Archive for the 'Musings' Category

05
Dec
08

Personification

harlow-monkey

The famous psychologist Harry Harlow conducted maternal deprivation experiments with rhesus monkeys in the 1950s.

Video of the experiments:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLrBrk9DXVk

The baby monkeys were given a choice between a warm cloth mother which provided no food and a cold wire mother which provided food. The babies almost exclusively spent most of their time with the warm soft mother while only associating with the wire mother when hungry. The experiments are a landmark in the study of attachment and loss, but also provide some interesting revelations for designers to consider.

We live in an age of loneliness. The majority of americans are single. We live far away from our families and are rarely in multi-generational living situations. We are focused on our careers, our interests and our needs. We have embraced electronic ‘social networking’ and other online venues in order to maintain and create human connections. But at the end of the day, we are and always will be like those baby monkeys. We want something real and tangible. The ‘E-world’ is only so great, it can’t hug you back. And, more than ever before, many of us have turned to our pets for companionship. In Cali, doctors even prescribe pets; allowing apartment dwellers to keep pets as a way to fend off depression, even if the landlord does not usually permit it. Fact is, things that seem human, more alive, are often more attractive. As the Japanese have done for years, simply adding a face to anything can make it more human and, in turn, more alive:

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Alessi has made a name for themselves by personifying many many inanimate objects. The sheer whimsy of these products have made them a huge hit.

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I do think it’d be insane to plaster faces on every possible object, but there is a huge market for this aesthetic. People need this sort of human-like presence in their lives. Though it may seem unhealthy, we are attached to all kinds inanimate things. We love our cars, ipods, laptops… some people really genuinely love these things. They name them and care for them as if they were living beings with feelings. And people do talk to and interact with inanimate objects. It was normal and perfectly healthy when we were  young (dolls, stuffed toys), but after a certain point, society just doesn’t allow it. Why not be a little crazy and talk to our stuff? It might actually make us more sane. I want these….

pee-and-poo-dolls

16
Nov
08

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. 

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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?

leafmazescan

 

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.

automne-indien-041

11
Nov
08

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 (http://www.stephenwebster.com). 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.

aguilera_necklace  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

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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!

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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.

08
Nov
08

Heat producing plants

spadix_close1s

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!

multicoloredas41

05
Nov
08

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. http://www.lifegem.com/

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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. http://www.memorialspaceflights.com/

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

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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: http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2008/05/12/the-future-of-funera.html

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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.

http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/world-news/sea-burial-the-green-fad-in-grave-crunch-britain_100118893.html

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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.

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UPDATE: A town in Spain has successfully placed solar panels on graves!: http://www.physorg.com/news146666562.html

03
Nov
08

Biomimicry

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, asknature.org, 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.

shellblog1

shell

 

29
Oct
08

Food Designers

I was in a fancy gourmet food shop the other day and saw some really amazingly designed food. And it got me thinking, what is the point of designing food? what if it is soooo pretty that the person doesn’t want to eat it? is that the point? or should it strike a delicate balance between looking delicious and beautiful? I am sure there are entire curriculums on designing food. I hear the Scandinavians are well advanced in this field (as they are when it comes to design in general). 

VERY FUN japanese bento box meal. This is so cute I wouldn’t eat it.

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Peep and the Big Wide World Bento!

 

This website has some conceptual-ish food designs: http://www.food-designing.com/01-food.htm   I love the ‘3D snack’ apple.

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A great blog with some really cool/cute/pretty food: http://ohjoy.blogs.com/my_weblog/ummummgood/

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I’ve noticed that a lot of highly designed food is indulgent; chocolate, pastries, various desserts. I guess this makes sense since, traditionally, those who indulge in these kinds of delights are looking to be luxurious.

If I were to design food, I’d definitely go the ‘this is art you can’t eat it’ route. Mainly because of my pride. I want the potential eater to be so in awe of the food’s sheer beauty, they couldn’t possibly consume it and have it disappear forever. And I would try to design normal foods. I’d make something as mundane as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into a masterpiece… Construct intricate structures out of the bread, use the peanut better as glue, pattern the facade with various jams and jellies….

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I couldn’t end this blog without mentioning this ultimate luxury in ‘designer’ food. 

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GOLDEN OPULENCE SUNDAE!  It costs a thousand bucks. Only in NYC! 

http://www.dailyolive.com/got_1000_why_no.html

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now i’m hungry.

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PS – there are more awesome illustrations like the one above at: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18937/18937-h/18937-h.htm