Friday, March 26, 2010

Water Conservation

Quoted from DesignSponge by Ashley English, March 26th, 2010

"Over 70% of our planet is covered in water. It’s a wet, blue planet. Everything we allow to travel down the plumbing pipes of our homes, offices, and places of recreation eventually makes its way into our oceans. So much more than mere locales of unspeakable beauty and vehicles for golden tans, these oceans and their coastlines provide food for massive amounts of organisms, including humans. A large number of Earth’s human populations live in coastal areas and rely heavily on foods from the ocean to sustain themselves, as well as for their livelihoods. Oceans also provide buffers from storms, which have increased in intensity as the Earth has warmed.
In the remarkable documentary film
“Acid Test”, narrated by ocean activist and actress Sigourney Weaver, we learn about the “other CO2 problem,” the rise in carbon dioxide levels in the oceans. This increase in CO2 is adversely affecting the ability of marine organisms to grow their exoskeletons. Traveling up the food chain, as successive organisms loose their food sources, the problem eventually becomes a human one. Similarly, the multi award-winning documentary film “Flow” assesses the world’s growing lack of access to fresh water. According to the film, of the 6 billion humans on Earth, over 1.1 billion don’t have regular sources of fresh drinking water. Furthermore, the fresh water that is available is running out.
Annie Leonard, a sustainability proponent perhaps best known for her animated film
“The Story of Stuff” about the life cycle of processed goods put out a new film this week on bottled water. “The Story of Bottled Water” examines the multi-million dollar industry, from what motivated its creation in the first place to its claims of purity as well as the waste that it generates. As this past Monday marked the 2010 World Water Day (an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro), and this year’s theme is “water quality”, it seemed only fitting that this week’s small measure should address water conservation, preservation, and stewardship."

She goes on to discuss the non-profit organization Oceana and the work being done by 5 gyres. (North Pacific Gyre also known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”) and provides a link to these suggestions, submitted for consideration at the annual Buckminster Fuller Institute Challenge.

Water conservation in the home, bottled water, and the way we use water in general would be an area of interest for my thesis topic.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Community: The American Way of Living

Essay: Tobias Armborst, Daniel D'Oca, & Georgeen Theodore 10.05.09

Intersting approach to suburban sustainability issues. The creation of a suburban General Store to improve walkable neighbourhoods and decrease vehicle dependancy.


From the Design Observer: GlobalTap By Ernest Beck 01.28.10
More than 1 billion people worldwide lack access to clean water. The rest of us have an unlimited flow from the tap. Daniel H. Whitman, a Chicago architect and social entrepreneur who believes that access to water should be a fundamental human right, wants to link these two extremes. In 2008, he formed GlobalTap, a for-profit social enterprise with a dual mission: to sell and install tap-water-refilling stations in public places in North America and Europe, and then to divert revenues from this business to fund badly needed water projects in developing countries. “Water should be free and accessible to everybody,” Whitman says. “Water is not just for privileged people in privileged places.”

826 Valencia

After Reading a Heart Breaking Work of Staggering Genius, and visiting the Pirate Supply Store in San Francisco, I started to research Dave Eggers a little more in-depth. I realized the Pirate Supply Store was actually the front of a Writing Centre for kids and that literacy was at the core of whole project. This led to more literacy and math centres for kids with themes like Super Hero Supply Store (Brooklyn), the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company (Seattle), The Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute and additional 826 chapters are located in LA and Chicago. These projects are good for communities and also offer the opportunity for rich graphic design work. Starting a Toronto Chapter would prove a rewarding and challenging topic for thesis.

Dave Eggers' Wish on TED

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Vanderbyl Guide Summary

Vanderbyl, Michael, and Bob Aufuldish, Leslie Becker, Karen Fiss, Terry Irwin, Jim Kenney, and Jennifer Morla. “Graphic Design Thesis: A Survivor’s Guide.” in Teaching Graphic Design: Course Offerings and Class Projects from the Leading Undergraduate and Graduate Programs. Ed. Steven Heller. New York: Allworth Press, 2003.

Helfand and Drenttel Reading Summary


Jessica Helfand and William Drenttel from Michael Bierut, William Drenttel, and Steven Heller,

Looking Closer 5: Critical Writings on Graphic Design, Volume 5 (New York: Allworth Press, 2006)

The article begins with the explanation that science is the reason for revolutionizing the world. Then why is current design practice focused on aestheticizing pre-existing ideas instead of learning to create new ways to visualize new ideas?

Design has taken the surface value of scientific imagery and vocabulary and appropriated it into new designs, however these efforts are seriously lacking any formal understanding of the underlying science. One example used in the article is the recent graphic reinvention of the Periodic Table. The authors refer to this style of design "Faux Science" and offer a scathing review of the current trend to inject meaningless branding content into serious form.

"The appeal of information design is that it offers instant credibility. This is the domain of numbers and bullets and charts and graphs, ordered lists that visualize the obvious. Information design is rational and authoritative, classified and controlled to within an inch of its life: everything in its place and a place for everything. Label it information design and it looks serious. Number it and it looks scientific. But it’s a false authority, particularly because we buy into the form so unquestioningly."

Current design has become nothing but appropriation and artifice. Referring to Hegel and his method of thesis/ antithesis/ synthesis model, we easily locate the scientist, who migrates from observation to analysis to discovery. Meanwhile, the designer catalogs the everyday, making thick, wordless books with pictures that jump the gutter.

Helfand and Drenttel conclude that science is an enormous opportunity for designers, and that design schools should think outside the box (teach music theory, second languages, and science), so that the education of designers becomes new knowledge, rather than sticking to old ideas.

Overall, I think this is an excellent articles, and reveals truths about current design education - so much work is thinly veiled artifice.

Michael Beirut Reading Summary

The Design Observer, 05.09.05, On (Design) Bullshit

The article uses a humorous anecdotal story (taken from a real documentary) about a design disagreement between architect and landscape artist. After the landscape artist's idea is essentially critiqued and dismissed as inappropriate by the architect, his response is "bullshit". Essentially, the article exposes the truth about bullshit. In all design problems, there are concrete solutions to be articulated, but there are also the intuitive, subjective decisions that can only be chalked up as some degree of "bullshit". Being a good designer means more than kerning and colour theory: you have to be a compelling story-teller.