Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Interactive architecture

Do you remember the interactive building in Austria? Well, there's a new similar installation in Stockholm: Colour by Numbers, in which anyone can make a phone call (If you are willing to pay a long distance call to Sweden) and change the colours on each window. Check out these beautiful pictures of the installation and watch the live video of the tower.
Call +46 (0)70 57 57 807 and follow the instructions to colour the tower. Select the floors you wish to colour using the buttons 0 to 9 on your phone. 0 is the topmost floor, and 9 the bottommost. Finish by pressing #. For example, if you want to colour the topmost four floors, you press 0123#. The colours on these floors are now controlled at the same time. Colour the selected floors. Use the number buttons on your phone to mix red, green and blue until you get the colour you want. For example: The top row of numbers controls the colour red. You get less red by holding the number 1 pressed down, and more red by holding the number 3 pressed down.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006


I am not inspired to write a long essay on the "eternal and useless discussion" about art and design. You know that for me the difference depends on which is the ultimate goal of an object: if the goal is only to communicate, then it is art. If the main goal of an object is to satisfy a specific need (other than aesthetic recreation or communicate an idea) then it is design. Joan Costa wrote a nice dialogue about it, at foro alfa.

bad grammar makes me [sic]The issue of allowing students to use "text message" language on their exams was overshadowed by the stadium discussion in NZ. I guess people are more preocupied with rugby than culture. Yes! it is a cultural issue. Language is a very important part in the intrincate construction of culture. *by the way, I was listening to Barthes lectures on semiology, and there are some interesting facts regarding how complex become the meanings on cultures that do have "genre": masculin, femenin and neutral, compared to those cultures that do not have that distinction (check out the Inagural Lecture 1977). Anyway, there are many arguments against using text language, one for instance is that there are no set rules for that manner of communication. Everyone that uses txt msg knws dat not evry1 writes u-c-ng tha same ruls or abbrviatns 4 the same words:
Which raises a serious question; Who will translate test papers written in “text-speak” for a teacher that doesn’t understand the lingo?

That means now, for a question like “Describe Pythagoras’ theorem” the answer wouldn’t be “a2 + b2 = c2,” but rather:

CU jus take the shawt sides xx2 + = big side xx2

This is a sad day indeed for the country of New Zealand, which has totally diluted its educational standards.
Internet blogger Phil Stevens was not amused by the announcement. “NZQA (New Zealand Qualifications Authority): u mst b joking,” Stevens wrote. “or r u smoking sumthg?”
So, back to art and design. I found out recently that our friend Mauricio Macedo started his blog, where you can admire some of his ceramic works, including this piece which was winner of the national ceramics price 2003. We were always amazed by his pieces... and we still use "his head" to keep our loose change coins in our living room. You can also see his extraordinary collection of dices in one of our videos.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

DaVinci code

DaVinci's bicycleThere has been dispute about the authenticity of the "supposed" Leonardo daVinci's bicycle found during restauration of the Codex Atlanticus. I also believe it is a hoax... the evidence is even clearer than the pentagon hoax. We went to see the exhibition, Like a Bikeand it was evident that it doesn't fit with other items... (kinda like the sesame street song). It looks more like the "like a bike" (via) Anyway, many visitors of this blog are looking for "bicycle design" So, here's an excellent start point: "Bicycle design blog" by James, a comprehensive blog with sketches, trends, renders, ideas, technical information and "thoughts on man's greatest invention".

Bike Furniture DesignIf your reason to look for new bicycle design is "eco-design"... you might be interested on the "afterlife" of bikes: sometimes is renewal (refubrish), reuse (same condition, other application) or recycle (change of state into something new)... That's when a product ceases to exist for it's primary intention, and becomes something else, in this case, bicyclerecycle into Bike Furniture Design (by Andy Gregg).

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Cardboard science

You know I get very impacient with handymen, technicians, and other trades people who act like replacing an o-ring on a tab it's like rocket science. I loved an advertisment for the Saab Aero-X that said: repairing a saab is not rocket science, but it's close! On a similar line of thought... Building a rocket or a space pod, it's not rocket science!... if you make them out of cardboard:
Paperpod has developed an innovative concept in creative toys & furniture for children. They have produced a range of environmentally friendly, cost effective, sturdy, and practical designs made from recycled corrugated cardboard.

From their range of chairs to the toy fort, dolls house and play house, the beauty lies in their simplicity. They are a blank canvas for children to play, create & decorate using paint, collage, pens & crayons, limited only by imagination.

Everything can be folded flat - an ideal storage solution. Use in the home, childcare setting or school to create a personal touch. Excellent for children's parties!
Other example of cardboard furniture is this collection of miniatures, which are inteded to be colored (customised) by children. There's also a real size version of the chairs... or get the Cappellini Carta lounge by Shigeru Ban at Unica Home. (via) I wouldn't recommend to let your children paint with crayons on that bench... however, using cardboard to have a canvas to let children paint their own furniture is actually a good idea.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Plagiarised pavlova

I have no idea how... (but I certainly know why) NZ won the bid to host the Rugby league in 2010 + something. No idea how, because the rugby commision still has no idea on how to raise the money necessary to build the stadiums, and they want to surprise us with extra taxes!

