Monday, October 20, 2008

What's going on in the world around me?

Still waiting on pics from my letterpress projects– and for inspiration for another layer. I actually happened to grab another issue of the Minnesota Daily that has some interesting sentiments expressed in stark contrast (or is it?) to the original Op/Ed articles I was responding too. I hope to get in the studio this week to add another layer, and then get these in digital form to see what happens.

In the meantime, I'm trying to recognize examples of what I identify as emergence in nature. One thing that I can't ignore is the leaves changing colors and falling off the trees– in an abstract sense, this design relates the idea of 'progressive change' that I'm trying to pin down. So, as inspiration, I've started to photograph these loose instances of emergence and see where they take me.

In addition to change, my concept of emergent identity also relates to self-organization. While in Boston this past weekend, I saw a perfect juxtaposition of designed space verses created space. While there were numerous tables and chairs meant for assembly, interaction, discussion, etc, the most active cases of such occurred in the area directly next to the "Assembly area." Here a group of street performers (arguably already organized and well-practiced) entertained loads of people– the tables and chairs were completely empty. Recognizing the ability of individuals to respond to their situation is critical as designers; sometimes the best spaces or solutions are nothing at all– or at least drastically different from what we thought they would be.

A perfect example of a design solution that responds to such self-organized activity is the Music Under New York program initiated by the Metropolitan Transportation Association. Recognizing the ability of the underground stations to be a great venue for musicians, the MTA responded by adding an organization structure to support these organic forms of presentation and display. The yearly competitions keep the musical acts fresh and encourage unknown artists to showcase their skills to a captive audience.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Just do it.

So after all these weeks and even semesters of teaching and demonstrating, I'm just itching to make something of my own. And by make, I mean use my hands – not a mouse. So today I started just getting the juices flowing by responding to the editorial page of the Minnesota Daily during my studio hours in the print lab. After reading the Op/Ed articles, I started to synthesize what sort of feelings/emotions/sentiments were emerging from these words. I started a plan for letterpress printing over the newspaper page, perhaps layering to convey the full sense of confusion and frustration I felt while reading the articles. On the drive home, I pictured digitally layering this handprinted piece with some interesting RSS feeds (similar to the Twitter Election2008 feed) that showcase evidence of these emotions in blogs, twitter feeds, or other personal reports on the web. Just some thoughts . . . we'll see where it leads.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Just when you think you have a great idea . . .

Someone famous like Marian Bantjes goes and does it.

View "Design ignites change" laser-cut posters

Like she said herself, these are "just plain bitchin'." And, definitely inspiration for final thesis components.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My thesis . . . in 2 paragraphs or less.

The time has come to put into words what it is I plan to do for my thesis. Although, it should be old hat by now as my mom pointed out when she asked me, "How many times have you done this now?" Real funny, mom.

Truthfully, I have done this numerous times. But wow, am I thankful for that (or I might have been stuck redesigning a course management system – yikes.) In any case, I'm excited for this story that I'm about to tell. I think it's going to stick.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Design time . . . dream big or go home!

So this summer has been packed with various activities, primarily freelance opportunities that I can't even begin to believe that I've had. The survey link on the left got me energized about being a design professional – while it's focused on web design, questions like "Where do you see yourself in 5 years" really make me feel like I'm 15 again, telling people that "I wanna be a graphic designer when I grow up." Well, ok, maybe it was more like "I want to own my own advertising firm in New York," but I don't like to admit how much of a nerd I was back then. In any case, the exciting thing to think about is where will I be a year from now? With my MFA (hopefully) under my belt and no more classes to take, what will July 31, 2009 look like? I truly hope that this year I can focus on launching a collaborative design co-op with young (and old . . . what the heck!) professionals from all creative fields. What does that look like? How does it work? And what sort of design model will we use to keep ourselves ahead of the rest of the pack? Can this relate to an emergent identity? Can this collaborative be emergent while using principles of emergence to create a true "interactive design" model and methodology?

I love design. And I love people. I want to help people, work with people and for the people and truly make a difference in this world. Can that be done? And if so, how? I'm excited by the prospects.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Emergent identity methodology

At the beginning of this semester, I set out to develop my original Emergent Identity piece for a new setting and audience in order to prove its adaptability and applicability to additional contexts. Eventually, I decided to go about proving that in a different manner – by creating entirely new pieces that were unrelated in product but driven by the same theory and process that informed the original piece. As a result, I created three pieces that range from art prints, to a web 2.0 site, to a neighborhood identity for North Minneapolis. Collectively, these pieces speak to the strength of the original piece's theory, which I am beginning to roughly map out in the above left image (click image for enlarged view). I hope to use this rough methodology to embark on a new design or an additional iteration of one of the these four designs in order to showcase its ability to be a new design process as well as work out some of the kinks in its theory, wording, etc. Stay tuned!

Friday, May 2, 2008

We're only as adaptive as . . . our designs?

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade . . . or so the optimistic phrase goes. But when it comes down to real life, are we really this adaptive? Can we be?

As design and designed environments, experiences, and objects become more prolific, there is an increasing need to better understand our audiences. Similarly, there is an ethical responsibility for us to design structures and systems that can adapt to the ever-changing needs of human populations. Emergent identities or designing for such may be more a question of adaptations. Are we only as adaptive as our living situations, conditions, and surroundings allow us to be?

To continue the analogy, when life gives you lemons, can you make lemonade if you don't have any container to store liquids? What if you simply just don't know how to make lemonade? Do you even know what lemonade is?

While many (including myself) will argue that human beings are adaptive creatures and will creatively 'make do' with what they have, the level or ease of adaptation can be greatly increased by designs that are also able to adjust. Looking to how people adapt can inform how we design things that allow for flexibility, adaptability, and change. Designs should foster the sense of fluidity and organic-ness that is evident in social behaviors, human patterns, etc. As well as better serving the needs of the human population, dynamic designs will also fulfill the need for a more eco-conscious, sustainable design practice. By making our designs more flexible, their purpose and use extends further into the future, reducing the need for redesigns and additional waste of precious resources – whether those are time, money, or physical materials.

Ultimately, there is a need for a symbiotic relationship between a design and its audience. Each should each inform the other and be allowed to change, adjust, and adapt according to one another's needs. I think this is especially important in terms of identity formation and representation; such a representative form should be dynamic and able to adjust according to the changes in the population it is representing. Being able to see adjustments according to your changing needs or preferences is important; similarly, having a certain amount of control over a system or structure that is attempting to define who you are is critical. Consider, for example, identity representations of which we currently have control: our wardrobe, our home furnishings, even our cars. We are able to adjust these extensions of ourselves in order to more appropriately relate our style, mood, or personal philosophy. When we don't have the tools or the means to make these changes, we can feel awkward and uncomfortable at the very least. For this reason, designs that seek to represent an individual or population should be able to adjust and relate the emerging identities that are inherent to biological beings.