November 2010 Archives

environmental-communication-amy maleson

When talking about the environmental agenda, I believe a very important part of the design process is to communicate well. Communication as defined by Wikipedia is, "a process whereby information is enclosed in a package and is channeled and imparted by a sender to a receiver via some medium. The receiver then decodes the message and gives the sender a feedback." In order to create successful designs, people need to communicate with each other. Communication needs to take place between designers, clients, and intended audience that the product is for. In terms of the environmental agenda, there needs to be research done to understand what will be most beneficial for the environment and from there the designers can start to interact with the people it will affect. Listening to their needs will increase the products activity and usability.

When talking about the environmental agenda, a speech by Thomas Friedman comes to mind. He spoke on Minneapolis Public Radio about his newest book entitled, Hot, Flat, and Crowded. Here is the link to the speech: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/12/18/midday2/.
This speech talks about the real changes that need to take place in order to save this world. In Friedman's opinion, "the current green revolution alone will not work to destabilize global climate change." He designed his book around the idea of what needs to be done in the world.

Related to one of Friedman's topics about overpopulation, I found this advertisement.

traffic-health-ad.jpg

In terms of the environment, overpopulation is going to cause problems along with pollution that would increase as well. This specific advertisement takes place in the big city of New York, which is one of the most populated places in the world. The ad is eye catching with the phrase and then goes on to say how harmful pollution is to us citizens. Design is a great way to communicate the problems the world is facing and how to make changes to better the world.


Wikipedia: Communication. (1/22/2010). FL: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 11/22/2010, from http://www.wikipedia.org.

Friedman, Thomas. (12/18/2008). MPR News website. Retrieved 11/22/2010, from http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/12/18/midday2/.

Returnability (reusability) | Environmental | Lisa Hocraffer

Reusability has the potential for significant positive environmental influence. Containers and packaging have been stacking up around the world for decades, even some items intended for reuse, such as shipping containers. 2005 estimates suggest there were one million unused shipping containers stacked up in the US alone ("Shipping container homes"). Shipping containers are extremely resilient because they are made of Corten steel, a type of steel that is resistant to rust, termites, corrosion, and mold ("Shipping container homes"). For these same reasons, these unused shipping containers are ideal for storage units, buildings, or shelters.

While shipping containers were used for other purposes prior to 2005, David Cross of SG Blocks popularized this idea in 2006. Cross used shipping containers to design traditional-looking hurricane proof homes out of ISBU (Intermodal Steel Building Unit, as they are called when used for not shipping purposes) shipping containers in Florida. Since then, many other companies have started building with ISBUs.

Reusing old shipping containers has a 95% smaller carbon footprint than simply recycling the material ("Shipping container homes"). These buildings are not only environmentally friendly, but many of them are simply beautiful as can be seen in the following video. This revolutionary concept of reusing shipping containers for buildings, homes, and other uses has created an affordable way to create green homes. Since Cross popularized this idea, shipping containers have been used for commercial projects, as well as being used to build a US Army office building and Travelodge hotels.

In addition to designing reusable products, it is also important that designers look at ways to reuse the items we already have. The popularization of shipping container buildings reduced the number of unused containers in the US by 50 percent (to 500,000) in only two years ("Shipping container homes"). Imagine the dramatic changes that could happen if we come up with uses for other potentially reusable items, like plastic bottles and plastic bags that are currently piling up in landfills or cluttering roadsides.

Reusability can have a huge impact on the environment. As designers, we need to search for ways to integrate reusability into new and old designs.

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Container-Art-Studio-by-Mb-Architecture-4.jpg

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Works Cited

The architectural consultancy. [Web]. Retrieved from
http://www.homehousedesign.com/tag/shipping-container-buildings/.

Earth for Tomorrow. Cargo container living homes also known as
shipping or sea container. [Web]. Retrieved from
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQ-a1xTiPLk.

Eco factor. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.ecofriend.org/entry/eco-homes-maison-idekit-
homes-build-beautiful-home-from-shipping-containers/.

Green homes. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.isbu-info.org/video/v_00270_video.htm.

Sg blocks. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.sgblocks.com/.

Shipping container homes. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.containerhomes-info.com/.

Solar powered shipping container. [Web]. Retrieved from http://inhabitat.com/solar-powered-
shipping-container-is-a-pop-up-prefab-party/.

Poverty | Personal | Nahil Khalife

| 1 Comment


Watch Video

According to UNICEF, 30,000 Children die each day due to poverty!!! That's about 210,000 each week. Poverty has always been a big issue, it doesn't really have to be in Africa or Indonesia, even in Canada, 1 out of 6 children still lives in poverty. Poverty is in our very own neighborhoods. I consider myself lucky having my parents to support me. However, I don't take it for granted. I am always thankful for their financial support and love. Although, I have never personally experienced the extreme edge of poverty, I do see it around me.

Couple years ago, I went to Feed My Starving Children, and worked with a team to fill up bags of food that will be shipped to Africa. Each bag that I filled with rice and chicken, I knew that someone out there will get it and will be filled with joy knowing that someone cares about them. So I started rushing and putting more food in the bags and fill as much as I can because I wanted to help more and more children from starving. If I was in their shoes, I would hope someone out there in the world, would send me food even if they didn't know me, it's what keeps humanity surviving.

A more recent experience was a week ago, the Arabic Language and Culture Association was hosting a cultural event on campus, and we were funded with money from the Coca Cola grants. We hosted a movie night with free food. We had a lot of extra food and we knew it would be a waste if we store them, so my friend, sister and I decided to take all the extra food. It was around 10 pm with a frozen weather; we got in the car and drove around looking for people in shelters. We saw homeless people waiting in bus shelters and we gave out all the extra food we had and they were very thankful. This is one of the experiences I can't forget because I saw the true joy on their faces. We didn't really change the world but we for sure impacted their night with a warm dinner, as well as they impacted my ambitions to help and serve others more.

So I am organizing another event this month to serve homeless people in shelters or serve in nursing homes with the Maronite Young Adults group and I hope I can make a bigger difference this time.

Poverty is a very delicate issue that affects me personally as a designer. One of the reasons I chose graphic design as a major so that I can communicate with the world what is really going on by striking the hard issues without being biased. I want to get people's emotions working with my designs and let them take action. I will put the situation the way it is in front of their eyes and the audience will interact with what they see, hopefully for the good and try to make a change in their everyday lives. This can be done simply by putting some images together with music in the background or creating posters and have people join an event and them listen to a speech or watch a movie. It may sound simple, but how you do it and to capture people's attention needs creativity because poverty is overlooked and people are sick of hearing about such an issue that they think it's impossible to solve.

By creative solutions such as this website: waterlife people will actually interact more with the design and learn more instead of reading a boring book or attending a long lecture. The designers show the importance of waterlife, a lot of poverty is tied to water which is the essential need for humans to survive. Raising awareness is key for people to join the club and start impacting the world one at a time.

Sources:

"WaterLife." WATERLIFE - NFB. Web. 30 Nov. 2010. http://waterlife.nfb.ca

"What Is Poverty?" YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GL-8HPdBroc


Taking Ownership in the Environmental Agenda - Jenny Zanatta

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When you hear the word "environmental," I'm guessing the phrase "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" comes to mind. This is a common phrase I'm sure we have all heard since elementary school when learning about the recycling bins in the classrooms. There is some controversy over the phrase though, believe it or not. Have you ever thought about why the words are in the order they are? Do people just think it just sounds best that way? Or is there a meaning behind it? The controversy about this phrase is that the order does matter, and many want to change it to "Reduce, Reuse, THEN Recycle." These days, so much emphasis is being placed on recycling, that people can forget about the first two, which is where we should really start if we want to help Mother Earth. We, as designers, need to take ownership of each aspect of this phrase as we create, to make sure we don't forget the first two steps.


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Reduce.
As designers, we need to take ownership of the real impact we have. Sure we can try to cop out by saying we just design what a box looks like, but often times we actually can speak up and at least attempt to reduce the amount of materials or processing used to produce our design. One good example of reduction is this coffee cup redesign by Miller Creative. One of the great features of their design are the radial fins which specifically eliminates the need for a coffee sleve. This reduces both the amount of materials consumers use, and the amount of processing needed to manufacture them.

Reuse.
After we reduce, then we can move on to reusing. As designers a great way to help the environment is to design packages that people want to own for the sake of the package, not just the product. Packages that can be reused for other purposes are the step in the right direction. Apple is one example of packaging that people want to keep, I know for a fact I still have every box to every iPod, MacBook, and iPhone I've ever had. An even smaller step is Target's approach by printing "10 ways to reuse your Target bag" right on the side of their plastic bags.


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THEN Recycle.
Finally, AFTER we reduce, and then reuse, do we recycle. As designers who care about the environment, we need to take ownership of our beliefs and if possible, try to convince your clients to use recyclable materials. As with reduce, we can attempt to figure out ways to use recyclable materials as well as reducing the amount needed in a specific design. The process of recycling materials sometimes is not as kind to the environment as we think it is. That is why this is the last step in the process. It would be much more beneficial to the environment to reduce and reuse things, before sending them through the process of recycling.

Designers have a hand in every step of the Reduce, Reuse, THEN Recycle process, in one way or another. We need to take ownership, and promote ownership (in consumers keeping products and reusing them) through the designs we create. We are the creatives of the world, and it's up to us to step up and promote this change in ideologies. So take a look at your projects, products and designs, and see where you can help out. And remember, Reduce, Reuse, THEN Recycle.

Sources:
Reduce, Reuse, THEN Recycle
http://www.paystolivegreen.com/2010/04/reduce-reuse-then-recycle/

Redesigning the Coffee Cup
http://www.thedieline.com/blog/2010/6/8/redesigning-the-coffee-cup.html

Cost Effectiveness: The Environmental Agenda

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So we probably all know by now that designing/producing something that is both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally safe is next to impossible. Let's face it, cheap materials are often worse for the environment: Non-recycled paper, harsh chemicals in ink, almost any kind of plastic or glue, and a huge amount of process work that ends up getting tossed. It's often difficult for me to think about how much I'm wasting (under the impression that I'm actually saving money), but there you go. Before I know it, I'm stuffing excess paper into a trash bag along with scraps of cold mount, wax paper, and post-it notes.

In my search to find sustainable resources that are also affordable, I saw this blog, which is a handy guide for graphic designers who are looking to be environmentally-friendly without spending a lot of money. It heavily emphasizes prevention as a way to do both: Since we designers primarily use computers, we're decreasing our output just by stunting how much we print out! Thus, double sided printing, scratch paper, recycled printer cartridges, and email become valuable as solutions to money woes and biodegradability. Of course, once you start learning about sustainability, you inevitably get sucked into a world of eco-friendly techniques, from the general rules about recycling to the finicky (and somewhat anal) suggestions about solar powered eco-hosting options for websites.

Another website that looked into this issue was a design business blog, which also had a helpful list of what to do to be more efficient as a designer. This blog also included hints about lightbulbs and water conservation, which also tie into design, albeit in a roundabout way. Though we as individuals can each do a little bit to decrease our carbon footprint, it's probably more difficult for a business to follow the same practices. I'm sure not everyone in a company remembers to "think before they print," but I've found that environmentalism is all about taking baby steps on the road to freeing ourselves from the constrictions of chemicals and wasteful solutions.

Sources:
http://www.logobird.com.au/blog/23-ways-to-run-a-more-environmentally-sustainable-design-business/

http://www.ijdesign.com/blog/?p=7

Go Go Babyz - Children & Personal - Renée LaViolette

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When people travel with kids, the children always need a million things. The parents tend to have one bag, while each child has at least two. When traveling with smaller children, there is always a need for a stroller and car seat. It's really inconvenient to walk around airports with the car seats and strollers.

I was waiting for my flight home for Thanksgiving when I noticed a couple with a baby.
They were getting off of the plane I was about to board and I noticed something really awesome - the baby's stroller. At first I only saw the car seat they were carrying. Then the dad took the car seat and strapped it onto a set of wheels with an extended handle. Instantly the car seat turned into a stroller! I was so intrigued I looked the product up online and found Go-Go Babyz's Travelmate. The Travelmate is made up of wheels and an extended handle. It connects to almost every car seat for children up to 50 pounds. It folds down to practically nothing and makes traveling much easier with kids.
babyztravelmate.png
They also have another product called the Infant Cruizer. This product is similar to the Travelmate, but is more for everyday use. You can strap in almost any car seat to it too. When your child grows out of the Infant Cruizer, you can buy the Infant Cruizer Toddler Adapter. To me, the coolest thing about this product is that you can attach two of them together. It can be two toddler seats, two infant seats, or one of each. The video here shows that.

The Travelmate is really affordable. I think any parent would be willing to test this product in a heartbeat. The Cruizer is a little pricier, but considering how expensive regular strollers are, it's a good product because of the lack of space it takes up.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTJe_4rfPxU

Convenience - Environmental Agenda - Manon Ibes

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Almost everyone these days is concerned about the environmental preservation, but it feels like we, as consumers, are not always willing to sacrifice convenience and change our habits or consumption to make a serious commitment to the environmental agenda. There are many fair reasons why we can't commit, the strongest being the lack of financial resources to purchase environmentally friendly products. There is also a lot of concern about "greenwashing," which drives people away from so-called green products because of potential unsubstantiated claims about their ecological benefits.

