Mind and metal benders, compliments of Chris Labrooy. View more via jalopnik.
Don Koberg: The Universal Traveler
Early thoughts and primers on the creative process and design thinking.
William Lidwell: Universal Principles of Design: 100 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach Through Design
A good reminder of 100 things to check when designing. (****)
Christopher Alexander: The Timeless Way of Building
Revisiting the themes put forward in this first of three books in a series by Christopher Alexander.
NEIL POSTMAN: Technopoly : The Surrender of Culture to Technology
A classic gut check for those enamored with the technology pervading our lives. (****)
Barry Schwartz: The Paradox of Choice : Why More Is Less
Trying to choose wisely.
Mind and metal benders, compliments of Chris Labrooy. View more via jalopnik.
It's happening right now. In those special places. Those places of solitude that are all yours and yours alone. The shaded nook amongst the red rocks just outside Moab. The show white bowl below the redwoods. That special bit of high plains desert that kept you so exposed yet safe through the night. It's happening right now...our passage through the darkness...that makes the light so truely brilliant.
Thanks to NationalGeographic for the gorgeous reminder.
The "Able" font made a debut some time ago but I wanted to send out props to the very talented Matt Desmond for creating it. Able has been updated to pro status with many more glyphs and a companion Bold weight. Available at fontspring, myfonts.com, and Font Bros. To view more of the nice work by Minnetonka, MN based typeface designer Matthew Aaron Desmond, visit his studio site MADType
Architectural inspirations are on the rise at the bivouac due to SimCity becoming available for the Mac on August 29th, 2013 and a fresh Lego Architecture Studio arriving at the bivouac. Shoreline City (pictured below) is on the rise too. Lego's Architecture Studio kit, while expensive, is as good as anything they have offered in terms of getting one thinking about patterns, the scale of buildings, the inter-relationships of forms, volumes, linear elements and everything else that goes in to making our cities the best they can be. My fingers are sore, but in a good way.
Future User Interfaces (or FUIs) have been all the buzz here lately at the bivouac. This got me thinking about how my interest in FUIs and things like "science faction" were initially sparked. For clarification, "science faction" refers to things that were once represented in science fiction works as fiction actually come into being. I am a firm believer in the power of science fiction. At its best, it provides us with design inspiration and a powerful means of looking ahead at possible futures. One of any number of moments in our future when today's science fiction becomes tomorrow's matter of fact or "science faction". For more on the power of "science faction", feel free to watch a recent TEDx talk I gave on how "science faction" might inspire us collectively as we design for the future of education.
As to that original spark of interest, it was Christmas 1979. At the age of 12, I was still reeling from my exposure to "Star Wars" two years earlier. Looking back now, realize just how fortunate I was to have caring parents who encouraged my creative endeavors. That year, I received a particularly precious gift. It was a book entitled "Great Space Battles". A Terran Trade Authority Handbook, the publication chronicled futuristic space exploration and conflicts retrospectively. Written by Stewart Cowley and Charles Herridge with the authority of all the history textbooks I had read to that time, the stories captured my imagination.
Moreover, I studied the exquisitely detailed illustrations of Peter Elson and others for hours on end. Through attempting to replicate their various masterpieces, I was learning about light sources, shadow play, proportions, shading, perspective, implied materiality, physics in some cases, and last but certainly not least...”greebles”. The later of which I was later to learn, came quite naturally to me. I certainly enjoyed adding details to my creations. So much so that my local hero artist named David Morris made note of it. At the time his praise meant so much to me.
That early praise drove my creative confidence and It has been continually reinforced through the years as David has proven out his own talents by working at such notable places like Industrial Light and Magic. In fact, in a further twist of the space time continuum, some two decades on from our time together spent working on our visualization skills in a tiny appalachian town, David would come to find himself appearing, even if just for a fleeting moment, in the very same "Star Wars" film we were so in awe of when it was re-released in 1997 as a special edition.
Looking back, I gained so much from all of those hours spent pouring over Elson’s masterpieces. More often that not, those illustrations that moved me most powerfully to a new place bore the initials “PE” bounded by a rounded rectangle somewhere in the composition. Sure enough...there they were...in the corner, or along the panel of some epically scaled starship. I feel fortunate for having been exposed to Elson at just the right time.
But by far and away what I feel most fortunate to have learned from all that time spent with Elson’s creations was that the power of the imagination can take us to special places. Peter Elson and David Morris, I thank you for bringing me ultimately to such a special place as IDEO. And I thank David Kelley for creating this place called IDEO, where, everyday we have a hand in imagining and building the future together.
Below are a few specific pieces that were my early inspirations from Peter Elson:
To take a closer look at Peter Elson's work visit: www.peterelson.co.uk/gallery/category.php?cat=11
Those developing current and next generation driver assistance systems will need to stay vigilant with regards to hacking on the go. Chris Valasek, Director of Security Intellligence at IOActive and Charlie Miller, Security Engineer at Twitter bring the threats to life in dramatic fashion during a recent test drive with Forbes reporter Andy Greenberg back in July.
This recent IIHS crash test footage is scary stuff and good to keep in mind the next time find yourself following a semi truck. Why not back off just a bit? Oh yeah, and while you are at it, write the makers of Manac/Trailmobile and thank them for desiging and producing proper trailer underride crash components.
Todd McLelllan's new book "Things Come Apart" sets itself apart with photos of classic objects which have been disassembled and photographed as masterful compositions. In the digital age, McLellan's work serves as a poetic reminder of all that goes into the objects that play a part...big or small...in our every day lives.
An earlier bivouac post spoke to the merit of building items with Lego Technic. Depending on the kit, one can gain an real appreciation for certain mechanical relationships within drive trains, limited slip differrentials, pistons and cam shafts and the like. It turns out that a recent encounter with Lego's Architecture series had a similar effect, leading to renewed appreciation for Mies van der Rohe's iconic Farnsworth House.
