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Date: Wednesday, 21 Dec 2011 20:46

Over the next months while the Design with the Other 90%: CITIES exhibition is on display at the United Nations Headquarters in New York several individuals whose own research explores the exhibition’s subject matter have been invited to write blog entries sharing their insights, related research and projects. – Cynthia E. Smith, Curator of Socially Responsible Design, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

The Peters Projection Map

What does it mean to be a developing country? Among other things, it means that the country’s future is to become developed, or so it seems.

In 2010 I launched a competition that challenged the commonly held idea that developed countries are a model to follow with an open call for designers and thinkers from the “third world” to invent creative solutions for some of the most pressing “first world” problems - eating disorders, low birth rate and aging population and consumerism. The Design for the First World competition (Dx1W) was created in part as a call to arms for developing countries to take their future into their own hands, rather than leave it in the hands of well intentioned “do-gooders” or the International Monetary Fund.

Real TIme Chat by Layla Cavalcante, the winning entry in Dx1W

The online competition received 30 design submissions and interest from over 150 countries – from Bangladesh to Mexico. The winning entry was selected by an international jury of designers, architects and thinkers from “third world countries” whose own work is relevant to entire world. The proposal, Real Time Chat, came from Brazil’s Layla Cavalcante. Addressing technology-based isolation an add-on device for headphones indicates the user willingness to chat with strangers. The runner-up was Powdered Neem as Fast Food Condiment from Bangladesh, a provocative proposal that tackles obesity by using the bitter leaf neem on fast food.

Credit: Juana Medina

Design for the First World organizers declared 2010 as the Year of the First World In Need. In retrospect, as we approach the end of 2011, this might have been the better year for that prescient title. If events continue along the same path it may be an apt title in the years that follow too. Hopefully this will establish a new order where the “rest” can play an equally important role as the “west” - in the only world we have.

Carolina Vallejo is a designer and educator, from Colombia. She currently spends her time between Makerhood, Nexus Interactive Arts and Superflux in London, the Koshirakura Landscape Workshop in Japan, the Institute of advanced architecture of Catalonia in Barcelona and cooking everywhere she can.

Author: "vallejoc" Tags: "90%"
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Date: Friday, 16 Dec 2011 19:19

Over the next months while the Design with the Other 90%: CITIES exhibition is on display at the United Nations Headquarters in New York several individuals whose own research explores the exhibition’s subject matter have been invited to write blog entries sharing their insights, related research and projects. – Cynthia E. Smith, Curator of Socially Responsible Design, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

Design as a tool to support the political power of the poor in Cape Town — moving from a dream to reality.

It is time to rethink the significance of design in our urbanizing world. This is one of the many things that I have learned from communities linked to Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Design can be seen as a political tool to support the poor to bridge the divides that exist in cities in the Global South. 

Consider a story of just one small community that has become the spark for work across one of the biggest cities in Africa. There’s an area in Cape Town, South Africa, called Philippi, which has many informal neighborhoods with shacks almost literally on top of each other. Along Sheffield Road, there is a small neighborhood of 167 shack households. The shacks there were locked in a tight configuration where the only way to walk through the area was through a narrow maze of dark alleys. There were no toilets and only a couple water points.  This land was reserved for future widening of the road. Therefore, the city government had no plans to develop the area.  

Sheffield Road residents discuss a plan for "re-blocking" a cluster of shacks in the neighborhood.
But the community used design as a tool to (1) organize itself, (2) plan its space, and (3) negotiate with the city. Led by the women in the community, they began saving small amounts of money. They also performed their own socioeconomic household survey and drew a map of the existing neighborhood layout. These residents also worked with a community architect from a local NGO, the Community Organisation Resource Centre, to design a method for rearranging the shacks in the settlement to open up public space. They discussed the existing social relationships that existed between neighbors and agreed to arrange the neighborhood into clusters of about 15 shacks. In the meantime, the Cape Town city government, impressed by the initiative of the community, decided to bring toilets and water infrastructure to the neighborhood. This was despite the fact that, according to the city’s own rules, no development should occur on a road reserve.

On the day when the first cluster of 15 shacks moved, the change was remarkable. The cluster was arranged around a common courtyard. That very same day, the women in the cluster erected a washing line spanning the courtyard. Now, when I go to Sheffield Road nearly the entire neighborhood is organized in this way. Usually children are playing and parents are chatting outside, looking after their children with a watchful eye.
The neighborhood is a model for communities throughout the city. Communities from other settlements come to Sheffield Road to exchange lessons and strategies for upgrading their own settlements.  This Informal Settlement Network has come together and partnered with the city government to work on more than twenty such projects throughout the city. So the work of design in one neighborhood has become a seed for a city-wide process.

Residents of informal settlements throughout the city of Cape Town meet with municipal officials on-site in a new courtyard in the Sheffield Road neighborhood.

The lack of democracy and political inclusion in the halls of decision-making power produces exclusion from services, transport, employment, adequate shelter, and legal rights. The design of the home, the neighborhood, and the city is the foundation on which ordinary poor people are building networks of knowledge and political power. As architects, designers, planners, academics, and politicians, begin to recognize the work that the poor are already doing, they will have to imagine new kinds of partnerships with organizations of the poor. These are partnerships to include the poor in institutions that can produce something other than the divided and unequal cities emerging today.

