Monday, March 31, 2008

Edible Tableware

They are made of flour, water and salt, a biscuit recipe traditionally used for emergency rations at sea. They'll last for months if kept dry [small ironic chuckle here]. They'll be put into production at Koratt Cafe, in Japan. I'd read up more myself, but most of the info is Japanese, and I'm out of practice. Everything I know was found at dezeen.

They're meant to be replacements for paper tableware. So far though, they have to be handmade. I wonder how this compares to a waffle cone bowl. It's always upsetting when the waffle cone bowl is served inside a styrofoam cup.

Eco Tourism

Become a responsible tourist. I just wonder how responsible one can be as a tourist? Throwing it out there with some links to some writing on at least two sides of the argument.

World Changing Article , No Impact Man Commentary on Travel, Ecotourism.org, UNEP on the effects of tourism.

I've been a tourist, and I know the effect it has upon me as an individual. It is an amazing opportunity to see how other people live, and how different life can be. I also don't know what effect I've had on them though. Should I have been more careful how I spent my money? On a more definitive measuring scale, there is the carbon footprint of flying half way across the world. So much to consider.

And why do most Ecotourism ads look towards traveling in jungles and safaris?


Corporate Recycling


Many companies are starting to take back their products to recycle them. There are varying degrees of recycling going on. Nike's Reuse A Shoe program doesn't make the kicks you drop off into new shoes, they turn them into rubber playing fields. The end goal is to try and perfect a system of take back for the day when they can up-cycle the shoe you bring back.

Patagonia has been taking back clothes for a while now, with a little drop box in stores. They have various documentation on their website about the various processes they go through to recycle clothes.

Fast Retailing, has a take back program going on in Japan with UNIQLO.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Molecular Gastronomy

Molecular Gastronomy has been around for sometime now. The phrase itself was coined in 1988, and though it actually doesn't say new in itself [cooking has always dealt with molecules and food], it describes a new approach to food preparation that is becoming more and more popular. 

This more scientific-themed approach has been on the rise over the past few years. A restaurant I keep hearing about in relation to this is Moto. It has become my Mecca. Here is a fantastic video with the Pastry Chef, Ben Roche, at Taste 3.




found via food for design

Friday, March 28, 2008

Trend Predicting

An article at Core77 about designers view on designers not getting it right with trends.

I am basing my response to this upon the reading of two books, Black Swan by Nassim Taleb, and Stumbling Upon Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. I believe the combined knowledge of these books explains why trends are hard to predict. 

Firstly, the future is tough to predict, its just too complex. There are varying degrees of prediction, and the more and more specific one wants to get, the more exponential the possibility of being wrong. It is easy to agree with my prediction that the sun will rise tomorrow [there is the remote possibility that even that would be wrong]. Me saying that the sun will rise tomorrow at 6:47am, with a mean temperature of 76 degrees a cross wind of 4 mph and a butterfly passing my window with blue wings, is a tougher bet.

Secondly, we don't know what makes us happy. When we think about the future and what will make us happy, we tend to localize into small portions of that future. Having that big house with the picket fence and well manicured lawn is what makes us happy right? What about the water bill, mowing the lawn, painting the fence, and the mortgage? There are so many other factors around the future that we filter out when making envisioning the future. 

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mushrooms



Mushrooms are the material of the future. They have been used to assist in cleaning up oil spills, and a pair from Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute have figured out how to use them as fire retardant insulation for houses. What's not to love about the magical mushroom? First they produced Smurfs, now this, who knows what's next.

Replating


Replating is leaving your leftover food, in a doggie bag, on top of a trash can, so they don't go to waste. Check it out at replate.org, and try it out ... anywhere. I don't like wasting food, I do feel slightly unsure of this. A little research shows that this is at least going on in San Francisco, Philadelphia and Chicago. There is a discussion about it going on at chow.com, with some pointers for replating etiquette.

I originally heard about this through an episode of KCRW Good Food, the Raw Milk and Honey Episode.

Second Hand Swapping


Second hand swapping is growing more and more popular. I have a feeling this is a result of a combination of people wanting to reduce the number of items they purchase, buy items at lower prices and make a little profit off the things they have and no longer want. I don't have any hard science research behind those statements though, just thoughts to guide further investigation.


