Design and Innovation Daily

The films of Charles and Ray Eames

Posted in art, culture, designers, philosophy by Dan on March 8, 2010

Michael Neault wrote a wonderful piece on the films of Charles and Ray Eames, a prolific pair of designers who made a profound impact on design during the 20th century. Noting that the Eames’ films receive less attention than their work in industrial design, architecture, photography, and other areas, Neault discusses the unique artistry of their films, the role of the films within the history of design, and the meaning of the films in terms of the Eames’ philosophy of design.

Carl DiSalvo recently commented on the Eames’ films, looking at the films as “meditations on objects.” Along with that, he posted the film “Lounge Chair Assembly” (1956).

Another film available online is this advertisement for the Polaroid SX-70, the landmark instant camera. The film is a beautiful example of the Eames’ style. Also worth noting is the way the film reflects a systems view of the camera, moving between user and manufacturer, presenting the camera as a technological object, as a useful object, and as a meaningful part of a user’s life.


Relaxation / Inspiration

Posted in art, designers by Dan on December 14, 2009

For those students about to begin your week of final exams, here’s what I hope will be a relaxing start to the week: a small collection of inspiring, interesting, or just nice-to-look at images (and two videos).

At Fast Company, a slideshow of work by designer Konstantin Grcic and a very short post about who he is.

An incredible short stop-motion film made with paper cutouts, done for the New Zealand Book Council:
“Going West”

A cute demonstration of Google Chrome’s features using homemade machines and models: “Chrome Features”

At (or found via) BEGINBEING, MoCo, and Young and Brilliant:
35mm film clock
Photos of work by German artist Horst Gläsker
Swiss mountain home
Giant wall flip clock
Typejockeys business card
Garamond Powerline
Interiors by Jeffers Design Group
2010 Chairs Calendar
Banyan Treehouse by RPA Architects
Freehand Pocket Watch
Hotel Caldor
Visualized library concept
Zaha Hadid Public Museum in Italy
A clever coffee cup warning

Six secrets: design lessons and shoelace knots

Posted in designers, graphic design, methodology, user research by Dan on November 18, 2009

Picking up from yesterday’s topic, Jeffrey Kalmikoff, director of design and user experience at Digg, recently wrote about getting useful feedback. “If someone uses the product, they have a valid point of view – period.” In counterpoint to “When Not To Listen To Users,” you need to prompt feedback in the right way and interpret the right parts of the feedback. Here’s the post: The Anatomy of Useful Feedback

I only learned about 99% yesterday, but it looks like a great resource, with lots of interesting articles and many videos to come from its conferences, which seem to share the TED approach and would probably appeal to TED fans. Anyway, in 5 Secrets from 86 Notebooks

Renowned graphic designer Michael Bierut claims that he’s not creative. Instead, he likens his job to that of a doctor who tends to patients – “the sicker, the better.” Digging into the 86 notebooks he’s kept over the course of his career, Bierut walks us through 5 projects – from original conception to final execution – extracting a handful of simple lessons (e.g. the problem contains the solution; don’t avoid the obvious) at the foundation of brilliant design solutions.

Other 99% videos feature Scott Thomas, the design director of the 2008 Obama campaign, and Seth Godin (one of my favorites).

Finally, this is too cool not to post it. This is a shoelace knot that won’t loosen throughout the day: Ian’s Secure Shoelace Knot

The 12-story theatre machine, and other incredible architecture

Posted in architecture, designers by Dan on November 12, 2009

The construction of the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas was recently completed. Among its impressive, beautiful venues is the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre—literally a theatre machine. Components of the theatre, including stages, floors, scenery, and seating, are stored above and below the auditorium; they can be moved and rearranged for each performance, effectively switching between different types of theatres.

To see a short animation that explains this, go to this page and choose video 5 from the list (I can’t link directly to the video).

Several years ago, Joshua Prince-Ramus, one of the architects of this building, presented at TED about this project along with two other incredible architecture projects. All three buildings are novel not just because they look novel, but because of the way the design goals, the needs, and the cultural challenges that defined each project became part of the building’s physical form.

Joshua Prince-Ramus on Seattle’s Library

While I’m on the topic of architecture, here is a short video about MVRDV, a Dutch architecture firm that has produced many unusual-looking buildings with the goal of maximizing the use of space: MVRDV on Dutch Design Profiles

“Thirty Conversations on Design” and a few cool products

Posted in designers, interviews, product design by Dan on November 6, 2009

Good morning. This is the first of many daily emails (or posts) to come, each with a delicious serving of content on design and innovation, prepared just for you. Does that sound corny? Or does it sound like breakfast?

“Thirty Conversations on Design” is a collection of bite-size videos from famous designers and creative professionals. Ten of them have been posted so far, and the remaining twenty will be delivered later this month.

We asked them two questions: “What single example of design inspires you most?” and “What problem should design solve next?” Their answers might surprise you. But hopefully, they’ll all inspire you.

My favorites are those by Ric Grefe from AIGA, Jason Severs from frog design, Erik Spiekermann, and Linda Tischler from Fast Company. One reason I think these are interesting is that many of the designers, regardless of their profession, describe design challenges and solutions that span multiple discliplines and fields. And they’re all truly serious about their missions as designers, even if their job is only to design sports equipment.

Now, for the products:

A reusable water bottle that folds up:

Sketchbooks made with 5.25″ floppy disks:

An infographic-turned-bracelet:

Sled Coffee Table and Rug: