Work Worth Doing

Now House

Work Worth Doing is an interdisciplinary design studio working to understand the intersection of design, society, and the environment. They’ve been working on retrofitting wartime homes with sustainable design and technologies, getting them down to zero energy use through affordable practices. This model would be a no-brainer for any city, but particular Windsor, which has a huge number of neighbourhoods scattered with wartime bungalows. It’s also similar to the Green Corridor’s Ecohouse initiative, which is still underway.

Oh, and by the way, this is happening in Windsor.

The Windsor Essex Community Housing Corporation has 125 wartime homes in their portfolio of social housing. The Now House Project team is working with Windsor Essex CHC to design the retrofit of five houses in their portfolio to net zero energy use and greatly reduced operating costs. The houses would serve as demonstrations for the possible retrofit of the other wartime homes in the portfolio. Work Worth Doing is the head consultant on this project in Windsor, which will also involve St. Clair College students, and maybe also University of Windsor students.

Redesigning Fences

Thinking about the many ways to work with fences, given that we seem to continually insist of putting them up, I found a couple examples lately of artists and designers working to interweave new patterns into chain link fence.

lace fence' by joep & jeroen verhoeven van demakersvan

“Lace Fence” by Joep & Jeroen Verhoeven van Demakersvan

"L'Univers", 2007 by Nicolas Milhé.

“L’Univers”, 2007 by Nicolas Milhé.

a strategy not fully exploited

A Windsor strategy not fully exploited. Inserting vertical (or horizontal for that matter) strips of plastic of material into a fence could allow other patterns to emerge.

[via DesignBoom & vvork]


COLAB is based out of Syracuse and is an interdisciplinary program that works in design, art, policy, etc towards real solutions

COLAB is an interdisciplinary program run out of Syracuse University that pushes students to learn how to approach problems collaboratively and share multiple perspectives while working toward creative solutions. Their website is still coming together, the few posts on there are mostly videos / slideshows showing students working on various projects, but it looks like some really interesting things could come out of it.

The thing that caught my eye was this charrette competition, which partnered students from various disciplines over a weekend to come up with ideas and visions for the revitalization of a core downtown area. The competition was sponsored by the Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, and some students will stay on with the Chamber to continue in the planning of moving forward with some of the proposed changes.

Not that I necessarily want to get into this discussion, but I might bring up the University of Windsor‘s logo at this point. Rumours put the price tag of this gem at around $1 million (which I’m sure includes the surrounding “branding” program). The majority of reactions to the logo, as I’ve heard them, begs the question—why not engage students in the design process, or ask them to design it, period? Why wouldn’t this University (or even the city) ask for students to contribute on a regular basis to (at the very least) reimagining, well, everything? How is anything in this city going to be pushed forward if planning is continually done behind closed doors, without the input of the real stakeholders? For now, it likely won’t. 

At any rate, it’s alright that no one is asking, because in reality this just gives us more to work with.

Incomplete Manifesto For Growth

Bruce Mau, Massive Change

Bruce Mau is a Canadian industrial designer, whose book, Massive Change, is beautifully designed and has been continually holding my interest since the summer. I came across a link to his Incomplete Manifesto For Growth, and found it very fitting (for the most part) in thinking about BCL.

Here’s a few highlights…

Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.

Collaborate. The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.

Don’t enter awards competitions. Just don’t. It’s not good for you. (ha)

Take field trips. The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.

Power to the people. Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.

Check out the whole list, it’s a quick read.

Design by Sound

Sound Chair by Matthew Plummer Fernandez

Sound/Chair by Matthew Plummer Fernandez was the result of testing 719 sounds to see which one produced the best physical object. Using 3D visualization software he wrote, Plummer Fernandez graphs the sound on a volume/time/frequency plot, thereby realizing “the beautiful and unexplored aesthetic of sound […] a landscape of spikes and shapes that vary accordingly to the type of sound.”

Plummer Fernandez is a Royal College of Art (soon to be graduate?) and designer based in London, though I find many of his “self-initiated” projects most interesting—The Sound of Light (“A casing is made for a flourescent tube light by recording and graphing 1 second of the ‘hum’ sound produced by the light”) and Sound Tagging (“Most large buildings have distinct auditory signatures as a result of vibrations generated by traffic, underground, and wind that resonate through the solid structures”)—remind me of what I love about sound.

Jessica Banks and Ayah Bdeir: Open Source Snobs

Short video from a talk by Jessica Banks & Ayah Bdeir from the MIND08 Symposium (part of the Design and the Elastic Mind exhibit at MOMA and co-presented by SEED Magazine). Both Banks and Bdeir are former MIT students and research fellows at Eyebeam’s R&D Open Lab. They talk about the concept of opensource  design, and what it could mean for both designers and end-users. Over the 16 minutes, they briefly go over some history of opensource software, their ideas and products (which are pretty incredible), and the potential for the future to be patent-free.

Bright Idea Shade

Bright Idea Shade from Michael Mandiberg on Vimeo.

The Bright Idea Shade from Eyebeam OpenLab’s Sustainable Action Group is a simply designed kit-assembly lampshade for compact fluorescent bulbs, which some people won’t change over to due to their harsh light or swirly design. The shade itself is made from a number of laser-cut pieces of heat-resistant photo diffuser material, each of which is identical, meaning the product itself could be easily manufactured and sold at big chain stores everywhere. Oh, and that’s their goal. The interesting thinking behind it is to make the design with a very open, Creative Commons Attribution license attached, so it can be “stolen” and recreated anywhere by anyone.

(Also, that video is a very, very good example of documenting a project.)