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Week 19

Posted by Jonathan on July 15, 2011

We’ve just installed new high speed internet next-door, as well as increased our bandwidth in the main studio. This also applies to our daily mental capacity. I’m thinking we need to do that with human resources as well, and it just so happens that Central will be growing soon! There is so much going on here, that I’m forgetting to eat.

The studio is in hyper-focus mode with the Exchange Project, which seems like 5 projects in one. We’ve been doing tons of research; scouring academic journals and historical texts, as well as dipping into the ethnographic side of the design process through some field-research trips. Of particular note, from the design side of things, is Robert Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style. I read this front to back when I was in School at RISD, but felt compelled to read through it again. It’s proved most useful for weighing the past few years of professional design work, with more empirical and research based principles for design and typography. It feels great to look at type as a science and craft again.

In contrast, we’ve been doing a lot of research on product design, where designing emotion and experience have proved once again to be as important as designing the product itself. Don Norman speaks to this in his Ted Talk, 3 Ways Good Design Makes You Happy. What’s been especially exciting, is orchestrating all of these principles into design guidelines for our project. We’ve been taking on the monumental, yet very necessary task of pulling data from the best minds in typography, educational design, structured writing, cognitive theory, industrial design, and visual composition – and weighing it against (or using it in compliment to) user driven field studies and personal experience – to create the best designed result.

Almost a thousand sticky notes and an equal number of pages later, we are almost there. I think Keela either has secret powers for staying impeccably organized and on top of things, or isn’t sleeping.

Our research also led us to Alan Turing, who has been called the father of modern computer science. His story is an incredible one to say the least. Check out the trailer for a new film that will be launching later this fall here.

We’ve also been visited by an old friend, the Future Fish Project. And a new friend, John Bielenberg, who helped to start Common with Alex Bogusky, stopped by for a great discussion on bicycles and the SoCap conference, where Damien has accepted an invitation to be a panelist. We’re thrilled about this.

Damien also finished writing his article for Print Magazine, but is still writing … something, which just made me look at the mess of notes on my desk that I have to clean. He was extraordinarily generous and surprised me on Wednesday with a limited silkscreen print, Rise for Japan, hand signed by the designer, Milton Glaser. Thanks, D.

Speaking of Japan, I’ve taken on the responsibility of Creative Directing a class called Design for Social Innovation, at Musashino Art University, in Tokyo. The students are working to develop a collaborative idea generating web platform, to help with the ongoing recovery efforts in Japan. Something like Open Ideo. Although it has fallen out of the news here in the US, there is still so much work to be done. The class is hyper-smart and very talented. If you’re wondering how this actually works, we use facebook as a progress and communication tool, dropbox to exchange files, and skype video calls. Technology is amazing when used in this way.

What a week. I’m going to see Harry Potter. In IMAX.