Benjamin Bradlow works with Shack/Slum Dwellers International documenting the work of SDI-affiliated community organizations throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America and is currently a candidate for a Masters in City Planning in the International Development Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

All image credits: Benjamin Bradlow/Shack/Slum Dwellers International

Author: "bradlowb" Tags: "90%"
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Date: Friday, 16 Dec 2011 17:00

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, the Eyebeam Art + Technology Center, and Smart Design teamed up this past summer to take Jell-O on a whirlwind tour through New York City, with a Jell-O Mold Workshop for high-school students interested in food, design, and technology. Students got a chance to collaborate with leading product and industrial designers in preparation for the 2011 Jell-O Mold Competition.

Check out student design submissions here

Just in time for the holidays, these wobbly treats were featured on the CBS News Sunday Morning edition.

We hope this will inspire you to create your own Jell-O creations!

Author: "harrissm"
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Date: Tuesday, 13 Dec 2011 14:37

The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum is pleased to announce an open call for nominations for the thirteenth annual National Design Awards [http://www.cooperhewitt.org/nda] program honoring lasting achievement in American design. Each year, the Awards recognize excellence, innovation, and enhancement of the quality of life across a range of disciplines. Award categories include Lifetime Achievement, Design Mind, Corporate & Institutional Achievement, Architecture, Communication Design, Fashion Design, Interaction Design, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, and Product Design.

Help us find great designers to honor in 2012! Nominate online www.cooperhewitt.org/nda/nominate by December 15, 2011.

Author: "giannopoulosv"
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Date: Wednesday, 07 Dec 2011 20:51

DesignPrep participants pose in their newly created garments

Design with the Other 90%: CITIES, currently on view at the United Nations Visitors Center in New York, features projects, proposals, and solutions that address complex issues arising in emerging and developing economies.

DesignPrep teens participated in a multi-session workshop led by designer Trudy Miller. Inspired by the CITIES exhibition, Miller highlighted traditional and modern clothing techniques from around the world while emphasizing issues of material waste and sourcing. Teens “upcycled” – i.e., converted waste materials into new materials or products of better quality or higher environmental value – leftover scraps of fabric, transforming them into innovative garments.

Students at work creating their garments

Students pose in their garments

Miller is founder of Trudy Miller Layers, based in Brooklyn. She brings her design theories into practice with her easy-care, easy-wear clothing “systems” and mobile, multifunctional furniture. Her designs for “smarter” convertible clothing and accessories spurred participants to think outside the box.

Courtesy of Trudy Miller Layers

Author: "harrissm"
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Pitch   New window
Date: Tuesday, 06 Dec 2011 21:14

Over the next months while the Design with the Other 90%: CITIES exhibition is on display at the United Nations Headquarters in New York several individuals whose own research explores the exhibition’s subject matter have been invited to write blog entries sharing their insights, related research and projects. – Cynthia E. Smith, Curator of Socially Responsible Design, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

Child’s drawing on the slab of a demolished school, near Eudy Park KwaThema, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2010. Gareth Barry is a veteran player from the English soccer team that played in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

In March 2011, a soccer tournament was staged in KwaThema, a township 45km east of Johannesburg, South Africa. The players, in the weeks running up to it, had practiced in “keep-fit” games and cleaned up piles of rubbish in the park. Before the kick-off, herds of goats and cattle crossed the grounds to get to their grazing areas, and after it ended, the audience transformed into a loud and proud party to celebrate the memory of the lesbian soccer star, Eudy Simelane, who was slain on the same site in 2008. The quirky richness of the event was far from the institutional idea of soccer that has been growing in South Africa since the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Site cleanup at the Eudy Park, KwaThema by volunteers from the Equality Forum. February 2011.

Eudy Park tournament, KwaThema, February 2011.

Although South Africa’s World Cup bid generated images of children playing on dusty fields alongside informal settlements, the official events took place, without exception, outside of townships (name for informal settlements in South Africa). Even now, there is a considerable royalty from FIFA’s World Cup profits to be spent on soccer development and upgrading by the South African Football Association’s (SAFA) Infrastructure Development Foundation. An outstanding question remains as to whether these profits can be redistributed at grassroots level.

An example of what could go wrong occurred in 2010, when 24 “Legacy Fields” east of Johannesburg, in a standard top-down manner, were irrigated, planted with grass, then surrounded and locked behind concrete palisade fences. Since then, most of the fields, which were previously locally managed for township leagues, have become overgrown and the fences vandalized. Moreover, SAFA’s decision to only recognize games played on turf will leave many dry townships without a certifiable field.

My hope is that the experience of grassroots soccer organizations such as the DreamFields Project, Play Soccer, Grassroots Soccer, SCORE and FIFA’s Football for Hope, all of which run programs that link soccer training to social agendas, will inform the delivery of facilities in places where they are most needed. The remarkable small scale projects such as the DreamFields in Venda, Tsai Design studio’s Safmarine container club prototype and the Orange Cruyff court for Hillbrow in Johannesburg are good examples of what can be done.

Preparing the pitch for the tournament at Eudy Park, February 2011.

