Saturday, July 30, 2005

Immaterial architecture

Yesterday I was searching for architectural landmarks in L.A. (pity that the Getty museum is closed on mondays =( when I found this architecture database: archINFORM. worth visiting, lots of pictures, information and books like this : Immaterial/Ultramaterial which deals with new materials, ultramaterials and immaterial elements like light, sound and smell. There are also reviews on Matilda McQuaid's book about Shigeru Ban, looks more complete than the Taschen monograph.

have a nice weekend
Bookmark and Share

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Soon, from Omicron Persei 8

Last sunday we went to the movies before our discount tickets expire. The "less" bad movie was "what the #$*! do we know?" It's actually niether good or bad... it's weak for a movie, probably good on TV. Anyway it was nice to see Marlee Matlin... she's still as gorgeous as when she appeared on "Children of a lesser God". It's a pity that we can't see here on TV the PBS's series on quantum physics: "the elegant universe" which seems more serious and in depth. You can watch the videos on their site, but it's horrible for me since I only have dial-up.

Speaking of strings, vortex, parallel universes and time travel... Next monday night I'll fly to L.A. to spend monday morning visiting this installation : "Maximilian's Schell" (via designboom) I hope it's close to the Disney Hall which I also want to visit (have a look at this ARCspace page... they have the real Ghery sketches). If you don't like the inconvinience of time travel (10 hours flight) you can still visit "Fotos de arquitectura" They have nice shots of some beautiful buildings like "Casa da Musica" by Koolhaas or Casa Schröder by G. Rietveld. (via look there for the photo collection on Eisenman's holocaust memorial) much better than verctorpark!

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Design without borders

ERA 05
That's the motto of the World Design Congress ERA05 in Oslo to be held in september. There are 3 main topics:

Borders of your Profession
Design across professional borders is basically aimed at immaterial design i.e. how design can solve many problems across disciplines using the design process to find creative integral solutions.

Borders of your World
Design across global borders, not just in terms of economic globalization but also intercultural cross fertilization and understanding of that cultural mosaique.

Design for All
The needs and facts about universal design will be discussed. The main concern is the aging population in developing countries, but I am sure there will be also some other examples of universal design in terms of just different abilities: cognitive, language, senses, etc. not just physical. Anyway, there are two very interesting conferences: Alex Lee from OXO, and Keiji Kawahara from the International Association of Universal Design in Japan which is already organizing the Second International Conference for Universal Design to be held in Kyoto in 2006. Their prospectus says: "We should not develop products taking only young and healthy people into account. It is necessary to create products with which/a society where there is no need to feel inconveniences because of the differences in age, sex, race or one 's abilities."

It is nice to see that those are the main concerns of design nowadays. We past the discussion over form/function; and we are discussing the really important matters. When you think carefully, the global borders topic is also related in a way to universal design, because 3 of the seven UD principles have some implications on that area:

1 Equitable use (make the design appealing to all users) from all countries and cultures
2 Flexibility (the design accomodates a wide range of individual preferences)
3 Simple and intuitive use (accomodate a wide range of literacy and language skills)

For me, it is nice to hear the word "design" in such phrases as: "improve the life of everyone through design" or "Good design enables, bad design disables" instead of words like "styling" or "designers make beautiful objects". Universal design empowers the people, styling is just commercial gain (you may qoute me on this last statement). I mean, products are made (designed) with specific goals. It may be commercial gain, styling, to accomplish a specific or several functionns, to be emotional, etc. A specific list of criteria is set for each product. Some products fulfil those specifications, others don't... But universal design has a holistic approach: design has to be universal! Design has to be empowering to all users. What can be more rewarding, than when a product is successful at that?


PS: If you are one of the lucky ones to visit Oslo... don't leave unless you visit the Vigeland Park.
Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Kitscho & Stitch

::NEL:: Stitch kit
Check out the stitch kit (via designboom) designed by a mexican team. Felicidades compatriotas! If you like "more conventional" furniture, there's also this stainless steel chair... or the XXXXL chair which is a bit (or a lot!) kitschig. Is amazing how blury the line between kitsch and good design is nowadays... maybe because some design magazines and reviews are not so critic about bad taste as before.

