Sunday, November 30, 2008

Final Response

            After discussing multiple types of Industrial Design in today’s society I found myself lost. Trying to connect to green design and artistic design was an obstacle for me because of my lack of interest. Even though I am extremely concerned for the well being of the environment I believe that these severe problems are meant to be solved by scientists and engineers. Industrial Designers can only help with product and packaging materials which is a less important topic when it comes to pollution. Even though I couldn’t connect to most of the subject matter that was presented in class I am interested in other aspects of design.

            When I first started Industrial design at R.I.S.D. I was intrigued in electronics design and medical design. However after a year of education and research I realized that I was a completely different designer than what I thought. Having a product that would change the way people experience life was my interest. Aspiring to have large scale ideas, I started designing and engineering types of medical equipment and generators. After entering a sustainable technology contest NASA was hosting I realized I that I would like to pursue a design and engineering path. But even though I have no engineering education I enjoy simple engineering work. Along with this different design style I am also interested in a business approach to Industrial Design. Being a designer allows us to enter any obstacle and solve it with an abstract and intellectual approach. In the business world there is a craving for designers because unlike business men, designers are not constricted by money to influence their decisions. With this entrepreneurial mindset I hope to use my R.I.S.D. education to find a way to connect all three of these different professions into one. 

            Through my blogs I tried to subtly show what kind of designer I am. There were two main themes that reoccurred through the semester. Military design and entrepreneurs were the main topic of my design assignments. Starting from the timelines there was a theme of using military power as an abstract portrayal of light, I later translated military design into a more coherent presentation. Using a ray gun to physically affect people was interesting to me due to its non lethal effects. Also using the newest technologies available, the military is able to develop any idea their engineers and designers have. Other than this vastly funded program I am also interested in today’s entrepreneurs. People such as Stephen Starr are an inspiration to me because of the self motivation and creativity they behold. Stephen Starr is a prime example that if someone has a good idea and believes in it, then it is possible to succeed in life. Now after twenty years and twelve restaurants later he is one of the leading restaurant owners in NY City. These different types design interest me because of the various possibilities that both the military and also business field can offer.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Stephen Starr : Restaurant Entrepreneur

  For more than twenty years Stephen Starr has been one of the most influential entertainment and restaurant owners in New York City and Philadelphia. Starr was only 21 years old when he opened his first restaurant in Philadelphia. With the help of his grandma he opened a restaurant named Grand City Dinner, where during the day food was served but at night was transformed into a comedy club. Comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld, Richard Belzer and Pat Benetar all began their carriers performing in the Grand City Diner. After having his first successful restaurant he decided to open a music hall named the Ripley Music Hall. Going in a different direction Starr succeeded again hosting acts such as U2, The Eurythmics, Cyndi Lauper and Bruce Springsteen. And having such success at such a young age Starr started a Concert Company but was later bought out by another Philadelphia concert company.

            Starr moved on from with major part of his life to concentrate on lounge, bar and restaurant design. Concentrating all of his time in New York City he opened numerous restaurants that brought a new vibe to the city. One of his more famous restaurants is names Morimoto which is modern Japanese cuisine. Even though the food is some of the best in the city, customers also come for another reason. The interior d├ęcor and experience is what makes the restaurant so incredible. One of it’s more impressive qualities is the concrete ceilings, looking like folded fabric the restaurant instills a modern take on a classical European atmosphere. Other than it’s ceiling the restaurant also holds some of the most modern and organic furniture available. As a whole Stephan Starr’s restaurants bring unique and high-end experience to the New York restaurant culture.

            One of the main reasons why Stephen Starr has been so successful is his approach to business. When trying to start a business, the approach to creating something is very similar to any other type of design. Finding a user group and creating an atmosphere are upon the most import aspects in starting a restaurant. Starr strategically places each one of his restaurants in an area where people would appreciate his facilities. For example one of his restaurants named Buddakan is a restaurant that serves high end Asian cuisine. Located around an Asian culture in New York, Buddakan is decorated in a modern Asian style with a beautifully chosen pallet to match the food. All of the colors in the restaurant are complemented by the food that is served. Only a designer type of mind would go into such detail to create the perfect dining and atmospheric experience that a customer could enjoy. All of Stephen Starr’s restaurants encompass all of the detailed necessities that create a popular and superb experience.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Terra Cycle

            When creators Tom Szaky and Jon Beyer were trying to create a method of growing their “special plant” in their college apartment they came up with the idea of TerraCycle. After realizing the potential of using earth worms to fertilize their plant, they came up with a concept of creating organic plant grower. It wasn’t until after three years, they received the funding and support needed to execute the concept of TerraCycle. The company promotes the green concept: TerraCycle uses all recycled parts, ranging from recycled plastic bottles to unused boxes from other companies. This simple idea of recycling and re-using wasted materials would not have been created if it weren’t for Tom Szaky.

