April 9, 2018

Removing road signs in busiest areas of cities ?

Some cities in Europe are undergoing a fascinating transformation: they're getting rid of all of their road signs. That's thanks to a design concept called "shared space," where urban planners drastically lessen the presence of traffic lights, signs, and barriers, encouraging all forms of transportation to share the road.

There's evidence that drivers often totally ignore road signs, so the heightened risk forces commuters to remain on high alert as they pass through an intersection, in theory leading to safer travel. But by stripping cities of their traditional traffic control systems, they leave disabled residents in the dark -- and that's sparked a powerful debate of how to balance ease of movement with all residents' needs.

Compare to woonerf.

April 1, 2018


Visual-artist-turned-UX/UI-designer is an increasingly common career trajectory. We'll explore why this trend is happening, and examine how artistic practice involves stewardship of data sets. Whether you're an artist who'd like to pivot into UX/UI, a leader or recruiter in search of fresh approaches to product thinking, or a UXer who wants to think more like an artist in your day-to-day work, you'll come away with practical suggestions you can put into practice as soon as you'd like.

December 6, 2017

Dezeen on design

Dezeen is the best new find in 2017 design reading.

October 30, 2017

Citibike angels program is pure arbitrage

Bike Angels forCitiBike NYC bike share.

August 26, 2017

LGA thinks of users

CEO of LaGuardia Gateway Partners Stewart Steeves ' 80-person staff works out of offices above Terminal B. "There's a lot of focus on infrastructure," said Steeves. "We're doing $100 million a month in construction, and we have a whole team of people and spend a lot of time on that, for sure. But it's also the little things."

That includes restrooms, which are the biggest determinant of passenger satisfaction, he said. "Are the stalls large enough so you can wheel in your suitcase and still close the door? How do you manage the sink and such so you don't get a big splash zone--or do you even need a counter when no one puts anything down on it anyway because its soaking wet? How do you design it so it can be cleaned more easily? Mirrors, more hooks, paper towels versus blow dryers..." reeled off Steeves. "We spend a lot of time thinking about stuff like that."

July 3, 2017

McMansions became the ultimate symbol of living beyond one's means. Unlike your standard mansion, McMansions aren't just large -- they are tackily so. Looming over too-small lots, these cookie-cutter houses are often decked out with ersatz details, like ch

McMansions became the ultimate symbol of living beyond one's means. Unlike your standard mansion, McMansions aren't just large -- they are tackily so. Looming over too-small lots, these cookie-cutter houses are often decked out with ersatz details, like chandeliers and foam-filled columns. While their features mean they can command a decent price, many of these houses are shoddily built.

Since a "McMansion" is in the eye of the beholder, Zillow doesn't have a targeted way of tracking them nationwide. For this article and the video above, they approximated the category by focusing on houses built after 1980 that were greater than 3,000 square feet but less than 5,000 square feet. They also looked for houses located on streets where the homes are similarly sized, on similarly sized lots, and built within six years of each other, to isolate cookie-cutter communities.

A culture of house flipping helped to quantify certain home improvements, like the addition of colossal marble islands and palatial foyers designed to grab the attention of buyers. That gave these houses even more of a cookie-cutter feel.

Architecture critic Kate Wagner has dedicated her website, McMansion Hell, to explaining why these houses rub people the wrong way.

July 1, 2017

BMW vs Honda: Rear, humpback battle 4 of 4

BMW 640i xdrive GrandTurismo vs Honda Civic hatachback


  • bmw640ixGT_rear.jpg


  • June 30, 2017

    BMW vs Honda: Side, humpback battle 3 of 4

    BMW 640i xdrive GrandTurismo vs Honda Civic hatachback

  • Side



  • June 28, 2017

    BMW vs Honda: Front, humpback battle 2 of 4

    BMW 640i xdrive GrandTurismo vs Honda Civic hatachback

  • Front


  • June 26, 2017

    BMW vs Honda: humpback battle 1 of 4

    BMW 640i xdrive GrandTurismo vs Honda Civic hatachback

    Ghosts of the Saab wagonback return.

    BMW vs Honda: Front, humpback battle 2 of 4
    BMW vs Honda: Side, humpback battle 3 of 4
    BMW vs Honda: Rear, humpback battle 4 of 4

    June 10, 2017

    Walt Mossberg created a much different approach to product reviews

    As a product designer, it was frustrating to see a product reviewed and rated based on the number of features it had, even when many of those features would never be used. And I saw how the magazines had influenced the design of new products. Design engineers and marketing people would tend to pile on feature after feature without much thought to usability. That made products take longer to design, harder to use and less reliable.

    In 1991, Walt Mossberg created a much different approach to product reviews that not only made it easier to assess a new product but also changed how products would be designed.

    Continue reading "Walt Mossberg created a much different approach to product reviews" »

    January 24, 2017

    Soo Kyung Bae's thigh gap

    Definition: "thigh gap" is ideal, a desired defined gap between the upper thighs when standing with your feet together.

    National University of Singapore design student Soo Kyung Bae Thigh Gap Jewellery probes and mocks this trend.thigh-gap-jewellery-soo-kyung-bae_dezeen_936_1.jpg

    January 23, 2017

    Seatpost suspension: suspend the person, not the vehicle

    Ride Body Float and Cane Creek Thudbuster.

    Cane Creek review.

    August 18, 2016

    NY Times' interactive 2016 us elections primary calendar and results

    Fun while it lasted: NY Times' 2016 elections primary calendar and results, with delegate counts.

    July 10, 2016

    Autodesign, 1980 - 2010, four-door fastback 'coupe'

    BMW will sell you an X6 "coupe" which, properly speaking, should be called the X6-11 because it looks exactly like a Citation X-11 with the nose from a Pontiac Grand Am welded on as an afterthought.

    In retrospect, it's fairly obvious why somebody would trade in a '79 Granada for an '84 Accord: You got twice the gas mileage and more than twice the longevity at virtually no cost in usable interior room. That's a practical, sensible decision.

