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Paul Young

Los Angeles, CA, United States

Member since May 08, 2007

  • Reinventing the Wheel

    Aid, Industrial Design


    When Intelligent Mobility International (IMI) received the Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics in 2008 for their wheelchair design, it was not only a triumph for the handicapped, but the design community at large. After all, designing products for the developing world has been one of the most complex and difficult problems facing designers, with precious few success stories to count. Yet IMI’s wheelchair is currently enjoying extraordinary success in Guatemala, where the company initiated a pilot program earlier this year. That’s because co-founders Rudy Roy, Ben Sexson, Dan Oliver and Charlie Pyott collaborated closely with Guatemalans to produce a simple, inexpensive chair made from common materials found worldwide – most notably bicycle parts. It’s as simple as it is elegant, necessary as it is affordable, and it’s being embraced over American-made models that cost 10 times as much. “I can train sports better with this chair,” says Marco Sacba, a 16 year-old with low brain paralysis. “It’s very light and comfortable.”


    The chair was initially developed in a classroom at California’s Institute of Technology (Caltech), which specializes in engineering. Three years ago, Dr. Ken Pickar, a veteran of Bell Laboratories and GE, was teaching a class in basic design when some of his students came to him and asked him to initiate a class devoted to developing countries. “They wanted to design for people living on $1 per day,” says Pickar, who’s...

  • The Rebirth of Corita

    Arts & Culture, Communication Design


    Barack Obama ran his campaign on “hope,” so it’s not such a surprise that the inspirational messages of Sister Mary Corita Kent are becoming popular again. Back in the 1960s, Corita was considered something of a rebel, or at least a model of integrity, in an age of mass cynicism, violence and cultural revolution. Though she was a practicing nun, she rejected the conservatism of the church and produced brightly-hued, pop art graphics that routinely denounced war and public policy, and beseeched all to embrace hope, peace and most of all love.

    Buckminster Fuller, Charles & Ray Eames and Saul Bass were some of her most vociferous fans, but her star dipped significantly after she passed away in 1986, and to this day, she’s rarely discussed in art history classes.


    But that’s changing says Alexandra Carrera, the director of the Corita Art Center says, “When I got here in 2000 there was nothing going on. But there has been so much interest in the last couple of years that it’s unbelievable.”

    That includes book signings, touring exhibitions (she’s the subject of the National Museum’s next Exhibit’s USA program), and a number of gallery and museum exhibitions around the world, including Germany, London, Sweden, Greece, Australia and the US. “The interest is wonderful,” says Jan Steward, a former student and Corita’s co-author on “Learning By Heart: Teaching to Free the Creative Spirit.” “But it makes sense. She’s the perfect artist for the Obama gener...

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    “Designers have been failing to humanize their work for years,” explains Brian Collins, president of the New York-based design firm COLLINS:. “The problem is that they apply a top down approach, where they impose their design onto something or someone. Yet what they should be doing is thinking of word ‘design’ as being synonymous with ‘empathy’ and working from the bottom up.

    Bottom up design is actually more prevalent than Collins lets on. In fact, there’s a growing social awareness among designers, many of who are using their own empathic techniques to tackle some of the world’s thorniest problems. Collins for instance, designed the campaign around Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection earlier this year, while Martin Kace of Empax heightened awareness of stem cell research, and World Studio Foundation partnered with AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) to launch its Urban Forest Project. “My definition of good design is hope made visible,” explains Collins. “Which means, you want to do something that is responsive to people’s needs, ambitions, and dreams, but you also want to do something that makes things happen.”

    Perhaps the most successful firm working in this area is also the biggest: the Palo Alto-based IDEO (eye-dee-oh). David Kelley, Mike Nuttall and Bill Moggridge founded the company in 1991 after designing the first mouse for Apple, the first laptop for GRiD and the first smart phone for Palm. But these days IDEO’s staff of ...

  • Curitiba’s Mr. Clean

    Community, Environmental Design


    Jaime Lerner has a bone to pick with Al Gore. Granted, as one of Brazil’s leading lights in terms of green urban planning and architecture, he’s grateful for Gore’s ability to raise awareness on global warming. But he’s frustrated that people have become so overwhelmed that they don’t know what to do. “People are behaving like terminal patients,” says the 70-year-old Lerner. “Instead of acting, they are just talking. Instead of looking at their own lives and seeing that they can do something about carbon emissions – the majority of which come from cities – they’re just throwing their hands in the air. And this makes me very anxious because we could change all this very easily and very quickly.”


    Lerner should know. As a three-time mayor of Curitiba, a city of three million in the southern region of Brazil, he has seen his hometown grow into one of the most sustainable municipalities in the world. Its residents use 25% less fuel than other Brazilians, recycle 70% of the city’s garbage, and an astounding 99% of them claim to be happy with the way their city is run. With that in mind it’s hardly surprising that Curitiba received the United Nations Environmental Award (UNEP) in 1990, the Worldwatch Institute Prize in 1991 and the CITIES Award for Excellence in 2002. “I call it urban acupuncture,” explains Lerner of his approach, “which is where you focus on key points that increase energy and flow.”


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Contact Paul Young

My Interests

  • Industrial Design
  • Environmental Design
  • Communication Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Audio/Visual Design