Author: exploring design

Design for the Greater Good

With all the challenges that we face in the world it is always good to take some time to turn our talents to making things better. Not just for ourselves, but for everyone. While crusing around on the internet I found this posting which I thought you all would find interesting. I have included only the first part of the Design Challenge. For the rest go to the website by clicking on the link below. Canada represent!!!

Aspen Design Challenge

Faculty and students are invited to participate in the first of what promises to become one of the most prestigious annual global design events, the Aspen Design Challenge.

The Aspen Design Challenge is an annual call to students worldwide, inviting them to use their creative talents and design-driven, problem-solving skills to address international problems that are not only crucial to our survival, but also critical in today’s world—and critical to the future of the world that those students will inhabit.

The subject of each challenge will change each year, although the process will remain the same: a call goes out for faculty and students to work on addressing a global problem from July through December, with the opportunity to present the results to an international jury and a prestigious gathering of world leaders.

For more details see the AIGA’s Website with the posting.

Categories: Design in the World

New Furniture for TO

We tend to not think about the everyday items – like the newpaper box or the garbage can or city bench – but these were designed just as much as you favourite pair of jeans. On Monday the city unveiled the new look for the city furniture. They were designed by Kramer Design Associates (see their website they do some cool stuff in conjunction with Astral Media.

The new design for the street furniture is part of the Clean and Beautiful City Initiative, which will help to revitialize public space and give the city a spiffy new feel. Not to mention that some of the “old furniture” is yucky. We should see some of the new items around town over the summer and the next 20 years. I like the long term thinking. The installation of the furniture will be done in a way that increases functionality and accessibillity.

What is kind of cool about the furniture is that it is part industrial design, part graphic design, part urban design / city planning and part advertising. The more that I look around the more that it seems that design is becoming interdisciplinary – knowing one field of design is great, but knowing two or three is better.

For more info go to:

Art and Design

Valentino revealed his swansong couture collection in Paris this past week.  Haute couture week in Paris is often associated with outlandish and wild creations – and is perhaps the finest line between art and fashion.  There is a constantly shifting boundary between art and design that both artist and designers deal with on a daily basis.  This is not to say that they are the same thing, they are in fact fairly distinct from each other, but do have a tremendous influence on each other.  Design doesn’t happen in a vaccuum and designers are constantly on the hunt for something new.  Valentino, although he has signatue pieces, is constanly recreating them and adding something new.  This is part of the reason he has survived the industry for so long.  Even if you are not interested in fashion design, it can still be an inspiration to the field of design that you do work in.  Looking at the colours, lines and shapes on the runway can be inspiring to other areas of design.  After all it never hurts to think outside the box.

Categories: Fashion

Welcome to Design School (part 2 of 5)

So you are on your way to design school and about to find out just how different post secondary education is. So I have a few words of advice for you . . . as a former teacher of design students.


  1. Professors like it when you ask questions. This doesn’t mean that lectures are the perfect time to have a private conversation with your prof. More often than not your prof will appreciate your questions as it lets them know what is being understood or not understood. It also sets you apart from the class. It is never bad if a professor knows your name. General question rules – one question per lecture if, provided that the prof provides an option for it. Don’t just interrupt. In a seminar, lab or tutorial I suggest that you up the number to 3 or 4. If everyone in the room starts to role their eyes when you raise your hand, take a little question break.
  2. Don’t ever tell any of your profs that you couldn’t finish a project because you had other more important assignments due, for classes that you actually like. All teachers know that there are circumstances that will stop you from getting a project in on time. Be proactive – tell one of your profs that you have X amount of projects due and can you have a day extension. This will work better than “I just didn’t get to it”. Chances are that one prof will have some sympathy for you and give you an extra day or two.
  3. Some are going to be easy markers (new) and some are going to be tough (have heard all the stories before). No matter which one you get, understand that the grade you receive was given for a reason. You should understand why and if you don’t than you need to book an appointment to talk to you TA or Prof about the grade. Don’t be confrontational. Just go it with an open mind, and listen and apply on the next project. If you are really sure that they were not fair you talk to the prof or the dean. There is a procedure for this, make sure you know what that is. Just in general know what your rights are, you are paying good money for the education.

Profs are no mystery, they are human just like everyone else. Be nice and polite and try to do your readings at least 75% of the time. Ohh – and spellcheck and for the love of all that is holy please read your papers through for grammar.

Next Week: Welcome to Design School (part 3 of 5) Creative Block

Categories: Welcome to Design

Welcome to Design School (part 1 of 5)

So you are on your way to design school and about to find out just how different post secondary education is. So I have a few words of advice for you . . . as a former teacher of design students.