    It's not nearly as easy to understand why someone would trade a 2011 Accord for a 2016 Pilot or CR-V. There's a substantial price penalty to be paid for the "upgrade" to a crossover or SUV. Fuel economy suffers. Tires and brakes wear out quicker and cost more to replace. The handling of any lifted vehicle is always much, much worse than that of the car from which it's derived. Look at it this way: If you knew with absolute certainty that your morning commute tomorrow would feature a flatbed losing its cargo on the road ahead of you, scattering cars and trucks in every which direction while you tried to steer and brake your way to safety, would you rather be driving a Camry or a Highlander? A BMW 530i or a BMW X5? A Porsche Cayman, or a Cayenne?

    To choose a crossover instead of a car is to willingly give back virtually all of the advances that American buyers gained when they went from Granadas to Accords. And what do you get in return? It can't be that customers demand all-wheel-drive; that was offered in everything from the Camry to the Tempo back in the Nineties and very few people stepped up to pay the extra money. Most of the "SUVs" I see on the freeway nowadays have an empty hole where the (optional) rear differential would go anyway.

    -- Jack Baruth has won races on four different kinds of bicycles and in seven different kinds of cars. Everything he writes should probably come with a trigger warning.

    July 4, 2016

    New nerd glasses ? Low Bridge fit by Warby Parker

    Warby Parker's Low Bridge.

    Fit for everyone's eyes.

    May 30, 2016

    Business attire

    "There's a strain of thought that says an employee represents a company, and thus dress is not about personal expression, but company expression," Professor Scafidi said. "But there's a counterargument that believes because we identify so much with our careers, we should be able to be ourselves at work."

    And that has led to all sorts of complications. One person's "appropriate" can easily be another's "disgraceful," and words like "professional," when used to describe dress requirements, can seem so vague as to be almost meaningless. Kanye West wearing ripped jeans and a jeweled Balmain jacket at the Met Gala: cool or rude? Julia Roberts at the premiere of "Money Monster" at Cannes this year in bare feet: red carpet pioneer or a step too far?

    May 7, 2016

    Khole branding deep think

    Khole has deep think abound branding and trends.

    May 2, 2016

    Whimsy of graphic designers -- an esthetic ?

    You describe yourself as a design troublemaker, and I actually think most designers are troublemakers. But what does that mean to you? Why do you describe yourself that way?

    I like to describe myself that way, especially in the context of Cards Against Humanity, because we are a silly brand. Our visual aesthetic is very pared down. It's a Swiss design dungeon, as we call it, of black-and-white Helvetica.

    But because Cards Against Humanity itself is a humor product, it gives us license to do very unexpected things. So in my job I'm basically creating assets for pranks. In my year at Cards, we purchased a castle, and I got to create a website that allows people to issue ridiculous decrees, because 150,000 people get to be king of this castle in Ireland for three minutes online. I got to create a food truck for the Penny Arcade Expo--it's a big game convention that happens every year in Seattle--we made popsicles that had Cards Against Humanity cards frozen inside the popsicle; you had to eat it and then you got this sticky, messy pack of cards inside.

    -- Amy Nicole Schwartz, Cards Against Humanity and Blackbox

    Continue reading "Whimsy of graphic designers -- an esthetic ?" »

    March 21, 2016

    The panelaks of Bratislava

    The panelaks of Bratislava, Slovakia's capital on the Danube, will never make the list. The term, though, is potent. And the sight is a marvel -- assuming, under the category of the marvelous, that you count, as I do, the existence of the largest concentration of graceless concrete high-rise housing units ever to stomp across the landscape of a Central Europe country formerly under Communist control.

    January 9, 2016

    KonMari: Philosophy of household goods at rest or in service

    Discard everything that does not "spark joy," after thanking the objects that are getting the heave-ho for their service; and do not buy organizing equipment -- your home already has all the storage you need.

    She proposes a similarly agreeable technique for hanging clothing. Hang up anything that looks happier hung up, and arrange like with like, working from left to right, with dark, heavy clothing on the left: "Clothes, like people, can relax more freely when in the company of others who are very similar in type, and therefore organizing them by category helps them feel more comfortable and secure."

    Smaller, English-only under-titles:

    Such anthropomorphism and nondualism, so familiar in Japanese culture, as Leonard Koren, a design theorist who has written extensively on Japanese aesthetics, told me recently, was an epiphany to this Westerner. In Japan, a hyper-awareness, even reverence, for objects is a rational response to geography, said Mr. Koren, who spent 10 years there and is the author of "Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers."

    Continue reading "KonMari: Philosophy of household goods at rest or in service" »

    January 5, 2016

    Jane Chu Illustrations

    chuillustrations.tumblr; at Society6, with Korean-influenced design esthetic.


    December 12, 2015

    48 movements for fitness and health

    Animated illustrations of 48 movements for fitness and health.


    Clicks on mobile ads: accidental, when attempting to close the ad

    Clicks on mobile ads: accidental, when attempting to close the ad

    Mike Pilawski, vice president for product at Vungle, which builds and serves mobile video ads, says some advertisers ask Vungle to make the whole screen clickable at the end of the ad -- not just the X or other specific buttons -- which would make the ad difficult to close. He says Vungle refuses to do that, but it does design ads with X buttons in the top left instead of the usual top right. The switch confounds some users, though he insists that is not the intent.

    August 15, 2015

    Benefits of silence are off the books

    An airport lounge once felt rich with possibilities for spontaneous encounters. Even if we did not converse, our attention was free to alight upon one another and linger, or not. We encountered another person, even if in silence. Such encounters are always ambiguous, and their need for interpretation gives rise to a train of imaginings, often erotic. This is what makes cities exciting.

    The benefits of silence are off the books. They are not measured in the gross domestic product, yet the availability of silence surely contributes to creativity and innovation. They do not show up explicitly in social statistics such as level of educational achievement, yet one consumes a great deal of silence in the course of becoming educated.

    -- The cost of paying attention by Matthew Crawford.

    Continue reading "Benefits of silence are off the books" »

    May 20, 2015

    "published" or "distributed" ?

    Ms. Monroe certainly loved the camera and was known to pore carefully over portrait proof sheets. But one cannot imagine her indulging, as Ms. West did recently, in a 445-page book consisting entirely of selfies and distributed (I wouldn't go so far as to call it "published") by Rizzoli.

    This book, titled "Selfish," has been heralded as "riveting" by Laura Bennett at Slate; Jerry Saltz of New York magazine compared it with apparent sincerity to Karl Ove Knausgaard's "My Struggle."

