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Daniel Stillman

New York, NY, United States

Designer (Product Design)

Member since May 10, 2007

  • Modular Electronics for Greener Tech

    Environment, Industrial Design


    My firm has been working on the Bug Labs platform for some time now, and I'm glad to see it getting some of the attention it deserves. I think more focus can be given to the Green aspects of this design - you buy modules you want, instead of a whole new machine. This is similar to the drive to have universal cellphone chargers. When your cellphone breaks, the charger, while perfectly good, goes into the trash. Bug Labs allows to you to add or subtract functionality, or share with your friends, more easily. Many of my designer friends have resisted buying multifunction printers for this reason. The print heads die quickly - but the scanner still you wind up with a choice - buy all new, keep a GIANT scanner with a useless printer or...? Some manufacturers let you replace the print heads more easily, but this is far from standard. Make electronics more modular and people can upgrade, replace and grow their tech while staying more environmentally friendly and economical.

  • Green Week At Pratt

    Environment, Industrial Design

    Short notice, I know...but Paul Polak is giving the keynote address at Pratt's Higgins Hall on Thursday the 27th at 6pm.

    Mr. Polak founded International Development Enterprises which is a great organization that designs solutions that address root causes of poverty. His products include a $25 treadle pump and small farm drip-irrigation systems priced as low as $3 which helped increase poor farmers' net income by $288 million annually. IDE received a $14 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation in 2006, and in 2004 it received Ernst & Young's "Entrepreneur of the Year" award in the social responsibility category.

    check out the rest of pratt's green week at

  • If you haven't already, read this article. It's a sobering, thoughtful critique of designdom's optimism. I was taught in school that designers could design anything. Once we learned "design thinking" we could approach and solve any problem. Research, user ethnography, brainstorming, mapping, prototyping, testing, validation, second prototypes,'s a pretty powerful paradigm, to be sure. It sounds a lot like the scientific method in many ways...and makes us think we can solve the world's problems.

    "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 relevant values. Such is rarely the case."

    While I share the optimism of my time...that design can change the world, I think taking a moment to realize that great designs often fail to catch on is worthwhile. We can think great thoughts, design wonderful social systems and processes, but we can't make the horse drink. Maybe it wasn't really good design, then, if it didn't catch on...or the market got in the way, the time was...

  • Nature Giving Way to Virtual Reality

    Community, Environmental Design


    There have been a few Design21 competitions that focus on "awareness campaigns" with the idea that if people don't know about a problem or issue, not much will happen. I saw this article in Wired which demonstrates, I guess, the converse argument. Some researchers from the Nature Conservancy found a correlation (which isn't causation) between the rise in video games and the internet with a drop in fishing and hunting permits. "Good!" some may say...."people are enjoying nature without killing it." But I think, sustainable use of natural resources creates a population of people inspired to preserve nature.

    Along with the awareness campaigns we're building we should support causes that bring kids into the wilderness, building the next generation of Nature's protectors.

  • Designism Podcast



    It may be a day late and a dollar short, but the good folks at Designism 2.0 emailed me that their full podcast is online here. Relive all your favorite moments! Mine, as you know, was Mr. Wolff hushing the whole crowd with his "Stop designing stuff" rant. And then Dr. Milton Glaser operating on him.


    Do check it out. The enthusiasm and hope is a great thing. Design can make a difference.

  • Wow...just to get some of the initial wow off my chest...Michael Wolff was a breath of acrid fresh air that turned a big pat on our backs into a gripping deathmatch of design philosophy.

    Milton was right: We should take part in the world around us...because we have to. It's our imperative as citizens to do something. Not just stay home and read, as Michael enjoined us to.

    "Design is an Act of Planning"

    Yes Milton! He went on to say that Design is not style...Design is its result, its consequence.

    Michael said: "Everyone can Design. Design is Over."

