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Acumen vol. 1, no. 1 Spring 2010

> Insight into the Design Process


Acumen


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Acumen: Insight into the Design Process


Acumen > Insight into the Design Process

Edited by Steve Jones

a publication of the MAIA Graduate Program College of Creative Arts / Design and Industry Department San Francisco State University

Spring 2010

student name and title goes here

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Copyright Š2010 Department of Design and Industry San Francisco State University / 1600 Holloway Avenue / San Francisco, CA 94132

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the Department of Design and Industry, San Francisco State University, excepting brief quotes used in connection with reviews, written specifically for inclusion in a magazine or newspaper.

Inquiries can made to: Steve Jones, Graduate Program Coordinator College of Creative Arts Department of Design and Industry San Francisco State University

sajones@sfsu.edu http://design.sfsu.edu

Designed and Edited by Steve Jones, Department of Design and Industry Acumen: Insight into the Design Process was typeset in PMN Caecilia 8.5/12

Printing: www.Lulu.com Printed and bound in the United States of America


Contents 8

Welcome / Mission Statement

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Design with Respect: Carlos Alberto Montana Hoyos by Isabel Perdomo

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Trash to Treasure by Lei Fan

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From Real to Virtual: Transitions in the Workplace by Alisa Lemberg

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Nader Ardalan: The Sense of Unity by Sima Tawakoli

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All-Around Green: Kalon Studios Attains Sustainability at Every Step by April Smith

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The Challenges of Teaching Graphic Design by Justin Nogar

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Stephen Key: Imagination for Innovation by Phil McConn

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Tarot: A glance into the “Hero’s Journey” by Maria-Christina Katsoulis

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Closing the Gamut: Perspectives on Improving Motor Function in Children with Autism by Eugene Wong

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Ader Chen: Design is Research by Elsa Chen

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Ra’ad Rehabilitation Goodwill Complex in Tehran, Iran by Yara Afshar

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Shades Of Gray by Michael Kim

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About the Authors

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Acknowledgements


Welcome to the inaugural into the Design Process. A cation created by the Departm at San Francisco State Univ examination of design rela works, written by graduate Product Design and Visua promote the exchange of com between students, educator and experts in all creative an open forum for analysis a the design community to e with people, objects and env stand the role of design in so

—Yara Afshar, Elsa Chen, Lei Fan, Steve Jones, Maria-Christina Katsoulis, Michael Sun

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Acumen: Insight into the Design Process


l issue of Acumen: Insight Acumen is a student publiment of Design and Industry versity. Through the critical ated topics, these selected e students concentrating in al Communications, aim to mmunication and knowledge rs, practicing professionals disciplines. By establishing and discussion, it challenges examine their relationships vironments to better underociety.

ng-Whan Kim, Alisa Lemberg, Phil McConn, Justin Nogarr, Isabel Perdomo, April Smith, Sima Tawakoli and Eugene Wong


Carlos carrying the traditional Colombian mochila.

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Design with Respect: Carlos Alberto Montana Hoyos by Isabel Perdomo

student name and title goes here

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“There are professions more harmful than industrial design, but only a very few” — Victor Papanek Introduction Carlos Alberto Montana Hoyos is an industrial designer born and raised in Bogota, Colombia. He holds a BA in Industrial Design from Javeriana University, Bogotá, an M.A. and PhD in Design Theory from Kobe Design University, Japan. While studying in Bogotá, Carlos gained experience by joining trainee programs in both Colombia and Italy, working for Unilever Andina and Whirlpool Europe. Building on that experience, he then worked in Colombia for approximately eight years for a range of different companies, working. He also did ceramic design and product photography for Colceramica, Organizacion Corona. While working for Corona in Medellin, Carlos started teaching part time at EAFIT University (Escuela de Administracion y Finanzas e Instituto Tecnologico) in the Product Design Engineering course. As an undergraduate student, he was very interested in design research and theory and also loved to teach. With this interest in academia, he applied for scholarships to begin his graduate studies. The Japanese government awarded him a scholarship and after accepting, he moved to Japan to study at Kobe Design University. While he was working on his PhD, he was given the opportunity to teach at the National University of Singapore, as a Fellow. Carlos has been in Asia for seven years. Alongside his academic positions, he also runs a design consultancy, develops his own projects and writes articles for a diverse set of design related media. Several of his projects have received diverse design awards such as the DuPont Imagineering Design Competition in Japan (2004), an honorable mention in the Braun Prize (2005), and being selected as one of the most influential young designers in Colombia (2006). In 2007, his a la lata lounge chair was selected among the top five chairs made with trash by Inhabitat Magazine. He was also invited to exhibit the chair at Hautegreen, the ecodesign section at the New York furniture fair. Design is Carlos’ passion. Carlos argues that being passionate about design is important for designers, as we are half artists and half engineers. In his mind, passion is what fuels design ideas and creativity and he explained that the definition of design has evolved a lot during the last century. Some people see design as a language, others as a problem solving exercise and as a result there are many different approaches to design. In Carlos’ case, design is a way of living. He passionately believes in a designer’s ability to modify our environment through designs ranging from large scale as Urban or Architectural design to small-scale Industrial or Graphic design.

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Dieter Rams is one of Carlos’s greatest inspirations, and he believes Rams has shaped the design of the last century. Nowadays, Carlos is inspired by the designs of U.K.’s Jasper Morrison and Japan’s Naoto Fukasawa. He really likes the idea of honesty and is inspired by the principle of “less is more.” Another source of inspiration for Carlos is nature. Currently, he is working with biomimicry, the idea of getting inspiration from nature, with sustainable and environmental design in mind. Another very important source of inspiration for any designer is his/her cultural background. Being Colombian, Carlos says he is inspired by the unique tradition, colors and music of his culture. Every designer tells a story of what they know and who they are. It is inevitable to bring your own culture into your work. Carlos gets inspired about everything that is Colombian. Music, food, colors, dance. Crafts, in particular, have influenced Carlos due to the fact that he worked with the Colombian Handcrafter’s Association (Artesanias de Colombia). Carlos says, “The use of natural, renewable materials and the richness of Colombian crafts and traditions are always very inspiring.” As a designer, you have to understand people to design for them and to do so, you have to be able to observe people and understand their culture. Given the time he has spent in Japan, Japanese culture and design has also had a very big influence on his design. Japanese design is very detail oriented, with a particular attention to quality and aesthetic refinement. Many of the contemporary Japanese designs are about simplicity and honesty, and that for Carlos is the idea of good design. Sustainability: Carlos has been working and researching about sustainable design for approximately 10 years. He believes that sustainability and eco-design are a must nowadays as most of us are very aware of the problems of the industrial revolution and how much harm industrial processes and capitalism have done to the environment. Through design we can fix many of these problems as they belong to the overall design of systems, manufacturing processes and life cycles. In the end, it is all a matter of design. Unfortunately, sustainability has become a boom and everyone talks about it. The typical definition is the balance of social, economical and environmental aspects of design and many people are trying to work on these three different aspects. Sustainability is about balance and respect towards people and the environment. Sustainability could also be about changing our current economic model as we have seen that it is definitely in crisis. In fact, the current economy has been labeled oil-based economy, but it is evolving to a carbon based economy, or natural capitalism as described by Hawken. These definitions highlight the importance within sustainability of looking at the

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The important thing though is not to simply imitate nature, but also use nature as measure. Somehow, when we design, we should take into account the respect for nature and this is the link between biomimicry and sustainability.


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real costs and implications of our use of energy and resources, the real cost of production and the real implications they are having on people. Sustainability in Carlos’ work: Approximately eight years ago, Carlos did several experiments in eco-design. This included trying to work with recycled or recyclable materials and trying to avoid the use of endangered species of wood in furniture design. Working with handcrafters and cabinetmakers, he attempted to improve the standard of life and marketability of products, which is related to the social aspects of sustainability and how through the creation of new markets we can generate new jobs. In the last few years, Carlos has been teaching students to think about these aspects and trying to think more in terms of ecosystems. That is why he incorporates biomimicry not only in the aesthetic design of a product, but also as inspiration for a product’s lifecycle, taking into account models such as cradle to cradle or the idea of industrial ecology. Sustainability and Cultural Identity: When designing, Carlos intentionally combines sustainability and cultural identity, especially when working with hand crafters. Coming from a country like Colombia, where crafters work with natural and renewable fibers as well as structural materials such as bamboo and guadua, its impossible not to see a cultural notion to his work. Also, when working with hand crafters, the social aspects of design come afloat. In other words, design tries to promote fair trade and preserving Colombia’s cultural traditions. Sustainability and Biomimicry: In Carlos’s words, they are mutually related. Carlos’ PhD research project focused on biomimicry and design for sustainability. In collaboration with the Biomimicry Institute, he developed some teaching strategies to include biomimicry as a tool for sustainable design within an Industrial Design education. The idea of being inspired by nature is not something new. Since Leonardo da Vinci and for that matter, throughout human history, humans have looked at nature and tried to copy what nature does, either in form or function. There have been many different names for “bio” inspired design. In the 1950s, it was bionics, biomechanics, and also metabolic architecture and organic design. Today many fields like biomimetics and bio-materials are widely developed, and in design we find trends as the blobjects. In many ways, humans have been mimicking nature. The important thing though is not to simply imitate nature, but to also use nature as measure. Somehow, when we design, we should take into account the respect for nature and this is the link between

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biomimicry and sustainability. So, biomimicry is not just about mimicking natural form or function, but rather natural processes, looking for example at how industry could produce new materials without needing as much energy or relying on so many chemical processes that can be very harmful and toxic to humans nature alike.

Pull tab fruit and candy bowl.

The other level of biomimicry, which is even more interesting, is thinking in terms of ecosystems. For Carlos, industrial ecology shows this idea where we look at the whole system and industry as elements in an ecosystem. In this ecosystem, the elements coexist and allow for symbiosis where the different industries or products share energy, industrial food and resources. This is also related to the concept of cradle to cradle, where waste equals food. The easiest part of biomimicry is to imitate nature’s form and function, and the most difficult part is actually trying to imitate processes or ecosystems. Some of Carlos’ graduate students are thinking about how systems of products could work like living systems and share resources, materials, etc. At this point this is more at a theoretical level, but the ultimate goal is to develop concrete applications. Biomimicry, Cultural Identity and Sustainability: While it is quite difficult to combine too many ideas into one design, sometimes it is possible. When we talk about honesty in design, we also talk about design

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as communication and sometimes it is better to convey one strong message rather than a series of weak ones. Carlos suggests, “Trying to avoid combining too many things or trying to say too much through one design.� Of course creativity is about new ways and combinations of different elements, so maybe in some designs we get inspirations from several different aspects. That said, once a design is redefined, there should be a clear message that somehow communicates the origin and concept of the design. A strong project or product not only has to have a strong cultural identity, but just as importantly, it has to be sustainable as well socially and economically conscious. In achieving this combination, it is more than likely to be influenced by biomimicry. We need to keep in mind that nothing, not even in nature, is perfect, so to be able to achieve that one very good project or product is very difficult. When designing, people must be taken into consideration as we design for people and it is inherently human centered. Carlos prefers talking about human centered design rather than user centered or even consumer centered as we are basically designing for people. As a designer, you have many different considerations and these considerations may vary according to different projects. Some of these considerations are aesthetics, appeal, appearance, manufacturability, feasibility, human factors, etc. Alongside these considerations, it is also very important to think about what story the design tells or communicates. In fact, this is one of the most important aspects of design. We could summarize this in linguistic terms, as syntactic (how it is constructed), semantic (what it means) and pragmatic (how it is used) aspects of design. The Design Process: Carlos would not know how to describe his design process since every project has a different process that requires some sort of experimentation. When you are a student and when you do research in design, you look at design processes and methods and try to follow and understand certain steps, but even with that preparation, the design process will always vary depending on the project and the complexity of the problem. Sometimes you start with a well-defined idea of what you want, and sometimes you randomly start to experiment. If Carlos had to define his design process, he would choose experimentation and form-finding. Colombian design within Colombia and outside of Colombia: One of the most important aspects of design is the context. It is very different to design within your country and with the resources offered by your country than outside. In addition, when you go to a different country and experience a different culture, you go through a very interesting process of self-under-

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standing as somehow you compare your own identity with a different culture, and you evolve by trying to take the best of both cultures. Design is a matter of resources and context. Carlos argues that, “As a Colombian designer, it would be very different to design while living in Colombia for people living in Colombia than to design outside of Colombia for other people.” What is important for Colombian designers is to try to show the best of our country outside of our country. Unfortunately, Colombians have a very bad reputation worldwide and it is very sad that people earmark us because we are Colombian and make us the subject of nasty jokes. It’s always good to show another face of what Colombians can do through creativity, resourcefulness, culture and passion. A la lata lounge chair: The chair is basically experimentation. When Carlos was in Colombia, he worked a lot with scrap material from the wood furniture and manufacturing industries. Specifically, he worked a lot with veneers and was also able to do a lot of experiments with different peels of different fruits to explore textures for furniture finishes. In addition, Carlos has been always interested in the urban crafts of Latin America and third world countries—where crafts are not only traditional but also a combination of urban symbols, industrial materials and the idea of recycling and repurposing. Urban crafts inspired him to experiment with various materials such as disposable chopsticks. While doing this, he also saw experiments in Brazil and Colombia with can tabs. But they were always used in terms of fashion and decoration, so his original idea became how to experiment with can tabs but not just as decoration or surface but also as structural elements. With this in mind, he started experiment tying the can tabs with different materials and trying to weave them. Eventually he connected his experimentation with can tabs and the traditional Colombian hammock, which is a textile that you hang and sleep on. By mixing these two ideas of weaving with tabs and the hammock, he arrived at the design for the a la lata lounge chair. The development of the chair was a very hands-on process of experimentation. Carlos was in Japan at the time and had to personally collect all the pull-tabs from the cans. He also involved his family and friends in the collection of the tabs. This was a very long process that made him aware of the easiness of producing trash and discarding items, and how difficult it is to recycle, collect and sort items for waste separation. The chair was also a process of model making. Of course Carlos had to do some sketching and cad drawings to redefine the structure of the chair, but the core of the design was more a craft based process. The a la lata lounge chair is still in the prototype stage. Carlos has been

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trying to commercialize it, but the production of the chair is very time consuming. Still, several people have expressed interest in buying the prototype, but Carlos needs the infrastructure to manufacture the chair, which is not so easy. On the other hand, he has been thinking a lot about the chair and how to improve it. Carlos recalls that developing the chair was an interesting experience and result of aesthetic appeal and materials research. In this first prototype, Carlos tied all the can tabs with zip ties, which means that the chair requires a lot of plastic and although the product is meant to have a very long life span and people could fix it by themselves, in the event of disposal, it would be damaging to the environment. To overcome this, Carlos is trying to experiment tying the can tabs with aluminum, so at the end the product would be 100% aluminum and easier to recycle. The a la lata lounge chair proves that design is not only experimentation but also an evolution. If we compare design to nature, it is constant evolution. As designers we should never be totally satisfied with a design. We should always strive for improvement and criticism of our own designs. That is the evolution process.

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A la lata lounge chair.

