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  • Preface to a Thesis

    Communication, Communication Design

    [section 01] - 1st draft

    On Christmas day in 1987, a grenade exploded in the small coffee farming town of Matagalpa in the Central American country of Nicaragua. Though now a distant event, both in time and space, back then the shock waves of that explosion reverberated all the way back to Canada and and its debris found a place on the front pages of every national newspaper. For most in Canada the news was of a Canadian social worker violently killed in what appeared to be one strange accident with many unanswered questions. Back in Matagalpa, a sterile room held Jenny's body and with her, my inconsolable grief. As I looked out the window on the waking town, behind me the sun was beginning to break through the trees. Morning light had begun to fill the streets and with it came a new day, the end of a vigil, and the end of an unfulfilled life. Slowly, sunlight began to mingle with a mist that seemed to rise in the distance, and soon a brilliant rainbow enveloped the entire valley.

    How could it be that a scene so sublimely beautiful could be laid out before me while behind me lay the desolation of the deepest love I had ever felt? How could I turn my back on that pain to look upon a serenity that seemed to speak of a world of wonder and a future of promise? That morning I chose to find solace in the sunrise, if only with the hope that it might temper the cold of my grief and keep back a slowly creeping depression. In the end nothing could keep away the anguish that would l...

  • Not Here, but Now

    Poverty, Communication Design


    When the demands of Neoliberalism play havoc with our lives, it is time to fight back, and designers wield the sharpest tools.

    "Not Here, but Now" is an example of how sharp our designer tools can be. Not only for the fact this campaign is visually intelligent, but it was also a pro bono campaign, designed for Amnesty International (Switzerland), by Walker Werbeagentur.


  • What to Wear to Fashion Week

    Environment, Fashion Design


    Another round of fashion week shows are upon us, and I will be attending several collections in order to assess the trend towards sustainable eco-fibers in garment production. I am not at all a fashionista, but given that I have an interest in textiles, environmental installation work, and the environment, this is an inevitable foray into territory that shares certain threads with my own practice.

    A friend asked me yesterday, "What I would wear to NY Fashion Week?", and honestly, the thought had not crossed my mind. Must one wear eco-fibers to an eco-oriented fashion show? Will folks know if I am wearing conventional cotton rather than organic cotton? Will I get extra point for sporting the new 'bamboob bra"?

    I think that I will wear an old Pucci knock-off dress, as this is as sustainable as I can get on short notice. Purely vintage and recycled from my mother-in-law's closet, it is totally sustainable or at least multi-generational, no?

    EarthPledge's FutureFashion show is really uppping the ante this year. All the big names are contributing a piece. I am so curious to see whether Givenchy will take on hemp? Or whether Marc Jacobs will play by the rules?

    Rodarte, the team that some are cailling the new Sustainable Sartorialists, also promise to put on quite the eco-fete.

    I am hoping that 'what to wear' also translates to 'what to be weary of' as we learn more and more about what constitutes real style and our shared runway with the best of nature.

  • Designing the Revolution

    Community, Audio/Visual Design

    Originally published here by the Groundswell Collective.

    Alix Rule recently penned an article titled The Revolution Will Not Be Designed for In These Times. The article centers around a criticism of Stanford's Hasso Plattner Institute of Design for their consideration that design - or more precisely, design thinking - is a "powerful corrective force" in addressing social problems. I invest considerable time, effort, and money in designing for social change, so when I first stumbled upon the article I was outraged. After a closer look, though, and after mulling over Alix's arguments, I began to see that she may be right on some accounts.

    Social justice inherently seeks systemic change to redress oppression. Rule's objection to design thinking is that it serves as a"post-ideology" ideology, one which is stripped of considerations for "the long process by which consensus is built—a.k.a. politics." Her case is that:

    In particular, design metaphors obscure the ideological—and political—decisions involved in tackling societal issues. Depending on your perspective, “drunk driving” can be a symptom of some broader systemic failure (from un-walkable suburbs to deficient public education), a lapse of individual responsibility, or a right to be defended. The solution to the problem is inseparable from its conception. Conceiving of global ills as design challenges may sometimes be in order, but only when a consensus exists on goals, budgets and rel...

  • Helvetica is in the Air

    Arts & Culture, Communication Design


    In Gary Hustwit's latest independent documentary, we are treated to a portrait of a familiar face – the typeface Helvetica.

    Hustwit describes Helvetica through a series of interviews with articulate designers and typographers who tell the story of a font that is frequently used based on a highly adaptive character set. Helvetica is everywhere (think: Evian, BWM, American Apparel). Despite it's neutral qualities Helvetica is a face that still seems to inspire backlash or addiction in the hearts of prolific communicators.

    When the Hass type foundry released Helvetica in 1957 it was embraced as the Swiss modernist antidote to overtly emotive typefaces. It was a compelling expressionless blank slate for designers to manipulate. It became ubiquitous. Popular. In the film, we see European grandfathers of design like Wim Crouwel wax poetic about Helvetica and the solutions he found lining its counters.

    The backlash becomes evident when the camera turns to Erik Spiekermann's dismissals of Helvetica as simply "bad taste" and Paula Scher's political diatribe on how using Helvetica is akin to supporting the Iraq war. Scher's insight is based on the opinion that Helvetica is so generic, functional and expressionless that it advocates conformity.

    The cross-bar to the circular debate between good and bad taste is drawn by Danny van den Gungen of the Dutch group Experimental Jet Set. The studio proves in their stunning posters, advertisements and book covers, that when set...


