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Tag "design"

The everyday objects that are embedded in our lives so that they are taken for granted are most likely the ones that are quite fitting designs.

While design is everywhere, it has a fundamental impact on our everyday lives and shapes quite literally the day. From the cereal pack in the morning over breakfast to the train ticket to the signage guiding the way or the interface of the mobile device our faces keep being glued to, to the built environment as such of course.

Since the 60s various great icons of design have been created, and a new documentary directed by Greg Durrell, Design Canada examines a number of these icons. It features original creators and contemporaries to tell the story that lead to the design of the Canadian Flag and other icons from that area.

Logos of CN by Allan Fleming, CBC by Burton Kramer and TD by Hans Kleefeld

Interestingly the film was funded on Kickstarter with the slogan: “The first documentary chronicling the history of Canadian graphic design and how it shaped a nation and its people.”

Several icons are being discussed in the film with their creators. For example the Canadian Broadcast Corporation’s logo by Burton Kramer 1975. “It always seemed clear that the real challenge for the designer was to help make our world a better place than it would be without our efforts.” Or the Air Canada and TD logos by Hans Kleefeld, both 1960s. “What makes a great logo is when the combination of colour, texture and form captures the essence of a business.”.

Image taken from Design Canada on Kickstarter / Canada Wordmark designed by Jim Donoahue

Enjoy the preview and see Design Canada for screening details. Further stuff on Canadian Design also to be found for example on the CDR – Canadian Design Resource.

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The means to produce are changing. The chimneys stopped smoking during the past century, and large industries increasingly are replaced by distributed production lines. Production is coming to a desk near you.

These new ways of producing, such as 3d printing, while in some branches of technology already being employed in mass production, are being explored extensively by the creative industries. Not so much as a tool of mass production but rather as a rapid prototyping tool to explore options and simulate a proof of concept.

Third Thumb Dani Clode
Image taken from formLabs by Dani Clode. / From Fixing Disability to Extending Ability.

A mesmerizing project was recently developed by design student Dani Clode at Royal College of Art for her final year project. She had already worked in reference to the body in earlier projects and also experimented with other ideas centring around prosthetics.

This third thumb project is exploring the relationship between body function, mechanics and perception. Clode states about her project: It is part tool, part experience, and part self-expression. She has in fact based the project not on the idea of fixing, but rather the interpretation of the word prosthetic as extending.

The Third Thumb functions via sensors on the shoe of the wearer to control the movement of the 3d printed sixth finger, or third thumb.

Image taken from DANI AT RCA by Dani Clode. / MY COFFEE TABLE CURRENTLY, November 21, 2016.

Image taken from DANI AT RCA by Dani Clode. / WORK-IN-PROGRESS, January 20, 2017.

It references a growing body of work that is exploring the human body such as for example Instrumented Bodies by Joseph Malloch and Ian Hattwick with Les Gestes

Objects and extensions in this dialogue are not reduced to mere fashion accessories but placed in a discourse that ranges from cyborgs to self-image. Couldn’t be more suitable for our times.

Video taken from Vimeo by Dani Clode. / Promotion clip for imaginary KickStarter campaing.

edited, 2017-10-25

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3D printing is growing up. The technology is morphing from an idea into a useful tool. Many universities and aspiring companies are developing amazing spinoffs that can produce meaningful stuff.

The Design Computation Lab at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL has printed this cool chair using a robot arm to extrude the material.

Image taken from Design Computation Lab UCL / VOXELCHAIR V1.0 Robotically 3d Printed Plastic Chair.

Voxel chair v1.0 designed by: Manuel Jimenez Garcia and Gilles Retsin

Fabrication Support: Nagami.Design and Vicente Soler
Team: Manuel Jimenez Garcia, Miguel Angel Jimenez Garcia, Ignacio Viguera Ochoa, Gilles Retsin, Vicente Soler

edited, 2017-10-25

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The technology around desktop production of printed 3D objects is evolving rapidly. In the past year a number of systems have surfaced in the cheap segment of printing machines.

Where it only was the RepRap self built options, melting thermoplastics to layer the objects the year before, resin based systems below $2000 are becoming available.

Image taken from kickstarter / The new Form 1 about to ship from April, although them lot ar sold out if you order now it will most likely be the May batch.

One of the market leaders in this very young segment is the Brooklyn based company MakerBot. Currently offering three versions of their Replicator printer. It work on a really good accuracy level for an attractive price. It brings the object manufacturing to your desk and can make a difference to your workflow if you are a designer.

Architecture has a big interest in the 3D manufacturing. As experts point out there is a gaping hole between the progress in software capacity and possibilities and the physical manufacturing capacities. This recent progress might start to close this gap for soem of the practices.

Especially in academia architecture has had an long standing interest in the 3d printing process. Many school have by now established a 3d manufacturing unit undertaking very interesting research towards the integration of processes in the workflow, but more importantly integrating 3d printing as part of the design process. For quick starters Makerbot offers also a platform to share 3d print object files. The Thingiverse is a great source not just for files to get you started but for discussion and advice, with each object has its own discussion channel and gallery of recreated objects. Usefull if you want to print your very own iPhone case, a filter lense case or working natilus gears.

Regarding precision a new 3d printer is about to come on the market developed and produced by formlabs. It is the result of one of the early large kickstarter projects. The team spent the past year developing and refining the design and the engineering oft he product and is now ready to ship them out by April this year.

This will be interesting to follow up and seeing the changes in practice these now available technologies bring to the everyday of designers, architects and engineers. It is great to see finally the shift back from virtual and digital modeling into the physical and real world. And here we have the potential for applications beyond the model oder visualisation objects, but for the production of working parts as actual pieces of our environment or in other words Printing the City as discussed in an earlier post.

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Infographics are everywhere and a lot of development both in therms of technology and style has gone into the representation of information in the last few years. It is however an old topic and through out the past century aspects of graphics, design and technology in regards to the presentation of data and information were developed.

The Gestalt Theory (Detailed article in the German Wikipedia) was developed in the early 20s of the last century or Tufte (earlier on urbanTick) wrote his much influential books in the 80s and 90s to name two.

Image taken from the189.com / Informotion project by Bryan Ku docuemnting the final game in the 122nd edition of the Wimbeldon Championship Men’s Final between tennis giants Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. See the animated version HERE.

The reason for some more recent development in information design and especially and especially handling is connected to technological and practical changes, but also the increased availability of raw data and details to be turned into information graphics.

Often however the subject to the data is temporal or process based with need for background or lead in, change of place or frequent change of perspective. For these cases animated inforgraphics can be a great way to communicate knowledge. Besides who doesn’t like to look at motion pictures? It really fits in with the whole TV consuming sort of urban lifestyle.

Its pretty save to say, that for the first time the book Informotion: Animated Infographics by Gestalten bring together a selection of the best motion picture graphics communicating knowledge. All of the examples are very recent projects and most can be found on either vimeo or youtube of course. However the interesting bit on the book is the context the examples are being put in. The editors Tim Finke and Sebastian Manger put great emphasis on contextual details in a wider sense. Where publications like the recent Taschen Infographics are a mere selection of great examples the Informotion book includes the theoretical and practical aspects too.

This of course makes the book heavier to read, it’s also but not only to look at, but you get a lot more out of it for your practice. Besides inspiration the book provides a refresh and update on the graphic, visual and design theories as well as the technical details of animation production such as software, storyboards or size, resolution or format.

Image taken from binalogue.com / Images showing the page spread design. The example shown here is an animated infographic by binalogue showing the CANAL Isabel II water cycle. See video below for the original animation.

There is also one of the aNCL (animated New City Landscape) informmotion graphics included as anexample in the book (p.188-189). It is the animation produced in collaboration between urbanTick and Anders Johansson on the Twitter landscape in the area arond the city of Zuerich in Switzerland. The original post on the animation can be found here, the animation is below.

