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Issue 1 Vol. 1

May 2010

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table of

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Contents Features



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How an obsessive devotion to a typography side project resulted in one of today’s most promising new font shops

The design directors of five leading contract-furniture companies stare into a crystal ball made hazy by a deep recession and fundamental shifts in the way we work.

We Are Our Own Worst Clients Where Do We Go From Here

Redefining Design An interview with innovative designer Jason Phillips

Constructing Green Developer Frank McKinney’s magnificent Manalapan Manse’s organic design


table of

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Contents Columns


Get involved and stay informed

Upcoming Events


A peek inside the Revo Heritage Radio

Behind Design


Get inspired by SoHo’s style

Fabricated Spaces


Thirteen principles of sustainable architecture

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A sit down with James Dyson

Earth Emphasis Positive Thinking

May 2010

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A Note from the Editor Welcome to the first issue of Unraveled! Putting together a magazine is no easy task, and this one is no exception. Late nights, long days, missing files, program hick-ups, moments of panic, frustration, and even a few spilled cups of coffee all played their part. All the while trying to juggle the rest of life’s happenings that demand your attention. Meanwhile, you find yourself wondering, just exactly how this will make it to completion in time for the deadline. I seem to find the projects like this to be the most rewarding in the end. Although, the outcome is not always what you anticipate it to be. And you would probably never opt to trade a relaxing night of sleep in your bed, for a stressed filled all-nighter on your computer. But when all is said and done, you are greeted with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. That and hopefully some down time.

Enjoy the magazine! Erin Sykes


May 2010

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Designer and Editor Erin Sykes

Feature Writers

Carmel Hagen Martin C. Pedersen Megan V. Winslow


Kelly Hart Joseph Giovannini


Additional Contributors Ryan Peek Chrissy Hubbard Zach Connor


Metropolis Magazine How Magazine

Special Aknowledgements

A special thank you to Ryan Peek, Chrissy Hubbard, Nancy Sykes and Zach Connor for their time and efforts which undoubtably furtherered the overall outcome of this magazine

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events Student Portfolio Review

Salt Lake City June 1, 2010 — July 8, 2010 9:00 am - 7:00 pm The Salt Lake City chapter of AIGA invites you to the Student Portfolio Review. The premiere opportunity for junior and senior design students to receive valuable one-on-one feedback on their portfolio and career goals. Design students will represent Brigham Young University, Southern Utah University, The Art Institute of Salt Lake City, University of Utah, Utah State University, Utah Valley University, Weber State University and more. Students Receive praise. Discover weakness. Become motivated to refine your skills and portfolio. To present your portfolio, register by Monday, April 5th. Is your portfolio not ready? Register as an observing student to check out the competition, visit local studios and participate in the student workshop. Professionals Offer advice. Critique aesthetics. Question creativity. Leave impressed. If you are interested in reviewing student portfolios, please email ** Limited space available for studio tours. Spaces will be filled on a First-Come First-Served basis.

Special Guest Reviewer Special guest reviewer this year is Louise Sandhaus. Louise is the former director of the Graphic Design Program at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and current full-time faculty. Her small design office, LSD (Louise Sandhaus Design), is a multi-faceted, collaborative practice—including a mix of designing, teaching, writing and “instigating.” The studio’s projects range from experimental to practical, from speculative to real, and from mini to major. Her design work focuses on interpretive experiences for print, screen, or spaces (exhibition/environmental). Clients include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, International Center for Photography, Los Angeles International Airport among many others. Sandhaus has organized or co-organized design education conferences including AIGA Schools of Thought I, II, and III. These events often consider the shifting relationship between technology, culture, and design. In the classroom, her projects often ask students to exceed the traditional boundaries of design. Most recently, her students’ project was chosen as one of 7 finalists for the INDEX: AIGA Aspen Design Challenge, “Designing Water’s Future.”




Curiosities: Rick Valicenti & 21st Century Thirst

May 2010

Miami April 12, 2010 — May 3, 2010 9:00am - 5:00 pm Opening reception April 12, 2010 / 6-9pm Rick Valicenti is a Chicago-based artist and graphic designer. His design firm, Thirst was established in 1988 and continues today with a philosophy that embraces art, function, contemporary technology, and young design collaborators. Thirst has accomplished a wide range of design in print, film, digital media and spacemaking. Thirst’s client list includes among many others: Art Chicago; Fox / Gilbert Paper; Herman Miller, Inc.; ITT College of Architecture; Lyric Opera of Chicago; and Motorola. Commenting on Valicenti for his 2006 American Institute of Graphic Arts medal, the highest honor this association bestows, Marian Bantjes writes “I can think of no other body of work by any designer that has the amount of strength that Rick’s does, while simultaneously plundering the depths of style and defying uniformity. “The exhibition will present highlights from Thirst as well as Valicenti’s art. For information about Thirst Design please refer to the following link: Schmidt Center Gallery Florida Atlantic University School of the Arts Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters Schmidt Center Gallery & Ritter Art Gallery Florida Atlantic University 777 Glades Road Boca Raton, Florida 33431 April 13 – June 3, 2010 For further information about the Valicenti exhibition and University galleries programs, visit galleries or call 561-297-2966.

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Still searching?

Find the one for you. typographic inspiration, typeface reviews, tips, and endless fonts


article by Carmel Hagen

For designer and art director Alex Haigh, an early obsession with type was the first clue that letters would take a leading role among his design devotions. The second came in the form of Miyagi and BAQ Rounded, two buzzed-about typefaces (released in 2008 and 2007, respectively) that solidified the UK-based designer’s own typographic talent. Finally, fed up with the dreary selections offered by the traditional online font foundries, Alex’s infatuation found level playing ground in HypeForType, a web-based type boutique launched earlier this year that offers work from today’s most compelling designers.

W Own Our We Are how an obsessive devotio

resulted in one of to

“I'd often sit back wondering whether the people behind big foundry n “Designers didn't have something unique to feed off – large font foun basically saying, 'We're in it for the money.' I felt like they had died.”

t Clients Wors on to a typography side

project oday’s most promising new font shops names were actually passionate about type,� says

Alex. ndries were just throwing as many typefaces on the website as they could,


May 2010

For designer and art director Alex Haigh, an early obsession with type was the first clue that letters would take a leading role among his design devotions. The second came in the form of Miyagi and BAQ Rounded, two buzzed-about typefaces (released in 2008 and 2007, respectively) that solidified the UK-based designer’s own typographic talent. Finally, fed up with the dreary selections offered by the traditional online font foundries, Alex’s infatuation found level playing ground in HypeForType, a web-based type boutique launched earlier this year that offers work from today’s most compelling designers. Hot on the heels of Volume 2, a new round of exclusive typefaces by adept designers like Matt W. Moore and Non-Format, Alex filled us in on how his obsessive devotion to a typography side project resulted in one of today’s most promising new font shops. “I’d often sit back wondering whether the people behind big foundry names were actually passionate about type,” says Alex. “Designers didn’t have something unique to feed off – large font foundries were just throwing as many typefaces on the website as they could, basically saying, ‘We’re in it for the money.’ I felt like they had died.” The action of building and delivering HypeForType presented two large obstacles to overcome: the personal importance of the work and the technical requirements of the site itself. Says Alex of the process, “If you are designing for a client, there is a clear brief and a clear understanding of where the middle ground is. With personal work, the client is yourself, and everyone knows we are our own worst critics.” In order to stay on track and ensure he was meeting the needs of his future audience, Alex enlisted fellow designers and close friends to provide feedback and advice throughout the site’s development. Of critical importance was usability; the swift and clear communication of the artistic and commercial purposes of the site, and the supporting functionality that made acting on that purpose as painless as possible. Art directing, copywriting, and designing three graphics for over 200 individual typefaces amidst a steady flow of freelance projects was no easy feat, but Alex didn’t rest until he truly felt the design “worked.” That day finally came about ten months in, when Alex launched a public, 30-day countdown to the launch of HypeForType in the form of a teaser Flash game called King Pong, masters of which received £50 font vouchers. With personal work, the client is yourself, and everyone knows we are our own worst critics.