    With all due respect to such critics, this is poppycock.

    "Selfish" may as well be called "Surface." Like Madonna's "Sex" more than 20 years ago, which came quaintly wrapped in Mylar (and at least featured someone who went through the motions of dancing, singing and acting rather than just posing), it is a feat of packaging and persistence, nothing more. It does not so much suggest Venus as Narcissus, drowning in his Photo Stream. And it is about as engrossing, and as meritorious, as the accountant's spreadsheet it is enriching.

    May 7, 2015


    S&C New York's recent success with Hangul Typography Exhibition at the Art Directors Club last November has achieved international fame and a documentary film that features S&C New York's activities.

    [다큐 공감] 뉴욕, 독도 그리고 "너 빼고 다 아는" from Stigma and Cognition on Vimeo.


    August 17, 2014

    Flusty vs public space

    Flusty believes the income inequality plaguing many American cities today is a direct result of decades of disciplinary architecture and interdictory space. By separating various economic classes in space, he says, cities and designers are both sustaining and enhancing a certain social order. A far better approach to designing public places would be creating the sort of open, democratic spaces envisioned by urbanist William Whyte in the 20th century. "Once you've got eyes on the plaza and eyes on the street and people interacting, these other sorts of threats are minimized by that," says Flusty. "That's a far more proactive and pleasant way to go about handling it."

    "One thing that I think is universal about this design, no matter where you go in the world, is it has the effect of separating majorities of the population from relatively small affluent elite minorities of the population," Steven Flusty, who documented interdictory space in Los Angeles in the 1990s, tells Co.Design. "You can't have anything like a just or equitable society unless it includes spatiality."

    Continue reading "Flusty vs public space" »

    July 28, 2014

    Walkers sugar

    "Mommy makes mean art," was the judgment that the artist's daughter, Octavia, delivered 12 years ago, when she was 4, and that gets pretty close to the truth. Awarding Ms. Walker a $190,000 "genius" grant in 1997, the MacArthur Foundation noted that Ms. Walker's images explored the "vestiges of sexual, physical, and racial exploitation" handed down by slavery. She has portrayed sex of every conceivable kind between master and mistress and slave; her panoramic views of the antebellum south include scenes of defecation, amputation, emasculation and decapitation. Violent, yes, but Ms. Walker also sees an absurdist side to the gore in her work.

    July 16, 2014

    sans-serif Neue Haas Grotesk

    Progenitor of the beloved Helvetica font, and thus the culprit responsible for weird iterations of memes - Mike Parker - died last Sunday at the ripe old age of 85. He has been described as "the font god," which to be fair, is probably an accurate description for the guy who helped bring Helvetica to the world. However, he is also credited with the development of over 1,100 typefaces.

    Parker was around through it all, having been born in London in 1929

    Continue reading "sans-serif Neue Haas Grotesk" »

    July 6, 2014

    fixed-width monospace fonts

    Why Do Programmers Use Courier Typeface?

    Courier is just one of many monospace fonts. They are also called fixed-width fonts. Consolas is the default font in Visual Studio, and there are even better fonts for programmers.

    We like fonts where:

    0 cannot be confused with O
    Punctuation characters like "," are bigger because they are far more important in programming than in daily use
    Brackets are distinct
    "1," "I," "l," and "|" cannot be confused (that is 1, i, L, and the pipe sign)
    This leads to fewer bugs. Mistyping "," as "." will often break your code and at least lead to unexpected behavior. The same is true for ":" versus ";" and so on.

    Slate explainer rides on Quora.

    April 12, 2014

    Pantone skin color

    Pantone's color spectrum of human skin tones.

    December 31, 2013

    1. Learn empathy, 2. Ask people at Palo Alto coffee shops to get a sense for what they might need, 3. Profit !!!

    In his final quarter at the, Mr. Kothari enrolled in Launchpad, a class that asks students to sign a pledge agreeing to introduce a product or service in 10 weeks.

    Mr. Akshay Kothari Kothari and his partner, Ankit Gupta, spoke with people at Palo Alto coffee shops to get a sense for what they might need. One common frustration people had was the constant fire hose of news they were getting from a wide variety of sources. So they decided they could make the most impact with Pulse, a news-reader application that allows users to customize their news feeds.

    They released the app early, five weeks into the course. That timing -- just before Apple's 2010 Worldwide Developer's Conference -- could not have been more fortunate.

    July 20, 2013

    The fall for $MSFT

    Microsoft just couldn't compete with the strong stuff: iPhones, iPads, Google, Facebook. With Windows 8 they mixed two weak strains together: the Windows desktop and Metro's touchscreen UI. They put a touchscreen interface on machines without touchscreens. It was the opposite of synergy--it was a speedball.

    Continue reading "The fall for $MSFT" »

    March 27, 2013

    Clean as I've been

    In the flowering of modernism between the end of the First World War and the beginning of the Second, architects forged a stainless-steel connection between housing and health. Victorian homes were a nightmare to them, a cesspit at any level of society: they were dark and stuffy; they were filled with carpets and hangings and ornate picture frames that harbored dirt and were difficult to clean; their primitive plumbing made it hard to bathe.

    See Light, Air and Openness: Modern Architecture Between the Wars
    By Paul Overy, reviewed by Edwin Heathcote.

    The early modernists wanted to wash away this squalor with an ocean of shining chrome, tile and white plaster. Dirt-hoarding fabrics with grime-concealing patterns would be consigned to the efficient rubbish chutes. Furniture would be made from wipe-clean leather and steel. Generous windows and electric light would expose every speck of dirt. In "Light, Air and Openness," the architectural historian Paul Overy showed how the early modernists were obsessed with healthful living and influenced by the design of sanitariums.

    The better home would lead to better people. Love of purity, in the words of the Swiss architect Le Corbusier, "leads to the joy of life: the pursuit of perfection." He was far from the first to tie minimalist hygiene in the home to moral purity. Adolf Loos famously connected decoration with degeneracy in his 1908 essay "Ornament and Crime." A person's soul could be cleansed only when his domestic surroundings were purged: "Soon the streets of the town will shine like white walls. ... Then fulfillment shall be ours."

