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My interest in Design Education has increased substantially since becoming both student and teacher at OCAD. I am interested in the way Design is changing and becoming a field that is no longer strictly about style and the creation of more ‘stuff’. I discovered a new school in Austin, Texas that is loosely based on Denmark’s KAOSPilota school for positive societal change, business creativity, and personal mastery.”  In short, a school for the 21st Century.

Austin Center for Design is the creation of Jon Kolko [Associate Creative Director at Frog Design in Austin]. He was becoming increasingly concerned with the state of Design education and concerns from previous students now disillusioned working in jobs they once dreamed about. “They’re doing the things that everyone was led to believe one does in design school, and now they’re questioning it,” he says. “They feel that they’re adding to the consumptive nature of the world.”

The core pillars of the Austin Center of Design are empathy, abductive reasoning, and rapid prototyping. Areas that were not even on the radar when I was a design student. Design Education is evolving. Finally. I see it in students that I teach, they care about how their role as future designers will affect the world, and seek ways to create positive change through their projects.

The world is changing at a rate that most institutions cannot keep up with, it is great to see people so passionate about education that they are willing to create new programs to keep up with these changes.

via: designObserver

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I am a HUGE fan of the iPhone and what it has done for technology.  One clever device with so many uses…how did we ever live without it?

And it just seems to get better. A product developed by ‘Square‘, allows payments to be immediately made through any device with an audio jack input. A fast, simple way to accept and make payments. Especially good for small businesses, fundraisers and vendors. Below is a screen shot of a receipt that is sent to your phone or email, no paper receipts!

From the Square website

“In February 2009, Jim McKelvey wasn’t able to sell a piece of his glass art because he couldn’t accept a credit card as payment. Even though a majority of payments has moved to plastic cards, accepting payments from cards is still difficult, requiring long applications, expensive hardware, and an overly complex experience. Square was born a few days later right next to the old San Francisco US Mint.

Today the Square team is focused on bringing immediacy, transparency, and approachability to the world of payments: an inherently social interaction each of us participates in daily. We’re starting with a limited beta and rolling out to everyone in early 2010.”

This video takes you through the process step by step. Have a look….

via: twitter

Polaroid film as we know it died in 2001…and then again by its successor in 2008.
Luckily the Impossible happened.

The Impossible Project started in the Netherlands in October 2008, with the hopes of saving analog instant photography from extinction. They succeeded with its [re]invention.

Their one concrete aim was…”To keep the magic of analog Instant Photography alive by producing a new Instant Film Material.”

The first black and white Instant Film – the PX 100 and PX 600 Silver Shade First Flush, was introduced this week [colour due out this summer]. The film is for an artistic niche market [formerly mass market], and the production process was scaled down to reflect this. 1 million films will be produced in 2010, to increase to 3 million by 2011. The Impossible Project carefully selected artists and photographers to give the new film a try, some of the results of the Impossible Collection can be seen here.

In the 31,536,000 seconds The Impossible Project had to re-invent Instant Photography from scratch, about 300,000,000 Polaroid cameras were saved from becoming obsolete, and Polaroid lovers are once again able to practice their art.

via: The Independent

Sitting in my *office* this morning, procrastinating on writing that 10 page paper, I discovered the ultimate time sucker!
This is a pretty amazing drawing tool developed by Dr. Doob [Ricardo Cabello], a designer and developer who has come up with a ‘procedural web based drawing tool’. So far there are 10 pens, but more may be added.

Here is a little sample of the 5 minutes I spent on it. Add a tablet and pen….a bit more time and the results could be far more impressive! Try it out for yourself here.

via: QBN

I am not a science person…that is not a surprise I am sure. But, I have to admit that being a student in such a diverse program has sparked a certain curiousity about many things that may come under this topic.

Slime Mold for one. I didn’t know anything about it before last Fridays’ Understanding Systems class. Apparently, Slime Mold is a very intelligent organism despite lacking a brain. I won’t try to describe the scientific and biological traits of the slime mold, read about it here. So, where am I going with this? Scientists recently conducted a study using slime mold to illustrate the amazing capabilities of this ‘creature’.  They re-created the patterns of cities around Tokyo, and charged slime mold to figure out the most efficient way to get around the city. They designed the subway system, and amazingly, the results were almost identical to that of the complicated system designed by a team of engineers over a significant period of time. It took slime mold 26 hours by the way to achieve the same results. Study coauthor Mark Fricker of the University of Oxford, “In contrast, the slime mold has no central brain or indeed any awareness of the overall problem it is trying to solve, but manages to produce a structure with similar properties to the real rail network.” Read More

“When presented with oat flakes arranged in the pattern of Japanese cities around Tokyo, brainless, single-celled slime molds construct networks of nutrient-channeling tubes that are strikingly similar to the layout of the Japanese rail system, researchers from Japan and England report Jan. 22 in Science. A new model based on the simple rules of the slime mold’s behavior may lead to the design of more efficient, adaptable networks, the team contends.”