            A Canadian college student attending Princeton, Tom dropped out of an Ivy League school to chase his dreams. Trying to find his funding through business model competitions, Tom only found fractions of what he actually needed. After finding his fame by winning a one million dollar business model competition, Tom rejected the prize because he wanted full possession over his idea. He altered his idea and realized that he had to find all of his materials for a cheap and convenient price. TerraCycle opened joint programs with elementary and middle schools around the country to collect their plastic bottles. Only having to pay five cents for every bottle bought, they could sell their organic plant grow for a larger cost.

            TerraCycle has created a revolutionary idea of taking recyclables and reusing it for their own product. Using plastic bottles from elementary and middle schools, deadly plastic bottles would not find their way to the landfills quite yet. TerraCycle would also use other companies rejected parts for their product as well. By utilizing spray bottle tops and thrown away card board boxes, TerraCycle simply had to create the liquid growing agent inside all of their premade products. TerraCyle is an innovative company that took a direct strike at the recycling problem in America and turned it into their leading green concept that helps the environment.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hippo Roller: Saving Lives

            When thinking about our day to day chores most of us have pretty easy lives. Having simple necessities such as heat, water and housing, we do not give much thought to these simple things in our lives. Unlike our nurtured lives there are some who don’t have these privileges. In Africa most of the country is living in extreme poverty. In this culture simple things such as water are extremely important in people’s daily lives. While the men do their work and provide for the village, the women have their chores as well. One of the crucial chores the women of the community have is to fetch water. For hundreds of years women would walk through dangerous areas to fetch water. After retrieving water from a filthy river, they would then have to walk back carrying a heavy amount of water. Only carrying a small, but heavy amount of water in a jar on their head, the women go through an exhausting and arduous journey back home. Since the women can only carry small amounts of water on their heads they have to do numerous trips go get a sufficient amount of water for the village. This process is extremely insufficient and harsh on the women who spend a large part of their day trying to get water for their family.
            The designers at Project H Design have studied this culture and have created a contraption that makes the women’s lives significantly easier. After redesigning the process of gathering and transporting water, the firm has positively changed the lives in 17 villages. The Hippo Roller is a large industrial size jug with a roller and metal rod attached for pulling it. Before women would carry a five gallon jug on their head to carry water, but with the Hippo Roller women can pull a twenty gallon jug back to their village. With the simple metal frame used for pulling or pushing, women spend less effort transporting water without putting strain on their body. The Hippo Roller is funded by donations of $100 for production and shipping. Project H design has provided more than 75 rollers in seventeen different areas of Africa. By donation money to the firm, more people in villages will be able to live an easier lifestyle with the help of the Hippo Roller.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ray Gun - Crowd Control

             When the Ray Gun was created by the Pentagon in 2006 the military was interested in making a non lethal crowd control machine. Being attached to a truck the Ray Gun looks nothing like an actual gun. In all actuality the Ray Gun is a large dish which can fire 100,000 watt charge half a mile at a target. The electromagnetic charge sends a painfully powerful heat wave at targets instantaneously. The Pentagon’s goal was to use this mobile unit in Iraq and other hostile areas to control people. By using the Ray Gun in Iraq the military could create a safe perimeter between soldiers and possible hostiles. If a person was persistent in moving forward while getting hit by the Ray Gun they were an obvious threat. Even though this impressive machine could help keep U.S. soldiers safe from possible threats the military is uninterested in using it. Only getting $ 13.5 million out of the defense budget the Ray Gun cannot experience field testing or further development. The military wants field testing to see if it will work so that they can fund it, but the producer needs money to develop it to proceed with field testing. This obstacle is unavoidable because of the military’s lack of interest in creating non lethal weapons.

              When Sue Payton the Pentagon’s official for the Ray Gun was introduced to the machine she was astounded. After experiencing the powerful effects of the gun she was compelled to produce the machine. However when she ran into problems with the Iraq war, the machine was put on hold. After instances of prisoners being tortured the government realized that the machine could be used as a torture device if used in access. "We have war fighters that are in harm's way and you know they don't want to kill innocent people. You pick between a bullet and a bullhorn, not a good choice." says Sue Payton. Even though the machine would be crucial in Iraq when dealing with hostile crowds of people, the machine has many flaws. One of the main problems with the Ray Gun is it’s vulnerability. This tool would be useful in non hostile areas where there is no fighting. If in the battle field the dish could easily be damaged by debris or bullets. This would be useless for the military due to the expensive and large unit that would have to be replaced. Other than in the battle field the Ray Gun would be very effective in a riot or protest situation. Being able to affect people in a more logical way the Ray Gun would help keep order and safety. The Ray Gun is so powerful that people can only take a few seconds of it’s energy because it is so painful. This painful experience can dictate people’s behavior because if they don’t cooperate with the user’s demands, then they will be shot again. Police would be able to control riots and groups of people without getting close to them or inflicting harm.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