    Continue reading "Clean as I've been" »

    March 9, 2013

    New amenity : linear drains

    The residences will offer custom features like linear drains in showers (so the water rushes out faster), kitchen countertops with marble mined in Alabama, and design elements like a raised medallion on the walls of the bathrooms. There will be parking for 92 vehicles, 15,000 square feet of amenities in the basement (including a 75-foot pool), and two gas-powered generators with submarine doors on top of the building, which were added to the designs after Sandy.

    The development also has 10 attached town houses, ranging from $8.75 million to $12.25 million, five of which have private garages. All but two are under contract. A five-bedroom duplex penthouse, with 2,500 square feet of outdoor space, is currently available for $35 million.

    The sales velocity at 150 Charles has stunned all involved and created a mad scramble to adjust to the demand. Since Feb. 12, the development has raised the price of its offering plan nine times to $785.67 million, a boost of nearly 13 percent. (56 Leonard Street has raised prices three times, by a total of 4 percent.)

    Still, 150 Charles is not beloved by all its neighbors. A group of West Village (NYC) residents is still fighting to stop the development, claiming the developer unlawfully tore down the original building at the site. They wanted Mr. Witkoff to construct a taller, narrower building (up to 32 stories), which he had the right to build, that would have blocked fewer views and allowed in more light. He chose instead to construct a shorter, wider building, supposedly because it was more in keeping with the character of the Village.

    February 28, 2013

    Jonmillward studies:deep inside, a study of 10000 porn stars

    Infographic artist at work:

    For the first time, a massive data set of 10,000 porn stars has been extracted from the world's largest database of adult films and performers. I've spent the last six months analyzing it to discover the truth about what the average performer looks like, what they do on film, and how their role has evolved over the last forty years.


    -- Jon Millward's
    studies: Deep inside a study of 10000 porn stars

    February 27, 2013

    Fly like Turkey

    When flight attendants first rode aboard Turkish Airlines in the late 1940s they wore cotton blouses under blue suits tailored to accentuate "the contours of the body," as a fashion history of the airline puts it. In the '60s and '70s the trend continued with fashions straight off the Paris runway, designed to show Turkey's European flair on its flagship airline.

    ISLAM-or Turkey.jpg

    Others slammed the new look as too conservative, a transparent effort to please the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The party's decade-long run in power has wrought changes in the traditionally secular culture, like the acceptance of Islamic head scarves in public and on college campuses and restrictions on alcohol in certain places.

    "It is a reaction against imposing a certain lifestyle to all institutions in Turkey," said Ayse Saktanber, a sociologist at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara. "Turkey is a pragmatic society which doesn't like to fall behind the world. These new costumes came with the alcohol ban on planes."

    Continue reading "Fly like Turkey" »

    February 20, 2013

    Banksy was Robin Banx

    Banksy observed: "I've learnt from experience that a painting isn't finished when you put down your brush -- that's when it starts. The public reaction is what supplies meaning and value. Art comes alive in the arguments you have about it."

    Some are out-and-out sight gags -- giant scissors with cut-here dotted lines stenciled on a wall. Some are doctored works, replacing the Mona Lisa's famous visage with a yellow smiley face or flinging some shopping carts into one of Monet's tranquil water gardens. And some are oddly philosophical meditations: showing a leopard escaping from a bar-code zoo cage, or a woman hanging up a zebra's stripes to dry on a laundry line. What they have in common is a coy playfulness -- a desire to goad viewers into rethinking their surroundings, to acknowledge the absurdities of closely held preconceptions.

    Over the years Banksy has tried to maintain his anonymity. He has argued that he needs to hide his real identity because of the illegal nature of graffiti -- that he "has issues with the cops," that authenticating a street piece could be like "a signed confession." But as obscurity has given way to fame and his works have become coveted -- and costly -- collectors' pieces, critics have increasingly pointed out that Banksy has used anonymity as a marketing device, as another tool in his arsenal of publicity high jinks to burnish his own mystique.

    The journalist Will Ellsworth-Jones's new book, "Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall," examines the conundrums behind Banksy and the growing Banksy brand, the paradoxes involved in an outsider trying to hold onto his street cred while becoming an art world insider, and artworks that question the capitalist ethos becoming highly coveted commodities themselves.

    Mr. Ellsworth-Jones, who was chief reporter and New York correspondent for The Sunday Times in Britain, writes as a reporter, not an art critic. Although his book does not do a terribly fluent job of conveying the magic of Banksy's work (or an understanding of its iconography, its references or its place in a historical context of engagé art), it does pull together a lot of information about Banksy and his work from interviews with colleagues and former associates, from earlier books and from various online and print articles. It also provides an intriguing account of the making of the acclaimed Banksy film "Exit Through the Gift Shop" (which some regard as a documentary and others see as another Banksy stunt) and efforts by Banksy and his team to control and shape the mythology around him.Banksy observed: "I've learnt from experience that a painting isn't finished when you put down your brush -- that's when it starts. The public reaction is what supplies meaning and value. Art comes alive in the arguments you have about it."

    Continue reading "Banksy was Robin Banx" »

    December 27, 2012

    Design for twitter favico, not fax legibility in 2013

    University brands have to look fresh and new, not only to impress prospective donors but also so they can translate well on the multiple platforms their logos will live on -- including mobile phones, Web sites and tablets, Mr. Simon said. "The old standard used to be for a designer, 'Does it fax?' " Mr. Simon said. "Now it's, 'Does it work as a Twitter icon?' "

    -- U Cal newlogo

    June 7, 2012

    The skeuomorphism of Sir Ives

    Simplicity in the hardware has not always been matched in the software, which since the rise of iOS - the operating system for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch - has been marked by something known as skeuomorphism, a tendency for new designs to retain ornamental features of the old design. Thus the calendar in Apple's Macs and on iOS has fake leather texture and even fake stitching.

    When I mention the fake stitching, Ive offers a wince but it's a gesture of sympathy rather than a suggestion that he dislikes such things. At least, that's how I read it. He refuses to be drawn on the matter, offering a diplomatic reply: "My focus is very much working with the other teams on the product ideas and then developing the hardware and so that's our focus and that's our responsibility. In terms of those elements you're talking about, I'm not really connected to that."