Until then, you can try out some second hand swapping at these various places:

Book Mooch, which allows you to swap books with others online.

Swap at Home, allows you to swap anything. It's a little confusing to me how this works.

Ikea furniture swap organized at their store in Amsterdam!


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Eco Starter Kits


Want to go green and don't know how, try an Eco-Starter Kit. They're a start, and after someone realizes that everything in the box is available in local stores, what is the next step? It's easy enough for me to say its available at local stores though, as I live in Los Angeles. Which is behind relative to other cities.

Once Sustainability is the mainstream, what will happen to these start kits? What is the next evolution of this? Maybe you can have an empty box shipped to you because as a society people will evolve beyond being consumers. It's a dream I have.

Until then, get your kit at Greensender, Green-Kit, or Go Green Gift.

Sharing

This is another rising trend that I hope goes beyond being just a trend. It's happening on multiple levels in different fields. 

Sharing between individuals.

Sharing in Communities.

Sharing between Companies, particularly with green products and processes in mind. I can imagine the difficulty in creating such alliances, more of them are needed to though. Companies need to lay down their defenses, so that everyone can push forward with these alliances.

Sharing between Countries.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Crowd Funding

Want to own part of a basketball team, football team, or eco clothing line? When big companies are giving you what you want, get a group of people together and fund it yourselves. How is this this different than the stock market, I don't know. It's a question I'm prompted to ask, and probably won't go researching the answer for [there are so many other questions I have about everything else].

Be part of it at these places:
Nvohk

Found via Springwise.com

Small Mart Revolution


Going local is the beginning of something that I hope becomes more than a trend. There's more to it than just buying local though. People need to act together to affect government policy, support local banking and energy generation, and create more self-sufficient communities. Supporting local community business is something that should happen everywhere, so there can be exchanges between communities for various products. So much more than can be explained in a brief post. Learn more at SmallMart.org [and read the book above, its divided into sections that are great for reference, with summaries of what individuals can do at the end of every chapter] and see someone putting it into thought out action at Urban Rustic

Biochar

Biochar is "obtained from pyrolysing biomass." Being able to way the amount of biochar one has, makes it an accurate form of carbon sequestration. Additionally, it can restore soil nutrition, offering an alternative to slash and burn techniques. 

There are a lot of claims going on with this product, which for me has resulted in information overload and that sounds too good to be true. So, I'll start by breaking it all down. Firstly, pyrolysis is the subjugation of organic compounds to very high temperatures [thank you dictionary.com]. How Biochar amend soil nutrition, is not fully explained on the website. From my best understanding, it is stable in the soil, lasting for hundreds of years [sounds kind of like plastic]. I'm still out on a decision, though since I found out about it through Treehugger, I'm leaning towards Biochar being a good thing. Still have research more at Biochar Fund and Beyond Zero Emissions Podcast.

Found via Treehugger

Monday, March 24, 2008

Mixtapes

They're back! Well, as far as I'm concerned, they never went out of style. The Cassette Tape part of it is finding its way into new media though. I couldn't resist.



Make your own at Mixwit.com. It's quite fun and time consuming, before you know it, an hour will have gone by.

Exopolis Mixtape was a beautiful mixtape done back around Valentines day. I loved the voice overs in between the tracks giving it a little bit more story.

Edward Tufte on iPhone Interface

An interesting and thought out criticism of the iPhone's interface by Edward Tufte. I enjoy the combination of video presentation followed by written essay. I have to agree that the iPhone has such a vivid high resolution screen, that it is shame that many of the graphics on the iPhone are cartoony. I differ on the need to add more information, as I enjoy the simplicity. Tufte's variation on the weather widget for the iPhone wasn't the most compelling example. Less isn't always more, and at the same time, more can be less. 



Until seeing Tufte's criticism, I was quite satisfied with the options presented to me. The weather tells me the one thing I'd like to know, sunny, rainy, cloudy, and so forth, along with the temperature. I don't really want to know the humidity. The basic information of sunny/cloudy is enough for me to make some decisions of what I'm going to wear. Weather predictions are bad enough anyway. There have been times when it hasn't done me any good, where as the days pass, the weather predictions change for the following days. So unless I get a degree in meteorology, I don't won't be compiling barometric pressure, humidity and precipitation measurements to decide what to wear.