More over, community involvement is even more important, as self-organization around soccer predates any South African institutional interventions. Peter Alegi, a historian who writes extensively on African soccer, has related how the creation and management of teams and leagues was an activity that grew spontaneously alongside black urbanization and how individuals gained social and material success denied to them in formal, white-controlled organizations. The space for soccer, similarly, remained officially unsupported and happened on borrowed fields right up until the 1990’s.

Aerial view of Eudy Park, KwaThema. Courtesy of Ekuhuleni Metropolitan Council.

Soccer spaces like the Eudy Park in KwaThema are temporal and self-constructed layers of the township’s urbanism, counter-projects to the growing commoditization and institutional control of soccer. But recognizing its positive qualities raises deep questions about intervening in such spaces. How can spatial intervention sustain such populist, open institutions? How to recognize and support alternative formats for architecture, with its concern for permanence and the absolute ownership of space? Open fields and open institutions are vulnerable to the apparently benign nature of acts of improvement that set them apart from the township’s fluid social space.

The Imvelo Youth Development Brigade, contractors for the PITCH project, prepare a wall for graffiti signage at the edge of the Eudy Park.

Hannah le Roux is an architect and writer, and works at the University of the Witwatersrand. The PITCH project forms part of her practice-based Doctorate in the Arts at KU Leuven. The PITCH blog and its predecessor, the KwaThema Project, can be found at www.kwathema.net.

All image credits: Hannah le Roux, , unless otherwise noted

Author: "Hannahr" Tags: "90%"
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Date: Monday, 28 Nov 2011 19:27

Over the next months while the Design with the Other 90%: CITIES exhibition is on display at the United Nations Headquarters in New York several individuals whose own research explores the exhibition’s subject matter have been invited to write blog entries sharing their insights, related research and projects. – Cynthia E. Smith, Curator of Socially Responsible Design, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

Urban infrastructure in Medellín, Colombia. Informal settlements have been substantially improved with permanent housing, utilities and sewers, and pedestrian walkways – without displacing the former population.

Public architecture in South America put North America to shame. There’s something about the emerging Latin American countries that promotes viable, scalable, building projects that can transform a neighborhood, even a city – for everyone. Unlike many western countries, which have resources but lack the experience of the social dynamics of Majority World countries, South Americans seem to be able to balance access to some level of resources with an understanding of the problems they need to address – and build in a manner that elevates a broad sense of the public.

Parque Biblioteca España in the Santo Domingo neighborhood of Medellín, Colombia. A prominent library and park built in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods has transformed the area and become a destination for people from across the city.

A couple of examples from the mid-2000s: Medellín, Colombia's celebrated program for public institutional buildings and Chile’s efforts to build new public housing. Medellín's schools, parks, and libraries are remarkable, not just for their elevating design and commitment to serving underserved people (“We must build our most beautiful buildings for our humblest people,” in the words of Mayor Sergio Fajardo), but for the social infrastructure that managed such a large number of projects from design to completion – in just four years. The human design management process is every bit as impressive as the buildings themselves. Every aspect of society was involved: universities, bureaucracies, the private sector, churches, community groups, and political operatives who knew how to get projects done. The results speak for themselves.

Renca housing complex in Santiago, Chile. 170 units of 67 square meters built close to the economic center of the city, with access to transportation and services. This housing project replaces informal settlements.

A produce and food store built in front of a homeowner’s house. The value of these individual houses in Renca provides enough equity for owners to take loans and start businesses.

In Santiago, Chile a recognition that public housing was lacking became a rallying point, particularly in a country that prides itself on its ability to create infrastructure. A founding partner of Elemental, Andres Iacobelli, is now the Vice Minister of Housing, recognizing the need for professional knowledge as a basis for action. Elemental’s own program, trading more expensive locations for less individual building (i.e. better economic opportunities closer to the economic heart of the city), resulted in new social housing of significantly higher value – due to the location. Residents completed their houses on their own, and found the value of the completed house was double the investment they and the state made in the original project. They could take a loan against the equity and start a business.

Alejandro Aravena, Elemental’s founder, lamented to me that he’d only been able to build two thousand units thus far in his career. But my response to him: who else has built more?

David Mohney is the Dean Emeritus of the University of Kentucky College of Design, and was the Founding Secretary of the Curry Stone Design Prize . He is developing a research consortium of design schools in both Latin and North America.

All image credits: David Mohney

Author: "mohneyd" Tags: "90%"
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Date: Monday, 28 Nov 2011 14:47
We're proud to announce an innovative new program, Target® Design K-12: Design in the Classroom. This FREE design-based workshop comes to your classroom, and all K-12 teachers in New York City are eligible. The 45-minute session focuses on teamwork, brainstorming, and problem-solving.

Led by a museum educator, the program includes a brief introduction of how design is part of our everyday life and a design activity known as Ready, Set, Design. In addition, participating teachers are given a resource packet to learn more about how to integrate design thinking in their curriculum.

Register online today for this great opportunity to boost creativity and collaboration in your classroom!

Please share this link with the teachers in your community.

