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The Third Age | Social | Mo Becker


It's no secret that the green movement has become immensely popular in both social and business settings. Like Patrick mentioned in his last post, companies are going as far as to 'greenwash' their companies by advertising green practices that they actually do not do. It's just their way of capitalizing on the so-called green craze. However, there is an up side to all these shenanigans. Besides having a more environmentally conscious society, there has been a surge of various creative ways to reduce, recycle and re-use. In this example, Dave Rittinger has made shirts out of fallen leaves. This is a prime example of getting back to basics. With no manufacturing, transporting, dying, and very little materials used; green has officially become the next trendy thing.

Although many companies still try to save money by cutting corners and not taking into account the environmental ramifications, there is a growing trend of companies and businesses that put quality and responsibility before making an extra few dollars. UNStudio is a design studio that specializes in energy efficient architecture. Their most recent accomplishment is having their design chosen for the new Singapore University of Technology and Design. This facility will earn the highest rating in energy efficiency that is given in Singapore.

Another social happening revolving around the third age is recycled fashion. Fashion Designer Gary Harvey, has coined the term 'Dumpster Chic' for New York Fashion week. Using materials that are found in dumpsters such as copies of the Financial Times, old baseball jackets, and empty skincare packaging he creates dresses and gowns. My main point being that being green isn't just for hippies and tree-huggers anymore. It's a part of our society and our culture.

Everything Design | Quang Dao

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Appeal | Social

Oh goodness, last blog of the semester. How fast did time go? I bet everyone is panicking over the intensive and overwhelming load of work we have to produce in the next two weeks. Merely insane. But we are almost there, like myself for instance, after writing this blog, I'll probably have to do about 100 and more other tasks but the break is getting so close. For the whole semester, I've been talking about how "appeal" plays a very crucial role in design particularly, as well as everything else in our everyday life. We base our decision on the appeal factor of, be it, a products, food, design, clothes, vehicles, etc. before we find out how well it performs and how long it might last. Sometime, it's all about the first impression.

Design is not just for personal use, but it's also to build a better community and a brighter future. Designers hold the key to the door of a green and better tomorrow. We are the ones who can change how things turn out and how it would affect our society, starting today. But in order to come up with impeccable design, we need energy for innovation and invention. And to obtain that, we need food. Indeed, food helps us recharge out battery so we can continue our chosen innovative path. For the past decades, food companies have been trying nonstop to develop better packaging that can keep their food well represented, environmental-friendly and healthy for their consumers. Pretty packaging is not enough, but it also has to face other issues such as consumer's age, income, theft-prevention, serving size, litter, recycling, etc. It all comes into play.

In the article "Social issues Impact Food Packaging Design", packaging supplier Dabron Packaging Company said" Ideally, plastic food packaging should be easy for just about everyone to use. At the same time, it needs to be strong enough to deter theft and to keep the food inside from spoiling or becoming damaged." They also consider how the aftermath of the products, which is how it will be treated when consumers are done with it. "One of the most significant social issues surrounding food packaging is litter. It must be noted, however, that packaging suppliers aren't the ones who strew litter about; consumers are responsible for properly disposing of their used packaging. Between recycling efforts and increasing awareness about saving the planet, litter due to packaging is likely to decrease as time goes by." It's the top concern that got packaging companies involved in the green movement by using bio-degradable and post-consumer waste for the packaging.

butter1.jpg Butter comes with wooden knife for use and quick use.

Another social issue that involves design is the hybrid transit bus. But beside the fact that it uses less fuel and emit less fume, the information in this article " Hybrid Transit buses: Are they really green?" is very interesting. " Hybrid buses employ similar technology including regenerative braking, electric motors, and battery storage. One main difference is that most hybrid buses are coupling diesel-fueled engines with electric motors instead of the typical gasoline-electric hybrid configurations available in light duty vehicles. Maximizing the benefits from these buses requires optimizing the hybrid system for the transit bus routes, which might be affected by the terrain the bus travels or whether the bus frequently travels at freeway speeds or stays on city streets." Evidently, studies have shown hybrid buses have lower emission of nitrogen oxide and other smog-forming emissions than conventional diesel buses. The sleek and better design of the buss and how it uses less diesel and emit less nitrogen oxide into the environment are the main reason why transit bus company are shifting their route to a greener bus system.