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Carlos loves design, life, nature, people, teaching and sharing with other people. He also dislikes many things, and this should be a driver for designers, to always improve things. One of the challenges of design is to humanize our environment by improving people’s life. As designers, we have to be very critical and as a result it is good to critically evaluate things as that provides an opportunity to improve them. This desire for improvement is one of the characteristics that designers must have. The future of design: Design is a life changing experience. Design and the industry are not only the cause of many of humanity’s problems, but could also potentially present a solution to many of our current situations. Design will continue its dematerialization and it will no longer be just design for manufacture, but it will continue its evolution into interfacing, interactions and experiences. This will lead to designing not only products, but also many other different types of design. Personally, Carlos thinks we are moving into a biological design, imitating and integrating much more living systems through areas such as biomimicry, biosystems and bioprocess. If this happens, design is moving away from traditional industrial design, as we know it today. A message to graduate students: Keep on trying, keep on trying, and keep on trying! Make mistakes and learn from them. Try new things. Keep your dreams alive. Do not be conformist. Try to change the world. Keep your ideals alive. Many times it is easy to leave your dreams aside when you are constrained by industry, economic factors, responsibilities or career advancement, but you must keep your passion and love for what you do alive. This is the most important thing to keep. Never give up. It’s always a struggle, but that is what design is about; trial and error. Enjoy the process, as design should be fun and enjoyable. If you don’t enjoy when designing, probably you are not doing what you are meant to do. Design with Respect: Carlos thinks that good and adequate design for certain people in a certain context are very much about respecting people and their lifestyles. He believes that sustainable design is about respecting the environment and culture. Importantly, he reminded me that design is also respecting ourselves as human beings and looking for our well-being. As designers, if we are not responsible, we can be very dangerous because our mistakes can be multiplied by the millions. We have to be aware of that.

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Design is constant experimentation, evolution and search for surprises. It is also constant trial and error, trial of new things and surprises in materials and experiences.


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Trash to Treasures by Lei Fan Ë™

student name and title goes here

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What happens to your trash? Some of it is sent to landfill. Some of it is recycled. Some of it becomes compost—and some of it, whether you believe it or not, is turned into treasures by artists’ hands. Recology does all these things to people’s daily waste in San Francisco. Established in 1921, Recology is the employee-owned company in the solid waste industry, providing waste management services to more than 570,000 residential and 55,000 commercial customers1. Recology’s operating companies provide collection, recycling and disposal services. Right now, Recology’s biggest goal is to help San Francisco operate a zero waste city by 2020. To achieve this goal, the company emphasizes recycling to reduce consumption of virgin materials and save landfill space. Besides waste management services, Recology San Francisco has been home to an Artist in Residence program since 1990. The goal of this program is to use art to inspire people to recycle more and conserve natural resources. Recology provides selected local artists with the opportunity to create art using materials they gather from San Francisco’s refuse, which

From left to right: Christine Lee relaxes after much labor / The versatile benches can fit into each other or can have alternative uses, such as being a plant-holder / “Memory Blocks” Susan L. Steinman 1993

would have been sent with the rest of San Francisco’s trash to landfills across the Bay or recycling plants across the nation. Recology spreads this “Trash to Treasures” idea by having exhibitions around San Francisco and conducting tours. I was lucky to join one of the tours and interviewed one of the artists, Christine Lee. Both experiences inspired me tremendously. The tour started in a small exhibition room, where all the art pieces are exhibited. They were so pretty and creative that many of us could not believe they came from trash. I saw a little metal deer sitting beside a chair, which was made from wood and metal pipes; unique metal picture frames hanging on the wall; plates made of discarded glass standing on the table.

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And I even found a pair of high heel shoes made of cardboard. I noticed that most of the creations were art and only a few were products, such as the chair and the plates. Why? I assume that maybe creating a functional product is a higher requirement for the materials than art, but the reasons could be various. After experiencing the amazing art work, we were brought to another room, and the tour guide, Micah Gibson, played a short video introducing us to Recology. He then showed us some samples of waste and explained which type of waste should go into which bins—green for compost, blue for recycle, black for landfill. It really taught me a lot. For example, in San Francisco, putting electronic waste in any of the bins is illegal, and plastic bags cannot go into the blue bin whether they are labeled “recyclable” or not. The tour really helped me understand how to distribute garbage. The tour had participants from all walks of life—from old men to mothers with kids, which made me think that this program really brings everyone, from old to young, to learn more about recycling and protecting natural resources. After this small and useful class, we all went outside and visited the facilities where garbage in three different bins is managed. First, we passed a big open area where the food and yard waste, in green bins, was laid out on the ground, where it becomes compost in about six weeks. The compost then will be sold to companies or individuals who need it. It was very hard to ignore the smell, so we didn’t stop and went directly to the transfer station. In the transfer station, garbage in black bins is poured into a huge pit and crushed before landfill. Before, my understanding was that if people put wrong items into the black bins, the garbage company separated those items. However, Micah said that even though one third of waste in black bins are compostable and recyclable, the company does not separate anything from it, which means whatever goes into the black bins is sent to landfill. “That is why we conduct tours, so people can understand how this system works and help reduce the landfill,” he explained. After the transfer station, we then went to the Public Disposal and Reuse area, which is also called “the dump.” This is where all other refuse is temporarily sorted before being recycled or sent to landfill—which includes furniture, paint, E-waste and so on. The dump is also a “free shopping center,” where the Recology artists can choose and take whatever they want to create their

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artwork. Although there is a wide array of materials and each artist uses different materials for their creation; some of the most common materials the artists use are wood, metal, and paint. Next, we visited the studio/workspace where artists create their artwork. This is a well-equipped studio that makes the creation process more convenient. I saw an artist making a big, barbecue-like machine. This was the most multifunctional barbecue machine that I had ever seen. It can provide light, play music, and even send out bursts of flame, which gave me the feeling of being at a crazy barbecue party. The artist told us this “trash to treasure” idea should become a part of our culture, and everyone should participate in it. “For me, this is not only a physical exercise but also a mental exercise,” he said.

For me, this is not only a physical exercise but also a mental exercise. Our final stop was the Sculpture Garden. It is, as far as I know, the only art park located at a garbage company. The Sculpture Garden is home to some of the larger pieces of art created by the many artists who have participated in the Artist in Residence Program over the years. After seeing all that garbage, it was very pleasant to see a little bit more green and creative stuff. Since the recycling center is located off-site, following the tour, Micah played another video for us to understand how items in the blue bins is taken to be sorted. Workers separate recyclable waste of different kinds (mostly plastic and paper), and compress them into squares. After that, these plastic and paper squares can be sold, shipped to China for use in manufacturing. Artist-in-Residence, Christine Lee Besides the wonderful tour, I also had a chance to interview one of the artists in Artist-in-Residence Program. Christine Lee, an Asian woman, was an artist-in-resident in the program from October, 2008 to January, 2009. During that time, she made outdoor benches, using discarded wood and cement left over from a construction project. After I seeing photos of her work, I decided to interview her because the benches are a product—not just art, and they were so nice I could not believe they were made from refuse. The project was pretty labor intensive— because it can take time to remove everything like nails or old paint from the reclaimed materials. In addition, the benches are huge. As an artist, Christine has decided to be more vocal about the details of her creative

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practice, in which she uses as much reclaimed materials as possible—and to focus on creating work that straddles across the functional and sculptural disciplines to serve as examples that could address this issue. During the interview, Christine told me that the problem of our society’s rate of production and waste became visually etched in her mind. She already had a natural inclination to find other uses for commonplace and discarded material, and was confused why so much material, that seemed to be in perfectly good shape, would be thrown out. She was most surprised to learn that over 150 million tons of construction and debris waste, goes into landfills each year. In addition, she agreed that Recology is a great model for the way it integrates art and educational programming; that is sincerely rooted in environmental awareness. If more programs like this existed across the nation and internationally, then I think it is possible to have a greater positive impact on salvaging materials. Talking about the possibility of manufacturing products wholly from refuse, Christine said that it is indeed possible that products can be made out of reclaimed and excess materials. The industry is more affected by the added time invested in sorting, and preparation. It seems to be easier for the industry to make mass quantities of things very quickly from new stock. However, if one can put more time in the design or concept of the project, it is possible to overcome many challenges and perceived limitations of salvaged materials. There are products made only from reused or reclaimed materials, but a realistic goal is to shoot for a high percentage, let’s say 80-90%, of reclaimed material so that you can include adhesive, special hardware and other components that may have to be new. Before leaving, Christine encouraged me to apply to the Recology Artistin-Residence program. “It is hard at the beginning,” she says. But she promised I will not be disappointed in the end. “Take the time to sift through the material in the PDRA (Public Disposal and Reuse Area) and let those objects inspire your work,” she also suggested. Although garbage is smelly and dirty, I still think this is a great program because I witnessed how trash becomes treasure. I was also touched by the workers and artists at Recology and the artist-in-residence program. They work very hard in such an unhappy environment to let us live in a nicer environment. So we really should cherish what we have now, recycle more, and conserve natural resources. Endnotes: 1 - www.recology.com/profile/index.htm. (n.d) - Retrieved April 8, 2010 Opening photocollage: Lei Fan

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A view of the Tech Museums virtual Expo Lab space. The Expo Lab is accessible to curators and academics from around the world and is used as an ideation platform and staging ground for future real world exhibits.

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— an Interview with Bob Ketner

by Alisa Lemberg

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student name and title goes here


Virtual worlds, once the subject of science fiction, have not only gone from fiction to reality, but they have been gaining in both popularity and diversity in recent years. Virtual worlds, such as Second Life, have a number of real world application ranging from online classrooms to social spaces. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Bob Ketner of the San Jose Tech Museum’s Tech Virtual. The Tech Virtual isn’t a museum per se, but rather a virtual staging area for real life museum exhibits. It is housed digitally, in Second Life, and is composed of a conglomerate of museum and university partners. Participants meet in virtual space to prototype, ideate, and plan future museum exhibits.

Pretty much e build would b without Se The Second Life platform gives users a sense of scale and mimics realworld physics. Furthermore, it allows multiple participants to experience the same thing in real time making it an attractive collaboration tool. The Tech Virtual team uses Second Life to work across geographical, cultural, and institutional boundaries, so I asked Ketner about his perspective on Second Life as a collaboration tool. “The work that can be accomplished in Second Life is very fast. Why do people want to have a meeting?” asked Ketner. “Hopefully it’s so they can run through a bunch of ideas that would take forever using email. In our case we’re working on models of distinct things, so it’s relatively focused on that, whereas in your real office there’s more going on a daily basis that carries over into the task,” Ketner explained. He adds, “in the Second Life virtual space, everyone is from different institutions, or independent, so, this is very interesting because it’s an outsider’s view on what you’re doing. This input is invaluable for design. In my experience

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some of the worst design failures are ones that (from appearances) received little outside input. Work environments also tend to excel at destroying creativity, perhaps by nature. Maybe there is a question of internal competition inside a workplace that inhibits collaboration?� Ketner further suggested that the collaborative environment of the Tech Virtual, specifically coupled with the relative anonymity of working in a virtual space, might allow participants to be more open with their work and critiques. Of course, virtual reality is not the only possible collaborative tool on the market. In fact communication and efficiency tools seem to be the new focus of major companies from Microsoft to Cisco. I asked Ketner why his

everything we be impossible econd Life team chose Second Life, which despite a recent revamp of its first experience and digital viewer, still comes with somewhat of a learning curve. Ketner, however, appeared to be a virtual reality evangelist saying: Pretty much everything we build would be impossible without Second Life. Over the last two weeks we had design reviews with the Expolab (museum) team that came in and reviewed some exhibit concepts. They are very fast and although have only been on Second Life a short while, get it immediately. With Expolab in Barcelona and myself in San Jose and other users in France, and other places, this just could not have been accomplished any other way in real-time. Because we are manipulating 3D objects this spatial element is crucial. We have also done Skype and conference calls which end up being, well, Skype and conference calls! There is simply no substitute for being able to show

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someone something in real time and get their immediate reaction. In other instances, I’ve run into people who are interested in our program just by accident, because they were wandering around looking at stuff, and they were able to immediately ask me questions and get answers. If you want this kind of immediacy and speed, I’d be happy to know any other solutions that enable this, but I’m not aware of any!

The term “in-world” denotes activities within the Second Life platform. Second Life also calls its users “residence,” in an effort to create a greater sense of place and nationality. Despite the advantages of real-time three dimensional collaboration, and the sex-appeal of science fiction come to life, not all virtual worlds are created equal. In fact, two worlds similar to Second Life have gone out of business in the last six months. First, Metaplace and then There.com shut their doors, and turned off their servers, all while worlds such as IMVU and Second Life continue to thrive. I asked Ketner if the end of There.com and Metaplace should be heard as a warning call to other virtual worlds. Ketner does not believe that this signals the end of virtual reality, however, but rather a mix of businesses falling to the economy and a shake out among companies in the virtual reality space. “In Metaplace’s case I was shocked and sad to see it go, because I really thought it was well executed and had tons of applications. Maybe they didn’t give it enough time, or the costs were too high?” suggests Ketner. “Many of the children’s services are doing very well because they know their purpose. You have Active Worlds chugging along since 1997 and Kaneva still around with quite a sophisticated web profile model. So, in general, I think that there will be more plays to come, and some are just getting started such as Blue Mars,” says Ketner. Having a strong niche identity may be key in an emerging market where it is not yet clear what real purpose virtual worlds will serve. Appealing to children, working mothers, or another defined group of users allows a virtual world to capitalize on known use patterns, tailor an appealing environment, and participate in targeted advertising or other revenue generating activities. Target appeal may also solve the lack of focus and user boredom that has long plagued user-generated-content worlds. It is also believed that lag in hardware technology impacts virtual reality, and the popularity of the latter is expected to grow as high speed internet access and faster computer processors become more widely available. Faster, higher resolution rendering, and the integration of VOIP-like voice functionality will add to the appeal and marketability of virtual worlds allowing them to take on, and ultimately expand, the role of traditional phone calls.

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Perhaps the biggest challenge in creating a sustainable virtual world is answering the question “what do I do here.” Users who first enter a virtual world expecting a video game will be sorely disappointed. This is because worlds such as Second Life depend on user created content, and are more of a blank slate than a pre-designed game. Most virtual worlds contain games, activities, or treasure hunts, but the main focus is often social. “Finding a

Homepage of the now closed There.com. One of the first consumer focused virtual worlds, There.com, pulled the plug on March 9, 2010.

niche appears to be key,” asserts Ketner. He explains, “Second Life’s niche is that you can create content without external tools. This is a concept that non-users just don’t seem to grasp. I’m not sure why this is, they may just see nothing that they would use it for. At any rate, that’s why we’re in Second Life at The Tech Virtual and not in any of the others, because it’s a usable tool to create content. The concept of ‘hey drop in and socialize’ seems to be out, or at least, very difficult idea to push.” The in-world development tools Ketner points to allow Second Life users to create and animate 3D objects quickly. These tools, along with the Second Life creation process, are free making them attractive to new and novice users. However, whether a sophisticated creator pallet will sustain this virtual world through the economic turbulence that forced others to close remains to be seen.