It is easy to see that we have found ourselves in a situation in which there is a strong social need for environmental protection, but an inability to match that attitude with action. As documented in the Roper Organization research (as cited in the Reference for Business Encyclopedia article on Green Marketing), between 1990 and 1996 the number of people who were committed to environmental products declined, as measured by what premium they were willing to pay for green products, from 6.6% to 4.5%, and the number of consumers who rated themselves with the highest commitment to green products also declined.

To encourage this social need to evolve beyond an attitude to a behavioral switch, we need a combination of legislation and business initiative to make products and behaviors that are environmentally friendly more convenient for consumers. The main barrier to behavior is the pricing of green products, but businesses must also look to potential health benefits and the ease of use and disposability (which is key in the fight against landfills) that might encourage consumers to look beyond the price difference. If the study from 1996 can be taken as a measure, then consumers (even those less interested in environmental conservation) are willing to pay up to 4.5% more for environmental products, might have some leeway in that arena.

Hotels have found many green cleaning options actually save them money, or are at least are price neutral, compared to traditional cleaning products. In addition to saving money by preventing chemical related accidents, hotels are saving money in the reduction of water used, and in the amount of cleaning products they need to purchase. The Green Hotels Association, the group responsible for cards in hotel rooms asking visitors to reuse towels claimed that the initiative saves hotels $.50 per day per occupied room (as cited in Ecofriendly Cleaning gets the Green Light by Kristine Hansen). Government agencies are also finding cost savings through using green products; Seattle estimates that its recent switch to green cleaning products costs the city 60% less per usable gallon (Hansen).

What is important to consider is how these savings can be communicated and hopefully transferred to the consumer. If a company brags that their green products are saving money, consumers will expect to see some of the price savings, either in terms of a discount or some other tangible benefit. One obvious benefit from the reduction of chemicals and the use of non-toxic cleaners is the reduction in chemical allergy and irritation complaints. If reliable statistics could be found about the amount of these types of situations that occur in hotels, it might push consumers to use the more environmentally friendly hotels, and could encourage the trend throughout the industry. There really is a circular effect that could happen here, if a few companies can teach consumers the benefits of green products, through their own usage, then those consumers will in turn drive market demand that will encourage other companies to follow suit. This is different from the boom of 'green washing' because it is the companies themselves that will have to use the products to get consumers interested. This could be especially effective in the service industries, like hotels, restaurants, and public transit.

A second important element that businesses must consider is the ease of use in encouraging consumers. Cobalt Park, an office complex outside of Newcastle, UK, is working with local public transit and ridesharing programs to lower the carbon emissions created by workers going back and forth between the complex. As the largest business park in the UK, Cobalt Park wanted to provide convenient and effective transportation options to cut down on the pollution created by all the workers. To do this, they engaged in massive research to find out what consumer perceptions of public transit were and how they could be countered to encourage usage. Cobalt worked with the buses to change routes and used a variety of media to educate the workers in how the bus system worked and how it would benefit them and the environment. Their press release states that the number of people using the buses increased substantially through their efforts, with more than 650 people riding in late 2007, compared to less than 400 in mid 2006. Associate director Peter Whitehead, says "These figures illustrate the success and effectiveness of Cobalt's sustainable transport strategy. More and more people working in the area are realising they now have the realistic option of leaving the car at home. This reduces CO2 emissions and Cobalt is an excellent example of how, simply by working together in partnership, a sustainable transport scheme, on a large scale, can work."

This example demonstrates an opportunity for businesses through the world to consider how they can make transportation more convenient for their employees, while also reducing their environmental impact. It might not work in the US now, as we are all addicted to our driving independence, but as roads become more crowded and parking rates increase, this is an area that companies should consider investing in.

The last area of environmentally friendly actions that companies can consider to increase convenience for consumers is disposability. Many consumers want to do the right thing and recycle their products properly, however, a lack of knowledge or resources to do so can prevent these well-intentioned consumers from following through on their desires. One big example of this is in the electronics industry. Everyone knows that you can't just throw a computer in the garbage, but what do you do with it? You could make a time-consuming trip to the local recycling facility (where you may have to pay to drop off your items) or conduct research to see if any appliance stores will take your old equipment. These options require time, effort, and thought on the part of the consumer and reduce the likelihood that they will follow through and do the correct thing. Many communities offer electronic recycling days throughout the year, but to participate in these consumers have to know when and where, and be free to go during those hours. They also have to hold on to the item until they can dispose of it. Another problem area is packaging materials that consumers get products in, but often through in the garbage because of inefficient recycling programs or a lack of knowledge about recycling these products.

Germany, who is already leading in eco-labeling and environmental regulation compliance, has passed many ordinances concerning this problem of "reverse logistics," which involves manufacturers taking back the products at the end of their useful lives, specifically targeting the electronics, car, and packaging industries. A group of manufacturers in Germany have banded together to create the "Dual System" which is a country wide waste management system that guarantees the collection and recycling of various packaging materials (as discussed in the Reference for Business Encyclopedia article on Green Marketing).

All of these areas are opportunities for business to be a driving force in the social shift towards environmental protection and conservation. Legislation and regulations need to be crafted to encourage business to promote and use green products and to restrict their messages to prevent lies and exaggerations of green-based claims. Consumers are already willing to change, but corporations and the government will need to provide them with a convenient way to reduce and properly manage their consumption and waste.


Works Cited:
Glanville Consultants. "Changing Perceptions and Travel Choices at Cobalt Park." Glanville Group, May 2008. Web. 23 Nov. 2010. .
Hansen, Kristine. "Eco-Friendly Cleaning Gets the Green Light." CleanLink | The Information Resource for the Cleaning Industry. Housekeeping Solutions, Apr. 2002. Web. 23 Nov. 2010. .
White, Mark A. "Green Marketing." Green Marketing. Reference For Business - Encyclopedia of Small Business, Business Biographies, Business Plans, and Encyclopedia of American Industries. Web. 23 Nov. 2010. .

comment for patrick | mo becker

the blog wouldn't let post a comment for some reason, so this is my solution.


First of all, the second link isn't working, and secondly, it's interesting how this is termed as 'surviving'. Although they may see some profit right away it seems like a short term gain long term loss to me. With reduction in waste and energy the companies could actually stand to save even more money. To me its amazing how many companies aren't willing to take a small hit now and actually make some sort of difference and save money later.

My dad is a business management consultant and he ofter describes working with executives as like herding cats. I think that stubbornness is the final hurdle these companies have to overcome. Although there is a certain pride in the business world to never changing your business strategy. Like "We've been doing business this way for 100 years". Like if its proven successful in 1910, it will work forever. At any rate, I think its our responsibility to stock up catnip and yarn, because we've got a lot of herding to do.

Like Missy talked about in her most recent post, the green movement has been adopted by everyone, and in many dishonest ways. It is good for business, and it is probably necessary for many companies to say they're green to stay successful. Not necessarily an evil move. Like Missy said, they're "surviving." Though it is disturbing to people that actually know better. More disheartening is that some of us, as designers, will be the ones making the fibbing "organic" tomato sticker. But again, not necessarily an evil act. Much as I would love to walk away from a job over a sticker.

My definition of success: To be able to walk away from my job over a sticker. Ideal date: 5 years from graduation.

First, I have to learn ((educate myself!)) which stickers are the offenders. The term for making goods appear environmentally friendly without much basis is greenwashing. Here is the Wikipedia article about it. Pretty entertaining. Turns out, this whole greenwashing business began in the '60s, when ad execs started pushing "green" products in reaction to culture. "Ecopornography" is how one executive described it.

Scratch my last definition of success. New one: Having my work compared to porn.

BP spent 200 million to greenwash their walls, and Chevron did before them. Obvious offenders. But, with some digging, you can find plenty more. The article mentioned above is a good place to start. But greenwashing won't stop until people get mad about it. And, if you care, why not make a little anti-ecoporn? Here's a little reading to get started!

Fun and the Personal Agenda | Jonathan Glatfelter

| 3 Comments

facebook.jpg
Over the past five years, Facebook and other networking sites have hit all of society and have changed the world as we know it. They have allowed us to communicate with people easily, and they have allowed us to meet people from across the world. What makes these networking platforms so alluring? What brings people to these websites? What makes them fun?

Since Facebook launched back in February of 2004, it has gone through many alterations and facelifts. It seems to be that with every aesthetic fix, the Facebook world blows up in outrage ("The new Facebook SUCKS!" "Why did they change what was working from the start?!" "The newsfeed is horrible!" "I hate the new changes!"). Every time that this has happened, the storm seems to always settle down over the span of a week. What makes these avid users go crazy over change? Is it that they enjoy consistency? Is it no longer fun for a user if the design of the website has been altered? Well, I would think that change would be fun.

The change of a design can really influence society and the "fun factor" that this design has or may have had. A simple change can either mend all of the problems the design had, or it can send people into a total outrage. I use Facebook as an example only because it seems so minute. It's such a widespread tool and its design is really quite simple, yet people have always seemed to get all bitter once its design has been altered in the slightest bit.

While Facebook has made many small changes, they also have made a couple of big changes, the biggest being that of their privacy settings (http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/05/facebook-privacy-changes-inspire-praise-optimism). Less than two years ago, it was stated that Facebook owned anything that anyone had uploaded or posted to the site. Even though many Facebook users were outraged over this comment, many of them opted out on deleting their accounts (http://www.visioncritical.com/newsroom/facebook-users-stop-short-of-deleting-accounts/). How do bigger changes and smaller changes in the design of something change the way people react? People who experience smaller changes to Facebook seem to initially react almost the same way as they do to larger changes. What other companies have done this? How have consumers reacted towards those changes?

References:
Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved November 8, 2010, from http://www.eff.org.

Vision Critical. Retrieved November 8, 2010, from http://www.visioncritical.com.

Toxicity | Social Agenda | Eduardo Cortés

| 2 Comments

To be honest, the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of the word "toxicity" is cleaning supplies. Ever since I was little, my mother warned me about the dangers beneath our kitchen sink; she warned me about all the chemicals we cleaned our house with and how much they could hurt me if I were to consume them. (Heck, we even had to call poison control once when I swallowed a not-so-nontoxic substance).

Nowadays, kids still have to beware of what lies beneath their kitchen sink, but not to the extent that I had to since many cleaning products are now considered "green". Being "green" is the new fad and companies will go to any extent to have some of their products be labeled "green" even if it's not entirely true. In other words, many companies try to "greenwash" consumers. These companies know that individuals will buy into these new "green" products, even if the chemistry behind them isn't all that different from their original (often extremely toxic) products.

Clorox _ green works.jpg

For example, when consumers look at branding and identity of "Green Works" cleaning products, they believe that they're buying into and supporting a company that practices eco-friendly operations and sustainability. However, "Green Works" belongs to "The Clorox Company" and although they are making an effort to provide better alternatives for their consumers as far as cleaning products go, they are still selling their original (often extremely toxic) products to the world. But how does this relate to design? I believe it's up to me and other designers to effectively convey the product's true nature through branding and identity.

I am a designer who believes that companies need to be transparent. A great example of company transparency is from the company "Method". This company pledges that all of their products abide by eco-friendly and sustainable regulations, which includes non-toxicity. Their mission states, "Our philosophy starts with our mission to inspire a Happy, Healthy Home Revolution, and centers around using innovation to create positive change. But mere sustainability is not our goal. We want to go much farther than that. We want to become restorative and enriching in everything we do so that the bigger we get, the more good we create. We are striving for sustainable abundance."

my-method-prod.jpg

"Method" does an extremely good job of conveying their mission through their branding. They try their best to make sure that people have a healthy and happy lifestyle. They show this by making products that appeal to consumers from the color and smell of the substance to the graphic layouts and final packaging. In short, "Method" products are ones that you do not have to hide under your sink.

(Note: While I think "Method" is doing a great job with their branding and identity, I do have one quick critique. I believe their logo could use a little work. I do not believe that their simplistic logo represents all that the company strives to do).

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Greenwashing
http://www.methodhome.com/behind-the-bottle/our-products

Security--Environmental Agenda--Charles West

On November 10, 2010, the Clean the Niger Delta Coalition will be holding a meeting to discuss how to deal with the massive oil pollution in the Niger Delta, followed by a photo exhibition and concert. Effective designs come with a clear call to action, and in a time when the security of the environment is of great concern, we as designers will not be able to avoid creating designs to secure our ecosystem; to make it safer. More importantly, we may be called upon to actually design the things that will actually make improvements to the environment. The question is whether or not it is truly possible to encourage enough people to change their own methods to save our ecosystem.
Shell is a perfect example of a company who has not resorted to more environmentally friendly methods of doing business. While people are often being encouraged to find new ways to dispose of dangerous materials, many continue to pollute areas with their waste, ignoring the warnings and laws against it. Being that the world is not physically designed to take as much pollution as we make, why is it that so many people do not resort to more environmentally friendly designs? The answer is cost. The financial agendas of corporations often interfere with the new environmental agenda that has been strongly encouraged throughout the past few years. Eco-friendly alternatives often tend to cost more than the methods that pollute. For example, (environmentally friendly design)
How do we fix this? While there is no easy answer, Thomas Friedman, the author of Hot, Flat and Crowded provides insight on this matter, saying that we must make the environmental agenda a part of the financial agenda; we must control the cost of environmentally friendly design so that people will be willing to tend to the environment. Friedman calls his plan "China for a day, but NOT for two," as controlled pricing is one of the characteristics of communism. It has come to a point in which we may have to resort to a form of politics that our nation has stood strongly against just so eco-friendly products will be put to use more often. We as designers have our own financial agendas as well. If more people buy eco-friendly products, we will be even more encouraged to design them. Altering our financial agenda may be our last chance to keep newer, safer designs as a priority. Designers have what it takes to make a difference in the environment and keep it secure, and the more society begins to put the environment first, the more chances we will have to prove it.

