Glad to see new shoots in our garden, despite being two foot under Thames water for a week.
Today we lost the beautiful European oak floorboards from downstairs. Each was torn up, then the panels and styrene were taken out to leave just the sub floor. All the nails holding the floorboards down seemed to have reacted to the water from the Thames, producing a black residue.
We’ve spent the last few days dealing with the slow approach of a swelling Thames river. Now we’re in a hotel, having evacuated ourselves this morning. I suspect by now that water will have reached our hallway, our kitchen, our living room and the rest of our ground floor. I’m glad we’re safe, warm and together, though.
2013 Maplecrest Christmas, a set on Flickr.
Just got back from another festive Christmas in Neosho, MO. Here are some shots.
Continuing my notes from the recent Research Through Design conference in Newcastle [see opening keynote]. This is the first of the sessions I attended on Day 1. Each session was held in a small room that sat about 30 people, all around a large conference table, and featured talks by 3 or 4 of the participants who had each submitted some kind of artefact to the event. Each artefact was presented, then plenty of time was left for discussion amongst the presenters and audience, not that it felt like there was a division between the two. Each session was tied thematically, with the following talks all being connected through the “Doing” of design research.
Artefacts : two glass boxes containing a number of abstract, biological, cubic forms.
Notes on Carolina’s talk:
- Manipulating biological organisms that are not found in nature.
- Self-healing concrete. Photosensitive bacteria.
- Other example design projects in the same space: Solidifying dunes, protocell architecture [armstrong], Philips bio-light.
- Possible to program biological systems. How? In what language?
- Looking at bone structure. Very specific process. Morphogenesis – series of mechanisms that describe the shape.
- Digital morphogenisis – part of computer-guided design. Geometrical instructions.
- E.g. genetic algorithms for architecture. Some relation to biology, but more through similarity of shape.
- See: "The chemical basis of morphogenisis" – Alan Turing. Chemical processes + environmental forces.
- Bio-mineralization – process through which organisms produce hard tissue, e.g. bones.
- Controlling density results in material properties including strength, finish etc.
- Avalon Shells – like bone but different structures on different layers. Hardness on the outside. Softness on the inside.
- Artefacts developed using Synth Morph – a design environment through which shape can be evolved based on cellular growth. Dictating a density pattern for the cells results in particular patterns of growth.
- Artefacts represent a catalogue of shapes based on the design language that emerged from this tool. These are Material Proxies – assemblages. E,g, In artefact 1 the attractor system is placed at the centre of the object. In the second round, 3 attractor systems are placed in the artefact. Long way to go from these early objects to the complexity of a shell.
Tim Regan | Words, Code, Dots, and Lines
Artefacts: a sketchbook, a printout of code and a whiteboard of notes.
- Depressing how design is treated in CHI.
- Tendency to "study" design.
- Artefact from the project The Future of Search.
- Show how different disciplines come together in one piece of work.
- Social science looking for "texture" – small number of people in a longitudinal study.
- Sian’s work (represented through a recreation of her whiteboard of notes) – trying to find an authentic attachment to her participants, rather than find a convenient representation. Uses space – looking for outliers etc. Not aesthetic. Looking for something that is actionable by other disciplines.
- Tim’s code. Notions of failure in different disciplines is not the same.
- Bob’s sketchbook. Very concerned with people. Jumps between high level and detail.
Janine Munslow | Inventing the Future by Examining the Past
Artefact: a green glove.
- Fashion academic at Northumbria now looking more at soft product development.
- Health and safety driven product development and certification process – e.g. baby sling.
- Up-cycling – promoting responsible design practice in the lingerie industry. Trying to change people’s view on materials for new uses.
- Swimwear project – show industry that is quite conservative new processes and old techniques.
- New technologies/new fabrics. Nano-tech etc. Quite fascinating, but construction really matters. What can you MAKE out of these new technologies. Marrying old techniques with new tech. Making a glove the way they would have in Tudor times.
- Set a brief of design for future space travel. Space gloves. Both have to be long-lived, and also part of a long journey where people will need stuff to do.
- Looking back at vintage astronaut wear they were clearly influenced by fashion of the time, not just the technology.
- Using a glove to test tailoring during the project. A Microcosm of the human body – how it bends and moves. A starting point from where new tailoring and joining tech could be applied.
- Not much information in general about gloves. So prototyped based on V&A original. Old gloves don’t have the gussets between the fingers etc. Hadn’t been invented yet. Had to experiment with pattern cutting to get it to really fit the hand. A specific hand.
- Eventually honed a pattern that helped teach how a hand works.
- Tailors and plastic surgeons DO meet because tailors have such a good understanding of how to cut for the body.
Mike Shorter | The Invite: Adding Value to Paper with Paper Electronics
Artefact: Paper invitation printed in conductive ink that links to a device for playing musically.
- Paper invented in 105AD.
- We’re born, we graduate, we die – we get a piece of paper for each. We keep on using it. Paper consumption continues to grow.
- Paper electronics – conductive inks + components. Can use traditional processes – hand painting, screen printing. Just draw a circuit diagram.