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Nader Ardalan: the Sense of Unity by Sima Tawakoli

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student name and title goes here


About Nader Ardalan: Nader Ardalan is an award winning and critically acclaimed international architect. In over four decades of professional and academic life, Ardalan has practiced architecture. Ardalan’s approach is based upon four design forces structured upon the concerns for function, environment, culture and advanced technology. In the book Contemporary Architects, Mitchell Rouda writes of him: “Nader Ardalan is a man dedicated to the search of origins.” The origins are his starting point, giving him a structural and scientific base for anticipating profoundly valid and sustainable architectural solutions to the built environment. His designs have been exhibited in the Venice Biennale, the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York and the Avery Library of Columbia University has selected one of his architectural drawings for their permanent collection. He is a graduate of Carnegie Institute of Technology, and Harvard University, where he received his Masters in Architecture degree in 1962. Upon graduation, Nader joined the San Francisco office of SOM, where he worked closely with Charles Bassett, the Chief of Design. In 1977, Ardalan moved his base of design operations to Boston, when he accepted an invitation to teach at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and Yale’s School of Architecture. He also established an architectural firm in Boston associated with his office in Tehran called Mandala International. Ardalan once said, “I was made conscious of the unity of cultures as expressed in the various great architectural traditions of the world. In fact, the universal and mythic dimensions of architecture that transcend the limitations of place and time have taken my personal attention in my more recent writings and designs.” Currently he is working on the project The Intelligent Tower, in Doha, Qatar for Gulf Organization for Industrial Consulting Doha, Qatar (2007 – present).1

Nader Ardalan would say that among all of his works he is most proud of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran, Iran. He worked on that project with architect Kamran Diba. The project had a unique location, a corner of one the most beautiful parks in Tehran. It is close to Tehran University and Elizabeth Boulevard. It is a carefully chosen collection of contemporary art masterpieces from around the world which includes, among many, works from Picasso, Moore, and Tanavoli. Lighting played an important role in the design of the museum. It was important for Ardalan to use the daylight in a way so as not to contribute to glare on the paintings. Ardalan employed the technique of noor gir to take advantage of smooth and indirect sunlight. Noor Gir is an Iranian structure which provides light from the ceiling or the very high part of the wall. The western version of it employs the use of skylights, but structurally they are different. The noor gir’s location is the place where all of the arches in the

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top of the dome or in the pendentive of the dome meet each other. Having an opening in this part of the structure doesn’t weaken it. Ardalan chose this system in the museum because he was familiar with it through Iranian architecture. He learned more about it while he was a student of architect Joseph Louis Sert, who was the Dean of the Architectural Department at Harvard University in 1962. Sert was a great follower of Le Corbusier. He designed the Miro Museum and used a semi-circular light catcher for that project. The combination of a modern light catcher and the Iranian traditional noor gir gave Ardalan the idea for the lighting design for the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The creative use of light is one of the primary riddles in architecture. A project in which Ardalan encountered some obstacles­; one which was the most challenging to design was the Abu Dhabi Ecological Park. He was commissioned to design a residential community adjacent to the National Mangrove Park of Abu Dhabi that used a very low amount of energy while providing complete and adequate light for such a function. Because of the geographical location of the project and its desert climate, it was a challenging project. Ardalan and his team did a great job designing a canopy over the whole project that provided adequate shade above the community buildings and pathways. With this solution they could protect the building from direct, harsh light and reduce heat gain, and at the same time able to collect the sun’s radiant energy through a photovoltaic solar system which could be used for the building’s energy needs. Ardalan believes that everything in life is a riddle and has to be solved. Like the Japanese Koan, a spiritual riddle that is designed to be solved through meditation. The creative use of light is one of the primary riddles in architecture. One of Ardalan’s early projects after returning from America to Iran was The Iran Center for Management Studies in conjunction with Harvard University Business School, which today is the Imam Sadegh University. In this project he was closely involved with lighting design. He was inspired by the Iranian concept of the paradise garden, the integration of traditional architectural topologies, the adaptive use of natural light for the purposes of a business curriculum. Different functional spaces required different characteristics of light. For instance, the university did not want the case study classrooms to have any windows facing to the outside. They wanted

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an absolute concentration on the class. So Ardalan employed noor gir in a central roof light catcher system, that provided filtered daylight without creating a distraction. For the individual study rooms, Ardalan used a rather indirect, natural lighting that brought glare free daylight to each study desk, while allowing a view of a magnolia tree placed at the center of a shaded courtyard—reinforcing the idea of “concentration.”

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Ardalan located the desks in front of the windows to use a good light source, provide a good view, and to have good ventilation. He used the form of a Timcheh for the dining room. Timcheh is an Iranian structure that helps take advantage of a series of semi-private rooms in a public hall under one roof. For the library, placed in the center of the garden, Ardalan designed the study areas to open out to views into the garden, where students could sit near the windows or in a corner of the room. The book stacks were removed from direct sun to niches removed from harmful light. This emulated the floorplan of the Hasht Behesht mansion in Isfahan, Iran. Ardalan’s advice for young architects about lighting design is to look at both the metaphysical and the physical aspects of light at the deepest levels. Throughout the long history of Iranian culture, philosophers, poets, and writers, from Sohrevardi to Jami to Rumi have given us a great understanding of the profound meanings of Light. From the history of Iran, we can go back to the Zoroaster who used light as a symbol of purity and the divine. Zoroastrianism is a very ancient religion of Iran dating back 2,500. This transcendental aspect of light has remained a characteristic of Iranian thought, even through to the Islamic period of its history. In Zoroastrianism, light is the great symbol of God and Goodness, whether in the light of the sun or in the sacred fire.2 Ardalan’s architectural beliefs about lighting have not changed in the past 40 years. He came to some realizations about the phenomena of light, as it relates to architecture when he was 24. He refined these ideas from 1964 to 1973. During those 10 years, he experienced a life transformation of his architectural theory. Since then, there have been refinements to his theory, but the core ideas remain unchanged. He advises young architects to think about lighting, in any project, from the very beginning of the design process. He believes that the theory and aesthetics of light should be studied in the architecture of the very earliest structures in the world, such as those in Egypt, Rome, Iran , and other ancient cultures. Primitive buildings have a very obvious and direct relationship with lighting in their design. In Iran, in its elevated plateaus and nearness to the sun, one gram of radiant light delivers a powerful energy to our dark lives. The architect Louis Kahn had a significant influence on Ardalan’s work. While a was a student at Carnegie-Mellon University, Ardalan first experienced Louis Kahn’s research labs at the University of Pennsylvania. The way Kahn cut openings into buildings was very unusual because it was different from all the glass architectural movements inspired by the Bauhaus theories and the International style popularized by Mies Van der Rohe. Ardalan was very interested in Kahn’s work. In 1970, for the International Architectural Conference in Isfahan, Iran, Ardalan had the pleasure of inviting Kahn to the conference. Kahn and Ardalan visited the Isfahan Jaame Mosque during

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Kahn’s trip to Isfahan. At the time of the visit, Kahn was 70 years old and well known for his masterpieces. He was so impressed by the mosque, that he was moved to tears. He said that for his entire life he had had a wish to see a place in which they used brick for wall, flooring, ceiling, and columns at the same time, and which were illuminated by light in a wonderfully beautiful way. In the same year, Ardalan’s book, The Sense of Unity, was published. He asked Louis Kahn to introduce it to Chicago University, which Kahn did, and this raised Ardalan’s stature and fame in the architectural field. Louis Kahn and Kenzo Tange, who were masters of architecture in the 60s and 70s, asked young Ardalan to work with them. Kahn was Ardalan’s spiritual and architectural mentor and leader. Anytime that Ardalan spoke of Kahn, his voice was full of appreciation and admiration for him. Ardalan obviously was a great student and follower of Kahn, and it is obvious that this leader/follower relationship between Kahn and Ardalan was an honorable relationship for both of them. Having an incredibly talented student such as Ardalan, of course, was an honor for Kahn as well. When Ardalan was asked if it was important for him to teach and work with younger designer architects, his response was, “Absolutely. They both teach you and support you.” Ardalan had a very positive experience working with a group of them in his projects in Iran at Tehran University, then at Harvard and most recently with students in the Persian Gulf countries. He says, “It is always nice that a grandfather talks to his grandchildren.” When it comes to talk about any difference between men and women student/colleagues, he emphatically says that he doesn’t see any differences in the creative soul or profound thought between them. To him, it seems that men mostly tend to focus on form while women tend to be more focused on the materiality of form. However, Zaha Hadid is an exception among women architects. She seems to be mainly concerned with form. She is a form maker even though women usually are more form followers. Culture, of course, has an important role in shaping female student’s sense and concept of creativity. However, some countries still limit their female students in the way that they dictate approaches to learning and in the way they view women’s ability to learn; and, as well, the ways in which they attempt to influence or dictate female student’s professional goals and roles in society and the professions. Ardalan knew very early in life that he wanted to be a designer. He says, “I didn’t want to be a mayor or a president in a university, I just wanted to be a designer.” Very few designers survive as a designer. A designer should have talent, patience, perseverance and luck; be open to travel the world to find projects, and have people believe that they can entrust a design in

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their hands. Since 1977 Ardalan has lived in Boston, but he travels all the time and searches for new projects that interests him. He has learned that four forces govern his consciousness of design. First, the force of function; second, the force of environmental adaptation; third, the force of cultural relevance; and fourth, the force of innovation technology. What he has learned about these forces is that they help move him toward better and more functional designs. The Modernist movement has created architecture without comprehensively integrating these forces. They, in fact, resist being trained about the forces of the environment or culture. Most buildings that have been designed have absolutely nothing to do with the culture or environment in which they are located. As an example, he reminds us of Dubai’s incongruous and unsustainable modern architecture and urban design. When Ardalan was asked about what factors determine a project to work on, he says “That one must consider the potential of reality in realization of a quality work exists.” Next to what extent collaboration is needed for completion of a quality work and to pick the most suitably creative team. If the research of potential projects doesn’t seem promising, he doesn’t have difficulty deciding to refrain from accepting. He says, “A door opens to a room which leads to yet another door to be opened.” One thing leads to another. To develop an idea, he reads and writes. He does all of the sketches and rough drafts by hand. All the computer work is done in India and will be sent to China for the rendering. The task in lighting that he believes is challenging is thinking about lighting as a radiant energy which creates shadows. For him, the crucial things in lighting are sustainability, good passive design, and creative active design. When asked if he were to talk about lighting 40 years ago, would he hold different views then than he does now, he answered “Nothing has essentially changed, it has simply grown in depth.” It was a great pleasure to share an hour interviewing Nader Ardalan. He is an organized thinker and talker. He thinks quickly, but talks in a very understandable manner. He is incredibly knowledgeable about architecture and design and he speaks from experience—experience which makes what he says so convincingly impressive and influential. References: www.ardalanassociates.com www.religioustolerance.org Opening image: courtesy of www.ardalanassociates.com

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All-Around Green: Kalon Studios Attains Sustainability at Every Step by April Smith

}


As the design firm behind elegant sustainable pieces such as the Isometric Chair & Table, 3 Blocks nesting tables, as well as a full line of children’s furniture, Kalon Studios is dedicated to making products that are both eco, and people friendly. The multi-use, quality furniture built to last for generations is constructed out of materials that are recyclable, renewable and biodegradable. Non-toxic, water-based glues are used, as well as a nearly food-grade finishing oil that the company developed themselves. Every factor in the creation of Kalon furniture is examined for sustainability opportunities. Waste is aggressively and continually reduced in the manufacturing process, and purpose is found for any material not used in the final product. Local businesses are employed near the production facilities and local (U.S.) skilled labor is used. I was able to speak with one of the founders of Kalon Studios, Johann Pauwen, for some insight on exactly how the company’s goals are accomplished.

Opening: Kalon Studios’ Isometric Chair. Above, from left: Kalon Studios’ Ioline Toddler Bed and 3 Blocks

Pauwen carefully illustrated the company’s manufacturing process that boasts 90 percent material efficiency. Bamboo comes in 4'x8' sheets, each of which are “nested”, or arranged closely on the sheet to utilize every square inch possible. Pieces are cut out by the CNC machine and then assembled by hand. Any remaining material is taken away for other use. Small pieces are collected and burned to heat the facility. Remaining plywood is used to build crates. Even the sawdust is put to use. Giant tubes are attached to the machines that suck up the sawdust as it’s created. The tubes then carry the sawdust to a semi trailer outside where it collects. As soon as the trailer is full, the sawdust is taken away to create MDF, or to be made into pellet form for use in furnaces. Pallets that are used when shipping materials to the

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company are reused when shipping products out of the facility. Any other materials that haven’t been put to use are continually being evaluated for use in new products. Clearly the company has a handle on effective use of material. From there, our conversation turned to the use of non-toxic materials. Kalon developed its own finishing oil that is so safe it is nearly suitable for human consumption. One might expect highly educated chemical experts or outside companies to be involved in producing a product such as this, but that was not the case. “It was actually pretty straightforward,” Pauwen says. “We just began by looking at finishes that we liked, that performed well. We asked for their MSDS (material safety data) sheets and began investigating each material and its properties.” Gradually the team began replacing ingredients with the industrial grade versions of many things found in processed foods. “Often the only difference in the industrial grade versions and the FDA approved versions is the way it’s packaged,” Pauwen says. “Sometimes the industrial grade version doesn’t need the extra seal to keep out bacteria since it isn’t intended for food use.” The company selected materials like Carnauba wax (which is used as a base for lipstick and candy), citrus extract, and linseed oil (flax oil). Utilizing local businesses is another way Kalon attains sustainability. The manufacturing facilities that the company contracts for production are located in Gardner, Massachusetts. The shipping company Kalon uses is nearby, as well as its paint supplier. Also, the use of local labor is important to the company. Gardner was at one point nicknamed “Chairtown, USA” and was the furniture manufacturing capital of the United States. Relocation of manufacturing operations to High Point, North Carolina and elsewhere overseas has been devastating to the town. One company that employed 5,000 skilled woodworkers now employs less than 300. Another went from 22 employees working every day to four working every other week. Engaging the Northeast’s rich woodworking tradition is a valuable way that Kalon helps to pass these skills to the next generation. “As a community you can’t leave these resources to dry up,” Pauwen says. “It’s hard to get them back once they’re gone.” Pauwen and his company are dedicated to operating ethically and maintaining a holistic view and approach. The motivation, he says, comes from his upbringing, his generation’s focus, and from his college studies at both the Rhode Island School of Design and at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam, Germany. “RISD really focused on ‘design integrity’ in respect to materials and function, which I digested for a long time,” he says. Sustainability and non-toxicity, Pauwen feels, are important to maintaining the most ethical approach to protect both people and the environment. Pauwen spoke about the future of non-toxic products and the possibility

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of expanding this market beyond “green” parents and people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. “There is a cultural shift happening,” he says. “We’re just now seeing products in Target and Wal*Mart that are BPA (Bisphenol A)free and organic.” But despite the fact that awareness is beginning to take hold, Pauwen feels it is unlikely that all products will go all-natural. Much of this can be attributed to difficulty finding the delicate balance between material performance, earth/people friendliness and cost. Paint is one example Pauwen gives in which sacrifices had to be made to achieve that balance. “Lead is the best cross-linking agent in paints and leaded paints far outperform paints with other driers in them,” he says. “But as we know, it is incredibly toxic, so we sacrifice paint performance for a safer indoor environment.” Finding materials that meet the company’s criteria for performance, functionality and aesthetics can be challenging, he says. Currently Kalon is working on a design that is optimally suited for fiberglass, yet the company cannot justify the use of such a toxic, nonbiodegradable material. However, in defense of traditional “toxic” furniture, he mentions that levels of toxicity should be addressed. Materials such as water-based polyurethanes are safe once dry. “Everything is toxic at some level,” he says. “Even water, if you drink too much of it.” Immature logistical coordination is also affecting cost and life cycle efficiency. The sourcing of raw materials, manufacturing process, and disposal/ repurposing of products has yet to be developed into a fully cradle-to-cradle system. Pauwen cites Styrofoam as one example in which real efficiency could be achieved, yet currently misses the mark. “It can now be recycled in California and many other states,” he says. “It reduces to a liquid that can be easily transported to a factory and reconstituted into Styrofoam, yet California only recycles 10% of the Styrofoam that enters the recycling stream. Why is that? My best guess is that the logistics of the cradle-to-cradle system for that particular material is not yet fully developed and therefore very costly.” Pauwen closes by discussing some issues that are important to address in the future. Safe biodegradability, for instance, will be key to the product design of the future, not just in the main pieces, but in the fasteners and other details as well. Designing using the cradle-to-cradle methodology is also an important focus, a goal to strive for. “We must think about what will happen to these products throughout their lives, at every step of the lifecycle,” he says. Pauwen concedes the difficulty of the task, but Kalon, he says, is simply doing the best that it can and continually improving. “Throughout the process we are dedicated to minimizing impact, helping people, employing people, and making things go truly away,” he says. It is this simple and honest mantra that makes Kalon Studios a fine example of what it means to be “green.”

