An "oldie" but goodie from the fall that I meant to post a small but poignant project from the University of Washington design/build challenge. A friend of mine, Andre Taybron was on the team who made it!

"A team of architecture graduate students from the University of Washington won the 2007 Design/Build Challenge in New Orleans for an interactive, tiered structure they designed for a New Orleans park.

Entrants were given 44 hours to find a client in recovering neighborhoods of the city, determine need, propose a design, raise money, build the project and present it to the independent jury.

The UW students designed a small chest of drawers for the Freret Park, a public park in the 13th Ward of New Orleans that needed seating, according to participating student Carl von Rueden.

Called "Push/Pull," tiers slide in and out of a cedar box structure for adjustable seating. A butterfly roof also helps rainwater drain, and waters a magnolia tree, planted to provide shade. Freret Park lost most of its trees due to Hurricane Katrina, according to von Rueden."


"The Revolution will not be Designed"

what do you know. the dead has arisen.

this article was brought to my attention by someone close to me...

the author writes that the kind of progressivism that, "claims the kind of thinking that can save the world from the excesses of capitalism is one and the same as the kind that can increase profits' is naive at best" and she's right. However, she seems to be naive in her limited understanding of design, design thinking and therefore her 'critique of "design thinking" as problematic. What she's missing in her critique is an acknowledgement of the continuum of design and design thinking, as not all design is concerned with budgets and consensus or monetary value...which she thinks is a requisite for "design solutions"

the article reads, "...when it comes to the nastier socioeconomic and environmental corollaries of growth, everything is going to be just fine. No need to reevaluate or contest the road to economic development. When we run into “problems,” we’ll simply innovate our way out of them." This is oversimplication at its worst.

because taking the time to type out my reflections has become a bit cumbersome in 2007 and often thwarted my desire to post, instead of continuing my critique of this article or the phenomenon it represents, i figure i could easily just share a profoundly mutual sentiments of the response (some might say "rant")from the person who shared it with me...

Design continues to be narrowly defined as strictly a scientific,
problem-solving approach which delivers "products" influenced by market
research and user group studies, all in the name of corporate progress
that's not the design I'm talking about and interested in.

My vision of design is both inclusive and critical of the posters and
newspapers designed by:

-Emory Douglas, Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party;

-printed matter produced by tallers in post-revolution Cuba + post-colonial Latin American countries;

-Chicana rasquache aesthetics;

-post-civil rights Black aesthetic debates;

-Africanisms in American architecture and crafts;

-the formation of community design centers in 70s era U.S. Cities;

-participatory design in the Pacific Rim;

-capoeira's berimbau as both musical instrument and stealth weapon in Brazilian

-Philip Simmon's iron gates in Charleston, S.C.;

-low-rider bicycle and custom car/toy culture;

-zoot suits and pachuco aesthetics;

-graveyard decorations of the Gullah-Geechee nation;

-hair shows and braiding;

-slavery era quilting as mapmaking...the list can go on and on,

the point is that we can't allow industry to dictate what design is or isn't...we must seize definitions and reorient ourselves and others to minor/subjugated narratives of design history, theory, and practice. In the examples listed above, design is firmly rooted in and responsive to its respective social/political/cultural contexts. Design in these instances is
critical, meaningful, and transformative, and exemplifies bell hooks notion of "counter-hegemonic cultural production".

design, gets sanitized in mainstream theory and history. As
such, in discussions and societal attempts to tackle these issues, we cannot continue to ONLY regurgitate popular notions of design.

the artical sounds sarcastic when it reads "design will emerge as the most powerful corrective force. for the worlds 'messiest' issues". from where i stand, design is not trying to be a mystical cure-all outside of reality...design is integral to our everyday lives (politics included!) and always has been. once we recognize that and the POWER that design has had in shaping some of the greatest progress and worst ills the better off we'll be at incorporating design in solutions in a deep and thoughtful way. some take the view that art is not revolutionary...and i myself have struggled with this idea too when confronted with artists who's work i appreciate aesthetically but seems to be for arts sake with no critical take...but just like there is commercialized art and there is revolutionary art there is commercialized design and revolutionary design. i'm want to be a part of the latter.