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W it h

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t ha st si er nc ” la te ee ma fr ti h es it w u’d ng yo ki me or ti w of om nt fr ou ed am rn he ea et el ic av tw Ih n g ti in pu th to ne ed eo ne u “Th yo

Little did Alex know, the design was the simple part of the project – the part that he could control. Next came the coding. As he admits, “I knew there was still a lot to do, but I didn’t realize exactly how much.” The build was taking shape with the help of a developer working close to 18 hours a day, who was confident about finishing the site in time to meet the declared deadline. Yet, as the launch day neared, the developer reported that he would not be finished in time. “It’s a strange feeling when you feel like you’ve climbed a mountain only to fall back down,” says Alex of the despair he felt at the time. “The one thing I have learned from working with freelancers is that you need to schedule in twice the amount of time you’d estimate. It’s not just about handing over the designs, it’s about project managing and working closely with the developer to make sure they know exactly what is expected.” Though he was discouraged enough to think about putting the whole project on hold, encouragement from friends and family convinced Alex to crawl out of bed and into the capable coding hands of a London agency. Six weeks after the planned launch date, the site was

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live and – as many visitors noted - it was gorgeous. The one thing I have learned from working with freelancers is that you need to put in twice the amount of time you’d estimate.

Still, Alex states that he “can’t really judge whether it’s been successful or not.” However, given the cozily warm reception of the foundry by Alex’s design contemporaries, that might just be the shy artist in him speaking (or equally likely: the artist questioning whether to measure success in creative value or monetary gain). “The successful part for me is when I receive an email from a designer showing me what they have produced with the typefaces, that’s what I enjoy most.” With a freshly released series of exclusive fonts by outfits like Research Studios, Richard Perez, and SUPRB on display, the site appears to be on track for success regardless of Alex’s personal measurement metrics. But more importantly, HypeForType’s planning, development and launch – bumps and all – served as another solid case study of the designer’s endearing (if not slightly masochistic) mantra: “Work like an idiot until you’re happy.”


To the contract-furniture industry, today’s marketplace feels a bit like that old Chinese curse: may you live in interesting times. Commercial real estate does not seem poised for a quick recovery. Money remains tight, developers are skittish, and office-vacancy rates are higher than they’ve been in almost two decades. At the same time (and here’s the interesting part), technology continues to transform the workplace, changing not only the way we work but calling into question how organizations will function in the future. Do places matter? Are traditional offices an anachronism? How do you


accommodate four generations of workers, all of whom interact with technology (and one another) in drastically different ways? “Designers love to take on the wicked problem, and there’s no absence of those right now,” says Steelcase’s James Ludwig.


d o w e r e e

We recently invited the design directors of Allsteel, Haworth, Herman Miller, Steelcase, and Teknion to talk to us about

James Ludwig, Steelcase Don Goeman, Herman Miller Jeff Reuschel, Haworth Jan Johnson, Allsteel John Hellwig, Teknion


and the role of research in a down economy.


the state of the industry, the future of workplace design,

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The design dir ec to rs t o a cry o r e in f st sta al fi ba v e ll m zy b a y a d h a le ee d p r e ec es damental shi n u s f fts io in n th a e n w a y w




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Was this recession, which struck directly at the core of your business, somehow different? GOEMAN: Yes and no. Yes, because of the global pervasiveness of the challenge and the speed of the drop. No, because we’ve been through this before and know how to maneuver through the tough terrain. JOHNSON: We think this recession may have more lasting and fundamental impacts on the workplace. For example, our collective wisdom about the mobility programs that were so tantalizing to organizations in the last couple of recessions has matured along with the technology that enables them. REUSCHEL: This recession has features which make it unique. One, work-style shifts. The furnishing providers yield their greatest revenue from individual workstations. For a variety of reasons, many companies are dedicating more space to collaborative endeavors and either shrinking or eliminating spaces What are you researching these days? for individual workers. This doesn’t mean lower HELLWIG: revenues but rather revenues from a different Economic downturns affect behavior a great deal, section of the catalog—sections that are and with the enabling power of technology and the currently underdeveloped. Second, Internet, things can change quickly. Our strength in sustainable practices. Public awareness, design comes from being in tune with these changes and government mandate, and, eventually, being able to respond. We cater to customers’ requests economics will continue to drive for customization, because as well as getting sales, these sustainability into the mainstream. One requests are an early indicator of changing requirements of the primary targets is likely to be and often give us inspiration and guidance for new product the daily commute, which will affect development. the amount of space needed to REUSCHEL: accommodate workers each day. One of the most profoundly sustainable advances in history And third, technology enablers. is the principle of interchangeable parts. While furnishings As mobile technology improves, are constructed based on this principle, the buildings that the likelihood of working from house them typically are not. But we’re beginning to see alternative settings rises. This buildings constructed as mass-produced, is not necessarily bad for the “interchangeable” elements (e.g., Fisher’s Rotating Tower). industry, but it raises questions The ability to evolve an interior from one function to about current product portfolios another would have a profoundly positive impact on the and distribution models. Short 40 percent of landfill waste currently attributed to answer? Yes, this is very construction and renovation. While we intend to be a different from past recessions. part of this revolution, it will take the coordinated efforts Traditionally, forward of several constituencies to make it a reality. thinking companies have LUDWIG: used downturns as an The two vectors that are a constant in our view of opportunity to ramp up their the future are changes in technology and the research-and-development sociology of work. efforts. Has this recession GOEMAN: changed your research Mobility, technology, collaboration, mission? sustainability, and asset utilization are the HELLWIG: major problems/opportunities now. They’ve The mission has not changed, but been on everyone’s radar over the last the recession triggers a whole series decade, and a recession may not of shifts in how companies operate, change the drivers of change which companies or sectors thrive, as much as it heightens our how people are employed, how sensitivity to them and an companies plan their facilities and urgency to formulate a purchase furniture. It becomes important to way forward. detect these changes and understand their ramifications. REUSCHEL: A growing economy is a good insulator. It breeds optimism, confidence, and the always attendant complacency (why change when things are going well?). While I’d never wish for it, a stalled economy does tend to force attention on what’s over the horizon. This forced forward-thinking is a good thing for an industry that has notoriously lacked innovation. However, part of the reason for this is a lack of risk taking on the part of the purchasers of interiors products and services. We hope the uncomfortable necessities of this recession will give birth to new ideas on both sides of the blueprint. u n e x p e c t e d