Of course there is something awkward about a printed book about animated examples. However the content lives up to the expectations and whilst the animations can not be shown in the book the story can still be told. Even more so that the examples are discussed in detail and help to illustrate the theoretical elements of the book. In this sense there is literally more to the book than just the pictures and lines of text there is actual information in there plus Gestalten have a website where readers can get additional info and links to the animations. The list of examples can be found HERE.

Image taken from Gestalten / Book cover.

Finke, T. & Manger, S. eds., 2012. Informotion: Animated Infographics, Berlin: Gestalten.

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Information graphics are the subject to a brand new Taschen publication Information Graphics that is bringing complicated data made understandable through brilliant designs to a strong coffee table near you. The book is colourful with strong visual guidance, large, very large and heavy, some 480 pages heavy. As this outline shows, its a bold publication that doesn’t hide behind all the various examples of graphic design, but provides a tasteful framework to showcase the many awesome examples of data narratives.

Cover Information Graphics
Image taken from aestheticsofjoy by Stephanie Posavec / Writing without words exploring possibilities to visually represent text.

Of course info graphics are currently trending and one of the most talked and specially passed around topic, not only online but more recently also in the media. All the large media houses have a special information design group and the publication showcases a number of these examples. In this context the book is not the first such collection of good designed information, but certainly one of the boldest in a positive sense.

The publication is edited by Julius Wiedemann und features contributions by Sandra Rendgen, Richard Saul Wurman, Simon Rogers from the Guardian Data Blog and Paolo Ciuccarelli. This is a very interesting team Taschen has put together for this publication with, whilst still being information specialists, covering a broad spectrum of perspectives and expertise.

NYT Historic Shift
NYT Historic Shift
Image taken from dynamicdiagrams by NYT / Interactive visualisation showing the changes in election results over the period 2006-2010. Find the interactive version at NYT

Where other publications, for examples Data Flow by Gestalten, Otto Neurat by NAi or indeed Edward Tufte focus on the context of the graphics, the theoretical background of narrating information as well as the actual teaching of how to present information the Taschen publication is a showcase. It is foremost about showing great examples from a variety of sources on how to visualise data sets graphically in mainly 2D. There are a few web based, animated or interactive examples too though. This takes into account that complexity showing in these graphics is continually rising.

Husevaag Escape Routes Husevaag Escape Routes
Image by Torgeir Husevaag / Escape Routes, 2010-2011. A series of drawing studying possibilities of spatial movement under given time constraints. On the left the map and on the right a detail of some of the blue shaded location sixth path details

Showcasing such a large collection of examples is tricky in that the ordering system as to how the examples are organised becomes very prominent and therefore important. Here the editor has decided to go with a very low number of groups to arrange the info graphics. Where other publications make an exercise out of inventing a whole new system to clarify and characterise the examples this one takes the simple approach. This both refreshingly straight forward and annoyingly rough. What do the chosen terms Location, Time, Category and Hierarchy actually describe, or more importantly how are they distinguished?

The questions remain unanswered however, this does not stand in the way to enjoy the great quality and variety this collection shows. Its a book to brows, jump and flip, a publication you will keep in reach for a long time and always go back to to enjoy or indeed recharge your design batteries.

Cover Information Graphics
Image by Taschen / Book cover Information Graphics.

Rendgen, S., 2012. Information Graphics J. Wiedemann, ed., Köln: Taschen GmbH.

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Housing design is the one field of architecture arguably being the most accepted core activity of architects. Building houses is architecture as such. The recent NAi publisher book Housing Design: A Manual by Bernhard Leupen and Harald Mooij is published in a second English edition. It picks up on the is core and very traditional architecture activity of building a house and presents designs across a wide range of types in a cultural context.

Image by urbanTick / Book spread showing the chapter introductino nad a summary of the discussed elements.Housing Design – A Manual.

The new publication is a revised English-Language edition and is based on the first Dutch edition published as Het ontwerpen van woningen in 2008. The new edition is extended in its content and, being translated to English, definitely open up to a wider audience worldwide.

