Monday, November 29, 2010

Design is Dangerous!


A few years ago, my dad told me that excessive cell phone use was not good for you. Not because I may not pay attention to him while I text, or because I spend more time on my phone than doing something that is actually productive. Studies have shown that cell phones are not the only devices that are dangerous. Cordless phones, wireless routers and laptops are also culprits of endangering their users.

How is it dangerous?
Most people in today's society use cell phones at least once a day. That exposure alone, makes a difference in increasing the possibility of being diagnosed with cancer. According to research done about cell phone usage and its connection to cancer, invisible energy rays that connect cell phone to cell towers can damage the body's immune system, as well as alter our cellular make-up.

What makes it dangerous?
It is because the wireless waves can damage body tissue. One problem that has been caused by regular cell phone usage is cancer. If that is not dangerous, I am unsure what would be considered dangerous. Because there is very little knowledge available about the dangers we face by simply sending a few emails on the computer sitting on our lap, or using the cordless phone in our homes to speak to a relative, we are unable to defend ourselves from the heightened risk of cancer diagnoses.

Was the danger an intentional or unintentional consequence?
I feel like the danger was unintentional. Unfortunately, just because the danger may not have be intentional does not mean that there will be no serious consequences. In fact, although studies have shown the direct correlation of cancer and cell phone (and other wireless device) usage, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) still considers intensities that can cause these issue safe.

Women's Health recently published an article about this very topic. They also gave suggestions that could helps avoid the high risks. Some included turning off wireless routers when they are not in use, keeping your cell phone as far away from your body as possible, and if you still use a phone in your home, it is better to install a phone with a cord. But because, much of the U.S. population is very dependent on their handy cellular devices, I would not image that just telling people about the dangers would change people's attitudes and behaviors to lower their risks.

I also do not know how possible it would be to lower the intensity of radiation waves. There needs to be a change though, or the percentage of people diagnosed with cancer due to cell phone usage will continue to increase. We need to design better for the future.

Design in Society: The Canteen

Plastic and aluminum and glass... OH MY!! The United States is indeed a consumer society. This is something that gets reconfirmed in my mind when I think about the crazy incidents that ofetn take place on "Black Friday" and when I think about how many plastic bottles I've used in the last three years as an undergraduate student. Landfills continue to be filled with these material when they should be recycled, if not eliminated from use all together.

With the wide spread knowledge about climate change, it's interesting to know that many folks continue to pollute the earth by making the conscious decision to use products that are hard to get rid of once they are done being used. Often times, waste used by the US is sent to third word countries who also do not know how to make the best of the situation. One design that dates back to the times of World War II, but will function as a tool to use less plastic, aluminum and glass, as well as slow down climate change, is the canteen.


The canteen is a container that will help people in today's society because they will only need one of these containers for their entire lives, unless something drastic happens in which the canteen is lost or damaged.

I am unsure if this was the original idea for the canteen but I am happy that it is able to serve this purpose. The canteen is a great design because it is an easy way for people to alter the state of the environment in a major way.


Now, they are even made more aesthetically beautiful as you can see in the above photo. Simple designs like the canteen can definitely improve society as we know it. Buy a canteen! It's good for you!

Color Transforms: Sports Car Edition.

When I think about Mercedes Benz, I do not think eco-friendly. I think luxury, fast, beauty. Fortunately, they are changing the way they do things for the future. The Mercedes Biome is said to be created with organic materials and to only emit oxygen when on the road. That sounds like a good combination to me: luxury + eco-friendly.




Take a close look at the Mercedes-Benz Biome.

What are the colors you see? White, black, and a hint of silver, correct? These colors make the car look very modern, if not futuristic. Can you image this car in any of the CMYK colors? I cannot and I think it is because with the design of the Biome comes simplicity. Adding color would only take away from that.

When thinking about depictions of the future, can you recall ever seeing bright colors? Some ideas I recall are simple and dark. There are no loud or cool colors.

Any thoughts about this design and the interaction of color?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Word & Image Continue to Work. feat. Nicki Minaj–Check It Out

Watch the video so that you will better understand everything I will be discussing.

Since Professor Housefield showed this video in class, I have been slightly obsessed with it. I even have my roommates singing the song. I am actually a bit mad at myself for being so impressed by this song and video because I pride myself in being a fan of music with substance. This is close to the opposite of that very thing.