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To the conoT tracteht fur-noc niture -tcarindustry, t -rtoday’s uf eru tin mar,yrtsketudni splace ’yadot tekram feels slaeebit f ecalp e like kil tib a dlo taht that eold senihC :esruc yam uoy


Some economists are predicting an extended slump for the commercial real estate sector. Huge projects may be a thing of the past (at least for the foreseeable future). What ramifications will that have on workplace design? GOEMAN: This sounds like an overly pessimistic view of the future—recessions always pass, even this one. Organizations will always need to do the right things with their real estate, and they will search for strategies that align with their future business needs. JOHNSON: We’ll see more focus on the retrofit of existing buildings. GSA’s Office of Federal High Performance Green Buildings, for example, is working to ensure that all federal buildings—new but especially existing—meet sustainable design and energy reduction targets. We have every reason to believe that the private sector will continue to invest in improving their existing portfolio. HELLWIG: One interesting aspect of the world of technology, instant communication, and the Internet is that small enterprises can compete with larger companies more easily, and larger companies need to become more fluid and nimble to stay competitive. Most large companies are dealing with a mobile workforce, multiple generations, project-based collaborative work, and the need for a flexible, easily changed facility that can keep up with their business requirements. It’s no accident that these are also the characteristics of smaller, growing companies.

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-tcartnoc eht oT ekil tib a sleef ecalptekram s’yadot ,y gnitseretni ni evil uoy yam :esruc mees ton seod etatse laer lai fur sniamer yenoM .yrevocer k today’s marke -ecfifo dna ,hsittiks era like that old Chines neeb ev’yeht naht rehgih er you live in interestin -tcartnoc eht oT c Commercial real est -ram s’yadot ,yrt not seem poised for dlo taht ekil tib a recovery. Money rem ni evil uoy yam : tight, developers are -remmoC .se skittish, and officeton seod vacancy rates kciuq a rof are higher than yen they’ve been , in almost er two dec To the con-

tsudni erutinruf the esenihC dlo taht contractremmoC .semit rniture industry, iuq a rof desiop etplace feels a bit repoleved ,thgit se curse: may setar ycnacav ng times. d owt tsomla ni tate does udni erutinruf a quick sleef ecalptek mains sruc esenihC it gnitseretni tatse laer laic desiop mees M .yrevocer hgit sniamer srepoleved na ,hsittiks -av-ecfifo ycnac setar


It looks as if the baby boomers will be in the workplace longer than expected. How are you treating the needs of four different generations? HELLWIG: Two things are in play here, ergonomics and the ability to cater to different work styles. An older population may have more acute requirements for furniture that’s easy to use and comfortable. Lighting levels, reach, strength, back support, and other physical attributes need to be carefully considered in the basic design and in the choice of components that make up a workstation. But these are the basics of good design. We see our role as offering choices rather than dictating a way of work. This approach is well suited to meeting a wide range of needs, including multiple generations. LUDWIG: What is clear is that the generation currently struggling to enter the workforce will eventually dominate the world of work, and that will have a big impact. When that tipping point happens is a big issue. The millennials will have had a categorically different experience in education and coming-of-age. Learning was once about memory. For them it’s about access to information, and soon it will be about immersive experience. This points the way to how business problems will be solved and decisions made. It’s already happening. You can call that a generational thing or a human capability being amplified by technology thing. Whatever label you put on it is less relevant than the reality that it’s


May 2010 JOHNSON: We’ve always had multiple generations in the workplace. What’s throwing us is the ever increasing speed with which technology changes and the marked impact each new thing has on how we live and work. We have seen information go from currency to ubiquity; access go from precious to constant; and attention go from focus to continuous scanning. An article in the New York Times quoted Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project: “People two, three or four years apart are having completely different experiences with technology. College students scratch their heads at what their high school siblings are doing, and they scratch their heads at their younger siblings. It has sped up generational differences.” REUSCHEL: The four generations are much more alike than they are different. The most important differences between them are behavioral, not generational. Therefore, radical design differences to satisfy one group over another are probably a mistake. One common misconception is the younger generation’s ability to multitask. While many people believe that the under-25s can text, listen to music, and do homework simultaneously, they are, in fact, no better at it than the over-50s. The design translation of that misconception is to put younger workers in a completely open environment and older workers in more enclosed spaces, which is simply not effective. More important than generational considerations are differences in stage of life, state of career, personality, and corporate culture. These would be much better to use to align with the physical space than relying on generational differences. GOEMAN: As a late-boomer myself, I resent the implication that I can’t handle new technology and ways of working. Some of the generational conflicts are more hype than reality. What’s the next wave of ideas about how people work, and how are you adapting your workplace designs to these complex, often contradictory set of needs? HELLWIG: Many end users are looking for more open, light-filled environments that are healthy and somehow inspiring to the creative people who drive their business growth.A variety of different settings rather than a monolithic single solution seems to be what is necessary to support this kind of workforce. Current and future designs need to be simpler in one way (components, basic desks and tables) but more nuanced and tunable in others. Open environments are not without enclosure needs. Designers will need tools to attenuate sound and isolate noise, and we will need to fully understand the relationship between furniture and architecture in this area.

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REUSCHEL: The typical modern office worker is occupying a smaller, noisier, and more densely populated environment than ever before. One recent phenomenon to reduce the individual-space footprint is the application of benching solutions. It is often advocated as a more collaborative, European work style that enhances communication while providing greater access to daylight and views. Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence that this configuration enhances collaboration or communication. To compensate, we must return to the European application, where a spatial break is made, separating groups of people into small groups. LUDWIG: There are cultural differences and preferences, but there are some real and deep common threads. When viewed through our dual lenses of sociology and technology, connecting people in a networked world becomes a dominant theme. As we understand more, we are focused on enabling and amplifying the connections between people (eyes to eyes) as well as with their devices (eyes to information). We don’t believe that one size fits all or one universal planning paradigm fits every problem. If the products could be seen as the hardware, the applications or insights into planning as the software, both have to be tailored to the needs of the users. GOEMAN: New Urbanism holds a lot of relevance for interior-design planning. It can teach us a lot as we compress space requirements for what individuals need when working alone, and enrich and enlarge space to support the needs of collaborative groups and the community. This means we need to simplify and dematerialize the workstation and reappropriate more value to the shared-space areas of a floor plate. These days, traditional corporate offices are competing with the richness of the urban experience to attract people who can work almost anywhere they choose. The highest degree of knowledge transfer will likely occur in the corporate office— provided people choose to show up there instead of at a coffee shop. How is the proliferation of portable electronic communication devices changing the look, size, and function of your furniture designs? GOEMAN: Obviously there’s an incredible shrinkage going on in the space required to accommodate these technologies, leading to this logic: the tools require less space; office footprints can shrink; material appropriations can lessen; walls can come down; and the spatial depths can decrease. JOHNSON: When any vertical surface can become a touch screen, any phone is a projector, and surfaces are no longer needed to hold laptops laptops because we’re all using netbooks, furniture looses