In a series of eight chapters the publication develops a clear presentation of housing projects, of both built and some unbuilt examples. The chapters organise the projects in several categories. Other than most books on the same subject however, Housing Design does not try to press the examples into descriptive categories. The authors have chosen to group them into programatic categories characterising the process and the context rather than the project itself.

Image by urbanTick / Book spread Housing Design – A Manual. The example here is by DKV Architects, Kop van Havendiep (Lelystad, 2004) with detailed sectional drawing.

With this the presentation is more relaxed and less arbitrary in a range of different contexts. Where the descriptive categories often seem out of place the here used programatic categories support the reading of each examples in a wider context.

This is at the same time where the specific strength of this publication lies. It is not just a design manual, but a design reader. The examples are not just standing on their own as a separate entity. Each project is set in a wider context linking it in with a theoretical and practical background.

The book is therefore also great reading material. It is by no means a picture book or a flip book, but presents a systematical approach to the presentation of a range of housing projects in the context of architecture history and practice. In this the publication goes into great detail with the presentation and answering of problems drawing from a great source of architectural history examples. Under the subtitle belly for examples, the problem of the underside of a house if rised on piloties or has an underpass is discussed using Le Corbusier’s Unité d’habitation and MVRDV’s WOZOCO as examples. Similar the topic scenery and the design of interior spaces draws on Haussmann and Adolf Loos’s Haus Moller and Das Prinzip der Bekleidung (The Principle of Cladding).

Image by urbanTick / Book spread Housing Design – A Manual. The example here is by Herzog de Meuron, Hebelstrasse 11 Housing (Basel 1988) as an example of a skeleton construction.

Each chapter starts with a theoretical introduction and presents a series of examples. Each with photo plans and drawings. Often this includes construction drawings such as sections. This allows the publication to go in to a lot of detail beyond just the floor layout, discussing construction problems in line with design and questions of aesthetics.

The book concludes in the chapter The Design Process in which three examples are presented as case studies. The discussed aspects are ‘applied’ or revisited as to how they accompany the different design stages of a project. With this the authors demonstrate that housing design is not simply about finding the right typology and developing a floor plan layout. They make the point very clear that architecture and specifically housing design is a contextual process.

Image by urbanTick / Book endsheet showing the different elements and parts of a house that are discussed in details. There are storys, core space, gallery, staircase, street infill and diagonal stacking amongst many others. The pictograms summarise the characteristics of each element very neatly and allow for quick reference and finding.Housing Design – A Manual.

It is a very beautiful publications. It feels good to touch and it is in its design quite complexe without overloading. Actually it looks plain, but with its use of metallic colours and specific fonts for different types of text it is rather playful in a supporting kind of way. The photographs are all black and white and so are the plans and drawings. Despite this no information the information is very clear and readable.

To summ up, this is definitely one of the great publications on housing design and worth having, not only if you are a first year undergrad architecture student. In fact it might be even too complicated for beginners. It might be even more insightful and interesting if you already know about architecture. With its many references and examples across architecture history it is a great reference as well as reading book.

Image by urbanTick / Book cover Housing Design – A Manual.

Mooij, H. & Leupen, B., 2011. Housing Design – A Manual, Rotterdam: NAI Publishers.

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Eduard Tufte is one of the key theorist on visualisation design and graphics communication. His books have sold extremely well and his concepts have been picked up by a lot of influential designers. He is quoted frequently in writings and has very large follower basis.

Even though his books, six there are published by his own publisher Graphic Press, are already published for more than a decade, in fact his first important book, The Visual Display of Information was first published in 1983. All of the publications are by now into their second edition and still selling strong at a retail price of above $40.00.

The New York Times called him The Minister of Information, to name but one example of titles he was given. Tufte lectures around the world always drawing a large crowd.

Tufte started teaching at Princeton together with the renown statistician John Tukey where the foundations for the first book The Visual Display of Information was developed. The second edition of this publication (2001) is then also dedicated to the memory of Turkey.

