Environmental Graphics

Turning Names into Visual Art

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Donor recognition walls are a common feature of museums, schools, public parks, and other places that are made possible by generous benefactors. Unfortunately, most donor displays look like boring lobby directories that list columns of names with no thought to aesthetics. So, it is always refreshing to see a donor wall that can be appreciated as a unique piece of decorative art.

C&G Partners created this stunning installation for Advisory Board Company, a Washington D.C.- based research, technology, and consulting firm focused on health care and educational institutions. Asked by the Advisory Board to come up with a way to showcase the names of its member clients, C&G created an installation out of thousands of slender, translucent rods, each engraved with a single member name filled in silver. A single silver set screw affixed each rod to one of hundreds of numbered wire strands, which were strung together to form a luminous curved, floor-to-ceiling curtain. The installation in the Advisory Board’s member collaboration space in Washington D.C. creates an aura that is elegant, ethereal, and dynamic. The design offers the flexibility of adding more member names in the future while maintaining the sculptural quality of the display. C&G also assisted those who want to find their names by incorporating a touchscreen directory that accesses a database of member names, quickly matching them to the numbered wires.
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Retail Displays

Lee Broom’s Salone del Automobile

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Food trucks and pop-up stores are proliferating all over the world, but this is the first time we have heard of a mobile lighting showroom. Created by British designer Lee Broom, the Salone del Automobile is located in a moving van that stops in key urban design districts between London and Milan. From the outside, the vehicle looks like an ordinary delivery van, but when the back door is open, it looks like an elegant Italian palazzo with Corinthian columns and decorative stucco details. The interior is painted a subtle gray with an illuminated floor for effect. It provides the perfect background for Broom’s new lighting collection Optical. The idea of a traveling showroom has many appealing, cost-effective advantages. It literally places itself directly in the path of target customers, can quickly relocate to other promising geographic markets, and limits security risks by offering the ability to park the “shop” in a garage.
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Technology

How Much Space Do We Really Need?

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A team at the Harvard Innovation Lab undertook a project to reveal how desktops have evolved since the first personal computer appeared 35 years ago. Photographed by dougthomsen.tv and engineered by anton georgiev, the video version below shows how office necessities (e.g., Rolodex, reference books, hand-held calculators) have gone from the actual to the virtual, from physical objects to digital apps. The video, as seen on Designboom.com, is a fascinating look at how technology has transformed office tasks. It also suggests that offices of the future should be redesigned accordingly. Corporations once filled vast high rises with thousands of employees, hundreds of file cabinets and office equipment, and rows of clerical help to handle all kinds of paperwork. Today “offices” are essentially portable. Workers don’t have to be tethered to their desks. They can stuff their laptop and mobile phone in their backpacks and set up shop anywhere. So, what is the purpose of gathering employees into a single workspace? What kind of furniture and equipment will make workers more productive and more collaborative? With so many documents stored in the clouds instead of in metal file cabinets, can the physical office layout be sized to take up less square footage? It’s time to occupy no more space than we really need.

For the original, click to the producers, Bestreviews.com.

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Interviews

Business Strategy Behind Newell Rubbermaid’s New Design Center

Newell Rubbermaid’s new Design Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan, marks a monumental shift in the company’s design thinking and practices. This consolidation of design functions in a single location addresses how design in the 21st century has become a team activity that pulls in disciplines beyond design.

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In 2012, after Newell Rubbermaid adopted its Growth Game Plan strategy focused on four winning capabilities, including design and R&D, it brought in acclaimed designer Chuck Jones as its first Chief Design and Research & Development Officer to make the company more agile and responsive to consumers through design. Jones’ reputation preceded him, having successfully built global design and development teams that boosted sales and won awards for innovation at companies including Whirlpool and Xerox. Here, Jones talks about how Newell Rubbermaid is creating a brand-and-innovation-led company that is famous for design and product performance.
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Industrial Design

VW’s Transparent Factory

VW’s Phaeton transparent factory in the heart of downtown Dresden runs counter to the traditional impressions of a car assembly plant. Instead of blue-collar workers, there are white-gloved technicians. Instead of deafening noises, there is the hushed atmosphere of a research lab. The floors are lovely Canadian maple, and the walls are clear glass, which is why a loudspeaker outside imitates territorial bird sounds to keep birds from flying into the glass. There are no smokestacks, shrill sounds or noxious fumes. The grungier stamping, welding and painting of steel bodies take place elsewhere. VW’s transparent factory, designed by architect Gunter Henn and opened in 2002, showcases the final assembly of the luxury Phaeton sedan. Futuristic, exacting, open, and pristine, the Dresden facility is as much a marketing device as a working production plant, drawing thousands of visitors for tours each year. This video is from Megaworld Germany.

Interior Architecture

Technology and Art Converge in Las Vegas

In a town known for its over-the-top decor, the new $3.9 billion Cosmopolitan Hotel, which opened on the Las Vegas Strip in December 2010, is a show-stopper from the moment you walk into the main lobby. Designed by Digital Kitchen, the interior of the resort greets guests with a dazzling electronic art installation. Digital images dance up and down towering illuminated columns, dreamlike and surreal. Technology is integrated seamlessly into the design, offering the flexibility to change and refresh the texture, character and mood of the interior from a central control. It’s entertainment. It’s art. It’s a respite from the slots and roulette table.

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Interior Architecture

Lego of My Boardroom!

When Boys and Girls, a new Irish ad agency, acquired space in a Georgian office building in Dublin, it wanted to dispel the look of a stuffy law firm, but didn’t want the décor to appear juvenile either. A Dublin-based architectural firm called abgc took up the challenge by painting everything white, and then building a 4 foot x 9 foot rectangular boardroom table out of 22,742 pieces of Lego bricks, covered with glass, and surrounded by clear acrylic chairs. The effect is sophisticated yet playful, and completely reusable. If the ad agency gets bored with how the table looks, they can always pull the blocks apart and build something else.

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Interior Architecture

Innovative Solutions for Flexible Spaces

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Molo Design is tearing down rigid beliefs about what walls should be. The Vancouver, Canada-based creative firm , founded by architects Stephanie Forsythe and Todd MacAllen, has come up with an innovative family of soft architectural products made from paper and non-woven textiles. The core of molo’s collection is softwall and softblock, a modular space shaping system that allows users to form a wall or partition off an area without need of nails or construction tools. Like party decorations made out of honeycombed crepe paper, molo softwalls are based on a honeycomb cellular structure that can be expanded or compressed at will.

“When we originally designed softwall, we were looking into a solution for making homes smaller and flexible,” explains MacAllen. “The idea was that a home could consist of one main space that could be divided into smaller, more intimate spaces when required.” The pair began experimenting with lots of small paper models and discovered that the structure of honeycomb itself gives paper amazing strength that could be scaled up to large sizes.

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