Vestigal tale

This effort of MMDC’s stood out from the scores of ‘transparent’ screen tromp l’oeil pictures created in the latest Flickr flap.

Why? The transparent terminal window floating in mid-air, mid-screen. Beautifully done.

Made me think of laptops from a possible augmented-reality future, where a vestigal frame of the screen is kept by industrial designers as a social cue, to be flipped up as an interruptions shield… even though the reality you are interacting with is just light scattered directly on your retina.

Icons of personal fabrication

Something about the line-up of covers on the Icon magazine website struck me.

All the moody portraits of pensive designers in immaculately-cut monochrome schmutter (ok, except for Karim Rashid, but hey…) reminded me of a talk I attended back in architecture school by Jan Kaplicky where he juxtaposed one image against another to illustrate what he thought was important about design.

It’s a method used throughout Future Systems‘ published work, especially the excellent "For Inspiration Only".

First, he brought up a moody, black-and-white, Anton Corbijn-esque picture of Richard Meier – black cashmere turtleneck and all; dramatically lit against horizontal window blinds. The archetypal Howard-Roark pose.

Kaplicky boomed: "This is not design. This is not a designer." and flicked the slide to a sunny snap of a carpark at Boeing, full of the hundreds of people on the design team there for the 757 smiling and waving up at the camera (I think): "This is design. These are designers"

I’ve always loved that moment from Kaplicky’s talk, and subscribed wholeheartedly to the idea that the ‘great man/woman’ theory of design is bullcookies, at least for most things outside of the couture-culture of boutique graphic design, architecture or applied art celebrated by most of the design press / the Design Museum.

3dprint_1But – in these dawning days of ‘self-centred software‘ and personal fabrication technology, could it be that Kaplicky’s Boeing carpark picture is rapidly becoming the anachronism?

As  one of the speakers at eTech on the coming fabrication revolution said (I think it was Saul Griffith), the design of objects, tools, devices, artifacts (and architecture?) is going to go through the same waves of democratisation, demystification and down-right gawdawful design as graphic design did with the advent of affordable desk-top publishing technology.

Look forward to seeing how Icon might reflect this in coming years…

No screens = “Serenity”

One upside of being down for the count over a long weekend is that there’s no guilt in eating an entire boxed set of TV all at once.

I sat down (well, lied down) to take in Joss Whedon’s aborted cowboy space-opera, Firefly; and was pleasantly surprised.

It’s no wonder it was cancelled – it takes ages to get going, it’s got a huge cast each of whom “have a secret” and some of the best lines are in Mandarin it seems.

One thing that did strike me about a couple of episodes was how very few ‘screens’ feature in Firefly’s vision of the future – and in general how tangible and situated digital technology seems in that universe.
Continue reading


First the server that my mail and site live on gave up the ghost, then so did I. The mail is back, but I’m still sick so apologies for even-more-tardy-than-usual-reponse-rate to email.

Etech05: over for another year…

Etech power-problems solved with massively dangerous hack.

A suprisingly chilled last day after the garage-hack science fair ecstasy of the Maker fair.

I need a shed, a soldering iron, a 3D printer and some flexible medical insurance, asap.

In the meantime, I’ll make stupid things with photoshop (see above)

Time to go back to Helsinki for a few hours, and then off again.

Update: some of the best, concise notes and reflections on the sessions I’ve found so far at Kareem’s site