            Going through the timelines that I created in the past few weeks I found myself in awkward spot. While the timelines should have some connection between each other, mine did not at all. Ironically two of my timelines were exact opposites. The first timeline I created was about food preservation through long term goals, while the second was using light and fire for destruction. Both of the timelines were very conceptual and had to do with the ideas rather than tangible designs. Other than my timelines, I also found myself having trouble as a designer connecting to these ideas. Furniture and abstract Design is a challenge for me because my design interests are with culinary design, electronics and engineering.
           In my first timeline about preservation I wanted to go into a direction which interested me such as the culinary arts. Everyday people consume food but most people don’t consider the history of food preservation. Up until the 1920’s food preservation was only meant to keep meat and crop good for several weeks. Generic methods such as salting meat, canning foods or freezing meat were only temporary solutions for the food preservation problems. It was not until the late 1980’s that scientists discovered how to preserve food by changing their genetic construction. Now having the power to make crops that would last longer and be stronger towards disease, the farming industry became very dependable. Genetic engineering drastically changed food preservation, but it was the Norwegian government which revolutionized food preservation by creating the Doomsday Vault. After twenty years of trying to get the Doomsday Vault funded, it now sits in the north shore of Norway near the North Pole. The creator Dr. Fowler came up with idea for the safeguard of the world crops after witnessing the dangerous climate changes. The Doomsday Vault holds every known seed and nut in world so that if the planet went into nuclear war, or Armageddon, there would be some type of way of replenishing the world of it’s precious food source. I specifically found this concept interesting because now designers are thinking about the far future instead of temporary solutions.
            Far different from my preservation timeline, my second timeline had to do with light as destruction. I recognized that this timeline was very abstract, but I was interested in showing a new perspective on light. In the beginning of mankind during the era of cave man, fire was used as a tool of survival. Using it to cook food and to fend of animals at night mankind soon became the dominant species in this primitive time. It wasn’t till 673 A.D. that the Greeks used this once savory tool for sustaining life as a weapon of mass destruction. Greek fire was used to destroy enemy ships and fortress’ with its unique attribute. The incredible property that Greek fire had was that it couldn’t be put out by water. Greek fire was unstoppable because of its advance chemical properties. For a long period time the Greeks were a superpower of the Mediterranean, but new technologies emerged creating new superpowers. In WWI and WWII fire was used in battle to change the way war was fought. In WWI the flamethrower was created by German scientists, but it wasn’t till WWII that the tool was used. American forces used the flame thrower to clear out buildings and bunkers which significantly helped save American lives. At the end of WWII American scientists created the new Greek Fire which was called napalm. A similar concept as Greek Fire, napalm was a gel based chemical that burnt for hours at a time. After WWII there was a change in the direction of using light as a weapon. In the 1980’s using light changed from being a weapon to being a tool again. Tools such as night vision for soldiers helped the military function in dark areas and nighttime. The military still unitizes this new tool to battle insurgents in Iraq and enemy soldiers. The use of light has certainly undergone many changes, from its destructive employment in war to its function as a nighttime protection.
           Unlike my timelines that are concentrated on food preservation, destruction and functional chairs I find myself very different when it comes to design. When I was younger I aspired to become an engineer, but as time went on I found more interest in design. Similar to engineering I became extremely interested in electronics and culinary design. The reason electronics appeals to and fascinates me is due to its ever changing and developing technology. Not only are electronics the future, but the design that comes along with them are modern and unique. Along with electronics I also have a strong appeal in high end cooking tools. After working for Williams-Senoma for two years I am familiar with every type of brand and tool. Companies such as Cuisinart and Braun create elegant and trustworthy products. Cooking appliances and tools in particular appeal to me because these companies are starting to go into more of a design direction. Before the turn of the century these companies created appliances that had no consideration to ergonomics or style. It has only become apparent that these companies have started going into the design course, which is why I have started having become fond of them. Other than these two different types of design I am also intrigued in new technologies and engineering. I believe that technology is the only thing that is going to be able to help the world with its economic problems. As a designer I feel compelled to work with new interesting technologies and bring a stylish and user friendly aspect to these technologies.

Friday, October 17, 2008