Target Design K-12 is made possible by the generous support of Target.
Author: "cisnerosk"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Nov 2011 19:20

Over the next months while the Design with the Other 90%: CITIES exhibition is on display at the United Nations Headquarters in New York several individuals whose own research explores the exhibition’s subject matter have been invited to write blog entries sharing their insights, related research and projects. – Cynthia E. Smith, Curator of Socially Responsible Design, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

Motorcycle taxis: an informal solution for traffic ridden cities

Every day millions of urban dwellers navigate Bangkok on the back of a motorcycle taxi, zigzagging through traffic or flowing into the sleepy movement inside narrow alleys. Outside Thai homes, offices, or shopping malls small groups of drivers sit in the ear-splitting noises of the city, scanning for potential clients. Few words are muttered between drivers and their passengers as they transport them through the city to their destinations. Bills pass hands, and soon, clients forget of the vessels and their captains who navigate the city.

Today about 200,000 drivers operate in Bangkok, allowing the city to function, people to reach their destination in time, newspapers to be ready in shops in the morning and lunches to be delivered to offices. Each driver averages 20 to 30 trips per day, and collectively, the motorcycle-taxi industry delivers between 4,000,000 and 6,000,000 trips per day day—about eight times the number of passengers carried daily by Bangkok’s elevated trains and subways combined. Without the motorcycle taxis, the city would immediately come to a halt, stuck in traffic.

A motorcycle-taxi driver waits for clients in front of a shopping complex.

In my own research, “The Owners of the Map: Motorcycle taxi drivers, mobility, and politics in Bangkok”, I explore the emergence and internal functioning of the motorcycle-taxi industry, as well as the drivers’ personal histories, and their attempts to be recognized as stake holders and service providers in the city. An anthropological analysis of creative ways to find more equitable and sustainable – both economically and socially – forms of transportation. The project looks at one city where motorcycle taxis are taking over, unnoticed, the burden of an unsolvable transportation mesh. My research presents the multiple roles the drivers play as transporters, messengers, and mediators, both in the life of their neighborhoods and between the city and their villages in the Thai country-side. The project was conducted in close collaboration and information-sharing with the newly formed motorcycle-taxis’ trade union of Thailand. The research offers not only an academic study of the internal functioning of informal transportation in Bangkok but also presents policy suggestions for the administration of the drivers and their inclusion into a social-welfare system. Similar processes are taking place in cities of the Global South, from Caracas to Jakarta, Abuja to Kampala, Manila to Rio de Janeiro.

Claudio Sopranzetti is a PhD student in Anthropology at Harvard University. He has been working on issues of equitable cities and urban life in Europe, East Africa, and Southeast Asia.

All image credits: Agnes Dherbeys

Author: "sopranzettic" Tags: "90%"
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Date: Thursday, 10 Nov 2011 21:01

Over the next months while the Design with the Other 90%: CITIES exhibition is on display at the United Nations Headquarters in New York several individuals whose own research explores the exhibition’s subject matter have been invited to write blog entries sharing their insights, related research and projects. – Cynthia E. Smith, Curator of Socially Responsible Design, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

The Global Lives Project team in Indonesia records the daily life of Dadah, an occasional farmer and mother of three in Sarimukti Village on the island of Java. Photo: © Antonius Riva Setiawan.

Rael Feliciano, Kai Liu and Jamila Jad have quite a few things in common. They each live at the rough edges of formal urban settlements. Rael's neighborhood, Jardim Iporanga, is a favela on the southern outskirts of São Paulo, where drug dealers and police are in a constant and often bloody tussle for power. Kai and his wife live in a small room at the back of a convenience store that they manage together - a bridge between their lives as rural farmers and peri-urbanites in Anren, a suburb of Chengdu, China. Jamila was born into refugee life in Shatila, a 62 year-old, UN-managed camp situated inside of Beirut, that has guaranteed Jamila and her family a life of material poverty with little hope of economic mobility.

The three are also extremely generous souls—they have offered the world a very intimate invitation into their everyday realities as participants in the Global Lives Project. For twenty-four continuous hours, volunteer film crews watched patiently, recording every moment of their day. They and their families also gave detailed life story interviews, which anchored their daily lives in a rich and complex context.

Excerpt: Rael Feliciano, São Paulo, Brazil (Global Lives Project, 2006)
Press the small "cc" button for English subtitles

Excerpt: Kai Liu, Anren, China (Global Lives Project, 2008)
Press the small "cc" button for English subtitles

Excerpt: Kai Liu, Anren, China (Global Lives Project, 2008)
Press the small "cc" button for English subtitles

The Global Lives videos allow the viewer a privileged vantage point from which to piece together the similarities and differences in the lives of these three individuals, as well as many others.

Following Rael through winding alleyways as he heads to a Capoeira session in his neighborhood and watching Jamila as she plays paddleball in a strikingly similar corridor near her home, one might notice the parallels of improvised urban design, albeit on opposite sides of the planet. While only a few miles away from either location it would be easy to find modern mega-structures, these communities both share a common neglect on the part of urban planners in their regions. The neglect has consequences that go far beyond the aesthetic—basic services in these areas, from electricity to sewage to telecommunications are all lacking and, in turn, pose serious health threats and significant economic burdens on their residents.

