Friday, April 30, 2010

Project Open

projectOPEN was conceived in 2005 to assist homeless populations in various communities throughout the US by providing a guide to meet four objectives:
The guide includes a list and map of organizations who specialize in services for the homeless.
The guide helps to locate services available to all citizens within a city that homeless people can utilize for free.
The guide includes a section on both personal rights and laws to encourage social education and to encourage people to follow the law.
The guide is portable and can be displayed as a poster to raise awareness about homelessness.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Austin Center for Design Website

Understanding Wicked Problems

A wicked problem is a form of social or cultural problem that is difficult to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements. These problems are typically offloaded to policy makers, or are written off as being too cumbursome to bother with. Yet these are the problems that plague our world and our cities - poverty, sustainability, equality and health and wellness are issues that touch each and every one of us.

These problems can be mitigated through the process of design - through an intellectual approach to design that emphasizes empathy, abductive reasoning, and rapid prototyping. These are the problems that are addressed at the Austin Center for Design.

Learn more about wicked problems

Austin Center for Design


Austin Center for Design

In Austin, Texas, a school is launched to help designers build economically 
viable careers working for social betterment.

By Kaomi Goetz 

t’s a design school at least 15 years in the making, an idea that simmered in the 
back of Jon Kolko’s brain. The interactive designer (an associate creative director 
at Frog Design in Austin, Texas) and one-time Savannah College of Art and Design 
instructor had long wanted to create an environment that could help designers find 
more meaning in their careers. It was a concern of many of Kolko’s former 
students, who were working at what were considered dream jobs, places like
Nike and Starbucks. 

“They’re doing the things that everyone was led to believe one does in design 
school, and now they’re questioning it,” he says. “They feel that they’re adding 
to the consumptive nature of the world.”

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rick Valicenti

Call to Action / A Moving Design Workshop

Rick Valicenti, of Moving Design invites passionate, fearless, and brilliant designers to join forces inside the Archeworks Studio. Come together to advance powerful ideas in response to the glocalissues underscored in Archeworks’ Infrastructures for Change Conference. During 11 summer-evening sessions over 6 weeks you will convert design into a tangible and real social currency.

OA Bumper

Hey guys,

Here's a bumper for Old Arizona. The look is supposed to be kind of DIY/GIRL POWER. I was wondering if the text is clearly readable? I know the type looks kind of stretched and wonky, but we'll fix it for sure. We just need a couple of extra set of eyes to make sure things are legible.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tactile Mind

Photographer Lisa J. Murphy has found a way to make porn truly touching with her bizarre Braille versions of nude images.

Thursday, April 15, 2010 17:21 GMT

TORONTO (Wireless Flash - FlashNews) – Porn has never been so touching – especially now that there’s a Braille version for the blind.

Photographer Lisa J. Murphy has just created Tactile Mind, a book of nude images sculpted on thermoform plastic pages – the same material used in Braille paper.

All the lines, ridges, and crevices of the body parts are touchable, so the pictures can be enjoyed by the visually impaired. To fully feel the erotica, they each come with an accompanying description in Braille.

Murphy, who’s a volunteer at the Canadian National Institute For The Blind, calls the book a “labor of love.”

Each sexy image took her about 50 hours to sculpt so it would be interpreted accurately by the sightless.

Her tactile creations include a woman’s naked breasts, an uncircumcised penis and testicles, and a shaved vagina.

None of her art seems to be getting lost in translation because in her words, “Blind folks say my work is good. Wink, wink.”

Monday, April 12, 2010

Flags Flags Flags!

Here is a glimpse at our flag distribution today!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Dieter Rams: 10 Principles of Effective Design

Back in the early 1980s, Dieter Rams was becoming increasingly concerned by the state of the world around him – “an impenetrable confusion of forms, colours and noises.” Aware that he was a significant contributor to that world, he asked himself an important question: is my design good design?

As good design cannot be measured in a finite way he set about expressing the ten most important principles for what he considered was good design. (Sometimes they are referred as the ‘Ten commandments’.)

time to rethink design

Culturally connected design

Making Design matter should be about ‘mind over matter’.

Using our creative minds, our collective imagination

and ability to evolve human construction. The act

of design is a truly powerful human intervention, but we

must do it lightly and we must think more coherently

before we act. All design should support or strengthen

life in one way or another.

Does design have a value if it does not favour the human

context? Design remains an isolated foreign object when

it has no sense of belonging; it employs no reward and

processes no genus loci. The best design has so often

managed to transfer social trends and lifestyle changes

into successful responsive products and services. It does

so by holding onto a holistic perspective, which respects

humanistic values and cultural identity.