Sources
http://www.envirosecurity.org/news/single.php?id=319

http://www.thomaslfriedman.com/bookshelf/hot-flat-and-crowded

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/05/books/review/Freedland-t.html

Feasibility | Social | Cindy Sargent

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As visual communicators, we as graphic designers have the ability to influence society. We have the potential to do great--both good and bad--things. Many designers who are proponents of social design, such as Victor Papanek, believe that "designers and creative professionals have a responsibility and are able to cause real change in the world through good design." While it certainly is well within our capabilities as graphic designers to create social change through our work, it seems that we don't usually reach our potential in this respect because our skills are most often used to contribute to and perpetuate commercialism and consumerism. So is it really feasible to design socially conscious work?

In theory, yes, it is absolutely possible. The world we live in is shaped by design at every level. Visual communication is omnipresent throughout the world. Through visual communication, we as graphic designers have the capability to shape society. The work we do as graphic designers can sell, persuade, educate and inspire. Graphic design is everywhere, and thus, so is the opportunity to create social change. To say that creating socially conscious work is only feasible in theory would be incorrect because social design does exist, but (for the most part) it is limited in practice.

In practice (for the most part), however, it is not. This is because our skills as graphic designers are most often used in advertising and marketing to contribute to and perpetuate commercialism and consumerism. Today, the production of visual communications consists essentially of advertising. John Berger says, "Publicity turns consumption into a substitute for democracy. The choice of what one eats (or wears or drives) takes the place of significant political choice. Publicity helps to mask and compensate for all that is undemocratic within society. And it also masks what is happening in the rest of the world." But we as graphic designers have the ability to contribute so much more than this.

The challenge facing the design community in particular is how to expand what we do to have a greater impact in the area of social change. How do we create space for designers to do this type of work at the professional level where concern about the bottom line is often the driving force? Often what holds a designer back is the prevailing attitude that executing social work only falls under the category of pro bono. "Giving back" is an altruistic idea, but with limited time and resources it's often not realistic. This attitude has to change in order to create a sustainable model that not only promotes this type of work, but also encourages it in the marketplace.

Berger, John (1972). Ways of Seeing. London: British Broadcasting Corporation and Penguin Books.

Papanek, Victor (1971). Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change, New York, Pantheon Books.

Pollution | Financial | Missy Austin

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We've all probably heard the recent hype about how many of the products deemed "green" in the marketplace are actually far from being environmentally friendly. I find this embarrassing for the creators of these fakers and upsetting for us, the consumers, who have likely paid top dollar for our solar powered USB drives and other such products. So if so many of these products don't do anything to offset pollution and will, after all, end up in that land fill, why do so many businesses try their hand in the Green industry?

The answer to this seems to be: it's good for business. In the article "The Colour of Money: The business Case for Sustainable Design", the authors talk about how businesses need to adapt to the public's new awareness of environmental issues or be left in the dust. So what's the problem with this? Why doesn't every business design environmentally friendly products? This way, the company thrives, the people are happy, and the environment catches a break.

Apparently, this is easier said than done. If it wasn't, there probably wouldn't be so many fakers out there. It seems that many companies aren't as concerned with producing an honest product as they are in producing a cheap product. Another contributing factor to this onslaught of fakers could be on the consumer's end. It seems that people want both the shiny red, perfect tomato AND the organic sticker to be slapped on the side, which isn't exactly realistic in a world filled with fruit flies.

So what does this mean about businesses who try their hand in the Green industry? Well they're probably not evil, they probably just want to try and survive like the rest of us, like buying a knock off pair of designer jeans in middle school to keep up with the rest of the kids (or maybe it's not like that at all...) Either way, it seems that green (even fake green) is good for business, and it will probably stay that way until pressure from angry consumers stand up and expose the fakers.

Link to Arney & Mobb's Article:
http://www.woodsbagot.com/en/Documents/Public_5_papers/The_colour_of_money.pdf
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James Cosper. Knowing When To Stop Copying

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James Cosper
Minimalism and the Personal Agenda

When considering minimalism and the personal agenda we should examine an area that cannot be eliminated. There are many tools we may utilize to make work easier but no tool is so useful as practice. Experience with a process or program speeds future uses. Similarly, studying the past will hopefully enable us to avoid mistakes others have made. Minimalisation can be found in the restraint a designer shows while incorporating new practices and elements from existing designs.

Jeff Veen is a web designer that has given a small talk about design and critical thinking. In this short lecture he talks about the cargo cults that arose in the south Pacific after World War II. The story is that during WWII the American military moved onto islands that had never encountered Westerners before and brought with them the wealth of industry. The indigenous people associated the planes and the practices of the Army, this was before the Air Force existed, with the bounty but did not understand what was needed to create the goods and services. When the military left so did the goods so the natives created bamboo planes and practiced behavior mimicking what the Army personnel did while there. They are referred to as the " cargo cults ."

He uses the iPhone as an example of designers influencing other Smartphone manufacturers in the same manner as the technologically advanced people inspired the cargo cults. Though two Smartphones may have a similar appearance they may not function in the same manner because the imitator fails to understand the working of the original.

He presents the idea that " great designers steal
," itself a paraphrase of Picasso's statement that "Good artists copy, great artists steal." The concept is that great designers will steal from a design that works and incorporate the principles and elements of the original into something new. An example of this is the " iPad
from Apple. Bell calls it "an act of aggressive tech convergence" that combines tablet computer, net book, e-reader, and media player into one. Here Apple has taken elements from other devices and joined them with the brand equity of the Mac to create a device that creates longing in consumers. Apple has shown restraint in minimalising the number of features the iPad incorporates from netbooks and tablets, however. Like the elimination of the floppy drive in late '90s Macs the iPad does not have a disc drive for media. Right now this may be a hassle but will be seen as an innovation in the future as more software and media is delivered wirelessly over the web.

An example of a copy, however, is found in the new Nook Color from Barnes & Noble. Nook Color has not been given a full review since CNet has just been given a preview device. Overall they were impressed but from my point of view Barnes & Noble is moving away from the strength of the e-reader. The original Nook, like the Amazon Kindle, used an e-ink screen to enable reading without the eyestrain or the difficulty of reading in sunlight of an LCD screen like the iPad. The new device uses an LCD screen like the iPad and adds a number of Android operating system features that may enable more functionality like a tablet computer but not as many as the iPad. This will result in unfavorable comparisons, which anecdotally occurred even when the device was black and white and a quarter of the price of the iPad. Before the Nook was a strong e-reader but by copying the iPad they may be reducing the usefulness of the device's key feature. I believe the designers at Barnes & Noble would be better served by taking only the elements of the iPad that make for a better e-reader rather than copying as much as possible. The restraint shown would illustrate an understanding of their device and help stand apart from competitors.

Works Cited:

Bell, D. (2010). Apple ipad (64gb). Retrieved from
http://reviews.cnet.com/tablets/apple-ipad-64gb/4505-3126_7-33958448.html?tag=contentMain;contentBody

Carnoy, D. (2010). Barnes & noble nook color. Retrieved from
http://reviews.cnet.com/e-book-readers/barnes-noble-nook-color/4505-3508_7-34204884.html?tag=contentMain;contentBody;2r

Veen, J. (2009). Great designers steal. Retrieved from
http://ignite.oreilly.com/2009/08/jeff-veen-great-designers-steal.html

Veen, J. (Unknown). Jeffrey Veen. Retrieved from
http://www.veen.com/jeff/index.html

Wikipedia. (Unknown). Cargo cult. Retrieved from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult


Environmental | Emerging Economics

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The home and its functionality make up much of peoples' environments. This isn't just about the family; space efficiency in the home is important as well. In countries with emerging economies and large, overcrowded cities, this is a difficult issue. How does one fit a whole family - one which may not have access to proper healthcare and birth control - into a 400 square foot or smaller flat? Gary Chang of Hong Kong (considered part of an emerging economy) has designed a solution in his revolutionary sliding panel "24 rooms in one" home, which can be modified at will to include an enclosed bedroom, kitchen, or living room at any given time. Without such modifications in cramped apartments, "Killing each other is not uncommon," says Mr. Chang in an interview with the New York Times (here and here).


A short clip showing the Hong Kong space-efficient home

This space comes at a cost, however. The average income per family in Hong Kong runs between 10 and 25 thousand dollars a year, according to government publications. The apartments are expensive in the first place, but how can families afford to completely redesign a home, much less find the space to do it while living there? When only half of the population of Hong Kong - one of the more well to do areas in Asia - owns their own homes or flats, the only feasible way to do this is to require landlords to modify flats or have government enforce it. This is fine for the human environment, but it still only considers people and does not take into account the need for green space.

Green space describes areas capable of sustaining plant life. It doesn't have to be a field of soybeans, but setting aside any room for vegetation is rare when every inch of space is crucial. According to PureHealthMD, gardens bring with them more health benefits than just visual appeal and the potential veggies they can produce. They can provide stress relief - crucial in such small confines - and a reliable source of food during times of political unrest or when jobs are hard to find. In areas where the population is constantly growing, not necessarily in proportion to the job market, this could be a good change. It could detoxify the air and create a greater well being for the whole city, as it would beautify the area. The city could even recommend certain greens to be grown, which would provide a structure for people to follow.

As interesting as the use of gardens and the space they take is, the larger problem facing cities like Hong Kong is keeping small spaces efficient for people to live in so more can be packed into a smaller space. Gardens would help reduce waste from food packaging as well as provide a place to compost biodegradable wastes. The minimal amount of space is further reduced when each room can be modified at will. There could be fewer unnecessary things, and having smaller spaces with the proper reflective properties could allow for less energy usage in light and heat.

Social / Social Empowerment through Design / Meher Khan

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Social empowerment and design go way back. The basis of every social movement has been its ability to persuade its audience and gather support. Propaganda has always been at the front of these efforts; essays, songs, and eye-catching posters have all had influence over the spread of information. Through this effort, designers have created greatly influential work to further a cause, conceiving in the process unique aesthetics that gave a face to each movement.

Constructivist art, which began in Russia, was rooted in the practice of giving art a social purpose, rather than being "art for art's sake." In addition to being a significant precedent in the field of graphic design, Constructivist art was adopted by not only revolution in the U.S.S.R, but later by the German Revolution, which resulted in the Weimar Republic, or modern-day Germany. Constructivists aimed to "encompass cognitive, material activity, and the whole of spirituality of mankind" (Wikipedia).

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The branding of social movements is employed in modern times, too. Efforts to educate and persuade the public about our effects on the environment and to reduce our impact are everywhere. While this is an environmental issue, it is more subtly a social movement. It is necessary to incite people on a social level to create any change, and the "green movement" has employed the same tactics as historical revolutions in creating this shift in ideas. As we have discussed in class before, this social movement has its own aesthetic, just as the revolutions in the U.S.S.R and Germany adopted Constructivist art.

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This image shows the ironically environment-friendly aesthetic bp used in its logo, and shows the response of designers to the oil spill. Aside from the content, even the darker images have many elements in common: clean lines, graphic and geometric shapes, a flat, two-dimensional quality, and somehow or the other, the use of the color green. This is the aesthetic I have come to associate with the green movement. Although not as specified and pre-determined as Constructivist art, this is the imagery we have seen and will continue seeing as the social movement of going green progresses.

In all cases of social movements, design has been a tool for empowerment, and gives an idea a voice and face; to make it tangible and accessible, and therefore more successful.

Examining the Aesthetic Response to the BP Oil Spill Retrieved from http://hyperallergic.com/6809/bp-oil-spill/
Constructivism (art) Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constructivism_(art)
Weimar Republic Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weimar_Republic

Social | Health in the design world

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So I was kind of stumped as to what to write about with social health in the design work and I was looking at the definition of social on Webster.com, the definitions/versions I found interesting was the one that defined "of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society." So how as designers do we create a health social relationship with our design world and friends? I think it used to be really simple, find contacts, keep in touch, make friends, make relationships and call upon these people for references, opportunities, ect. Now there is a whole nether world to this process, its call Social Media! In our advances in technology and a need to know obsession of what everyone else is doing we now have multiple outlets that allow us to find this information (as well as post it). Social media now comes in the form of Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Myspace, Flickr, ect. It's all over the place and in our faces. I know my generation is all about it and don't get me wrong I myself partake in a few of these guilty little pleasures, but my question is " Is this excessive amount of social media healthy?" Since when are we so self absorbed that we need to post on the Internet everything exciting or worth while that happens in our life? Via images, text or videos. I understand having all of these resources at our fingertips is absolutely amazing, but is it being used for the right things?