At first blush, it would be strange to compare Kai’s well-stocked convenience store in Anren to the smaller, more anemically appointed stores visited by Rael and Jamila in Jardim Iporanga or Shatila. But one critical element merits a closer look. In each of these cases, such stores are often directly connected to the homes of their owners, or, in Kai’s case, managers. Looking beyond the storefronts and into the living spaces behind or above them, we experience the inevitable coupling of commerce and intimate family life laid bare. Where those who are better off have the luxury of drawing at least an aesthetic boundary between labor and personal pursuits, those who live and work in urban peripheries often confront the fragile economics of their lives close at hand.

Of course, these observations come from a very specific perspective—my own. What might look like suffering or injustice to me could be opportunity and privilege to someone else, and vice versa. I invite you to explore the Global Lives Project’s video library of human life experience and watch from your own perspective at http://globallives.org.

David Evan Harris is the Executive Director of the Global Lives Project and Research Director at the Institute for the Future.

Author: "harrisd" Tags: "90%"
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Date: Monday, 07 Nov 2011 16:01

Installation view, Yinka Shonibare Selects: Works from the Permanent Collection exhibition, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, 2005. Photo: Andrew Garn, © Smithsonian Institution, reproduced courtesy of the artist, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, and James Cohan Gallery, New York

At a recent salon sponsored by Urban Green, industry pros discussed new strategies and the changing landscape for achieving energy efficiency in buildings that have long been exempt from such standards – museums and galleries.

Lighting designers and engineers discussed how their clients are achieving savings by evaluating heating and cooling loads, taking advantage of current high-performance LED equipment, and reexamining the standard “50/70” rule (50% relative humidity and 70 degrees Fahrenheit air temperature) for environmental controls.

In his discussion, “Energy Use in Conservation Environments,” William Lull from Garrison/Lull Inc. discussed the standard operating assumptions and mechanical systems of many museums and galleries. Typically, the levels of environmental control and causes of damage include major risk, such as fire or flood; biological attack, including vermin and mold; uses such as handling and light exposure; and protection from mechanical, chemical, and photochemical vectors. Most institutions believe they achieve environmental control if they prevent damage or biological attack, but lighting, heating, and cooling represent the largest opportunity to achieve savings.

Lull’s suggested strategies include identifying realistic goals for heating and cooling and benchmarking, or comparing, results. He also recommends reducing loads, greater system efficiency, improved operation, and examining utility sources for opportunities and cost savings. Greater efficiency can be achieved by relaxing or reducing the acceptable range of temperature or humidity, depending on the collection. The “50/70” standard is being challenged now that its affect on energy expenditure and cost is becoming an issue.

Institutions need to consider mechanical, chemical, and photochemical deterioration factors and how they affect their collections, for example, use existing warm/dry conditions, such as attics, for storage of metals. Lull suggests allowing broad humidity conditions consistent with past temperature and relative humidity range, holding cooler and drier conditions for paper and organics to reduce the rate of chemical deterioration, and using only air circulation and ventilation in unoccupied spaces to suppress humidity and mold for collections normally kept in ambient conditions.

The primary loads on systems are lighting, dehumidification, and humidification. Typically, if the air is too dry, it must be humidified. If it is too moist, it must be cooled to dew point and then reheated if too humid. When using outside air, all aspects of heating and cooling are involved, causing heavy demand on the system.

Lull discussed how several of his clients reevaluated their old assumptions and came up with new ways to achieve stable environments yet save money. At the Hay House, they chose to maintain a temperature of 70-72 degrees and a humidity range of 50% +/- 5% for the museum wing, but for period rooms maintained a temperature of 68-75 degrees and 30-60% relative humidity. For the storage of rare books at Harvard, book storage was set at 40-50 degrees (which saves money in a cold climate) and humidity levels at 30-60%. Variable frequency drives (VFD) were used on fans, and hot and chilled water for maximum efficiency. At Stony Brook, controls were reduced to three: off, re-circulate, and ventilate, depending on conditions. Settings grab outside air only when conditions are favorable. The only control is a fan.

Mr. Lull notes that micro-climate generators are the new frontier in interior case climate control. These devices aim to control the immediate climate inside cases by precisely regulating humidity, rather than the entire gallery.

Chad Groshart from Atelier Ten discussed high-performance, low-energy lighting design. Museums have long prized high performance in color rendering and low levels of UV output over lamp life and concerns about heat generation affecting overall gallery climate. Halogens are the most popular lamp types, as they offer good color, low UV, and low cost. However, they burn very hot. Eighty percent of the energy is turned into heat, which means a high bill for lighting energy as well as for cooling the space.

Other lamp options include flourescents and LEDs. Flourescents are desirable for their efficiency and have a long lamp life and low cost, but have not worked well in museum settings where greater controls are required. LEDs now offer 97+ CRI. They have less UV than any other source. Most use less than 1/10 watt of energy. An LED lamp has 50,000 hours of life verses about 4,000 hours for halogen.

Lighting controls offer a way to maximize efficiency. In a case study at Yale, a small jewelbox-like display of brains in jars was a showcase for low-energy lamps and strategies to reduce light use. Visitors push buttons in each case and get five minutes of light. All lights are on a timer, so if there are no visitors, there are no lights.

