Paul Rand on Art and Aesthetics


If you can’t see the video click here.

What a great snippet of a 1996 film by Preston McLanahan. I really like how Paul Rand bridges the gap between art, aesthetics, form, content and ultimately design.

Aesthetics is the study of the interaction and fusion between form and content. —Paul Rand

Via: @johnmaeda

Can we fall in love with our computers?

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We don’t talk a lot about movies at Design Sojourn. Maybe we should?

Renowned futurist Ray Kurzweil, also a Googler working on machine learning and voice processing, reviews the latest Spike Jonze movie Her. Predictably the movie is about a man who falls in love with his operating system, or perhaps the artificial intelligence (AI) of his computer? Anyways the movie explores the notion of love and its manifestations.

While I’ve not seen the movie, I did feel troubled after watching the trailer. Though Charlize Theron, the voice of the AI Samantha, did help ease the discomfort. How about you?

Anyways Rays indicates that such learning and interactive “human level” AIs should come in about 2029, in about 15 years. A time of which with many of us would still be around. This would be made more possible with advances in tactile virtual reality systems that allow people to touch, shake hands or even kiss remotely.

I won’t go into too much more detail to spare you the spoilers, but Ray’s vision of the future is worth sharing:

In my view, biological humans will not be outpaced by the AIs because they (we) will enhance themselves (ourselves) with AI. It will not be us versus the machines (whether the machines are enemies or lovers), but rather, we will enhance our own capacity by merging with our intelligent creations. We are doing this already. Even though most of our computers — although not all — are not yet physically inside us, I consider that to be an arbitrary distinction.

Enjoy!

Via: Ray Kurzweil and Verge.

Beyond Design : Explorations Towards a New Practice of Design

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I thought you might like to know that I’ve been invited by my friends at the Shih Chien University Industrial Design Department to conduct a workshop to explore the future of the Design Practice and the Practice of Design.

Participants will understand and explore the changing roles of design and designers as a result of evolving industry trends and consumer needs. Central to our workshop discussions will be the function of Design Leadership and Design Research. I also think it will also be an interesting take on the application and evolution of Design Thinking from a Designers point of view. Have designers found a comfort zone with Design Thinking? Can designers better facilitate meaningful conversations? I’m really looking forward to this discussion!

Beyond Design is a 5-day workshop that will run in 2 phases. Phase 1 is from the 14 to 15 November 2013, and Phase 2 will run on the 8 to 10th of January 2014. Unfortunately it is by invite only, but I’ll see if the findings can be published soon.

Amazing Xylophone Created in a Forest

Industrial Design
Jul 31, 2013


Can’t see the video?

What an amazing feat of design and engineering. A super long xylophone, created in the forest of Kyushu in Japan, runs down a hill and plays Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. This was an ad for NTT Docomo’s new Touch Wood phone.

Love the ad, but not too hot on the phone. Want more? Check out “the making of” below and fully appreciate the precision engineering it took to make it work.

How Industrial Design has Changed in the Last 10 Years?

Industrial Design
Jul 14, 2013

A great little video that accurately describes the changes the Industrial Design profession has gone through in the last 10 years. Notably how in the past a product’s form was largely driven by the engineering components inside it. But today, with miniaturisation and the move to digital, our Industrial Design solutions can be anything. The question is what?

Via: Frog

Pointless to Treat the PC and Tablet as Separate Markets

Industrial Design
Jul 12, 2013

The frame of tablets stealing PC market share might not make sense much longer. Even if it doesn’t soften the sting for fading makers of desktops and laptops, industry observers like Mikako Kitagawa, the Gartner analyst who worked on its report, are just waiting for the day when they can stop treating the two as distinct markets. “If you look at the consumers,” she says, “they don’t look at ‘I’m going to PCs’ or ‘I’m going to use tablets.’ They are going to buy whatever is available for them and what is convenient for them.”

To a consumer, it is all about computing. It will likely be not one or the other, but both devices in every household. The choice of form factors will instead be a reflection of the type of activity that will be required of the device.

Via: Businessweek

Samsung’s Design Aesthetic is Minimal Organic

Industrial Design
Jul 10, 2013

Samsung Design Aesthetic

I don’t make this kind of stuff up. According to Surface Magazine Asia:

Samsung’s aesthetic motto, Minimal Organic, is all about simplicity and a focus on softer features. The applies to small, mobile products, just as much as larger hardware like TV or speakers.

It looks like a pretty logical and obvious contrarian approach to the current “Minimal Geometric” aesthetic made popular by Apple. Looks like it’s working well for them, what do you think?

Via: Surface Magazine.

The Key to Creating a Great Killer Product

“The key for having a great killer product is to have incredible hardware, incredible software, and incredible services. And combine them in such away that you can tell what’s what anymore. It becomes an elegant consumer experience. The real magic occurs in the intersection of those things.” – Tim Cook at D11 (around the 30 minute mark)

Industrial Designers have been saying this for years. We need to be focusing on creating great customer experience ecosystems (products, software, services, and systems etc.) not just focusing on one aspect in isolation. Such a declaration does not mean that they have not done so before, instead it means they really going to focus on this and “amp” it up.

The Reason behind the Design of Apple’s New Circular Campus

Industrial Design
Apr 30, 2013

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Image via The City of Cupertino.

This makes an interesting case study on designing an effective environment for innovation.

Apple is a functional organization. Unlike almost every other large company it’s not organized in “divisions” which have responsibility for “a business” in the sense of profit or loss. At Apple most people or teams are assigned a function like “design”, “engineering”, “sales” etc. When a product is being built, they are assigned to that effort. When the product is complete, they go to another product.

[snip]

Seen from this perspective, the architecture of their proposed campus makes perfect sense. If it was a divisional structure then each division could live in its own building or campus. In fact, each division would not have much to talk about to any other division. But as a functional organization Apple needs to move people quickly between projects. It needs to re-configure itself frequently. Being in the same building means they can do this much more efficiently.

This is why there needs to be one building and this is why the shape chosen is probably optimal: each point within can be reached with minimal routing. The fact that it’s aesthetically pleasing is a coincidence.

Via: Asymco

Toy Playing Habits of Children Around the World

Industrial Design
Mar 15, 2013

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Toy Stories is a very interesting behavioural and anthropological photo essay by Gabriele Galimberti. In it he photographs children from all around the world with their prized possessions – their toys.

Galimberti found that children in richer countries were more possessive with their toys and that it took time before they allowed him to play with them (which is what he would do pre-shoot before arranging the toys), whereas in poorer countries he found it much easier to quickly interact, even if there were just two or three toys between them.

There were similarites too, especially in the functional and protective powers the toys represented for their proud owners. Across borders, the toys were reflective of the world each child was born into—economic status and daily life affecting the types of toys children found interest in.

What an amazing range of interesting insights and a good technique for designers to shadow and collect customer data.

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Check out the rest of the photo essay at Feature Shoot.

Images by: Gabriele Galimberti
Via: Daringfireball