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“We must think about what will happen to these products throughout their lives, at every step of the lifecycle.� student name and title goes here

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The Challenges of Teaching Graphic Design by Justin Nogarr

student name and title goes here

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The Challenges of Teaching Graphic Design Graphic Communications as an industry is consistently altering and redefining itself at an incredible rate. It is imperative that community colleges, private institutions, and four year colleges adapt their programs to reflect these changing industry standards. As a graphic design student enters into a four year program or professional practice, it is expected that these individuals will be presented with information regarding art theory, craft, conceptual thinking, critical analysis, develop a mastery of industry software, and finally synthesize a variety of rich content through visual means. While these skills remain a fundamental necessity to the Graphic Communications industry, the rapidly changing nature of technology and global communications continues to aggrandize and demand more from the curriculum of design education programs throughout the nation, along with those brave professors at the helm (Shapiro, 2004; Lupton, 2005; AIGA, Designer of 2015 Competencies, 2009; Heller, 2005). To investigate these challenges, I had the great opportunity to speak with Professor Gwen Amos, a professor for over 25 years and founder of the Graphic Design Program in the Department of Design at California State University Sacramento (CSUS), and with Professor Cele Hanzel, a practicing Graphic Designer and instructor at both City College of San Francisco and The Art Institute of California. I got two unique viewpoints from not only two distinct locations in California, but one with close experience working with community college and vocational institution students, and the other with a deeply rooted understanding of the state university student. Several of the tough issues facing today’s design teachers are addressed by these two professors in a survey of nine similar questions. Some of the biggest challenges brought to light deal with differences between colleges and unique curriculum, students and teachers being less prepared, and how the wrong combination of technology and critical thinking can hinder learning. Within the dialogue of these interviews we discover relationships between these challenges, recognize the overall current state of the college design classroom, and better predict where the future of graphic design education lies. Professor Gwen Amos is no stranger to education. She received her B.F.A. from The Kansas City Art Institute with a focus on learning modalities, and her M.A. graduate degree from California State University, Sacramento in Education. Soon after she went into teaching at institutions such as The University of Cincinnati, California State University, Chico, and has come full circle to build a well-recognized Graphic Design program at Sacramento State. Her teaching is primarily concerned with design theory, and how visual creative critical thinking relates to research, audience identification and message development in today’s global environment (The University of the Arts, 2010). Likewise, Cele Hanzel is no stranger to the blessings and challenges

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of education as witnessed by her accomplishment of earning a B.F.A. at California College of Arts and Crafts, and a M.A. at San Francisco State University. In the field, Professor Hanzel is a Graphic Designer with many diverse skills and years of experience including print, interactive multimedia and traditional presentation. Cele has worked with companies such as Wells Fargo Bank, as a Lead Designer, Fox Graphics, Charles Schwab & Co., Lucent, VISA. She was also the principal of Studio J in Novato, CA and owned and directed Ruby Two Tones clothing design company for 15 years. Starting as a full time instructor at the Art Institute of California, San Francisco, in 2003, Professor Hanzel has taught fundamental and technical Graphic Design courses of all skill levels to not only Graphic Design majors but also Fashion Design majors. While these professors equally enjoy the fruits of their labor, they are continually confronted with common issues and unique obstacles that continue to challenge their methods in the classroom everyday.

Differences between curriculums at separate colleges can carry unique challenges for instructors who have to sort through what is known for some students and not introduced to others. When asked: What is the hardest thing to design for when creating community college curriculum?, Professor Hanzel replies, “Knowing the prior knowledge of the students coming into the class; there seems to be a huge variation in skill level. I try not to overwhelm the beginner and not bore the advanced student.� Gwen Amos similarly responds to a

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Graphic Design is a profession that requires the use of both right and left hemispheres of the brain. 54

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different question specific to state colleges—“What do you think design students are lacking the most when they come to CSUS or other four year colleges? She replies, “Schools are so diverse, that different things are being taught at each college. School mandates are special to each individual location. The difference between what is taught at Community Colleges in the Los Rios District (American River Community College and City Community College) is huge.” While Gwen explains that not all transferring students have the same experience, set of skills, or base of knowledge to make the transition predictable or common to everyone, she brings the discussion to an issue not often addressed; “Graphic Design is a subject that sits on the fence between art and science.” The traditional general college pedagogy continues to make a clear distinction between art and science; thereby making it difficult to define graphic design and decide where to place it within the system. Some schools declare Graphic Communications is a Science and often it becomes confused with Computer Science. Gwen continues, “problem solving in graphic design is not a perfect linear pattern like the scientific methods that begin with a hypotheses method. Creativity is much more broad.” Schools that define it as an art major do it no justice either. Often it is misconstrued as a fine art or special trade. “Another issue that stems from that is when fine art teachers with no background in design or any of the applied arts are asked to teach a class in graphic communications.” The subject of technology in the classroom is a widespread topic. Many classrooms must grapple with how to effectively teach lessons without letting useful technology interrupt or skew learning outcomes. This general question was posed to both parties: Do you believe the growing obsession with design technology hinders creative thought for students? Professor Hanzel responds to this statement quite frankly, “No, but technology is just technology and it can’t design for you...it is a mistake, in my view, to get too into the technology unless you are into cutting edge motion graphics or something like that.” In this regard, technology does not pose a threat to students unless they are under the assumption that by default the creative solution will be found within the use of applications. Professor Amos replies in an entirely different way. “I think that it can become a problem if the students do not understand how they learn. Graphic Design is a profession that requires the use of both right and left hemispheres of the brain. If the student is naturally more leftbrained, or more right-brained, then they need to know how to access the other side when needed to fully recognize a design solution.” Therefore, if a student is computer literate and naturally savvy with design software, they will need to learn techniques to unlock more imaginative right-brained ideas along with methodology of creative problem solving skills without being distracted by software constraints. In another breath Gwen explains that

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“there is not much computer training time at CSUS due to budget restraints and lack of available classrooms. The money given by the state to the community colleges provides money for computers and software that is not mandated by the CSU system.” She whole-heartedly believes that community colleges should be responsible for providing their design students with all the industry software training, so that when they arrive at four year colleges they are better prepared for critical thinking. When asked a question about her view on a single class that offers some technology training along with some theory and design principles, Professor Amos remarks, “It is extremely difficult to teach both technology and design theory in the same class.” She also feels that software training can easily be achieved through online courses, which can often be a great incentive for students. Professor Hanzel’s response is similar but less critical. She replies, “Maybe if the first half was ‘hands on,’ no computers.” Both of these responses prove that there is a great level of difficulty in teaching computer software basics simultaneously with design principles, theory, and problem solving. Yet, clearly there seems to be a imbalance between these two necessary elements of design learning. Under the context of another question, Cele Hanzel points out the lack of web software training in colleges. I asked Hanzel if she thinks there is a decline with college standards for graphic design majors in the U.S. today, or something lacking in classroom curriculum you have witnessed? —she replied, “The school curriculum is far behind what the workforce needs. Almost 75% of jobs require some web work, for example, and you get very few web layout classes.” Professor Hanzel also points out the unnecessary belief that schools should provide exclusively Macintosh environments for design students. “Many graphic design jobs today are not on a Mac and don’t need to be for regular Graphic Design work, especially in larger companies.” When discussing pedagogy and design curriculum, it is very difficult to address the lack of interaction between teacher and student, as well as current attitudes and developmental differences of students. One question posed lead to much discourse of this nature—Do you notice different modalities

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of thinking when it comes to students of different ages, ethnicities, genders, or backgrounds? Professor Hanzel’s responds, “Yes, mostly the older students can offer experience, otherwise not so much in what I am teaching.” Professor Amos adds, “I believe every class is unique. Sacramento State is very ethnically diverse and has a wide range of age differences (she claims), and ‘Generation X’ and the ‘Millennium Generation’ have different ways they relate to learning and what they see as their future.” She continues, “I feel that there is more of a need for me to understand the individual and what is important to them as opposed to 20 years ago when students had a different relationship to their learning. This generation (Millennium Generation) of students want to know where they are going and why, before committing themselves to the work.” I followed with another related question—If so, do you adjust your lessons or style of teaching to accommodate for this difference? Cele Hanzel states, “I try to adjust for skill level more, but I am always revising my lessons.” When Professor Amos is asked this she retorts, “I use to teach with a set curriculum for all the students, until I learned that every class has a different personality based on the individuals in the class.” Gwen believes that teaching by the use of “individual crits,” based on each student’s unique understanding is the key to addressing differences in learning. Professor Hanzel looks less at differences in learning modalities or each student’s specific orientation, and tends to focus more on shifting speeds and making lesson adjustments based on the overall class skill level. Interestingly enough, both professors believe that the student’s age and or average class age contributes the most to diversity in thinking and the overall class dynamic. On the subject of the future of Graphic Design, Professor Gwen Amos believes that “problem solving” will be held to a higher level. When asked Where do you see design education ten years from now?, Professor Amos explains how “critical thinking, problem solving, and understanding social marketing (both individually and by media) will be stressed over computer skills and basic theory.” Furthermore, she makes the distinction between “applied thinking” and theory such as Gestalt Theory. Gwen uses Blooms Taxonomy as a way to explain the various levels of thinking. In this mode of thinking Gestalt Theory can be at the beginning level of knowledge—understanding the definition, seeing how it can be comprehended. Amos explains, “Applied thinking is much harder to teach than theory. Applied thinking is when a real problem can be analyzed and defined so that it is understood in a more global way of thinking.” In this case, research becomes the key element in reaching a solution, not simply by understanding theory but being able to make important connections and implement appropriate theory to aid in a design. Graphic Design classes then become more about how to think, than how to do. A similar question was posed to Professor Hanzel—Where do you

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see community college design education ten years from now? She responded, “I hope most college bound students start here, and that we can get beyond the prestige of a four year college immediately. The community college grads do so much better at the four year colleges.” In an article by Steven Heller, “What this Country Needs is a Good Five-Year Program” (2004), he states, “Proficiency in requisite technologies, not to mention a slew of optional techniques, easily takes a year or more to master in a rudimentary way. Acquiring fluency in the design language(s), most notably type, is an ongoing process. Then there is instruction and practice in a variety of old and new media, print and web, editorial and advertising, static and motion, not to mention drawing and photography.” While the skills necessary for success in the field and at universities are high, Professor Hanzel points out that it makes good sense for a design student to start their education in a less expensive community college environment. When asked if she felt that there should be more writing assignments in classes to aid in critical thinking, Amos exclaims, “Yes, it is imperative, and helps with speaking and articulation.” Professor Hanzel responds to this question with another question to frame the context, “In what class?” She continues, “They need to know how to write, and they need to know how to think critically in a productive (not destructive) way. However, it may be difficult to do in a studio class other than the critiques already offered.” With this response it becomes evident that the traditional community college studio environment is geared more for design projects followed by instructor and peer critique, rather than essay responses typically found in general education classes; or design writing assignments that may take time away from more standard visual outcomes. While the field of Graphic Communications is an ever changing entity, so too is the growing list of requirements and demands on colleges and the programs that must educate the next generation of Graphic Designers. The question remains: Are these schools keeping up with the rate of change, and the skills needed for success in the industry? The concerns highlighted by Professors Amos and Hanzel are reflected in the article “Too Many Grads, or Too Few Competencies, The Design School Dilemma” (2005), by Steven Heller, where the author explores the role of the classroom in preparing students for a successful future in design. Richard Wilde, chairperson of Graphic Design and Advertising at the School of Visual Arts states, “Schools should not be complicit in mortgaging a student’s life…If they cannot provide them needed competencies, they are doing a disservice.” In fact, a good program must “train for leadership,” he says, “and help them work up the ladder.” Professors like Gwen Amos and Cele Hanzel must grapple with these very issues as they consider how to provide students with necessary competencies, while

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overcoming tough challenges relating to, 1) Classical pedagogy’s or rigid institutional structures, shifting student mindsets about learning, extreme variances in curriculum between colleges, and 2) the unbalanced technology and critical thinking requirements. Examining the responses from these two accomplished, yet uniquely experienced design educators, we see parallels in the challenges they face as they prepare students for a future in design. At the same time, we gain a better perspective and insight surrounding the condition of design education in the today’s classroom. Finally, it is clear from both interviews that issues such as the disparity in skill levels of students entering into design programs, and the lack of balanced knowledge between fundamentals and software training remains constant. If educators, are to provide their students with a solid foundation as they enter the current design environment, they must be prepared to tackle the current challenges as well as the new demands brought about by a technologically saturated society. References: Amos, G. “The University of the Arts, Workshops,” (2010). Retrieved February 17, 2010, from http://www.uartsgd.com/Sophworkshop08/Amos.html Hanzel Design, Resume/Bio page. Retrieved February 17, 2010, from http://chanzeldesign. com/resume.html Heller, S. (2004). “What This Country Needs is a Good Five-Year Design Program,” Voice. Retrieved March 15, 2010, from http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/what-this-country-needsis-a-good-five-year-design-program?searchtext=What%20this%20country%20needs Heller, S. (2005). “Too Many Grads or Too Few Competencies? The Design School Dilemma,” Voice. Retrieved March 15, 2010, from http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/too-many-grads-ortoo-few-competencies-the-design-school dilemma?searchtext=Too%20many%20grads%20 or%20too%20few%20competenc Lupton, E. (2005). “The Re-Skilling of the American Art Student,” Voice. Retrieved March 12, 2010, from http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/the-re-skilling-of-the-american-artstudent?searchtext=the%20reskilling%20of%20the%20american%20art%20 Shapiro, E. (2004). “Design Schools 101,” Print Magazine, 58(2), 41-49. Retrieved October 14, 2009, from Academic Search Premier Database. “Designer of 2015 Competencies” (2009). Retrieved October 15, 2009, from http://www.aiga. org/content.cfm/designer-of-2015-competencies