Further argument against the need for more information, is the stock market page. I will not need to know the accuracy of the numbers to a 2 significant digits for every day of the past 3 years. The general graph of up and down is well enough. Again, that really won't help with predictions though, because stocks are not as predictable as they are sometimes presented to be [read Nassim Nicholas Taleb].

I do agree with Tufte's closing statements from his critique, "to clarify, add detail... and clutter and overload are not attributes of information, they are failure of design." The alternatives offered so far, just do not compel me as being clearer graphical solutions combined with information valuable to me.

Color Map


How different people interpret different colors and a visual map of their relations. The map itself is gorgeous. I'm tempted ask for another level of information on top of it though, such as the emotional connection to the various colors.

Time Machine


CERN builds a Large Hadron Collider [easy to digest information page here], of which the grander picture would be a step towards the Grand Unified Theory. In the mean time, in the simplest of english, it means scientists will be shooting protons at each at near light speeds. Other large issues that people bring up when talking about this are worm holes, black holes and of course time travel.

This thing is massive!




When I first read about the Large Hadron Collider, I was reminded of Earth, by David Brin, in which scientist must find a microscopic black hole that has somehow been lost in the Earth's core, threatening the destruction of the planet. In his story, the Earth is plagued by much of the problems that are actually looming on our horizon or already here. I'm not saying David Brin predicted these, or that the Large Hadron Collider will cause a black hole to be leashed up on the Earth. I was simply reminded of the book, which when I read in the mid 90s was quite gripping as I remember it. Science fiction can be used to influence science sometimes.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Jazz Improv Ups Brain's Creativity


Fantastic audio article at NPR Story of the Day. A study by Dr. Charles Limb at Johns Hopkins University and Alan Brown at National Institute of Health show that "when jazz pianists are improvising riffs, their brains act much more like the dreaming brain, with inhibition turned down and creativity cranked way up." According to Dr. Limb, the brain fires similarly when people improvise will speaking and improvise solutions to problems.  Read a written article at USA Today.

Image via All Posters

Greening College Campuses


BusinesswWeek Online has a wonderful little slideshow about the greening of college campuses around America and the world. Oh look at the free advertising these campuses just received for doing the right thing. I just wish my school would be wiser to such things.

Circle Graphics are In

I've seen a proliferation of graphics and websites using the circle as its central theme. 

Front page from Moma's Color Chart Exhibition.

Front page from Art Center's Global Dialogues Disruptive Thinking Event.

Mapping the information in a book, from munterbund.de.


Shape of the family by Christina Van Vleck.

More as I find them.

Scrap Sequencer


This is great because you can use any object to put it on there, and it will react differently.



The Reactable is even more interesting though. The visualization of the oscillation adds a level of complexity to designing it, though it simplifies the interaction with people. I find most of the sounds in this demonstration annoying though, I'm not much of a fan of trance anymore. I appreciate the creation of technology from concept though. Here is a slightly better video of the Reactable in action.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Intrinsic Metal Coloration


Scientist at the University of Rochester have used a laser to create intrinsic colors in metals. For their experiments, they have transformed aluminum to gold, blue, and a extremely pure black, among other colors. The process actually changes the surface properties of the metal, so the color will never fade. This is an extremely large break through because it allows a form of biomimicry in the way that butterflies wings color themselves. I wonder if they could to this on a woven metal textile so that you could have a super black aluminum shirt? Oh the possibilities for this are endless.