    Communication, Communication Design


    Ever amazed at the number of aesthetic-centered design blogs appearing on the blogosphere, I am [always] pleasantly surprised to find a design-focused resource... with a social conscience.

    Osocio is a designers blog, dedicated to social advertising and non-profit campaigns. As the blog founders promise 'It’s the place where marketing and activism collide. Formerly known as the Houtlust Blog, Osocio is the central online hub for advertisers, ad agencies, grassroots, activists, social entrepreneurs, and good Samaritans from around the globe.'

    The Osocio bloggers include; Armando Alves, Dan Matutina, Gillo Cutrupi, Liz Losh, Marc van Gurp, Noah Scalin and Serge Fenenko. This is a blog worth checking out if you are fed up of techy-focused media cramming your inboxes.

  • Groundswell Seeks Blogging Volunteers

    Arts & Culture, Audio/Visual Design

    About the Organization: The Groundswell Collective is a design studio dedicated to art and social justice. We've been working with activists and artists on web and graphic design since 2006. We're comprised of two freelance designers, and maintain a blog on art and activism. At the Groundswell Blog, we report daily on unique ways of communicating ideas about social justice, particularly through art and design. You will find varied messages and art forms showcased in our pages, as we try to keep our finger on the pulse of the political art community. With an annual readership of 7,500, we are growing rapidly and are in need of interns.

    Description: This energetic, web-savvy intern would be responsible for giving voice to the best thinking on activist art. From conversations with artists and activists, s/he would research and pen articles on artists and designers, their work and exhibits, and trends within the community.

    S/he would also work in conjunction with the co-founders to develop a growth strategy for the blog, including resource gathering and identifying academics, artists, and activists for guest blogging spots. Assisting with press calls, arranging interviews and making pitches to journalists may also be required as needed.

    Additional Qualifications:

    • Excellent written communication skills, proficient computer skills including knowledge of the WordPress platform.
    • Strong organizational skills
    • Interest in political art and art as a tool for social change
    • B...
  • Adobe doesn't know the meaning of sustainability

    Environment, Communication Design

    That's right. I say this because it is not even listed in the spell check or dictionary in it's popular Creative Suite software.

    Language is important. Language is necessary to form laws and policies. Language is an easy way to 'spread the word' of values.

    As words take on new meanings such as Corporate Social Responsibility or Social Entrepreneurism, their proliferation into popular culture can be assisted by designers.

    Listed below are some definitions that my 'spread the word' group have assembled.

    Sustainablity: The practice or process of maintaining an indefinite form of production by protecting the conditions that production depends upon.

    wikipedia currently defines sustainability as: "Sustainability is a characteristic of a process or state that can be maintained at a certain level indefinitely."

    The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines sustainability as: “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

    If you have or work with an alternative definition please share it. Thanks.

  • product identity

    Well-being, Industrial Design

    هویت یا Identity از لغت Identitas مشتق میشود که به معنی همسان و مشابه است.

    در محصولات هویت را میتوان ناشی از تعریفی که محصول از خود ارائه میدهد دانست. همانگونه که هویت انسانی به پاسخ کیستی میپردازد هویت محصول نیز به چیستی و خصوصیات مورد انتظا راز آن باز میگردد.یک محصول با هویت به وضوح تعلق خود را به یک مجموعه محصولات و یا یک سازمان تولید کننده و یا گروهی از مصرف کنندگان بیان می کند. بدین ترتیب نوعی اشتراک و همسانی بین محصول و نیای آن و اهداف سازمانی تولید دیده میشود. در بیان این اشتراکات زبان یکسانی از قبیل گرافیک و یا سبک طراحی استفاده می شود. د رسطوح بالاترهویت، محصولات متفاوت یک سازمان با هم قابلیت تعامل داشته و یا همکاری میکنند و فرایند یکدیگر را کامل میکنند. این نمونه در محصولات نرم افزاری به وضوح دیده میشود.

    محصول به واسطه هویت خود به یک گروه از محصولات و یا استفاده کنندگان و یا تولید کننده ای خاص مرتبط شده و از دیگر محصولات غیر همگروه خود متمایز میگردد....

  • Focus the Nation at Pratt - 1/30 and 1/31

    Environment, Industrial Design

    Focus the Nation

    **We Stand at a Critical Moment in Human History –

    Help Pratt shine in this national effort!! **

    In the next few years we as a nation will make or fail to make critical decisions, find global warming solutions and fund clean technology investments. These decisions will have a far-reaching and irreversible impact on the lives of today’s students and the lives of their children.

    “Focus The Nation” is a national teach-in on global warming solutions for America- creating a dialogue at over a thousand colleges, universities and other institutions, that will directly engage thousands of faculty and millions of students nationwide.

    *This week, Wednesday and Thursday, January 30th and 31st *

    Over two days you will have the opportunity to meet over 30 of Pratt Institute’s most illustrious faculty, administrators and special guests as they come together and offer a series of exciting programs that are highly relevant to Pratt students, educators, and the community at large. This is a unique opportunity to; explore the impact of sustainability on the future careers of our artists, designers, and architects; see how Pratt is taking on the challenge to reduce its carbon footprint; and to be inspired by real world, environmentally conscience work that is being done by Pratt’s faculty.

    You will also have the opportunity to see exhibits by studios, take part in a nationwide body painting competition sponsored by Architecture 2030 with $20,000 in prize m...

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