Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Picture perfect

When Hooper and I went to "el baratillo" to buy a new digital videocamera, we also looked for the chinese lomos, but we couldn't find any. I guess, I'd have to ask our russian neighbours to get me one if they go there some day. I found out, that the Zenit EM with 300mm telephoto is now a cult camera!

I will always remember when we got in trouble for taking pictures with that camera at Plaza del sol. It all started when I took a picture of a jewellery guard, taking a nap over his rifle. Of course I used my "sniper camera". I couldn't resist to give him a copy of that picture aferwards! But the silly policeman (I guess he proved already to be dumm by sleeping with his head over a gun) he showed the picture to his colleagues. The chief of security was so embarased, that he sent all his guys to find us, just to give us a "scare". Silly thing was that I managed to take further pictures when they took my brother in law ! But I didn't brought those pictures back. I thought about sending those by mail tho. That was the last time that I wandered through the city with that camera, and the last time that cameras were allowed in that plaza. I wouldn't recommend to travel nowadays with such thing: you might end up in Guantanamo faster than a 1/1000 of a second @ f 2.4

Now you can transport your camera anywhere on a pdf file... and then print it. And I am not speaking of 3D rapid prototyping or so, this is actullay done on any colour printer. Just download the pdf, print, cut and fold, and you'll have a nice looking printable pinhole camera. See the video on how to do it. (via) It's nice looking but probably not as sophisticated as Eduardo Martres' camera. Eduardo was a colleague of mine at the University of Essen. He won a best design award for the HP Photosmart M series. Congratulations Eduardo! (I wonder what the M stands for?)

Now, seriously... this is the camera of my dreams! Worst case scenario, I'll settle for the Leica Digilux 2. Does anyone want to trade an original Zenit sniper in good conditions for a Leica R9? Maybe I can throw a Contaflex Super B into the deal... and a pinhole camera! That's a good deal: 3 cameras for one! Let me know if you're interested.

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Friday, May 26, 2006


I received the BigIdea newsletter, and was intrigued by the "telecon" spoof... Well, nothing could be further from the truth. I bought our domain name from telecom, and they charged me $40NZD a year, plus $35 each month! So, I transfered the domain to other registrar. Then, they charged me for suposedely connecting two computers to the internet at the same time... and they couldn't explain how is that possible when there's only one telephone line and only one laptop. Then, they increased the monthly fees for telephone by 10%... and my internet connection was terrible, I got disconnected every 5 minutes. So, last month, finally, I decided to switch companies and get ASDL (because there are no dedicated fibreoptic lines available except for a few blocks in Wellington) The rest of the country has to live with ASDL and get charged by MB used.

I know, this has nothing to do with design, but I'm glad that many more people are now protesting against the terrible service we get from a state monopoly like telecon! Let's see how long until they ask google to remove the video.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Spot the meanings

Despite the fact that I do not like Rugby... try to guess the meanings behind this advertising for the so called "super 14". You can watch the original adv and "behind the scenes". Again, there's something wrong with some creatives. What did they had in mind? 14 suposedely "rough" capitains getting naked to wash their clothes? And what's with the guy checking up the others?

Either there's something wrong with the encoding of meanings, or they didn't even thought about dirty twisted minds like mine when they made this commercial... or, those rugby players are like the "Steel Workers of America" : Keep reaching for that rainbow!

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Last weekend I cleaned my laptop, you know, with armorall vinyl cleanser. I didn't shoot off the computer, so at the end the volume and contrast were all wrong, and I noticed a folder with a name like "krgtwlngjaxz" So, without hesitation, I just put the folder on the trash bin, and pressed "empty". It was until I saw: "emptying 4,578 items" that I realised that it was "my documents" folder. So, I lost all last week's work in one click. The night before I was going to make my weekly back-up of those files, but I decided to take a break and post something on my blog. Anyway, I'm almost done re-writing patent applications, CAD drawings and the lot that got lost.