    May 29, 2012

    The primacy of Interaction Design

    The primacy of Interaction Design

    The new digital landscape in which entrepreneurs operate is no longer dominated by sales-driven cultures, or by the need to deploy and maintain infrastructure. Instead, amazing products, products that are often bought rather than sold, dominate this new landscape.

    Designers of these products are increasingly in direct touch with their users. We have spoken of this product-driven versus sales-driven change, and it impacts every sector we invest in. Design moves to the center. We believe designers are choosing urban life in the city over suburban life elsewhere.

    -- Benchmark

    Continue reading "The primacy of Interaction Design" »

    February 1, 2012

    Gamification is superficial

    Game techniques, Mr. Duggan says, prompt consumers to spend more time on company Web sites, contribute more content and share more product information with Facebook and Twitter adherents. One of his clients, he says, uses a gamification program to collect information about 300 actions -- like posting comments or sharing with a social network -- performed by several million people.

    But critics say the risk of gamification is that it omits the deepest elements of games -- like skill, mastery and risk-taking -- even as it promotes the most superficial trappings, like points, in an effort to manipulate people.

    Ian Bogost, a professor of digital media at the Georgia Institute of Technology, for example, refers to the programs as "exploitationware." Consumers might be less eager to sign up, he argues, if they understood that some programs have less in common with real games than with, say, spyware.

    "Why not call it a new kind of analytics?" says Professor Bogost, a founding partner at Persuasive Games, a firm that designs video games for education and activism. "Companies could say, 'Well, we are offering you a new program in which we watch your every move and make decisions about our advertising based on the things we see you do.' "

    Gamification may not sound novel to members of frequent-flier or hotel loyalty programs who have strategized for years about ways to game extra points. But those kinds of membership programs offer concrete rewards like upgrades, free flights or free hotel stays. What's new about gamification is its goal of motivating people with virtual awards, like a mayoralty on FourSquare, that have little or no monetary value.

    What would Amy Jo Kim or Justin Hall have said ?

    Continue reading "Gamification is superficial" »

    January 8, 2012

    Lighting apartments

    "You want to maximize the amount of times that daylight bounces inside the room," Mr. Tanteri said. To do so, he suggested using light colors that are "close to white" on ceilings, walls and floors, and avoiding glossy finishes. "Glossy surfaces can actually be a detriment because they can create glare," he said. "The safest finishes are matte finishes, because they reflect light in all directions."

    ¶ Mr. Steinberg also recommends using light hues, and offered specific paints. "Linen White by Benjamin Moore is a very reliable, sell-your-house coat of paint," he said. He suggested another Benjamin Moore color, Decorators White, for the ceiling and trim.

    ¶ On a related note, Mr. Tanteri said: "You don't want to cover the wall with dark hangings. Paintings and posters will absorb light."

    ¶ As for reducing light obstructions, "Orient objects in the room to promote the flow of daylight," he said. "So, things like bookshelves and partitions should be perpendicular to the window wall."

    ¶ Mr. Tanteri also says that light from the top of a window will reach the farthest into the apartment, so it is important not to block that part of the window with heavy blinds or drapery.

    ¶ He favors Venetian blinds because they provide solar control and can also redirect sunlight to the ceiling. "That's when you get deeper daylight penetration," he said. Another option: shades that travel from the bottom of the window upward, rather than top down. "That's something that works for daylight as well as privacy," he said.

    ¶ And you can supplement the sunlight with strategically placed light fixtures. "Use indirect lighting, aimed at the ceiling," Mr. Tanteri said. A torchier floor lamp near the back of the room could "take over where the daylight on the ceiling starts to fade away."

    Continue reading "Lighting apartments" »

    August 11, 2011

    Talk to Me | on the way to the exhibition

    The Museum of Modern Art's "Talk to Me: Design and the Communication Between People and Objects" is one of the smartest design shows in years.

    The show is certainly a brave undertaking for a design department that's still strongly associated with 20th-century modernism. It's a big step from a Corbusier chair to an iPhone, or as senior curator Paola Antonelli, puts it, "from the centrality of function to that of meaning."

    Talk to Me | on the way to the exhibition

    August 1, 2011

    Workers in the office 'bull pen' are having their day

    Safdie's Columbus Circle was a reaction to the postwar dominance of international style as the new language of office architecture just as much as it was a reaction to the empty ornamentation of postmodernism. In his design, you can see certain parallels with the Institute of Peace; the curved atriums, floor-to-ceiling windows, and connecting bridges are Safdie's attempts at humanizing office space. This 1945 blurb from an architectural magazine quoted in Reinhold Martin's The Organizational Complex could've described Safdie's work:

    The workers in the office 'bull pen' are having their day, and more is being done for them. They are getting not only better light, better ventilation and better working conditions, but also improved and more cheerful surroundings.
    Yet the cumulative effect produces few changes in how an average worker inhabits and interacts with her surroundings. Perhaps this is confirmed by the faulty experiments of sociologist George Mayo in the 1920s. Mayo set up shop in the Chicago Western Electric factory and altered such factors as light intensity and length of breaks in order to determine which elements increased worker productivity. Mayo found that, amongst other conditions, better lighting improved worker output. Decades later, the results of the experiments were re-examined and then discredited. Researchers determined that worker output had not increased or decreased based on external factors like light, but due to the worker's sense that she was the subject of an experiment. This was dubbed the Hawthorne Effect.

    -- Leah Caldwell, Syrian expert.

    July 20, 2011

    Incenting cooperation Piaza Nath

    Tested by Rexford.

    April 20, 2011

    Americans like workds; Europeans, symbols

    "The use of symbols rather than words, for example, is a cheap if irritating solution to the problem of selling appliances in a linguistically diverse market."


    We're No. 1!
    But only when it comes to domestic appliances. (Slate)
    By Mark Vanhoenacker
    Posted Wednesday, April 6, 2011, at 8:15 AM ET

    April 13, 2011

    A new breed of self-curating, design-smart amateurs spurred to resourcefulness

    As shelter magazines foundered, up came a new breed of self-curating, design-smart amateurs spurred to resourcefulness by the recession and assisted by the Internet in finding materials and furnishings at deep discounts. The result is an outpouring of homegrown inventiveness -- sofas upholstered with burlap coffee sacks, stereo speakers made from Ikea salad bowls, party decorations conscripted as permanent ornamentation.