There is a groundswell towards the use LEDs in museums. Several institutions are engaging in modest, grass-roots testing, such as San Francisco MoMA, the Getty Institute, American Museum of Natural History, and the Norton Simon. The Smithsonian American Art Museum participated recently in a Gateway study conducted by the Department of Energy. The LEDs tested had one-third the energy use and 75% savings compared to halogens, with no visible difference in CRI. The Getty has conducted lots of research comparing LEDs to halogen, and has found no difference or even slower deterioration to objects by LEDs.

In their technological infancy, LEDs suffered from early burnouts. Groshart cautions to use only the highest quality light engine (he recommends XICATO) and the most reputable manufacturers, such as LSI (known for being experimental), Phillips, and Lumenpulse. As institutions put their toes in the water and more demand is placed by museums on performance, the industry response will provide more and more viable options. Eventually there will be a huge shift to LED lighting in museums.

The last speaker, from SOM, reviewed tightening standards according to ASHRAE 90.1, Appendix G. (ASHRAE is the American Society for Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, and is the benchmark for commercial building codes in the United States and a basis for many international codes.) Museums are not exempt from energy standards – in LEED version 2.2, they must achieve a baseline of 1.0 watts per square foot to earn credit 1 in the Energy and Atmosphere category. One SOM client, the National Museum of the U.S. Army, wanted to achieve 5.6 watts per square foot. But SOM’s analysis, which showed their client that this amount of watts per square foot would result in using 29% of the entire building’s energy, were eventually convinced to reduce their usage to 2.5 watts per square foot, although it was a tough sell.

Author: "groomjo"
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Date: Friday, 04 Nov 2011 20:59
Over the next months while the Design with the Other 90%: CITIES exhibition is on display at the United Nations Headquarters in New York several individuals whose own research explores the exhibition’s subject matter have been invited to write blog entries sharing their insights, related research and projects. – Cynthia E. Smith, Curator of Socially Responsible Design, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

By 2030, 40% of India's population will be urban-dwellers. That's 590 million people, up from 350 million in 2011, with the combination of internal migration and population growth placing serious stress on urban infrastructure.

In meeting the challenges raised by an urban future, much attention has been paid to regional master plans and the 'smart city', where large corporations fight for the right to implement their own bundle of technological fixes. We believe that such top-down solutions are short-sighted. In seeing like a town planner, working solely from metrics and quantitative datasets, actors miss the nuances of local meaning and vernacular practice.

Instead, we take a closer look at India's informal economy. As a first step, we jump into an auto-rickshaw. The rickshaw wallah (worker) has entertainment covered: the latest Bollywood tunes blare out of the speakers, a bonus service that keeps you up to date with the latest hits. A corner shop has borrowed their neighbor's television cable to set up a TV booth. If you visit the barber for a shave, you can listen to market updates on the shop radio. The paanwallah sells you tobacco, but he'll also update you with the latest real estate tips. Among the stalls of street food, the horoscope machine of a 'robot wallah' holds your future in its tiny, painted hands.

The wallahs and wallihs show the reach of India's street entrepreneurship. Those who sell you a service also pass on information about property markets and cricket scores. Their information might not be efficient or personalized, but these wallahs comprise an important service infrastructure; as human networked-data-nodes that connect communities, traversing a unique path through the city.

India's smart city already exits. This is an elastic city, resilient and supremely adaptable, with flexible nodes stretching and shifting to accommodate changing techno-social landscapes. A map that would normally look ‘boring’ suddenly becomes far more intriguing, as we populate it with the nodes and providers who service – and constitute – the elastic city.

As part of our Superflux Lab activities, we are exploring the design and development of appropriate tools to facilitate rapid change in India. Eventually, we hope this work will allow city-dwellers to act on an environment where service providers demonstrate entrepreneurial savvy under messy, organic conditions.

by Anab Jain, Justin Pickard and Jon Ardern, Superflux

All image credits: Superflux, unless otherwise noted

Author: "superflux" Tags: "90%"
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Date: Wednesday, 26 Oct 2011 17:38

Design with the Other 90%: CITIES exhibition opened last week at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to large crowds and international press. The exhibition’s location provides a unique opportunity to connect numerous stakeholders, including design professionals, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, academics, those in the public and private sector, and the general public.

During my field research I found the most successful projects were those that developed from a reciprocal design exchange between residents living in the informal settlements and designers. There are close to 1 billion living in informal settlements throughout the cities in the global south. A number that is expected to grow to 2 billion in 20 years as people are pushed by changing climates and conflict; or pulled by the desire for work and more freedom. Many local municipalities cannot keep up with this rapid urban expansion so it is critical that good ideas and designs can be shared with those migrating to these urban areas. The display of design projects and proposals at the UN, along with the CITIES website, design blog and Design Other 90 Network seeks to expand the conversation about how design role in improving peoples’ lives around the world.

To further this design exchange over the next months, while the exhibition is on display at the UN, individuals and organizations whose own research explores the exhibition’s subject matter have been invited to write blog entries sharing their insights, related research and projects with an aim to broaden the dialogue raised by the exhibition and to highlight other important work, projects, and ideas.

