Around the Studio: Must-Reads For Citizen Designers

by Juhan Sonin

As designers, we inhabit the everyday world.

Though our visions might occupy a different realm, we live in the same orbit as those for whom we design. Innovation requires us to understand what came before us, what lies around us, and the part we play in making the world a better place.

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Topics: Design, culture of learning

A Cure, Life's Origins, & a Keyboard: Friday Links and Round Up

by Emily Twaddell

Caution: that last story has seizure-trigger potential.

The Human API

MedTech Boston recently posted an interview with Michael DePalma and Richie Etwaru, founders of The Human API. Their mission is to create a “prevention industry” with a new economic and behavioral model for health. According to the article, The Human API wants to “foster paradigm shift by instilling prevention and early identification health barometers into everyday life.” We should talk.

Why Life Exists

Business Insider this week featured a story about MIT physicist Jeremy England who has derived a mathematical formula that he asserts underlies the theory of evolution by natural selection. I particularly appreciated the explanation of thermodynamic equilibrium using the example of a room-temperature cup of coffee: it will never spontaneously reheat. That is my kind of physics.


According to John Brownlee on Fast Company’s CoDesign, “the experience of using Nintype is like playing the craziest game of Dance Dance Revolution ever at some futuristic space rave while out of your gourd on LSD-infused cotton candy.”

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Topics: Design

Design in the Details: Friday Links and Round Up

by Emily Twaddell

The turkey coma has come and gone and the trees are sporting colorful lights.

My most recent family gathering included a few of my favorite engineers, so I brought back this gem to share.

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Topics: Design, emerging technologies, creativity

Around the Studio: Around the World with Graphic Advocacy

by Emily Twaddell

“Posters are dissent made visible—they communicate, advocate, instruct, celebrate, and warn, while jarring us to action with their bold messages and striking iconography. ... Without a doubt, the poster remains the most resonant, intrinsic and enduring item in the arsenal of a contemporary graphic designer.”
Elizabeth Resnick

“Despite the fact that we’re the ‘lower’ 99 percent, we’re still the 99 percent, and acting together we can make change.” Sarah Kaiser

Nearly two years ago, we blogged about “Wake Up!” the poster created by Invo designer Sarah Kaiser and Chief Creative Director Juhan Sonin, and its inclusion in Graphic Advocacy: International Posters for the Digital Age 2001-2012” which features over 122 posters from artists in 32 countries.

Graphic Advocacy: International Posters for the Digital Age 2001–2012 comprises a significant collection of empathetic and visually compelling messages for our time. The third in a series of socio-political poster exhibitions, Graphic Advocacy has been shown in Korea, Mexico, Bolivia, and numerous galleries across the United States, and will continue to tour in 2015.

Graphic Advocacy will be on exhibition at Towson University until December 20, 2014. (Towson is a short distance from Baltimore, Maryland.) See the Schedule for upcoming showings.

Graphic Advocacy creator Elizabeth Resnick is Professor and Chair of the Graphic Design Department at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Massachusetts. She is a passionate design curator who has developed and organized design exhibitions since in 1991. In a 2013 TEDx talk, Resnick describes how her own early experiences in art school during the Vietnam War era contributed to the work she does today.

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Topics: Design, culture of learning, community

Around the Studio: Artist + Maker + Coder = Designer

by Emily Twaddell

I was all set to compose a riveting post (pun intended) about the creative work of Invo designer Sarah Kaiser, who sits next to me, makes me tea, and amazes me several times a day with her magical skills. While thinking about how to frame this little story, I did some quick research into Maker culture, which seemed to be the right context. I discovered that the theory of constructivism that I had studied so long ago in college, is a foundational value of Makers. Venturing over to Pinterest opened a whole new world of time-sink bliss with links to education, science, school libraries, learning, DIY, projects, and—yes!!—design.

But then I happened to open Facebook (note to self: no FB before homework is done). A literary academic friend had posted a link to a scathing article that very nearly burst my artisanal, plant-dyed, spun-local-organic cane sugar balloon: Keywords for the Age of Austerity 12: DIY (Do It Your [Damn] Self). Here I sat in my cozy little home studio, surrounded by my craft library and supplies (yes, some rescued from the trash) and read this political rant against an admittedly appalling suggestion that poor residents of government housing learn to make their own repairs. It was the trashing of middle-class do-it-yourselfers (hey, that’s me!), along with the reference to “the apolitical hubris that ... fatally compromise[d] the Arts and Crafts and 60s ‘maker’ movements” that bothered me. Yes, I understood his points about lack of significant economic reforms in the context of those historical movements. And that the DIY trends of the 1950s and 60s and even now were and are heavily gender-biased. In my childhood years it was my oldest brother who subscribed to Popular Mechanics and built Healthkit radio sets. He once bottled his own root beer and we spent summer nights listening to the caps blow off the bottles in the basement. My mom made many of my clothes and I was sewing by the time I was 8 or so, we made grape jelly and pie from scratch and never used gravy from a can or a bottle. My dad, a doctor, wasn’t “handy” but, when my sister tore her ACL in a childhood fall, he splinted her leg with cedar shakes and sanitary pads wrapped with Ace™ bandages.

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Topics: Design, Blog

Apple’s Healthbook is visionary—and parochial

by Emily Twaddell

Dirk Knemeyer has a few questions about Apple's ideas for a mobile medical solution.

This coming June, Apple is expected to announce their “Healthbook” app. In a bold expansion on the concepts of Involution’s hGraph app, Apple is attempting not only to federate all of a user’s important, top-level health and wellness data but also to synchronize with hardware devices that do everything from analyze blood to count steps to monitor heart rate.

Mockup of Healthbook screen published to Behance this past February.

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Topics: Design, apple, hGraph, Healthcare, infovis, software design, Blog, Healthbook, mobile