Tectonic Shift – RE-considering Landscape Architecture

The High Line, Manhattan.

By tackling some of the most daunting problems of the city, landscape architects are rising to new prominence.

PARTICIPANTS: Jill Desimini is an assistant professor in landscape architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She was previously a senior associate at Stoss in Boston. David Gamble AIA, AICP is an architect and urban designer and the principal ofGamble Associates in Boston. Shauna Gillies-Smith ASLA is a landscape architect and the principal of Ground in Somerville, Massachusetts. Wendi Goldsmith is the founder and CEO of Bioengineering Group in Salem, Massachusetts. She is a certified professional geologist with additional degrees in ecological landscape design and plant and soil science. Elizabeth Padjen FAIA is the editor of ArchitectureBostonLaura Solano ASLA is a landscape architect and a principal of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Book Review: Small Scale: Creative Solutions for Better City Living

Posted by Min Li Chan on polis
Keith Moskow and Robert Linn
Princeton Architectural Press (2010)
Fellow Polis blogger, Melissa Garcia Lamarca, and I recently hunkered down with Moskow and Linn’s sojourn into small-scale urban interventions by architects for “making life better for city dwellers” around the world (as the authors describe in the book’s introduction). Paul Goldberger, in his recent New Yorker piece on Frank Gehry’s new residential tower at 8 Spruce Street in Brooklyn, observed that:

For the past half century, there have been two ways to build an apartment building in New York: an architect’s way or a developer’s way.

In reviewing the genuinely creative, fascinating projects put forth in “Small Scale,” we wondered aloud if the criteria and measures of success used by the authors was too steeped in the architect’s way, leaving us with lingering questions on the projects’ process and true impact, particularly with our respective backgrounds in urban politics/development and technology/ethnography. One may argue that the architect’s way lives too much in the world of Utopian ideas (while the developer’s way is largely pragmatic, functional, at the risk of being overly utilitarian).
Still, the format appears to repudiate that of an architectural coffee table book and warrants thoughtful debate. Thus, we’ve taken a slightly unorthodox approach to this book review by presenting it in the experimental form of a free-flow conversation, conducted via online chat between New York and San Francisco. With fond apologies for any errors of web-speak that are to follow, Continue reading

User-Led Innovation Can’t Create Breakthroughs; Just Ask Apple and Ikea

While we need designers and why design is a city and a brands most valuable asset,  the idea that it is the designer or architect’s role to originate “brilliant” designs from scratch is a paradigm that’s time is past – it leads us down the path of the “Starchitect” and icons of design which destroy the fabric of the city. While user-led innovation is a non-sequitur, in depth knowledge of that user arising both from understanding and involvement with the end user, e.g. IDEO’s Human-Centered Design Toolkit developed for user participation by IDEO for the Bill and Melida Gates Foundations work in disadvanted communities- it purpose is ” to help international staff and volunteers understand a community’s needs in new ways, find innovative solutions to meet those needs, and deliver solutions with financial sustainability in mind. ” This arose form IDEO’s interface design process which has been used by Apple inthe past to make more user friendly designs.

So here is Jens Martin Skibsted view posted from Fast Company.

Written by Jens Martin Skibsted and Rasmus Bech Hansen

Companies should lead their users, not the other way around.

The user is king. It’s a phrase that’s repeated over and over again as a mantra: Companies must become user-centric. But there’s a problem: It doesn’t work. Here’s the truth: Great brands lead users, not the other way around.

The Apple and IKEA way

Take Apple. One evening, well into the night, we asked some of our friends on the Apple design team about their view of user-centric design. Their answer? “It’s all bullshit and hot air created to sell consulting projects and to give insecure managers a false sense of security. At Apple, we don’t waste our time asking users, we build our brand through creating great products we believe people will love.”

Another hyper-growth brand, IKEA, has the same belief. One of us had the privilege of working closely with IKEA’s global brand and design leaders; at IKEA the unspoken philosophy is: “We show people the way.” IKEA designers don’t use user studies or user insights to create their products. When I asked them why, they said “We tried and it didn’t work.”

Of course, neither Apple nor IKEA will say this publicly since they are both extremely closed companies and would risk offending users (and the design community) by speaking out against user-centeredness.

And since no one will speak up, the false value of the user-as-leader has spread.

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Design Indaba 14: An insiders view from Cape Town

What did you think of the recent Design Indaba  Expo , some of my fellow  illustration course  students at Ruth Prowse Art School thought it had lost its “DESIGN” label to a mish-mash of crafts and others thought it was great to see what new talents young designers were bringing to the party – here is an insiders view from one of the invited guests:design report from Cape Town by Jens Martin Skibsted posted on domus magazines website:

Danish designer Jens Martin Skibsted is invited to the premier African design conference and takes us along for a tour

Yves Béhar originally introduced me to Design Indaba and Ravi Naidoo, its founder and curator extraordinaire. Yves simply labels Design Indaba as “the best design conference.” Now, years later, I am here in person to confirm.

What does it take to be labeled “world’s best?” What kind of creature is Design Indaba really, superlatives aside. Even now in its teenage years, it is definitively a new and different breed.

The scale of the venue is obviously nowhere near Milan’s all-dominant Salone de Mobile, but you do get a vibrant buzz throughout the city and the feel that the Capetonians are massively behind the Design Indaba initiative—and let’s be frank, Milan’s weather does not compare to Cape Town’s. The Cape is just one of those exquisite destinations. The format of the conference itself is that of TED—back in the Monterey days. I had actually met with Chee Pearlman, Tim Brown and Melanie Griffith last TED to discuss how to reintroduce the D (for Design) in TED. The Design Indaba approach of covering a vast spectrum of design visions is an answer to that. The whole conference could very well be merged with TED’s program—with a little extra time policing.

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Design Indaba 2011 – Cape Town – Sold Out

The coolest design event in South AfricaDesign Indaba 2011 takes place at the at the Cape Town Convention Centre and includes the Design Indaba Conference and Young Designers Simulcast from 23 to 25 February, and Design Indaba Expo from 25 to 27 February.

But there are still seats available for simulcast in Cape Town and Johannesburgt and the really cool expo you can visit from 25 -27 February and  lank events and interesting side shows, some of which I will be posting info over the next few days as well as featuring some of the cool people that are speaking

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