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Martin Bone is one of us. The opening pages of his collaboration with Kara Johnson, I Miss My Pencil, include fetishistic shots of everyday objects like kitchen knives and attache cases that the authors know and love. In the short blurbs of text that accompany the beautiful product shots, Johnson explains a part of the product lifecycle that designers too often ignore. Recounting the effect of a ding on her experience as a car owner, she explains, “My previously flawless car now registered a dent above the back rear wheel. But my love did not waver. In fact, perhaps surprisingly, it grew: I love my car even more now with this little dent,” that now serves to remind her of a weekend snowboarding. After the personal introduction, Pencil embraces the holy grail of industrial design: infusing shiny new products with the same love that grows naturally out of a shared history (or dent).
No strangers to industrial design, both authors work at IDEO, with Bone as design director and Kara Johnson leading the materials team. A series of 12 projects done for the sheer joy of creation, I Miss My Pencil reads like a student’s wet dream of industrial design 101. The book is broken into three sections: Aisthetika, which deals with sense and experience, Punk Manufacturing, which combines craft and mass production, and Love+Fetish, which might be enough to titillate any objectophiles out there. Using about as much white space as I’ve ever seen in a book Mr. Bone and Ms. Johnson populate their tabula rasa with plenty of full bleed artful photographs and IM formatted conversations about their products. In yet another designer detail, the voices in those exchanges are each given their own font, with Bone speaking in dot matrix and Johnson a businesslike serif. At once joyous and confusing, I Miss My Pencil left me incredulous in the same way an avant garde indy movie produced by a major studio would. Every once in a while a completely impractical beautiful thing slips past consumer focus groups. At numerous times while reading, I wondered what sort of person would want to read a book about the joy of following absurd premises like “what does a laptop taste like?” to their logical (!?!) conclusions. Perhaps the audience for that sort of thing is tiny, but I think it includes us.
The Artvertiser allows citizens to reclaim advertising-saturated city spaces by looking through a hand-held device that substitutes billboard content for art. This virtual canvas is not too far removed from the 3D artists portrayed in William Gibson’s “Spook Country” who build location specific installations, viewable through special equipment that creates a layer of virtual reality over the physical. The Artvertiser software is programmed to recognize individual advertisements, each of which can be replaced with art regardless of whether the ad is on a building, in a magazine or the side of a vehicle.
The project was started by Julian Oliver in early 2008, he’s now collaborating with Clara Boj and Diego Diaz and you can follow their progress on his blog. They’re currently making a set of weather-proof digital binoculars–improved connectivity, battery life and solid state storage–and hope to have the software platform working with mobile devices (running Symbian and Android) by the end of the year. Check out their latest ‘postcard’ demo below and more video samples at vimeo.
A l’occasion des dernières mises en ligne et de l’anniversaire du studio Fcinq, l’agence vient de réaliser un showreel dynamique présentant les différents travaux online.
The Economist writes about jugaad, referring to an innovative, low-cost way of doing something – as goods and services are provided in India at a fraction of the cost of those in developed countries. From the Tata Nano to the Chinese lithium-ion battery that’s easier to make at less than one third the price, its the domestic conditions of scarce and expensive resources and materials coupled with less than wealthy customers that drive these jugaad innovations.
But its not all high tech or corporate R&D, says the article, as rural innovators are also coming in the limelight with their cost effective, grassroots solutions to everyday challenges,
Anil Gupta, of the Indian Institute of Management, helps run the Honey Bee Network, which encourages grassroots innovation in a number of countries. The projects he has been involved with include a refrigerator built from clay, which uses no electricity yet can help keep vegetables fresh for several days, and a cheap crop-duster in the form of a sprayer mounted on a motorcycle.
Many of these were demonstrated recently at a workshop held to promote Grassroots Innovation Design and Sustainability (GRIDS) in the Indian city of Pune. They hold a very real potential for sustainable solutions, developed as they are under conditions of scarcity, often repurposing or reusing materials, using the minimum of fuel or even recycling energy – for example, figuring out how to charge a cellular phone from the exhaust of a motorcycle. But the problem of funding remains as they’re often under the radar of investors nor have the capacity to raise money. One hopes they’ll find a way to inspire a new approach to product development in these recessionary times, a jugaad solution to conserve the future of our planet.[photo credit: Rinku Gajera}