    Every offbeat detail is critiqued and discussed in the comment fields of design Web sites. For the moment, the grass-roots novices have upstaged the experts. The amateurs "aspire to a certain level of interior design, but professional help is beyond their reach," Ms. Lemieux said. "So they go at it their own way. Now they're the authorities."

    Ms. Lemieux's amateurs are not trying to imitate the polished work of a master, as, say, the culinary enthusiast Julie Powell did when she faithfully worked her way through the Julia Child oeuvre. On the contrary, the movement -- it's more accurate to call undecorating a movement than a single identifiable style -- takes subversive pleasure in breaking the rules. Harmony and balance are passé. Excess is encouraged. Fabrics are mismatched. Wallpaper spreads over moldings and ceilings.

    Anything goes, as evidenced by a Chicago couple who parked an Airstream trailer in their loft. While modernism wagged a disapproving finger at those who dared breach its formal orthogonal lines and rigid color palette, undecorating delights in residential anarchy. "There's no longer any good or bad," said Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, a founder of Apartment Therapy, a home design blog. "That new openness is the story. We're all swirling around together."

    Mr. Gillingham-Ryan started his site seven years ago to help galvanize the growing ranks of design-literate amateurs discontented with the role of passive consumer. Its audience has swollen to five million unique visitors a month, an increase of 166 percent in two years.

    If Mr. Gillingham-Ryan is the populist hub of the emergent do-it-yourselfers, their aesthetic hero is Todd Selby, a photographer whose three-year-old Web site, the Selby, has become an indie version of Architectural Digest. Organized as a series of visits to the homes of writers, musicians and other creative types, the site shows rooms filled with artful clutter -- taxidermy, thrift shop paintings, exquisitely peeling wallpaper.

    The central tenet of the undecorate movement is that personal expression matters more than professional polish. In keeping with that sentiment, the Selby reflects the outlandish, idiosyncratic taste of the residents. "It's still in the underground phase," Mr. Selby said of his sensibility, "but it's starting to break through." Last year Mr. Selby published "The Selby Is in Your Place," a collection of roughly a thousand photographs and sketches from his site.

    Continue reading "A new breed of self-curating, design-smart amateurs spurred to resourcefulness " »

    April 8, 2011

    Architecture critics detest Trump complex on Riverside South

    Xanadu Mall in NJ is almost as bad a a Trump project.

    In the New York region, "the only thing comparable would be Trumpville on the West Side Highway. It beats Xanadu in its sheer mass, and its brutal imposition on the eyes of millions of people."


    Editor in chief of the Web site The Infrastructurist

    I know various people have said the whole Trump complex on Riverside South is worse, and it is pretty bad."


    Architecture critic of The New Yorker

    N.Y. / REGION
    Fix Xanadu? The Problem May Be Where to Begin

    Published: April 1, 2011
    Architectural experts offer thoughts on rescuing a stalled New Jersey Meadowlands mall project that has already soaked up $2 billion.

    January 3, 2011

    How we live: Clean my computer room

    Real scenes of real estate and dealing with clutter.


    [ via StyleForum ]

    Continue reading "How we live: Clean my computer room" »

    October 28, 2010

    Is quality of life about square footage ?

    During the last decade's real estate boom, the annual demonstration kept up with the times: designs abounded with baronial features like colonnades, cathedral ceilings and observation towers, and they sometimes topped 6,000 square feet. But then the crash came, wiping out credit lines and shaking the industry's confidence. For this year's show, Boyce Thompson, the editorial director of Builder, wanted a look more attuned to curtailed appetites, so he came up with a concept that he called a Home for the New Economy.

    The most salient specification of the house was its modest proportions. At around 1,700 square feet, it was the size of the average American home built in 1980. Since then, new houses have on average grown by more than 40 percent, as dens have expanded into great rooms, and tubs and sinks have multiplied. "Houses got too big, because people were chasing investment gains and there was cheap money, and the industry responded by building houses that were too large," Thompson says. "So we really wanted to focus people's attention on doing smaller, better homes." He points to Census statistics that show a slight decline in the size of homes built over the past two years and to a much larger drop in the square footage of those that have just started construction, and suggests that the market may be headed toward a more austere norm.

    That's certainly debatable. If dissecting the causes of the housing market's crash is a task for economists, predicting its future is a fuzzier matter of sociology. Will Americans re-evaluate cultural assumptions that equate ever-larger houses with success and stability? Or will they invest more in their lived environments, figuring that with the demise of the quick flip, they are now in for the long term? In the absence of much real market activity, imaginations are free to run wild. The Home for the New Economy is one such exercise in speculation, a proposal that the future lies in denser, more walkable, modestly scaled communities. Marianne Cusato, who designed the Home for the New Economy, sees it as a rebuke to the ethic of the McMansion. "We're not going to go back to 2005," she says. "What was built then is not going to come back, and this is not a bad thing. What we were building was so unsustainable, and it didn't really meet our needs."

    Cusato, who is 36, started her career drawing up million-dollar mansions, but she has made a name for herself by going smaller, designing a 300-square-foot Katrina Cottage meant to be a replacement for the trailers the government set up after the 2005 hurricane. When Cusato sat down to devise the Home for the New Economy, she tried to consider how families actually use their living areas. She started with a simple, symmetrical three-bedroom plan, excising extraneous spaces -- the seldom-used formal dining room, for instance -- while enlarging windows wherever she could and adding a wraparound porch. A result was a house that was compact, comfortable, bright and energy-efficient.

    Continue reading "Is quality of life about square footage ?" »

    October 3, 2010

    David Choe


    David Choe's asian logo (bio).

    July 21, 2010

    Beijing edition of Queens' Crap.

    Instead, they seize property in parts of the city they deem "unhygienic and unsafe," rezone much of it as commercial property and sell it for huge profits. The concession to history often consists of a few new buildings with upturned eaves and garishly painted timber slapped on concrete facades.

    Aarguments have had limited impact on this redevelopment-crazed city. In recent years, two-thirds of Beijing's 3,000 narrow lanes, known as hutongs, have been subsumed by mega-developments, many of them in neighborhoods that were officially designated preservation zones.

    Continue reading "Beijing edition of Queens' Crap." »

    May 17, 2010

    G. O. P. sweatshirt


    See also Republican Theme Park.