Author: "smithce" Tags: "90%"
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Date: Thursday, 20 Oct 2011 15:06

Design Watch Members enjoyed a special evening with Cooper-Hewitt trustee Richard Meier at the opening of Art in Architecture: Selected Works by Richard Meier in Brooklyn. This exhibition is hosted in Richard Meier’s own architectural project, Richard Meier on Prospect Park. Meier’s collages and sculptures complement his architecture in various, unexpected ways. In contrast to his architectural drawings, his collages are nonrepresentational, yet like the drawings, they record the artist’s creative process. The collages are comprised of small fragments of found items, often gleaned from Meier’s travels and his projects around the world.

The sculptures are made from discarded wooden elements of Getty models, cast in stainless steel and then reassembled into interlocking compositions that underscore spatial qualities and scale. Both the collages and sculptures function as aesthetic explorations.

Art in Architecture: Selected Works by Richard Meier is co-curated by Emily Cheng and Monica Ramirez-Montagut. Additional support is provided by Richard Meier & Partners Architects and Gallery @ 1GAP. The exhibition will be on display through January 15, 2012.

Author: "ahnd"
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Date: Tuesday, 11 Oct 2011 17:13

Hundreds of Washington, DC high-school students gathered at the Kogod Courtyard of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery to participate in one of the biggest teen design events of the year. DC teens were invited to learn about design careers from the National Design Award winners, finalists, and jurors working in the fields of fashion, industrial design, graphic, communication, landscape, and architecture. Design colleges from the DC area were also in attendance to counsel the students on a potential design education. Students had the opportunity to ask the designers their burning questions about what it’s like to be a designer and to work in the design field. The buzz of excitement was palpable as the students traveled from one designer’s table to another gripping their programs to see who they could speak to next. The event concluded with inspiring words from keynote speaker Tim Gunn, who’s always a huge hit with the students!

The thrill of the day’s events continued after the Teen Design Fair was over. Every year the First Lady hosts a luncheon at the White House honoring the year’s National Design Awards winners and finalists. This year, fifteen outstanding DC high-school students with an interest in design were selected to attend the luncheon and be seated with the honorees. Before the lunch began, the students waited expectantly in the Red Room of the White House for Mrs. Obama to appear to have her photo taken with the group. The moment she floated into the room an audible gasp was emitted from all of the students. Mrs. Obama spoke with the students about their interests in design and gave them encouraging words to always follow their dreams. It was evident that the group was deeply moved by the events of the day. Perhaps the moment that describes it best is when one of the students, Princess Lawrence, said to Mrs. Obama, “Next time I’m at the White House I’ll be one of the National Design Award winners!”

Author: "sicilianom"
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Date: Friday, 30 Sep 2011 20:33

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum has just acquired its first digital font, the Clearview family of typefaces. Featured in Cooper-Hewitt’s 2010 National Design Triennial: Why Design Now? exhibition, Clearview is a beautiful example of design as a form of social activism. As baby boomers reach their mid- to late sixties, highway sign legibility has become an important issue. The Clearview project seeks to improve the readability of signage for drivers, especially those over the age of sixty-five, who constitute roughly one-sixth of the driving public. Since the 1940s, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration has used a standard typeface colloquially known as Highway Gothic (FHWA E-modified). One of the main issues with this font is that at night, letters can appear to have a halo around them due to the reflective surface on which the signs are printed.

The design team of Donald Meeker and Chris O’Hara from Meeker Associates and type designer James Montalbano of Terminal Design, working with researchers from the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute and the Texas Transportation Institute, showed that Highway Gothic did not meet the needs of older drivers, many of whom have reduced contrast sensitivity (especially with highly reflective road-sign materials) and slower reactions to changing road conditions. To meet this challenge, Meeker and Montalbano created a new font comprised of graceful, elegant letterforms that increase visibility at night and from a distance.

The designers achieved their goal by adopting several strategies, such as using mixed-case letters as opposed to the original all-capital-letter Highway Gothic font; opening up the interstices of problematic lowercase letters (a, e, s); and increasing the height of lowercase letters with respect to capital letters. Most important, they achieved greater clarity without enlarging the size of signs and adding visual clutter to the roadways.

Clearview received provisional approval for use on positive-contrast road signs (light against a dark background) from the FHA in 2004, giving states the choice of adopting the font for their expressway signage. It is presently used in more than twenty states and has also been adapted for road signs in Cyrillic and Greek. Clearview’s designers still have kinks to work out, including issues with letter spacing and approvals for dark- and light-contrast signage. But the fact that designers are recognizing that an increasing segment of the population has problems with reading signage is a significant first step in a broader design challenge.

Author: "davidsong"
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Date: Tuesday, 27 Sep 2011 19:18


High-school students in New York City are part of an ever increasing digital generation. They not only have an extensive knowledge about social media tools and technology— but also use it on a daily basis. A few of these teens participated in a workshop series at Cooper-Hewitt on interaction design, or design that focuses on human interaction with objects, environments, and digital technology.

During the workshop series, the students learned that the process of interaction design involves discovering, identifying, brainstorming and prototyping products and experiences that engage the senses. Interaction designers Katie Koch & Carmen Dukes from “Project: Interaction” led the program and facilitated that learning experience.

