez about his passion for collaging and how long he took to find the perfect glue for his art. Here’s an excerpt:

What type of subject matter do you like to use in your work?

So much depends on what I find. I am particularly fond of 19th century lithographic prints of animals and whales in particular. Birds make their ways into my work and among birds, I find myself drawn time and again to crows and swans. The theme of bad romances crop up in a number of the stories that accompany collages with people in them. I like making digital collages that incorporate images of Richard Nixon. I just like to imagine a whole secret life for him.

Read the rest of the interview here!

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Whole Foods Meets In-N-Out

Ambidextrous profiled Amanda West in our Fall 2006 Picking Things Up issue (“Creating a Healthy America, One Hamburger at a Time” by Angie Heile). At that time she was just in the planning stages for a feel good fast food restaurant experience.

Now her vision has become a reality. Open about two months, Amanda’s Feel Good Fresh Food Restaurant is in Berkeley on Shattuck Avenue serving burgers and baked french fries and apple fries.

It’s a result of applying design thinking to the fast food/dining experience. From the article:

West’s simple plan to feed Americans better burgers reminds designers of the compromises struck between what’s best for the people who use their products and what most people really want in their hearts: the same old junk they’re already grown to love.

I just want a better burger — and the Garden of Eating blog has a nice review of Amanda’s.

Bon Appetit.

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Happy Birthday Monterey Bay Aquarium


Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.com

The Monterey Bay Aquarium opened 24 years ago today. I grew up in a neighboring town and our family were charter members. I like to think that the aquarium’s hands-on learning approach was a bit formative in me becoming a designer.

In issue #1 we profiled their  exhibit development process (“Message in a Museum:  A look into exhibit design at the Monterey Bay Aquarium” by Charlotte Burgess Auburn).  Wired has a slideshow of behind-the-scenes photos of a day at the aquarium.

The aquarium has balanced education and conservation. Their Seafood Watch program expands Oct 22 to include sushi.

And who could forget the aquarium’s starring role in the 1986 Star Trek IV The Voyage Home as the Sausalito Cetacean Institute?

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Design is dead! exclaims Phillipe Starck

Phillipe Starck tells Die Zeit that design is dead

From the original interview in German, Starck attempts to redefine the word “designer” and calls for a “strategy of dematerialization.”

It uses less material and more intelligence. Take the computer. First it was as big as a house. Now it comes in credit card size. In ten years, our bodies will be bionic. In 50 years, the concept of “computer” will be gone. The designer of the future is the personal coach, the gym trainer, the diet counselor. That is all.

He goes on to explain that the role of design in the last century was to democratize good products by making well-designed things cheaply available. Asked about his yacht designs for Russian billionaires, Starck explains that it is his “Robin Hood” strategy — research and develop new concepts on the rich’s dime and use those learnings for designing for others.

“I was a producer of materiality. I’m ashamed of that. In the future, I’ll be a producer of concepts. This will be more useful,” he ends.

Starck’s TED talk says as much, but with a bit more context.

He calls for designers to throw away their sketch books and get political, subversive, and philosophical. Fair enough. But he’s certainly not the first one to call for service design, design thinking in social entrepreneurship, or sustainable design. Nor does he express much regret at the labor markets and globalizations that enabled the “democratic” design he called for. Is this bombast for self-promotion? Is it promoting a concept on a more global stage? I wonder what Phillipe Starck has cooking.

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Her Secret is that Frank Warren Made Her Cry


I want to have witty, observant monologue run through my head like DEXTER
PostSecret founder and artist Frank Warren reportedly brings tears to people’s eyes at South by Southwest.

Ambi contributor Omar Khan interviewed Frank in the most recent issue, Secret. Frank reflects on the process of creating and releasing the postcard, the importance of the tangibility of the postcard, and how objects can have a life of their own.

I like the idea that when somebody shares a secret on a postcard, they’re almost in a sense exorcising their secret. They’re giving it kind of a body, a place outside themselves. They’re facing it on the postcard, and then they get a chance to physically let it go, release it to a stranger.

Read our interview with Frank Warren »

 

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Design and the elastic mind – Get your MoMA online

Not in New York and can’t afford to jet out there for the MoMa exhibit “Design and the Elastic Mind?” Well, the exhibit is getting plenty of coverage online. The New York Times writes about the exhibit’s treatment of the relationship between art and science. Business Week tells of Nokia’s stretchable, formable phones (but no pictures, sadly).

One of the pieces that caught my eye was the bee vase to your left, by Tomas Gabzdil Libertiny. He studied bees and developed a way of building shaped scaffolding so bees would help him manufacture objects.

We interviewed Paola Antonelli, the curator of MoMA’s design department, for this issue and she explained the exhibit theme:

The show is called “Design and the Elastic Mind.” It’s about the changes in scale, in rhythm, in pace, in resolution that we go through every single day, and the objects of design that help us cope with them. It’s basically they help us cope and move from adaptability, which is one of the characteristics of human intelligence, to elasticity, which is, in my opinion, adaptability plus acceleration. So it’s the Do-i-i-n-i-n-g! about being able to bounce back very fast and not get stressed out, not get stretch marks.

Read the Paola’s full interview, where she tells us one of her secrets, in Ambi issue 8

And you can get the interview, with the photo of Paola, and the rest of the issue by subscribing! Ambi is non-profit and produced by volunteers like you.

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