Archive for the 'Musings' Category




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

Video of the experiments:

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:








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.











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….



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.





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.












Peep and the Big Wide World Bento!


This website has some conceptual-ish food designs:   I love the ‘3D snack’ apple.












A great blog with some really cool/cute/pretty food:













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….












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












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




now i’m hungry.













PS – there are more awesome illustrations like the one above at:


System User Interfaces

The issue of designing entire systems rather than actual objects has come up frequently in my Industrial Design course. As ID students, my classmates and I are constantly aware of the full picture: marketing, physical design, engineering, software design, materials and users.  With technology playing a huge role both now and certainly in the future, it is difficult not to think about systems and user interfaces. My professor said something interesting the other day – sooner than later, we are just going to have one or two things that do everything. And it is easy to say, ”You are an Industrial Designer. Your focus is the physical form.” But sometimes the software is what makes or breaks a product. Look at the iphone – sure the physical form is nice, but I wouldn’t say revolutionary. The amazing part is what it does – the technology, the software, the possibilities and the ease of use. It is a thing, a thing that does everything – movies, music, email, phone calls, cameras, games…  it replaces the watch, the alarm clock, the cellphone, the camera, the hand held game system, the laptop, the mp3 player, the portable TV… all things industrial designers use to design!



Designing user interfaces is going to be an integral part of ID in the future. And to be honest, I think that is great. I want to have a say on how a product works and not only how it looks. Maybe I won’t be able to program software or write computer codes, but I want my opinion to hold some weight. Basically, I don’t want to sound like an idiot around the computer geeks.



On the other hand, I am not much of a techie. Maybe I’ll stick to designing technology free products. There are some things technology just can’t replace. Right?   



Link to an interesting related article:




Is it weird that I am sort of baby crazy just like the rest of America? Maybe the recession will slow down our birth rate, but as the graph shows, the US loves them some babies. Our celebs are baby crazy and I am sure that has some trickle down effect on the rest of us. Plus, unlike other nations, in the good old USA, having a baby is sort of status symbol…in the best way possible. Not an LV bag or a sports car, but a symbol of prosperity. ‘Look, I make enough money to support a baby. And my baby has the cutest clothes and most innovative toys.’ People WANT babies. Though I admit, I am ignoring a huge chunk of the population – people who just pop out babies for no reason, or get preggers by mistake. I am mainly focusing on Jolie-Pitt baby makers – couples with the income to invest in all kinds of baby needs, the couples in Park Slope NYC with top of the line strollers and the cutest tiny little shoes. 



Little shoes and little socks! How can anyone resist? 

Fact is, few things are ‘recession-proof’. People will continue to need the basics, but they also continue to spend on certain ‘unnecessary’ items – alcohol, pornography, toys and baby items. The psychology behind the toys and baby items goes like this: parents do not want to disappoint their little ones. Most parents in this generation, especially those between 25-35 years old, probably got everything they wanted when they were younger. Their baby boomer parents lived in a time of overall prosperity. Any parent wants the best for his kids; a life just as good or better than what they had growing up. And if I were a parent, I would certainly try to hide the dire financial situation from my kids. Also, a lucky child will have ‘back-ups’; Grandparents, aunts and uncles who feel much more comfortable offering things to related children or babies rather than offering to help their adult relatives with things like the mortgage. 



A very nice 800 dollar stroller from Stokke. I think it is worth every penny, impeccably designed!


161-3489051spa68uc417106mAnd the surge in educational and stimulating toys is a whole other story. (Fisher Price ‘Smart Cycle’)

Basically, designing for little ones is something I definitely plan on exploring. Also, designing for older ones, even though it wouldn’t be as much fun. No cute little shoes or fun strollers… actually, old people could wear cute little shoes and ride fun wheelchairs. 



Some of my Fave baby/kid stuff links:


Buddy Toys

There is something really great about toys that transcend being a plaything and become a friend. I use to love Teddy Ruxpin and the Pillow Pals when I was younger. And even with all the fancy schmancy toys out there today, teddy bears are still as popular as ever.


I am wondering what it is that makes these ‘buddy toys’ so timeless and if there is anyway to take something so simple and make it ‘better’. Teddy Ruxpin tells stories which is pretty cool. I want to create a pal that can take the basic needs a teddy bear provides and push them to a whole new level. 

This pal would be comforting, soft to touch, able to go anywhere, have some sort of inherent friendly persona and lend himself/herself to just being a child’s partner in crime.

I had an idea for a stuffed elephant with a video camera in his trunk. Of course, the names of these pals would go along the lines of Ellie or Elliott the Elephant. With simple recording and playback features, children could use their pal to capture comforting images of their everyday life and explore the world with a new set of eyes. here is a little sketch.