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Stephen Key: Imagination for Innovation

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by Phil McConn

student name and title goes here

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Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand. — Albert Einstein1

Some of the world’s greatest designs have struck a perfect balance between imagination and knowledge. Some however, have only relied on imagination and forced the question, Why not? All too often, as designers, we get restricted by the traditional thinking that we must understand our subject matter entirely before attempting to design for it. Our greatest asset is our imagination and while knowledge is indeed a great ally, only by immersing ourselves in unfamiliar territory can we begin to see possibilities that otherwise may be overlooked by the more knowledgeable eye. As someone who has a great interest in the products and innovations of the music industry and specifically the guitar, I was interested to ask myself the question, Has my knowledge and passion blinded me to more simple solutions and designs? Many products and innovations in the music industry rely on design principles such as usability, efficiency, aesthetics and marketability. Popular culture also plays a very important part in whether a product within the music industry will be successful or not. Therefore, marketability and designing specifically for the right market niche is critical. However, how much of what we really know blinds us from what possibilities are right there in front of us? As such, I find Mr. Stephen Key to be a fascinating example of how someone without the traditional skill sets of a designer can explore and create products for markets which have been overlooked and therefore fit a product to the appropriate marketplace. It’s not usual for “inventors” to call themselves “designers” and vice versa, but both disciplines have similar fundamental and basic principles. An invented and designed product will be successful if it fits a market niche at the right time. Stephen Key is someone who has successfully brought products to market without having a traditional background in product design. Likewise, he has also been successful with products for the music industry without relying on past experience in that field. Stephen was the President and CEO of a successful musical accessory business in which he was a Disney licensee. His company’s products were sold worldwide and in such popular locations as 7-Eleven, Wal*Mart, Best Buy, Walgreens, and Hot Topic. Stephen’s musical accessory products were

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recognized as outstanding in the field, winning the award “Best in Show” two years in a row by the world’s largest musical manufacturing association. As students we can be easily intimidated when having to make contact with people who we regard as heroes or real inspirations in our chosen field. Will they even respond to the initial request for information or interview? Surely they must be too busy to be bothered? To my delight I found that Stephen Key was very approachable, interesting and enthusiastic. I first emailed Stephen using his Invent Right website, submitting a simple request for a short interview. I quickly got a response from his business partner Andrew Krauss who told me that Stephen would be happy to set up an interview. Firstly, I thanked Stephen for taking the time out of his busy schedule to chat to a curious student and got right into my first question, which was to ask Stephen if there is a particular process he uses when trying to create or improve a product. Stephen started off by saying: First of all I think it’s important to find an area or category that you are passionate about. I like to say that you must find a ‘dinosaur,’ an area that no one has done anything new in for a long time. If you can find that opportunity it’s important to use some skills through observation which will improve the creative skills on how to look at things differently. How to do it faster, better, more improved or how to even update a particular product. That way you know the need already exists but you are bringing something new to it. You are bringing a new value, a benefit. A lot of, let’s say, ‘inventors’ come up with a problem that really affects them, but they don’t realize that there isn’t actually a market for it. So I rather look at a category that I know there is already a market for it. I also avoid areas that are very crowded. If there are a lot of creative people working in a particular area, I don’t know if I want to join the group because sometimes it’s too competitive. I’ll give you one example though. I wrote an article about do we actually need a new coat hanger? If you go down to a local store you’ll see so many different types of hangers and if you do a Google product search there is something like a 100,000 different coat hangers and around twenty thousand wooden coat hangers. But my point was do we need a new one? So it was amazing that someone did actually design a new coat hanger called a ‘Z hanger’—it’s amazing! So I think you can always look at anything and redesign through observation but I always try and find a market first.

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One of Stephen’s very successful products is the “Hot Picks” guitar plectrum range he designed. This product is so successful that it actually sells more to people who don’t play the guitar than people who do! A guitar plectrum is the small tool that a guitarist uses to strum or pick the guitar strings, hence the nickname guitar “pick.” Stephen does not play the guitar himself, nor does he have a background in the music industry, so I was very interested to know if this fact hindered or indeed helped his design process.

I think that it was an asset that I didn’t have a background in the music industry… That’s a good question because I actually (sic) think that it was an asset that I didn’t have a background in the music industry because I think what happens is sometimes we get real close to a category or product and we really have a hard time thinking differently. I remember a partner, an old friend of mine, wanted me to create a new guitar pick and I looked at all the current guitar picks at the time and realized quickly that there really hadn’t been a lot of innovation in terms of the shape in eighty years. Now there are different materials of course but basically what I wanted to do, because I don’t play guitar, I don’t have the same restraints like saying, ‘Well Jeez, does it really work?’—I didn’t really care (about that) at first. I wanted to have fun with it and I wanted to explore all the possibilities and I think good designers can do that but sometimes because of our backgrounds it’s hard for us to break out a little bit. So, I was able to look at what kids were interested in and the guitar pick became more about lifestyle. It was about function too obviously but it was also about lifestyle and that was actually a big market than just guitar players. We ended up selling to people who didn’t even play or didn’t even care about the guitar itself.

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(For them) having a guitar pick was cool, number 1 and number 2, if you did play it was lifestyle. There was a guitar pick for every lifestyle; if you were in Heavy Metal or into Country or whatever you wanted, we had a lifestyle guitar pick for you. So a lot of it was marketing but a lot of it was I think because I didn’t have a background it allowed me to have a little bit more freedom. What I stress to a lot of my students (Stephen runs Invent Right workshops) is that it’s okay if you’re not an expert in a particular area. It’s easy to become an expert to certain degree. You can go to trade shows, read magazines and get up to speed pretty quick. So I would never be afraid to go into an area I don’t have a background in but you need to look at what has happened in the past so you don’t repeat it. It’s just doing homework right but I like that you look at it from a fresh perspective and I think people like yourself—you’re trained to do that. So you have an advantage over just the average inventor. You’re actually trained through observation to look at all the different possibilities. Stephen has a great wealth of knowledge regarding getting products to market quickly and with minimal risk. I wanted to ask him specifically about the obstacles that face designers and indeed inventors in getting their products to the right market. Well, let’s talk about the very beginning in regards to that. I believe the old method and the method they are teaching you at school right now, what they’re teaching a lot of industrial designers is ‘Hey I’m gonna build a prototype and then I’m gonna file patents and then I’m gonna start a company’ - and that is very daunting for most people. You have to wear a lot of different hats, you have to raise money, you’re going to have to start a business, there’s a lot of risk. Money is not easy to get these days, it’s tough. You just have to wear a lot of different hats and know that it’s going to take a lot of time and there’s a lot of risk so what I’m trying to make people understand is that there’s another way of doing it and that’s called ‘licensing’. You’re going to ‘rent’ your idea to a company and what I really think makes this a great business model in today’s world is because products go in and out of the market so quickly, to leverage the strength of a company that already exists, that has the distribution, that has the relationships and has everybody in place, why not use what they have to let them get your idea to market more quickly? You can use the American Patent and Trademark Office, use the tools they provide and they are very affordable tools. A provisional patent

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application is one hundred and ten dollars and you can file it yourself, there’s some great software. From copyrights, to trademarks to trade secrets, at the end of the day you really never own anything it’s always ‘perceived ownership’. So, if you recognize that and you recognize that there are some companies out there today, it’s called ‘open innovation’ where there’s literally thousands and thousands of companies that are looking for ideas. So if you look at what’s happening, licensing or renting is really a good business model for a lot of people. It’s fast, you don’t have to raise any money and there’s no risk. So that’s what I would say to anybody, if you want to bring a product to market yourself, just be prepared that it will cost you ten times more than you originally thought in terms of money, in terms of time and in terms of risk. But at the end of the day it’s about what do you really want to do? If it’s a love to create, if it’s a love to design, then licensing is a business model that more and more people should look at.” Another of Stephen’s products that I was very interested in asking him about is Spinformation. This is a revolutionary idea that allows more information to be put on medicine bottles and a wide range of medicinal products. The label spins or turns around the container to reveal more information than what is possible using traditional adhesive methods. Well that’s really interesting because there is a website called spinlabels. com which shows all the types of labels there but I actually read an article a few years ago that there was never enough information on labels and I was in the toy industry at that time and I had licensed a cup and canteen to the deli stores that basically was a rotating canteen—it was fun for kids. It was made out of hard plastic. When I read that article I noticed that a rotating canteen really provided more information. So I went down to the local Kinko’s and made my first prototype on a copy machine and I realized right there that I could add seventy five percent more space to a label. I know nothing about the label industry but it’s easy to get up to speed on any industry. I went on tours and had people talk to me, but what I really needed to do was find out did people really want this idea so I made samples and sent them to very large packaging goods companies like McNeill, and Tylenol and sure enough there was interest.

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student name and title goes here

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However, this is where the story gets interesting. The rotating label is not a new idea, it was done forty years ago. There are two patents on that technology that show a rotating label on a can. I mean it’s the exact same idea that I thought I had and that was new, but I went around to show it and was invited to Proctor & Gamble. The President of Proctor & Gamble had seen a sample and called me and asked me to come out to a meeting with their technical group. They basically told me that they weren’t going to pay me a penny for this idea because it wasn’t a new idea and they were right. It was not new and they showed me the patents, so they were correct.

If it’s not there, find out why. Be a detective, go to the U.S. Patent Office, search online, do a prior patent search, call manufacturers. But they missed something very, very big and this is something that I think is very important. You really need to look at the claims and you really need to look at things very closely because what they missed and what my attorneys missed was that there was no claims on how to actually make it. So today I have over thirteen patents on the manufacturing of rotating labels at high speeds and low costs. So everybody missed it and that’s why I think you need to trust your gut and this is what I tell everybody to do; go down to the marketplace, go down to the store and see if your idea, your invention, your product is there. If it’s not there, find out why. Be a detective,

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go to the U.S. Patent Office, search online, do a prior patent search, call manufacturers. There are things that you can do. File a provisional patent application for $110 and start to be that detective. So, that’s what I learned. Just because someone has a patent doesn’t really mean a lot to me. It’s how you really bring it to market, and I’ve been bringing products to market through licensing.” I found this fascinating because traditionally in college we are not taught about these kinds of methods for getting our ideas to the market place. I mentioned this to Stephen and he agreed that it’s something that is very rarely if ever taught in design schools. Well, you know what’s interesting about this? I gave a speech down at the (Art Center) College of Art and Design in Pasadena to Industrial Design students, and I’ve given a lecture at Stanford in their graduate class in Industrial Design and I realized the same thing that you just told me— that they’re not teaching this. So I’m putting together a new business. It’s called Idea Pow! We’re going to put together an online class that we can provide universities with at a very low cost, and we’re going to go through the whole process and people can buy bits and pieces for 99 cents or they can sign up to a thirty day subscription. We’re trying to do something that can not only help Industrial Designers but we can also help engineers and people with business degrees and say, ‘Look, let me show you the process of licensing’ but maybe there’s also a way of connecting people such as yourself to people who have more of a business background, bringing you guys together because once you learn how to do this, you just have to learn how to put the pieces together yourself and control your own destiny and it’s very easy to do with licensing. As our interview came to a close, I thanked Stephen for a remarkable insight into how his world of design and invention works and how sometimes we should take a step back from what we think we know and dive right into the unfamiliar. References: 1 - http://thinkexist.com/quotation/imagination_is_more_important_than_knowledge- for/260230.html Opening image - Stephen Keys’ “Hot Picks” plectrums courtesy of www.ccllabel.com and www.bobcatscomputers.com

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Mina - The High Priestess / The Vampire Tarot

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The World / The Vampire Tarot


Tarot is a word that often evokes images of gypsies with gold hoop earrings, red bandanas and eerie predictions of the future. This colorful pack of 78 cards is frequently associated with the “mysterious” world of fortune-telling and superstition, and often draws a wary response or dismissal as being the tool of charlatans. Robert Place is an internationally known Tarot deck designer and reader, who has done extensive research into the origins of the deck and presents the point of view that the Tarot has its roots in Platonic philosophy. He has set out to dispel the superstition and fear associated with the cards and to make the layman understand that actually the Tarot serves as a wonderful tool of awakening one’s intuition and therefore serving as a means of selfhelp and self-understanding. Robert M. Place is also known internationally as a visionary artist, author and illustrator, in addition to a respected Tarot deck Designer. His awardwinning works in painting, sculpture, and jewelry have been recognized and exhibited world-wide. Place developed an interest and passion for Tarot in the early 80s, and since then has done extensive research into the art and philosophy of Tarot as well as written many volumes on the subject. One of his most recent books, The Tarot: History, Symbolism and Divination is quoted by Booklist, the publication of the American Library Association, as “…the best book ever written on that deck of cards decorated with mysterious images called the Tarot.” Place is the creator of several Tarot decks, namely, the famous Alchemical Tarot, the Tarot of the Saints, the Buddha Tarot and most recently the Vampire Tarot. Robert Place approaches the Tarot from the perspective of the “Hero’s Journey.” The “Hero’s Journey” is an archetypal/universal story which, essentially, depicts the journey of the human soul from the moment it is born to the point that it passes away. The “Hero’s Journey” is a three-part process, and it begins with the soul, beginning its journey of life in innocence and ignorance. At this initial stage of its existence it is mainly concerned with physical and material desires and hopes. In the second stage of its journey, the soul comes face to face with its inner fears and is obliged to deal with a side of itself which up until that point has been unfamiliar and therefore frightening. This is a side psychologist Carl Jung named the “shadow” self. The “shadow,” according to Jungian theory, encompasses all aspects of one’s personality that are repressed, unconscious, and denied. In the final part of the “Hero’s Journey,” the soul deals with its fears and prejudices and goes beyond hopes, fears and desires to find an inner peaceful center and balance which is ultimately spiritual in nature. The latter is a place of deeper understanding of one’s role in life and entails a perspective of compassion and humility towards oneself and all other living things.

