Play this Game to Come Up with New Ideas

Shimpei Takahashi is a Japanese toy designer, which some of you may heard of because of the toy that he developed which is basically bubble wrap that you can pop over and over again.  In this Ted talk, Takahashi shares his story of when he first began designing for his company.  He came to his boss with many new ideas every day, but his boss responded with asking him how the market trends data supported these ideas.  Takahashi had not been looking at data, so he began analyzing the data, and found that this method of designing squashed his creativity.  So after struggling with this and going nowhere, Takahashi began playing games such as Shiritori, which is a word game, where you shuffle through many words, with the next word starting with the first letter of the last letter of the previous word, such as cat-time-exit-trombone, etc.  By going through so many different, seemingly random processes, your brain is able to make connections and combine new ideas that you may not have thought of before.  Then, when you come up with so many ideas at a time, surely one is going to hit the mark of the target you are aiming for.

If I play this game with the Eagle Library to come up with concepts, it might look something like this…I know from our mind-breaking sessions with clients that Community was a huge theme throughout many of our conversations.  The game of Shiritori might look a little something like this then:

Community-yoga-apple-everyone-energy-youth-Hercules-snow-water-racetrack-king-graffiti.  This might lead to an idea for using graffiti throughout the library as a way of signage and connection and building community.

Takahashi, S. (Director) (2013, May 1). Play this Game to Come Up with Original Ideas. Ted Talk. Lecture conducted from TedxTokyo, Tokyo.

Liteon Eco Leaf

The Liteon Eco Leaf is an up and coming window blind.  The Eco Leaf is designed to mitigate intense direct sun traveling through a window, provide adequate ventilation, as well as store energy to use for gentle lighting when the sun goes down.  The fabric has integrated solar cells that recharge in sunlight, then release the light later in the day.  The product is meant to imitate leaves, absorbing energy, providing shade, allowing for soft light as well as ventilation.

This product boasts of keying in on three items: having a low carbon life, being seamless and simple in design, and also incorporating smart technology.  The window blind has low energy consumption, and clearly uses passive technology to store energy.  Liteon also controls the amount of sunlight coming through the window, allowing for shade as well as ambient light.  Eco Leaf includes smart controls in an inconspicuous display at the bottom, allowing time, weather, etc to be displayed.  The product is also easily stored and maintained.

The entire piece is assembled on a railing, with a pull mechanism to raise and lower the blind.  Then the product is created in layers, with a translucent fabric made of polyester filament as the first layer, followed by a hybrid display (e-ink in the daytime, and oled at nightime).  Finally there is a sheet of solar cells and a backing of translucent fabric again enclosing the piece.  A battery cell exists in the rod to store energy.

Seth, R. (2011, November 15). Liteon Eco Leaf. Retrieved April 13, 2015, from

Why Biomimicry Will Shape the Future of Design

This is astounding.  I have heard of bio-mimicry before in our second year studio with Professor Katrina, but until now I guess I have sort of taken it for granted.  I assigned it to aesthetics and buildings only, without letting it expand to where it truly fits: everywhere.  In this talk, Jay Harman, President and CEO of Pax Scientific, starts off by giving several examples of elements found in nature that can impact our own products, or the way that we design buildings or pharmaceuticals, etc.  One particularly fascinating chemical that exists in nature is hippopotamus sweat.  It is a natural sun-block.  It is waterproof, spreads on it’s own, and of course effectively blocks UV radiation.  Companies are currently testing and engineering hippopotamus sweat to be used in human sunscreen to create a more effective radiation blocking cream.  Why has this not been done before? In a sense, it is so simple.  This knowledge has existed around us for hundreds, thousands of years.  It works for our animal and plant friends, so why can it not work for us?  Another pattern that Harman mentions is the vortex, a geometry found nearly everywhere in nature, the weather, our ears, seashells, and even a human skin pore.  He notes that there are no straight lines in nature, yet we use nearly only straight lines in our architecture and designs.

We think as humans, that by going in a straight line, we are using the least amount of energy.  Pax Scientific essentially “froze” a whirlpool and created a miniscule component to place in a massive tank of water, that processed and cleaned the water to make it potable and reduce energy consumption by about 80% as well.  This component is now in application all over the world, and works in every installation.  Apparently, copying nature actually works.

My one concern, particularly with chemicals is the question of whether or not something that works for a hippopotamus can work for us?  Will we have adverse reactions? How much of an adaption do we have to make before our creations are basically synthetic?