The only thing that is keeping me away from being so critical of the language and the message of the song is the fact that the video seems so planned out, as far as design goes.

During my groups discussion, we talked about why and Nicki Minaj may have wanted to use another language in their video. Because their major audience is in the United States, it may seem a bit unnecessary because it is assumed that most people speak English. But then again, the US is a country that has many citizens and people that are undocumented from different cultures and speak many different languages. One reason may have been to reach a larger audience that may enjoy the beat of the song but may not be able to relate because the lyrics are in English. As viewers that could not understand the script for ourselves imagined that the words that showed up on the screen were directly translated from what they were saying out loud. The script that is seen in the video is Korean. A lot of the popular music in Korea now is similar. Take the group 2NE1 for example:

Is the video not just a little similar to that of and Ms. Minaj? It makes sense, to me, to make Korea a target audience. The creators of this video, like the creators of many products which are designed, had an audience in mind and fit the creation of it to please them.

Something else that I found interesting in the "Check It Out" video is how word and image worked together. The colors of the Korean script and their clothing matched. There was a sense of aesthetics that came with this. The colors in the video made it more appealing to the viewers' eyes. It also helped that Nicki Minaj was very animated in her pepto-bismol pink jumpsuit.

Once again, word and image come together and work for man and womyn-kind. Where are some other places you see word and image working together?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Design Criticism: The Swivel Chair Ergonomics Edition

When thinking about the ergonomic design of a product, I am reminded of when we watched ‘Objectified’ in class. The creators and designers featured in the documentary discussed how the products that they help manufacture are thought about. They talk about how there are many steps in the creative and design process before the products are actually sent to warehouses and stores, then sold. They never said it explicitly, but I am sure they all think about the safety, comfort, ease of use, performance and aesthetics of their products. In short, seeking a sense ergonomics is apart of their process.

One piece of furniture I am interested in knowing more about, as far as ergonomics goes, is the swivel chair.


I fell in love with one when one of my best friends decided to place one in her bedroom. It was in a sense, my chair. And I did not think about it at the time of sitting in it, but it successfully possesses all of the facets that make up ergonomics.

Safety. The shape of the chair is very accident proof. Many teacher and parents do not like when their students and children lean back in their chairs because there is possibility to fall back and break something. Swivel chairs, and in particularly the one pictured above, almost eliminate the potential of falling backward.

Comfort. Because the chair resembles a hand cupping something, it kind of gives that same affect to the person sitting in it. The comfort of the swivel chair ties into its safety. By feeling safe sitting in the chair, the users of the chair will have a greater chance of also feeling comfortable.

Ease of Use. If a chair is not one of the easiest objects to use, I do not know what is. All a person has to do is sit in it. That is, if they are an able-bodied individual. For a person that has to think about how they are going to do almost everything that most of us take for granted, such as sitting in a chair, this task may not be so easy. How is it that we forget to make things accessible to people of all abilities? In this faect, the swivel chair only reaches its highest capabilities for people that are able-bodied.

Performance (productivity). This is a tough thing to analyze for a chair. People sit in it. Can we really call that productivity? I think so. When people sit they are usually doing something else as well. Eating, watching television, working on a paper are just a few examples. The swivel chair does not allow productivity by itself, but it does work with other objects to produce. After all, what is a desk without a chair to sit in front of it with? The swivel chair serves its purpose and serves it well.

Aesthetics. This word can be defined as visually pleasing; objects that have aesthetics in mind tend to raise the question of beauty. Beauty is subjective. My best friend may not see what would be seen as beautiful to me as beautiful. In the case of the swivel chair, to me, the beauty is undeniable. The simplicity of it is what makes it beautiful.

The swivel chair achieves the ergonomics by my standards. But is the whole idea of ergonomic design really subjective?

Monday, November 8, 2010

How Word & Image Work Together: Advertisement Edition

Take this picture. Look at it as though, there were no words on the page? Would you know what the ad was about? It could be trying to sell a dress, a pair of shoes, maybe even that giant ice cream cone.


Or this one? Is it advertising hand accessories or mascara? It could even be trying to sell hair products?


If so, the visionaries for this photo advertisement did a great job. This, however, does not always happen.

And what if, you took the picture away, but kept the words? In the first ad, it would give an idea of what the company sales because the website is But then, one could wonder What kind of shoes are being sold?

