Archive forJanuary, 2008
Interested in the intersection between technology and style? In Boston this week? Then check out “seamless: Computational Couture”, a wearable computing fashion show spun out of the MIT Media Lab and now in its third year. The event features selections from 20 design teams from across the globe. “Party Dress” plays with boundaries of public and private, “Solar Vintage” draws its glow from the sun, and “Vanity Ring” reconfigures bling-bling as your prominence in Google search results.
What: seamless is a fashion event featuring innovative and experimental works in computational apparel design, interactive clothing, and technology-based fashion. each project [re]interprets the conceptual goal of a seamless relationship between technology and fashion. these are real clothes that inspire and provoke.
Where: Museum of Science, Science Park, Boston, Massachusetts 02114 (Lechmere T-Stop, Green Line)
When: Wednesday, January 30th, at 8pm
How much: $15 in advance, $18 at the door (This show sold out early last year, so if you’re really digging this, we suggest picking up tickets early!)
For more information and tickets, visit http://seamless.sigtronica.org/.
You’ve made your New Year’s resolutions, and perhaps one of them was (or should be) to just flat out “do more … stuff”. You know, learn to sew or solder a robot or work on that homemade project that’s been neglected for a while. Well, you can join in with an online community dedicated to committing a little more time to just that: Thing-a-Day. Sign up by January 31, and then do a quick something (anything) for every day in February. Document it, and post it to the community blog. It doesn’t have to be big, as long as it’s longer than 20 minutes and less than an hour.
Issue 8 is all about secrets, including “The Secret Life of Secrets,” “All is Fan in Love and War,” “Dazzlin’ Camoflauge,” “Lee Krasnow: A Puzzling Designer,” “Chairs,” and “Tampons and Taboos.” Hugh Musick, Paul Dourish, Eli Blevis, and many others contribute.
Visit Ambidextrous to peek at issue 8.
Also, thanks to all who came to our launch party at IDEO San Francisco last night, and thank you to IDEO for hosting.
We’ll be posting photos of the event after the holiday weekend!
For the Jan/Feb 2008 issue of ACM’s “interactions”, Hugh Dubberly created a model of innovation. While the model covers the many ways innovations can occur (bug-listing, testing, needfinding, etc) and the in-the-world resistances that might help shape it, it doesn’t include the many ways existing business and political interests can shape innovations and their diffusion.
Brian Winston’s “Media, Technology, and Society: A History tells how interests such as militarism and nationalism shaped the ways we experienced the telephone in our homes. Don Norman’s “Invisible Computer” gives accounts of companies that suppressed good products from within for fear of cannibalizing their own business. Nonetheless, Dubberly’s model is a dense and rich achievement in information design — I just might scribble some of my own notes on my copy. And as a hidden treat, interactions has included
The first 2008 issue of Interactions is up with articles from Ambidextrous contributors like Don Norman, Steve Portigal, Terry Winograd, and Eli Blevis.
Steve Portigal writes Persona Non Grata (teaser only), in which he claims that the very essentializing and distancing that happens when messy, complex people are mapped to design-tool-as-cartoon-character works against the interests of design. You can ask for the full pdf over at Portigal Consulting.
Over at Core 77, Jon Kolko reflects on going from consulting to academia, and back. The charming thing about his reflections is the humility with which he can see the design profession, for all of its world-changing aspirations, and many of its incremental realities.
The sarcasm and laughter that surrounds the talk of corporate innovation begins to indicate just how much of a “toy” design in business actually is: a cell phone with multi-touch, or a banking program that rounds up before giving you your change, can hardly be construed as advances that shake the foundation of our culture.
Taking on designer-pundit as brand, Kolko debunks what he claims to be a myth that “Rock Star design consultancies are full of Rock Stars” — capital R capital S, thank you. While I have many humble, hardworking, brilliant friends in consultancies, I find the following commentary refreshing because it does speak to the difference between doing good work and building your brand. The problem is that it is unclear who he is taking on — the Isaac Mizrahi’s of the world? The big-name conference speakers who haven’t done new projects in a long time? Even though the target is unclear, there may be aspirations of Rock Star design hero that are worth interrogating in the way we work, give credit, and tell our stories as designers.
The more I read interviews with these rock star designers, the more I realize how out of touch with real design problems these people are. Approaching design solely as style and brand simply perpetuates the notion of Design as transparent and shallow, and if these people continue to serve as the mouthpieces for our industry, our industry will continue to simultaneously lose the business-centered respect and credibility it so urgently needs, and to ignore the social and cultural problems it so direly needs to solve.
His candor and clear point of view is likely to ruffle some feathers, but the hope is that it will spur critical reflection and dialog too.
When random professionals I would meet asked what I did, I would answer “user interface designer” knowing that I would likely get met with a blank look or the question “oh, did you design the web site logo?”
Sometimes its nice to have a chance to talk to people who understand the stuff you care about. Design 21: Social Design Network gives socially-conscious designers a way to meet and engage in ways that go beyond the typical mailing list or Yahoo group. Designers can put up their work samples, host a blog, and participate in forum discussions. The information architecture in the discussions even lets you navigate by causes such as “peace,” and “poverty,” or by the type of design, such as “communication” or “industrial.”
While general audience sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and MySpace can bring large numbers into the same network space, targeted communities like Design21 have the freedom to create a platform for designers to connect and engage. Here’s my profile, under construction.
Do you have a Design21 profile? Know of other community spaces for designers? Let us know in the comments.
According to WorldChanging’s Alex Steffen, who we interviewed in “Designing A Better Future” (Spring 2007), IDSA has created The Okala Guide for green design. The guide is a workbook, freely available as PDFs, includes knowledge appealing to those with a little understanding and those with big-picture understanding but needing concrete skills. The guide starts off with introductions to the need for sustainability in material culture. Later guide modules get actionable, with lessons including green marketing and back-of-the-envelope lifecycle analysis.
Come out to IDEO San Francisco and join the Ambidextrous Team in the launch of our newest issue: Secrets.
We’ll be talking about The Secret Life of Secrets, Tampons, Spy Planes, Codes, and Wooden Puzzles.
There will be good food, a fun space (find out why it’s kinda secretive), sweet music, and of course, good company.
Please RSVP, and thank you, IDEO, for hosting us!
What’s an Ambi launch party? Check out our previous one at Google.