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  • LIVINGBOX - temporary mobile living space

    Arts & Culture, Industrial Design


    The homless, contemporary nomad, traveler without roots, marginalized and excluded from today's society. Commonly thought of as a poor, dirty and unforseeable weird, often unshaven and dressed in many layers of clothing. The symbolic return to the primitive man, unaware of cultivation and hunting, surviving only on what nature provides. Dependant on trade, the contemporary nomad, searches for goods exchangeable for legal tender, which provide him with a minimum existence and sometimes pleasure. Many of them, have no conscience of a place in which they felt they would belong.They are owned by the city and the city belongs to them.In search of waste paper, PET bottles,metal, the homeless often wander around the city. The action which we are proposing is aimed at locating the project's fixed elements of the projects in differnt parts of the city. Analysing the different idealistic guidelines of the project, we took into account the ever present problem of homelessness in large cities.We decided to design a mobile home for the homeless, enabling them to ensure for themselves a roof over their heads.The shelter, in the form of a box, distributed in any nmber of quantities could appear in different parts of the city.The homeless, equipped with a unified sleeping module does not have to worry when spending the night in a distant city district.Provided with a map he will quickly find the base, where after its installment, he will have the possibility to wash himself or prepare for hi...

  • Taking a Pledge to Make Positive Change

    Community, Communication Design


    Design Can Change ( is a project created by designers that believe that positive change can happen by working together. The website is slick (sometimes annoyingly so) however the message is good.

    Take the Design Can Change pledge:

    In my professional practice, I will endeavor to: Learn, Think, Act, Inform, Unite.

    Learn: Engage in the topic and seek to understand the issues

    Think: Make a sustainable mindset second nature

    Act: Put my knowledge to use in my daily work

    Inform: Share information and build awareness for sustainability

    Unite: Spark change through collective strength

    Take the Pledge

  • Who's the Neanderthal Now?

    Community, Industrial Design

    I am watching the Science Channel right now; it’s a special on Neanderthals (particularly interesting considering I’m reading Galapagos).

    It’s now believed that, contrary to past assumptions, Neanderthals were not the slow-witted brutes they are usually portrayed as. On the contrary, their brains were probably larger than ours, not smaller, although their bodies were stockier and built for power, not speed. They ate a lot of meat, and hunted in close proximity to their prey, using thick, heavy spears to track animals in forested areas.

    As the planet warmed up, the forests became thinner and a new species emerged: modern man. We were built different from Neanderthals; our bodies were lighter, more agile, and better suited for hunting on the plains. We had smaller brains but lighter, swifter tools - projectile spears that flew farther and faster than Neanderthal's clumsy weapons.

    The Neanderthals could have watched modern man, even adopted their weapons and hunting strategies, but in the end, they would have faced a dismal truth: they were simply not built for survival in this brave new world. They had evolved themselves into a corner, and “as their habitat collapsed around them, so did they.”

    It was not the superiority of modern man that wiped out a brutish, lesser animal. The environment changed, and the Neanderthals were incapable of adapting to change with it.

    After watching this episode, I am struck by its relevance to our current state of affairs. Many art...

  • What is Equitable Development?

    Community, Environmental Design

    As you may or may not know, I have been doing some exciting work with Ma’at Youth Academy in Richmond, CA.

    MYA, as we call it, empowers youth through environmental education, and right now, we’re working on a “Youth Vision and Framework” for the City’s General Plan. Our students have met with the Mayor, attended a Leadership Institute sponsored by Urban Habitat, and are eager to share their opinions about development with city leaders. Most of all, they constantly inspire me with their resilience. Many of them go to more funerals in a year than I’ve been to in the last ten, yet they never lose their passion for social justice. I wondered last week if it was the violence my students face that makes them yearn for a better world, when one of them was quoted in the Contra Costa Times.

    The connection between environmental and social justice is nothing new to me, but I must admit, it was Omar Freilla who really brought the message home for me. He put into simple terms something I had known in my heart all my life: no matter how much we like to think so, there is no “away.” There is no away we can throw trash to. There is no away we can hide our slums in, no away we can send our poor, huddled masses of our unemployed, our undervalued, our under-appreciated. We cannot send them east or south or west or north and pretend they are not there.

    Freilla talked about the low-income areas of the U.S. that bear the brunt of the high-income ones: New York’s South Bronx, Sa...

  • Live and Let Live

    Environment, Environmental Design

    I have come to believe there are two kinds of gardeners. The first kind is constantly plagued by pests. Slugs eat her lettuce, white flies devour her broccoli, and birds steal her blueberries. She sprays her plants with every known pesticide she can find, chases the birds away with screams and tantrums, and generally tears her hair out over every berry eaten or hole made in her lettuce leaves. It is an ongoing war, with this gardener and her plants on one side, and the pests that plague them on the other.

    Then, there is the second kind of gardener: the kind who plants enough for everyone.

    The primary difference between these two gardeners is their world view. The first sees a world of scarcity: every berry lost to a predator is a berry that should belong to her. The second gardener sees a world of abundance: although she too has slugs and aphids and birds, she plants extra, and there is always more than enough for everyone.

    How amazing is nature, that functions on an ROI of a hundred or more? One broccoli seed can not only produce four or five heads of broccoli but, if let go to seed, the plant will produce hundreds of seeds for a hundred more plants. Most beautifully, it does this all with sunlight, carbon dioxide, soil nutrients, and water; it produces no toxic waste in the process, and when its life cycle ends, it gives back every nutrient it’s taken and then some. Has anything humans created ever matched this amazing process?

    I have not been gardening long - about t...