Like comics, advertisements would not be the same without BOTH image and word. In a sense, they complete each other. What you do not understand from just the picture can be further explained by the words, and vice versa.

Who is That Building Made For?

All design starts with form and content. There is a vision that the designers want to get across. Then they choose a medium to which they want to get that message across.

In designing buildings, I am wondering if the architects think about the people that will live inside of them.

I very recently wrote a post on my personal blog about living in a New York City Brownstone.


Now I am wondering if I fit into the audience that the designer of the very famous brownstone was created for. Was there even really an audience?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

How Word & Image Work Together: Brian Fies Edition

Last Thursday, the graphic novelist Brian Fies, was a guest speaker in "Introduction to Design". He is the man behind the books Mom's Cancer and Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? He discussed why he chose to use comics as his medium of communication. The main reason is because he had been interested in comics for a long time and it just impressed him.


He compared comics with rock music. The words of rock music would not function as well as they do without the music behind them. It was a great comparison because comics work the same way. The images in comics are further explained to the audience by the words in bubbles or in boxes, which often give background information. In this combination, the words and pictures add up to more than the sum of their parts. In other words, there are dependent upon one another.

Fies' book entitled Mom's Cancer is based on the real life situation of his family dealing with the effects of exactly what the title suggests. Because the topic is very heavy, he had to come up with clever ways to get his points across to his readers. He was very successful in his attempts.

Word and image complemented each other in the book. This can be related to Gestalt theory because, the audience has to look at the entire piece in order to fully understand it. Every part matters.

Fies also uses symbolism and metaphors to get his point across. His words were that, he "plays with the line of ridiculous and dead serious." One example of this is the page in the book where he illustrates his mom walking a tightrope in which he is trying to show his readers that "balancing medication is like walking a tightrope" (this line is also clearly written on the page). Again, comics transcend words and drawings; neither has meaning without the other. How would readers know that this was the point unless it was otherwise stated?

Monday, November 1, 2010

nail art

Nail art is a concept that is on the rise. As I browse tumblr for inspiration for things to blog about, there is an abundance of nail art on my browser.

Do we ever take into account how long it takes for a manicurist, or nail designer, to perfect their craft? I do not think I ever do but I feel like it is something to be noticed.

[to be edited]

Let me see that backback!

The backpack seems very simple, but is it really? Jansport and Northface are the brands I see on the backs of students as we walk to class, the co-ho and any other destination that we may have.

I don't think we think much about the concept of the backpack. It is brilliant really. Whoever came up with the concept is amazing for doing such a great thing. I think the fact that so many people over look the brilliance of the backpack shows that it is a great design. It is an object that is hard to improve.

In Objectified, designers talked about the main qualities of a great design to include simplicity and ease of use. The backpack clearly has these qualities.

Objectified: Form & Content

The film, Objectified, was nothing short of amazing. There were many designers that shared their wisdom and opinions on the design of everyday objects.

Henry Ford said, "Every object tells a story, if you know how to read it." I connected this to the fact that bows and arrows were not able to be used interchangeably. This was very inconvenient for soldiers when in war. The bow and arrow was made for a purpose so there was form and content was present but there was no standardization. This did not allow things to flow smoothly. Putting great design into everyday objects comes in here.

With great design comes an easier life. When things are designed well, there is not a question of having to make any improvements to it. Good design can be described as long lived, consistent, environmentally friendly, innovative and having a presence of aesthetics.

Once again, the perfect example of the above is Apple, Inc. They have the content and form of their products. Johnathan Ive, Vice President of Design at Apple says that they are constantly designing and considering all the elements of their objects.

Today, form does not bear as much relation to content as it used to.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Japanese Flower Arrangement

This past summer, I went to Japan to study abroad. One of the courses related popular culture to traditions of the Japanese. In doing that, we have to first learn about the traditions through cultural lessons.

One of the cultural lessons was flower arrangement. We were told to "go for it". We arranged the flowers and leaves as we saw fit. We tried our best to match the aesthetic of the well trained flower arrangers of Japan. Of course, we had trouble doing as great as a job as they did. When corrections needed to be made in order to reach perfection, our teachers let us know. They explained to us the way it was supposed to be. There is definitely a technique when it comes to flower arranging. There cannot be too many flowers blocking the leaves, one leaf cannot be as long as the other, and there must be a difference in height when it came to making the flowers look presentable.