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The Alchemical Tarot—illustrated by Robert place

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Seen through the filter of Jung’s theory of the “shadow,” the Tarot allows the user to bring those aspects of oneself that are unconscious, denied or repressed into consciousness. In this way, the feared side of each one of us can be viewed from a new and fresh perspective, that is seen as less threatening, frightening or repelling. The Tarot in other words, allows us to “make friends” with our “darker” side and as such provides creative solutions in healing and/or accepting those aspects of ourselves which previously frightened us. As Place puts it, “…the Shadow can be disruptive and have a negative influence on one’s life, …this can be remedied by bringing these emotions and images into consciousness and accepting them as part of oneself.” With regards to the Vampire Tarot, which narrates the story of Dracula, the “Hero’s Journey” depicted by Place, is the story of Mina. She is the “hero” of his deck. Mina begins her journey as an innocent young woman. Subsequently, circumstances bring Dracula into her life, who bites (corrupts) her with his evil and darkness. This is where her “Hero’s Journey” begins. Mina is aware that she is turning into a vampire. She is aware of the pull of darkness and also of the strength of that pull. She has to face the possibility that she may succumb to this dark power and become a vampire. Yet she is still prepared to take the chance of fighting that darkness to come back into the “light.” Ultimately, it is she who helps Jonathan and his companions to vanquish Dracula and save her. In the Dracula story, therefore, we find the journey of a soul begun in innocence, its fight and struggle with “darkness” and ultimately its victory over its own fears and doubts. Robert Place believes that the intention of the creators of the Tarot deck was to depict and illustrate the soul’s heroic/universal journey using the allegorical imagery of the cards and specifically, the Trumps (the first 22 images depicting the soul’s journey). When attempting to design a Tarot deck, Place therefore seeks this universal story throughout different cultures and traditions and then transposes it into the allegorical imagery of the Tarot. For example, Place has taken the stories of the Buddha, the Christian Saints, the Alchemists’ Quest (which is the search of the Philosopher’s Stone; equal in meaning and importance to the Holy Grail) and finally the story of Dracula and transplanted them all into his Tarot decks. All of the above stories hold in common, the journey of, one person who begins in a certain state of innocence and ignorance, confronts darkness and evil, and eventually find redemption/enlightenment and peace. Although playing cards were first recorded in ancient Egypt, the divinatory aspect of the cards began during the Renaissance period, when the Trumps were added to the deck. It is at this juncture that the playing cards begun to be known for their divinatory aspect (note: to divine means to connect with God/the Higher Self/the Divine).

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According to Place, during the Renaissance, artists came to recognize that symbols and images carried great power and influence. They sought to reclaim the ancient Classical world wisdom through art. By reclaiming the art and wisdom of the ancient Greek world, they also reclaimed the ancient mystical philosophy that was centered on the work of Plato­—considered the most influential philosopher of the Ancient World. Place argues that it is Plato’s and his successors’ mystical philosophy that is expressed in the Tarot. Place seeks to bring the Tarot close to people of all religions and cultures and to dispel the prejudice that surrounds the deck. He created the Tarot of

Two of Stakes /The Vampire Tarot

Two of Stakes (reverse)

the Saints in an attempt to make Christians realize that the deck depicts a universal story, (just like the story of Christ, who it could be argued, went through his own “Hero’s Journey”). Many Christians have thanked Place for making it possible for them to connect with the Tarot by using imagery which is familiar to them, i.e. the Christian saints, but which is nevertheless still true to the universal story depicted by the cards; the “Hero’s Journey.” Similarly, the Buddha Tarot is hugely popular in India. Place notes that divination is part of Eastern traditions and thus people in that part of the world connect with the deck. However, Place has not necessarily noticed a difference in approach to the Tarot in regards to the East and the West. He believes that people are people everywhere and their reaction is more a personal and subjective matter, rather than cultural conditioning.

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The Alchemical Tarot, Place’s first deck, took eight years to conceptualize and design. This was due to the fact that he had to clarify in his mind exactly what it was he wanted to bring into the story of the Tarot. Once Place figured that it was the story of the “Hero’s Journey,” and that it was this journey that the creators of the Tarot had intended for the deck to depict, the design process “opened” up to him, so to speak. Place does not have a specific methodology when designing his decks, or when it comes to which card he creates first. With The Alchemical Tarot, he began creating the Star card and “then …(he) was all over the place.” With the Vampire deck, he needed to figure out the World card—the last card of the deck which depicts the triumphant culmination of the “Hero’s Journey.” Once Place realized that it was actually Mina who was the hero and that her end was a happy one and that her journey culminated in victory over darkness, then he worked his way backwards and designed the rest of the deck. Usually, when Place finds a story that harmonizes in his mind with the allegorical symbolism of the Tarot, the imagery of the cards appear to him in “one go” and he has them “all in…(his) head.” Place’s journey with the Tarot Four of Garlic Flowers / The Vampire Tarot began with a dream he had in the early 80s. He was given to understand that Tarot was his “legacy,” a legacy which he had to nurture, develop and maintain. Almost thirty years later he has taken the intangible dream and created a tangible, beautiful reality in the shape of his world renowned Tarot decks and books on the subject. In addition he has managed to shed a new, scientific perspective on the Tarot. His journey is one of faith and perseverance and reflects the beauty, magic and victory against many odds as told by the Tarot. References: Place, Robert, The Tarot: History, Symbolism,and Divination, New York NY, Tarcher/Penguin, 2005 Place, Robert, The Vampire Tarot, New York NY, St. Martin’s Press, 2009

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Image courtesy of Tory Byrne.

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Closing the Gamut: Perspectives on Improving Motor Function in Children with Autism by Eugene Wong


To many, the word “incurable” implies a hopeless situation with a particularly dismal end. After all, a sense of permanence is associated with the term— an everlasting inescapability that traps the mind just as much as the body. Therefore, when a condition is referred to as incurable, it connotes despair, and surrounds this state of being with fear. Autism is an incurable condition. Understandably, many people panic at the very sound of the word; especially if they lack experience with the disorder. However, like many other incurable conditions, treatments are available that can dramatically improve the quality of life of those affected. As a result, people with incurable disorders can live long, fruitful lives, and maintain healthy relationships too. Essentially, in the case of autism, the key to this path is early diagnosis and intervention through the proper channels of therapy. However, the development of these highly specialized programs oftentimes takes years of dedicated study that involves specialists from a wide variety of disciplines. This process may involve experts in psychology, speech pathology, occupational therapy, special education, and other fields in healthcare and child development. From a design standpoint, it is difficult to address the problems associated with autism in children because the designer’s perspective typically originates from the outside looking in. Hence, we experience particular difficulty with perceiving things in the same manner that an autistic child would. For this reason, designers may rely on the counsel of trained professionals who have long-term experience working with autistic children. One such expert is Dr. Mélanie Couture, who is an Assistant Professor at Laval University in the Department of Rehabilitation of the Faculty of Medicine in Quebec City, and a researcher at the Research Centre of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Affilié de l’Hôtel Dieu de Lévis. Viewpoints In a recent interview with Dr. Couture, I focused on asking questions which surrounded her study entitled, Sensori-motor and Daily Living Skills of Preschool Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The article was published in July 2008 in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, and was a collaborative effort between Couture and five other researchers1. In short, this study examined the relationship between the delayed motor development experienced by preschool-aged children with autism and how it negatively impacts their ability to perform self-care activities, i.e. getting dressed, eating with utensils, etc. We began by discussing some of the difficulties that caregivers face when trying to teach autistic children new tasks. Essentially, Dr. Couture explained that children with autism tend to have very poor imitation skills, thereby making it very difficult to teach them new tasks via simple demonstration.

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Surprisingly though, children with autism tend to have very keen vision, often performing above average in assessments of this sensory skill alone. Despite this, holding the attention and motivation of these children is the ultimate challenge in teaching, as they have tendencies to focus only on what they may be interested in at the time. “You need to somehow find their interest, to build their motivation to do what you want them to do,” stressed Dr. Couture. It is therefore necessary to follow their interests and continuously adapt programs to elicit results when attempting to teach them new sensory tasks.

…the main thing with children with autism…there are no recipes. Continuing on the topic of imitation, a useful technique that Dr. Couture shared was for the caregiver or parent to actually imitate the autistic child in order to elicit a response. Interestingly enough, in many cases, this act stimulated the child’s curiosity to the point where they were motivated to practice the act of imitating themselves. Importantly, small successes like these need to be consistently reinforced in teaching autistic children new sensory tasks, as replicating positive results also tends to be troublesome. One suggestion from Dr. Couture was to use multiple channels of communication—so instead of just showing a child a visual demonstration of how scissors operate, a caregiver would engage the child with the activity by performing the action of cutting paper with them together. This way, the child experiences the tactile and visual sensations concurrently, and the

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Image courtesy of Shannon Pifko


experience is more likely to register in their minds as a learned skill. This may have drawbacks, however, as some autistic children are extremely hypersensitive to touch; meaning they tend to be overly responsive to sensation. In these cases, forcing them to engage in a tactile experience could ultimately cause them to shut down, leading to greater difficulties in communication. “That’s the main thing with children with autism… there are no recipes. You need to be creative, and you need to really try to learn and understand… which sensory channel will work better for them,” advised Dr. Couture. So, while intruding into an autistic child’s routine is an uncertain venture accompanied by stress and anxiety, the potential benefits often outweigh the risks. Surely, children with autism can improve their motor skills via the appropriate programs given adequate instruction and time. However, the context in which a particular task is taught often dictates how it is learned by these children; and this new knowledge often does not extend into other domains. For instance, a cabinet may be used to teach an autistic child how to open and close a door, but the child would associate this newly learned action with cabinets only, and not other fixtures that utilize doors. Thus, in order for an autistic child to gain mastery of a particular skill, Dr. Couture recommends that it should be practiced in every single context that may be useful to them. This level of specificity obviously involves very time-intensive care that must be met with patience and understanding on the caregivers’ end. It also begs questions concerning the universality of teaching tools and how they are applied in various environments. Learning Environments A sub-topic of my conversation with Dr. Couture focused specifically on the format of learning environments for children affected by autism. Something that she emphasized was the importance of various outlets for sensory stimulation to match the range of personality types associated with autism. She continued by sharing that autistic people typically display characteristics of being either sensory seeking or sensory avoidant2. Sensory seeking behavior is common in hyposensitive people—those who are under-responsive to sensation. Persons with this condition tend to seek intense sensory experiences, like climbing on objects, due to decreased responses to pain and stimulation. Contrarily, sensory avoidant behavior relates to hypersensitivity, as discussed earlier. As a result, these children require much more gentle approaches, and therefore the proper equipment to match. In cases of sensory seeking behavior, an environment may never seem interesting enough to interact with as these children bore easily due to their hyposensitive conditions. Vigorous stimulation is therefore needed for the child to acclimate to the environment. Some techniques that are often helpful

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in these situations include activities like jumping on trampolines and even deep massage to stimulate sensation in parts of the body. In cases of sensory avoidant behavior, an environment that is excessively loud, bright or scented may inadvertently influence a child to react aggressively or fearfully, leading them to shut down altogether. Here, some things that can be done to soothe the child is to gently rock them in a swing or give them some time to themselves in a dark space where they can quietly settle themselves. Given that both extremes of sensory sensitivity may be concurrently present, it is also important to note that some autistic children may not even be consistent in exhibiting certain types of behavior. For instance, Dr. Couture offered the example that some children may be hypersensitive in the morning but switch to being hyposensitive during the afternoon. This invariance and level of inconsistency means that learning environments for children with autism must have an extensive assortment of tools on hand at all times in order to deliver specific approaches to teaching. Moreover, finding a challenge that is appropriate for one child is altogether different from organizing cooperative play experiences where numerous students interact to perform coordinated tasks. All told, this intensifies the complexity of teaching to autistic children in groups­—especially when physical activity is required to produce desired outcomes. Teaching Tools When asked about the types of products utilized in these learning environments, Dr. Couture focused on some recommendations she received from her colleague, Isabelle Gaudet, who she considers to have more relevant experience in this area. For improving coordination with writing and drawing tasks, vibrating pens are often used because in addition to being fun and stimulating, they also provide sensory feedback on very small scales. These activities could also be performed in combination with forming boundaries out of a product called “Wikki Stix3.” Named for its sticky nature, this product is an 8-inch section of yarn that has been treated with a special wax that allows it to be shaped plastically and also stick together to form larger shapes. Children use the Wikki Stix to craft objects or to use as drawing boundaries when stuck onto sheets of paper. This enables the children to have a better sense of their arm positions in space in relation to how their muscles contract. Called “proprioception,” Dr. Couture explained that this unique sense of the relative positioning of body parts is an area where autistic children may experience dysfunction, thereby contributing to deficits in motor control. In addition to these simple, tactile devices, Dr. Couture also noted that children with autism tend to love interacting with computers. Part of the

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reason why is because of their tendencies to having highly acute vision, but also because the prescribed dimensions of a computer monitor provide a narrowed focal point for the users to concentrate within. Partner this with interactive programs that relate to the children’s interests, and they can be presented with a wide variety of sensory tasks that they could perform for extended periods of time; touch-screen monitors may also be used to enhance these sensory experiences4. Furthermore, computers provide interactivity in

Image courtesy of Flavio Takemoto

manners that are relatively non-threatening to autistic children. Compared to situations involving human-to-human interaction—where caregivers may attempt to elicit verbal responses from children who may have aversions to social interaction—human-to-machine interaction is oftentimes preferred. Despite these benefits, caregivers should always be wary of excessive interest in computer-based interaction because it could potentially lead to obsessive behavior. In these cases, it is therefore advised that time limits are enforced when computers are used as teaching tools for children with autism.

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Regardless, while computer interaction can be applied to a wide range of skills important to child development, it does not specifically address the improvement of daily living skills that Dr. Couture’s study addressed. Behavior One of the classic traits of autism involves repetitive behaviors that are often driven by passionate interest in highly particular subjects5. With this in mind, I asked Dr. Couture whether it is typically advisable to discourage these behaviors in treatment, or whether it was potentially beneficial to support these actions. Her response was directly to the point as she actively shook her head no against the idea of this behavior being potentially dangerous. Apparently, she advises that children affected by autism absolutely need to keep practicing sensory skills in order to progress their development; especially in the area of motor control. The caregiver’s role in this process is thus to find an appropriate channel for the child—one which can retain their attention and possibly something that overlaps with their own interests. From there, the caregiver must figure out how to elicit the repeated response consistently without interruption. Ultimately, the goal is for the act to be repeated to the point when the child is able to perform this action without additional intervention. Another question I asked involved the relationship between handedness and autism, and whether it is beneficial to support a dominant hand preference in these children. Past studies have revealed that ambiguity in hand preference is prevalent in people with autism, and left-handedness is slightly more common compared to normal populations6. Again, Dr. Couture’s response to my question was direct in that she absolutely felt it was important for autistic children to gain a lateralized hand in their early development stages. The reason she supplied was simple: since children with autism already experience deficits in motor function, ambiguous hand preference would only delay motor development even further. Thus, when reinforcing repetitive actions with the objective of improving motor control, it is important to enforce consistent hand selection in these tasks. This would potentially reduce the child’s ambiguity in handedness, and may lead to improved motor function down the line. Final Thoughts My conversation with Dr. Couture ended with some insight into her more recent research into autism. I was delighted to hear that she has since followed up her study from 2008 to examine a larger population set, that includes subjects affected by other conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and developmental complications from pre-term births. She also recommended that I look into one of the newest autism treatment programs called the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM). The program is innovative

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in that it can be applied at home and involves playful activities as opposed to adult-directed therapies. Given the nature of my research, this will likely be my next avenue of exploration. While research in autism treatment has been progressing at an accelerated rate in recent years, it must be understood that there is no single treatment that would be universally beneficial to all autistic children. Consequently, treatment programs will always include a diverse range of experiences directed towards strengthening certain areas of development through behavior modification and other methods of therapy. This varied approach underlies the importance of designing tools to specifically address particular areas of development that require attention in autistic children—in my case, that of fine motor control. With the information gained from my interview with Dr. Couture, I am approaching this task with new insights that will absolutely shape my development process from here onwards. Certainly, there is still much more to learn about this topic, but this has only been one step. Potentially, these keys to effective treatment will unveil new solutions discovered through the design process, making this experience worthwhile to thousands of children affected by autism, if not more. References: 1 - Jasmin, E., Couture, M., McKinley, P., Reid, G., Fombonne, E., & Gisel, E. (2009). “Sensorimotor

and Daily Living Skills of Preschool Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.” Journal

of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39(2), 231-41. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost

(accessed March 12, 2010).

