#ThrowbackThursday: Organized Chaos in the Form of One Massive (and Surprisingly Untangled) Telephone Wire Hub
Whether you live in an overstimulating city center or a more bucolic setting, the countless details of the built environment often barely register as designed objects. Telephone wires are among those often-overlooked systems. And judging by these photos of a telephone from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, we've come quite a long way. The steely subject of these shots is Stockholm's Telefontornet ("Telephone Tower"), which was the main communication hub in the area from 1887–1913.
Despite the fact that the tower is a complete eyesore, it's hard not to be impressed by the fact that the the carefully routed lines comprised an entire city's phone network. As if it wasn't already the cynosure of Norrmalm, the city thought the tower was missing something, so they held a competition for an "embellishment" that would be placed at the top of the tower. In 1890, architect Fritz Eckert came up with the winning design, bedecking the tower with turrets on its four corners, each adorned with a pennant.(more...)
What do you do when your wardrobe consists largely of T-shirts, and you don't have enough room to store them? Not everyone has enough closet space to hang those T-shirts, so dresser drawers get used—and are often crammed to overflowing. Furthermore, the T-shirts at the bottom of the stack rarely get worn, because no one can see them. One solution: Fold the T-shirts and file them away, saving space and adding visibility.
Brittany Moser, on her Darkroom and Dearly blog, shows how much space she saved when she went with the folded approach. Brittany says the shirts do tend to get creases—but no more than when she folded them and laid them flat. She takes the one she wants to wear that day into the shower room with her, to steam out the creases.
Andrea Dekker has a video showing how she folds T-shirts, and Brittany has provided these step-by-step images. This all seems easy enough—but for those who want more help (or a cleaner look), there's Pliio.(more...)
This past weekend, Reddit users have been delighting in pictures of prepackaged grape juice (alas, not wine) and bread (or is that gum?) communion reportedly handed out to one church-going user's 7,000-strong congregation. The Reddit faithful were quick to dub the curiosities 'Christables' after a certain packaged lunchtray product and offered up a number of other amusing puns and slogan suggestions—from mildly disrespectful to brazen copyright infringement—including gems such as "I Can't Believe It's Not Salvation" to "# Bad dap bap bap baaa...I'm loving Him #."
As comments on the thread point towards, the incongruity that we (even non-believers) feel at the sight of this object has to do with the design language: disposable plastic + aluminum-foiled symbols of the fast and packaged food industries that is unavoidably synonymous with cheapness, convenience and transience—a culmination that no amount of script typography, biblical quotes and cross symbols can outweigh.(more...)
September isn't just back-to-school month—it also marks the second wave of international design festivals, an impossibly omni-terrestrial agenda that includes Paris, London, Vienna, Istanbul, Mexico City, Eindhoven, Tokyo and beyond. Beijing Design Week is easily among the more unique events in the mix, not least for the fact that it spans a sprawling, rapidly changing metropolis and is the single biggest design happening in the world's most populous country.
Core77 has been a media partner for Beijing Design Week since its inception four years ago, and once again we will be scouring Dashilar, CaoChangDi, 751 D-Park and beyond for the gems amidst the cross-cultural chaos. While some might consider leaked Apple components to be the most exciting 'design objects' coming out of the PRC, Chinese institutions and individuals alike have made a concerted effort to shift from "Made in China" to "Designed in China." Granted, the homegrown design scene still has a long way to go, but it's well worth witnessing its progress as a new generation of designers forge a path towards establishing Chinese design on the world stage.(more...)
D-School Futures: Art Center's Karen Hofmann on the Ever-Expanding Role of the Designer and What It Means for ID Education
Recent Art Center graduate Kristina Marrero's Dextris is a glove to help astronauts work more comfortably in space.
This is the latest installment of D-School Futures, our interview series on the evolution of industrial design education. Today we have answers from Karen Hofmann, chair of product design at Art Center College of Design.
How different is industrial design education today than it was ten years ago? Will it look very different ten years from now?