Harman, J. (2015, February 9). Why Biomimicry Will Shape the Future of Design. Retrieved April 6, 2015, from

How to Master Your Next Meeting

The article, “How to Master Your Next Meeting,” by Ross McCammon provides practical advice on how to make the most of meeting time.  Most people greatly dislike meetings, and it is no wonder, as usually next to nothing gets resolved, people are confused, and often the conversation is sidetracked and takes a jaunt down the rabbit hole.  McCammon offers several glimpses of wisdom into this event.

The first topic that is covered consists of knowing what people want.  People desire for their expectations for the meeting to be met, and people wish to feel that their presence is crucial.  In order to accomplish and make decisions in a meeting, having an agenda and following it is key.  Not only does an agenda help the attendee to know what will be going on and how much longer the meeting will go, but it also provides an excellent reference to stay on track.  Also, the other component to addressing what people want is to make them feel necessary.  No one wants to waste time at a meeting that they do not need to be at.  Therefore, make the topic relevant to everyone, and be attentive to make eye contact with everyone involved.

The next aspect to cover is how to actually deliver the message.  Treat the information you are delivering as a speech.  Speeches are organized, easy to follow, and to the point.  That is how the information in a meeting should be delivered.  Say what you are going to talk about, talk about it, and then state the main deal again to bring everything full circle.  Keep it short and sweet and stay on schedule.  Usually there will be interruptions throughout, but it is completely fine to ignore those altogether and acknowledge the interruptions when you are done.

There are also some ideal conditions to help a meeting be productive and successful.  First of all, start at an earlier time, then people are not already worn out by a long day.  Next, have meetings in a smaller room rather than a larger one.  Attention is more called for in an intimate space.  Also, have fewer people.  Fewer people makes it easier to move forward and avoid distractions.  Keep a room warmer rather than cooler.  It is easier to concentrate.  Allow for natural light as opposed to artificial light.  Be quiet and attentive when you are listening to the speaker.

McCammon, R. (2015, March 3). How to Master Your Next Meeting. Retrieved March 30, 2015, from

Coin Check

There is an architecture and design podcast that I have been listening to recently (yes, they also have full transcripts posted on their website) called 99% Invisible that I highly recommend everyone to listen to and check out.  This podcast out of San Francisco is produced by a man named Roman Mars, with the help of various NPR associates and reporters.  Roman’s background and education is in Architecture, making him a suitable host for a podcast such as this.  What I like about this podcast is that it is not explicitly architectural.  Every podcast relates back to architecture or design in general, but maybe in a less conventionally way.  The show has really pushed me to see design in literally everything around us, and has put me in a state of awe in regards to how the world is organized around us, whether that be specific works of architecture, or music, or other parts of design.  Is that not what design is about?  Organizing, making sense of, improving, and beautifying the world around us?

The podcast that I listened to this week, or rather one out of the many that I have been binge listening to, is titled Coin Check.  It discusses the use of Challenge Coins within the military.  These exist throughout all branches of the military, but are used in various ways and take on various aesthetic forms.  The producers remember a story of when they attended a conference, and ended up getting into a long in-depth conversation with a high-ranking officer.  As they parted ways, the officer handed them a coin.  This led to the birth of this story.

Apparently, these coins serve a variety of purposes.  They are used to show gratitude or affection in an environment where emotion or displays of affection are counter-cultural.  Often-times they will be received and given as a form of friendship and well-being, or as thanks for a job well done.  They are also commonly used in a drinking game.  This drinking game occurs when someone takes his challenge coin, and taps it on the bar or table, loudly calling out coin check.  Everyone who knows what is going on will then take out their coin and do the exact same thing.  The hope is that someone does not have their coin on them, and then has to buy a round of drinks for everyone involved.  If everyone does have their coin, the initiator has to pay for a round of drinks.  The rules vary from place to place and branch to branch as well.

The interesting part about these coins is, though they are prevalent throughout all branches of the military, they are not official.  There is no budget for them, no rules, no regulations, which for a culture that is used to rules and regulations, and control, this is a nice breath of freedom and identity.  There are literally hundreds of different types of coins and looks, each individualized to a specific group, branch, unit, etc.  They also vary by rank, further allowing for identity and ownership to be built into the coin.  Coins are usually designed in powerpoint, then sent off to the people who produce them, where the design submitted by the soldiers is put into more complex software, such as Adobe Photoshop, and then produced and delivered to it’s owners, to be circulated throughout more ranks, branches, and units.

Mars, R. (2015, March 10). Coin Check. Retrieved March 24, 2015, from

What’s the Forecast?

