Interaction13

Teresa’s heading to Toronto to lead a half-day workshop about designing team and organizational culture at the Interaction13 conference. She’ll be coaching 30 people through the development of principles and practices that will change the way their teams work. She’s over-the-moon excited. We’ve been brewing, stewing and chewing on this topic for a while. Go T!

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Will Wall for Art

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Scott Carter works with drywall and wood cut directly from the walls of the gallery. Blurring the lines between sculpture and installation Carter first develops digital prototypes which he then translates into the myriad components needed to construct the furniture and other sculptures that comprise each exhibition. The eviscerated walls then form the backdrop to each piece like a curious set of physical blueprints.

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I applaud the efficiency and parsimony of such self-imposed design constraints.  People like to “pull back the curtain” and reveal the wizard.  In this way, Mr. Carter is doing wonderfully transparent work, fusing process and product in tight displays.

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Hit Me with Music (Video)

Jakob Trollback and company visualizing the musical stylings of David Byrne and Brian Eno.

How might we turn music into a three dimensional light, sound and spatial experience?

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Behind Secret Closed Doors

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I’ve always been intrigued by locked gates.  What secrets lay behind the surface of our forgotten urban infrastructure?  What inspiration is to be found in a rusted knob or a cavernous corrugated structure?

Last year I did some Urban Spelunking around the Bay Area.  Alameda and Richmond have some pretty intriguing spots; spaces ripe for a Tim Walker photo shoot, or an Ok Go music video.  And these french hacker-artists have taken it to a whole ‘nother level.

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So of course I’m excited to attend the Urban Explorations: A Contemporary Introduction this Saturday, January 19, 2 p.m. at the deYoung museum, San Francisco.  More info.

“For decades, a particular brand of urban explorer has felt compelled to delve into the unseen and underground layers of city infrastructure. Guided by a sense of adventure and a desire for a broader understanding of the systems that support contemporary urban life, these explorations often reveal as much about the explorer as the territory explored. What is it about these unseen structures that so captures the imagination? Does this obscured geography map an unknown within us as well? What can the exploration teach us, a self-identified evolving species of surface dweller, about the various systems that make up our built and “natural” world? Can we hope to improve or recontextualize the interwoven social and ecological fabrics that make up our environment?”

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“Join the Black Rock Arts Foundation and de Young Artist Fellows Sean Orlando and Rebar for an afternoon of conversation and multimedia presentations that explore these questions and other topics related to the contemporary practice of urban exploration. This event is part of Urbanauts, Sean Orlando and Rebar’s ongoing de Young Fellowship project, which maps, examines, and documents unseen urban infrastructure to inform a series of conceptualized and fabricated objects based on the aesthetics and function of these hidden systems.”

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Chocolate Elastic Binaries

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When I was living and working in London I was exposed to the rich potential of temporary retail and restaurant spaces; affectionately known as Pop-Ups.

One of the best on-brand executions I’ve ever seen was for Anthony Berg chocolates.  To reconnect their brand with generosity, the Danish chocolatier opened the world’s first chocolate store where you couldn’t pay with cash or credit cards, just good deeds.  Each box of chocolate came with a price tag colored in Anthony Berg’s signature pink (the pop-up shop helpers were decked out in pink too).  Instead of a dollar amount, each tag had a generous gesture for the consumer to perform for a loved one, such as ‘serve breakfast in bed’.  In lieu of cash registers, consumers checked out using iPads – a process which involved making a pledge on facebook to fulfill the deed (brilliant use of facebook to promote the pop up and brand).

I think that temporary spaces speak equally to a refined sense of entrepreneurial agility, the rise of DIY culture and the unpredictability of life in the 21st century.  There’s a kind of inherent democracy to the pop-up; a dimensionless, elastic, deterritorialized designers dream.

We live in a world that moves easily from 2D to 3D and back again. The physical and digital are becoming ever more seamless.  The brain is trained to see volume in a flat sketch and to discover a structure behind the volume found in an architectonic drawing.

I’m interested in new ways of working and inventing techniques that blur the lines between binaries.  Let’s reimagine commercial expression and the consumer experience while we make the most of our underutilized urban infrastructure.

At the start of the 21st century, the world is a cacophony of different cultures, struggling economies, ubiquitous mass media and hyper technology.  Old structures disappear and are replaced by a longing for synergy that flourishes with a new worldwide means of content, community and communication.

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IMG_0231Brazenworks Hear Here Pop Up Radio Project for KALW

In the new economy, binaries are really continuums, and the opportunities live in the grey areas between analogue & digital, culture & capital, public & private, science & art, nature & technology, local & global.

As disciplines continue to merge, and consumers become ever more sophisticated, what are the implications for the practice of design and our collective urban experience?  How might we leverage the pop up to improve neglected environments and underutilized spaces?

If you have any other examples please let us know.

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H2OH

waterfall-swingSolenoids at work: Mike O’Toole, Andrew Ratcliff, Ian Charnas and Andrew Witte

It’s winter in California and so it is a wet time of year.  I love it.  Water has always been a huge inspiration for me.  I mean, the Slip-n-Slide – come on!  Water, by its very nature, is playful (except for that occasional tsunami and flash flood).  Dipping and dodging, carving stone and wood – not to mention it’s amazing potential as a solid, liquid and gas – there is much design insight to be had in unpacking the flow and myriad properties of water.

Here are some liquid designs that capture this inherent playful quality, and in so doing, inspire us.

4629591602_5e0c2cd268_zOlafur Eliasson’s Notion Motion

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Virtually anything by Ned Kahn will blow your mind; like this cloud ring machine

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Your Roof is for the Birds

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Check out the stacking functionality of this birdhouse roof tile by Klass Kuiken.

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