communication

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Short and sweet: succinct definitions of design

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I wrote my own shortest definition of design as a personal challenge to express the term in a manner that was brief, robust and circumspect. The result (discussed elsewhere in this blog):

"Design is creation for reproduction."

Another short definition that I greatly admire was sent to me by Richard Thomas, a colleague at the Beal Institute for Strategic Creativity. Ricky said:

"Design is the process of initiating and representing relationships."

Doug Chapman, whom I know as an actor, environmentalist, former director of research at William McDonough + Partners, and graduate of the Institute without Boundaries program I directed until 2003, recently offered this very concise statement:

"Design is the line between idea and result."

In Toothpicks and Logos: Design in Everyday Life (2002, Oxford University Press), John J. Heskett highlights the multivalent senses of the word "design" by offering and analyzing a bewildering sentence:

"Design is to design a design to produce a design."

"Design," says Heskett, "has splintered into ever-greater subdivisions of practice without any overarching concept or organization, and can be appropriated by anyone."

While I don't consider this situation to be alarming, I do believe in this time of great change and great opportunity that practitioners and theorists of contemporary design will benefit by having a sense of what they have in common with those flying the same colours.

“How to Realize a Gallery Exhibition Based on Design-Oriented Content”

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I was recently contacted about the Massive Change project by Matt Garmon, a student of OCAD where I'm currently teaching design. Following are his intro letter and interview questions, along with my answers.

"Hi Greg. I am currently in Todd Falkowsky's 3rd year Thesis Prep class at Ontario College of Art & Design. I am working on a case study based on the Massive Change project and was wondering if I could interview you to gain some personal insight into the project.

Specifically, I'm using the Massive Change exhibit as a model for how to effectively organize and realize a gallery exhibition based on design-oriented content. Your expertise and personal experience with this project would definitely help me generate a content-rich study and would be greatly appreciated. Would you be available to answer the following questions?"

1) What was the biggest obstacle/hurdle that the team encountered while working on the project? How did you overcome it?

In writing, curating and designing Massive Change, the biggest challenge was the overall ambition of the project. By this I mean the implications and reach of the critical questions, the sheer number and variety of deliverables, and the magnitude of the stakes.

Metabolo Metaphors

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I thought about creating a place where I can list examples of metabolo in contemporary culture, as I encounter or think of them, and expand on them later. This post is that place.

Examples:

  • Flock - the browser I'm using right now
  • Media ecology - a young discipline pioneered by Marshall McLuhan, Neil Postman, and others
  • Rabid media attention described as a "feeding frenzy." On this note, one relative of the slain child Jon Bennet Ramsey said the media attention was "like having a wild animal attached to your face."
  • Macintosh's pulsating status light -- like a sleeping animal's breathing
  • Linkrot - apt... if not pretty
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