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Saturday, May 8, 2004

David Gresham
David Gresham, former VP of Design at Steelcase and soon to be 2004-5 Nierenberg Chair at CMU, was our final guest for Design Seminar.

The class was basically a two hour master class in industrial design, with the design of chairs and office systems as the subject matter. Some interesting takeaways:

  • Don't lose the human manipulation of forms. How much is the computer causing us to distort our work the same way the camera obscura distorted the work of the painters who used it?
  • The computer does things at odd scales. It's hard to tell perspectives and feels. Do things full scale.
  • The craft of making hasn't caught up to the computer. We need to get past the lure of the technology, its novelty, and get the computer back to a tool again.
  • It's important to set a point of view through shared images on a project. You need a point of inspiration. Art and architecture are great sources of inspiration because of the amount of abstraction.
  • Good clients make good projects.
  • The hardest part about being a designer is knowing in your heart that you've solved a problem, that you have the correct solution, then watching that solution die on the vine due to situations outside of your control.

posted at 03:24 PM in big ideas, special guest stars | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Design v. Art Direction
Jeffrey Zeldman has a blog entry about the difference between art direction and design. His distinction, combined with Stephen Hay's A List Apart article on Art Direction on the Web, is pretty interesting when you consider them through the lens of a design school like CMU's.

CMU's undergrads do some pretty unbelievable communication and industrial design work. In many cases (and certainly in mine), their raw talent and their intense training slay my rudimentary (by their standards anyway) drawing and modeling skills. Your average freshman at CMU can probably draw rings around most of the graduate students. But where the graduate students excel is in the conceptual realm. While we do learn our share of hands-on skills, where we're really pushed is in the area of thinking: for well-thought-out concepts and in abstract thinking, both about design and about different subject matters. To use Zeldman's terms, we're being trained to be art directors.

posted at 01:57 PM in cmu | comments (2) | trackback (0) | link


Jumping Barriers to Technology Adoption
I turned in my final paper for Design Seminar II: Jumping Barriers: Using Design to Aid Technology Adoption (129k pdf). It's written more for general audiences than for designers, but I think it came out pretty well. A good warm-up for writing my thesis paper next fall.

posted at 01:35 PM in papers | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


Tuesday, May 4, 2004

There's not much worse than watching your classmates each get their thesis proposals signed off, one after another, while I sit here, agonizing because I have neither a solid project nor a paper proposal that is workable. It's really disrupting this week. And it's finals week, when I can't afford to be waylaid.

posted at 10:29 PM in thesis paper, thesis project | comments (3) | trackback (0) | link


Sunday, May 2, 2004

Certificate of Non-Compliance
A certificate of non-compliance is something of an inside joke, passed down from the second-years. They are "issued" by other students to students or teams who are clearly going way overboard on an assignment. My miLife project team is about to be issued one for our final presentation for Microsoft on Wednesday. We had a photoshoot on Thursday and two filming sessions with a cameraman over the last few days, putting together a little movie and a long scenario with stills. Definitely non-compliant.

posted at 04:23 PM in projects | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


All Over But The Fireworks
Spring Semester 2004 is drawing to a close. Classes are finished and the next two weeks are filled with final presentations and the turning in of papers and posters and such. It's hard to believe a year of classwork is nearly done. Graduation for the second-years is fast approaching. New students are visiting and accepting (or declining) offers to come here next year and be the new first-years. Summer is close enough to smell.

posted at 04:07 PM in classes, student life | comments (0) | trackback (0) | link


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All straight lines circle sometimes. - The Weakerthans