    Yes Michael! Everyone can use Photoshop and Illustrator and Maya and make a computer model of a shitty product or a bad awareness campaign. Michael said earlier that Design had to be Disruptive to rise above this cacophony of banal design.

    But no...Milton told us that New Design is introduced in terms of the Known. Good design seems familiar, then...not alien.

    It was so very exciting.

    many other good things: Ellen Sitkin's ad work on, Andrew Sloat's sweet and endearing constitutional educational-love-ins. I have a bubble from Ji Lee's bubble project that's going up in the Clinton-Washington G. Look for it!

  • I'm done! Self Promotion!

    Community, Industrial Design


    My thesis is complete and I'm very happy!

    Our project was all about getting people moving around cities. The bicycle is great device, but too large for most urban dwellings. Bikes are also long range vehicles - all wrong for the shorter distances many have to travel in dense urban spaces. I think it can replace bikes and encourage more people to leave their cars at home for short errands.

    Fact One: many subway lines are at capacity in NYC...and very little expansion is planned

    Fact Two: 1 million more people will live in NYC in the next 10 years.

    Fact Three: Many of these people will seek more affordable housing...which is largely away from subway-rich areas.

    Fact Four: Buses are on average about as fast as running.

    Fact Five: Euro-styled Bike parking around subways takes more real estate than NYC can afford.

    The footbike is like an oversized scooter-cum-half-bicycle. Our user testing showed that people enjoyed riding it, and that the folding functionality was a welcome feature. The stem also folds down, allowing it to ultimately fold into thirds...It can definitely address some of these urbanization issues...I'll upload some pics on more coroflot site soon...

  • The Footbike...My thesis in progess!

    Community, Industrial Design


    hey all, my thesis partner and I did a presentation about our solution for crowded cities...foot bikes. Yes, footbikes.

    What's a footbike?

    Well, it's like a scooter and a bike had kids. Large wheeled, comfortable and stable, you can fold it up and bring in it on the train, store it in your house and use it to get where you need to go...Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan's Design Meetup hosted the event (every month at Design Within Reach) and he was kind enough to blog about us...I'm hoping to get some updated images. He's showing our micro-scooter concept, not the footbike as it is envisioned now...

  • Worrell Industrial Design

    Community, Industrial Design


    I was cruising the internet (as I often do) and I found Worrell, a small but powerful design firm in the midwest...check out their presentation

    at Solutions Twin Cities, a recurring event to cultivate social design thinking...I don't know about you, but this makes me want to move to Minneapolis. Worrell's presentation is about how they applied design research thinking to make some improvements for Film Aid International. It's seven minutes well spent, so watch and learn!

    also, more videos at solutions twin cites including how to make a green room in seven minutes...

  • Read a great, hard-hitting review of the Cooper-Hewitt show at Design Observer, written by David Stairs. Here's a snippet:

    Is there a realistic response designers from developed countries can offer? A starting point might be to recognize that in many cases, we don't need to remake other people or their societies in our image and likeness. The idea of design intervention--sustainable or otherwise--may feel very intrusive to people who are still reeling from 150 years of colonial intervention. (You don't just waltz into a patriarchal society and aggressively advocate equal opportunity for women, or deliver pumps and boreholes to peasant farmers without understanding the sociology of migratory herdsmen). Living among other people and learning to appreciate their values, perspectives and social mores is an excellent tool of design research. (To their credit, both Polak and Fisher have spent considerable time abroad, not just user-testing, but living and working with their client-partners.) Education is also a wonderful access point, as is a required second language. But how many design curricula are supporting, let alone implementing such global initiatives?

    Thanks Core77

    Which leads to my question - what schools are going this? Parsons, for one. Art Center College of Design is another. Karen Fiss is running the Just Design Studio at CalArts. Anyone know her or anyone know anyone at CalArts? Design21 wants to partner with schools, raise awareness, outreach, depth of involveme...

Empathy + Intelligence + Creativity = Design

Contact Daniel Stillman
Empathic Design Blog

My Interests

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