specificity. Our goal is to understand the interfaces but avoid tightly tethering the technology to the furniture and hobbling its potential adaptability. LUDWIG: Take a look at the space around you and how you are doing things today versus five years ago. It’s different. Having more devices has a bigger impact than simply needing more outlets for power. It has work-process, social-protocol and IT-policy, posture, and planning impacts. We look at behaviors and devices as fixed or mobile. They enable and compound each other in a reciprocal effect. One thing that is clear to me: even if the computer didn’t produce the paperless office, mobility will. That is having a big impact on the whole picture. The sustainability goal will, eventually, be zero carbon. How are you adjusting your sourcing, manufacturing, shipping, marketing, and other systems for this daunting goal? LUDWIG: Let’s frame the term zero, because it can be misleading. As long as we’re in business—or on this planet breathing—each of us will have a carbon footprint. We can neutralize it by offsetting it in some way, but that’s not the same thing as not having one. Investments like our Wege Wind Energy Farm help us offset what we cannot eliminate today, but should never lull us into believing that our investment makes our footprint zero or voids our accountability. Many of our operations and offices are in states where the burning of fossil fuel (manely coal) is the foundation of the energy grid. We also know that the world’s commercial and personal transportation system is fossil-fuel based. Therefore, lowering our footprint by lowering our demand and reliance on fossil-fuel-based energy is a critical part of our company’s carbon strategy. This applies to the way we run our business as well as the way we design product. REUSCHEL: Our greatest contribution will be creating interiors that are adaptable and mutable. Interiors that can be reconfigured to the needs of the next tenant is our long-term goal. JOHNSON: Cost, not carbon, is the sustainability driver. The ideal is for us as global citizens to realize that pollution has a front-end as well as a back-end cost. Those costs have been pushed off onto the environment by both producer and consumer. Lean manufacturing processes taught a long time ago that sound environmental practices are not just good business but great business. GOEMAN: Zero carbon is probably the most holistic driver of sustainability values in application, so long as it’s pursued as a consequence of how we do business—as opposed to acquiring offsets.

to reclaim materials while keeping your product lines fresh and timely? REUSCHEL: In his book How Buildings Learn, Stewart Brand speaks of layers of a building in terms of time they’re meant to last (structure, 30–300 years; space plan, 3–30 years). Adaptable buildings allow slippage between the layers. One of the cardinal sustainability sins of new product development is to create composites that can’t be separated at end of life. Likewise, intimately integrating short-life-cycle elements (the bathwater) with long-life-cycle elements (the baby) is equally problematic on a grander scale. We must begin by making each layer more considerate of the next layer. This is especially true of the longer-life-cycle layers, as they tend to rule over the shorter ones. LUDWIG: We say, “At the scale of architecture, we exercise a sophisticated restraint. We seek a certain timelessness.” The cycles of change at this scale are less urgent for good reason: disruption in the workplace, cost, tax laws, etcetera. It is also material-intensive. This restraint, focusing rather on exquisite execution and detail, ensures that the product will remain relevant for some time without being simplistic or banal. We also say, “At the scale of the user, we seek a certain sensual sophistication. Expressions here can be more timely.” We won’t do a cartoon or whimsical chair. There are enough examples in design history where “interesting” becomes irritating and “exciting” becomes exhausting. That is a recipe for more landfill. Our strategy is road tested. It’s simply: don’t follow fashion; create solutions that solve authentic problems; use good ingredients.


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Jason Phillips lives and breathes furniture design. At a young age, his parents founders of The Phillips Collection introduced him to a contemporary way to interpret home furnishings. At 26 years old he’s earned a B.F.A. in Industrial Design, a unique eye for furniture design, and a respected place in his industry as the VP/Creative Director of The Phillips Collection. His designs are anything but ordinary, ranging from a dining table with blown glass legs to a slanted modular shelving unit. Jason’s unique work has led him to recognition in publications like Interior Design Magazine and the New York Times. Most recently Jason won 2010 Product Designer of the Year at the 21st Annual ARTS Awards, the youngest person to ever receive this award. Known for his “green” designs and conscious effort to minimize his carbon footprint, Jason added V-Ray for Rhino to his workflow in 2008 after seeing the results that other designers were achieving. “V-Ray has raised the bar, so to speak, on my rendering abilities. My level of realism and detail, as well as the broad choice of materials, scene


May 2010

options, and customer support are why I choose V-Ray as my primary render engine,” said Jason. ASGVIS talked to Jason about his V-Ray experience and how he stays in the forefront of sustainable furniture design. Here’s what he had to say: Which rendering engine did you use before V-Ray? I was using Flamingo, which is McNeel’s built-in solution for rendering in a seamless interface with Rhino. What do you like most about V-Ray? The fact that it integrates as well with Rhino as Flamingo does, gives me more control of texture, color, lighting, etc, all the while cutting down my rendering time at least in half, sometimes much more. With Flamingo I had reached a threshold and with V-Ray I see limitless possibilities. I also love that I can still work in the background while V-Ray is rendering a model. Where do you find inspiration for your designs? I am a blog-o-holic, so my day starts with loading my RSS Feed Viewer (I use Flock, a Firefox application but Google Reader is also good) and going over not only furniture and interior design blogs but luxury, auto, and real estate blogs as well. I also get to travel a lot, developing lines for my furniture company, The Phillips Collection. That helps keep the creative juices flowing. I have a camera with me everywhere I go and snap textures, interesting compositions, and objects that invoke a feeling in me. I try to visit a contemporary art museum in every city I visit. Sometimes I just start u n e x p e c t e d

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with a blank piece of paper or a blank screen in Rhino and start playing with shapes. How has using V-Ray impacted your business, and the furniture industry? Using V-Ray adds instant credibility to what I do. I never considered myself a gifted fine artist and am slightly color blind, but this software eliminates a lot of the challenges that arise when trying to get a great rendering. The level of work I am able to produce has gotten me a lot of recognition on the design blogs like DesignSpotter, Design|Milk, Mocoloco, and many others. I was recently featured in the NY Times for a story on a product we carry at Phillips Collection but really touched on how myself and other young talents are networking at the speed of light to get designs and messages exposed around the world. As for the impact on the furniture industry, it is quite obvious that the use of 3D modeling tools is the way of the future. There is a definite sense of the slowness of doing a rendering by hand these days, which some may argue is a purist route, but the truth is we are trying to make clients happy and if we can quickly start with an idea and give it room

to evolve, thanks to the speed with which we can change a color, etc, then we are really helping not only our clients but the creative process and the ease with which we can reach our vision. What tips do you have for V-Ray newbies? Be sure to check the blogs, fellow V-Ray users’ websites and online portfolios for new techniques and projects. Also, try some of the tutorials on ASGVIS’ site. Amass your own personal texture library. Lastly, come up with a process and standard for rendering output; meaning try to have a standard size that you render, like 1600x1600 pixels or always landscape so that when the time comes to upload to portfolio sites, you have a clean format. My style is to render on white backdrops with soft

shadows and to be sure to have two perspective shots and a detail shot. As specific projects call for other views and sizes, I go back in an create those scenes. Interview courtesy of


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When McKinney activates the 24-foot water wall behind the double-helix staircase, the sound of the rushing cascade blends with water dripping from the chandelier and the steady blooping of bubbles escaping the water-filled glass floor. “It’s really a sensory overload,” he said Wednesday during a tour of the $29 million oceanfront Manalapan mansion he has named Acqua Liana, the Tahitian and Fijian words for “Water Flower.” “You heighten the five senses to that state of subliminal euphoria,” he said. “It’s almost like when someone comes in the front door here, they’ll become intoxicated.” After more than a year and a half of construction, the self-proclaimed “real estate artist” is hoping for just that reaction Friday evening when he unveils Acqua Liana during a dramatic reception at 620 S. Ocean Blvd.