Designs’ DNA needs to be reconfigured. Rather than

continue to focus its attention upon invention, innovation,

and enterprise, it should be reconciling the human

state and contributing humility, compassion, empathy

and beauty. To transcend the norm, and to leave the

world a better place than we found it.

Design is no longer about the lifestyle, but the lifecycle.

Everything that is man made is designed, so we cannot

blame nature for overreacting or the current design

aware generation for poor quality. We must orientate

our endeavours towards understanding ambiguity and

contradiction, embracing diversity over uniformity and

identifying inclusiveness, over exclusiveness.

Designer Naoto Fukasawa speaks about this kind of design

ethic, in a recent interview: “I understand that my

role is about enhancing our living…. I’ve become more

attached to the current life, and have started considering

the betterment of our lives in a reality where we all

belong, rather than predicting what could happen”. This

interview displays Naoto’s interest in the act of living

the now. He puts his ear to the ground and listens. He

brings sensuality and ritual back into our lives.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Futurefarmers Lend a Hand

Thank you to The Futurefarmers, a multi-disciplinary Artist/ Designer collaboration formed to "cultivate consciousness" , for coming through our class to lend their insight into our current design projects.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Thinking Wrong

Edited by Chelsea Holden Baker / Photographs by Jarrod McCab

John Bielenberg discusses: Thinking wrong and doing right, living in an unprecedented time at the edge of the earth, the fearlessness of Icelanders, and the importance of pie.

John Bielenberg is an expert in thinking wrong. A partner in the San Francisco-based design strategy firm C2 (“Creative Capital”), Bielenberg lives in Belfast, Maine, where he started Project M (“Mentor) in the summer of 2003. Project M is a mental gymnastics camp for young creatives who are already inspired to contribute to the greater good, but are looking for a platform to collaborate and generate ideas and projects bigger than themselves. In the coming year, Bielenberg will convert socially-minded catalysts to “think wrong” in Saudi Arabia; Frankfurt, Germany; Hilo, Hawaii; and The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, among other locations, including one in Maine.

Bielenberg wears a black wristband that says, “THINKWRONG.” He is always ready to jump the tracks of lateral thinking if that means he can find a path to change.

He is actually, and not abstractly, concerned with pressing social issues: from an empty lot in Detroit to humanity’s stress on the world’s resources. He has a serious voice and a playful mind. His home base is the Bielenberg Institute at the Edge of the Earth in Belfast, Maine.

M: How did you find your way to “The Edge of the Earth”?

JB: Since about 1990 or so, my wife Dee and I began an attempt to get out of the rat race. We had a map that filled an entire wall of our house in San Francisco, and every time we heard about a place or saw a movie that seemed interesting, we’d put a pin in the map and visit those places. A River Runs Through It put a pin in Bozeman, Montana. Places like Taos, New Mexico; Boise, Idaho; and Nelson, British Columbia made the map. I ended up moving to Boulder, Colorado, for three years, but found that the rats were following us.

Moving was tied in to having kids. What we found was that there’s no utopia. It was hard to put together a pie chart that had everything we wanted in the amounts we wanted. My wife was in the fashion business, and she was working with a small software company in Camden that had production software for the garment industry. She loved Camden, and we ended up buying a vacation house there. I went on a bike ride one summer, came back and said, “Let’s just move here.” Then we discovered Belfast; it’s a little bit funkier, and less on the tourist route.

M: Did the move to Maine change the way you were working?

JB: I’m still a partner in C2— with Erik Cox and Greg Galle—which does design, brand strategy, and idea generation. We run “Think Wrong Tanks” around creativity and alternative thinking for corporations. I spend a quarter of my time at our studio in San Francisco. But moving to Maine allowed me to develop Project M, to inspire young creative people to shape a more positive future. This came out of my experience of teaching in California for over ten years, but also just living in an unprecedented time of tipping points: climate change and the end of peak oil, deforestation, species extinction, and the rise of the middle class in India and China. The status quo is not acceptable.

M: What are our options?

JB: You can be pessimistic or optimistic. The pessimistic view is that we’re doomed eventually. Or the optimistic view, which I prefer, is that you realize design, creativity, human innovation, and invention are really the only ways that we can change course and our behavior.

Once I made the choice to be optimistic, I looked at who could make that shift. It was not going to be old people—they have what I call “calcified synapses.” Once you reach a certain age, you pretty much just follow what you know. And we couldn’t wait until young kids are old enough to be in positions of power, it wouldn’t be fast enough. So Project M focuses on the 20-to-30 age range and tries to infect those kids with the idea that they can have a role in the future to shape the greater good. In the seven years that I’ve been doing Project M, I’ve seen a tidal wave of interest.

