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Week 196

Posted by linda on October 20, 2011

As I get my weeknotes ready the espresso machine hums in the background. The printer is churning out toolkit proofs for Keela to review and Christy’s fingers are feverishly typing away on her laptop.  The weather is thankfully cooler now.  I welcome the fog since the A/C is confused and against my wishes (and relentless button pushing) pumps out heat.  As a result our contractor melted.  Sorry Tom.  I’m sure I’ll soon hear the hum of space heaters and the clicks of resetting circuit breakers.  Maybe we should have a Squiggle hoodie?  Which brings me to some cool news!

New Squiggle T’s are here!!  Check them out, orange squiggle on a navy background, looks really good.  Sizes are limited to women’s medium and x-large.  For the men we have large, x-large and a few xx-larges available. We haven’t updated the store to show the orange squiggle T or that we have the XL sizes available so please make sure to leave me a comment on your order that you want the orange squiggle and size if it’s one of the XL or XXL.

In other news, if you follow us you know we’ve been helping out with the Alan Turing documentary.  There’s been a lot of interesting events since our last mention of Turing.  Recently Warner Bros. outbid others for the rights to the script and Leonardo DiCaprio is most likely to play Alan Turing.  I’m really excited to hear this because it reminds me of another film DiCaprio acted in that increased the popularity of other documentaries *cough* Titanic *cough*.  I remember weeks after I watched the movie I sought real stories, real footage and pictures from that time. I was glued to the History channel, Discovery and even got a sneak peak at one of the largest complete hull pieces of the ship when it came through San Francisco.  Hopefully the movie will do the same for the Turing documentary.

Okay that’s it for now…time to go back to work.

Week 194

Posted by Keela on October 06, 2011

It’s Fleet Week. Probably one of my favorite weeks of the year. I am anxiously awaiting the Blue Angels to arrive in the Bay and do their “survey flight” for the weekend show. This marks the 30th anniversary of Fleet Week in San Francisco but my first here, so I am quite excited. I just hope the rain…holds…off.

Here at the studio…

The toolkit is coming along. We’ve started to pin up sections for review. If you turn a 4’ x 8’ foamcore board horizontal, you can fit about 10 11×17 sheets of paper for review. This is great for layout review, except that the benches we were setting the boards on were too low and you had to bend down to review. Not so good for the client. So, we called on our good friends at Tinkering Monkey to build us some wall rails that can hold foam core at eye level. Everything is completely customizable, the kind of wood, how many boards to hold, etc. They’re going to start building and then hopefully coming in a few weeks to install. I’m very excited, once everything is in place, we could essentially have 80 spreads to review at once, which is a lot, but not quite the entire toolkit which is currently at 130 pages (1 spread per).

The toolkit itself, which we are creating with our incubating client, explores a different approach to designing a space that looks at the entire area as a holistic system in order to take into account all the issues, transportation, community, energy, etc. I ran across this project called Making Room which deals with the family and community aspect of housing and space and how the guidelines for development of housing hasn’t really changed since post WWII, when houses were built for the nuclear family. Interestingly: did you know that per New York code, it’s illegal for 3 or more unrelated adults to live together in one place?

Other things…

We’re continuing our work to support the making of a feature film about the life of Alan Turing and his role in modern technology. This project is especially pertinent and topical today considering the news of Steve Jobs. Ben Horowitz said it nicely in an online NYT article:  “This is a tragic day for humankind. Like the loss of Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Alan Turing, Mr. Jobs will be badly missed but never replaced.” I think it’s only fitting that Steve Jobs is placed among these greats.

That’s it. Now I wait for the sonic booms.

They said so, and it was done so.

Posted by Damien on June 17, 2011

Weightshift came in on Tuesday for a working session, and by Thursday they’d transformed what you’re looking at. Yet anether great experience collaborating with them, made even sweeter by the fact that they stopped everything else to do so, for two days this week. As they sat down at the large table in Studio 6, Naz explained that they’d like to launch the new site before Scott got on a plane on Friday. Scott is off back to Chicago today, and we’ve got a shiny new site.

And yes, there are some subtle changes. In how we explain what it is we do. Now with a little more focus, and some examples to explain it, we’re able to tell the story of how we create value for our clients and their customers or stakeholders. We’re less a design firm, and more a consulting firm who uses the design process to help our clients. Think IDEO/Participle + StoneYamashita + Project M. We understand how design changes things, people, groups, systems and the way people see the world. So we embed a creative approach to helping organizations transform themselves. And much of the time we work on transforming the relationships that they have with their customers or the people they’re trying to help. The ‘trying to help’ comes from the fact that much of our work is with Foundations or Non-profits, and the relationship that they have with their grantees or communities is typically very different from how a brand interacts with a consumer.

Also new this week is that we’ve moved in a new organization we’re incubating. The non-profit is working from our studios as we help them relaunch and develop plans for the future. This is an ideal situation where we get to closely collaborate with our client as we work side-by-side with them to launch the ideas we’ve developed over the last year. We get to support them by managing the infrastructure that can get in the way of focusing on creating the successes they need to have in order to grow and create impact. And we’ll help them grow their team to ensure this can happen. So stay tuned for more, especially if you’re looking for truly exciting work in the community + city redesigning space. And yes, we will mention the company once they’ve relaunched. We don’t mean to be so vague. We just have be so.

Earlier this week, Cameron Sinclair and some of his development team from Architecture for Humanity dropped by. Cameron on an electric bicycle of course. They spent a couple hours with us going through projects and talking to us about ways we could get involved. We found many possible opportunities and we’re really looking forward to making them happen over the next few months. Sometimes it is hard not to get too excited about the fact that these kinds of people come to spend time with us to find ways to work together.

And then yesterday I had a very interesting lunch with the editor of Places Journal, on Design Observer. If you’ve not read last weeks Architect Barbie piece yet, you should do so once you’ve finished here. Places is a long-format blog that used to be a print journal founded nearly 30 years ago by faculty from MIT and Berkeley which publishes articles on contemporary architecture, landscape and urbanism, with particular emphasis on the public realm as physical place and social ideal.

Those of you that might know me personally, know that I have a fetish for printed matter, journals, magazines and books. So some of the conversation with Nancy Levinson did find its way to print versus online. I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for Design Observer and continue to be so with what Winterhouse are doing with the growing media empire. It was great to spend a little time with an architect who is helping shape the public discussion of the future of physical space in such a rich way. I’m doing everything I can to stop myself from suggesting that we resurrect the printed version of the Journal….

The week isn’t over yet, which means we definitely have to check in with the Ride Alabamboo team riding across the States. We need to ask them if Cameron Sinclair can have one of their T Shirts. He loves them. Earlier this week they were in Paris. In Arkansas that is. Check on their progress here, and if nothing else, shoot them an email of support to help them with this epic journey of theirs. We’re going to start on plans for making their arrival an event to remember.

I just got off the phone with the documentary producer Patrick Sammon, who’s put together an excellent team to tell the Alan Turing story. As a personal project, I’m trying to continue the family history of supporting Turing by helping Patrick with bringing the film to the US by raising some funds to do so and with other things. If you don’t already know, Turing was an important figure in computer history and his direct impact on saving a tremendous amount of lives during the second world War. His story is unfortunately a tragic one and this film, for the first time, tells the story of who Alan Turing was and what he did for his country and science overall. And as you can imagine, the film making process is an incredibly difficult one and so I’ll be looking for help in the future with what I’m doing. If you’re in the UK, you’ll be able to see this film on TV later this year.