These are photos from Lextant during the World Usability Day Columbus event back on Nov 11: http://www.lextant.com/insights/read/world_usability_day_columbus/ … Chris Rockwell, the principal at Lextant, talked about the future of usability while Doug Brown talked about multivariate testing.

3 years ago

[Journal #8] Legal

Currently there are very limited design patent and trade dress laws that designers can use to protect their creations and that’s why knockoffs and fakes have always been common in the fashion industry.  Both this article and the one here (http://www.lexisnexis.com/Community/copyright-trademarklaw/blogs/fashionindustrylaw/archive/2010/08/25/the-innovative-design-protection-and-piracy-prevention-act-fashion-industry-friend-or-faux.aspx) discuss the introduction of fashion design (apparel, footwear, headgear and eyewear) copyright protection bill into Congress back in August 2010.  Previously, the Design Piracy Prohibition Act (DPPA), was written up and offered as a way to give copyright protection to fashion designers for a three year period reliant on registration.  Despite the backing from famous designers and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), the bill did not even reach a point where it could be voted on.  The main opposition was the footwear industry’s American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) which believed such a bill could never been effectively enforced.  Thus, the new version called the Innovative Design Protection and Piracy Prevention Act (IDPPPA), represents a compromise between the CFDA and AAFA by eliminating the registration aspect and putting most of the burden of proof on the designer before even getting to trail.

3 years ago 1 note

[Journal #7] Technology: What Drives Design?

I recently picked up a book (from the owner of my local bike shop oddly enough) called Code Name Ginger by Steven Kemper, which documents the story of Dean Kamen’s Segway.  Even though I’ve just started this book, it has got me thinking about the question of what drives design? The most obvious, and perhaps academically correct answer, at least from the industrial design point of view, would be “needs”.  For example the OXO grips came out of a need for kitchen utensils that were easy to grip (or specifically, easier for people with arthritis to grip).  I do however think there are other things that can drive design besides user needs.  Although I can see “wants” and “problems” as very similar to “needs”, I they are slightly different ways to begin looking at design issues.  While “needs” and “problems” often focus on the functional and practical, “wants” more closely reflects the aesthetics of a design and emotional reaction to a design.  In the case of the Segway, “technology” was clearly what fueled its design process.  It was Kamen’s development and combination of gyroscopic sensors into a coherent system that made the Segway possible.  Without it, no amount of (industrial/product) designing could have reproduced anything similar.  To me, this makes certain aspects of design (product design specifically) dependent on technological breakthroughs and innovations.  And in an extension, design also relies heavily on engineering.  I’ve always been bothered by ID’s real (and maybe partially imagined/misunderstood) dependence on engineering.  But the more I think about it, ID/design sort of continues on where engineering stops.  So while engineering and technology allow the primary function and purpose of the Segway to be realized, ID makes it attractive, intuitive, and usable to the consumer public (somewhat on a tangent, but I also am beginning to see ID’s importance in beyond the physical and practical but into the cognitive/emotional impact side of designing a product, something engineering/technology does not address). Looking at another article I read through on TIME magazine’s website talking about the top 50 inventions of 2010: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/completelist/0,29569,2029497,00.html, I’m amazed by the door technology has opened up for us.  Where ID fits in the development of these engineering wonders, is making them understandable to everyone.

3 years ago

Patrick Jouin on Reconciling Functionality With Aesthetics

3 years ago

[Journal #6] Environment

The New York Times has several interesting blogs that don’t seem to get too much attention (like the Freakonomics blog: http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/).  One in particular, the Green blog, talks about topics dealing with energy and the environment.  What interested me the most were some of the posts about LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, tagged LEED on nytimes), which is a green building certification system awarded to those who meet certain environmentally sound metric like energy and water efficiency, low CO2 emissions, high indoor air quality, etc.  More recently there has been a rethinking of how the US’s Green Building Council awards LEED credits for the use of wood products.  On one side are the timber producers represented by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative who are complaining about the amount of work needed to get even one LEED credit, while on the other side environmental groups represented by the Forest Stewardship Council think that the new LEED standards for wood products are being diluted for the benefit of big business.  Scot Horst, the senior vice president for LEED at the Green Building Council, hopes that criticism from both sides means the new LEED standards strike just the right balance.