JB: We have four components: [1] There are the original sessions with a group of ten people for two or four weeks. We go someplace, completely immerse ourselves: meet people, talk, photograph, figure out a project, and do it. [2] We’ve also started Project M labs. These are places where there are projects happening throughout the year, usually staffed by alumni of the Project M sessions. The first was in Alabama, which is running now. We’re starting one here in Maine, one in California. [3] A third piece is ventures. Sometimes Project M creates things that have an afterlife. For example, a group in Maine went down to Alabama and
built “Pie Lab.” It’s a pie and coffee shop up front and an operating design studio out back. It’s an interface, a way to integrate the projects with community members. The conversations drive ideas, which drive design projects. We’re planning on opening more Pie Labs around the country. Another venture is Nada Bike, which I call “Zen and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance.” It’s really not about bikes as things, but about empowerment, mobility, and freedom from oil and marketing. You become a member of Nada for $100. Your membership card is a raw bike frame. [4] And recognizing that not everybody can take two or four weeks out their life, we also do “blitzes,” 48-hour projects—condensing Project M into the shortest time possible—to give people a taste of our process and methodology and hopefully create something out of that.

M: How do you approach sessions or blitzes?

JB: I don’t come in preloaded. It’s about the group figuring out what they want to do together. I want them to go through the experience of being social entrepreneurs, not waiting for a project, but finding something they feel is meaningful, and they’re passionate about, and then figuring out how to actually do something about it. My job is to push and pull. Thinking wrong is a big part of the process and philosophy. If you want to come up with truly new, innovative ideas that can potentially be more effective in solving these various problems, you cannot only follow pre-existing synaptic pathways in the creative process.

M: So part of your job is to be disruptive.

JB: Yes. And I have a toolkit for that. In the blitz we did at College of the Atlantic, everyone was thinking about Haiti. So we divide into small groups. Each group picks two numbers. A number between one and 300 and a number between one and ten. Let’s say a group picks 185 and two. You pick up an encyclopedia and turn to page 185 and the second word down is their word—horseshoe. They take that horseshoe and spend half-an hour free-associating. They can rearrange the letters to form other words, or it can remind someone of riding lessons which makes them think of black boots, which brings up licorice. You create a mind map off of horseshoe. At the end, you see if there are any connections between Haiti and all of the stuff that you’ve randomly generated. It’s interesting when you force the brain to make connections that never would have happened if you didn’t start with horseshoe.

M: You seem to have a fascination with the human brain. How conscious are you of your own thought patterns?

I’m aware of this all the time. We are all creatures of habit—that’s how we’re designed. If you’re in a restaurant and you get a glass with clear liquid in it, you drink it. You don’t test it to see if it’s hydrochloric acid. There are certain assumptions that allow us to exist in the world. It only becomes problematic when we’re trying to innovate or be creative, when there’s a functional reason to think wrong.

M: You’ve taken Project M to many different types of communities and cultures. How does the experience differ?

JB: The first year we went down to rural Alabama. Everybody was from the North and came down with existing ideas about the deep South, about civil rights, about segregation and discrimination, ready to do something based on those preexisting expectations. As outsiders, it’s dangerous to do that. We had a backlash from a certain part of the community because of the project we did, which was to raise money to buy water meters to hook people up with fresh water. You would think that would be a benign issue—who’s against hooking people up with water?—but you’d be surprised. So we learned how to be more sensitive, how to be smarter about listening.
But I’ll contrast that with Iceland last February. This was when the economy of Iceland collapsed, and they overthrew the government, so the group of forty Icelandic students did projects related to that political and economic collapse. I realized that in Iceland there’s a lot of personal freedom. There’s a lack of racism and discrimination because the culture is very similar. There’s no litigation, so people are kind of fearless. There’s no crime. There are no murders. Police don’t carry guns. I was amazed at how courageous the students and even the institution, the Iceland Academy of Arts, were. As much as I learned in Alabama, it was almost the opposite in Iceland. Those kids could have done anything and they would have been embraced. So the places where we work influence the projects quite a bit—and they differ radically from one place to another.

M: Who is thinking so wrong that it’s right?

JB: My partners at C2 and I have recently launched MavLab which uses Project M
processes to address big important issues. The at Stanford University also uses a lot of this type of thinking. There’s a guy named Paul Polak, who started D-Rev: Design for the Other 90%, who’s trying to change the world through design-thinking and tackling problems in unique ways. There’s a young woman named Emily Pilloton who has an organization called Project H—as in humanity. There’s a school in Denmark called KaosPilots. And of course, anybody who’s interested can contact me through Project M.

To hear John Bielenberg speak about Project M
in person on April 27th, register for the Tech Maine event at:

Project M |
C2 |
Pie Lab |
Nada Bike |