2 - Stephens, L. (1997). Sensory integrative dysfunction in young children. See/Hear, 2(1),

Retrieved from http://www.tsbvi.edu/Outreach/seehear/fall97/sensory.htm April 14, 2010.

3 - Wikki stix: frequently asked questions. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.wikkistix.com/

new_faqs.php April 14, 2010.

4 - Abilitynet factsheet: autism and computing. (2007, January). Retrieved from http://www.

abilitynet.org.uk/content/factsheets/pdfs/Autism%20and%20Computing.pdf April 14, 2010.

5 - Lam, K., Bodfish, J., & Piven, J. (2008). “Evidence for three subtypes of repetitive behavior

in autism that differ in familiality and association with other symptoms.” Journal of Child

Psychology & Psychiatry, 49(11), 1193-1200. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed

April 3, 2010).

6 - Schopler, E., & , G. (1992). High-functioning individuals with autism. New York, NY:

Springer Publishing. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed March 12, 2010).

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ADER CHEN:

Design is Research

by Elsa Chen

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Learning is your own business, a job is your responsibility, creating is the reason you survive. — Ader Chen

I first heard about Ader Chen as a student studying in Los Angeles. Before becoming the art director of Xcellent Design and Products International, Ader Chen was a senior designer and design manager at Palo Alto Products Inter-national and design manager at Flextronics international, Taipei, Taiwan. Ader Chen is a super busy man. He travels a lot for work, so it took some time to nail him down. It was difficult to sync our schedules because we are in different time zones. In the end, we decided to use e-mail to correspond to each other. + A designer with Global perspective Chen graduated from Vanung University in 1988 in Taiwan. While he was in school, it was a period of high-tech industry development in Taiwan. After graduation, he joined the Palo Alto Design Group, in 1995. After being exposed to the different design management execution methods at Palo Alto Design Group, and later Flextronics International, Ader had a deep desire to learn more about design and design theory. He enrolled into Shih Chien University, the most competitive design school in Taiwan—where he graduated with a masters degree in product design in 2003. Chen has been the art director at Xcellent Design and Products International since 2001. From 2003 to 2004, Chen joined the International Art and Design Elite Program in San Francisco and Munich, Germany. After completing the program, he turned his focus on redesigning and upgrading Taiwanese transitional products. Chen developed his own design theory—Product Value Identity. The “Value” in his theory stands for: V Variation A Aesthetics L Lifestyle U Utility E Economics

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Ader Chen’s W-990A Chair


He defines his theory as a working system which helps companies and products define their own value identity. Ader has applied his theory to designs in wide range of areas, from home living products to consumer electronics to furniture design to light transportation products. + Ader’s design theory—Product Value Identity In addition to Product Value Identity, Ader mentioned another theory of his, an economic theory of value. According to Veryzer (2000) the product or the service itself doesn’t have economic value; the value depends upon the ability of the product or the service to satisfy the wants of any given individual. “Value” here is distinct from exchange value or price. In a 2006 interview with Cheers Magazine, Chen was quoted as saying, “As an industrial designer, users are your clients, and sponsors are also your clients. You have to understand the needs and wants between them— this gives your design the real value.” Ader continues, “The difference between art and design, is that design finds the value of the product for certain user groups. These differences, indirectly, educate consumers and cause them to desire.” He gave me an example: if you are designing wedding jewelry the user group is already narrowed down to the wedding couple or the parents. How do you go about designing wedding jewelry for these people? This brings up another theory of his—Experience. Ader says, “We should focus on the experiences of people, places, things, and environment.” + Milan Salone Satellite 2006 In April 2006, Ader participated Salone Satellite, Nuova Fiera Milano, Milan, Italy. Xcellent Design was the only team invited from Taiwan. The Lotus Lighting Set and Pillows he exhibited in the show contained a lot of Asian cultural elements. The lotus in Chinese culture is the symbol of Buddhism, purity, and love. Bamboo is another important symbol of Asian culture. It represents strength, endurance and resilience. The Lotus Lighting design combined modernism and traditional, natural Chinese elements. He says, “I think we (Taiwanese designers) should present our designs as much as possible to the world when we have chance. Moreover, we should design the products based on our personal background and culture.” A particular problem Ader observes—is that there is a difficulty in recognizing Taiwanese design as a Taiwanese product. He suggests Taiwanese designer should have its own style, just like Japanese design. Japanese products can be recognized by their special style, which is simple, but detail oriented. When designing products, Taiwanese designers should immerse themselves in their design, and highlight the uniqueness of Taiwan.

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Design is to describe the experiences of people, things, space and environment— the trends of culture and society; to define the basic needs, wants and desires of our body, mind and spirit.

Bamboo Coat Hanger (above) and Lotus Light and Pillow Set (right), Milan Salone Satellite, 2006

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+ Creating a special style I asked Ader how can Taiwanese designers build their own special brand of Chinese culture and lifestyle into their designs, Chen answers, “There won’t only be one style, or one form.” He took Japan as an example. He thinks being detail oriented has become part of the culture of Japan; due in large part to the marketing strategy they sell to the world. He says, “Japan’s cars does not have their own personality, but they are very popular and sell all over the world. The key of it is DESIGN. He shared his definition of design: D Descriptive E Experience S Social I Industry G Guts N Needs “Design for me is a supplements the development of my own knowledge and skills,” says Chen. Design is to describe the experiences of people, things, space and environment—the trends of culture and society; to define the basic needs, wants and desires of our body, mind and spirit. “So the DESIGN here is not only about Industrial Design. DESIGN is the solution to the problems in your daily life,” he emphasizes. Chen indicates that it is not hard to create an innovative Chinese style, if we can emphasize the attitude, custom and lifestyle with marketing strategy. I asked him, what kind of cultural advantages we have in Taiwan or China that can be turned into a special or unique style? He lists three important highlights of our culture: 1. The lifestyle, traditional landscape architecture, ritual and hobbies of Southern China. 2. Pre-Qin dynastic thought, and 5,000 years of Chinese history. 3. The aesthetic of Chinese market (he points out that designers worldwide are changing their attitudes toward Chinese oriented product designs). + The key is to catch the customer’s heart and meet their needs When designing a product, the key is to catch the user’s heart. Ader indicates, “If you want to design a product for the elderly, then you should really

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understand the needs of the elderly, and understand the value of it. You need to ask yourself what kind of value does a chair have and what kind of value should be shown? You also consider what kind of chair you want to design? What kind of style? Who is the user?” He continues, “When designing a product, you need to also consider such things as safety standards, market positioning and strategy, materials and price.” Ader also mentions he learned a lot from IDEO, the design and innovation consulting firm. He says, “The most important element in design is research.” In the past, like other design companies in Taiwan, Ader’s company designed products for the client based on finding opportunities in the marketplace and the use of existing technology. He now thinks before designing a product, research on the user groups should be done first; design has three phases: understand, discover, and integrate. + What’s next? Upon returning to Taiwan from San Francisco, Chen challenged his designers to incorporate every phase of the design process, from materials to modeling into their work. He indicated that rapid visualization can enhance communication, accuracy and enhance design efficiency. He says, “A drawing shows everything immediately without confusion.” Chen thinks having the ability to draw is an indispensable skill for a product designer. His advice to study abroad designers, like me: “You should seize the opportunities to learn in a foreign place. You should listen more, observe more, and work more.” He advises that I be, “creative, innovative and have lots of different ideas; and learn a diversity of aesthetics and styles.” He continues, “Learn to appreciate and understand the different lifestyles and experiences and transform them to your design experiences. See and learn new technology. Learn and experience their (the U.S.) business models, which are different from Taiwan, and above all cherish the opportunity.” References: Lee S. “Design is Research Model,” Cheers magazine No. 71. August 2006. Retrieved April 1, 2010, from http://www.cheers.com.tw/doc/page.jspx?id=402881e8134e403a01134e5352f00d42 Veryzer, Robert W. “Design and Consumer Research,” Design Management Journal, Academic Review, pgs. 64-73, 2000 Images courtesy of http://blog.yam.com/sumi0719/article/17967870 and http://www.designboom.com/snapshots/satellite06.html

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Tehran: The Road to Physical Rehabilitation by Yara Afshar

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student name and title goes here


Interview with Dr. Soltani, Ra’ad Director/Founder: The Ra’ad Rehabilitation Center was established 26 years ago in Tehran, Iran. The goal was to provide an educational and social enterprise, dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities, while promoting sustainable and local economic development in the process. Ra’ad’s primary focus is on education as a tool for better gradation and integration in society.

Student weaving a carpet, Ra’ad Rehabilitation Complex

The number of people who became physically disabled and mutilated was rising during the 80s, when the war between Iran and Iraq was at its peak. The lack of adequate infrastructure to provide services to these individuals made me realize the problem in much-detailed layers. Therefore I started taking action with the help of some close friends in order to find ways for the disabled in better integrating into society. There was nothing as far as educating and employing individuals with disability at the time in Iran. This was a pilot project from the beginning. There were many hurdles in establishing this center. The first problem was to officially register as an NGO (non-government organization). It took at least six months to do that.

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After 25 years of hard work on what we truly and sincerely believed in, Ra’ad has finally accomplished its main goals—to help disabled individuals better integrate into society and also to change the mainstream’s perception from dis-ability to ability. And I think we were quite successful in that regard. The Ra’ad Rehabilitation Center oversees 220 individuals with physical disability everyday. Ra’ad has a number of interns who help with at the center. We usually have more interns over the summer. The focus is mostly on training courses that can lead to employment. Interview with Mahnaz Haghighi, Ra’ad Co-Director: I started at Ra’ad as an intern. For two years, I worked two days a week with children. At the time we did not have a specific place for rehabilitation work that was dedicated to children only. We used to do it in the main library, but it was better than nothing. Since we are a not-for-profit organization, the element of time doesn’t play a huge role in our work. We provide our services as much as the patient needs it. In my case, the patients are all children with some form of physical disability. Working with children, it takes delicate work and attention to details. Usually, children with a physical disability are facing problems in more than one area of their body. Therefore, we provide our services to each patient for the whole day. At Ra’ad, another important component is developing physical therapy program that is aimed to the individual and their specific disability. Our philosophy is that they come here to learn to live a normal life and a better integrate into society, while we do our job along with them as physical therapist focusing on their disability. We began our services for disabled children about eight years ago. Getting it started was not easy at all, and maintaining the work was much harder afterward. We had to deal with an insufficient budget and the lack of any kind of facility to improve the condition that these children were living in. Such facilities simply did not exist in Iran, so we had to improvise and come up with our own ways to smooth out the situation. When a child arrives at Ra’ad, they are first sent for a medical check-up to determine their specific physical disability, and we start planning their rehabilitation program from there. We never stop their session since almost all of our patients have a permanent physical disability. There are only 50 people working here in all the areas, but in our department which is only dedicated to children with disability, we are only three! Its quite overwhelming considering the number of disabled kids that we have to take care of, but we try to do the best for them. Years before, students in the related fields were welcome to do their internships and workshop classes with us. It was very helpful for us and

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Classroom, Ra’ad Rehabilitation Complex Center in Tehran, Iran.

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educational for them. But it was short-lived, due to a universities circular and memo that all the students have to do their internships in governmental sections and not in NGO’s. It was devastating. One of the most important components of Ra’ad activities is education. This particular component attracts the highest expense and human energy in direct and indirect ways. Educational components are categorized in fields such as computer and related technologies, accounting, foreign languages and arts and crafts. Instruction hours changed from 6,686 to 13,263 hours in only one year (2006). It meant that the educational volume was doubled compared to what it was before! Therefore, we had a 23 percent increase in hiring new instructors.

Educational components are categorized in fields such as computer and related technologies, foreign languages and arts & crafts. We offer all the services at our complex, which is fully accessible unlike any other infrastructure in the city. Public relation activities also play an important rule in order to find individuals with disability, and informing them about our free services that can improve their daily life for better integration in society. In addition to Ra’ad’s, three main goals: education, physical therapy, and social justice—equal employment opportunity is equally important. Creating equal employment for individuals with physical disability is being achieved in four other categories; employment in institutions, work in cooperative manners, work from home and self-employment. Social-work services play another significant role at Ra’ad. One of our services in that area is to create an acceptable and adequate context for our interns in order for them to live a more independent life. All of the energy is focused to prepare the interns for self-determining life and make them acknowledge their abilities to resolve the problems they are facing in daily life.