Speaking of kitsch. Is there something more kitschig than a plush chair? Yes, there is : an acrylic chair painted with a faux plush finish!
Aïtali developed a fine printing process for surface ornaments like plush fur, leafs, paint splatters, faux wood, etc, over a material similar to acrylic. Karim Rashid also designed a couple of chairs for Samy Aït-ali. There's no doubt that when someone gets famous, there's a great risk of catching kitschingitis. Maybe I'll review some basics about kitsch later on. That might work as vaccination for some design students.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, July 22, 2005

Fritz and Moritz

Last time we were in Guadalajara, Alejandra Ulloa showed us the spanish translation of Chris Van Allsburg's book "the mysteries of Harris Burdick" published in Mexico by Fondo de Cultura Economica. The next day we went to Lafayette to buy a copy. I've only seen a few of his drawings for Jumanji and Polar Express, but the mysteries are just fascinating and still my favourite illustrations. Students from Rockingham School in Canada wrote some of the possible stories that could go with each drawing.

Cottage of the HorticulturistThere are many sections on Van Allsburg's site. You'll find videos like the one based on his story "Ben's dream". But what I've found most interesting is this sculpture. Just like his stories, it makes you think about all the possible things that could happen inside and arround that greenhouse: who is the owner? what is he/she like? are there more houses inside (like a matrioshka)? What kind of vegetables or flowers are inside?

Art is all about communication, transmiting ideas. Sometimes the messages are not open to any interpretation, they are just a message to be understood. Eventually, there are art pieces that provide that message, but in our minds, it also opens a question about it. It's like some movies that you have to discuss for days or months, books that change the way you look at things, songs that move your neurons and not just your body. Van Allsburg's drawings and books are just like that, you can't stop thinking about more stories and mysteries...

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Lavender mist

lavender mistThis has been really a bussy week. I just finished the preliminary CAD sketches of the standers and now it's time to arrange bureaucratic issues with IRD, bank, customs, etc, etc... Anyway, someone sent me this interactive flash site to create Pollock-like images. It's not as amusing as the crazy rabbit... but you have to "shake-it" aswell.

I am not a great fan of Pollock, maybe because when I was in pre-school, my friends used to show me their "diversiones maravillosas" paint splatters when I was already learning perspective drawing and I saw nothing particular about those ink stains. Maybe Pollock's mom was as proud as my friend's moms about his messy paintings... and they also may had a good washing machine at home! (my parents didn't, well... they had one but it was the maid that washed by hand).

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


I just wrote my previous post... and ... well, I'm not in the mood to go back to work (or sleep) yet. So I decided to go ahead with another post.

Last weekend we rented a couple of movies : Lord of the flies and Laura. Now that the first season of Lost finshed here in NZ and I am flying next month, I had to be prepared if the plane crashes, I don't want to end up like Tom Hanks or Piggie! That's why I don't fly with Oceanica! He, he. Anyway, many of the characters in "Lost" are just adapted copies of the ones on lord of the flies, just like the mini-UN episode on the simpsons, even the pig! You see, that's another reason why I couldn't survive on an island like that.

We wanted to book movie tickets for "Howl's Moving Castle" during the film festival next weekend... but we decided not to go yet, and wait until it's on a normal movie theatre at normal prices, and not so crowded with anime fans. Anyway, we still got some discount tickets for Rialto cinemas that we have to use before the end of July.

The problem of traveling overseas, is that sometimes they are showing movies or tv series before the other country... the problem is when moving from one place to the other... you will never see some movies on theatres, others you can see them twice! I just hope I don't miss "The Corpse Bride" That's the kind of movie you have to see on the big screen.