22743_250636512462_108605392462_4240065_7091858_n.jpg Awesome hybrid bus design.


Pleasure by Design & The Common Goal of Society

Trying to define design during Tuesday's class made me not only realize the importance of design, but that it depends on an entire society. My group stated that design is a product of our natural desire to improve the world in which we live for ourselves and for future generations. This also falls into line with my belief that the one thing everyone on this earth has in common is the desire for happiness. Happiness may take form in a variety of ways, and it can be created or enhanced by design.

In his TED talk on happy design, graphic artist Stephen Sagmeister discussed how designed objects allow for pleasurable experiences. He gives an example of one of his happiest times, riding a motorcycle up into the mountains, blasting the Police on his Walkman. He notes the importance that two of the three parts of that memorably happy experience were due to designed objects. His happy experience at that moment would not have been possible without the motorcycle and the Walkman. Both of these objects came to be after someone asked, "how can we make a device that lets us enjoy music anywhere", or "how can we make a bike move just as fast as a car". To be able to solve these problems, a group of people had to work together to realize the possibly of their definition of a pleasurable experience.

Thumbnail image for Norman-TiltingTeapot-H.jpg Norman-TiltingTeapot-T.jpg Norman-TiltingTeapot-V.jpg

Design critic Don Norman states that "pleasant things work better" in his TED talk on 3 ways design makes you happy. On a visceral level, humans have evolved to understand certain visual cues and subconsciously link them to emotions. On a behavioral level, good design is about control, including usability and understanding. Norman shows an example of the Ronnefeldt tilting teapot that mimics our emotions and behavior. Its design allows for the pot to be rotated when in use and at regular level when the contents are finished. This signals the waiter that the user is in need of more water, reflecting the behavior of the user through the designed object. Norman states that good design communicates, and communication amongst a society is key in order to create the objects and experiences necessary to reach the end goal, happiness.

This entry was more difficult than I than I thought it would be, I guess you could say I wasn't feeling very inspired. However, when I began to think about how inspiration on a personal level has the power to affect design on a social level. While all design that we are motivated to make whether the inspiration be environmental, financial, or directly personal, it all ends up in the social sphere. To illustrate this idea I will go to ol' faithful of examples, smoking. Perhaps over used, but for a reason, it clearly illustrates many points.
As I have highlighted before inspiration is highly personal, it comes to people in many ways and causes them to do many things. For this perspective though, I am going one link further on the chain and highlighting how our personal inspiration gets into the stream of the social agenda. We have been aware of smoking ads since elementary school, both positive and negative. The thing to be aware of now is that there is a designer on both ends producing the work and questioning what their motivation may be for being on either end of the spectrum.

Smoking in the Positive Light
What could inspire someone to produce an ad making smoking cool? It has been ingrained for years that smoking is bad. However, with age comes new knowledge and needs. One major is the financial needs. It may be a simple answer and is probably over generalizing it, but it works. Money is an extremely powerful motivator and would cause someone to create an ad telling its viewers that authenticity comes from smoking Kool cigarettes.


Smoking in the Negative Light
Now, on the other hand what would inspire someone to create an ad that show smoking in a negative light? This answer may seem obvious (it is to me), but for the sake of the blog I will write it down. I think that the motivation is comes from a much more emotional place. I don't think it is money that gets people going here, but a personal agenda. Below is a powerful ad that illustrates how not only an ad can come from personal place but is focused to hit a person close to the heart.


Smoking and many other hot topic issues are forces that cause inspiration that has the power to affect and that do affect people in the social place we all function in.


Empty Kingdom

Sociological Images

Graphic designers have the ability to reach out to society. We as graphic designers can be very manipulative people because we know the secrets of our trade, how to reach society and get a reaction. Some designers may choose to use this to manipulate people in a bad way and some just want to better our society as a whole. It is up to us how we want to use our skills!