The core visual, technical, creative, analytical and presentation skills that we need to teach industrial design students are quite similar today to what they were a decade ago. The process of understanding people's needs, identifying opportunities for innovation, giving form to ideas and realizing solutions is the core of what we teach and do as designers. In the product design department at Art Center, we value strong foundational skills along with a human-centered approach with our curriculum grounded in professional practice. What have evolved over time are the tools (design research, digital visualization and rapid prototyping); the workflow (toggling between analog and digital at a faster pace); the application of design skills (multiple career paths); and the expansion of the discipline (roles and responsibilities).
A decade ago we were very focused on product innovation. The value of design at that time was producing novel concepts and beautiful artifacts as a result of a comprehensive design process. Design education at that time was very "tool-based," as designers were known purely as "makers" or "visualizers." Student portfolios needed to show expertise in drawing, ideation, form development and model-making (analog and digital) in order to get hired. Design research was also emerging as a necessary "tool" and a skillset that added value to the product innovation process. Our curriculum made a serious commitment to emphasize design research and enable students to learn how to be "translators" of human needs, insights and data into meaningful opportunities and concepts, along with being visualizers and makers.
Since then we have seen an expansion of critical skills that are now integrated into our curriculum along with the core making skills—generative research methodologies, envisioning future scenarios, material innovation and advanced manufacturing knowledge, life-cycle analysis and sustainable design principles, as well as social innovation and business practices. The value of design has expanded beyond making products to also designing the entire user experience, services and eco-systems. As business organizations continue to embrace design, the role of the designer expands as well. Designers are not only responsible for visualizing and making, they now are "facilitators" as the design process has become more participatory and collaborative inside of organizations as well as with the emergence of open innovation models. This kind of facilitation role requires leadership skills and an understanding of how to work in a team. More and more cross-disciplinary team projects have been integrated into our curriculum to respond to this need.
Karen Hofmann (left) and a Samsung-powered tennis training system designed by James Cha, who graduated in August(more...)
Photo by Kyle Oldfield
For this month's Back-to-School Special, we're going back to the basics and delving deep into the Core77 forums to answer common student queries. Previously we attempted to define Industrial Design, compared ID degree options, offered some pointers on teaching (and dealing with teachers), confirmed that it's never too late to get into ID, and compiled a handy list of resume tips. Now for the "What if I'm not cut out to be a designer after all?" post.
As any good design student knows, late nights in the studio can get pretty weird, whether you're lost in a CAD-hole or getting secondhand fumes from the adhesive/paint/chemical of your choice, and between the actual deliverables and skills you simply have yet to master, the little things may well start to eat away at your mental health. There's no denying that school is tough, and it's safe to say that there comes a time in most students' lives where you completely second guess your future as a budding IDer. Thankfully, the discussion board support group is here to get you through the tough times. Take a deep breath and read on.
There are many variations on this theme, and sometimes it's just a classic case of a sophomore slump. In a recent thread, TSE2 just isn't feeling so hot lately: "...overall, I always feel for the amount of hours I put in working compared to everyone else is either about the same or more, and compared to other students, my work is always mediocre. [cue existential crisis—hey, we've all been there] ...Are some people just not as good as others at design?" Echoing this sentiment, forumite super-panda filed his complaint with a disclaimer, also seeking much-needed advice and motivation from the community (and proving that sometimes the slump gets worse before it gets better):Approaching graduation, I could really not care less about design and I feel confused about what I'm graduating into. I feel I'm done with everything design-related. I feel uninspired and I've lost all confidence in my creativity. To be honest, I cannot think of someone less creative than me right now, and this has been going on for a few years. For one assignment, I wrote a whole essay about why I think the word "design" should be banned and how design has become so overly romanticized. I know this is not the whole truth, and I know there are a lot of designers out there who do genuinely good things and make peoples lives truly better, but I still feel design is too often perceived as something magnificently transcendentally awesome. And I am uncomfortable and fed up with that.
For students who get caught up and discouraged by comparing their work to that of their peers, keep in mind that the things that you draw or make—i.e. what you're graded on—represent only one frame of reference. "Just because you have the best 3/4-view hand render, doesn't mean you have the best understanding of the brief, subject matter, trend analysis or CMF ideas," says bepster. Meanwhile, moderator Yo sums up the longview in a few wise words: "It's better to be the worst kid in an awesome class than the best kid in a mediocre one. Go to the school you think will push you the most. That is what you are paying for."(more...)