Beginning the workshop with the challenge to brainstorm new social tools to communicate with others in the year 2030, the students immediately began thinking about interaction design in a way they never have before. Students discussed their ideal way to tell a group of friends to meet up for a burger twenty years from now. “Mind Messages”, “Robot Messengers”, and “Teleportation Phones” were all identified as design improvements to current technology. 
The students were also treated to an adventure above the streets of New York City at the scenic High Line Park. Besides soaking in the sun and the atmosphere, the students were observing the kinds of interactions that took place at the High Line. They interviewed visitors about their experience and motives for visiting the High Line. Armed with this information, the students returned to the museum with the objective to design new interactive experiences that could improve a visitors’ experience of the High Line.

The results ranged from High Line iPhone apps to an interactive tram transportation system. 
The variety of their creations reflected not just their personal preferences for communicating but also the vast array of possibilities for people to connect and interact with each other in the future.


Author: "alarconk"
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Date: Tuesday, 27 Sep 2011 19:04

Cooper-Hewitt Youth Programs students were in for an exciting excursion when they ventured outside the city to nearby New Canaan, Connecticut. They visited Philip Johnson’s Glass House and received a two-hour tour of the extensive campus. The iconic architect designed his own private residence in 1949, adding experimental single-use structures throughout his property over the course of the next forty-five years. The high-school students knew they were in for an incredible experience when they got their first glimpse of the magnificent location Philip Johnson cultivated about sixty years ago.

The 1,700-square-foot architectural masterpiece features four glass exterior walls, providing a seamless view of the surrounding landscape. The living room, kitchen, and bedroom are arranged in an open layout within the home, giving the inhabitant and visitor an unrestricted experience. The students familiarized themselves with the concepts of an open floor plan and using the environmental elements to regulate indoor temperature.

After we finished touring the Glass House, we got a private view of Johnson’s sculpture and painting galleries and personal study — each located in an independent building designed by the architect. The students’ encounter with architectural history left them contemplating the possibilities that lie in their future.

Author: "sicilianom"
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Date: Tuesday, 27 Sep 2011 15:19

This is the sixth interview in Chapter 4 in my new book, Designing Media

Rich Archuleta, September 2009

The QUE proReader from Plastic Logic debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2010, using E Ink on a plastic back-plane in a form factor that is similar to a pad of paper. Rich Archuleta joined Plastic Logic as CEO in 2007 to guide the QUE to market. IDEO was responsible for the industrial and interaction design of the version announced at CES, so I was aware of the design approach as it neared completion. I thought it would be an interesting contrast to the early RocketBook, as it had new solutions to many of the challenges identified by Martin Eberhard.

QUE proReader from the side, showing its remarkably slim profile

QUE proReader from the front

Rich Archuleta, commonly known as Arch, thinks that electronic books and readers will gain widespread acceptance when three attributes come together: consensus about the standards for electronic reading material, wireless-communication technology, and new display technologies that are competitive with paper. E Ink technology, for the top layer of electrophoretic material, has done a good job of giving us a nice reading experience for black marks on a white background with a good contrast ratio, but it is normally mounted on a back-plane that is essentially an active matrix display, using silicon and glass technology, making it hard to build something relatively large, such as an 8.5x11" piece of paper. Arch felt that the back-plane from Plastic Logic could enhance E Ink to provide a very natural and comfortable reading experience, so he decided to leave his post as Senior Vice President and General Manager at Hewlett-Packard in order to become CEO of Plastic Logic in 2007. But the progress toward commercial distribution has been slowed by difficulties in achieving reliability.

Kindle and iPad

Are you wondering whether you want an E Ink reader, like QUE or Kindle, or a tablet like the iPad? The answer should probably depend on what you want to use it for. The Kindle, on the market since November 2007, launched with an E Ink display that I find almost as pleasant to read as paper, even if the unit is small and without quite as much contrast. I wonder if Martin Eberhard is right that people will dislike the flash as the screen refreshes enough to prefer a display that is more like a computer screen. The Apple iPad is demonstrating the value of a full-color LCD display with video capabilities and a touch interface. Perhaps Arch will be proved right about the drawbacks of LCD displays?

My guess is that if you are reading a book that is mostly monochrome text, the Kindle wins, but if you want to enjoy the richness of a magazine, fully illustrated book, or movie, the iPad will be markedly better. I expect that the main battle for domination will be between Amazon and Apple, not so much due to the designs of the physical devices as to the attributes of their respective business systems. Amazon can offer the best library of titles, whereas Apple can offer the connection to the iTunes and app stores. Perhaps there will also be room in this expanding segment for innovative designs like the QUE.

Author: "moggridgeb" Tags: "archuleta, Bill's Blog, designing, IDEO,..."
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Date: Friday, 09 Sep 2011 12:54

Ready, Set, Design is one of our favorite group activities, for adults and kids alike, at Cooper-Hewitt. It’s a highly adaptable design challenge that can jump-start collaborative and creative thinking in any group. We use it with kids’ groups at the Museum, for internal staff meetings, and even at industry conferences and summits we host. The activity is such a success with our participants that we’ve gotten a lot of requests for a how-to guide.

Here it is! We created this short instructional video and accompanying PDF that explain Ready, Set, Design for group leaders. Use it at your next meeting, class, rehearsal, or brainstorm session – any place you need a fresh burst of creativity.

Author: "paysonc" Tags: "Caroline Payson's blog"
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