May 2010

By that time, the residence’s environmentally conscious lighting, renewable materials, water reclamation system and other state-of-the-art green features should have secured coveted Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — LEED — certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, making it the largest home to earn such credentials from the Washington, D.C., nonprofit group. While the seven-bedroom, 11-bath South Pacific-inspired mansion covers 15,000 square feet,

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the green additions will significantly reduce the residence’s carbon footprint to that of a much smaller home, he said. A basketball court-sized solar panel system on the roof is designed to generate enough energy for two average-size homes and thus cut electric bills to between $1,200 and $1,500 a month — about a third of what they could be. “The homeowner probably isn’t buying the house for its green factor, because they’re saving money,” the 45-year-old Delray Beach resident said. But “they’re going to feel better about the

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environment by buying it.” McKinney acknowledged some environmentalists might not embrace such a large residence. In fact, U.S. Green Building Council rules required that he start with a point deficit on the LEED certification scale because of the size of the home. “There’s the purist out there who says, ‘This is a blasphemy; this is an oxymoron. How can you have a green mansion? Shame on you,’ “ McKinney said. “And then there’s the realist who says, ‘Houses since 1970 in America have increased 40 percent in size.’ I mean every house, not just what I build for a living, but the average home in America. So houses are getting bigger. Inevitably, there are going to be big houses built. Why not build them green?” This is McKinney’s first green project. He said the idea arose during trips to Bali, Tahiti, Fiji and Hawaii as he sought a new architectural style for his luxury

oceanfront developments. Inspired by the exotic locations, McKinney settled on a South Pacific motif and then realized the associated natural materials are conducive to building green. For example, he incorporated the polished wood floors indicative of a Hawaiian bungalow, but they are constructed of reclaimed wood. And all those decorative water features inside, and the network of ponds and pools outside, actually make the site two to three degrees cooler than neighboring properties. While LEED certification can add value to a home, it need not take away from its allure, said Marie E. Coleman, communications coordinator for the Green Council. “You’re not living in these sort of wilderness huts by cutting down on utilities,” she said.

“We’re using sustainable materials that look good, that are aesthetically pleasing, that also help to boost the value of the home. And, as a bonus, it’s green, it’s sustainable.” With Acqua Liana, McKinney has worked to seamlessly mesh environmentally friendly features with an opulence rivaling any of Manalapan’s juggernaut estates. On the north end of the house, there’s a 2,180-square-foot master suite with floor to ceiling ocean views and a $40,000 onyx ladies’ shower overlooking an outdoor reflection pond.

Steps from the waterworks at the front door is a 2,000-gallon saltwater aquarium, which shares a wall with a glass wine room and then meanders over the living room to spill into a bar counter. Outside, residents can lounge atop a “floating” sun terrace in the lap pool or venture into the windowed four-car garage for an underwater view of the pool swimmers. Between a thatched cocktail hut and a 16-person hot tub with a gas fire feature is the two-bedroom, two-bathroom guesthouse offering views of the waterfall feeding the swimmable water


May 2010 gardens. “It’s stunning,” McKinney said. “I tell you, it’s the best house we’ve ever done.” McKinney’s real estate broker, Pascal Liguori, would have to agree. Liguori said he has not seen anything like the home in the 30 years he’s been in the real estate business, a fact evident from the responses of interested buyers. Serious inquiries have arrived from Brazilian, German and Swiss families.

“Just about every room, no matter what window you look out, you see some view of water whether it’s the ocean, the pool area, the Intracoastal,” Liguori said. “It was really well designed to take advantage of water views from every room.”

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As McKinney’s workers strive to clean, furnish and prep Acqua Liana this week for another legendary McKinney unveiling, a team from the Florida Solar Energy Center at the University of Central Florida will scramble to submit the necessary paperwork to the U.S. Green Building Council for certification. Based on the number of points Acqua Liana earns, it could gain basic, silver, gold or platinum certification, said Eric Martin, a senior research engineer with the Energy Center who has inspected the project to verify its green achievements. Martin said McKinney’s project and other residences demonstrating a similar environmental awareness are commendable.

“I hope not only this project but just the way the green movement has been developing over the past several years (will make) people think at least twice about what they do in the context of sustainability,” Martin said. “And I think this is a good example of that it can be done, and, in a way, why wouldn’t you do it?”

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A Peek Inside the Revo Heritage Radio As an interaction designer, I steel myself for disappointment in almost every consumer electronics product that I buy, apart from those by that company in Cupertino. Practically every device I own falls into one of two categories. Some have decent product design chops, but the interaction design feels like it was created by another department who never even bothered to chat with the design team around the water cooler. The others have interfaces that work well enough, but the device itself looks like the worst excesses of a teenage boy’s doodles on the back of his schoolbook. For a long time, I have wanted the device that does it all—docks my iPod, receives Digital Audio Broadcasts (DAB) and FM radio in addition to being Wi-Fi capable, but resisted the urge to buy yet another consumer electronics product that I was just going to end up hating. However, just before Christmas I treated myself to an early present—the Revo Heritage Radio. Quite apart from satisfying all my music needs in the kitchen (it also hooks into, it’s a beautiful piece of product design. I’m waxing lyrical about the Revo Heritage because it was evident from the outset that an awful lot of attention to detail had gone into designing not only the device but the interface. I felt praise was due and pinged an e-mail to Heritage Managing Director, David Baxter, who mailed me back straight away saying, “Thanks for taking the time to write, it really made my day.” I wanted to know more about this small company based in Scotland turning out such great products—the Heritage just won a 2010 Red Dot Product Design Award.

Revo’s other products have a more obviously technological look to them, but the Heritage makes a deliberate break from this, so I was intrigued by the influences. “As a brand, Revo was a relatively late entrant to the DAB digital radio market, with our first product (Pico) going on sale in December 2006,” says Baxter. “At that time, the market was dominated by a collection of retro-influenced radios housed in wooden cabinets. There was very little visual differentiation between brands, and in my opinion a general lack of imagination. My view was that Revo should go the other way, by producing radios with a very contemporary look and feel—anti-retro to a certain extent. Why would a retailer want to stock yet another me-too, wooden boxed retro-radio brand? We decided that design and modernity would be our point of difference. We boldly said that we’d never produce a wooden radio, and joked that we wanted to be ‘more B&O than B&Q. “Our brand positioning and design philosophy paid dividends, and we were grateful to receive a fair degree of commercial success. Multiple iF and Red Dot Product Design awards followed, cementing our reputation as the radio choice for the design conscious consumer. “In early 2008, we were asked if we’d like to produce some radio concepts for a large consumer electronics manufacturer; their plan was to re-launch an old European radio brand. The idea appealed, and we set about developing a number of concepts for a retro-style ‘kitchen radio.’ Within months, the deal had gone cold, but the process had opened my eyes to the idea that perhaps Revo could produce a retro radio that offered something new, rather than simply being a rehash of old ideas. The brief was pretty simple: Heritage should be retro-modern on the outside, but absolutely state-of-the-art on the inside. The final Heritage design was completed by the end