Found via Long Views
Photo credit Richard Baker, University of Rochester

High Waterline

A chalk line showing where the high water line would be in downtown New York.
LED illuminated poles showing the High Waterline in a park.
[images via mudandsticks.com]

High Waterline is a visualization of the effects of climate change by artist Eve S Mosher. As I understand, it is meant to be a constant reminder to residents about the danger of unchecked climate change as a result of human impact upon the Earth. Eve offers actionable recommendations on her site in the form of home, community, school/business, and government.

found via infosthetics

Sound of Color



Recent projects have me looking into the senses more and more and how they relate to each other. Considering not only the visual aspect of an object, but also inputs such as sound and texture. For anyone who hasn't seen it already, the sound of color. I really like yellow and green. Now, what about the smell of color? Even tougher, the smell of sound?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Air Bed and Breakfast


I first encountered AirBed and Breakfast at Connecting '07. It was formed out a need because the local hotels were getting packed, so the team took advantage of the opportunity and created something fantastic. Now they've expanded it so that anyone can set up an AirBed and Breakfast for other summits and conferences. Their site does a wonderful job of telling their story and how it works, I highly recommend it looking it to see both what they offer, and how to tell your story well.


[image via surf europe mag]

There is a similar project going on over at CouchSurfing.com [thanks Audrey]. A little bit overwhelming compared to AirBed and Breakfast, though its on a much larger scale, over 35,000 cities and 450,000 people! This social experiment is an interesting use of space combined with decentralizing "the hotel" by centralizing it in an online network. This won't replace hotels for various reasons, I imagine it creates richer experiences though.

Free! Santa Monica Airport Artwalk

I'm a week early on this one, it gives you ample time to schedule it in though. Music, culture and food for free, more information here and here.

Bring Your Own Bag



Companies, markets, even cities, states and China are banning plastic bags. New reusable bags seem to appear everyday; baggu, acme, and more available at reusablebags.com. There is good reason to ban plastic bags too, like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

[image via yannone blog]

Reading about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is adequate reason to ban plastic bags, among others. I am all for banning plastic bags, though I can't help but feel that all this emphasis on plastic bags and finding solutions to that is taking effort away from other issues in need of consideration. The best way for me to explain this is to an analogy of sustainability to dieting. It is more than something you do for the three months to loose ten pounds. We can't buy the diet cola then drink twice as much, and we can't buy reusable bags and continue to consume as much.

We need to change our attitudes and how we go about living. We have be cautious that we don't equate the solution to not using plastic bags, and then go about consuming without consideration. As a society, people have to use reusable bags, then go about using them less than they were using plastic bags. And lets start seeing reusable bags in more places than just the supermarket, the video store, the hardware store, the printing service bureau, the toy store, and so forth.

Anti-Experience

There is so much emphasis now with companies to create a consumer experience [see also experience design and a great article at Core77]. It is no longer enough for them to sell a product, from store display, to employee interaction and purchasing, then finally opening the box, it all has to carefully thought out and constructed. How much can be controlled though before it becomes to much?

I have become interested in stream of recent articles, in various media, that start to report on people [as consumers and employees] rebelling against the artificial experiences created in interesting ways that I like to call, the Anti-Experience [though, its still an experience, all be it often more funny and hilarious than the one intended].

Listen, watch and read about Anti-Experiences:
Babies Buying Babies from This American Life Matchmakers podcast.
Jackie Mason on Starbucks lack of a real experience.
Wendi Aarons' reaction to a backfired brand experience.

Under-Performing Apparel


Smart, intelligent, reactive and performance textiles are all the rage in design these days. A recent article in Businessweek Online says we may want to consider otherwise though. 
As an avid cyclist and triathlete I have some experience with these materials, though not many of the higher end ones. I haven't update my wardrobe for quite some time actually. I've never owned any of Under Armor's apparel. 

I am skeptic of the ability of the clothes to perform at various claimed levels. I imagine the difference between wearing jeans on a bike and spandex is easily recognizable to most people. If nothing else, I know I sweat less while wearing spandex when cycling than while wearing jeans. The difference between spandex and tech-x might not be so recognizable [ a fun little mathematical expression of that; jean:spandex > spandex:tech-x]. The added performance of tech-x is not in proportion to its increased expense. It really only matters to those athletes in the top 5% who are going to be setting world records in their disciplines. Everyone else should relax, eat fewer power bars, drink less gatorade and just have fun.


racing cyclist via cycling news
nude cyclist via boys will be boys

Bigdog Quadruped Robot

This thing is amazing. A cross between The Fly and a Masamune Shirow creation. It's been around for a while and is starting to get a lot of attention now. There is something about the construction and humming of the motors that give this thing a primitive feel, making its movement all the more technological and natural at the same time.

