Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Now you can have your news and eat it

By eating your news I do not mean scoffing down your morning  newspaper...

There is now an Image Toaster that burns the morning news onto your slice of toast. Think of it as a news and breakfast combo where your toast won't be just another slice of bread anymore  The Image Toaster is a project designed by Scott van Haastrecht , a prototype that he created for the Creative Technology course "Innovation Lab" in University.

This  is a Wi-Fi connected device that searches the internet for a photo related to the day's date and then burns it into your toast. The image will however be a fairly low pixel image and converts the original picture into a grid of black and white pixels. The toaster uses servos to change a grid of burners to on or off positions. 

Although this is not a substitute for conventional news consumption, it is a very innovative art project that offers a new way to submit information into society. The clip below shows a heart being toasted on the slice of bread announcing Valentine's day. The possibilities are endless. This may even be a convenient way to connect with social media, to announce the number of e-mails or Facebook notifications you have in the morning.

 It is also a creative way to get children, not usually slighted by news, interested in daily news topics and the world around them.

What do I want on my toast in the morning? News with a dash of butter please. Not a bad way to start your morning, very wholesome I might add. This low pixel invention might only be a slice of the design loaf coming our way in the near future, soon our toast might pop out with the latest news headline and News24 logo to go. 

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Scaffolding, from eyesore to community asset.

Previously only used for pedestrian security during construction, Sidewalk Sheds (also known as scaffolding) in New York are now the epitome of user- friendly multi functionality. 

Bland Hoke and Howard Chambers, both designers in New York city have researched the effects of these sheds on sidewalks and designed outdoor furniture to give these visually unappealing structures more functionality and might I add a bit more aesthetic quality. 

The initiative is called the "Softwalks" activation project. The project is aimed at making full use of these temporary structures. The project consists of a "Kit of Parts" that includes chairs and planters, among other things, to make the public space more functional and user friendly. Adding these features to sidewalks occupied by sheds will allow people in the city to do what we do best: socialize and drink coffee. 

"We discovered that when people see a function in a structure they generally appreciate it more" says Hoke and Chambers
This was the key idea behind their designs and who can argue against it. A design without functionality would literally be useless. 

The project still on-going and is used to empower the general public and business owners to decide what is needed to make their environment useful. The project concept was launched in December 2012, but is only getting into full swing now transforming these construction sheds into social hubs.

This will be sure to change the way we look at scaffolding the next time we see it. We will wish that we were in the streets of  and New York, could sit down on a bright green foldable chair and enjoy our coffee, all of this under a construction shed.

This outdoor design might even go beyond the streets and become household furniture due to the easy going, portable and environmentally friendly design.

 Although It sounds to good to be true it will change construction sidewalks forever. There is no reason why this project should not be implemented internationally to improve sidewalks by adding little pop-up parks everywhere.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Revising Design Hierarchy

CITY OF ART: Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn painted this Brazillian neighborhood with Santa Marta fevala community youth.
The exhibition,  Design with the Other 90%: CITIES goes beyond the aesthetics of design. Second in a series on until 4 May, at the David J. Spencer CDC museum in Atlanta, this exhibition has a clear focus on functionality and social upliftment rather than the visual appeal of design. The hierarchy of design is redefined by focusing on design innovation in areas that might not even have running water.

This exhibition showcases 60 projects each aimed at addressing various issues that arise in everyday informal settlements, in America known as slums and of course in South Africa better know as townships. These projects address problems like lack of running water and overpopulated living conditions. These projects inform about these problems while at the same time also providing solutions.

The exhibition is a collaboration between, communities, designers, architects and private, civic and private organizations to create innovative approaches to urban living, affordable housing, public health etc. South Africa has also been selected to take part and present a patented construction technology as a solution to help address the increase in informal settlements and implement sustainable development. Their housing designs are seen below:

Moladi innovative plastic formwork system
Moladi construction technology - shell of house completed in ONE day

This cost effective, environmentally friendly housing initiative created by Moladi, based in Port Elizabeth has been shortlisted for a Frost & Sullivan Green Excellence in Sustainable Development Award. With this housing 50 houses can be built in only 64 days. 

This initiative wants to make use of community members, creating jobs and securing them with the necessary skills. What is shocking is that this initiative has been recognized by international organisations such as Frost & Sullivan, but they have failed to form any alliance with the South African government. 

Failure to recognize Moladi will result in the loss of many job opportunities to empower communities. They are however building houses in 10 other African countries.

The Moladi housing program is just one among many other solutions to social crisis provided by the 

Design with the Other 90%: CITIES proves that design isn't just flashy jewelry, expensive cars and leather couches. Design can be found in the places where we least expect it while making the biggest difference.

Crowd Sourcing Interior Designs

CoContest  is a platform that has just been released to provide a space where millions of home and business owners in need of new design ideas to renovate their homes or offices can get inspiration. 

Clients Literally source design ideas from 'crowds' of designers and architects online. Clients send in their requests and architects compete in design contests for cash rewards and specifications set by the clients. This initiative provides an opportunity for companies to use as a channel for high quality, affordable projects. It also allows for junior architects to break into the industry. 

This new sourcing platform has the potential to revolutionize the interior design industry. It connects millions of architects and interior designers to utilize their talents and test their design abilities in a virtual space. It also provides an opportunity for young designers to be exposed to, and get use to a very competitive industry where rejection is inevitable, but not the end of your career either. 

CoContest is the first of its sort and looks like a very promising business venture.

Saving the world, one design (indaba) at a time

Pentagram partner and graphic designer, New York, Paula Scher is renowned for her map designs

The Design this year was about more than showcasing designs, it was also about initiating social change through design.

The speakers at this week's Design Indaba made many important statements regarding the role of design the future of the world's economy.

The interactive designer Jeanne van Heeswijk from the Netherlands urged listeners to think about how they can collectively re-imagine our daily environment with all its complexities. She works to empower communities to co-produce their own future by improving neighborhoods and saving their cultures before urban planning take over without considering embedded culture in underprivileged areas. 

If communities are taught how to improve their own surrounding environment they initiate their own change. This harvests a social responsibility among people who are normally dependent on benefactors to bring relief.

Can design then save the world? The design strategist Michael Grigoriev asked this question during his speech to which he also provided his answer: that collectively we are more intelligent, shared knowledge is better than any single expert.

 He questions how the ideal environment can be created to source that knowledge and tackle the problems we face in our time."Design should not be afraid to tackle messy problems". He urges designers to start engaging with social problems to bring upliftment and meaningful change.

Hearing what these hopeful design intellectuals have to say about the potential that design holds to empower communities, South Africa's National Development Plan should take this into strong consideration. The NDP should aim at improving art, design subjects, math and science at schools to lay the building bricks at an early age.

Art has been used throughout the ages to uplift moral among citizens. It is no different now. Designers shouldn't be afraid to get down and dirty, change isn't just up to the economists and political leaders, to bring change our country needs creative thinkers and willing 'teachers'.The Design Indaba proved what designers are capable of and what can still be achieved in the future. Humanizing design will push people beyond the material boundaries of design, it is now a way to uplift the planet and its inhabitants, to bring hope to the hopeless.