Archive for November, 2008


Observation Project – The Mall

For my ID-1 class, we had to do an observation of the mall. Most people would assume that the primary mall ‘user’ is the consumer, but after observing, I really feel the mall is mainly used by the distributor. The whole mall concept is genius – a fun place people go to spend money. You go to the mall to be surrounded by various money suckers – food, clothes, movies, books, toys, makeup…everything! Granted, the mall needs to be pleasant in order to get people inside and stay awhile. It can’t be some nasty flea market. Anyways, I came up with a rough idea for the class. 

It is called Fashion Portal (working title):








Basically, it creatively utilizes ad space in the mall. There aren’t many free fun things to do in the mall, other than window shop. And that isn’t so much fun after a while, just depressing. Fashion Portal is an interactive structure – Two sets of screens advertise store merchandise but also provide a memorable and fun experience for shoppers. With flex screen, touch screen and digital photo technology,  shoppers can take and display a life size image of themselves on a large touch panel. They can dress their virtual selves in store merchandise (price, brand, size options, sale info would pop up) or a selection of wacky fun options. Hopefully, it’d be fun for even the most mall-phobic members of the family! I saw a lot of very bored looking dads walking around. 




The extensive collection of actual mall merchandise in the system would increase store revenue through advertising. The system would also record popular items that users “try on”, helping track trends and interests. A fun collection of backgrounds, costumes and accessories would keep shoppers amused and give parents and youngsters a chance to have some fun together. The Touch Screen interface would allow for easy sizing and placement of clothes and accessories onto a shopper’s digital image. And finally, an e-mail option would send favorite creations back to the user while providing stores with shopper information. 

My concept went over just fine with my professor, but he pointed out the loopholes in my whole idea. The technology is just too complicated. I think it is surely possible, but way too expensive to manufacture at the moment….maybe in like five years. 

The essence of ‘Fashion Portal’ is this, combining a fun interactive experience while increasing revenue for distributors. Whoever plans to purchase ‘Fashion Portal’ has to be convinced it is worth the investment. $$$$$ Isn’t that what the mall is about anyways? 


Trees and leaves

‘Faux Bois’ is the proper term for the tree/woods/leaves trend that has gotten popular lately. I usually think of myself as going against trends, but I am totally into this one. It doesn’t make sense either – I hate the woods, I hate camping or hiking, I hate most outdoorsy situations. I think I am attracted to the concept because it clearly represents my feelings about the woods/nature. I like the idea of nature, but I can’t actually handle being in it. I can cheat and sort of be outdoorsy by surrounding myself with all this woodsy imagery.

I own these sheets and this backpack. 



I had to make a maze for model making class recently and, for some reason, I went with leaf imagery. I could have done anything, but I chose a leaf. It is weird, right?



I really loved that whole deer/antlers/fawn trend that was going on. But I think that is fading out. For the past few years, I have been predicting a massive native american trend. All these forest friends trends are mere stepping stones leading to a ‘one with the land’ ‘colors of the wind’ aesthetic. It is about to sweep the nation, just wait and see.



Jewels and Baubles

Being an Industrial Design student, it can get annoying having to back up almost every design decision. Sometimes it’d be nice to just make whatever, just cause it looks nice. I know…that is what a fine artist does. And as a designer evolves, they nurture an aesthetic style which needs no reason. But, at the moment, everything still has to have some sort of utilitarian function; even a very shallow function like holding flowers or fruit can pass.

I really love jewelry though. Jewelry, inherently, is suppose to be beautiful. That is a one of its key functions – it is beautiful and meant to be worn. I love jewelry by Stephen Webster ( It is so fun and fresh and maintains a sense of whimsy. This blog post is getting a little gay, so I’ll just roll with it. Here is a necklace he made for Christina Aguilera.












It bears the name and image of her baby. It is very contemporary but at the same time, evokes the past; heart shaped lockets have been around forever. 











Another amazing thing about the locket – the drop of blood on the end of the sword encapsulates an actual drop of blood! Xtina would not reveal who’s blood is inside, but that is besides the point. I find using natural artifacts in jewelry really fascinating. Why wear something symbolizing another person when you could actually wear a part of that person. Such a concept could get out of control…I am not condoning earrings made out of a loved ones earlobes or anything (shout out to Van Gogh!). I’d design very classy and tasteful pieces which incorporate a drop of blood or strand of hair or lost tooth. I am not creepy, I swear. I just think it is an interesting concept!