Gregory Barsamian


Gregory Barsamian bases his work on persistence of vision, instead of making flip books though, he makes flip sculptures! Instead making individual images as for animation, he makes sculptures for each instant, then rotates them around. Watching the movies of these on his website is amazing, seeing it in person must be mystifying.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Risk

Here is a great article on risk, ice climbing and entrepreneurship over at Business Week Online. I'm glad that Bill Buxton, the author, decoupled the intertwinement of risk and danger. They are definitely not the same thing. 

"Why do entrepreneurs and ice climbers repeatedly prompt questions of flirting with death and disaster? My best guess is that a lack of familiarity prevents nonpractitioners from seeing what lies behind the surface: the serious and conscientious preparation that such people bring to their respective activities...If there is a single message in all of this, it is this: The most dangerous way of all to play it is so-called safe. Safe leads to atrophy and certain death—of spirit, culture, and enterprise. There is not a single institution of merit or worthy of respect in our society that was not created out of risk. Risk is not only not to be avoided, it is to be embraced—for survival."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Nike Nash

I actually saw a preview of the Nike Nash at the beginning of February at the Art Center Sustainability Pre-Summit. It was disguised then as a fun idea that I shouldn't expect to be made. Those clever Nike designers, they were probably gauging our reaction! This follows along the ideas of industrial waste reclamation and material repurposing, two concepts that we should expect to see a lot more of in the coming year.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Start Here

The concept and reasoning for this interesting notebook, as explained on the website, doesn't make sense to me. I do like the idea though. I don't have a problem starting new sketchbooks. What does bother me though is lugging around the old one, while I want to reference back to the images and notes in it. Theses sketchbooks don't even solve that actually... I still find the concept interesting. It's even inspired me to look at how I use sketchbooks, verbalize it, and admit to the problem I have with them [however minor it is].

Additional note, I enjoy the Us page of the website. I enjoy how the visualized the process.

Web Cam Navigation



These are screen shots from Publicis and Hal Riney, a website that uses your webcam to navigate it. I particularly enjoyed doing this in the computer lab at school and having others come over to me and ask me what I was doing. I'm guessing the technology/software is similar to that of the Sony Eyetoy. I'm interested to see what's next. How about Simon says with my friends in Singapore or drawing in the air [equivalent to using an open shutter and a flashlight].

found via one floor up

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bicycle Thief

Core77 is having a one hour design challenge on theft proof bicycles, and someone posted a link to this video as a consideration to the designs. I was more intrigued on the social aspect that no one interfered with someone so blatantly committing a crime. A police officer actually stopped the camera man from video taping over the person breaking the lock, and a passer by gave him assistance. So, we feel the need to intervene across oceans, and can't do anything about the problems right in front of us? What is the social science behind that?

So, my 1 minute solution [which leaves me with an additional 59 minutes to dress it up, and reconsider its flaws], is an identification flag, with a picture of the owner on it, and the phrase "please look after my bike." That way, if anyone other than that person starts messing with it, everyone knows.

Ruminant Bloom


By Julia Lohmann, a sheep's stomach lamp. I'm a vegetarian, and this is still beautiful. This is exactly what I was thinking when I wanted someone to stick LEDs in Studio Libertiny's Honeycomb Vase. Bees and Sheeps, what other animals can we take advantage as natural beautiful structures? Hot dog glow lights anyone?

Transforming Tables

I saw the Braunwoodline table over at NotCot. As interesting as it is to have this transforming table, it has nothing on the DB Fletcher Capstan Ilona Expanding table. I will give the Braunwodline credit for having some interesting design in its chairs though. The Capstan has size and wow factor way beyond the Braunwoodline.



DB Capstan Illona Expanding Table

Of Course, the next step to all of this is combining the technology of these tables with that of other table technology. Say a walking table?


Let's throw in some super digital high tech of the Microsoft Surface, and this conceptual table of the future will be able to rule us all. All it really needs now is the ability to smell the items on the table to inform people about what they're eating.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Funny Graphs



I have been visiting Indexed for sometime now because of the interesting commentary and moment of relief Jessica Hagy's little notecards provide me. Then I noticed other people over the web doing similar experiments in humorous graphs; dating reasons graph, personal pie chart, flickr song graphs pool. The fantastic thing about all of these, is the level of filtering they've done. The world is a complex place, they've narrowed it down for just a moment so we can think about just a part of it.