Gensler’s 2015 Design Forecast paints an exciting future for architects and designers.  A number of trends have been identified that cross into many different realms for design and areas of interest.  These trends include topics such as urbanization, workplace, technology, resilience, development, and globalization.

Urbanization: 21st Century cities so to speak, where space will be more impactful, affordable, efficient.  This will be a huge move in urban development suited to the lifestyles of the 21st Century user.

Workplace: This involves a shift in thinking of what work is or how we do work as social media and other business-related networks draw to the forefront.  Changes in workplace will deal with how teams connect, office real estate and how space lends to new patterns and communication.

Technology: Technology continues to leap ahead, as technology becomes more integrated, beyond just the appearance of gadgets, but how they affect and transform daily life.

Resilience: Strength and perseverance against problems and difficulties, from wetlands to watersheds, to cities, and arid climates, resilience is key to a high quality of life.

Development: Mixed Use appears in two forms, high-density ultra-urban and lower density outlets detached from a central “downtown” area.  The first is served by easy-access transit, and bustling with activity, while the latter is similar, but with a lower level of population.  This strategy provides interest by promoting difference.

Globalization: This consists of demographics, both in the United States and around the World.  Globalization is understanding who the target audience is, and who will be spending the money on design.

This Forecast not only defines major trends within the industry, but also lays out various arenas in which these trends are occurring.  A few of the ones that I found interesting include: consumer products, real estate owners & managers, and education and culture.

Consumer Products: For Consumer Products the focus is the brand, and exuding the brand that they produce.  However, a change in thought is occurring, shifting the focus of the brand to the lifestyles of their consumer’s and how their product adds to that person’s lifestyle.  Therefore, their space emanates or builds off of the habits and aspects of the consumer.

Real Estate Owners & Managers: The key for this branch is keeping life relevant.  Owners and Managers must maximize and diversify the space they have to make it appealing to future tenants.  Oftentimes this means renovating existing space, and these people are willing to do such.

Education & Culture: Everyone is striving to maximize or better use their real estate.  This means taking the goals and focus of education, learning throughout a life-time, and pushing it further.  Most of the time this means making learning easy or accessible, allowing people easier access to buildings and environments that are flexible and engaging.

Overall, this article addresses a myriad of arenas that design effects, and how those will be changing in the near future.  Recent experiences have led me to become interested in the areas that appealed to me, and I find the trends and some of the solutions I have seen to problems addressed or user desires is rather interesting.  In regards to consumer products, I have seen many companies tailor their spaces to help influence what they design.  For instance, REI, their brand is strong and highly fits with the outdoor theme of the products they sell.  Living in the city, I see mixed use all of the time, and it is still strange to me to see in one high-rise building the street-level populated by convenience stores, outlet shops, boutiques, and restaurants, while the rest of the building is full of office space, gyms, apartments, and movie theaters.  It is vital for consumers to be near to the spaces that supply what they need to live life, and therefore key for realtors and managers to maximize the use of their space and make it appealing to the users.  Finally, Humphries Poli, the firm that I work at specializes in education and cultural centers, especially libraries.  Their solution to the new generation often involves more participation than the traditional education system or library.  Most of the space in their libraries are now occupied by active learning environments or “MakerSpaces” such as music production, 3D printing, sewing, art classrooms, digital rooms, and recording studios.  The scene of design is changing and connections are growing, providing room for design to make an impact on the future of the way we live life.

Gensler. (2015, March 1). Design Forecast 2015: Top Trends Shaping Design. Design Forecast: 2015, 1-38.




Fitting to the T

The article “Fitting to the T,”  gives beneficial and insightful advice to not only designers, but any professional.  The author describes what is called the “T” employee.  This is a person who has a lot of depth and knowledge in one particular area, but also has skills and interests that can translate across a variety of fields.  In this case the employee is an IT worker, where they may be very good at mobile applications, but also know about IT security, data analysis, programming, etc.

A lot of big-name people were just such “T” workers, Leonardo daVinci, Benjamin Franklin, and Sir Isaac Newton.  They had a rich background in various disciplines, art, science, etc, but expanded that to cross many subjects and ultimately make a significant difference in the world.  Other more modern people mentioned in the article include Steve Jobs and Martha Stewart.  Again, not geniuses in one aspect of their particular market, but those whose interests and ideals spread across many other avenues.  The key to all these people, they let their curiosity push them past one specific box and were able to apply their area of expertise to other topics.

Overall, the best advice Carol Howard and Greg Chansler give to all young professionals is in whatever field you are in, never stop learning.

Howard, C., & Chansler, G. (2015, February 9). Fitting to the T. Retrieved March 3, 2015, from