Roger Casas-Alatriste posted a reply about Memin Pinguin with the URL of their site called : Mobuzz TV. I enjoyed a lot their news capsule, very professional and nice editorial touch. For those of you with a 3G mobile phone, you can get news feeds like naked news (but no nudity) directly on your cell. If you are a poor fellow like me, you can still watch the videos in english, spanish and french. WOW! They are going to take over RTL soon! Congrats!

Now it's time to go. Ciao.
Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Picasso project

Prof. Enrique Mallen from Texas A&M has compiled a great collection of Picasso's paintings. The idea is to make a comprehensive collection of his works. Thanks to the thumbnail views is quite easy to see the evolution of his style and the disctinctive periods.

Although I agree with the guys from Art Renewal regarding the great farse of modernism, we can't deny the great influence of Picasso.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Pinguin catched meningitis

Today happened just what I said on my post about Memin Pinguin... we were watching the TV series "Medical Investigation" and I had to turn off the TV, because I was really offended by the racist images about Mexico. The sad part... the series was made in 2004, not 1940!

Read my comment on the Internet Movie Database IMDb.

The happy story today, is that we went to the city to buy souvenirs and gifts that I will take to Mexico. I am looking forward for that trip.

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Military technology

Some countries spend their money on intergallactical propaganda fireworks, others on photography. I found this design standards from NASA when I was searching for anthropometric data. Some of this information is quoted on many ergonomics books like Sanders/McCormick. The anthropometrics and biomechanics chapter is a must see for designers. So, it's good to have that on line as a first hand resource. After all, not all that money goes to waste on fireworks.

From outerspace tech, to down to under-the-sea tech... here's a very nice underwater Zenit camera (via Ektopia ) says that the MF1 is considered official Russian military technology... What a relief that I haven't used mine in quite some years... I risk being mistaken to have some kind of weapon... and nowadays with all those terorirists, and all, it's not a good idea.

zenith mf1

Enjoy the weekend!
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

HC freeware

I just got the news that my homesite is featured on the links section of "Healtcare Freeware". Chech them out. They have many resources on health and ergonomics. Best of all, those resources are all free, including the ergonomic tools.

Bookmark and Share

The android's dungeon

I can't help saying something about the controversy on Memin Penguin. Basically I believe that any accussation should be based on an informed basis. I am not familiar with the stories of Memin, I've seen him arround, but I have never read any of his comic books. However, from the comments of the people who know his comics seems to me that he's a good guy. Everyone says he's clever and lovable.

Seems to me that the people critisizing Memin are pre-judging him with prejudice. They call him the "worst kind of black stereotype" because he has "greatly exaggerated eyes and lips". Well, those people should start looking at other cartoon characters... of course some physical characteristics are exagerated in cartoons. That is why they are cartoons and not portraits!

Some mathematics (for "collectors"): there are 5 stamps @ 6.5 pesos each, that's 32 pesos for the whole set. (stamps via cartoon brew)

A recent bid on eBay sold the set for EUR 15.55 that's about $17.9 USD or $196 pesos. which means a net profit of 164 pesos. Very good for half an hour of standing in queue at the post office, and considering the fact that the stamps were issued last week! There are still some more auctions if you want to grab a piece of history. They say that there has been one set sold for $200USD...

There are many american cartoons that are not so PC (politically correct) by today's standards. There's Speedy Gonzalez, or Pepe lePew (who's banned from US TV for sexual harassment). And ... well, you know... the simpsons. Some of the characters, exagerate some stereotypes. But I don't see anyone complaining about that. (images courtesy of

You must be able to laugh and make fun of yourself. That is a sign of self confidence. Look at this humor links site to get an idea of what I mean. The line between humour and mockery is not a fine one. It is very clear when someone speaks sarcastically, name calling, and other agressive expressions. That's no reason to ban all words from our languages. Some people abuse those words, and give them an offensive meaning, true. A semantic decoding (scan) of meaning can be done for pictures, cartoons, etc as they are also means of communication, to see which was the intentional message of the creator(s). So, it's quite simple to know when a stereotype was made with an offensive message. It is not a matter of superficial analysis, it needs a complete decoding (scan). Memin was labeled as racist, because the judges didn't scan the semantics of the character, they just prejudged with prejudice.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

im/material bionics

I received today the ergonomics newsletter Ergoprojects, and found an article about the AICHI trade fair in Japan which features a very cool robot exhibition. I think is very interesting that the fair's theme is "Nature's wisdom". Let me copy a few excerpts from their definition:

This theme was chosen-in regret at the mistakes of the past and in determination to make this dream come true. Nature is a vast font of wisdom, and nature's wisdom stretches from the simplest cell to the infinite reaches of space. This is the wisdom that has given rise to life and eventually ourselves on this planet. Indeed, the history of humankind has been one of learning from nature's wisdom. Humanity cannot live in isolation, and it is imperative that our lives be compatible with the rest of the global ecosystem.

Rediscovering nature's wisdom, we must alter the relationship between humanity and technology as well as the social relations among people themselves. To fail in this can only further exacerbate the degradation of the global ecosystem and imperil our own and our planet's future.

We want to embark upon wide-ranging research here. We want to free technology from the unthinking pursuit of efficiency and economic rationality and from rigid social systemic constraints-to awaken the wisdom embedded in the technology and to enable technology to once again interact sensitively with life and nature. Technology is not inherently eco-destructive, and at its best it exists in a creatively complementary relationship with nature.

There are 3 sub themes:

Nature's Matrix

To show directions for mankind in the 21st century, a new model for civilization in the space age is explored based on the latest achievements of space technology and the history of the Earth. New ways for resolving population and environmental problems are sought through cutting-edge experiments using bio and information technologies.

The Art of Life

Directions for new ways of life in which 21st Century humankind lives actively are proposed. The issues of aging society and the creativity of children are addressed. Through fine arts, performing arts and daily customs from around the world, various exchanges between people and nature are developed and ways to let the richness of nature and the force of life shine much are to be proposed. For example, exhibits may include presentations of regional arts and customs associated with nature and life, introduction of lifestyles harmonized with nature, and presentation of a model society where the elderly live vibrantly and social and technical support provided therefor.

Development for Eco-Communities

To demonstrate a model recycling society in the 21st century, new energy and new recycling technology are utilized. Ideal lifestyles and urban infrastructures are sought in which resources are used efficiently. The ideal balance between social development and environment is pursued and the restoration of environments is attempted.

This is a good example on how design is now looking at immaterial (and material) solutions. For me, it is quite interesting to think about bionics not just to develop technologies, but also to develop systems and sub-systems. Maybe the answers to many of our society's conflicts are in nature!

Right now, Naoko and Mauricio are visting Japan and the fair... let's see what they can tell us about it when they come back.

The Danish design congress ERA 05, is also concerned with immaterial design in global systems. Until now the main considerations have been competition, market, sustainability and lately : culture. We are taking design to the next level, where the impact on those areas are the main issues. However, sustainability refers only to using resources wisely. The japanese approach seems promising because it's a holistic approach to nature. In their own words: "a creatively complementary relationship with nature". I like that idea, because the sustainability approach focuses only on resources, while the bionics approach is about interdependance and balance. So, every design should look not only at it's use and re-use of resources, but also at how it interacts as a system whith other biological systems and subsystems... sounds like a good challenge.

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, July 02, 2005

More games

I noticed that many of my visitors come here because of my posts about online games and puzzles. So, today I have a game and a puzzle: Gomoku is a japanese version of tic-tac-toe (gato) but it's 5 in a row (or column or diagonal). I have Gomoku and Xiang-qi on my palm but hardly got the time to play, now that I don't have to attend boring staff meetings!

Anyway, for those of you who like puzzles, Sudoku is a very addictive puzzle. It's simple, and once you figure out the "technique" it's just a matter of patience to solve them. Now you have something to do during the weekend! enjoy.

Bookmark and Share