Compare Me. Contrast Me.

Two artists are bound to have things in common, and most definitely have things that vary when it comes to their creative process.

Take the well known tattoo artist Kat Von D and her colleague Dan Smith. They work in the same shop, both do tattoos, but their approach is different.

Here are some tattoos by Von D:




Here are some by Smith:




Kat Von D's work is much more realistic than that of Dan Smith.

Photos taken from Kat Von D's and Dan Smith's myspace profiles.

Design as Conversation

In class we discussed what is means for design being a conversation.

My first thoughts were that the creator of the a piece is trying to relay a message to their audience when they create something. People in turn, have something to say about it. They may even be inspired by the piece and create their own. When people see this piece, another conversation is started. The cycle never stops.

Yoko Ono's "Cut Piece" performance speaks volumes to the fact that design is a conversation. She did not speak during the performance, yet you can take so much away from it, because it provoked audience members to think about things that are not talked about on an everyday basis. She created conversation among the people watching.

She is an artist that has does this often in her work. I am sure that there are many artist that do the same thing that I may not know about.

Another way to look at design of a conversation is having a piece in your home to talk about. These are the pieces that are cool, odd, or just plain random. They create dialogue among people because they are not seen as what is normal. People want to know why it was created, what inspired it, how does it serve a purpose, and other questions.

Below are pictures found on, in an ideabook entitled The CONVERSATION PIECE.



What do you have to contribute to the conversation?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Creativity from Without

Artist often find inspiration from within. They design objects, paint images, sing songs based on their feelings. Artist also find inspiration from outside of themselves.

Ibrihim from the Centric show 'Model City' is a model as well as a painter. He uses the money he makes from his casting as a means to fund his artistry. In the episode above, he is preparing for his first gallery show by painting many pieces, getting his mind right, promoting the event and working with his partner to make sure everything runs smoothly.

During the show, he does a live painting. (This scene does not start until the nineteen minute mark). He is accompanied by his partner in art, live music and the positive energy in the room. Ibrihim's piece is freestyled and taken from everything going on around him.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

to be inspired...


The mentors of my design class gave advice to the class during the first week of school. One said, "The library is a really cool place." Another said to check out the fourth floor of the library. Today, I had to take a book back to the library reserves. Before I exited the building, I had the urge to run to the fourth floor and see what was so amazing.

Because I am becoming more interested in interior design, that was the section I was in. I was there for about thirty minutes, although I wanted to stay longer. I found three books that I just had to check out. One in particular that I am excited about reading is Creative Space: Urban Homes of Artists and Innovators by Francesa Gavin. Just flipping through the pages and seeing pictures of artist all over the globe makes my heart pump faster. I am interested in reading what they are inspired by and how they got into their fields. Everyone has a back story. That, to me, is what makes them unique.


Design has a way of displaying our innermost thoughts to the world, even when we don't realize. I have been following Donna over at Soul Pretty for a while now. She's an interior deisgn based in New York. I am always inspired to create something when I visit her blog. I just learned her story. It makes me want to keep going for my dreams of becoming a designer.

I want to be like the designers that I look up to, using my experience as a springboard to achieving my goals. I aspire to inspire.

Stone Soup: A Learning Process

During last Tuesday's class, we had the tasks of creating something. What we created was "up in the air". There were no restrictions or rules, as long as we cleaned up after ourselves. Every group member was also expected to contribute something.

The idea was taken from Marcia Brown's Stone Soup, in which soldiers encourage villagers to each bring something to the pot of boiling water and stones. Each contribution helped improve the soup.

In the case of our class, we were told to bring supplies to design something, anything. We worked with our groups that were chosen a couple weeks ago. We all threw our materials into the middle of the circle that we had created. Thinking about what to create out of all of this stuff that may not have usually gone together was a feat.



There were ideas thrown out that were not considered as much as others. This is to be expected with design. I am sure, the creators of the first cell phone did not agree throughout the entire creative process.

*please excuse the fact that I'm not looking forward;
there were two cameras and I was too slow*

Above was our end result. I cannot say I was happy with the results but I am glad we got something done. This is a prototype for something more amazing. Afterall, designers often draw up or think of more than one thing before they settle on one set idea. Unfortunately, we did not have time for that. We were inspired by a deck of cards that a group member brought. We decided to try and replicate a King card.