    Continue reading "G. O. P. sweatshirt" »

    November 13, 2009

    Good Shoes

    Shoe makers that specialize in high end (not necessarily high fashion) shoes will usually overhaul and resole shoes for you with original parts. Alden, Edward Green, John Lobb, Allen Edmonds, heck even Cole Haan will all do this for you.

    Generally, shoe makers who specialize in "fashionable" shoes - Gucci, Ferragamo, etc. intend for the shoes to be more or less disposable. Since they aren't necessarily in the business of making "classic" shoes, generally by the time the sole wears out the shoe is either shot to hell or out of fashion. Therefore there isn't a lot of call for resoling, especially not with the original sole.

    -- Styleforum

    October 15, 2009

    Consumers buy more PCs than businesses

    Consumers now buy more PCs than businesses do, and their wants and desires for better-looking devices have invaded the cubicle. The current breed of consumer has shown an ability to turn something like the Apple iPhone into an overnight sensation, then demand that companies embrace it. Google, meanwhile, uses its influential Web search and YouTube properties to introduce people to its e-mail, document and Web browser software, and Facebook now provides inspiration to business software makers.

    For Google, winning over consumers is crucial to its strategy of infiltrating corporations and deflating Microsoft's core businesses. "We are the next generation," says Dave Girouard, the president of Google's business products division. "The big difference in technology here is the pace of innovation."

    Continue reading "Consumers buy more PCs than businesses" »

    August 24, 2009

    Tailored especially for unrefined Americans.

    2011 Volkswagen Jetta - Tailored especially for unrefined Americans.

    From C&D:

    "Why is VW walking away from global cars, especially at a time when other automakers are globalizing? The company feels that American and Asian customers don't appreciate the refinement of its current offerings. "U.S. customers look at car size and engine displacement. They won't pay a dollar extra for a Passat over the Camry just because of its finesse and attention to detail," a company executive told us in Wolfsburg."

    I hope that VW realizes that many of us by a VW JUST because they are refined - and are willing to pay a little more. Build your car for the masses - just please keep sending the Passat, Golf, etc., for those of us who appreciate the difference.

    Continue reading "Tailored especially for unrefined Americans." »

    January 13, 2009

    Page layout: above the scroll

    Basic principle of web design: If it's not on the screen, I can't see it.


    Here we see Barry Ritholtz' Big Picture. On a T61 laptop in a high resolution mode, more than 60 percent (5 inches) of the screen is used for static branding graphics, and only 3 inches is available for the actual content.

    The Big Picture is a timely survey of economic news and views. In its own words, it tries (and I think succeeds)

    to give you a unique combination of original content, as well as referencing the best of what I find elsewhere -- MSM, Wall Street, Video, other blogs. Typically, I post a long, original piece in the early morning. Several additional pieces during the day pull information from elsewhere -- charts, news, other resources. The goal is to provide a steady stream of relevant information -- leavened with my perspectives -- all day.

    January 5, 2009

    Status: either too early to tell or too late to change; Tufte on design consulting

    Products under development "are in one of two states--either too early to tell or too late to change.''

    He finished the book in 1982, after moving to Yale. No publisher would print it to his exacting standards. Tufte wanted the book to exemplify the design principles he articulated. It had to have lavish, abundant, high-resolution images and footnotes alongside the text so a reader wouldn't have to flip pages to find a reference. The book had to be printed on thick, creamy paper and sell for a reasonable price, about $30. "Publishers seemed appalled at the prospect that an author might govern design,'' he later wrote. So he took out a second mortgage at nearly 18 percent interest and produced the book himself.

    ---- Edward Rolf Tufte

    Continue reading "Status: either too early to tell or too late to change; Tufte on design consulting" »

    December 27, 2008

    Best building, 2008: Peking International Express

    In Beijing, it didn't matter what the Dow was, of course, since the Chinese government's decision to make itself the world's leading patron of architecture was dependent on other things, including cheap labor. In time for the 2008 Olympics, the world saw the fruits of China's decision to put aside nationalism, hire the greatest architects from around the world, and let them do the kind of things they could never afford to do at home. That brought us two of the greatest buildings of the year, Herzog and de Meuron's extraordinary Olympic Stadium, the stunning steel latticework structure widely known as the Bird's Nest; and Norman Foster's Beijing Airport, a project that was not only bigger than any other airport in the world, but more beautiful, more logically laid out, and more quickly built. And the headquarters of CCTV, the Chinese television network, by Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren, of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture--a building which I had thought was going to be a pretentious piece of structural exhibitionism--turned out to be a compelling and exciting piece of structural exhibitionism.

    -- Paul Goldberger, the New Yorker's architecture critic.

    Continue reading "Best building, 2008: Peking International Express" »

    November 20, 2008

    Charles Tyrwhitt, cursed shirts ?

    Fact: Charles Tyrwhitt New York City store #1 is located at Madison Avenue & 46th Street, on the ground floor of the ex-Bear Stearns corporate headquarters

    Fact: Charles Tyrwhitt New York City store #2 is located at 7th Avenue & 50th Street, on the ground floor of the ex-Lehman Brothers corporate headquarters

    Fact: Bear Stearns is toast

    Fact: Lehman Brothers is even toastier

    Conclusion: The shirts are cursed.

    Shirt reviews; financial analysis by LongOrShortCapital.

    October 24, 2008

    Seen on the street

    Bill Cunningham narrarates what he saw this week on the street in NY.
    Also, the time-progress slider has a nifty usable burst-up preview.

    Continue reading "Seen on the street" »

    October 23, 2007


    Cordially invites you to
    a private sale of HICKEY FREEMAN

    Men's Clothing, Furnishings
    & Sportswear

    Also a limited selecton of
    Bobby Jones Women's Cashmere Sweaters

    Sunday, Oct. 28th through Thursday, Nov. 1st
    Sunday: 9:00am to 6:00pm
    Monday through Wednesday: 9:00am to 6:30pm
    Thursday: 9:00am to 5:00pm

    To be held at:
    Soiffer Haskin
    317 West 33rd Street, NYC
    (Just west of 8th Avenue)

    Credit Cards Only
    (American Express, Visa or MasterCard)
    All Sales Final.
    Strollers not allowed. No children under 12 will be admitted.