I read this article on AIGA Design to Empower the People by Zara Arshad, written March 03, 2009 and she talks about social media and how its changing our design world, "Socially responsible design is gaining momentum as designers are beginning to increasingly consider the context of their work, acting as indicators of current global affairs that necessitate action or response." Designers are taking the events and opinions that are happening around us and developing their design around it. She writes of "Guerilla Codes" which are those new QR codes that were seeing on a lot of advertisements and other designed things. This article is a little radical talking about social stances and standing up for what you believe in, using design supported by your beliefs. Although it's a little intense, I agree, as designers we should be grabbing all forms of new technology and trying to incorporate them in to our work. But this brings me back to how much social media is healthy for ones well being? I don't know. I personally tried participating in Twitter, I didn't get it and gave up, I don't really go on facebook anymore and haven't posted anything new in like a year, myspace is dead, I try to keep a blog but its difficult with a hectic schedule. I'd rather worry about my projects and the work I'm producing.

And all of a sudden im hearing from my peers and elder design people that if im not on these social medias im doomed in trying to find a job.... But how much time can I stress out about something that I really don't like to do or don't really want to participate in? Am I supposed to be obsessively updating my twitter account with cool design stuff or my facebook page with projects? Although these social medias are a great way of networking with people in your field, I feel like they are being pushed upon me in a forceful way. What happened to the good old days of talking to someone face-to-face or writing e-mail, now it's all about whom your following on twitter or if you're a fan of a design firm. To me its overwhelming and not in a good way. Maybe I should shut my mouth and do what I'm being told to do, the times are changing and maybe I should just accept it (but i don't really want to). What are your thoughts??

Over the last several years, the general public has become more and more concerned with the environment, with films like An Inconvenient Truth helping to bring environmental issues to the attention of a much wider audience. According to one report, 76% of consumers place environmental responsibility in the hands of business rather than government. Today, people want companies to be environmentally responsible and operate using (more) sustainable practices, and people also want to feel like they can help save the earth by supporting these sustainable businesses and products. Companies around the world have listened to this desire and are now taking advantage of environmental messages to attract consumers, often misleading them in the process.

A term has been coined for the process of falsely leading consumers to believe that a product is more environmentally friendly than it actually is: greenwashing. Greenwashing can take many different forms. In fact, according to the TerraChoice Greenwashing Report, there are seven different ways greenwashing can occur. Companies can:

1. hide harmful trade-offs
2. fail to substantiate proof
3. make vague claims
4. make irrelevant statements
5. promote themselves as the "lesser of two evils"
6. lie outright
7. create false labels that look like third-party endorsements

You can take a look at the PDF report on the website for a more in-depth explanation of each, but they are mostly self-explanatory. The report claims that the most common form of greenwashing is the "hidden trade-off," in which the company focuses on one small aspect of their product while ignoring the bigger picture. For example, corn-based plastics are promoted as the new "green" thing in container design, but there are numerous hidden trade-offs, as discussed in this article: these items can't be mixed with regular plastic recycling, must be composted in special facilities (or else it takes up to 1,000 years to decompose!), and it takes away a supply of corn that could be used for food while supporting a disposable culture.


As designers, however, we can have control over these messages. If everyone said "no" to making misleading claims like these, the world of environmental marketing would be changed for the better, and more honesty about products could very well save the planet. If a product is truly environmentally friendly, it is often very obvious, like this new cleaning product called Replenish. It consists of a reusable spray bottle that connects to a little soap pod. You fill the bottle with tap water and voila! Instant surface cleaner. Not only does this save plastic from being dumped into landfills, but it saves the energy of shipping hundreds of gallons of water from factories to stores and homes. There are many great producst like this being developed; it is just unfortunate that they are lost in a sea of greenwashed products.

Innovation | Social | Caitlin Cave

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I remember sitting through a lecture some years back about disaster relief and the architects who spring forth to build structures for refugees or displaced folks and being in awe at what amazing solutions the architects came up with. I don't remember the particular architect who was being featured at the time, but I do remember being reminded of a Plato quote my dad uses (and usually butchers) whenever he's attempting to heed my worries: necessity is the mother of invention. I think that quote (thank you, Plato) is exactly it; when the need arises, the innovation has to be there (it just has to be). Before you continue, I suggest you read this wonderful short story on invention.

Let's take a look at Hurricane Katrina and the demand it placed on quick thinking (for many things) but especially housing for the many people displaced by the storm. Daniel Libeskind, a fairly eccentric and well-known architect (and also thee architect who has designed the Freedom Tower at ground zero) designed a 580-square-foot house "with two small bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and possibly a veranda." Additionally, the price of building the tiny house was estimated at $3,700 or less and could be built in about two weeks. What Libeskind designed was a way to give the people who had lost their homes homes again, not trailers, motel rooms or cruise ship rooms.

Another architect who presented relief ideas for Katrina is Sean Godsell, who has designed temporary housing out of shipping containers; he calls them Future Shacks. Godsell designed the housing to be appropriate for nearly any disaster in the world - flood, fire, earthquake, typhoon, refugee housing, etc. The Future Shack is built out of a 20-foot shipping container that is readily available, inexpensive, and durable. Even better is that the unit is self-contained and can be assembled in 24 hours.


godsell1.jpg


These examples of disaster relief architecture provide a tremendously humbling example of how designers, through innovation, can benefit society at large. Personally, I've struggled with the thought that I am merely a designer and that I cannot make an impact other than through good design. However, I think it's seeing examples like these ones that remind me that socially, I can do anything that I put my mind to. Certainly we all have to make money with our day jobs, but with a little ingenuity (i.e. innovation) designers can make a difference by stepping up and out of our comfort zones and doing what we're good at, for the good of others. The architects I spoke of above were not schooled in the way of relief housing. Nobody pulled Sean aside and said, "look, look at that shipping container, you could make a house out of that," they didn't read it in a book, they simply saw an opportunity to use their creative minds and their resource of education and experience to impact the way society can expect to experience disaster relief - and, compassion.

Final word from Sean Godsell:
"As architects in stable democracies our responsibilities are reasonably clear cut. Our role in those societies where freedom has been ripped away by force, or where nature has devastated whole cities, or when generations of minority groups have been forced into a life of poverty because of a political philosophy, is hazy by comparison. The need 'to house'... offers architects the opportunity to provide shelter for fellow human beings in need."

As I dove into researching affordable yet environmental design, I was skeptical. Generally speaking in my experience I have found that "going green" always tends to need more green than not. In other words, if I want to buy organic food, it's more expensive, if I want to buy environmentally friendly light bulbs, they're more expensive, if I want to print on environmentally friendly paper with soy-based inks, it's more expensive. In my eyes, I couldn't see how environmental and affordable could be in the same sentence in respect to design. But then I found these images from oddee.com.

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"World Wildlife Fund ad campaign: As the paper towel dispenser is slowly emptied of its green paper towels, we see the greenness slowly drained out of South America, symbolizing the nasty environmental impact of disposable paper towels."



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"This eco-ad utilizes the movement of shadows on a billboard to demonstrate how global warming will lead to rising water levels with a shaped canopy and the shifting sun."


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"Prolam Y&R , Santiago produced this large-scale billboard showing refugees fleeing from a flood in Asia, with dozens of air conditioners peeping out from a refurbished building. It was produced to raise conscience regarding global warming. The line " El aire que enfría tu hogar, calienta el mundo" (THE AIR THAT COOLS YOUR HOME HEATS UP THE WORLD), was used to help convey that climate change is also due to excess of carbon dioxide in the air."


I was blown away when I saw them. To me, these images cause me to think outside of the box in a couple of different ways. For one, they show me that as a designer, if I want to design something affordable yet impactful, it has to be a big production. These images show that placement can be just as powerful if not more so than the graphics produced. None of these campaigns would be effective had they been made as a poster. How simple is putting an awning on a billboard and using the resources given by the sun and placement to complete the design? And creating a strategic cutout sends a very powerful message. And in the last image the combination of the image choice, placement, and tagline make it an unforgettable and unavoidable message.

Switching gears now, I researched a little about our precious life-sources, the Mac computer. As designers, the majority of us eat, sleep, and breathe our apple laptops or desktops at work at school and at play. I was curious how environmentally friendly they were. Turns out the MacBooks (including air and pro) are Energy Star qualified. They are also way ahead of the game in informing their clients about their environmentally-mindedness, check out their environment page. I find it extremely interesting that they are up front and honest about their carbon footprint. Statements such as the following surprised me that they would share so truthfully with everyone but also made me respect them that much more. For 2009, we estimate that Apple was responsible for 9.6 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. To me it shows that they are aware of the situation and are going to do something about it as they move forward.

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So what does this have to do with affordability? For one, it means I can keep using my MacBook and feel good knowing it's a green machine. For two it means that the leading companies in the technological world are taking steps towards being more environmentally responsible, which is setting the stage for the rest of the world to follow suite. Once being green is the standard and no longer an alternative option, being green will be much more affordable.

Recyclability | Personal Agenda

If any of you have read my other blogs about recyclability, you will know that I sort of think recycling is mostly hype. Reusing is where it's at. It's where we, as individuals, have the most power to impact the issue of waste and create better lives for ourselves.

Today in class (yes, that's right . . . I'm doing this blog at the very last minute, just hours before it is due) we talked about what kind of monetary compensation we, as designers, can expect in exchange for our amazing design skills. Since I'm pretty sure I'm not the 'superstar' designer that all companies are looking for, I might be offered something around $20k per year for the privilege of working my butt off for an ungodly number of hours per week. Even if I'm working for Duffy (wishful thinking) I'll still have to figure out how to live on that teensy weensy bit of money.

Now, I've been living on a pittance for several years, so I know how to do it, but I have to admit that I haven't been all that creative about it. You come over to my house and you just think "Damn, she's poor." That's all over. I've discovered that with a little creativity, some elbow grease, and a good amount of quirkiness (don't worry, you all qualify) we can live quite stylishly on very little cash-moola-greenbacks. It's all about REUSING!!

Myself, I'm going to start right off by shopping for an old Airstream trailer to make my home, but if mobility isn't a priority for you, the 'Redneck Mansion' might be a great place to settle in and put down some roots.


redneck-mansion.jpg

Furnishing your abode should be no problem: Aluminum cans, cardboard, abandoned shopping carts, and old compact discs with four years of homework assignments (useless for your portfolio) can all be repurposed into seriously chic furniture.

can furniture.jpg
cardboard-furniture.jpg
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For those little touches that make a house a home, check out the
Goddess of Garbage. She can show you how to turn any old piece
of junk into a treasure!


Here are a few of my favorite sites for creative reusing and repurposing:

http://ecoble.com/2008/03/12/10-unusually-creative-ways-to-recycle-ordinary-objects/

http://www.instructables.com/id/Cardboard-shelf-for-groceries/

http://www.re-nest.com/re-nest/creative-reuse/50-creative-reuse-ideas-to-keep-you-busy-this-weekend-122566

http://www.fss.state.mn.us/garagesale.htm

Seeking Pleasure in Environmental Design

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For more than 4,000 years, people have used their outdoor surroundings as a place to relax, enjoy the company of friends, and seek pleasure in the gifts Mother Nature has bestowed. From the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to the Gardens at the Château de Marqueyssac, it is apparent that society has always valued the design of nature for aesthetic purposes.

Persian gardens blossomed out of impossibility in their harsh and arid landscape, while later Egyptian gardens were maintained for secular purposes and for the pleasure of the wealthy to enjoy. Roman gardens served as places of tranquility and refuge from urban life. Japanese gardens were intended to be seen from inside, evoking mountains and rivers with suggestions of water raked into wave patterns on sand. In Byzantine Europe, gardens started to become enclosed spaces, sometimes with scenic views painted on the inside of garden walls. The Italian Renaissance later inspired a wave of private gardening, full of scenes from ancient mythology. The picturesque landscape gardens of England challenged the typical manicured style by valuing the wilder, untamed quality of the natural landscape.

Gardens have since evolved into places where harvesting herbs and vegetables is just as common as sitting and enjoying the colorful view. Also, there are many ways people are trying to bring the outdoors in and the indoors out. Not only is it fashionable to decorate our kitchens with bouquets of flowers and our mantels with preserved animal specimen, but it has also become quite trendy to create outdoor living spaces, with manufacturers creating weather-proof furniture, lighting and kitchen appliances more than ever. With TV shows like The Outdoor Room on HGTV, the idea of having a personalized living space outside is as exciting and accessible as ever. The Cool Hunter is also initiating an interactive exhibition of modern eco tree houses that allow viewers to experience nature while also escaping from the stress of everyday life. This TreeLife exhibition also focuses on sustainable design, which is becoming more apparent it many other fields of design as well.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_gardening

Usability & The Environment | Sarah Schiesser

The S-word. It made its debut among popular culture a while ago, but it seems that nowadays, it's truly everywhere. In a recent article for AIGA, sustainability was referred to as "that word that seeps into everything from annual reports to dinner-time conversation...and seems, at times, unsatisfying blunt or maddeningly evasive." With the bombardment of 'go green' and 'eco-friendly' marketing schemes, the word sustainability seems to have lost some merit among audiences--after all, seeing it on your toilet cleaner, cereal box and sweater label can easily be considered overkill. I like to think of sustainability in the broader sense, not only can the designs we produce be maintained at a certain level but the designs themselves can encompass elements from the environment to reduce waste and production.