I want an Apple Watch for four main reasons: Because of the nature of my work, the fact that I own two dogs, the fact that I live in a noisy city and because I hate Bluetooth earpieces. Now I realize that there's no way Jony Ive and Apple's design group has a profile fitting that description in their design briefs, there is no picture of me on their corkboard with a red circle around my face...
...but what they excel at is figuring out universal needs and designing solutions to those. Which is why it feels like the Apple Watch was designed precisely for me and for what I need to do on a daily basis.
I'll start with the two dogs. They require a lot of exercise, which I'm happy to give them to counterbalance the effect of IPAs on my waistline, and I am outside with them a lot—up to two hours per day, every day, rain or shine. This is possible because my work enables me to set my own schedule and work from home.
Which brings me to the nature of that work. In addition to my Core77 duties, I run a rental photography studio in a highly competitive market, and if I miss a single phone call or text message, which may come in at any hour, there are hundreds or potentially thousands of dollars at stake for each message I miss. Clients want answers right away, and if you don't pick up, they go down their list and contact the next studio.
Which raises the problem of me living in a noisy city. When outside with the dogs, my phone lives in a pants pocket. Thus if I'm walking or running I cannot always feel the vibration of an incoming message, nor hear the ring over jackhammers and bypassing ambulances. I've lost a three-day booking before because I couldn't hear the phone and called back five minutes too late.
If you're an industrial design student, now that school is back in swing you've probably got your hands on some foamcore or blue foam. Did you ever ask yourself what that stuff really is?
Let's start with the first one. The original foamcore was created and marketed in 1957 by the Monsanto Company. (Yes, that Monsanto, the leader in the genetically modified seed industry.) Their original brand name for the material was: Fome-Cor.
Foamcore, aka foamboard, is lightweight, easily cut, and surprisingly strong. In it's most basic form you'll find three layers: An inner layer of polystyrene foam, bookended by two sheets of clavcoated paper or simply kraft paper. The surface paper is slightly acidic but you can find acid-free versions for archival photography.
Junior and Senior ID majors already know this, but for you sophomores or first-year grads: One must be careful if using glue or paint with foamcore. Because glues, especially superglues, and paint cannot adhere to foam, it will actually melt and dissolve it. What you need to use are spray adhesives like 3M's Super77 or Loctite. Some might try using hot glue but do so with caution, as the heat can warp the board.(more...)
The Standards Manual: A Veritable Grail of Visual Communication Available for 30 Days via Kickstarter
The new Apple Watch may offer navigation via a paired iPhone's GPS system, but (Maps bugs notwithstanding) wayfinding used to be a skill, especially here in New York City. While the grid of streets and avenues bears a semblance of intuitive legibility, the sinuously criss-crossing subway lines has long been rather less forgiving. The city-wide system itself originated with the merger of the privately operated IRT, BMT and IND in 1939, but each line continued to publish its own maps (sans the other two) and signage until the late 50's; the major turning point came a decade later, when the NYCTA commissioned a comprehensive overhaul of the signage and wayfinding system in 1967. Some four years in the making, Unimark International's codified design language is far more profound than the empirical typography and glyphs that characterize the subway system today; rather it captures the essence of visual communication qua user experience. Sure, any poseur can get ahold of a 1972 Subway map, but true aficionados will go for the real deal, available now on Kickstarter for the first (and last) time: the 1970 New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual, meticulously authored by the late designers Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda of Unimark.
Known simply as the Standards Manual, the original ring-bound text is something like the contemporary equivalent of the Rosetta Stone: a dictionary, encyclopedia case study and veritable holy text rolled (or rather Smyth-sewn) into one. As a canonical document of high modernism, it's right up there with the Gutenberg bible—a beautiful object in and of itself—and Pentagram's Jesse Reed and Hamish Smith are offering a faithful reproduction with the blessing of the Metropolitan Transit Authority itself.In 2012—42 years after the Standards Manual was released—we discovered a rare copy in the basement of design firm Pentagram. Now, under an exclusive agreement with the MTA, we are scanning and printing every page in a full-size hardcover book. The MTA agreed on the reissue with one condition: it will only be available during this 30-day Kickstarter campaign. After this campaign, the book will never be reissued again.