In a reversal of process, these early sketches were actually done after the initial computer renders in order to quickly think through variations. u n e x p e c t e d

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From an interaction and service design standpoint, the Heritage is also interesting because of the integration between those aspects and the product itself. Revo wanted to support as many relevant radio formats as possible, including a premium online digital music service “to complete the radio’s ‘it does it all’ feature set,” Baxter says. “ seemed like the perfect fit, since it’s effectively a realtime ‘personalised’ radio station.” It’s also the feature I most often use at home as a turn-it-on-andforget solution. It’s like a magic radio that plays all the music I like, and if something odd comes on, I can immediately skip it. It’s clear that there has been much discussion about the integration of the screen-based interaction with the product design itself. A great example of small being beautiful, the UK side of the development team numbered only four. “When designing a radio, we are often limited in what we can actually do with the on-screen operating system/user interface. This side of the equation tends to be created by one of our technology partners and is often set in stone. In the case of Heritage, the actual structure of the interface was already 80% defined, though we were able to make some modifications, supply our own custom graphics, etc. It therefore became vitally important that we got the radio’s physical interface right. For example, the decision to use a joystick controller was key (a first for a digital radio). It allows the user to quickly and easily navigate the radios menus, while cutting down on the button count, and avoiding visual clutter on the radio’s front panel. “In consumer electronics terms, Revo is a tiny company, with a total staff of only 10 people. What we do have going for us is an abundance of passion and enthusiasm. We live and breath our business, put blood, sweat and tears

into our products, and our independent status allows us to make decisions quickly and without our ‘big ideas’ being diluted by people from outside the project team. Everyone involved tends to be very hands-on,” says Baxter. The visual effects industry has a mantra that if you can see that an effect is an effect, then it’s not doing its job properly. Of course, most Jerry Bruckheimer films ignore this and end up being the film equivalent of the LED encrusted, spaceship cruiser hi-fi systems that blight the shelves of electronics stores. The sad side to this in design is that the tiny details that are sweated over often go unnoticed if they are doing their job well. “With a product like Heritage, it’s all about the detail,” he says. “We took the decision to make the overly techie elements, such the joystick control and iPod/ iPhone dock, as discreet as possible in order to safeguard the purity of the radio’s ‘old school’ appearance. We wanted the OLED display to be secret-until-lit, which on the face of it sounded like an easy thing to achieve. In reality, it proved to be a real challenge. We spent weeks experimenting with lens tint levels; numerous modifications were made to the internal plastics to ensure that the OLED component sat in a recess that didn’t cast any shadows or show any edges when the display was powered-on.” The physical design is publicized as being influenced by the “classic European table radio designs from the 1960s”. I have Gestalten’s book on Dieter Rams, Less is More, on my desk to review right now, and the Rams approach in the Heritage seems evident enough. I feel it’s also a product worthy of Apple in terms of the attention to detail, even if the design aesthetic is markedly different. The mutual affection between Dieter Rams and Apple is no secret, of course.

behind design A Peek Inside the Revo Heritage Radio


May 2010 “The work of Dieter Rams at Braun was certainly an inspiration, and, as a follower of Apple for over 20 years, the work of their industrial design group has been massively influential—there are still times when I ask myself ‘what would Apple do?’ We also looked at radios from old brands like Telefunken. Looking back at the 50s and early 60s, it seems to me that this was a time when radios were treasured items. A radio was a significant monetary purchase; build quality and materials still mattered before cheap plastic transistor radios commoditized the market. We wanted to created a radio that would re-capture that era.” Technology, particularly digital technology, is moving so quickly. Currently there is much debate in the UK about what digital radio platform will prevail. Yet here is the difficulty and irony of such a device that has entered a highly competitive market in which there is no shortage of other DAB/Internet/iPod radios. Many consumer electronics are built to last a couple of years at the most and have the feel of being practically disposable. While I can imagine the Heritage sitting in my kitchen ten to fifteen years from now, there is a paradox in the fact that the technologies it supports—iPods, Wi-Fi, change rapidly. This begs the question of how to achieve a high level of build quality without making it excessively expensive and whether it will still be able to function in 20 years time.

“I’d love to say that we’ve developed a secret formula for producing high quality products at reasonable prices, but the truth is that Heritage is expensive to make,” says Baxter. “It uses expensive electronics (the OLED display, joystick, high quality amp and digital radio chipset), expensive materials (aluminium, walnut veneer), and it’s all assembled by an expensive specialist manufacturing partner. The reality is that Heritage is actually our lowest margin product, and that in an ideal world, we’d sell it at £299.95 rather than £229.95. “Technology, particularly digital technology, is moving so quickly. Currently there is much debate in the UK about what digital radio platform will prevail. My feeling is that DAB digital radio (or the enhanced DAB+ standard) will be the dominant format in Europe, though internet radio will prove to be a popular choice with a percentage of the population. It’s not ideal that the digital radio landscape is unsettled, but Heritage does cover all the various formats. I’m confident that you’ll still be using it in 15 years time.”

Andy Polaine is an interaction and service designer. He is a Research Fellow & Lecturer in Service Design at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland and the Editor of The Designer’s Review of Books. u n e x p e c t e d

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by Joseph Giovannini



Artists often bring an unconventional point of view to interior design and architecture; their own homes can be provocatively different from those done by professional designers. The art is the environment. The quality of an interior, for example, is more often established by extremely personal art collections than the architecture, decor and furnishings. Most artists own and show many works of art - some that are finished, some that are in progress and others that have been bought, exchanged or received as gifts. The artists tend to subordinate the room to the pieces. There are, of course, artists’ homes that are part working spaces - somewhat haphazard, improbable and uncomposed studio environments that take their character from the work and how it is being done.

Interior SoHo

Some homes, however, are in themselves works of art, intentionally designed spaces in which the artist’s interest in the relationship between art and the environment has been extended into the interior space or the entire building. One of the most carefully de signed examples in New York is the five-story SoHo loft building belonging to the sculptor Donald Judd. In 1968, Mr. Judd paid $68,000 for the building, a former garment factory constructed in 1870, and he has been working on it ever since. ‘’I’ve tried to put as many of my ideas into it without changing the building, and keeping the spaces open,’’ he said. The artist has re-established the integrity of the building by taking it back to its basic structure, which he leaves unembellished, cool and factual. The building - a cast-iron corner structure with arcades of windows across the front and down the side - has as much clarity inside as out. Mr. Judd occupies all five floors, using each of the 1,700-square-foot spaces more or less as a separate room. The ground floor is a private gallery in which he shows his own sculpture and furniture and the work of friends; the second floor is a living and dining area; the third is his studio; the fourth, a formal dining room with several major paintings, and the fifth, his bedroom. The basement is used for offices and bedrooms for his two teen-age children. He is now remodeling the subbasement as a performance and dance area. The family shuttles up and down the building in a freight elevator. The building had been neglected, and few of the original architectural details were left. ‘’I was keen on preserving what could be preserved,’’ the 56 year old sculptor said. Mr. Judd first set about cleaning up and reclaiming the original structure from all the additions that had been built. He removed the interior partitions. ‘’I hate to cut up open space,’’ he said. ‘’I don’t know why people live in SoHo lofts if they want to divide these spaces into apartments.’’ The building, as a result, is one of the few in SoHo that works as a one-owner building rather than a stack of separately occupied spaces.