As designers our duties entail so much more than purely designing something. Yes, we may have the perfect image, impeccable kerning, and a kickass tagline--but great design encompasses so much more--it's as much about the process as it is about the finished result, it requires concept AND quality production. Unfortunately, more often than not--these elements are not given equal weight in the design process. Students are particularly skilled in the "command+p" mentality--we design, we print, we hand-in. Very little attention is paid to production methods or material selection (in regards to the environment), when in reality these factors are just as important as the colors we choose or the size of our type. To be fair, we are limited by minimal budgets and a lack of resources, but it's important to start considering ALL of the possibilities that design can have. In a world where technology has evened the playing field for creatives--the tools and technology of our trade are accessible to everyone--we often don't take advantage of what's available, especially things within our immediate environment/surroundings.

A recent project by Happiness Brussels (designed by Anthony Burrill in London) has been receiving a lot of attention lately, and for good reason. In an effort to raise money for the Coalition to Restore Louisiana, an organization dedicated to cleaning Louisiana's coastline after the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, a silk-screened poster was produced. Although seemingly simple and straightforward in appearance, the poster's impact comes from the materials used to produce it--collections of oil deposits from Louisiana's shoreline act as the ink in a process that traditionally uses water-based inks. The literal play on words in conjunction with the symbolic use of materials create a powerful juxtaposition that is inherently reliable on the relationship between concept and execution. This is a perfect example of how designers can use their method of production and materials to add a whole other dimension to their work, giving it substance and challenging the way people perceive the issue at hand. Two other powerful examples include the creation of rocking chairs (a symbolic peace sculpture) out of melted guns or commemorative pottery glazed with volcanic ash collected from the Mount St. Helens eruption. The contradiction between material and product is truly beautiful and provides a powerful foundation for discussion, while the concept of reusing materials as a means to produce something completely different is a practice that can yield interesting and innovative results.

OIL & WATER DO NOT MIX from Happiness Brussels on Vimeo.

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peaceart_furniture.jpg

Sources:

Happiness Brussels (Anthony Burrill) http://www.gulfofmexico2010.com/

Hirasuna, Delphine. "The Medium Is the Message" http://www.atissuejournal.com

AIGA. "Reexamining the S Word" http://www.livingprinciples.org/reexamining-the-s-word/

Biodegradable Social Movements - Molly Andrews

| 1 Comment

Disclaimer: This post was written by someone who is feeling very cynical about the state of the world when it comes to the Green Movement.

Tom Friedman talks about the faux green movement, and how nothing will actually change until the movement becomes a revolution, and companies get hurt. He argues that green energy and actions will not become widespread enough for any real difference to occur until regulations and policies are enforced by government that require corporations to budget their use of non-green energy and material. He thinks by simply adding a tax for the use of fossil fuels major change can happen. I agree with this idea, however I think the political system is not currently set up for increased taxes or regulations on corporations. In a Bionomicfuel blog post points out that the impact of individuals transitioning to green lifestyles is marginal, "but when companies get onboard with green policies the impact is tremendous." One of the most important considerations in material production is the pounds of carbon dioxide given off by every pound of plastic while it is breaking down in landfills. Biodegradable plastic produces nearly half the carbon dioxide of conventional plastic.

On the bright side of this there are some companies that are starting to get on board, and designers are helping them do it in a very unique way. This product is mainly biodegradable because of the paper it is made out of, but it is a product that is normally found in plastic. Most dog owners prefer the low tech clean up method of a hand inside of an plastic bag. These cute new poopoo-bags make biodegradable products funny and cool, showing other companies that biodegradable materials don't have to be marketable to only niche green movement consumers.

Thomas Friedman (2008). Hot, Flat, and Crowded. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York. ISBN 978-0-374-16685-4.
http://www.thedieline.com/blog/2008/7/31/poopoo-bags.html
http://www.bionomicfuel.com/companies-go-green-with-biodegradable-packaging/

Disability | The Personal Agenda | Christine Yakshe

The key in designing for disability is the main focus has to be on function. The most important thing is to design something that will make the life of the person with the disability easier. "It is the environment that renders people disabled and not the medical impairments" (Singit).

In the paragraph for the personal agenda in the syllabus, there is talk about addressing the latest trends or using the latest technology. Addressing current trends is not as important as addressing current technology and the basic needs of those with disabilities. As far as design, the truth is that the more simple the design, the better. The easier it is to use or understand, the easier it is for the person with the disability to continue in their daily life with as few bumps in the road as possible.

Disability design does not need to focus on the latest trends as it will most likely be used for a long period of time and needs to stay relevant. For example, the hearing aid which first came out in the 1800s was not designed to follow trends, it was designed to fit into a person's ear and do what it was intended to do (Watson). While over the years, technology has allowed the hearing aid to become smaller, better developed, and more comfortable for the user it has not changed much in terms of appearance. The same thing goes for the wheelchair; there have been a few more modern designs recently including the following but none of them have really gone anywhere or become mainstream.





I think as far as personal preferences in design go it's kind of either way as to whether or not it really matters in bringing that into the design. Obviously because you are designing it there will be some sort of personal influence but it may be best to try and be neutral when designing for disability. The most simplicity and easy of use is the best to make everything easy for the user. It may be difficult to objectively design for others and keep your preferences out of it but that's probably what is most necessary in disability design.

Singit, N. (n.d.). Disability research and design foundation. Retrieved from http://www.drdfonline.org/index.html

Singit, N. (2009). Disability research design foundation blog. Retrieved from http://blog.drdfonline.org/

Watson, S. (n.d.). How hearing aids work. Retrieved from http://health.howstuffworks.com/medicine/modern/hearing-aid6.htm

Poverty | Social | Nahil Khalife

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To discuss poverty in our society, I feel it is important to first take a look at a few, devastating facts. I found these in an article written by Anup Shah, titled "Causes of Poverty."

1. Approximately half the world - around 3 billion people - live on less than $2.50 a day!
2. The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the world's 7 richest people combined. (Shah)
3. 1 billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children in the world). 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, 270 million have no access to health services. 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (or roughly 29,000 children per day). (Shah)

Just imagine being a part of these statistics. Imagine living the lives of these people, going through what they endure each and every day of their lives. We need to think ahead and outside of the box. Go above and beyond. In reality, it IS the small things that make a difference. Martin Fisher, CEO of ApproTEC/KickStart, created a presentation that explains how a design so little, with no significant cost, could change the lives of many poor people living in Sub-Saharan Africa.

He came to the conclusion that the number one need of the poor people is, essentially, the need to make money (Fisher). His presentation showed that the business for the average African, or 80% of the poor in Africa, is farming. Most of the individual farmers still farm using basic techniques such as simple watering buckets to water their crop. Fisher created a simple design that would create a low cost pressure irrigation pump. This pump would not only make farming easier for the laborers, but also create jobs to benefit all of society. KickStart would create the design of the product and set up factories in Africa to manufacture the products. They would then hire train individuals to work those factories, while keeping track of quality control. KickStart would then recruit and train wholesalers as well as retailers. Essentially, this would lead up to a "Super MoneyMaker Pump Supply Chain" where everyone from designer, to manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, and consumer, would end up better off where they began.

When it comes to innovation and thinking of the bigger picture, Fisher's idea of social agenda is one that we should all take into consideration. His simple design, from the beginning of the process to the final use by the consumer, benefited society as a whole. This should be our priority as designers. We live in a world with a juggling economy. Let's figure out how to make things better, and bring this poverty crisis down.


"Causes of Poverty -- Global Issues." Global Issues : Social, Political, Economic and Environmental Issues That Affect Us All -- Global Issues. Web. 09 Nov. 2010 http://www.globalissues.org/issue/2/causes-of-poverty

"Design to End Poverty." Upload & Share PowerPoint Presentations and Documents. Web. 09 Nov. 2010. http://www.slideshare.net/whatidiscover/design-to-end-poverty

Waste | Social | Tarin Gessert

| 1 Comment

A common application of a marketing strategy is what people in the industry call "trinkets and trash." The fact that something you're producing to help promote a product/company/service is referred to as "trash" should probably raise a red flag.

There are many companies that specialize in this form of promotion. So what do they do exactly? They put your logo on stuff.

Screen shot 2010-11-09 at 7.13.04 PM.png

Tangerine Promotions, based out of Chicago, actually does a good job of promoting brands with this method. Their clients include MTV, Smirnoff, Nintendo, Evian, Guiness, and HBO, among others. They claim that their customization goes beyond the ordinary and that they are the right partner for your brand. Tangerine Promotions uses relevant items in connecting their client's brand to their audience (i.e. a jump rope for Nickelodeon, and a vase/urn for Six Feet Under). However, other companies such as www.trinkettrash.com, pretty much create a bunch of waste.

Check out "Mr. Moody" for example. He changes his face from happy, angry, stressed, or surprised -- a perfect desktop companion! How many people do you think actually have a Mr. Moody on their desk? Yeah, it was free, given away at a trade show maybe, but what is the point?

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As designers, we help to create and nurture brands. We come up with marketing applications for the strategy that took months of research to develop, followed by months of creating and refining the design. So what makes people think that putting their logo on lip balm, key chains, or random desktop items is going to help their company? If the application is relevant, it absolutely will. But handing out free things with your logo on it does not mean people are going to understand, like, or be loyal to your brand.

From a social perspective, I feel that including these kind of throwaway applications in a marketing strategy is wasteful. How is it benefiting society as a whole? What is that lip balm, for example, made of? Is it actually good for your lips? How much energy was required to produce it? And what does lip balm have to do with your business?

So in the end, the big question is: what happens to these trinkets? Well, they usually become trash. This is wasteful. Designers, we need to make sure that the applications of our marketing strategies reflect the company we are working for, as well as benefit society. There is no need for many of these items to even exist. Let's leave the organic lip balm making to companies who specialize in this, not to a business that sells in recycled paper products and knows nothing about lip balm.

http://www.trinkettrash.com/hotitems/
http://www.tangerinepromotions.com/

Communication | Personal | Lindsey Ostby

| 2 Comments

When I think about the role that communication plays in my personal life, I think about the impact that design and technology have on this relationship. I think about how communication design has changed throughout my life and how it will continue to change in the future. Early on in my life, communication by use of the Internet was very new and not as essential in my lifestyle as it is now. At the time, MSN Messenger, was one of the only social distractions in my life. That, and my Hotmail account. For me, it was the beginning of this idea of being connected to someone without actually having to talk to him or her on my home phone or in person. I got my first cell phone when I was 16. It was a simple design, only used for phone calls and the few amount of text messages that I could send each month.

As I reflect on my interactions with these designed things, I realize that it was just the beginning of the way I would communicate in my life now. During the time I have been writing this blog post, I have checked my e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, went on YouTube, etc., both on my now updated touch-screen cell phone and my one-year-old MacBook. My ability to communicate through these designed objects and interfaces have practically changed the way I function and live. And it will continue to change the role it plays in my life as long as technology and communication keep on advancing. So now the question to ask is how will communication be present in our lives in the future?

I found an interesting YouTube video of a presentation that Microsoft created which demonstrates their vision for the future by the year 2019.

I found their future ambitions very intriguing, causing me to imagine how this would affect the way I will use communication in my life in less than ten years. What I found even more interesting was the parody video that came up after I watched this one. This next video allowed me to think about the effect of what this future might hold.

I understand that this video is probably making fun of Microsoft and their ability to actually make this a reality, but I found that some of the points made were extremely thought provoking. For example, the idea of having mental implants allowing us to see hallucinating icons or the idea of a newspaper crashing or getting a virus. Which brings me to my point that we heavily rely on these designed objects to communicate with each other and within our lives. I am not saying that I don't think we should design these interfaces, but we have to understand that we have adapted to them. If I can honestly say that the role of communication in my life is dependent on these innovations, how is this going to affect us ten years from now? We will never really be able to fully answer these questions until we experience it, but looking back at the trend over the years, it is worth thinking about.


"Microsoft's Future Vision 2019." YouTube. 01 Mar. 2009. Web. 09 Nov. 2010. .
"Microsoft's Vision of the Future (Parody)." YouTube. 19 May 2009. Web. 09 Nov. 2010. .

Another interesting article:
http://www.futurist.com/2008/01/15/the-future-of-communication-and-conversation/

Competitiveness | Personal Agenda | Allison Hall

As we all know, graphic design is a relatively new career field to be in. Perhaps it would be better to say that graphic design as we know it now is a new vocation to have. Even with our current advanced technology helping us design at fast speeds and in high quality, things are constantly changing. What's popular this year may not be popular two years from now. Keeping up with design trends could shoot us forward from being just another designer, to being a valuable employee. Ultimately, it is one of the many ways for us as individuals to stay competitive in the graphic design world. It's our personal responsibility to educate ourselves and stay in the loop.