Is it just me, or does Standard Medium (later changed to Helvetica, of course) look kind of like a heavier version of Apple's new typeface?
Upon their initial discovery, Reed and Hamish simply published the Standards Manual digitally but have since seen fit to publish a scale reproduction of the 364-page omnibus for posterity's sake, a felicitous tribute to the recently deceased Vignelli and his unsung colleague Noorda (who passed in 2010). Narrated by Pentagram partner Michael Bierut, the reverential video is also on point; drool on your keyboard now because you won't want to ruin your copy of it:(more...)
Watching yesterday's Apple Live event, I oohed and aahed over the shots of the iPhone 6 with the rest of you, and when my screen turned black at the end of the Apple Watch teaser, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the monitor and saw my mouth was hanging open. But to this design lover, it wasn't any of the beauty shots, but the pull-quote below that I thought was the most significant takeaway from the entire presentation.
CEO Tim Cook was pacing the stage, rattling off facts: The credit card is fifty years old, it's no longer convenient nor secure, people have been attempting to replace them with digital wallets......But they've all failed. Why is this? It's because most people that've worked on this have started by focusing on creating a business model that was centered around their self interest, instead of focusing on the user experience. We love this kind of problem. This is exactly what Apple does best.
Cook proceeded to unveil Apple Pay, the NFC-based one-touch payment process that the new iPhones and the Apple Watch will all be able to perform.
I say that quote is significant because Cook essentially laid out Apple's key competitive advantage, the business secret that does not need to be secret because none of their competitors seem to be able to get those five words right.
You've heard us (and others) talk about how great our inaugural conference was this past June. "Object Culture" was an inside look at the design process illustrated by projects incorporating 3D printing, storytelling, viral videos, C-suite strategy and more. We've now published videos of the day's presentations for those of you who couldn't make it to the live event.
The presentation from Jordan Brandt, Technology Futurist from Autodesk, is just a taste of what the day had to offer:
According to Brandt, cloud applications are helping us move toward more effective product development and realization on a daily basis. We, as designers, can collaborate and converge on solutions more efficiently, rapidly and with less cost and greater success. What are we learning from the cloud and from our design thinking in general that can help us teach our machines how to design? By making our algorithms intelligent—determining what is significant in the elements being searched—machines can produce a multitude of goal-driven design options. The designer then begins to focus on framing the problem, and asking the right questions rather than explicitly drawing the solutions. Brandt shares some revealing insights as he considers these questions during his Object Culture presentation.
Autodesk was our presenting sponsor this year and we were joined by supporting sponsors KeyShot, Polk, Boom and Protolabs. To see all the videos from the day's speakers, head on over to the Core77 Conference website.(more...)
D-School Futures: Georgia Tech's Jim Budd on Why There Has Never Been a Better Time to Pursue a Career in Industrial Design
This is the latest installment of D-School Futures, our interview series on the evolution of industrial design education. Today we have answers from Jim Budd, chair of Georgia Tech's School of Industrial Design and coordinator of its Master of Science in Human-Computer Interaction with a specialization in Industrial Design.
How different is industrial design education today than it was ten years ago? Will it look very different ten years from now?
The impact of digital technologies over the past ten years has radically reshaped society and has led to similar changes in the challenges and opportunities for industrial design education. The first changes we saw in industrial design education began with the use of more powerful digital tools to support traditional drawing and prototyping design activities—the advent of 3D modeling, rapid prototyping, laser cutting and integration of CNC tools for manufacturing. More recently, we have begun to see a much more significant impact of technology on everyday life. Wireless communication combined with the growing prevalence of sensor-based technologies are changing the way we live, work and play. This now provides opportunities for designers to play a more central role in our ability to integrate technology into everyday life in a more seamless and meaningful way.
As a result of these changes we are beginning to see industrial design grow and mature as a discipline, and I expect we will see more clarity in the range of options available in the field across the board for our future graduates.
What would you say to a prospective student who worries about the relevance of an ID education in an increasingly digital world?