So, yesterday I decided to back-up on CD everything. Yes, I know, after the child has drowned... Anyway, while waiting for the CD's to get toasted, I started reading the book that Roberto and Yvonne gave me. I'm having mixed emotions on that, because the whole thesis is on semiotics, and that is my favourite subject. For example:

The form of each human artifact, including that of each product, has moral and cultural significance that reflects not only its creators but also its audience.

So far, so good, but I do not agree on the idea of regarding industrial designers as artists. Let's use the example of graphic designers: I guess we couldn't say that a supermarket flyer is a work of art, but it has to be designed and have the correct elements to communicate. In that regard, there are flyers which do not meet that criteria (bad design) and flyers which are well made, eventho we see them just as junk mail. Have a look at the Victoria Secret's Catalogue... or the Sears Roebuck catalogue... or IKEA. One can hardly say they are works of art, but they follow many complicated composition, arrangement, semantic, and ergonomic elements (yes, even ergonomics)... and still, we don't consider them art.

alphonse muchaThen, there are few examples when advertising becomes artistic. One of my favourites is Alphonse Mucha. By the way, we have a numbered original litograph. I wanted a Chagall, but my wife prefered Mucha... I was newelywed then... and now our livingroom is full of his drawings. Anyway, He did many, many advertising posters which are now considered classics and some even works of art. But that kind of graphic design for advertising is rare, and... now in modern times against figurative art, we are doomed.

Going back to Industrial Design. The point is, that perceptual encoding for communication might be similar to the encoding used in arts. Of course they are similar! Just like spoken language is similar to the grammatic rules used for poetry. But not all spoken communication is poetry, not all busta-rhymes are art... and definately, there are not so many pieces of industrial or graphic design which can actually be considered art (seriously).

I'll leave you with Don Norman's toughts: Art is not supposed to be about order and rationality and things that can be taught. Design must be rational. Design has to work, to be understood, to be functional. It is subject to many constraints about time, cost, and the vagaries of the marketplace. All of these are irrelevant to art — moreover, all of these should be irrelevant to art. Art makes statements. Designs work.


PS. I noticed this article when I searched the Art Renewal Center.
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Friday, May 19, 2006

avisos parroquiales

Well, as I've said... I collected several links lately, but I simply don't have time to comment on them. So, I'll just put 'em here with no particular order:

Designers of today is an initiative to engage young designers into charitable work by developing much needed projects on their free time. With that same idea, there's also Design for the world. I think that it is a good way for young graduates to get involved in real projects, and do something useful.

If you believe that your desk is full of gadgets: phone, palm, iPod, webcam, computer, etc, etc... just look at this futuristic office by Eero Saarinen for Harley Earl. (check out the cars too) After that, If you want to redecorate your office with elegant Barcelona Chairs for small clients, you can get this Mini Mies Chair.

To celebrate 8o years of design at Philips a new book will be launched in October as reported by Design Addict. I couldn't find any info on their website about the "Cathedral Radio", but it's quite interesting to read about their design philosophy and approach.

Very odd is the centenial light bulb... (via) A light bulb that has been lit, non stop since 1901. No, it is not a General Electric or Philips bulb. So, no need to rush to buy one of those at the nearest Oxxo. You can watch (or stare) at the web cam... and if you are lucky enough, perhaps you will see it burn out (someday).

A while ago, one of the first internet spam chain letter campaigns was about a vote for the "new 7 wonders" well, it's back again... but now with some millionaires backing up the idea. However, I am not quite happy with all nominees. For example Jorn Utzon's opera house may be nice, but I don't know if it's actually as spectacular as the Great wall of China... which by the way, it is true that it can be seen from space. Check out the high resolution pictures from NASA. Speaking of wich, you can also see that most parts of Mexico are actually greener than many regions of the USA... so, they are the ones sleeping under a cactus and living in a desert. I wonder if the new USA/Mexico "shame" border wall is going to be visible from outer space too.

Now, if you want to see the real Gray's anatomy... you can read the book online.