Knowing what's in style in terms of color, layout, typography, etc. is vital to actively participate in brainstorming and ideation for a project. This is also important in communicating with clients and those above you; understanding references and comparisons while trying to imitate a style or feeling in design helps avoid confusion and promote efficiency in completing a project. Therefore, on a larger scale, being aware of what's going on in the graphic design world will help the company you're working for stay competitive in the market, which in turn makes you a competitive designer in the field.

Fortunately, we can depend on the Internet to inform us of design trends before we get into the work force. Can you imagine trying to appear knowledgeable in an interview without being able to look at the company's website to see their portfolio, or using the Google machine to inform yourself on what's new in graphic design? The tool is there, so we need to use it. Here are some fun articles and sites I came across that talk a bit how to keep up with design trends (first link) and some professional designers' opinions on current trends (second link).

http://bannersgraphics.com/keeping-up-with-the-graphic-design-trends/

http://www.littleboxofideas.com/blog/features/designers-predict-design-trends-for-2010-part-i

Looking at company's portfolios, personal portfolios and keeping up with design blogs can give you an idea of what's out there and what's the topic of conversation. This is one such blog, who happened to post on logo trends for 2010. An interesting highlight on this blog: "One should not follow trends for the sake of following them." I think part of being a good, and competitive, designer is knowing when to follow a trend, and when to take a risk and go outside the box. So, step one is being familiar with what's trendy. Step two is deciding if and when the style should be used.

We all need to take a personal responsibility in educating ourselves as we prepare for the real world of design. If we do so, our portfolio will obviously be better and we will be able to talk about our work in a professional way... but once we get that job we want, the potential to become a valuable designer who can contribute to concepting and developing of a design/idea is much higher.

Quantity-Environmental-Michelle Haga

| 2 Comments

In my last blog, I talked about people expecting cheap goods. Now, I would like to discuss the impact that these cheap goods have on the environment. Often, reusable goods are bought because the consumer feels like they are making a difference for the earth. It's not that I think reusable good are a complete waste, I just think people need to stop buying stupid shit.

environmental-awareness-posters-03.png

Let me explain. People tend to purchase goods because of impulse and desire; this leads people to purchasing junk. Junk is merely cheap trash. I can't say that it's meaningless because people become attached to purchases. Nonetheless, people with some money freedom often feel the need to express their success through products. They see it, they want, and then they buy it only to toss it once they realize the product has little purpose.

People are buying tons of products they don't need. For example, people often have several different types of reusable bottles, typically for water or coffee/tea. But with design rising, people also have tons of choices for the shape of the bottle and the surrounding designs. Can't decide; buy them both. Yes, these are reusable products, but there comes a point where the mass amounts of reusable products that are produced can lead to tremendous amount of waste. Here is a comparison of reusable bottles according to ban the bottle.

Plastic
Are the cheapest and simplest to clean, and come in a variety of colors and shapes.
Are not safe for hot liquids or microwaves, and can taste like plastic.

Stainless Steel
Are durable, lightweight, high-quality design, and there are no plastic toxins to worry about.
May dent, has a possible metallic taste, and can heat up in the summer temperatures.

Aluminum
Lightweight and trendy.
Possible BPA liner, dents easily, can be difficult to clean, and the construction isn't always legitimate.

Glass
No odd tastes, easy to dispose of, and production is easier on the environment
Is fragile and heavy.

I'll use myself as an example; I first bought a plastic reusable bottle and then found out about the BPA in plastic, so I bought the "better" Nalgene bottle only to later buy the aluminum bottle because I thought it was now the safest. Now, I've not only wasted my money, but there is still the plastic and toxins in the environment.

If people truly want to make less of an impact on the environment they should be content with the simple things in life. Using one mug for all their drinks is a feasible option if you are willing to lose the usability and luxury that comes along with the reusable bottles. This does not go to say that reusable bottles are bad, it's still much better than purchasing disposable bottles every day; I'm just pointing out that as a consumer society we are extremely wasteful even when we try to be "green". As it turns out this is actually more a problem of how society functions in their purchasing patterns. Something I will further discuss in my next blog.


Poster: http://blog.uprinting.com/16-environmental-awareness-posters-advertisements/

Green + Blue = A clear cyan sky | Quang Dao

| 1 Comment

APPEAL | ENVIRONMENTAL

GREEN and BLUE, the two pivotal components that make up our planet. Water and trees are indeed powerful and indispensable resources for us to sustain and maintain life on Earth. But what good can we get, if we keep using our resources without conserving or protecting it from excessive usage. How much is enough? In the past few years, we start to see more eco-sustainable products being introduced to the market. Eco-friendly products that are compostable, reusable, and made out of recycled materials are gaining more favorite in the market place as the "green" movement quickly spreads across the globe. Many major corporate decided to join in the ongoing 3R movement,"Reduce, Reuse, Recycle". It's a win-win situation for both sides. Companies can expand their customer base by offering more eco-friendly products that contribute to the conservation of resources and environment. On the other side, customers have more variety of sustainable products for a cleaner and healthier lifestyle.

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Target is one of the leading companies that are very active in the eco-friendly movement. In the article "On Target: Eco-Friendly", Megan McLaughlin said, "Now, everyone's favorite [Target], trendy, cost-effective and convenient department store is offering an array of Eco-friendly products. Still affordable and smarter than ever, Target has been turning very greener every chance it gets." I think her observation is true. Target is on "target" to expand their eco-friendly product lines into more household categories that their customers would want to buy, such as home essentials, kitchen and dining, apparel and gear, etc. Target really tries to push their effort to understand what their consumers need and want from the company. For instance, consumers may find bedding accessories that are made of natural materials, bamboo and 100% organic cotton. Target also didn't forget about the appeal factor in their products. Many of their products are well designed and have nice packaging yet still economic and sustainable. For instance, the bamboo sheet sets are made from 100% bamboo fibers that were proven to "wick away moisture, block bacteria growth and are comfortable for people with night sweats." (Alter 2007) Going green without breaking a sweat.

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Eco-friendly outdoor living products designed by MIO, which is known for its green design of sustainable, functional items. Target


Along with the go-green movement, the DIY (Do It Yourself) movement is also beocming more popular. It's evident that more people start making and using their own stuff. People bring their own reusable bag to groceries stores, instead of using the plastic bags. More stainless steel water bottles are being sold, it's economic, logical, and eco-friendly in comparison to buying bottled water every time. Consumers these days are becoming more conscious of the environment issues. Hence, it's very applausable that major companies are actually making efforts to help conserve the environment. It takes every single brick to build a wall of trust.

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In this clip, Dianna Cohen was trying to persuade the audience that they should adopt a fourth "R" to go along with the old "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle", which is REFUSE. Her main point is to get people to avoid buying products that are packaged in plastic, so we can help cut down the plastic waste that the packages produce, which is heavily damaging our eco system. She also said, "In the United States, less than 7% of our plastics are being recycled." It is indeed a humongous waste of resource if we keep discarding plastic packaging, but instead we should use more recycled and renewable materials.


Sources:
http://greenupgrader.com/13228/the-scourge-of-single-use-plastic-and-what-you-can-do/
http://greenornot.experience.com/2009/08/on-target-eco-friendly.html
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/01/bamboo_sheets_k.php

'Status' and the 'Personal Agenda'

"The Personal Agenda Creating personally desirable design work is about fulfilling the dreams and desires of the individual consumer. Graphic designers are often asked to address the latest trends or use the latest technology. Pressure comes from end-users and their peers, driven by ever-changing fashions in consumer culture. These issues are also dictated by the form and function of the design work- an instruction manual for a mobile phone will be different from its marketing campaign or its onscreen interface. But designers also bring their own personal preferences and often find it hard to objectively design for others."

-syllabus

I'd like to address this statement, and use it as a segue for the body of this post. First, I don't agree with the first sentence: "Creating personally desirable design work is about fulfilling the dreams and desires of the individual consumer." Rather, creating successful design work is about fulfilling the dreams and desires of the individual consumer. We can all agree that pleasing the client/consumer is paramount in what we do: it keeps our bills paid and our mouthes fed. So does working for minimum wage in data entry. So does delivering pizza. So does babysitting. My point? There's more to it than that. Yes, creating personally desirable work is about 'fulfilling the dreams and desires of the individual consumer' - but that's only part of it. It's also about creating work you can stand by, work that you're proud to show to friends and colleagues. I think we're all smart enough to realize that there will be times when we love our work and our client hates it, just as there will be times when we hate our work and our client loves it - it's the way of things.

So now that we have a stronger grasp on what the 'personal agenda' is, how can we relate that to design? I think it may be the easiest to take a few steps back, look at the 'status' of design as a whole. Where is it, where is it going, what's big, and - perhaps most importantly - do you care, and if so then how much?

Take a peak at people trying to predict color trends in 2011:

http://www.linkedin.com/answers/marketing-sales/graphic-design/MAR_GRD/637948-66732495">

It's more entertaining to read than anything else - it seems to be a mix of people convinced they know, and other people making fun of them. If I was forced to use a palette that was less coherent with a design only because the alternative would appease a client because it was 'more trendy,' my pride in that work would go down. That being said, I would accept my paycheck with a smile all the same.

On the flip side, mobile applications and the ever-changing 'internet' have taken over design. They're here to stay, and what once was 'hot' is now cemented into the very definition of design - it's a case by case senario.

Now, lets scope in to a specific client, going after a specific competitor who's current branding and voice is more trendy.

6a00d8341c51c053ef0120a4f4b7e6970b.jpg

6a00d8341c51c053ef0120a4f4b7fc970b.jpg

These are back from 2009. I don't think anybody needs to be reminded what happened in 2010....

http://www.makeyourowngaplogo.com/">

So what if this IS what the Gap, YOUR CLIENT, asked for, following the trends of another contender? What if this is exaclty what they wanted? At least for me, that's not enough to put this work inline with my own 'personal agenda.' Rather, it's just bad.

But I'd still take the check.

Inspiration | Finance | Matt Pabich

| 1 Comment

I wasn't sure how I was going to connect these two thoughts for this blog post today, but then I began thinking about what (for the most part) what the end result of a project is: a finished graphic design piece and a paycheck. I started to wonder how the two were connected in terms of inspiration. Do the number on the paycheck affect the quality of the design. In other words does the price tag or budget attached to a design inspire better or worse design?
I feel like this can go so many ways; first I will play the con game. And say no, the budget doesn't affect the design. Good design is good design. It would be to say that a client who can't afford a project that would cost an insane amount wouldn't get your quality work. It is more a reflection of your character; and would reflect poorly upon you. Not to mention that it wouldn't be in your best interest at all to do low quality work, why wouldn't you do a your best design regardless the price tag. Money doesn't do the inspiring it merely set the parameters for what materials you can use and perhaps a timeline.
Now and the other side, I would say that 'yes' design is affected/inspired by budget and your paycheck. One way that I think it does in a big way is what the budget allows as far as materials go. Using French paper for a program versus using Office Max's card stock is going to make a large difference in the choices you make for colors, and how the ink goes onto the paper. Can you afford to have the business cards letter pressed? No, ok well maybe we need to pick a different typeface then. It is simple, but ultimately I think that we are inspired by finance when it comes to design. I don't think it is a bad thing at all, but something to be aware of.

Check out these links on costs of production and maybe comment on how you think they could inspire/affect your design:

250 sheets of 80lb. 8.5" x 11"
Smart White French Paper
$33.75 (plus shipping and handling)

Click Here

250 sheets of 80lb. 8.5" x 11"
Boise HD:P Color Copy Laser Paper
Available at Office Max
$14.99

Click Here

I think that it mostly comes down to the name you are attaching to it. Saying that you printed it on French paper instead of Office max may be worth 20 bucks to someone and in a similar way to use French or Office Max may inspire someone differently.

Kelly Grahn | Copyright | Environmental

| 3 Comments

Cargill-1000-300x225.jpg Before the advent of genetically modified crops, an entity could not own a variety of plant. A person might be very good at growing tomatoes, for example, and cultivate the tomatoes over time to be the best and brightest tomatoes in the land, but end the end they didn't own tomato seeds. If they sold their perfect tomato to another person, who then planted it, the original tomato-grower could not sue the buyer for tomato infringement. It sounds silly to even think about.

Today, you can get sued for tomato infringement. You can also be sued for corn infringement and wheat infringement, if the variety you are using is genetically modified and you haven't paid the license to plant that crop. For example, let's say you are a farmer who is growing corn. You plant your field of non-genetically-modified corn next to your neighbor's field of genetically-modified corn. The next year, because of cross-pollination from your neighbor's farm, you are growing some corn that is genetically modified. The seed company comes to check that you are not using their seed illegally (which they do check for frequently), and they notice that you are using "their" plants and proceed to sue you. They are a large corporation and you are a tiny farmer. They win.

Another consequence of the copyright of plants is about the genetic diversity of a species. "In the last few decades F-1 hybrids, which are simply the first generation produced by the crossing of two plant varieties, have become the stock in trade of the commercial seed industry, and they are gradually crowding traditional "open pollinated" varieties (ones pollinated by bees, birds or wind instead of plant geneticists) out of the marketplace" (Pollan). Most domesticated plants cannot survive without humans constantly planting them, and thus die out. Less variety means there is less genetic diversity in a plant species. Let's say there are corn varieties A-Z, but the major commercial seed producers only sell A, D, and Y. Gradually, A, D, and Y dominate over all other varieties. This is bad because if a disease or insect comes that A, D, and Y are weak to, the plant species is in danger of dying out. Perhaps varieties B, C, F, G-M, were resistant, but because they are no longer available, their distinctiveness is loss. A loss of genetic diversity is a huge handicap for the survival of a species.