  1. Mac. Get one. I don’t say this because I love the heck out of my mac, but rather because they are the industry standard. Nothing is worse then a pc walking into a room full of macs. Either way you are going to have to learn how to use one eventually, so you might as well bite the bullet now. You will learn to love it. Trust me. (also do what you have to do to make sure that it is fully loaded with the programs you will need)
  2. Digital Camera. There will come a time when you will need a digital camera, either to document your work, or to do your school projects. Your camera phone will not do, and having your own camera will save you lab rental fees for equipment. Even if it is not the fanciest of all the cameras you will at some point be very glad that you have one. (also get a tripod with it. and perhaps a bag for the tripod)
  3. Travel mug. You are going to need coffee. I know you may not like the idea, but you are going to have late nights and days without sleep. Caffine will help you. But, you should try to be kind to the environment. This and if you are working in labs a lot they won’t let you bring the coffee close to the computers. So if it is in a travel mug and left at the front while you are working there is a great chance it will be warm when you come back to it.
  4. Cool Clothes. I know, I know . . . you already have cool clothes, but it is now time to step up your game. Now I can’t really suggest particular items, but I have always found that sweat pants with words across the butt popular (especially with matching hoodie and funky slippers). Boys – well I would avoid the above, but there are plenty of other options.
  5. Endless supply of pencils, and a sketch book. It is often important to start out by storyboarding ideas, and the aforementioned is needed for this. Get as many as you can. In different sizes and with different tips. If you don’t think that you can get a wide variety of pencils, take a trip to your local arts store and you will be amazed.

Next Week: Welcome to Design School (part 2 of 5) Professors

Categories: Welcome to Design

Movie Monsters Don’t Make Themselves Slimey

I have been watching a lot of films lately since the Toronto International Film Festival is in full force.  Although I love many films in the festival my favourite program is the Midnight Madness films.  2007 is the 20th anniversary of the program, and over the years (as programmer Colin Geddes says) we have seen some really sick and disgusting stuff.  What does all this have to do with design you may ask?  Well horror films tend to have a lot of special effects and are a great way to discuss motion graphics.

Now, the first time someone said motion graphics I was a little confused.  But a few wikipedia pages later I think I have it.  It comes in two forms a) the title sequences for films and b) the digital special effects for films.

The title sequence is our introduction into a movie – and although we may not think about it – it really sets the mood for the movie. I can still remember watching the titles for Seven transitions are slick and fun. Take a look at the opening of Casino Royale.  It sets the scene for the movie with its quirky retro feel and shadowy guns moving across the screen.

So what else have I got for you?  How about all those gapping wounds that we are used to seeing.  Most monsters now are half real and half motion graphics.  This means that often our favourite actors are running away from a creature that won’t be added until long after shooting finishes.  I for one love the things that they have done with monsters!  How can we fault a area of design that brings us Freddy Krugger and Gollum?  By using programs like Cinema 4D or 3D studio Max motion graphics designers are able to bring a directors dreams or nightmares to life on the screne.

Categories: Job of the Week

Fashion Can Be Friendly

I am the kind of girl who feels way more comfortable around my computer than around fashionable clothing.  I like to think of myself as geek chic, if you know what I mean.  But my love for html aside, there is still a warm place in my heart for cool shoes, funky jackets and vegan bags.  I like to think that I, at the very least, fit in with the crowd.  Many of my friends are way more fashion friendly than I, and they are in many ways an inspiration to my fashion sense. One such friend of mine actually has a job where she has been asked to put a dress code book together – to make sure that the staff is both suitably and fashionably dressed.  One day was dedicated just to shoes.  Jealous?  Let’s just say that a copy of that book is soon to be sitting next to my wardrobe.

Fashion is very simple in many ways, it is not always the most ornate clothing that gets the most praise.  Like any other art form clothing is a form of expression, and what we wear speaks volumes about our personality.  We rely on fashion designers to provide us with the language to visually communicate with the world around us.  In Canada we do have a good fashion design industry, but it is very different from the world of New York and Milan.  Ultimately that is something that only Canadian’s can change by supporting Canadian designers.  Of course that is just my opinion – if you want the opinion of someone who knows about fashion than you can check out Joeffer Caoc and Rosa Costanzo in the Fashion Design Dialogue at Explore Design.

(Roberta is feeling a little retro and wearing a 70’s style pink blouse with embroidering, classic cut medium blue faded jeans and the cutest wedge heal jean sneakers with embroidered flowers and sequins.  Not my best outfit, but it is a Monday)

Categories: Fashion