Last but not least, test your eye sight... and try to spot the designer at albinoblacksheep.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Tubofono Parafinicocromatico 2

Now that I have broadband internet, I've been enjoying some videos from gPod. (thanks Raul) and I mean "some" because 150MB for a movie is still a lot to take for my ASDL thingy. Like Fox once said: "you can listen to Jorge Luis Borges' "canto nuevo" songs!" My favourite is: Miles Davis & John Coltrane's - SO WHAT one of their best performances. Check out the extensive list of videos at gPod.

One of the wierdest videos I've found lately, is AliG interviewing Noam Chomsky... of course they discuss linguistics and semiology. (via) But my favourite(s) are this series of animated music instruments directed and composed by Wayne Lytle and digitally animated by Dave Crognale, called animusic. Now, that would be a nice thing to build with lego bricks! Enjoy!

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Tubofono parafinicocromatico

If you think that lego skyscrapers are cool... check out TechEBlog's top ten strangest lego creations... it gave me the idea of building some classic chairs using lego bricks, maybe it will be featured on one of those strange & odd objects blogs someday... and it would be more economical to buy all those lego bricks than buying vitra's miniature scale chairs anyway... and definatelly safer than sitting on Raul's Wassily chair! He, he...

Here's a neat chindogu, if you want to practice your "putting"... instead of reading or building lego things while you're buisy. That would match the look of Starck's bathroom fittings. Why is it that most designer's websites have those boring flash intros?... and it's imposible to bookmark interesting projects like Roman Gebhard's dark-white studio "Cleanscape" concept proposal for Whirpool. Anyway, I think it's interesting how both projects have a "retro" inspiration, not necesarely in terms of styling but in terms of how things used to be simple, to the point and functional. We saw some of Starck's bathroom fitting at the expo, and my question was: how would they actually look on a house like "sorteo TEC"?

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Graffiti lego

Apollogies... I have several links on my bookmarks, of things that I want to post (eventually), but I've been quite buisy lately. Finally, the piece that holds the stander's tray is ready. I just need to print & send the blueprints, etc. My neuron is not so good at multitasking. Anyway... I'll start with the lego futuristic buildings "utopolis" by Michael Labelle. (via) I remember that a design magazine form Guadalajara, featured some lego houses by some of the local architects. I guess that we don't give lego bricks enough credit regarding the creative... or the economic possibilities. The tallest building in Utopolis called The Black Tower is up for sale @ $7777CAN.

Not my style or topic, but next week there's going to be a graffiti event at Karangahape road (short name: K road) called Write4Gold. What's interesting are the "disclaimers":
OK, well then, where do all those people practice? It's like organizing a "marihuana smoke rings contest" don't you think?

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

design management

Now that I have to learn some entrepeneurial skills, I found this management tips from despair :-( I never thought that my famous "it could be worse" (hay peores) philosophy could become a management tool for addressing employees' complaints. Worst of all, it is already patented, just like the sad smiley face :-( You see, that's the reason we have to file patent applications for our designs!

Thanks to Roberto and Yvonne, who gave me a book called "watches tell more than time" for my birthday. I have only browsed a little bit though it, but it's fabulous! I'll have to post some of the thoughts on it later.

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Old brother

I guess that now that I am older, I'll start telling stories like grampa simpson... well, I do that anyway! When Hooper and I went to "el baratillo" to buy my video camera, he showed me some fake surveillance cameras... with no lens, or tape, or anything. It's just a motor to keep it slowly moving from side to side and a red LED blinking... and I thought "who would buy something like that???" Well, a few weeks later, I went to a hardware store, to get those famous truper hinges... and the store was full of those fake cameras! Worst of all, they all ran out of batteries, so they were just there, on the walls. Some of them already falling down. I have no idea if those fake cameras actually scare the hell out of robbers.

Anyway, here are some cool installations and pictures by Stephen Berkman. (via) I was actually looking for design articles about clocks and time. You know that right now, there's a time oddity. it's 01:02:03 04/05/06 (1 am, 2 minutes, 3 seconds, 4th of May 2006) Now, that would make a cool birthday!

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Viva la revolucion!