One group/campaign that decided to use their wacky graphic design skills to help save energy is called unscrew America! It uses a quirky and funny marketing strategy filled with humor and futuristic creatures but has a very smart and energy saving message. To back up all the quirkiness they use straight to the point information on the website as to why you should switch from using regular light bulbs to CFL or LED. They have a clever interactive website and several funny commercials and youtube videos that promote making the switch. One thing I really enjoy about this campaign is that it basically stating that we waste a lot of energy and that it shouldn't be that way, but that it has been for a long time. Yet even though we are going to continue to use light bulbs and waste energy and mess with the environment that at least we should do the best job that we can about being smarter about it.

I really enjoy that as graphic designers we can compile a marketing message that can be about a very serious subject and have lots of facts but that we can still apply humor or creativity into and get a reaction out of people, and better yet a reaction that can motivate people to push for a better society and environment. We as graphic designers have the power to reach a lot of people and it is up to us make sure that we push for things we believe in. I think Unscrew America is off to a great start in getting the message out to society about the little things you can do to save energy.


funny videos:

In class on Tuesday we spent a significant portion of our discussion time considering the difficulties facing users with reduced mobility or disability. Christine commented that this is a difficult topic because there is so little material available on the subject. It seems like this should be a ripe topic but I had the same difficulty. Often, it seems, this portion of the user base is ignored not out of malice but because they are not considered when imagining the typical user. Unless the designer has personal experience with the issue it may be outside of the design experience. The Americans with Disabilities Act influences design decisions in the public space but in private areas these usability considerations are often ignored.

Minimalism may be applied to the Social Agenda when designing aspects of the home to improve usability. In some instances this may create a more streamlined interface while in others elements must be added in counter to the Minimalism movement to add usability for parts of society that are sometimes forgotten. Looking only at the entrance of a home we can see many areas that can be modified.

Doorbell and door handle height are elements that may be too high for children, people who are seated, or people with reduced arm mobility. Designers may lower the heights of these elements to a height accessible by both those groups and standing adults without cost if incorporated into a façade's design at the outset. If an existing dwelling is being modified a new door would be required and modifying the wiring for the bell would require altering the fascia of the entryway.

For example, round doorknobs are difficult to manipulate for people with reduced motor skill or hand strength. A simple design solution is the lateral door handle. With this device a person can use the blade of a hand or even an elbow to push the handle down and release the door latch. Functionally it is the same as a round doorknob, even down to the mass of the objects. Using a lever does not reduce the functionality of the doorknob so the only reason I see to avoid use is a question of aesthetics, a personal concern.

Thresholds may be a tripping hazard for people with limited agility or wheelchairs. There is a door design that has a threshold that is flush with the floor. Rain and debris are kept out of the area with a narrow channel before the door and tight flashing on the door base to keep out particulates and precipitation. Another alternative is a jamb with a gradual slope, less that 45 degrees and ¼" height to reduce tripping hazard.

Minimalism is a fine ethos for design that may need to be tempered when looking at aspects of the Social Agenda. Here a designer may need to add elements that are unnecessary for most users but add greater usability to the people who need it most. T

For example, it is difficult for wheelchair bound users to close doors on the far side of the threshold because of the distance to the door handle. For exterior doors in public places this is often rendered unnecessary by powered doors and motion sensors that open for all users. In private residences or unpowered entryways a bar may be added to provide a grip on the hinge side of the door.

Some changes are normally seen as aesthetic but will increase the quality of life for a particular group. Often decorators mask switches by using an electric plate the hue and saturation of the surrounding area for the opposite purpose: to increase blending and hide the elements. Instead, designers might try increasing areas of contrast, such as a dark light switch against a light wall, will help people with poor eyesight define the feature. Similarly, adding a luminescent plastic to the base plate will help all users find the switch in the dark.

Adding a kick plate to a door will give an extra point of leverage to push it open. This may actually help any user if the door is in an area with humidity changes that make the door shrink or swell. This may also be an aesthetic choice because if the door is often stuck visitors may use their toe to help push it open and mar the surface.