After the work was said and done, we got to roam around and look at the work of other groups. I was very impressed by the creativity.



Stone Soup taught me that collaborating, exchanging ideas and being open to other people's creativity is very necessary to design something that can be looked at as substantial, innovative or just great.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Gorgeous and Thin.

Gorgeous and thin are the way things are supposed to be. Anything too bulky or ugly can be left at the door. The company seen in the video below have succeeded and making thin and gorgeous even more thin and gorgeous!

Phone and computer deisgn is something most people in the United States come in contact with on a daily basis. Technology is ingrained into our idea of what is necessary to live. People without the newest and coolest phones are often looked at as behind in the times. I cannot imagine living without my laptop and blackberry. The iPhone 4 can do what my phone and laptop can do combined.

The fact that the makers over at Apple can fit so much into this small of space is amazing. Design is about continuing to improve products even when it seems that it cannot be improved anymore. I cannot imagine what they will come up with next. I wonder if any phone or computer companies will ever catch up to the success of Apple.

One of the BIG questions raised during the first week of class was: Who are the people of design? An answer that Housefield stated is that we all are. And to some agree, I have to say he is correct. The folks over at apple, however, can definitely be described as people that are designers. They have taken minimalism to a whole different level.

Also over the last decade Mac products have grown to be very popular, among families, college students and big businesses. When your products can reach a wide audience, that is when most of your respect comes as a designer. Apple has reached this and continues to bring new innovative products year after year, and sometimes every few months.

Apple's designers seem to understand the Greek root of design which is translated as "approximate, near, about". They are continue to get as close to perfection as humanly possible.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Jungle Gym in My Room?


For the early part of my childhood, I was very spoiled. It wasn't because I asked for a lot. I was just the only one my parents had to provide for for about four years. In turn, I had a lot of gadgets and toys. I enjoyed most of them.

One that stands out the most in my memory, though, is the Fisher Price jungle gym I had in my room. I'm unsure if this was where the manufacturers meant for this greatly assembled piece of plastic to go but I was not complaining. I could play on a jungle gym, not only on the playground at school and at the park, but also in my own home. I think it it's amazing that something that is usually huge and found outside can be made small enough, without losing its touch, to go fit inside of a bedroom.

There were openings that were hard for my mother and father to enter, yet very easy for me to. This object was designed specifically for people my size. Something else that was great about the jungle gym is that, it was not made of wood, glass, nor metal. It was made a plastic which helped me avoid a lot of pain, as it would a lot of other clumsy children.

The colors of the gym were pleasing to the eye. Lots of colors also made it a good learning mechanism. Parents of children learning colors could question the color of slide they were sliding down as mine did. The jungle gym in my room was an apparatus of fun and learning, simultaneously.

If that's not great design, I don't know what is!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Allow me to introduce myself...


Greetings from a woman in search of her word. I am that blogging, female, 19-year old, passionate and loving student activist. I am constantly seeking knowledge. I consider myself an eternal student of the world.

As a Communications major, I have become bored with my classes. Of course, there have been some enlightening lectures, but for the most part I kind of regret not majoring in something else. But because I like to finish what I start, I'm gonna stick it out. I may even add another major. At least, I will add a minor.

Many have told me, it's not too late to major in something else. I agree, but I would have to say that it is too late for me to major in something I think I'm falling in love with which is design. Many design majors that I know tell me how hard it is and how there have been many sleepless nights. And because I'm a third year and just starting the design major, I would probably have to stay a couple extra years. I am not certain that I really want to do that, but I do now that I am going to try my hardest to work with some form or design after my undergraduate career is over.

Now, I'm going to let you all know why I am so interested in why I love design.

People have always seemed to be impressed with my sense of style. In a way, I would describe it as the way in which I choose the design of the presentation of myself to others. I do not put myself in a box of what I can and cannot wear---there are no boundaries. I think that is a great characteristic of both art and design. It seems that nothing is off limits. I love how there are so many ways a shoe can look and how one small change in detail of room decoration can make a big difference.

The problem with my fascination of design is that I am never set of one aspect of it. I have aspirations of wanting to design a backpack but I can also see myself as an interior designer. The possibilities are endless. This is not a totally bad situation though. Maybe with hard work, I can do both and everything in between. After all, design is everywhere!