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Throughout, the sculptor has left only the sprinkler pipes, the radiators, staircases, tin ceilings and window moldings, which he has painted the same gray as the exterior cast iron. The floors were refinished and in some cases replaced; in the fourth- floor dining room, Mr. Judd laid tongue-and groove flooring as the ceiling, matching the floor. Except for closets, bathrooms and some functional spaces at the back of each level, the large rooms are free and unobstructed, allowing open views of the outer window walls. Each floor, too, differs slightly from the others, just as each of the sculptures in the series he makes differs slightly from the others. The effect is a neutral, matter-of- fact Gertrude Stein space, in which a light bulb is a light bulb and a table a table. Although the sculptor does have an occasional 19th-century piece and many African sculptures and textiles, there is no sense of decoration in the spaces, and no attempt at a style, not French, English, Bauhaus or Early American. The large knotty pine banquet table, for example, that Mr. Judd designed has virtually no identifiable style, not even a sense of craft. At one end of the second-floor living-dining space, the sculptor arranged the freestanding stainless-steel restaurant sink in the kitchen with the direct and elegant frankness of his sculptures - even the copper pipes behind the sink are exposed, minimal and straight. In his kitchen, as throughout the other floors, Mr. Judd has eliminated everything extraneous in favor of basics. In this context of what-you- see-is-what-youget, even the heavy Sicilian ceramic bowls and plates, the Vulcan restaurant stove, the solidly shaped teapot, the dried peppers and eggplants seem to exemplify an esthetic that is elemental. There is a sense that Mr. Judd has taken the building back to its fundamental shapes and materials while heightening its character. Finishing it might take years more, but what is finished will not be changed again. One of Mr. Judd’s primary goals in his home was to create an uncrowded environment suitable for permanently displaying his own art and that of others. Mr. Judd is especially interested in permanent art installations, believing that they provide the unhurried opportunity to live with each work and to ‘’think about it,’’ he said.

In the fourth-floor dining room, the sculptor has hung two paintings by Frank Stella on a long wall, with low, wide benches on which to recline in front of them, the benches placed to align with the windows. Like other parts of the interiors, the paintings and furniture are carefully organized to relate strongly to the whole structure. Other than a table with Z-shaped Gerrit Rietveld chairs and two Etruscan bronzes, the room is bare. In the sparely furnished bedroom, with the bed raised slightly on a thin platform and centered in the large area, there is a tall blue and red fluorescent light sculpture made by Dan Flavin expressly for the space. The sculpture runs at a slight angle from the back to the front of the long room - its glow, especially at night, fills a room that is otherwise almost completely empty. Like Mr. Judd, Stephen Antonakos, a neon artist, was one of the artists who moved into SoHo in the 1960’s, and he and his wife, Naomi, now occupy a 5,000-square-foot floor of one of the first buildings to be converted into an artists’ condominium. Except for two bedrooms, the artist originally kept the entire floor free of interior partitions, using most of it as an open studio. But as his work changed from freestanding sculptures to include wall-hung neon pieces, he built walls on which to study the work. The new walls defined large living areas - the kitchen, living room and entry. He painted the walls, ceilings and floors white, the floors, high-gloss. The result is an open, ambling set of rooms, with little furniture and no clutter - only a couple of couches, a coffee table, Rietveld chairs and a dining table. Mr. Antonakos designed and built the coffee table and dining table, which rests on a base of plumbing pipes. But the space is most remarkable because the neon pieces project light off the walls and into the surrounding white environment, and when they are plugged in, you occupy the glow. The interior seems to be more an environment of colored light than one of walls, ceilings, floors and furniture.

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by Kelly Hart


Thirteen Principles of Sustainable Architecture As “consumers” we are frequently confronted with life style decisions that can impact our environment. There are a few choices in this life that can make a big difference in what the quality of life will be for those who follow us. Going with the flow of our culture is hard to avoid, and unfortunately the flow is not in the right direction for evolving a sustainable future. One of the most momentous choices that any of us will make is the kind of house we live in. I have come up with a list of thirteen principles of sustainable architecture that can guide you in your housing choices. Small is beautiful. The trend lately has been toward huge mansion-style houses. While these might

fit the egos of those who purchase them, they don’t fit with a sustainable life style. Large houses generally use a tremendous amount of energy to heat and cool. This energy usually comes from the combustion of fossil fuels, depleting these resources and emitting greenhouse gases and pollutants into the air. Also, the larger the house, the more materials go into its construction; materials which may have their own environmental consequences. A home should be just the right size for its occupants and their activities. My wife and I (and our two dogs) have happily lived in a forty foot bus for the last four years. The key to this is

efficient use of space, good organization, and keeping possessions to a manageable level. We do look forward to spreading out some in the passive solar, earthbag home we are building. Heat with the sun. Nothing can be more comfortable for body and mind than living in a good solar-heated house. I say “good”, because proper design is crucial to the comfort of such a house. You may have gone into a solar house and felt stifled by the glaring heat, or perhaps you shivered from the lack of it. Good passive solar design will provide just enough sunlight into the rooms to be absorbed by the surrounding thermal mass (usually masonry materials), so that the heat will be given back into the room when the sun goes down. The thermal mass is a kind of “heat battery” that stores the warmth, absorbing it to keep the room from getting too hot during the day. Equally important to thermal mass is insulation (such as straw bales or crushed volcanic rock) that will keep that heat inside. Thermal mass materials need to be insulated from the outside,

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May 2010 or else they will just bleed that warmth right back out. A rock house might have tons of mass, but be uncomfortably cold because of this energy bleed. So a good solar design will utilize materials of the right type in the right places, blending thermal dynamics with utilitarian design. There is much more to be said about solar design, and there are many good books on the topic. Keep your cool. As I suggested above, a well designed solar house is both warm when you want it, and cool when you want it; that is to say, the temperature tends to stay fairly even. A good way to keep your cool is to dig into the earth. If you dig about six feet into the earth, you will find that the temperature there varies by only a few degrees year round. While this temperature (about 50-55 degrees F.) might be too cool for general living comfort, you can use the stability of the earth’s temperature to moderate the thermal fluctuations of the house. If you dig into a south-facing hillside to build, or berm the north part of the house with soil, you can take advantage of this. The part of the house that is under ground needs to be well insulated, or the earth will continually suck warmth out of the house. Let nature cool your food. In the old days people relied on pantries and root cellars to help keep produce and other provisions fresh. Ice boxes made way for refrigerators, which are obviously much more convenient, but somehow the use of cool pantries and root cellars also fell by the wayside. This is too bad because these spaces have functions that a refrigerator simply can’t replace. Root cellars can store large quantities of produce from the time of harvest