While not as resilient to the 2008 flooding event as a Lego version would have been, hopefully the master architect's minimalist selection of travertine marble, glass and steel will mean that any further restoration can mainly focus on the more precious interior such as silk curtains and an interior core element clad in primivera paneling.
Farnsworth House stands as a testiment to simplicity and minimalism. As I struggled during my "construction project" to keep each individual Lego tile as perpendicular to one another as I could, the exercise proved to be poignient reminder that sometimes keeping things pure and simple is really hard.
Killspencer has a beautiful line of iPhone veils as well as a fine line of bags on offer. Take a look at what goes in to many of their handcrafted items...apparently made right in downtown Los Angeles in the short film below. Here's to modern craftsmanship.
Night missions in your future plans? Consider adding a HALO belt to your loadout. The company is also working with Rickshaw on a new messenger bag to stow your kit in if you like. Here's to a nice balance of tech and simplicity for a good cause. Let's all see and be seen out there.
This "Hyper-Matrix" work from the media artist group Jonpasang made the rounds a whlie ago but seeing it again, as well as the "making of" video gives me new found respect for those out there who are taking experiences like this squarely to new levels of execution and excitement.
The Cadillac ELR design has been getting a lot of attention at the bivouac lately. In addition to the striking design and progressive technologies both inside and out, various small details stand out in a good way as well. Cadillac logo placement within both headlamp and tail light elements is well executed. Each adds an elegant and refreshingly understated, yet dynamic signature touch. That's a tough middle ground to hit. Here's hoping such attention to detail lights the way to forward to continued impressive designs coming out of the Cadillac studio in 2013 and beyond.
Whether a fan of George Luca's Star Wars saga or not, one can only take in the image of this extra large Star Wars collection with awe. It is it laid out in a creative fashion, strangely evoking the impression of some sort of modern Bayeux Tapestry. And someone also laid out an impressive figure for the collection as it recently sold for over $11,000. That's an impressive amount for an equally impressive collection. Looking it over, it appears to be made up of the latest round of action figures, not the originals that launched in 1977. The tooling and detail on this latest generation of figures is superior the original series to be sure, but I am so thankful to have had some of the originals to lift the horizons of my imagination through countless hours of creative play. I can't help but think that those hours spent re-enacting Luca's masterpiece also taught me a thing or two about filming and storytelling. Thanks again for that and so much more George!
With the release of the production version of the Cadillac ELR at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this past week, General Motors proved yet again that energy behind the resurgence of the American automotive industry remains high. Any time a vehicle manufacturer comes out with such a stunning concept car, as they did in 2009 with their Converj concept, and manages to stay so faithful to the original concept vision, that company certainly deserves high praise. Audi came close to this sort of effort when they introduced the production version of the TT in terms of staying true to a concept. However, with respect to the ELR, this may be one of those rare occasions where the actual shipping car looks better than the concept embodiment.
Can you spot the concept vehicle?
GM also deserves credit for moving into the luxury Extended Range Electric Vehicle luxury niche before other large-scale luxury vehicle manufacturers. They are also introducing some new driving affordances unique to this type of vehicle, such as steering wheel-mounted paddles that allow drivers to induce regenerative braking on demand. While we will have to wait and see how the ELR actually performs, on paper things look promising. And if you are a fan of Cadillac's "Art and Science" aesthetics, on the show room floor they are looking great.
There have been some amazing things happening lately in the world of LED lighting for vehicles. More efficient and robust than traditional lighting solutions, they seem to adorn every new car model these days. Given their dynamic and robust qualities and the ability to light up even the darkest corners of the Serengeti, it seems appropriate to see them now on the 2013 R1200GS. The units look fantastic both in day and night running configurations providing an even more aggressive and determined look for the GS. Now that enlightenment at its best.
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of contributing some thoughts that informed Alexis Madrigal's Atlantic article "iPhone 5? Yawn. What Will the 'Phone' of 2022 Look Like?"
While so many are understandably appreciating the latest offering from Apple in the "phone-on-glass'" category, the article does a nice job of encouraging us to think beyond today's prevailing interaction paradigms and from factors toward a future with a greater variety of form factors as well as richer, more seamless interactions. Who knows, while displays are getting bigger this week, in 2022 the next big thing might be pretty small.
Vík Prjónsdóttir is a collective of Icelandic designers that one day decided to start collaborating with an old knitting factory in the countryside of Iceland. View more here. http://www.vikprjonsdottir.com/
Sometimes I find myself noting something as interesting but it takes a while to really appreciate it to its fullest. That was the case with the New York Times Budget Puzzle which came out last November.
While in an information visualization brainstorm today, this came back to me as a great example of how to empower users to relate to a very abstract concept...our federal budget deficit. Its minimalistic approach and small details like representing 1 billion dollars with small blue squares that tally up in real time depending upon decisions users make is a nice touch.
BMW has long been breaking performance barriers with each successive model in their M range and the new 1 Series M is no exception. In this nicely choreographed video they take things to a new level which would no doubt make Tanner proud.
For those that could swear that their car had to have been built late on a Friday afternoon or clearly bought a pure lemon, try building an 8070 in a weekend. The latest super car from Lego Group's Technic division includes a free floating differential, a visible 8 cylinder engine with working pistons tied in to the transmission, double wishbone suspension components and various power goodies.
Putting one of these together sans a bunch of spare parts lying around once the job is done is a nice accomplishment. It's also a great empathy exercise to help us realize, even if on a much smaller scale, some of what a day is like for those putting together the things that move us every day. A special thanks goes out to you, the builders of the world.