How can they bid to host the games (and win), when they had no development plans for the stadiums... it is until now that they realise they have to upgrade and build new stadiums, and they still have absolutely no idea how, which, how much $$$, and IF they are going to be there on time. And you thought that mexicans are disorganised!

There are several proposals for Auckland and that's the only thing we hear or see on the news lately... not only on sports news, no no, on every news!!! Anyway, some of the "last minute" plans are just awful! Not only they are plain ... they are Horrible! Stadiums are always masive, because of the nature of their use... but we know that form doesn't follow function, you can have a stadium that is nice and doesn't look like a rugby fan looked at an empty toilet paper roll and made that a stadium (I am talking about the horrible westpack trust stadium in Wellington by Warren and Mahoney).

One of the plans looks like an enormous donut... or pavlova. And it is a photocopy of the Alianz-Arena in Germany. It seems that the idea comes from the same group of architects, but I am not sure. If that were the case: Beeeeep! Wrong! Because they shouldn't sell a similar project to another client... even if it is because there is not enough time to make a new project. it would be like presenting a previously graded school paper (womework) to another teacher, just because you don't have the time to write something new... and the teacher buys it!

If... if this comes from another team of architects... well, then it is plagiarism my sirs. No need to say more about the ethical implications of that. And besides, it is horrible! it looks like a giant donut or pavlova! (Video here: wmv) (via)

In terms of composition... It should be just the oposite: because it is a giant structure, masive and generally round... the right way to go is to de-materialise the shape. There are beautiful examples of that, like the "Stade de France"... but of course a rugby fan (as some polititians too) would choose a giant pavlova... so, let's build a giant can of beer shaped hotel near the stadium!

There's also the issue that architecture cannot or should not be "transported" elsewhere. The Alianz Arena looks nice, because it is set on an open space, plenty of geen surroundings, so the white donut becomes a nice highlight. If you just copy/paste and put that in the midle of Auckland, it will be something out of context. Any architectural project has a unique setting, you cannot just move buildings arround the world... unless the project was intended to be mobile architecture. I don't think that the architects of the Alianz Arena were thinking about a franchise of Dunkin Donut's stadiums arround the world.

Last but not least... IF the money for the National Stadium is going to come out of our pockets as taxpayers... then maybe we should be entitled to shares on the profits of that stadium. Taxes are usually to pay for public services... not for financing a business. Who is going to cash all the revenue from tickets, rent, etc? Are they going to give it back to the tax payers who are going to pay for the building? Like Sandra said: in this case the matter should be going to a public referendum about the prefered venues and projects, and IF the people actually agree on paying extra taxes for that stadium.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Reality bites!

Only 2 days are left of the Tokyo design exhibition "Design Tide 2006" (via Mocoloco where you can find many pictures of the exhibition, like this modern chandelier). Also found at MoCoLoco: If you thought that Goober Brothers' let's get inventin' was a design realityTV show nightmare... check out the "made in the USA" show, where "inventors" have to create chindogus as a challenge to get a 1 year contract to make more "as seen on TV" (useless) products.


That's the American Dream, but is it still possible? It is now with Made In The USA, television's newest and most ingenious reality program where America's unknown inventors and entrepreneurs get their shot at fame and fortune... and a chance to win a one-year contract with TV shopping network HSN. From the thousands of Made In The USA hopefuls, six teams of two will be chosen to participate in a weekly competition. Over the course of the six-week series, the teams will develop their product from prototype to marketplace-ready. Each week, guest experts will be on hand to evaluate the teams as they undergo challenges and tasks designed to measure their abilities as inventors, collaborators, and marketers.

Oh, yes. The human race is in so much need of a bottle of water inside the shoulder pads of american football gear... many hungry people in Africa would be glad for that invention... it's really a "life saver". This is one for the Guiness records... and a new low for design accountability.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Well, this is 'round design's 200th post. There have been many topics in all this time, and lines, like: webdesign, software, products, architecture, semiotics, advertising, on-line games, movies, industrial design, kitsch, art ... to just simple life anecdotes. Sometimes it's just my thoughts, sometimes I write in a hurry, or post mainly links that are accumulating on my internet-bookmarks before I clean them up.

Anyway. A couple of months ago I found out about bObles on the DDC news. I was amazed by the products and we made contact immediately with Louise and Bolette. I am glad to say, that we are now selling their products. I wanted some motor developmental accessories, but I don't like the typical tumble-forms... however, the romping animals are just great! So, I really wanted to have those featured on Special Kiwis. I am really glad they accepted us to sell their products... not just the animals, but also furniture and toys. If you want some of those for an original and unique christmas gift ... just place an order with us.

We just found out that bObles won the prestigious Scandinavian design award Formidable 2006 for innovative, creative and marketable design. Congratulations to Louise and Bolette!

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