until the next summer. Cool pantries can store some produce, but also all manner of other foodstuffs and kitchen supplies can be kept there. Cool, dry storage is the best way to preserve most food. The cool of the earth can keep a totally bermed pantry or root cellar cool; the night air can also be used to cool a storage room. The convenience and security of having ample provisions at your finger tips can not be beat. Be energy efficient. There are many ways to conserve the use of fossil fuel. Using the sun, wind, or water to produce electricity is one. If you choose to do this, you will be forced to be careful in the way you use your electricity because it is limited. Whether you get your electricity from alternative sources or from the grid, it pays to choose energy efficient appliances. Front-loading clothes washers, for instance, use much less electricity, water and soap than the top-loaders. Compact florescent lights use about a third of the electricity of standard bulbs. Many appliances use electricity by just being plugged in (known as phantom load); be sure to avoid this. Conserve water. The average person in the U. S. uses between 100 and 250 gallons of water a day. I know it is possible to get by just fine on one tenth that amount. The use of low water capacity toilets, flow restrictors at shower heads and faucet aerators are fairly common now. More radical conservation approaches include diverting gray water from bathing, clothes washing and bathroom sinks to watering plants; catching rain water from roofs and conservation if done carefully to avoid bacterial infestation. Landscaping with drought tolerant, indigenous plants can save an enormous amount

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of water. Use local materials. There are several benefits to using local, indigenous materials. For one, they naturally fit into the “feeling” of the place. For another, they don’t burn as much fossil fuel to transport them, and they are likely to be less processed by industry. An example of building materials found in our corner of Colorado would be rocks, sand, adobe and scoria (crushed volcanic rock). Use natural materials. Again, naturally occurring materials often “feel” better to live with. When you step onto an adobe floor, for instance, you feel the resilient mother earth beneath your feet. A major reason for choosing natural materials over industrial ones is that the pollution often associated with their manufacture is minimized. For every ton of portland cement that is manufactured, an equal amount of carbon dioxide is released into the air. And then there is the matter of your health; natural materials are much less likely to adversely affect your health. Save the forests. Having lived for many years in the Pacific Northwest, I can attest to the appalling degradation of national and private forests. While wood is ostensibly a renewable resource, we have gone way beyond sustainable harvesting and have ruined enormous ecosystems. Use wood as decoration. Cull dead trees for structural supports. Use masonry, straw bales, papercrete, cob, adobe, rocks, bags of volcanic rock, etc., instead of wood. Unfortunately it is difficult to get away from lumber in making a roof, so consider making a dome from materials that can be stacked. Domes are also more energy efficient and use less materials for the same space as a box. A conventional straw bale house only only diminishes the

amount of wood used by about 15%! Recycle materials. If the materials already exist, you might as well use them, because by doing so you are not promoting the creation of more of them. You might also be keeping them out of the landfill, or keeping them from being transported for further processing. Wood that is kept dry does not degrade much, nor does glass. All kinds of things can be used in a house. We’re using old metal wagon wheels to support the window openings in our earthbag home. Build to last. There is an attitude in this throw-away society that an old house might as well be replaced by a new one. Unfortunately this is often true, because of shoddy construction or poor choice of materials, or lack of maintenance. A well made house can last for centuries, and it should. Moisture getting into a building can lead to ruin, and it is hard to avoid this, whether from the outside environment or from condensation from within. For this reason I am partial to the use of materials that are not degraded by moisture. Grow your food. Why not ask your house to help nourish you? With all of that south-facing glass, you might as well devote some of it to a greenhouse. Herbs and salad greens can be grown year round. What a pleasure! Share Facilities. A basic tenet of sustainability is to share what you have with others. Doing this can diminish the need for unnecessary duplication of facilities. In this way a group of people can not only have fewer tools or appliances or functional areas, but at the same time they can have available a greater variety of these facilities. This benefits both the environment (through less industrial activity) and the individual (by providing more options for living.)



May 2010

thinking James Dyson

answers a few questions on engineering, hands-on work, and protecting your ideas Job description Inventor and engineer. Founder of Dyson. Current Projects We recently launched a fan, the Air Multiplier, arriving in stores in the U.S. this month. I’m very excited about it because it’s a completely new take on the technology—no blades, just smooth air. Why do you do what you do? Engineering is in my blood. I try to encourage others, especially young people, to get involved with design. We run an award that gives young designers and engineers a platform for their inventions—there’s a lot of up-and-coming talent. First step on a project For me it starts with challenging the way something works and setting out to make it better. This can take time and a few missteps, but ultimately it’s worth it to solve the problem. Last step on a project There isn’t one. We’re constantly improving our machines. Not superficial changes but fundamental improvements to the technology. Design is an ongoing process. How do you break a creative block? A nice, long run usually does the trick. Education Self-trained tinkerer, then the Royal College of Art Mentor Jeremy Fry, who ran an engineering firm in Bath. I learned how to improve things by making one small change at a time.

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World-saving mission To get people interested in engineering. Where would we be without Edison, Ford, Faraday? As a society, we’re so affected by engineering yet so out of touch with it. Businesses need to recognize that research and development is vital to future success. First act as “design czar” Introduce people to the importance of engineering at a young age; change curriculum in schools to put more of an emphasis on making things. My second act: make all museums free of charge. Dream team I’ve got it. Over 300 engineers and scientists that help imagine and develop new technologies at Dyson. Office chair At Dyson we use Herman Miller chairs. They’re adjustable and ergonomic.

Office soundtrack I love classical music. I listen to a lot of opera. I’m not averse to the occasional Rolling Stones track. Favorite tchotchke I like to have things that inspire me close to hand, so I have models of jet planes and JCB excavators in my office. Most useful tool In addition to my sketchbook, a Rotring pencil. It’s an engineer’s pencil I use to do my drawings. It’s not styled in the least, but it’s comfortable and does the job. Best place to think In the lab, working hands-on with the engineers. The back-and-forth really helps move an idea along. The best results come from challenging one another.

Favorite space If I’m not in the lab, I prefer to be at home with my family. Guilty pleasure Wine—I’ve even tried making it myself. Underrated Engineering. We cross suspension bridges, work on computers, and fly in planes every day but don’t think about the vital role engineering plays in our lives. Overrated Cheap imitations. It’s remarkable how many companies try to make money by copying the ideas of others. It may look the same, but if it doesn’t perform, it’s vastly different.

Bookmarks I read a couple of papers in the morning—the U.K. has a half-dozen quality nationals. I also like for technology news. Current read I’ve been reading piles of books on British engineers for a TV show I’m working on. Something old The original Sony Walkman. Where would the iPod be without its predecessor? Something new DC31. It’s the first-ever handheld vacuum with a digital motor. Our DDM (Dyson digital motor) revs at more than 100,000 r.p.m., but the machine is less than three pounds.

Learned the hard way Nothing learned is ever easy. My first vacuum took over 5,000 prototypes to get right. But designing something that solves a problem is always worth the effort. Command-Z (undo) Patents are vital to protecting ideas. I invented a wheelbarrow that used a ball, but I didn’t patent it under my name. Big mistake—I lost all rights to it. It was a tough lesson, but we now know how to ensure our future technology stays protected. Dream job Luckily enough, I’m doing it.

positive thinking James Dyson


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Unraveled Magazine  

Sustainable design mag/ student project

Unraveled Magazine  

Sustainable design mag/ student project