Should there be more oversight in this field? Can companies really own a patent on a living species? These important questions require careful thought.


Pollan, By Michael. "The Seed Conspiracy." Michael Pollan. Web. 09 Nov. 2010. .

"Cargill." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 09 Nov. 2010. .

"The Codex, Fluoride, Auschwitz, Monsanto Connection." Farm Wars. Web. 09 Nov. 2010. .

Playground Innovations - Renée LaViolette

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The class talked last time about wheelchair accessibility and it got me thinking about the children in wheelchairs. How do they have fun watching other children running around, kicking balls, jumping rope, and playing tag on the playground? I realized that when I was growing up, playgrounds were not wheelchair-friendly. I decided to look and see what kind of progress was being made through design innovations.

Playgrounds are a large part of any school. Recess consists of running around outside and climbing on the jungle gym. But what do children in wheelchairs do? Companies are designing new playgrounds that are wheelchair accessible... or so they think. I found a video that shows an accessible playground with a child in a wheelchair testing it out. His mom is pushing him up the large ramp (and she doesn't look happy, mind you) all the way to the top. To me, wheelchair accessible means a child is able to get himself/herself up and around the play set. This child had to be pushed instead of being able to do it himself. I find the design really disappointing. There was no easy way for the boy to play with the other equipment around him. It just didn't seem right. While it is a small step in the right direction, I feel these designs still need improvement.

I found another video showing a new feature that can be added to any playground - the Sway Fun (video tab is on the left of the page under the photo). It's a large platform with seats on two sides and a table to hold on to in the middle. Children move it by moving back and forth using momentum. It seems like a silly idea until you see the video. Every single child is happy. There is a boy in a wheelchair that is having the time of his life. What is especially great about this new ride is that any child could ride it with their friends or parents. Toddlers can easily hop on with a parent, and it's big enough that a parent can be seated comfortably. Children with or without a wheelchair really enjoy it. To me, this is what good design is all about

The park by my grandma's house installed an accessible swing. What always confused me was that it didn't have any kind of harness to keep the child in. What if the child was paralyzed from the neck down? They are not able to hold themselves in. I did some research and came upon a much better design. Like a rollercoaster, this swing has a large safety harness. It's easy to get in and out, with or without help. I think these designs are progressing more towards a friendly environment for disabled children.

Space Efficiency (Environmental Agenda) by Lauren Maus

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Environmentally responsible design is important in every aspect of our lives. A huge part of this is how we use our space. I read a recent article that wrote about how for the first time, 50% of the world's population lives in cities (http://www.unfpa.org/pds/urbanization.htm). This incredible urbanization is something that we all need to deal with, as there becomes less and less space.

In Midwestern America, this isn't something most of us had really ever had to experience. I remember for the first time my family had an international visitor stay at our home for a few months. Shino was from Japan, and this was her first time to the US. We have a four bedroom home, and so I took her to our guest room in our basement, and she immediately went to open the closet door because she thought that is where she was staying. The guest room was so overwhelmingly large to her that she couldn't believe the whole space was hers. In most areas of Asia, many people live in homes less than 400 sq feet.
Because of the environment I come from, I am used to a lot of space. Living in the place I do now, it's too big for me and I have a difficult time with upkeep. It's really just inefficient, and a lot of space goes unused. I think this is fairly common in our culture, particularly in the area I come from--Suburbia, the urban sprawl.

I came across this article last year (http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/01/domestic-transformer.php) and was reminded of it for this blog post. It intrigued me then, by the simplicity of its design and the pure efficiency of it. The article is about architect Gary Chang, who lives in a 300 sq foot apartment in Hong Kong and his excellent design solution on how to deal with his small space, and squeeze as much out of it as possible. If you watch the following video, you can see it at work: http://www.noob.us/miscellaneous/24-rooms-packed-into-one-tiny-room/. I felt like his design was great design because great design really is utilitarian in nature. It solves a problem and answers a question clearly, concisely and beautifully. His solution really made me think about space and how it is used, and how design can be applied to fix valid issues in the world.

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When it comes to the world of design, it is important to own your personal style, tastes, and judgments. While working with clients, it can get harder and harder to own up to your personal beliefs and tell the client "no" when they ask for something absurd. I'm sure many of you out there have visited the blog, Clients From Hell, where some of the crazies questions, demands, and situations of designer-client relations have been documented. While it is amusing reading them from the outside, it is important to think about what you would do in some of those situations. Would you cave and give the client what they want? Would you try to persuade them to your point of view? Or if they are still stubborn, will you have the nerve to drop them all together?

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While working with a client, there will be many times that you have to sacrifice some of your perfect design to satisfy the (what you believe is) unintelligent requests of your client. Maybe its that they want a different background color, or they want to change the wording of a certain phrase, sometimes you just have to do it. In an article by Dennis Kardys called "Give the Client What They Want," he explains that it can be hard to make changes you don't fully believe in, "you've poured passion and problem solving into a design which is both well thought out and remarkably tasteful [...] and there is a pride of ownership that goes along with that." But, he also asks you, "how drastic is their request? What would the actual consequences of implementing those requests be? [...] Client involvement is part of the web design process. In order for the project to be deemed successful, designers need to be able to objectively listen to the client, and give them something they want." Sometimes you need to pick your battles. In the real world of design, when you have a client who's paying you, sometimes you have to drop your personal ownership and do what they think they want. Of course there are times though, if you feel a bit more strongly, you can try to persuade the client.

Clients will always have, to us, silly opinions and requests. Again in Karbys article, he emphasizes that "it's really important to be able to communicate the rationale of your design decisions to the client." Even if the client already agrees with your decisions, they should understand the thought behind it. But it is even more important that they clearly understand why you did something if they are asking you to change it. You, as the designer, need to take ownership of your design and personal decisions and stand up for them. Explain to the client why you believe in your choice, don't argue, blame, or get upset, first try to be rational about things. In the end, its your work, and your name is attached to it, you need to be able to own that design. Karbys makes a good point when he states, "blaming an ineffective website on the result of poor decision-making by a difficult client, will not change the fact that ultimately you build ineffective and unusable sites." In some cases though, when a client is truly unruly or difficult, you may need to take complete ownership of yourself as a designer, and drop the project or client all together.

Being proud of your skills and owning your work can sometimes call for firing a client completely. In an article by Doc4 Design, an ad agency in Arkansas, called "Live to Design Another Day: Know When it's Time to Fire a Client," Doc4 explains that "an extremely successful businessman once told me that if you begin to compromise work, prices and time for clients, then the reputation and credibility of your company is lost, and for a design agency this is everything." This is especially true for freelance designers as well. Your work, time, and prices are everything, and clients will often try to take advantage of you if they can. The blog, and now book, Clients From Hell is filled with stories of clients trying to get out of paying full price, insisting on poor design requests, and devaluing design, and if you are faced with a client like this, you may need to end business with them. If a client compromises your design too much, that can also be reason to end business. Doc4 explains in the article a situation where the client had so many changes to a design, they hardly recognized it anymore. They stated that, "to put it simply, we were embarrassed to have our name associated with the project. So, if you have to sacrifice your integrity to please a client, they should be fired, because the success or failure of the project will ultimately fall on your shoulders." As I explained before, you need to get your clients to understand your rationale and justify your design; sure you can let things slide, but not so much that the design isn't yours anymore.

Keeping ownership of your personal design opinions, judgments, and skills can be a sticky situation with some clients. I know I've already dealt with some similar situations as those on the Clients From Hell blog. I've had bosses take advantage of free labor from an intern, I've had clients pay me far too little for the work I was producing, and I've had some requests that really compromised my design. In all of these situations I've slowly learned when to stand up for myself, and even when to fire the client or quit. As I mature as a designer, I am gaining more and more confidence in my skills and in standing my ground, and only regret that I didn't take a stand sooner in some cases. In the end, Karbys puts it well when he says, "be flexible and accommodating when it comes to matters of personal taste. Be firm in your objections to demands that reduce the effectiveness of the design or impede usability."

Quality and the Social Agenda

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eames.jpg
You'll have to forgive me for returning to furniture in yet another blog post, but serendipity led me back to it. So far I have discussed quality in the same way that Ray Eames talks about at the right -- quality that makes an object work well and last. However, there's another possible definition for quality. The New Oxford dictionary gives the second definition of quality as "a distinctive attribute or characteristic possessed by someone or something." I think both are important to consider when examining quality in the social sphere.

In the first sense of the word, I think most of us would place a high importance on quality. One of my professors, synthesizing statements made by Charles Eames in an interview, defined design as "an expression of a need." I think both of ideas make very profound claims concerning the relationship between design and quality in the social sphere. Perhaps some people today would consider the Eames couple to be excessively dogmatic concerning their opinions on the role of design, but their assertions convey very clearly a sense that they believed work should be done for the benefit of society and individuals. They wanted their work to be high-quality. This type of quality is important because it means the designed object serves a purpose, functions well, and is lasting. I think many designers would be in agreement with working for the benefit of society, but equally as many would have serious reservations about Ray's claim to the superiority of practicality over beauty.

The second definition of quality seems to fall in opposition to Ray's statement. Rather than asking, "how good is it?" it asks, "what is it like?" Even though it's the same word, suddenly the focus is no longer on the object's integrity, but instead the object's style. Style plays a significant role in the social agenda as well. It's important because "style is so compelling ... [and] can tell us a lot about which values and concerns have the most powerful emotional significance. Style tells more about people's attitudes towards things than about the things themselves" (Cranz, 1998, p. 68-69). Like it or not, style is important in commerce because it offers individuals an opportunity to define themselves. The simple act of purchasing a Coke instead of Pepsi is, in a way, identifying with a certain group.

However, these two aspects of quality can sometimes seem at odds. The realm of furniture can be used as an example. Over the past several years, furniture manufacturers have gone through great trouble to try and create chairs, desks and other work furnishings that are high-quality (in the first sense of the word). They have tried to design objects that improve both individuals' health and productivity. This helps the worker as well as the company they work for, so in a sense it benefits society as a whole. However, in the home, furnishings seem to have very little thought given to how they impact our bodies when sitting. Instead, there has been greater energy invested in the stylistic differentiation between one couch and another, this chair and that one.

When it comes to personal objects, it appears that "style eclipses physiology -- as paper covers rock" (Cranz, 1998, p. 67). However, I don't think this has to be the case. The Roman architect Vitruvius separated the essential qualities of objects into "'firmness, commodity, and delight,' that is, construction, social purpose, and aesthetics" (Cranz, 1998, p. 71-72). I think that this is a helpful way for designers to approach a problem or a need. Objects can be both lasting and socially beneficial, although the intersection of those two may not be the most apparent solution at first. I think by keeping in mind both definitions of quality and Vitruvius' elements, designers can reach more holistic solutions to design problems. That said, there might be some limitations. I would be hard-pressed to design a supercar that is affordable, efficient, and fantastical.


Sources
Image above.

Cranz, G. (1998). The chair: Rethinking culture, body, and design. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Distribution -- Social Agenda -- Sarah Even

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Distribution and the Social Agenda
-Sarah Even

A newer product that Kleenex released early in 2010 is their disposable hand towels. Each box is around $3.50 and has 60 sheets. In one woman's review of the product she mentions that her family of four used one box up in 5 days. She said it was a nice option to have for messy children, but that it wasn't really that cost effective. At a rate of 5 days usage per box, her family would use about 6 boxes a month at a cost of $21. For a year's worth of disposable Kleenex hand towels it would cost them $252.

I think Kleenex is being a bit socially irresponsible here. Their method of distributing these hand towels is not eco-friendly. Even providing these sheets on a roll instead of nicely cut sheets would cut production waste and energy. But who would want some big, ugly paper towel holder attached to the bathroom wall? Oh, did I mention they are made out of 100% virgin fibers so that they are soft enough to use on your face? I was just appalled that they actually thought this was a good idea. The only way I'd even consider using this product is if it were made from recycled goods--which isn't even all that environmentally friendly either. For a company like Kleenex, which has become a generic trademark for the word tissue, coming out with such a socially irresponsible product is a big deal. Consumers think, if Kleenex made it, it must be good. Because they trust their tissue product, they trust their new hand towels as well.

Perhaps every person in your family could have their own hand towel that is washed (using environmentally friendly detergent) once a week. That way, the only germs you'd be picking up are your own. Also, isn't the idea of washing hands that they are clean afterwards? This idea is outrageous to me. At a rate of $252 a year, it would be more financially possible to purchase a hand dryer that could be used for years. Now they are made to use very little electricity too. You can buy one on Amazon.com for $40, $350, or even $1,400. Check it out here

In the end, I think companies need to really think out the possible harmful effects of their work. Did Kleenex really think about and plan for the possibilities of the new hand towels? Did they consider all the waste that would be created? Is this a product we really need? When a new idea or product is created, we should all take a step back and consider the method of distribution, production, and the degree of need that the product has. Always consider, "is there a better way?"