Would these changes, in fact, be contrary to the Minimalisation agenda? Let us look at specialization. Often this narrows the group of users by designing for a particular group. Deeper specializations often lead to reduced user bases as some participants are excluded. This increased complexity runs counter to Minimalisation by increasing production and narrowing users. However, in the case of adding usability specialization has an opposite affect that while sometimes increasing complexity also increases the number of users with access to the design. Here a greater number of people are served and thus added complexity is justified. Perhaps this is a case of making something as simple as possible, but not simpler, as Einstein said.

Resource for future use: here is a link to a page with disability access symbols for download at the Graphic Artist Guild website.

Works Cited:
Americans with Disabilities Act website. (2010). Home page. Retrieved from

Graphic Artists Guild. (2010). Disability access symbols. Retrieved from

Quantity-Social-Michelle Haga

Today I would like to discuss the use of social networks in reference to quantity. We are all aware of the impact of social media and it's here to stay. Social media outlets such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are all unique in their own way otherwise they wouldn't exist. Facebook is for people to keep in touch with friends and family, Twitter is beneficial for designers to here about new and exciting things that may be linked and following celebrities, while LinkedIn is strictly for business professional networking.

size-of-internet.png (photo)

In today's society it's all about social integration and bringing people together through virtual networks. Virtual networks make it extremely easy to become popular, all you have to do is post and update a lot, and it's that simple (source 1). These updates are not necessarily engaging, exciting, or even funny, but because users constantly update the viewers hear from them more often, causing them to view that person or profile as more popular. On the other side, this just refers to individual users not businesses. That doesn't go to say that the quantity of posts is not important for companies, however the quality needs to be utilized more deliberately. Companies should understand their followers and what they value, they should engage with them and watch their online profile growth rate improve (source 2).

On the downside of social media there is the manipulation of consumerism and trends. Because there are so many users of social media, companies are able to advertise their products, services, or messages at little to no cost and reach beyond their target markets. Most businesses would think this is a great thing, which it is for that companies profits, however I believe that in the long run this will hurt society as a whole. Yes, business will be booming meaning there are more jobs and more income for all, nonetheless the future will have even more consumer goods and junk to deal with that is potentially detrimental to our environment. I'm not going to preach about "green" but I'll leave you with this idea. Consumerism is a problem. Look at apple, it has such a devoted customer base that no matter what they release next, people will buy it. Here is an example of the merits of the HTC Evo 4G vs. the iPhone 4 video. WARNING: VULGAR LANGUAGE PRESENT IN CLIP.

Social networking is a magnificent tool; however as a society we need to be aware of it's power and be willing to look towards the seventh generation before we jump on the bandwagon of useless consumerism.

Toxicity | Social Agenda | Eduardo Cortés


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."


"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).

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.

Social / Social Empowerment through Design / Meher Khan


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).


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.


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
Constructivism (art) Retrieved from
Weimar Republic Retrieved from

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, 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??

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.


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."

Biodegradable Social Movements - Molly Andrews

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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.

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

"Design to End Poverty." Upload & Share PowerPoint Presentations and Documents. Web. 09 Nov. 2010.

Waste | Social | Tarin Gessert

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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, 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?


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.

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.

Quality and the Social Agenda

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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.

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 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. .

Fun and the Social Agenda | Jonathan Glatfelter


Over the past decade, retail companies have developed ways for consumers to become more involved in the design realm of each company. I believe that a big reason as to why design has become much more mainstream is because of the promotion and respect that many companies have publically displayed. Two of these companies to do this are Threadless, a graphic apparel company, and Puma, an athletic shoe company.

Threadless is a company that mass-produces graphic apparel. Designers submit their own designs, people vote on their favorites, and the top voted designs are printed and manufactured. For people who don't have any knowledge in design, or even for people who do have knowledge in design, it's fun for them to vote on designers' work and to see them succeed. Threadless seems to be a company that not only gets working and inspiring designers some exposure (and cash, if successful), but it also gets consumers and non-designers some inspiration! It can be quite compelling for someone outside of the design world to see what these designers, many in which are young in the work force, succeed with the work they're doing.