Yet another post about architecture... with a twist. (I am including some images and unrelated links, just to fill it up, mainly british design... you know, to join the american boycott and celebrate the 50th anniversary of Torre Latinoamericana)

Raul sent me pictures of the finished house at Jardin Real. Congratulations to Heriberto, David and Raul (Arquitectura Progresiva) Very nice house!!! I remembered that he told me how lucky they were, in having a client who let them choose the land section, and gave them full control over the project... or something like that. Maybe he can explain that further.

Anyway, I remembered my car's mechanic, Carlos. He's a wise guy. My car broke one day, and I went to his workshop and told him: "you know Carlos, the telekinetik-unilever hydraulic dashboard is making some noise, the multigear must be oiled and replaced by an external counter-plug device" (or something like that)

Then he said: -Wait a minute. When you go to a doctor, do you tell him wich medicine to use on you? Usually you would tell him your symptoms, where it hurts... he will check, do some tests, and then tell you a diagnosis and give some options for your treatment. In other words, let me check your car, and I will tell you what is wrong.

Why is it so different for designers and their clients? Well, it is a tricky relationship... and you have to know your client to be able to work things out... or just, have work. There's the client who ask you to put all kinds of kitsch (like cupulas (domes) or wants almost (a copy) of some design he saw on a magazine. Then, there's the client who's changing his mind every time you meet. Then, there's the client who, after several months of working, when you ask for money, he regrets that probably he's paying too much because there are other cheaper designers... there's also the one who has actually no clue of what he wants, and the one who knows exactly what he wants...OK, let me stop on this last category.

Let's analyse those. When I say, they know exactly what they want, I mean literally and non literally. Example, I know that I need a high quality product, with this and that level of performance, about this aproximate price range, and this and this functions. That is because... well, I know my business, and I know the kind of design that I need. Those are very valuable clients! They make the work very easy, if you can deliver uo to the expected level. Usually, a client like that will give enough freedom to the designer in terms of design... not in terms of specifications. But that is good.

As a teacher, I try to be that kind of client, but some students complain that they want more freedom... example: the tubular chairs. They had 3 constraints only: 1 chair should have no arm rests, 2 chair must be mainly of tubular steel, 3 no more that 9 meters of tubular. That was it, nothing else... and still, a student (furtunately not mine) claimed that those rules were an obstacle to his creativity... so he used wood to build a sofa and put only a small piece of tubular inside. In real life he would have lost the job... or got fired... because the client was asking for 3 simple things to follow, and he didn't follow the rules. Same problem with students at Unitec... they don't like to follow constraints. However, in real life, having a project with no constraints, is like winning the lottery! Can you imagine if a client asks you for an electrodomestic device accessory and you come up with something like this? Not every client would like the idea...

I mean, there are limits... one thing is when your client lets you choose the best lot section to build a house, and another thing would be if the architect says: "you know what, I am not going to build you a house. I am going to build a skyscraper... or a museum... I don't know, it will depend on where my creativity takes me". Doesn't that sound silly? Then, WHY industrial design students want full freedom to choose wether to design a chair, or maybe a cellphone, or a lamp... or whatever they "feel" they are in the mood of drawing... and if something starts to bring some dificulties, well, there's always time to change one's mind and do something else the night before the presentation? Real life is not like that.

On the other hand, there's the client who knows exactly what they want... literally... so you have to become like an extension of his mind... no matter the result. But, let's talk about that kind of clients later.

I guess, that by doing real projects for real clients can help students develop the necessary skills to deal with all sorts of clients. If a project is just a classroom project, then think of the teacher as your client... i.e. the client is always right... meaning, then try to please the teacher, not your creative ego. I remember Raul's coleagues... at the start of each semester, they went to the university library to see the thesis of their teacher, to try to get an idea of the kind of style he/she liked, or the methodology followed...etc. I guess that is a good idea. In real life that would be: do some research on your client's company, their profile, their products, their buildings, etc...

Summarising, every client is unique and you have to learn by practice how to deal with different characters, moods, and relationships (don't get me started on money matter for example) Clients are not going to adapt to your creative ego. Is like when you go to a store that it is not your style, you just leave and go somewhere else... So, you have to adapt to your client's needs and expectations and not viceversa. Unless you win the lottery!

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