Personally, I believe an ID education provides an excellent grounding for multiple career options. The skills and knowledge you acquire through a design education prepare you exceedingly well to deal with society's "wicked problems." A thorough understanding of design methods helps designers develop an uncanny ability to ask the difficult questions and probe for the root of problems that inevitably leads to better solutions. There is a universal demand for that kind of approach—particularly when it comes to dealing with the implications of digital technologies.
Jim Budd in the Interactive Product Design Lab. Top image: an interactive wearable with an accelerometer and a network of LEDs controlled by RFID sensors
A interactive children's toy built around Lego Mindstorm parts, including a touch sensor, a microphone and a proximity sensor(more...)
Photo by Kyle Walters
For this month's Back-to-School Special, we're going back to the basics and delving deep into the Core77 forums to answer common student queries. Previously we attempted to define Industrial Design, compared ID degree options, offered some pointers on teaching (and dealing with teachers) and confirmed that it's never too late to get into ID.
This is it. You're ready to move forward, to level up, and above all to get paid. That means you've got to tell the world about yourself and what you can do. In addition to the most basic advice possible—no typos, follow application directions, tailor to your intended audience and position, and NO TYPOS—here are some golden nuggets on resume design from both applicants and hiring heads on the C77 boards.
Immediately relevant, useful, truthful information only! Inflating skills and including unrelated jobs is unhelpful. It's tempting to stick the kitchen sink in there to make the page less dauntingly empty, particularly if you're young and short on real world experience or trying to level up. But don't. Educational experience and student work count—if they're good they count a lot—so emphasize those relevant skills instead of your summertime ice-cream-peddling chops. And if you're fresh out of school, don't just note the technical abilities or high-minded conceptual thinking and big picture focus that programs hammer into you—consider how they translate into more concrete, widely applicable skills. Pitching how you work on the ground (or on a time crunch, or on budget...) is valuable at any skill level. Cheerygirl also stressed personality:I place my career goal in brief with work experience on top of my education and accomplishments. I add in a brief line of other interests, especially in sports and other creative tasks that are worth mentioning, with references to all the information I put in... When you write your CV/resume, it shouldn't be just another CV but something that represents yourself as a person. In short, don't just write your CV, design it.
Keep It Simple
You don't want to get in your own way. As all designers ought to know, this can be easy to say and tricky to pull off, especially without external guidelines. Don't opt for a schlock Word form and formatting, that kind of simple sure isn't going to stand out in a stack (or folder, these days) of the same, and it'll more than likely bury your chances of being taken seriously as a designer. Do use your white space! Choose an excellent and appropriate typeface. Introduce color and graphics with care. Use clear terminology about what you've done without being repetitive, but don't bust out hoity-toity synonyms or unusual action words; GRE vocab and technical jargon generally hurt more than they help. Getting creative is great, but don't get in your own way—it has to look good and but the primary function is communication.(more...)
Zoku is an innovative product development company located in Hoboken, NJ focused on creating high-quality, design-driven products for the home. They might be known for their housewares, but they're in the thinking business. With a name that means "family" in Japanese, the Zoku team loves getting their hands dirty prototyping and bouncing ideas off one another. They are looking for a Senior Industrial Designer to join their team. Perhaps that could be you?
You'll have 5 to 7 years of experience under your belt in a design consultancy or fast-paced corporate environment, excellent visual and verbal communication skills, superb methodology and the ability to excel within a team environment. Your portfolio should demonstrate successful design processes, design solutions, and a keen understanding of manufacturing methods. If you consider yourself a creator/maker who isn't afraid to get their hands dirty with Zoku to innovate the housewares industry, Apply Now.
Teague and Nike recently teamed up to work on a rather interesting concept: the Athlete's Plane, an airplane interior designed specifically for professional athletes. For a moment, put aside both the unrelatability of a specialty vehicle designed for millionaire Adonises, and the memories of your own cramped air travel experiences, and check out how Teague and Nike addressed an unusual set of needs with technology and design.
First off, the unusual needs in question. The first reason these specific passengers are a bad match for conventional airplanes is because pro athletes these days are frickin' huge. Even a first-class seat is not going to be a good fit for a Tony Picard, and Tyson Chandler is not stretching out comfortably on your average lay-flat seat-bed.
