Expo ’11!

3 May

I’ll be in Montréal, Quebec all next week participating in an innovative program called DesignInquiry. DI describes itself as “a non-profit educational organization devoted to researching design issues in intensive team-based gatherings. An alternative to the design conference, it brings together practitioners from disparate fields to generate new work and ideas around a single topic.” The topic of this gathering is the city of Montréal itself, which is the first and only North American city to be recognized by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) as a “City of Design.” According to DesignInquiry:

From the cultural legacy of Expo 67 and the 1976 Olympics, to numerous examples of contemporary creative work including art, fashion, performing arts and architecture, Montréal is clearly a creative hotspot. Its languages, its prejudices, its line-ups, la mode: all of these elements inform Montréal’s global disposition and local temperament. So, are design qualities somehow inherent in Montréal’s topographies, its citizens, its outputs? What makes a “City of Design” more relevant or significant than any other similarly vaunted location? Are these qualities designed by designers or do they evolve out of the way people use the city? Can we identify the characteristics of the dialog between the city and its users? (Can we emphasize the dialog by adding something or taking something away?)

The notion that design practice, and the presence of designers, can alter the trajectory of a city for the better is an assumption that beseeches exploration and testing. Meeting Montréal’s flora and fauna—getting used to its habits and communicating with its inhabitants will be the core of DesignInquiry-slash-Montréal. We are there as designers, exploring this design town.

I am most excited to participate in this exploration precisely because Montréal is one of the few major North American cities I haven’t yet explored. Visiting a new metropolitan area has always been a big deal for me. Call me a dork, but I love to pour over maps (duh), written histories, and guide books before I visit a new city. I know I’ve done my research when someone on the street asks me for directions, and I can actually help them out. Yeah… ok… I’m a dork.

When I applied for this program a few months ago, my knowledge of Montréal was limited to these few subjects:

1. Expo ’67 (thanks mostly to a They Might Be Giants song)

2. The 1976 Olympics

3. My childhood neighbors, who lived there briefly after moving from Belgium

4. Poutine (knowledge of)

5. The really weird logo of the (now-defunct) Montreal Expos

6. The Canadiens (Original Six, right?)


7. Leonard Cohen. 

What will this list look like two weeks from now? The anticipation is killing me!


Selected works by John Maeda

2 May

As mentioned in Chee La’s presentation this morning. John Maeda’s site hasn’t been updated since (gasp!) 2008, but there are a lot of good ideas within–though a few no longer work. We’ll give Maeda a pass as he’s spent the last few years serving as the president of the Rhode Island School of Design.

My current favorite is the Misspeller.

Says Maeda, “I’m something of a fanatic when it comes to spelling. In recent years I wish that I didn’t have to live with this curse as it would make my life more livable.” I’ve often thought the same thing. It’s a bit of a crux sometimes.

T-minus 3 days!

2 May

Of course, you are all very aware that the Senior Exhibition reception is set to happen this Thursday, right?

{Thanks to Emilie Rand for supplying a better-quality poster image.}

Musicians are creative too.

27 Apr

As each semester draws to a close, I always enjoy seeing the posters from the music seniors. They always have good ideas. Below: it’s about the crayons–and I’m pleasantly surprised the poster is not defaced.

Our political situation in one adhesive nutshell.

26 Apr

I recently found half of a bumper sticker in the stairwell here in the Arts & Communications Center. I think it speaks volumes through its truncated form. I haven’t seen a complete version of this particular graphic, which adds to the uneasy ambiguity.

“But I just grabbed it off of Google images!”

22 Apr

Artwork by Ryan Fors (top image). The stolen image appears on the bottom.

Please read this short article from today’s Minneapolis/St. Paul StarTribune about the use & misuse of imagery taken off of the internet. It is my opinion that the current generation of students relies too much on imagery obtained on line. (See: my found imagery assignment!)

Of course, there are ways to do it correctly, and ways that are… just… stealing. I love that there is such a wealth of imagery available to use quickly and at no charge, but I’m afraid that ethical violations will cause more imagery to be marred with unsightly watermarks to prevent theft. Besides, I’d imagine that it is terribly embarrassing professionally to be identified as a copycat. Bad, bad mojo indeed.

T-minus two weeks

21 Apr

{In the meantime, I’ll work on obtaining a better-quality file of this graphic….}