Kleenex's site

A Mom's review

"Hand Towel Dispenser Views | Decorative Hand Towels | Home & Bath." Kleenex® Brand Tissues | The Leader in Facial Tissue Softness. Web. 08 Nov. 2010. .

Ice, Danelle. "Take It or Leave It: Kleenex Hand Towels - Home Ever After." Home Ever After. 1 Sept. 2010. Web. 08 Nov. 2010. .

Returnability (reusability) | Personal | Lisa Hocraffer

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Reuse is a personal decision, but one that affects all of society. Consumers have to be willing to work harder and spend more to purchase products that last longer. Most people who do not use reusable products or recycle don't do this because it is inconvenient (Schiller, 2010). To change this cycle, designers and manufacturers need to give consumers the facts by creating commercials, advertisements, and point-of-purchase displays that demonstrate the annual personal savings from using reusable items. This campaign could also describe the average annual waste from specific non-reusable items per consumer. As designers, we need to motivate people to use sustainable practices. We need to make reuse personal to consumers. That is the only way to make a permanent change. As designers we need to hold ourselves personally accountable for the projects we work on and the designs we make.3-plastic-cup-earrings.jpg

        As a society, we need to make reusability easier. One way of doing this is by expanding local reuse programs. College campuses are particularly suited to broader reusability programs. Every year around move in and move out there are staggering amounts of useable furniture, appliances, and school supplies that are thrown away, abandoned, or left to be ruined in the rain. A little known reusability program at the U of M works to solve this problem. MIMO, the Como-area free store, operates during the months surrounding the start of fall and the end of spring semester. MIMO takes in furnishings, keeping them safe from the elements, and provides a place for students to come and get furnishings for free. MIMO builds on the idea of thrift stores and second-hand boutiques, which are another great option for reusing items.

         Thrift stores and second-hand boutiques provide an affordable way to practice 4-shirt.jpgreusability and still have new things, or at least things that are new to you. The popularity of vintage clothing has made thrift stores a trendy place to shop. This image shift is making reuse fashionable and sustainable. Concepts like this make reusability an issue people can get on embrace.

         Some designers have made themselves personally responsible for combining reusability and fashion, bringing this topic into focus for consumers and adding credibility to reuse. Elizabeth Seward works to bring reusability into fashion by writing Do-It-Yourself directions for the greenplanet.com website. Some examples of her ideas include making earrings from plastic cups, jazz up an old shirt, or make lip gloss from beets. Reusability doesn't have to be hard, which is why designers need to make it a personal goal to do to make sustainability more reachable.2-lipgloss-319.jpg
         Reuse--personal yes, but key to helping to prudently use the world's resources. As designers, we have the opportunity to serve as leaders in helping make the world a better place through reuse by helping consumers make that personal decision.


Works Cited


The Como green village. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://sites.google.com/a/comogreenvillage.info/como-green-village/Home/waste-reduction.

Schiller, Ashley. (2010). Why people don't recycle. Retrieved from http://earth911.com/news/2010/10/25/why-people-dont-recycle/.

Seward, Elizabeth. (2009, June 26). Diy tinted beet lip gloss [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://planetgreen.discovery.com/fashion-beauty/homemade-beet-lipgloss.html.

Seward, Elizabeth. (2009, June 30). Make your own t-shirt: empire waist with a personal touch [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://planetgreen.discovery.com/fashion-beauty/tshirt-empire-waste.html.

Seward, Elizabeth. (2009, July 1). Reuse those plastic cups as earrings [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://planetgreen.discovery.com/fashion-beauty/plastic-cup-earrings.html.

Convenience - Personal Agenda - Manon Ibes

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In my previous posts I've considered how designers should consider convenience in terms of their audiences and their clients. This post is going to take a different approach and discuss some developments, specifically in the online and technology sectors, that are making designers' lives easier and the design process more convenient.

The "digital age" and increasing technological advances are making design easier. Designers can go online at any time of the day and get inspiration, advice, and assistance on almost any topic. Designers use the web and social media to connect with and support each other. This support ranges from design strategy suggestions, like this info-graphic designed to help designers determine the best font style for a project (created by Julian Hansen, and posted at Inspiration Lab) to free stock art and vectors that cut down on the amount of time needed to create a design, like this collection of 60 free vector packs for design professionals, (from vector tuts+: ). In addition to free files and design advice, there are also tutorials for almost any technique imaginable, which in addition to adding convenience, can also save money because they cut down on the need for expensive tutorial books that are outdated every time Adobe puts out a new Creative Suite edition.

Designers are also using the Internet to form communities and foster relationships among themselves. Designers can use each other as inspiration and give encouragement to each other by acknowledging great designs online: I have recently discovered DesignSitesUp, which is listed as a Digg-type site for designers to link together their designs and inspiration. It is constantly amazing to me how many designers, in addition to publishing their own work, operate design blogs that share advice and knowledge. AIGA, as a professional organization, is a great example of a place were designers can go to get information not just on design itself, but on business practices and other areas that designers are not specifically trained in. There are many other resources that offer advice on everything from design education to design business. A popular blog and community site is allgraphicdesign.com which: "is a Graphic Design education directory with resources & articles for Graphic Designers & Web Designer," and offers knowledgeable advice on everything from where to get a design education to crafting your final portfolio.

The web is also making it easier for designers to get their work out into the public. There are numerous portfolio websites (Carbonmade, Shownd, Coroflot, to name a few) that are not only free services, but are also job-posting sites where designers and employees can connect. Even large companies that one might assume would only be posting on the major sites (or their own employment sites) are using these venues to find new, creative talent (see Target's numerous postings on Coroflot). Other portfolio and creative sites like Behance and DeviantART allow designers to connect with each other to provide design feedback and to share inspiration and resources.
New tools are also making judging the effectiveness of designed materials more convenient (which is great for the designer and the client). 3M has created the "Visual Attention Service" to simulate eye-tracking and provide information about what a viewer would see in the first seconds of exposure to a design. The VAS program would cut down on the costs of usability testing because designers could use the program to test the piece several times and bring the product to the highest level possible, so that real eye-tracking could be used only to fine-tune the design.
Writing this post has made me extremely thankful to be living in this digital era. I cannot count the hours I have saved by an online tutorial or free vector icon. Although design is a competitive field, it is so incredible that so many designers are out there and helping each other out.

Sources:
AIGA | the Professional Association for Design. Web. 07 Nov. 2010.

Andersen, Julie K. "So You Need a Typeface." Inspiration Lab. 16 Apr. 2010. Web. 20 Oct. 2010.

"Design Job Search Results." Coroflot - Design Jobs & Portfolios. Web. 07 Nov. 2010. .

DesignSitesUp Web. 07 Nov. 2010. .

Graphic Design Software Directory & Portal for Graphics Tips : Desktop Publishing Resources & Graphic Design Links. Web. 07 Nov. 2010. .

Spooner, Chris. "60 Free Vector Icon Packs for Design Professionals | Vectortuts." Vectortuts | Adobe Illustrator and Vector Tutorials, from Beginner to Advanced. 20 Nov. 2008. Web. 23 Oct. 2010. .

"3M Visual Attention Service - 3M US - Home." 3M Global Gateway Page. Web. 07 Nov. 2010. .

personal/communication/amy maleson

The personal agenda and communication relate to one another greatly, especially when creating a profitable design product. Communication is defined by Wikipedia as, "a process where by information is enclosed in a package and is channeled and imparted by a sender to a receiver via some medium." This definition of communication in relation to design has to do with personal agenda also because it deals with designing work driven by the consumers. By designing for the personal agenda, you are designing for the public and what it is they want.

A great example of a design geared by personal agenda, is the iPhone. There have been so many versions and upgrades. The newest iPhone is the iPhone4. There are even rumors for the next iPhone5. Below is an image of the iPhone4, which takes phones to another level.


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With the iPhone4, you can do video calling, use multiple apps at the same time, and record and edit HD video. The retina display is remarkable and the screen itself does not get smudges or fingerprints. All of these new possibilities that the iPhone4 gives you is what a designer creates in order to fulfill a personal agenda. The designer is creating a product that addresses the latest trends that society is wanting in a product. By communicating with society, it is clear what people want with the ever-changing fashions out there. Apple always does a spectacular job at attending to the personal agenda. They are always creating new and improved products for their customers.

By taking advantage of all ways of communication, a designer is learning more about what products will be most successful. As stated by Jorge Frascara, "treating something as communication leads us to ask questions about intention and semiotic systems" (p. 32). I see what he means because by communicating, persons intents are geared by what they see will be most useful as a design. It is always useful to communication with society and the companies you are working with in order to create a design that will best fulfill all needs. Pressure comes along with the personal agenda by creating for others, but in the end it will be the most successful design product because you are designing for others.


Wikipedia: Communication. (10/28/2010). FL: Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 10/28/2010, from http://www.wikipedia.org.

Apple website. (10/28/2010). Copyright © 2010 Apple Inc. All rights reserved.
Retrieved 10/28/2010, from http://www.apple.com.

Frascara, Jorge. (2006). Designing, Effective, Communications: Creating Contents for Clarity and Meaning. New York, Allworth Press.

Cost Effectiveness: The Personal Agenda

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Designing on a budget is hard enough to do for individual and personal work, but it's also difficult to do when working for a company that wants to keep costs down. Money for printing, labor, and the general cost of supplies and distribution adds up quickly and seems to reduce creative possibilities. It's frustrating for graphic design students with limited funds to really market themselves, since nearly any deviation from plain paper carries a hefty price tag that isn't completely understood until it's attempted. It makes me laugh (or wince)when I get class syllabi that have specific estimates on how much I'm going to spend in one class over the course of a semester ("...budget to spend at least one hundred dollars on printing alone...")--oh college, thanks for training me to be frugal early in life.

But is our cost effectiveness really at the expense of creativity? I can think of a few times where I've wanted to try new materials but I've hesitated because I would rather spend that money on groceries, or rent, or gas for my car. Is my project worse because of it? Probably, since I end up redoing it for my portfolio anyway. Point being, cost effectiveness in personal design is all about sacrifice. Here's where I found a couple of ways to cut printing costs, plus additional places to invest that extra print money. Also, college students get great discounts because businesses understand our need to budget (which is still on par with our need to consume). So if I'm ever in a situation where I need to choose one aesthetic over another, I start by looking for places that give student discounts. Groupon.com is also great because it provides daily coupons to the first however-many people who respond to its email alerts, with no hidden motives (other than getting money from the retailers to advertise its services).

Personal cost effectiveness is all about personal preference. How much are YOU willing to spend? How much does the end result matter? What materials can you reuse from past projects, or mooch from friends, or buy the generic version of? Or course, the answer varies depending on the person. Part of being a designer is being versatile, taking shortcuts, and finding ways to work around a budget. And sometimes, that can yield the most creative results.

Sources

http://www.graphic-design.com/DTG/Design/mentor/index.html

http://www.wisebread.com/9-places-to-get-student-discounts

Andrea Leesley | Utility | The Personal Agenda

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Graphic designers are hired to communicate messages that inform and pursue our society. However, personal tastes occasionally interfere, making it more difficult to meet the desires of the individual consumer.

In the article My Favorite Things, Mark Cook quoted, "A designer that only creates work that she finds beautiful will only ever succeed when the client looks and thinks like he/she does." I find this statement to be very true because when designers create designs based on their own tastes, and thought processes, the design is more likely to have usability issues, and not appeal to many people. To avoid these issues, it is important to know the clients needs/wants, and the target audience inside and out. It's simple really, RESEARCH. There is no such thing as knowing too much about a target audience, or information about a project. The more time spent gathering valuable research at the beginning phase of any project will benefit in the design phase, and prevent the designer from being pursued by their own tastes.

During several critiques in school I often hear people (I am guilty of this too) saying, "because it looks cool," or "because i like it." Ok, so you think it looks cool, but how does it solve the problem? Does it serve a purpose? If designers begin to ignore these questions during the design phase, it is hard to say whether or not they are creating designs based on their own wants and needs or the consumers. Yes, we all have our own personal preferences, but every good designer should be able to justify any design choice they make.

So how do we know when our decisions are based on our own personal desires and tastes vs. the consumers? Throughout the design process, the designer should assume the role of the consumer. Think how the consumer thinks, and understand their motivations.

In the article Think Like a Designer, Arash Shiva discusses the competition between the Apple's iphone and Google's Android. He explains how important it is to lead by design, and to create user-friendly products with a perfect balance of form and function. While Google engineers base their decisions primarily on data and analysis, Apple makes their design decisions based on consumers' wants and needs. He states, "To be a design leader, to create something truly innovative and new, something that people not only need but want, the decision makers must have the vision and wisdom to let the design lead."

iphone4-262x3001.jpg

I am a former iphone user who recently switched to Android because it allows more customization and offers more features. It is a completely different experience than my iphone. From a designer's point of view, it is easy to recognize that engineers and programmers created this platform. It 'looks cool', and has 'more features' but I often find myself missing my iphone because of it's simplicity and usability. Don't get me wrong, I love my Android, but there are several features that I will never use, and I have to keep an extra battery with me at all times to keep my phone charged. It will be interesting to see if the Android trend lasts because it was created based on a group of engineers personal tastes.

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