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Shades of Gray by Michael Sung-Whan Kim

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We as a species are entering uncharted waters. For the first time in our collective history, our population as a whole is ageing. Simply stated, according to the United Nation’s latest biennial population report, the median age for the world will rise from the current 29, to 38 by the year 2050. When one in three will have reached retirement age, and nearly one in ten will be over eighty1. This is caused by two factors: people are living longer (from 50 years in 1900 to 78 currently), and all the while people are having fewer children, an average of 4.3 children per women in 1970s to the current average of 2.62. Thrown into this cauldron is a temporary anomaly known as the baby boomer generation, where in America the effect was strongest, with 80 million born between 1945–1965, and now coming up for retirement3. But while life expectancy has increased, and thus the age range of what we would traditionally consider to be “elderly” or “old;” we still often mistakenly think of this expanding group as rather homogenous. Even worse, the design community has a panache for designing for the oldest, least mobile segment for the group, inappropriate for the group as a whole4. Designers need to reset and broaden their perspective of the aging population and realize the vast differences in ability, and cognition within this diverse group. That, in fact, there are many shades of gray within the aging population with vastly different needs, desires and expectations. A good point to start in resetting our preconceived notions of the ageing population is first updating and reclassifying who we consider to be in this segment. According to Ken Dykewald, a leading gerontologist in the United States, “Ages 40–60 should be labeled middle age, 60–80 late adult, and over 80 old age.” This, for some, would be a radical departure from traditionally long held belief that old age begins around 65—the age of traditional retirement. Designers need to consider that today’s aging population is not only living longer, but are healthier and leading more active lives than their counterparts even one generation removed. According to James Pirkl, a noted industrial designer who coined the term transgenerational design, “Today’s older people are better educated and, because of increased life expectancy, can participate in a lifetime of learning, work and leisure that will be much different and more rewarding than that which their parents experienced.” Mr. Pirkl makes a poignant observation that although life expectancy is and has been increasing; our perception of the ageing population has not evolved. Designers are not immune to this outdated perception of the ageing population. So Mr. Pirkl suggests that designers must “…understand that aging does not automatically begin at 65; it begins with birth and ends at death. Moreover, aging is indiscriminate, irreversible, and inevitable.” That we all “…age at our own rate….” The prevailing model as viewed by most young people is wrong. This two-phase model that states “…we are born,

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grow physically and intellectually until we are about 25 years old, and it’s all downhill after until we finally die.” Pirkl continues, “Older people view the life span differently. They believe that after birth we keep improving our physical and mental capabilities until we reach 65. Then our systems atrophy, our health declines rapidly, and we die.” Mr. Pirkl believes that both models are inaccurate and he proposes a more accurate model on aging. This model he states, that, “After birth, we experience a rapid functional improvement on growth. This period of formal education lasts into our early adult years.” Then “…a nearly constant, level period which our capabilities decrease, but only at a rate near 1 percent a year.” Then only at the last stages of our lives, “we reach (a) period of functional decline.” So, according to Pirkl’s proposed model, we retain most of our capabilities for most of our adult life, losing only 10 percent of our capabilities we held the previous decade. Mr. Pirkl offers a more contemporary, updated perspective on how to view the ageing population. If his views are correct we as a society need to reset and rethink not only how we perceive the ageing population, but how they can still contribute to society, and what their expectations are. The graying of our population will have dramatic implications not only on social and health services, but also on the workforce, family structures, and consumer devices tailored to their needs. Design thinking and design research should be at the forefront of understanding the needs of the ageing population. Mr. Pirkl points out that more often than not, designers design “…assistive living devices for the small population of frail elderly nearing the end of their lives… (when we should be designing products that) lengthen the period of independence.” To reinforce his point Mr. Pirkl points out that, “In the United States, two million people require wheelchairs, and every design school he knows does a wheel chair project. Yet eight million people are sight impaired, and 20 million have hearing impairments. 40 Million suffer from arthritis, a disease that becomes prevalent at the age of 45. Yet only three percent of the population under 65 in the United States needs any kind of assistance in their daily living; and in those between 65–75, only one in five need assistance. Only one percent of all people aged between 65–70 are in nursing homes, and even at 85 the number is less than 25 percent.” Simply stated, Mr. Pirkl’s viewpoint is that “we should design for an aging population, rather than an aged population, and there are big differences between these two approaches.” According to Mr. Pirkl, designers traditionally addressed anesthetic factors over ergonomic factors; and most recently user experience factors. Ergonomic factors has expanded to include universal design considerations, which according to Mr. Pirkl has become the “…generic umbrella term used to describe the methods to design for people who are functionally impaired or disabled;

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Simply stated, a transgenerational design approach would ‘sympathize rather than stigmatize.’

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they are accessible design and adaptive design.” Mr. Pirkl defines accessible design as “…products and environments made to make it accessible to and usable by people of disabilities.” Sometimes referred to as barrier free design, classic examples would be ramps and Braille signs commonly associated with public and commercial building. Adaptive design according to Mr. Pirkl is how designers often design for the elderly by modifying poor designs to make them usable, such designs include raised toilet seats, add on handles and leverage bottle openers. But Mr. Pirkl suggest a third approach, one that is more “sympathetic to their (older people) gradual declines in vision, hearing and movement capabilities” and that not all of the ageing population needs assistive products. He calls this approach transgenerational design, and it would “…bridge the physical and sensory changes associated with human aging, respond to the widest range of ages and abilities, without penalty to any group, and preserve the individual sense of dignity and worth.” Simply stated, a transgenerational design approach would “sympathize rather than stigmatize.” He suggests that general guidelines should include these components when designing for the aging 5: 1. Provide cross-sensory redundant cuing for all alarms, signals and controls. Design controls you can feel and that combine as many different types of cross sensory communications as possible. 2. Offer redundant modes of operation utilizing the next larger set of motor movements. For example design a door lever using ones arm if it can’t be opened by hand. 3. Establish consistent display/motion relationships. Left to right, forward/up to increase, backward/down to decrease. 4. Provide definitive feedback cues, controls that would snap into place, or provide tactile feedback. 5. Reduce the complexity of all operations, minimize the number of tasks.

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6. Place critical and frequently used control within easiest reach, clustering controls on the basis of priority. 7. Prevent accidental actuation of critical controls either by relocating, recessed or guards to avoid accidental triggers. 8. Provide adjustable product/user interface: horizontal/incline, vertical/incline, raise/lower, and push/pull. 9. Design for use by a variety of populations: male/female, young/old, strong/ weak and large/small. 10. Design to facilitate physical and cognitive function, encourage users to practice and improve by making operations enjoyable. 11. Design beyond physical and functional needs, to enhance the users independence, self respect and quality of life. 12. Strive to make task movements simple and understandable, clockwise for on and increase, counter-clockwise for off/decrease. The guideline Mr. Pirkl suggests seems to make common sense, are logical and very functional. But, problems arise on how to implement these characteristics to devices such as the iPhone. Although hugely popular, the very nature of its design and interface makes it useless for a large portion of the population. How will the iPhone differ in let’s say it’s 15th iteration when its customer base is well into the graying process? Will the user interface be more sensitive to the ageing demographics, or will it still cater to the ever decreasing younger market? If the interface will be more sympathetic to its ageing customer base, one could argue why not implement those changes now to make it more accessible to a wider audience? Or is it purely based on marketing and segmentation focused on the young, hip crowd? Not all devices will be marketed towards nor catered to every consumer group. But an opportunity exists to not only make devices cool and state of the art,

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but also accessible to a wider audience. Inevitably a clash will rise between functionality and usability. This will be one of the design challenges for the new millennia. There are examples where a transgenerational design approach has been used successfully to design for the ageing population. Volkswagen, for example, has designed the Golf Plus with higher seats then its standard models facilitating easier entry and exit. This not only accommodates the elderly, but benefits by offering customized seat height for all of its owners. Companies in Japan (a country in the fore front of the aging population phenomenon) are already catering to its aging clientele. But, companies and advertisers find the aging market a tough nut to crack as the segment is so heterogeneous and the populations see’s themselves younger than they really are6. As our population ages, we need to ask ourselves “can we cope?” Of course we can, we have to. But a better question may be, “how can we best handle the ageing of our population and their needs?” The financial and political implications will be vast as governments tackle pension and health care costs, the start of which we are just beginning to witness currently7. But designers also have a role to play and we must acknowledge that the aging population is not a homogenous group. That “someone in his 70s may be frail in health living in an old folk’s home; or he may run for president of the United States, as John McCain did.8” That as a whole, the graying of the world’s population isn’t just a color, but in fact many shades of gray representing a broad spectrum of needs, expectations and abilities. That as this minority segment becomes the majority, our considerations as designers must also adapt to the graying population of the world. Endnotes: 1

“A slow-burning fuse.” (2009, June 27th) The Economist, Volume 391 Number 8637. 3-5

2 ibid. 3 ibid. 4

Pirkl, J. and Babic, A. (1998) “Guidelines and Strategies for Designing Transgenerational

Products.” Acton, MA. Copley

5

Pirkl, James (1995) “Transgenerational Design: Products for an Aging Population.” New

York: Van Nostrand Reinhold

6

The Silver Dollar. (2009, June 27th) The Economist, Volume 391 Number 8637. 8

7

Into the unknown. (2009, June 27th) The Economist, Volume 391 Number 8637. 15-16

8 ibid. Photos courtesy of Hambook, Kthscssir and Bleekism from flikr.com

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As our population ages, we need to ask ourselves ‘can we cope?’ Of course we can, we have to.

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About the authors Yara Afshar was born in Tehran, Iran. She pursued her graduate studies in San

Francisco after working in a design firm in Los Angeles for years. Her interest has always drawn her to accessible design. Currently, her creative work focuses on children with physical disabilities in Iran, and implementing the principles of accessible product design into the lives of these children through education and curriculum development, for a better integration in society. Elsa Chen is a graduate from Advertising Department at Chinese Cultural University

in Taiwan in 2006. Upon graduation, she worked for Julia Advertising and Broadcasting, a medium-sized advertising company in Taiwan. After two years at Julia Advertising and Broadcasting, Ms. Chen decided to pursue a graduate degree in industrial design education. Elsa is a member of the Elders’ Foundation in Taipei. For her Master’s Thesis focuses on product design and convenience for the elderly. Lei Fan is a graduate from the Engineering College of South China Agricultural

University of Machine Design and Manufacturing and Their Automation. Currently, her Master’s Thesis centers around sustainable design. Steve Jones is an Assistant Professor and the Graduate Program Coordinator in the

Department of Design and Industry. He received his BFA from the California College of the Arts, and his MFA in Graphic Design from the Rhode Island School of Design. He is the founder of the Negro Emancipation Association (NEA) and the Principal/ Creative Director of plantain, and Oakland-based design studio. Maria-Christina Katsoulis would never have imagined herself as being involved

in any capacity, with either the study of the design process or the reading of Tarot cards. She is learning, with the help of both Tarot and the discipline involved in design and the process of creating, to “flow” along with the present moment and cherish and appreciate the beauty of what is presented in front of her at any given moment. Michael Sung-Whan Kim was born in Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated to the

United States at the age of 7. He was a former commercial airline pilot, and is now studying industrial design with an emphasis in project management at San Francisco State University. He was first drawn to industrial design by the creative problem solving process, and hopes to see its use to solve humanitarian relief causes. Alisa Lemberg has a Bachelors in Sociology from Boston University. Before coming

to San Francisco, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. Her research interests are in the areas of virtual reality and human-computer interaction.

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Justin Nogarr graduated from the Department of Design at CSU, Sacramento. His

Masters Thesis addresses the educational needs of graphic design students at the community college level. Over the last three years Justin has enjoyed working as a Reprographics Coordinator for Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, CA, and aspires to one day teach there. Phil McConn is an industrial engineer from Ireland. Since graduating with a Bachelor

of Engineering degree in 2002 from NUI, Galway, Ireland, Phil has worked with companies such as Boston Scientific and Unilok. Phil’s research emphasis concentrates on guitar stage and home/studio management equipment, such as guitar stands and cases, which maximize stage space as it relates to the hard-working semiprofessional musician. Isabel Perdomo was born in Bogotá, Colombia where she studied architecture at

the Javeriana University. She holds a Bachelors of Arts in Design with an emphasis in Interior Architecture from the University of California, Davis. Isabel’s creative work project focuses on creating an experience for the Colombian diaspora with an environmental awareness. Currently she is exploring Colombian folklore and theater within the Colombian community in San Francisco in search of that one experience that will allow connection for the ones that live outside of their homeland. April Smith earned a BFA in Film Production Design from the University of North

Carolina School of the Arts in 2004. Since then she has worked as a decorative painter and in the art department on numerous television shows and commercials. Working with toxic materials on sets that were immediately thrown away motivated her to pursue a career finding sustainable, non-toxic solutions for everyday product design. Sima Tawakoli was born in Tehran, Iran. She studied Architecture and Urbanism in

Tehran and was the principal of her architectural firm. Her work reflects the charm and simplicity of everyday life. The sun, the domestic scenes and her love for design are prominent themes in her oeuvre. Says Sima, “The most important and most beautiful part of my life is the time I design my dreams.” Eugene Wong was born in Queens, NY, he relocated to California in 2002 to pursue

his education. He earned his Bachelors of Arts in Industrial Arts from San Francisco State University in 2009. Eugene has been exploring the areas of Special Education and Child Psychology; in particular, developing educational tools for children with developmental disabilities. His Master’s Thesis centers on the improvement of fine motor abilities in children affected by autism spectrum disorder.

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Acknowledgments Yara Afshar

I would like to thank everyone at the Ra’ad Rehabilitation Center in Tehran and my classmates for their support, interest and undivided attention. Elsa Chen

First of all, I want to thank my friend Lawrence Lu for introducing me Ader Chen. Secondly, thanks to Ader for his precious time to answer my questions; even with the time zone differences, he still answered my phone calls while he was traveling on business in China. Lei Fan

I would like to give a heartfelt “thank-you” to Recology and Christine Lee for giving me the opportunity to interview them. Steve Jones

I want to thank an incredible group of students! It’s been great working with you, and seeing you all develop over the course of the semester. You guys rock! I also want to thank our librarian Darlene Tong, our Department Chair Ricardo Gomes, and Professor Hsiao-Yun Chu for all their guidance, advice and support. Maria-Christina Katsoulis

I would like to thank Robert Place for so graciously and generously sharing his time and expertise on the Tarot and reinforcing my love of the cards. Michael Sung-Whan Kim

I would like to acknowledge and thank my parents Soon and Hyun Kim for their continued support, guidance, encouragement and love in my pursuit of knowledge and truth. I would also like to thank my fellow classmates and Steve Jones, our instructor, for an incredible semester of learning. Finally I would like to thank Mr. James Pirkl for his time and insights that made this article possible, my profound thanks. Alisa Lemberg

I would like to thank Robert Ketner for finding the time to engage with students and answer questions; Janis Nakano Spivak for allowing me the opportunity to learn about virtual worlds from the inside; and of course my mother for supporting me throughout my studies. I would also like to express a heartfelt thank you to Steve Jones for his work and dedication in putting this journal together, and keeping the graduate department sane.

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Phil McConn

Firstly, I am grateful for the time and energy contributed by Stephen Key to this interview and the passion he contributed to it. His assistant Andrew Krauss was also instrumental in acquiring Stephen’s contribution as a first point of reference. Justin Nogarr

I am forever grateful to Professor Gwen Amos, founder of the Graphic Design Program in the Department of Design at California State University Sacramento, for your continued support of my education. Thanks to Professor Cele Hanzel, instructor at both City College of San Francisco and The Art Institute of California, for so graciously responding to my plea for a second interviewee. Special thanks to Missy Anapolsky, Principal Designer at Circle Design and Professor of Graphic Design at California State University Sacramento. I also owe a debt of gratitude to Professors Ken Alexander and Curtis Corlew of the Los Medanos College Art Department. I want to thank all those other committed instructors who have influenced myself, and contributed to the betterment of design education as a whole. Isabel Perdomo

I would like to thank Carlos Alberto for opening himself to me and sharing his knowledge and passion for design, the environment and Colombia. I thank my partner Simon Jones for helping me with the editing of the story, my classmates for setting up high standards for me and Professor Steve Jones for throwing me in the water where I found inspiration in my field. April Smith

I would like to acknowledge Johann Pauwen, Kalon Studios, Steve Jones, and all the students who collaborated on the production of this journal. Sima Tawakoli

I appreciate architect Nader Ardalan’s concern and time he did in the interview. And Professor Jones for all his support and time and energy he put in my project. I’d also like to thank architect and professor, Nader Tehrani for giving me the courage to contact Nader Ardalan; without his help I could not have done this job. Eugene Wong

I am gratefully thankful to Dr. Mélanie Couture for her timely and thorough responses throughout our interview process. Her profound experience and expertise in autism research has been extremely helpful in focusing my thesis topic and expanding my knowledge of this subject.

Acknowledgments

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Acumen: Insight into the Design Process - Spring 2010  

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