Second, regardless of the sport, all pro franchises and college teams know the hell that is the away game. The hour-long bus rides familiar to high school athletes pale in comparison to what an airplane will do to your performance. As the Teague research cites, "Studies prove that home-field advantage is actually a lot less about the effects of raucous crowds and a lot more about the negative effects of travel, which create an "away disadvantage." [One study] confirmed that motor function measurably deteriorated in athletes after air travel and then lingered for roughly the same number of days as the number of time zones crossed. That's bad news if you're an athlete traveling from the West Coast to the East Coast on a Friday for a Sunday game."
With these issues in mind, Teague and Nike designers and training experts set about devising "four areas of performance innovation that are not addressed by commercial charters:"Recovery: equalizing the negative effects of air travel on the mind and body, and bringing the training room to 40,000 feet through in-flight biometrics and analysis to accelerate injury diagnosis and treatment. Circulation: fostering natural mobility and building in equipment that ensures optimal circulation and promotes healing. Sleep: designing ideal sleeping conditions for individuals and sleep strategies for entire teams to maximize physical readiness. Thinking: creating spaces for key mental activities, especially film study--enabling in-transit film review both before and after games.
Here's what they came up with, captions theirs:
As soon as the athletes board they begin receiving information on their physiological state post-game.
A meal plan corresponding to athletes' unique nutritional needs awaits them in the self-serve nutrition zone.(more...)
Josh Owen on Achieving Deep Focus, Having Zero Productivity Tricks, and Why the Best Part of His Job Is Empowering Others to Succeed
Name: Josh Owen
Occupation: Industrial designer and design educator. I'm the president of Josh Owen LLC and a professor and the chair of industrial design at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Location: Rochester, New York
Current projects: At the moment I'm working on mailboxes for Loll Designs and new accessories for Umbra.
Mission: To design, educate and learn
Owen's cast-iron menorah for Areaware
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? As a kid I drew constantly, collected discarded items and built things out of them—but I did not know that these were design foundations. My father is an archaeologist and an historian. When I was growing up and he was engaged in fieldwork, I accompanied him on many of his archaeological excavations. I was always fascinated by the artifacts we unearthed and by the process of re-assigning meaning through materiality and context. In university I studied the fine arts and anthropology. Over time I came to realize that design was the combination of all of my interests.
Education: I have two undergraduate degrees from Cornell University: a BFA in sculpture and a BA in visual studies. The second degree was not an official major at the time but an independently designed area of study I created with a focus on anthropology and visual culture. After the above realization—that design is an amalgamation of aspects of anthropology, craft, technology and art—I went back to school to receive an MFA in furniture design from the Rhode Island School of Design in an effort to begin my career as an industrial designer.
First design job: I think my first paid design job was working as a freelancer in Aldo Rossi's New York studio with Morris Adjmi and Lisa Mahar.
Who is your design hero? There are many designers whom I greatly admire. That said, design by any definition has occurred since prehistoric times, leaving many of its greatest creators unnamed. To me, the true heroes are those whose products provided the archetypes we continue to build upon today.
Inside Owen's studio in Rochester(more...)
Earlier today, connected device guru Matt Webb announced the closure of cloud service developer Berg Cloud in a blogpost, citing difficulties in finding a sustainable business model for the innovative venture since moving away from the agency model back in 2013. Conceived after experiencing the difficulties of making connected products first hand, the vision of the ambitious Berg Cloud had been to create cloud services that would make life easier for hardware innovators—effectively serving as the missing link between the wireless chip in a new connected device and a user-facing website or smartphone app.
The Little Printer—perhaps the most iconic of Berg's creations—also looks to be implicated in the sad news. Closure of the service behind the product, the release reports, could come as soon as March 2015 unless a suitable buyer can be found. Fortunately for fans and owners of the diminutive device and the wider technologist community, the announcement also suggests that the code for the Little Printer could be opened up—no doubt to the delight of legions of hackers and tinkerers.(more...)