Virtual Pandemic

video

Scientist simulate a pandemic in a virtual simulation to study results for dealing with. The goal was to come up with recommendations for how to contain possible pandemics, such as avian flu, in case of a break out. Information via Science Friday, more information here.

This article reminded me of an interesting virtual plague, called Corrupted Blood, I heard about in World of Warcraft. People's reactions to this were increasingly interesting, first that of the players, then of some social scientist studying this. Listen to the NPR article here, and a follow up article from Tufts University here, and the Lancet Article.


Latte Prototyping

Latte art meets rapid prototyping [found via communicadores.info]. My passion for food leaves me excited about the possibilities this opens up. Of course there is no practical application... yet! I'm going to put all my day dreaming hours to come up with a good use. I imagine Molecular Gastronomists would love to play with this.

It would also be interesting to take a note at where Latte Art started, and now how it has ended up in the hands of machines. 

What other food arts are currently performed by people that might be enhanced by machines? Maybe someone could rapid prototype a cake by sifting all the dry ingredients in layers, then adding liquid, then cooking each individual section with a laser. You could have nine different cakes right next to each other! You could have pink polka dot cakes, where the white was vanilla flavored and polka dots were strawberry!

Or maybe some intricate chocolate sculpture that was prototyped...

[image via barrels and bottles, the first google image link at the time]

Friday, March 14, 2008

Free! Art Night


On Art Night, the city of Pasadena opens the doors of many of its cultural institutions, for free. Even better, there are free shuttles running from each place. It is a great way to sample what this community has to offer. Art Night is part of Pasadena Art Weekend.

image via art night.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Honey Comb Vase

The honeycomb vase, by Studio Libertiny, is an amazing concept of alternative prototyping. It looks good enough to be a final product for me. Someone please throw some LEDs inside that thing, I think it would be a fantastic lamp. Or maybe a more chemically inclined person could duplicate firefly bioluminescence in there!

Studio Libertiny has some amazing projects with paper on their site too. A paper vase that has the properties of wood! And a paper table that they describe as feeling like "erotic suede." Check out all of their projects, quite inspiring.

Electronic Nose

"An electronic nose approaching the cability of the human sniffer, remains a dream despite twenty-five years of research" say German Scientist at Thuringia International School Weimar. Electronic noses are great at picking up non-odorous chemicals. Deciphering smells such as fruity, grassy and sweet are just beyond the nose. Information via Science Elements Podcast #51 March 10, 2008


This follows along the concept used in Japan about Pollen Sniffing Robots. Though it doesn't explain to me how this little guy thinks "people taste like bacon." I guess there in lies the difference between olfactory and gastronomic senses. I still think robots will rise up against us in revolution, tracking us down like pigs so they can eat our flesh.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

assignment #11

While sitting where you are, draw your kitchen, don't go look at it yet. After you've drawn your kitchen from your seat, get up, go look at your kitchen, and draw it again, this time while you're looking at it. Now, sometime during the week, when you're at work or school, on the bus or in a waiting room, draw your kitchen a third time.

Post you're drawings here, I'd love to see them.

[final note: I'm unofficially continuing from where they left off]

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Scruffs Hardware


After doing a little searching, I found another clothing commercial, though I don't know if it follows the same trend as the one's below [and its at least a year old]. Wait, is Scruff's Hardware a real company?

Charlotte Ronson


So I feel a little taken, in two ways, one because this is actually an advertisement. Yeah, I can't believe it! This person, Charlotte Ronson has a self titled clothing line. And with each new clothing line release, she also makes a video. This somewhere on the line of the Louis Vuitton Commercial. I'd say Charlotte Ronson's video is better though, because she does it without so many words, using the film medium on its own. Is this a new trend for such things?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Free! Trade Screening


A free screening of the film Trade at Travis Auditorium in Pasadena, from 7pm to 10pm (today). Hosted by the PGU Peace and Justice Concerns Committee. See a the trailer for Trade.