This first book on graphics and information design was an instant success and transformed Tufte from his political science background into an information visualisation expert. With the publications that followed he sticked with this new field of his and extended on a number of concepts in the field of visualisation of quantitative information.

Two qualities of Tufte’s book are standing in the foreground. For one there is the quality of the publication design and there is the beauty of the numerous examples drawn from across the centuries. In combination, together with a solid argument and visionary, but detailed observations it creates a extremely powerful statement which is pure joy to read.

Even thought he publications are of some age, they currently live through a revival, in the context of the current data visualisation hype. With these wast depositories of quantitative information accessible the chalenges of visualisation are still as present as ever and often the readability and the presentation is compromised.

Time Series of Exports and Imports, Playfair
Image taken from Businessweek / An examples of the use of Tuftes Sparklines intended to be in text graphs summarising the development of time as extensions to textual or numerical descriptions.

In his first book The Visual Display of Information Tufte (1983) sets out to develop a language to discuss graphics and a practical theory of data graphics. As Tufte puts it in his foreword to the publication: “At their best, graphics are instruments for reasoning about quantitative information.” He mainly bases his explanations on the comparison and the discussion of examples. Very didactically Tufte relays predominantly in his descriptions on “this is not very good! It could be improved in this way!”

In this sense the first part of the book is focusing on the history, as Tufte puts it, the recent history, of graphicsal representation of information since the 18th century. Tufte refers to William Playfair (1759-1823) as the main inventor of a theory and practice of information graphics.

Time Series of Exports and Imports, Playfair
Image taken from Wikipedia / William Playfair’s Time Series of Exports and Imports of Denmark and Norway

In the conclusion to the book, the chapter 9. Aesthetics and Technique in Data Graphical Design Tufte brings together the observations made through out the book and makes suggestions for design decisions in regards to the graphical representation of quantitative data. It is simple things Tufte picks up here, like line with, chart size and orientation or shading, but those are the main tools of communication and what generally is overlooked.

It is only in his second book Envisioning Information that Tufte (1990) opens the discussion to include more aspects of graphical representation, sort of departing from the initial focus on quantitative data, math and statistics. In this publication Tufte incorporates much more and this is well reflected in the content that reads: Escaping Flatland, Micro/Macro Readings, Layering and Separation, Small Multiples, Colour and Information, Narratives of Space and Time. Here Tufte incorporates the visualisation and style of maps, train time tables and information signs.

It is in this book that Tufte actually discusses the impact of the design and the potential as it is evoked through good choice and specific planning. Where the first book ends, with practical suggestions, this area is extended in this second publication into a whole book really. And it is in these chapters, as listed previously, the reader finds the evidence and the presentation of again comparative examples leading the discussion.

In many ways these two books come as one and it does make sense to read them in sequence and still each book has its perfect identity. For even if your not into the practice of graphical representation of either quantitative data or any information at all it is great joy to look through the books and admire the perfect layout along with the stunning collection of examples each surprisingly comprehensive and integrative with the developing discussion of the book.

Envisioning Information: Narratives of Space and Time

Tufte, Eduard R., 2009. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information Second Edition., Cheshire, Co: Graphic Press.
Tufte, Edward R, 1990. Envisioning Information, Cheshire, Conn: Graphics Press.

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The spatial dimension of reading is an interesting aspect in so far as to how far it can actually become the main subject. A lot of narratives make extensive use of space and lace description and the location is often as important as the characters who really come to live from the description of spatial interaction and as to how they are set in the place.

There are genres based on location both from the stories, but also based on the authors. With for example a Scandinavian tradition for crime thriller and detective story. But how could this spatial aspect be translated to organise books?

lit location based literature research
Image taken from lit.sebastianmeier / The interaction tool is the touch table with the map and the wheel for navigation. At the top is a bare showing search result for books and stories.