    For more information, call (718) 747-1656,
    Monday through Friday: 9:00am to 5:00pm.
    Soiffer Haskin, 10 Bank Street, White Plains, NY 10606

    August 22, 2007

    the sartorialist

    thesartorialist, style and photography for fashion's sake.
    1 *
    2 **,

    October 11, 2006

    WCBS NYC TV News

    CBS in NYC: wcbs TV in New York City: news, topstories,
    with non-hideous website design.

    September 10, 2006

    Alt text mugshot

    Alt text is great for web pages; but for e-mail,
    better would be to default to plaintext.

    Message from the nice International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Subaru VIP Program.

    July 14, 2006

    Shakespeare @ google: soliloquy search

    Comedy, tradedy, romance. The elegant design
    of Shakespeare's life work.

    Not yet: Browse by or search for work's name Hamlet, character
    name Ophelia or search for content text nunnery.

    June 20, 2006

    GraphPaper / Christopher Fahey

    Graph Paper / Christopher Fahey.
    Beautiful design, and observations about information architecuture.

    Example: full-focus states.

    June 9, 2006

    Matte black on Autoblogging Friday

    Matte black looks great on the new Honda Civic Type-R.
    Analysis. Would look good on a new Bangled 5er or
    Lexus IS, too, with their superflouos stealth
    fighter curves.

    Update 2006 Nov:

    As show-stopping designs go, none proved more popular
    with the paparazzi than a black 575-horsepower Mercedes
    -Benz CLS55. This wicked witch was built by a noted
    customizer, Matthew Figliola of Ai Design in Tuckahoe, N.Y.
    The car’s buffed matte black paint looked like burnished
    steel. Why did it work?

    Because of the “flop”, said Mr. Foose, who is also host of a
    customizing show, “Overhaulin’,” on the Learning Channel.
    The flop is the break in light and dark shading across a vehicle’s
    character lines.

    “When you bring in a matte color, it may have a really beautiful
    flop to it,” Mr. Foose explained. “You know, a light side and a dark
    side, and your eye can focus on that surface. With all the polished
    and reflected surfaces around it, it gives a quality texture.”

    Mr. Foose uses matte or flat black surfaces to relieve the
    “Christmas ball effect” that he says can overwhelm some of
    today’s more extreme designs.

    “When you have a full-polished surface, all you are looking at
    are reflections,” he said. “When you open the hood of a car, and
    you look at the beautiful reflective body forms, you are going
    down to a chrome surface on the engine, and you’re looking
    at a color right next to it that is all polished. It starts looking
    like a Christmas ball next to another Christmas ball next to
    another one.”

    The danger of dull black finishes, Mr. Foose said, is that when
    they are poorly executed “it doesn’t convey quality.”

    “It’s kind of like, ‘O.K., we didn’t have enough money to finish
    this car, so we just matte-finished it.’ ”

    -- SEMA 2006.

    Would like to see an orange

    Continue reading "Matte black on Autoblogging Friday" »

    April 26, 2006

    xplane Visual thinking

    Visual thinking and marketing by Xplane.

    Charmingly illustrated technology and business process graphics
    remind me of Richard Scary's Busyown.

    April 24, 2006


    Subtraction by NYT designerism and ia by Khoi Vinh.

    December 15, 2005

    Cool is when you aren't

    Hips are about sexuality.
    -- Joel Piaskowski, chief designer at the Hyundai Kia Design
    and Technical Center in California.

    Hips are also about hipness, or youth.

    But these judgments are often made by designers and auto executives
    who are no longer young. Something may seem hip to them because it
    evokes their past; to young people, something may be cool because it
    envisions their future.


    Continue reading "Cool is when you aren't" »

    December 9, 2005

    Khoi Vinh an NYT

    Khoi Vinh goes to the NYT.

    December 6, 2005

    Google maps mania

    Google maps mania charts the
    mash ups and applications.

    November 26, 2005

    I-64 exit 11 (MO)

    A new exit from I-64 in Saint Charles County, MO.
    Click on picture for full size photo pop-up.
    GoogleMap of area.

    I-64 westbound, Chesterfield, MO.

    Missouri River bridge, from Saint Louis County northwest into Saint Charles County.

    Continue reading " I-64 exit 11 (MO)" »

    September 30, 2005

    Housing Map

    Housing Maps
    the criagslist - googlemap mash up.

    See also housing maps by census.

    Live near the trees.

    Continue reading "Housing Map" »

    July 29, 2005

    bad architecture in Beijing

    An investigation of the not-so-subtle bad architecture in Beijing.

    Three Rockets

    Continue reading "bad architecture in Beijing" »

    July 2, 2005

    V&V: Verification, Validation

    Verification: testing against specifications.
    Validation: testing against operating goals.

    Continue reading "V&V: Verification, Validation" »

    June 30, 2005

    Single point accountability

    Bush believes in what is known in business as single-point
    accountability. "He does not want to know that a committee or a
    consortium is working together to coordinate a solution," Daniels
    says. "He wants one organization, or one person, to have
    responsibility; he wants to know who he can call. I can't tell you how
    alien this is to the federal government, which is marvelous at evading

    To monitor the people or organizations responsible, Bush keeps track
    of certain details—ideally, not so many that he becomes a
    micro-manager, but enough to keep those he is managing alert. From
    9/11 until January of 2002 many officials who had no direct connection
    to the war on terror lost contact with Bush. When he began meeting
    with them again, he had "a stream of informed questions about the
    innards of their departments," Daniels recalls. "He makes it his
    business to know a little bit about everything."

    Bush knows that following through can require patience. This is new
    for him: when he was with the Rangers, and in his father's White
    House, he was just learning patience. Though he may still see the
    fundamental issues in black and white, he can now wait to achieve his
    goals. "He gives things time to work," Rice says. "He understands,
    probably better than his advisers, that there is a rhythm to things."

    Continue reading "Single point accountability" »

    May 22, 2005

    dan bricklin

    Dan Bricklin: a graybeard of personal computing annotates
    conferences and ponders Open Source.

    May 21, 2005


    baddesigns captures some (what else ?) bad designs.
    Mostly consumer products, evaluated more from a usability than
    an esthetic perspective.

    Example: one tube is shampoo, one is hand lotion. Which one
    would you grab as you hurry off to the gym ?