This new model based on the behaviour of slime mold, may very well “lead to the design of more efficient, adaptable networks, the team contends.”

Amazing.

Science News
Wired

Images: Science/AAAS

It really has never occurred to me…even as a Designer, that the common, everyday traffic sign could and should be re-designed. This is something that the inventor Gary Lauder thought would be a good idea. He unveiled a traffic sign that instructs drivers to “take turns” at an intersection. The TED blog explains:

Half a stop and half a yield, the sign gives each driver a clear indication of how to behave. Below the red “Take Turns” shield is a small sign reading, “If Cars Are Waiting, Please Stop and Alternate.” And if there are no cars waiting, just blow on through. (No more stopping at red lights at 4am, on a country road, when there’s no one around for miles.)

It seems so much more civilized than ‘merge’…or ‘stop’…kinder even. And haven’t we been told since childhood to take turns?  We really don’t hear it so much as adults, but maybe we should.

Read more: http://www.good.is/post/a-new-traffic-sign-take-turns/#ixzz0fcZ2IUzz

I graduated from Design school way back in 1990. That’s a long time ago…fast forward 20 years, and I am back. This time studying for my Masters of Design, in an attempt to one day be in a career in a field that didn’t really exist when I was in University and College those many years ago. And wow,  have things changed….students have changed, technology has changed [we now have technology!], and courses have changed.

This video demonstrates the way in which most Universities have not progressed with these changes…I like to think that OCAD is not one of those schools. Design and Art school needs to progress with the times. Our classes are small, our teachers know our names…and we don’t sit in theatres with 100’s of nameless faces. A really interesting look at what education often looks like outside of our school.

thanks Hugo!

An inspirational call for entries video…to launch the 2nd Annual Rethink Communications $18,000 Scholarship for Langara College, and the Communication and Ideation program. Sounds like a really interesting program.

“To enter the contest, submit a black hard cover sketchbook containing interesting ideas showcasing your creativity. Winner will be selected by Rethink according to the following criteria: clarity, relevance, fresh thinking, as well as quality of ideas, craft, and execution.

Would love to hear from anyone who enters!

via: Ads of the World

Hopefully the ‘Yike Bike‘ will not go the way of the Segway.  This new mode of transportation, designed by Grant Ryan and actually inspired by The Segway and the idea that our transport system could potentially be changed by the right compact transportation device.

The Mini-Farthing was born, based on the 120 year old Penny Farthing design, the Yike Bike, is a light weight, compact electric version weighing a mere 10 kg. It can reach speeds up to 20 km/hr, there is no chain, and folds up to be carried like a briefcase.

In November, the Yike Bike was named one of Time Magazine’s top 50 inventions of the year. The Yike will be available in New Zealand, the UK and a few European countries, and will sell for under 4,000 Euros.

Check out the video to see it in action.

I was keeping up the momentum for a while…then I started school….and teaching….and working….and I still had Mom duties during all this.

During the break I plan on getting back at it, and keeping it up.  That’s the plan anyway!

I thought I would post about the Graduate program I am enrolled in having just completed my first semester. I am working towards a Masters of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation, at Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto, a 2 year program.

We are the first Cohort, a class of guinea pigs, an experiment. It’s an interesting position to be in. We are a group of extremely diverse learners – who are in a sense helping to design the program. Here is a description of the program:

MDES IN STRATEGIC FORESIGHT AND INNOVATION

“The Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation integrates knowledge and methodology from a number of disciplines: design, business, science and technology, and the social sciences. Design provides the crucial link between these areas, drawing on its essential competencies of design thinking, strategic and iterative methodology, and a deep commitment to understanding human needs, wants and behaviour. Through holistic thinking in a co-creative environment, the designer, the business person, the social scientist and the engineer will develop together the skills required for true socio-technological innovation.”

So far I love it. My brain is being stretched in ways I didn’t think was possible, the people are amazing, the classes interesting, the work challenging, and the professors inspiring.

What will I do when I finish? Not sure yet…but I do know that there are a lot of options!

@jjthinkinbig tweets