  • I sat in on a FLOW meeting last night and found it very interesting. They asked participants to read “A Story of Two Idealists,” by Michael Strong, from the FLOW website. The story is about two people, Julian and Patrice, who want to “save/change the world” - your typical “idealist,” comme moi, you might say.

    The story goes: Julian works at all these non-profits, making no money, fighting City Hall to no avail. He eventually becomes a school teacher (again, making no money), and essentially resigns himself to being a cog in a machine that he has zero control over. In he end, he becomes disillusioned with the inefficacy of the school system, and though he makes differences in a few people’s lives (comme, no doubt, George Bailey a la It’s a Wonderful Life), he can’t take it anymore and quits teaching.

    Patrice, the second idealist, gets involved with FLOW, which aims to use capitalism/free enterprise/the system, whatever you want to call it, to make a difference. She learns to turn swords into ploughshares, I guess. Presumably, Patrice, because she is making a good living and changing the world through micro-entrepreneurship and international sustainability groups, doesn’t fall victim to the disillusionment that Julian does. She sees her work actually amounting to something, and it makes her a happier person.

    Now, I understand the logic of these stories. They remind me, actually, of a speaker I heard at the D.C. Green Festival, who said (and I’m paraphrasi...

  • Global Warming, Polio, and AIDS

    Community, Communication Design

    I am starting to feel that all the solutions to carbon sequestration (and, incidentally, other global “problems”) have been tainted by our planet’s experience with polio.

    Now, what, you ask, does global warming have to do with polio?

    The poliomyelitis virus was a singular, non-adaptive enemy. Single cause, single effect. Our immune systems love this kind of attacker: the virus is introduced, and an antibody is produced, protecting us from all future attacks. Thousands of years of evolution have given us the benefit of this seemingly “perfect” immune response. Jonas Salk actually relied on this to develop his vaccine, which, like other vaccines, effectively “tricks” our bodies into thinking they have contracted a disease, so it will produce antibodies to protect us from future infections. So simple, yet it saves millions of lives.

    In truth, vaccines have done us wonderful good, but they have conditioned us as a species to expect magic-bullet solutions to larger, systemic problems for which there are no magic bullets, save the elimination of our very culture.

    AIDS, for example, is a complex disease, caused by a virus that is not only adaptive and prone to mutation, but also uses our immune systems against us. Every day, the scientific community is thwarted by this enemy, that is always one step ahead of our adaptive capacity. Add to the biochemical nature of the disease the dozens of ways it can spread from host to host, and the cultural barriers that hamper ...

  • Is Gas the New Grain?

    Environment, Industrial Design

    My Ecological Economics professor told us a story in class from - of all things - the Bible, about Joseph. It came to mind again as I was reading an article in the Christian Science Monitor.

    Joseph, if you recall, held a position as Pharaoh’s adviser. Pharaoh had a dream of seven fat cows followed by seven lean ones, which Joseph interpreted as a kingdom-saving premonition: Egypt would have seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Joseph advised Pharaoh to store up grain during the coming “fat” years, to insure against the “lean” ones, so that his people would not starve.

    Now, the Christian Science Monitor mentions Joseph’s story as historical reference to climate change patterns, but I think the real lesson (if we’re talking about environmental responsibility) is in the behavior of Pharaoh in the story.

    You see, Pharaoh wasn’t stupid. He knew that in the lean years, everyone would have to come to him for grain. At first, the people gave him all the gold they had. When they ran out of gold, they traded their livestock for grain. When they ran out of livestock, they traded their freedom. And that, the story goes, is how Pharaoh amassed the army of slaves he needed to build the pyramids.

    Pharaoh knew what was coming down the pipeline, but instead of sharing the information, he capitalized on it. I mean, if insider trading can secure you massive amounts of slave labor, why share the wealth? It’s not like you have a moral obligation as the lead...

  • Why Sustainability is Like Surfing

    Environment, Environmental Design

    It occurred to me recently, living a sustainable life is very similar to big wave surfing. And, living a restorative life is like surfing... Maverick's. 

Maverick's is perhaps one of the most challenging point breaks on earth. It's about a half-mile offshore, first of all, so you have to paddle for twenty minutes just to get to it. It's cold, dense seawater, not light and warm like its Pacific cousin, Waimea. There are sharks - including Great Whites, who frequent the nearby Farallon islands. Where it crashes, there is a maze of underwater caves and crevasses ready to snag your leash line. You have to be at the very top of your game to surf Maverick’s, because if you don't, when you wipeout, there is a very good chance you will be dead in the water.

The thing about greatness is, you must be at the top of your game every time you step up to the plate. There is a reason why so few companies are sustainable, and even fewer are restorative. It takes an incredible commitment to paddle for twenty minutes in a freezing cold ocean, just for the chance to get one ride that might last 30 seconds, that might, in fact, end your surfing career (not to mention your life) if you make one small mistake during those thirty seconds. Yet people do it. People do it every day Maverick's is surfable. Why?

The ride. It's all about the ride. Knowing that for a moment, you were riding a force of nature. That you were held in the hand of something so much greater than you, more eternal than you, th...

  • hello everyone!


    Well, to be honest,this is the first time i have actually came across DESIGN 21, and i honestly feel that this is a GREAT orgainsation, one that manages to make an impact in people's life! ((: Design 21 not only engages the public but also make us want to be a part of it, to make a difference with design!

    i haven really explore much, but i know, i will soon!

    I am sure a good design is one that not only looks good but one that the world would benfit from. Afterall, designers were born to make this world a better place, werent they? three cheers designers!

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