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Reading Rooms


Belgian architecture studio BC Architects has designed the first building of a new school for deaf children in Burundi, Africa. The clay colored structure was built by the firm along with community members and features local materials including rammed earth walls and baked ceiling tiles. The design borrows from indigenous building typologies and serves as both a quiet educational space and gathering place for the community. Another take on a library, The Bookmobile Project travels the United States and Canada via a vintage airstream trailer that contains 300 books you can’t get at your local library including one-of-a-kind photocopied zines and small press publications.

Image via Dezeen

Fabricating Nature


An interesting trend has been emerging in the realm of 3D printing: the desire to create or re-create nature through digital fabrication. London-based artist, Yuri Pattison, was inspired to print meteor-like objects after the Chelyabinsk meteor was spotted in the Russian sky in February 2013. Listings for fragments of the meteor on eBay drove Pattison to contemplate culture’s fetishization of the ‘original’ object and conceive of an art project that used eBay images to assemble a 3D model. The results are hunks of printed steel and silver that serve as a meditation on ‘authentic’ vs. ‘imitation.’ In Slovenia, the University of Maribor is experimenting with 3D technology to grow living vegetation in their project printGREEN. Their ‘garden printer’ is fed a mixture of soil, water, and seed and then manipulated to create a variety of shapes… that grow!

Image via Dazed Digital by Baker & Evans

Bookshelf: Innovation Reading


Last week, Innovation Excellence released their suggested innovation readings for 2014, ranging from established classics to more recent releases. The book’s subjects focus on everything from “disruptive innovation”, unleashing creativity and the importance of collaboration in innovation. Suggested titles include  Change By Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation by  Tim Brown, The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen, Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson, and his TED talk of the same title.

Everyday Objects


Two upcoming exhibits take a closer look at the objects that populate our world. Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) will present Hidden Heroes: The Genius of Everyday Things organized by the Vitra Design Museum. Opening on February 23, the show focuses its lens on the ordinary, often overlooked, objects that have become indispensable to our daily lives. The exhibit highlights four aspects of design: innovation, production, evolution, and inspiration. The Design Museum London has collaborated with renowned design duo Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby to capture the essence of objects through their display mid-manufacture. Some extravagant, others prosaic, the items including a cricket bat, coin, diamond, and banknote were all chosen due to the surprising form they take before completion. In the Making will be on display until May 4.

Image via MODA

Global & Local Innovation


Using data gathered from 2013, Cornell University, INSTEAD and WIPO recently released the Global Innovation Index. The full report is available online, with Switzerland holding the highest ranking and United States re-entering the top five this year.  An article offering a cross-country perspective about the challenges between global and local innovation, discusses the vast differences between the needs of established and emerging markets, and the theory of “reverse innovation“. (image of Global Center for Health Innovation via Ted Eytan)

Shedding Light on Global Issues

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To raise awareness of the daily challenges faced by 1.3 billion people without electricity, ‘Cut out the Darkness’ asks participants to design a lantern shade. 100 of these designs will be chosen, fabricated and delivered to non-electrified areas worldwide, as an alternative to CO2 kerosene lamps. Other socially-conscious case studies are featured on the Design for Good platform on the AIGA website, which is celebrating its 100 year anniversary this year.

Visual Messages


This January, the London College of Communication is staging an exhibition of the acclaimed poster art of Tom Eckersley entitled Tom Eckersley: Master of the Poster. Eckersley was responsible for creating the school of graphic design at the London School of Printing (LSP) and the bold colors and clean lines found in his public information posters influenced the campaigns of organizations from Guinness to the United Nations. The show displays 40 posters made between 1940 and 1980, in addition to sketches and other materials created for the LSP. Catch the show before it closes January 29.

Bookshelf: What We’re Reading


Martí Guixé unites his design background and devotion to food in his new book Transition Menu – Reviewing Creative Gastronomy. His most recent work delves into the development of food design incorporating his personal thoughts on pleasurable vs. functional cuisine, regional food culture, and plate choices. His transition menu consists of 23 elements that “define the borders of gastronomy and food design.” Disregarding taste, smell, and texture, Guixé’s focus is squarely on the ritual of consumption.

The Imaginarium


This winter, London department store Selfridges has planned a series of installations, lectures, debates, and workshops for their Festival of Imagination. The store commissioned Rem Koolhaas to design the festival’s hub, a sleek contemporary amphitheater. Meanwhile, concept stores have been transformed into “imagine shops” and avant-garde fashion designer Gareth Pugh’s MONOLITH installation takes viewers on a scintillating journey into his visual world. The immersive experience envelopes the viewer in monochromatic cityscapes, stark geometry, and ethereal sounds. Through February 22.

Image via Dezeen

Olympic Design


With the Winter Olympics fast approaching, many designers and artists are working on projects to make the games more visually engaging and inclusive. One recently-announced project is the MegaFaces Pavilion, which uses three-dimensional photo booth to scan visitor’s portraits and recreate them in a sculptural form. “The concept,” by Asif Khan “is to give everyone the opportunity to be the face of the Olympics.” And if you are looking for a retrospective on design from the games, the Olympic Museum in Switzerland has just re-opened after renovations. To celebrate, the museum commissioned a new collection of souvenirs (pictured above).

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