Puma has come out with their "Mongolian Shoe BBQ." They have created a way for consumers to be the designers and to create their own shoe. Shoppers are able to select a shoe style of their choice and then are able to act as a designer and select from a variety of colors to create a shoe to their liking. This web feature is different from Threadless (where actual, inspired designers are implementing the designs) in that customers are the designers. Sure, it may be a simple process, but it is design nonetheless! This not only gives consumers a chance to be creative, but it also lets consumers feel good and proud about what they're wearing on their feet.

Threadless and Puma are not the only ones to incorporate the consumer into the design process. Many companies these days push for the appreciation for design. Could this be bad for us designers? Could it come to the point that designers lose the value that they have? Honestly, I don't think so. But it definitely is something to consider.

Threadless. Retrieved October 20, 2010, from

Puma: Special Mongolian Shoe BBQ. Retrieved October 21, 2010, from

Note: Puma's Mongolian Shoe BBQ is down for construction, but the service will be back up and running in early 2011.

Communication | Social | Lindsey Ostby


In a fast-paced and driven society, companies are constantly having to move forward, forcing them to focus on where they need/want to be in the future. This kind of mentality is almost necessary in order to stay competitive in any market. For some companies, there comes a time when the solution to moving forward is rebranding themselves. This ranges from designing a new logo to completely changing the company's mission in order to communicate a modern and progressive approach to their consumers. We have noticed this trend quite frequently in the past years, especially among larger, well- known companies such as Wal-Mart or FedEx. Usually, rebranding a company can be a positive thing from a social standpoint. Society tends to react favorably when they like the new change. With the Internet and social media, individuals are able to communicate to the rest of the world just how much they like these changes.

In recent weeks, we have noticed that sometimes this is not always the case. Gap felt that they also needed a change. They had had the same logo for over 20 years and, silently, decided to post a new logo onto their website with the idea that it would communicate a more streamlined and refreshed look and feel. Socially, this logo was not received well and was greatly criticized by the public. Some came up with creative ways to backlash at Gap's new logo. One that I found interesting was a logo generator, aimed at showing the public how easy it was to create a bad logo. Others chose to attack the logo on social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. A parody Twitter account was created with tweet updates like:

@superboxmonkey - "New Gap logo "looks as if it were done in Microsoft Word"
@spydergrrl - "Seen new Gap logo yet? I think it definitely captures essence of this generation, that is: "meh"

Gap also received much hype on their company's Facebook page. Because of such a widely negative response, Gap decided to ask the public for ideas. This is a somewhat new term we call crowd sourcing, which in some's opinion, was the whole ploy behind launching a mediocre logo. Most likely though, Gap had to do some damage control and used crowd sourcing as a way to cover up a poorly designed logo. Through blogs and other sources of communication, individuals also decided to create new Gap logo ideas or just make fun of the current one. In a timeframe of no more than a week of launching their new logo, Gap announced that they would be going back to their old logo, based upon feedback from the public.

The whole point behind this case study is the power of the social context of communication. With the rapid growth in social media, blogs, etc., individuals have more freedom to communicate what they want, to whomever they want. Almost like saying, "what the public wants, the public gets." Social communication can be so important to the reputation or likability of a company. In the case of Gap, when their logo didn't communicate to the public what they had intended, they were forced to listen to their retailers and get rid of it.

Jones, Nate. "New Gap Logo: Start of a Crowdsourcing Contest? - TIME NewsFeed." TIME NewsFeed - Breaking News and Updates. Web. 22 Oct. 2010. .

"New Gap Logo Hated by Many, Company Turns to Crowdsourcing Tactics - Velocity - Remaking Personal Technology - Forbes." Forbes. 7 Oct. 2010. Web. 22 Oct. 2010. .

Parr, Ben. "Gap Reverts to Original Logo After Social Media Backlash." Social Media News and Web Tips - Mashable - The Social Media Guide. Web. 22 Oct. 2010. .

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