- Donald Schön, 2003. Reflective practice.
- Reflective practice is "the capacity to reflect on action so as to engage in a process of continuous learning",
- From <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reflective_practice>
- Work still feels rooted in online graphics and interfaces. Trying to find paper-equivalents of electronic things.
- 3 versions of the invitation from literal to abstract, set to challenge the visitor to think about the electronics.
- Examples of thickening from Social Science – how sometimes visiting Facebook is like glancing out of a window.
- Objects are at different scale. Harder to get an overview from the printout of the program.
- How do we make code readable by real people (Jon Rogers). Tim disagrees. Such a gulf between the way the technology works and what it does. Discussion about whether Raspberry Pi is good or not. Can visual programming languages (e.g. Max) scale to big problems.
- Is Sian a psychologist? Now much more ethnographic end of sociology.
- What was the starting material for these things? 3d Printing – powder and glue.
- Is the goal a design tool for creating objects? Changes in the microscopic level can create effects in the macroscopic. In design we have intent and have to tweak materials to get what we want. With this project the process of design is part of the material because its alive. The seed.
- Background in architecture – how do you collaborate with other disciplines. The more you get into a science the more you see the specialization. Different language between a microbiologist and a developmental biologist.
- Issues of scale. Material proxies because the things we’re looking at occur at small scales, but are being explored at larger scales.
- How does the fact that this is research change the kind of things you’re doing. Doing research makes you analyse things that you would have taken for granted. Being asked to engage in research, but we’re design practitioners.
- Aim is to do something interesting about the future, but couldn’t move on without looking at the past.
- How do the shoes you’re wearing affect the noise? The earthing process is affected by the soles.
- Is the black box necessary? Could have the electronics locally.
I’m at the very excellent Research Through Design conference up in Newcastle. Unlike many of the events I go to, this one is very focussed on the things that people design. All the speakers have had to submit an object, which they are then talking about during the sessions during the day. There have been some beautiful objects, and some great discussion.
I’m dumping my notes from the event here with very little expansion. I hope they may be useful to someone, but I suspect actually that they will be quite opaque to everyone but me. Ah well.
Day one opened with a great keynote by Rachel Wingfield from Loop.pH. She showed a LOT of cool stuff.
Loop.pH – a "spatial agency". Lots of work in an architectural context.
- Focus on “Space Crafting”
- Architectural scale textile structures.
- Lots of community work including more recently a focus on craft and farming.
At the RCA did an Mphil with Jon Rogers. Use of light in the home using printed electronics. Resulted in a number of projects, including:
Light sleeper bedding.
Digital dawn. Biomimicary. Inspired by photosynthesis:
Moving from Biomimicry to Ecomimicry. Looking to create living materials and environments.
Research fellow at Central St. Martin’s for 7 years.
Interest in “Off grid” lighting. Using textiles to create solar collectors for planting in rural communities.
Lumilace. Woven light structures.
Collaborating with the UK lace guild. Structural potential of woven materials. Inspired by gothic architecture.
Programming with "grasshopper" or "kangaroo" for coding 3D models and spaces. http://www.grasshopper3d.com/ – generative modelling tool that plugs into Rhino.
Engaging communities in a making process.
How are materials structured? At a molecular level. Fiberglass. Carbon. Created a system of short rod lengths that come together in different typologies.
Nobel Textiles project:
- CSM Textile Futures project bringing designers + Nobel prize winners together.
- Partnered with Sir John Walker – discovered rotary mechanism of ATP (a biological mechanism).
Solar Jam workshop at the ICA. Create your own solar cells from fruit which last for 10 minutes.
Homemade printable electronics.
MetaboliCity – Food growing initiative 2008.
- Trying to facilitate different people to come up with their own solutions for growing food.
Yona Friedman – "Architecture should only provide a framework, in which the inhabitants might construct their homes according to their needs and ideas, free from any paternalism by a master builder"
Kisho Kurokawa – "Our world is a process…"
Exploring the use of MetaDesign with Hannah Jones at Goldsmiths. Tools to collaborate.
Energy Futures, a series of urban interventions in Lille, France 2012
Lots more in the Loop Volume 2012 PDF.
We have a new issue of the “Things We’ve Learnt About…” magazine, a regular publication we release each issue of which summarizes the research work of the Socio-Digital Systems team around a particular theme. This one is all about “Search & Web Use” and has been primarily authored by Richard Harper and Sian Lindley, with a LOT of hard work by Nick Duffield, who did all the design work on it.
The digital version is available for free, or you can buy a printed version if you want (they’re really nicely printed, but done print-on-demand so are a little pricey – we don’t make any money from them).
This issue is a summary of the SDS “Beyond Search” theme, focussing on Sian’s “5 Web Modes”, and showcasing various projects that have come out of the work, including Seeds, Cards and our work with Aalto University on “Domesticating Search”. I’m pretty proud of this magazine series, and this is another great issue for us to give out both internally and externally, to showcase what we do.
As a reminder, there are now three issues of the magazine, on Communication, Memory and Search. All of them are available from the here.