Designing The News


I'm enjoying Dave Bowker's website, Designing The News.  Dave describes the site as "A series of experiments which visually explore the news in various ways to encourage new ways of seeing a predominantly text based medium."  David has a cool throwing-it-out-there approach to his ideas which I appreciate.

I was attracted to his most recent visualization experiment, One Week of The Guardian: Wednesday.  Each circle represents a different news category, arranged from the center outwards according to each category's total word count.  His idea expands out to link the category rankings from one day to another to track a whole year's worth of news stories.  This is a cool overall visualization.  It reminds me a bit of the Digg Labs work, but with a rockn' retro color scheme.



Ben Fry is a fabulous designer/artist/computer scientist who focuses on visualizing data.  This project, called Distellamap,  (a spin-off of Dismap) highlights the beauty of code.  The project features the code of 6 different Atari games overlaid with curves to show its 'go to' elements.  The visualization emphasizes the flow of the code, showing it off as a complex piece of poetry.  (Found most recently through Pica + Pixel).

Planet Earth - Directions for Use


Planet Earth - Directions for Use' was Angie Rattay's entry for the Designboom 'Love Your Earth' graphic design competition.  It is a series of four instructional pamphlets designed to resemble medical directions packed into a small prescription style box.  Each manual focuses on a different part of the Earth; the atmosphere, the biosphere, the hydrosphere, and the lithosphere/pedosphere.  Each set of 'directions' includes information about its relative part of the Earth and instructions on how readers can reduce their impact on that area.  I would love a copy of this.  It seems incredibly well thought out and executed.

Eric Johnson, meet World


World, meet Industrial Designer and digital music artist extraordinaire, Eric Johnson.    Eric just debuted  two of his most recent musical experiments at Etsy Labs Handmade Music nights.  The first was  his very entertaining Theremin Crutches.    He recycled an old pair of crutches into a large theremin.  The result looks and sounds like someone releasing all the stress the crutches have collected.  Love it!

Eric's other project, Sixty Switches of Fury, is even more fabulous.  It's a controller made to look like a piece of suburbia.  The large section of wall houses 60 (now 61) light switches each controlling a music sample.  The switches are arranged in octives like a keyboard, but unlike a keyboard you don't have to hold the keys down.  Instead you just turn the switches on or off, creating a more natural and useful interface for those of us with only 10 fingers.

I appreciate Eric's approach to musical instruments because he comes at it from a design background and not just a musical one.  The end result is all about the user interface and the interactive experience.  The fabulously entertaining music is just a bonus.  Eric's work was recently been featured by Wired and Time Out New York.  May I just say that Nerdsters are awesome!

The Trafalgar Great Chair Grab


I attended a talk by Tom Dixon earlier this week at HauteGREEN 2007.  Part of his talk was about this project, the Trafalgar Great Chair Grab. The thinking behind the project is that a lot of designer objects are very expensive and not affordable to many people.  Tom Dixon was attempting to give design away for free by filling Trafalgar Square in London with chairs he designed and then just inviting people to take the chairs home with them. 

This is an interesting idea in itself but what caught my attention was the second half of the scheme.  In order to fund the project he took one of the chairs and left it in a copper bath in an effort to make one 'precious' or valuable version of the chair to sell.  The idea being that one precious object would pay for the others.

Sky Umbrella

It was dark and rainy here in New York today and it reminded me of the Sky Umbrella designed by Tibor Kalman.  This umbrella lets you to carry around your own little piece of blue sky.  Tibor Kalman was a co-founders of one of my favorite magazines, Benetton's Colors.  This umbrella demonstrates Tibor Kalman's inspiring ability to make a statement through the use of images.  The Sky Umbrella is available through the MoMA Store.



In first year university we had do design a cardboard bookshelf that was to be judged, not only on aesthetics, but by how much weight it could hold compared to the amount of cardboard used.  As a result, I have developed an ongoing fascination with furniture make out of cardboard.

Swiss architect Nicola Enrico Staubli has designed a line of furniture based on folding cardboard.  What is interesting about his approach is that he is not selling the furniture; in fact he is not actually selling anything.  His designs are meant to be constructed by you (yes you).  Printable templates are downloadable from his Foldschool website.  Nicola says the thinking behind foldschool is "To restore design to one of its original missions: to provide a product at an affordable price through a smart manufacturing process" and presumably by smart manufacturing in this case he means elbow grease.  (Thanks Ostrowski!)