A student project called lit from the University of Potsdam in Germany (2010), Urban Layers module (SS 2010) (WS 2010), came up with an interactive software design for location based literacy research. It was developed by Jan-Erik Stange and Sebastian Meier supervised by Till Nagel. The tool was developed for a touch table interface providing direct interaction and handling. The project won a Core77 design award in the category Interactive, Web and Mobile.

lit location based literature research
Image taken from lit.sebastianmeier / The map showing the sequence as to how the locations are the stage for the story.

On a large map background the location can play a number of different roles. For one it can define a search criteria, by defining places or boundaries to find books. Location however, can then also play the key role from within the book and the software can show the locations this story plays at. For this the project has developed a visualisation to link the linear book text and dots on the map. It is achieved by using an interaction wheel, showing the text as a circle, and drawing lines to the dots. This way the sequence becomes clear and everything can still happen at the centre of the table.

lit location based literature research
Image taken from lit.sebastianmeier / The map now showing two books in different colour to visually compare.

It is then possible to show the sequence also on the map connecting the dots, thus providing a spati narrative. Further more additional books can be brought in and be compared to one another based on the location.

Via Wrightbrian3, via the Atlantic

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Sustainability as a concept applies to a range of scales and has to be implemented in each step from planning to production to building, use and recycling. Only overall a maximum of impact is archived. For individual steps this might not make the difference but for the project of a whole this is important. In this sense taking on a global view and develop the project in a wider context is important in order to mange the palette of wide ranging impacts from source to production and recycling of a single project.

Material are playing a mayor part in this since they are the very substance each of the project steps is taking shape through the application and transformation of material. In this sense material can be seen as the very practical and central element of sustainable design.

solid poetry concrete
Image taken from traces / Solid Poetry developed this moisture reactionary concrete. Customised patterns are possible on a range of cales to appear if the concrete surface ges wet. Flowers grow as it rains or footprints emerge from pool splashes.

A lot of material innovation have changed the way products are being not only designed but also used, loved and recycled. In a new Birkhaeuser publication by the author Sacha Peters these changes in the material world are being presented. The book ‘Material Revolution: Sustainable Multi-purpose Materials for Design and Architecture‘ focuses on the latest innovations in material design as well as production. The publication presents materials as tightly interwoven with products and makes good use of product examples to demonstrate and especially illustrate the potential of a specific type of material. Also the production process is especially highlighted as part of the sustainability aspect of a material. However the recycling of the material is not discussed as a material property. This would have been an interesting aspect.

The book is structured in eight chapters grouping together materials based on properties such as Bio-Based, Biodegradable, Recycled, Leightweight, Shape-Changing, Multifunctional, Energy-Generation and Light-Influencing. These groups might not make sense as such, but are perfectly fitted with the examples they put forward. This ranges from concrete that reacts to moisture by SolidPoetry or fabrics that have a built in shape memory.

Max Schäth shape-shifting hood
Image taken from vicinteractivesurface / This is an expressive shape-shifting hood that references the senses and feelings of a person in an abstract way. It subtly transforms and changes shape via shape memory alloys. The project was developed Max Schäth.

Each material is discussed along the same three structural elements of ‘Concept and Properties’, ‘Use and Processing’ and ‘Products’. This provides a good guidance for the reader and makes it easier to compare the different material and their properties. The publication discusses a very large range and number of different materials, so many in fact that is becomes almost a material catalogue. This leaves only little room for each individual material and the provided information is rather limited. In this sense the book is a good starting point, providing an overview and basic comparison.

Interestingly there is a lot of discussion about sustainability of materials and the importance of the concept, but in the end little of this comes down to the actual material and on the leve of the material sustainability is not present, only really in the book concept. This is a shame since the importance would be for the perspective this book has chosen on each material property against its sustainability value.

Nevertheless a good catalogue for designers and architects with great product examples also as a source of inspiration, providing an overview of the latest available and upcoming materials for specific product purposes.

Image taken from Birkhaeuser on issuuu / Book preview.

Peters, S., 2011. Material Revolution: Sustainable Multi-purpose Materials for Design and Architecture, Basel: Birkhauser.

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