Tonight at Hand-Eye Supply's Curiosity Club we're electrified to present Philip Graham of Ear Trumpet Labs, giving the presentation "Building Great Microphones From The Stuff In Your Basement." Don't miss this super techy, trashy and talented talk, starting 6pm at the Hand-Eye Supply store front or streaming on the Curiosity Club homepage.
"Having stumbled into the rabbit hole of microphone building, I will attempt to drag in after me as many listeners as I can. There will be some tech talk about the many ways of transducing sound waves to electrical signals; the ins and outs of a weird DIY niche community; making cool useful things from metal with no machining skills at all; the path from hobby to obsession to business; and the pleasures of the toolmaker in seeing their tools well used."
Philip Graham is the Proprietor/Bricoleur of Ear Trumpet Labs, a Portland company hand-building distinctive microphones. He left his software job to make mics full time three years ago, and has rarely left his basement since, except to see the musicians he's inspired by. When he's lucky they're using his mics.(more...)
D-School Futures: CCA's Sandrine Lebas on Why Designers of Physical Experiences Will Always Be In Demand
D2D, a hybrid robot for land-mine detection and diffusion designed by Yeban Shin for his CCA senior thesis project
This is the latest installment of D-School Futures, our interview series on the evolution of industrial design education. Today we have answers from Sandrine Lebas, chair of industrial design at California College of the Arts.
How different is industrial design education today than it was ten years ago? Will it look very different ten years from now?
We do teach industrial design very differently than we did ten years ago. Young industrial designers today have to be versatile, collaborative, empathic and forward thinking. We are no longer the midpoint between form and function, or the end-of-the-line "beautifying" process. Many other factors are shaping a product today: the business model, manufacturability, material sourcing and pricing, cultural fit, emotional connection... The complexity is much greater every day, and products cannot be created without industrial designers understanding the greater context.
So, beyond the typical industrial design skills that include sketching, form development and CAD representation, we teach our students to question in order to find answers. Being critical thinkers through research but also through prototyping and testing (surpassing failure being a key component of building confidence) allows our students to redefine archetypes or create new product categories, and ultimately bring industrial design as a partner to innovation.
Collaboration is another key soft skill not found in textbooks yet mandatory in today's workplace. As students grow into designers individually, forging their own design voices, they have to understand that their future role is as part of a team society of researchers, interaction designers, engineers, business leaders and marketers. Learning to communicate, find opportunities and understand feedback from those different partners and disciplines starts in college. Cross-disciplinarity—or, rather, co-disciplinarity—is one core component of CCA's design division and senior creative studios, pairing up students and faculty from various disciplines on a common project.
Sandrine Lebas (left) and Synthesis, a redesigned prosthesis by Patrick Mulcahy
Air Kinetic knee brace by Leslie Greene and Sam Bertain(more...)
Photo by Kyle Oldfield
For this month's Back-to-School Special, we're going back to the basics and delving deep into the Core77 forums to answer common student queries. Previously we attempted to define Industrial Design, compared ID degree options, and offered some pointers on teaching (and dealing with teachers).
Many of us missed the Industrial Design boat at first, only to fall for its charms after starting a different life path. Maybe you never heard of it at all until stumbling onto our fair website, maybe you made (and then got jealous of) friends in the ID department, or maybe your parents discouraged you from getting a "useless art degree," but now you're sure you missed your true calling at the Alessi drawing board. But don't kick yourself, you aren't alone—over on the C77 forums you can find many, many threads where the OP asks/worries whether it's TOO LATE FOREVER to enter the thrilling world of ID. The transition from no-ID to maybe-ID is fraught with glittering possibility and barbed with cost and social stigma. Are late starters out of luck? According to the wise design minds of the forums: nope! Before shrugging off that ID dream, consider these insights from the boards.
Am I too old?
Are you really excited about designing things? Then probably not. ID careers usually start after a few years of school and internships, but embarking on that path well after high school doesn't have to be a hurdle on its own. Unlike gymnastics, the young ones don't necessarily have the upper hand in the field: ID students are often a little older—according to apowers, "the average freshman age for Industrial Design is 24." Besides age itself, a belated start is a common occurrence even among people with real lives and kids and responsibilities. The crux is whether you really want it or not—if you do, there are ways to make it work.(more...)