Wouldn’t it be precious to have a charm bracelet commemorating your little girl’s first lost tooth? The tooth would be part of your life forever! You’d be lucky to get a quarter from the tooth fairy these days anyways, she’s come across some hard times with the economy and all.


Heat producing plants


This is philodendron bipinnatifidum. The male flowers often produce heat in the evenings to encourage pollination. They rise up to 13 degrees hotter than the atmosphere. I was thinking these plants would be a great way to produce heat efficiently. I know biological sciences aren’t necessarily under the umbrella of industrial design. But as environmental concerns increase and our reliance on oil decreases, studying this plant would be a great way to heat homes. Imagine an entire wall or ceiling full of heat producing plants. It would not only create a lush and natural environment, but warm the entire room. Granted, you would need nutrients for the plant. But raising these plants would be like a pet; something you would want to nurture because it provides something in return. 

I started thinking about this because my apartment has bone white walls. And I recently started to turn on the heater to warm up during cold SF nights. I wish my apartment was more inviting and more efficient.

To be honest, I would totally spend the extra money nourishing a plant like this if it provided heat and a link to nature – even if it cost more than traditional heating methods. Being on the cutting edge of ‘green culture’ is something a lot of people value. I hope scientists study these natural processes and are able to harness them in useful ways. Just think about a beautiful bloom on your wall which manages to heat your entire apartment!



Death’s Design

Recently, I’ve read many articles about graves and lack of space. From England to Japan, plots are quite limited and reacquiring old graves as new ones is just not an option. I realize burial rituals are closely tied to religion, and are therefore not an easy thing to change. But there are amazing new ways of respectfully commemorating our loved ones while preserving space for more pressing “living” needs.

Cremation is always an option. It is popular in the East and is gaining wide popularity in the West as well. Those who can afford it are even able to make ‘jewels’ out of their loved ones ashes, to wear close to their hearts forever.









OR they can have ashes/bodies sent off to space. Which seems sort of selfish, considering the amount of energy it takes to launch a spaceship.












Common and, in my opinion, not very creative solutions include creating mausoleums (hallways with crypts, very creepy) or simply having “double stacked” plots.













Another process which is, understandably, not catching on is using heat and lye to ‘melt’ dead bodies. After the process, bodies can simply be poured down the drain. Think I am kidding? check this out:










An option that people have been using for many centuries is a burial at sea. This ritual is gaining momentum, especially in coastal areas such as the British Isles.With some ‘green’ changes (biodegradable caskets, marked off burial zones), it can make for a beautiful and poignant ceremony.













As a designer and someone not too attached to any religious school of thought, I really love the idea of having jewelry made. Maybe it is a little cheesy, but also quite sweet and sentimental. A big issue for many is wanting a place to ‘visit’ their loved ones. I was thinking a large open area with wind generators or solar generators marking the dead rather than tombstones would effectively use the space; providing a place of rest for the deceased while creating a resource for the living.







UPDATE: A town in Spain has successfully placed solar panels on graves!:



People have been seeking inspiration from the natural world since the beginning of time (making it through the ice age by covering ourselves with pelts and fur). I think it is safe to say everything anyone has ever made is somehow connected to nature. After all, humans are technically “natural”. 

Anyways, I really love deriving inspiration from nature. Sometimes I feel silly because I am not particularly ‘outdoorsy’, but a lot of my designs seem that way. I guess I practice on a very rudimentary level of biomimicry. According to one of my favorite websites on the topic,, biomimicry considers nature in three ways: model, mentor and measure. Model consists of studying natural forms, systems, processes and strategies and applying them to human solutions. Mentor is more conceptual and relates to a new way of thinking: not using nature for just its physical tangible natural resources, but what it can teach us; ideas to enhance our lives. Finally, measure means designing things that last; valuing sustainability and future generations. 

Anyways, point is I want to get more into biomimicry. I think it is fascinating and very valuable to  modern designers. 

The following is a bathroom organizer I made inspired by the pattern and symmetry of a nautilus shell. I am not consulting nature to solve major global issues or anything, but I like it.