3 years ago

[Journal #5] Accessibility (Part 2)

When I read through this list of up-and-coming startups what caught my attention was how many of them addressed issues of accessibility.  Spotify has attempted to bring a subscription-based model of music listening in a way that takes advantage of the huge accessibility of a huge centralized music collection.  The non-profit organization Medicine in Need (MEND) comes up with innovative medical solutions, licenses it’s idea to companies, which in turn sell it at a low-cost to those in need.  The royalties then go back to MEND to develop more of their ideas.  They are making life-saving products more accessible to the poor.  There are other examples listed in the article but one of the big common themes that many of them share is the idea of how more than ever, the internet and digital world are allowing people around the world to gain access to resources they would otherwise be shut out from.

3 years ago

[Journal #5] Accessibility

This past week’s topic was accessibility.  The most salient image that comes to mind when it comes to accessibility, at least for me, is that of a wheelchair-bound individual using a ramp to get into a building or minilift to get onto a bus.  These all are very purposeful designs that someone (or more likely a team) came up with.  On the other hand, often times designs have unintended uses.  This recent New York Times article talks about how the iPad has allowed certain individuals with limited motor functions to gain access to a whole new world when traditional ways of digital/computer interactions have failed (cost and ease of use seem to be the biggest hurdles).  I think the beauty with the iPad in this particular situation is the ease of use where a kid can almost intuitively communicate (be it with the iPad or people) through simple touch.  There really is very little to no setup required and interestingly enough, this is an example of how designing for the masses helps those with particular needs (as opposed to what we talked about it class about how designing for a particular group of people with certain needs can help create a product that becomes better for the rest of the population).  Still, there are limitations to the current iPad technology and not all kids like Owen have as easy of a time using the iPad.

3 years ago

I just stumbled upon this interesting site which provides a brief glimpse into the thoughts on user experience of 20 OSU graduate students including several of my design teachers.  It looks like Brian Stone, one of the design profs here at OSU, is in charge of this project.

3 years ago

The Toxic Side of Being, Literally, Green

So in my Intro to Design class (DESIGN 200) we’re reading Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, and our journal assignment for this week deals with color.  I found this interesting New York Times article that talks about how green as a color, is not the best representation of the environmentally responsible and sustainable green movement (or green design in the case of designers) it is supposed to represent.  Braungart, a chemist himself says in the article, “The color green can never be green, because of the way it is made. It’s impossible to dye plastic green or to print green ink on paper without contaminating them.”  In fact, there are quite a few toxic substances needed to be used in order to print green on paper and plastic.  The history of this particular pigment in art and manufacturing throughout the years has also been complicated by problems of safety and longevity.  This article makes me think of what it really means when someone (or I) claim to use green design practices and what the color represents beyond the somewhat superficial associations with nature, recycling, and the environment.

Sidenote: Greenwashing means making fake environmental claims.

3 years ago 1 note

COLOURlovers is a Web 2.0 community that focuses on an area of design that does not get too much attention: color (at least from the ID point of view … I’m sure visual communications/graphic design puts a lot more focus on it in print and website layouts).  There are several interesting resources that COLOURlovers provides (both free and at cost).  Color palettes and trends are perhaps the most accessible and widely used tools which give users inspiration and ideas for their own work.  These color palettes are created and submitted by users and voted up (“loved”) or followed by the users themselves.  There are also a number of channels (business, craft, fashion, home, print, etc) that further divide the palettes into more manageable genres.   On the other hand, color trends take websites, interiors, street fashions, etc, and catalogue them into a color palette. 

3 years ago