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Design and the AI route | India Today, 10 sep 2019
Uncovering links between architecture, politics, and society | MIT News, 10 sep 2019
Transport: The Muse for Ingenious Architecture | World Architecture News, 10 sep 2019
The best graphic design of 2019 | Fast Company, 09 sep 2019
How Men's Fashion Is Inspiring Interior Design Trends | Forbes, 09 sep 2019
Stretchy plastic electrolytes could enable new lithium-ion battery design | Science Daily, 09 sep 2019
Soft-bodied swimming robot uses only light for power and steering | UCLA Samueli News, 09 sep 2019
Nathan Yong, Industrial Designer | The Business Times, 05 sep 2019
5 best practices for data visualisation in web design for 2019 | e27, 04 sep 2019
Five landscape design blogs to find your inspiration | Total Landscape Care, 02 sep 2019
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 aug 2019
Researchers from IIT-Madras (Tamil Nadu, India), Prof. Asokan Thondiyath and research scholar Nagamanikandan Govindan, have designed and developed a multimodal robotic system, termed as 'Grasp Man', that has good grasping, manipulation and locomotion abilities. Their research, 'Design and Analysis of a Multimodal Grasper Having Shape Conformity and Within-Hand Manipulation With Adjustable Contact Forces', is recently published in ASME Journal of Mechanisms and Robotics. The robot is fitted with a pair of graspers that provide morphological adaptation, enabling it to conform to the geometry of the object being grasped, and allowing it to hold objects securely and manipulate them much like the human hand. The two graspers are equipped with a robotic platform that provides behavioural adaptation. The robot will have various industrial applications such as pipe inspection, search-and-rescue operations, and others that involve climbing, holding, and assembling. Prof. Asokan says, 'The motivation behind this research is to realise a robot with a minimalistic design that can overcome the need for task-specific robots that are capable of navigating and manipulating across different environments without increasing the system complexity.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 aug 2019
Research study, 'Onboard Evolution of Understandable Swarm Behaviors', published in Advanced Intelligent Systems by researchers from University of Bristol (Simon Jones, Sabine Hauert) and University of the West of England (Alan F. Winfield, Matthew Studley), brings development of a new generation of swarming robots which can independently learn and evolve new behaviours in the wild a step closer. Researchers used artificial evolution to enable the robots to automatically learn swarm behaviours which are understandable to humans. This could create new robotic possibilities for environmental monitoring, disaster recovery, infrastructure maintenance, logistics and agriculture. This new approach uses a custom-made swarm of robots with high-processing power embedded within the swarm. In most recent approaches, artificial evolution has typically been run on a computer which is external to the swarm, with the best strategy then copied to the robots. Prof. Jones says, 'Human-understandable controllers allow us to analyse and verify automatic designs, to ensure safety for deployment in real-world applications.' Researchers took advantage of the recent advances in high-performance mobile computing, to build a swarm of robots inspired by those in nature. Their 'Teraflop Swarm' has the ability to run the computationally intensive automatic design process entirely within the swarm, freeing it from the constraint of off-line resources. Prof. Hauert says, 'This is the first step towards robot swarms that automatically discover suitable swarm strategies in the wild. The next step will be to get these robot swarms out of the lab and demonstrate our proposed approach in real-world applications.' Prof. Winfield says, 'In many modern AI systems, especially those that employ Deep Learning, it is almost impossible to understand why the system made a particular decision...An important advantage of the system described in this paper is that it is transparent: its decision making process is understandable by humans.' Read on...
Robots Learn Swarm Behaviors, Aim to Escape the Lab
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 05 aug 2019
People with the twin passion of design and development of new products can transform into design entrepreneurs. They are able to control both the design and business processes. Vijayant Bansal, founder of World University of Design (India), explains what it takes to be a design entrepreneur and explores the shifting landscape of design entrepreneurship in India. He says, 'We are in the midst of a design revolution and increasingly design is gaining a lot of focus...But it's not easy starting from ground zero and working yourself towards achieving credibility, recognition and last but not the least, generating demand. This involves having to create a balance between what we want to create with what the customer wants; what is possible technically and how much of a resource pull will it involve.' Contemporary design entrepreneurship includes new product development, restoring crafts, innovating existing products and providing design services based on new & emerging technologies. Explaining the design revolution, he says, 'Designing is undergoing a metamorphosis, aided by new technologies and digital transformation of today. New and disruptive technologies like Artificial intelligence, IoT, Machine learning etc., are the biggest enablers, disrupting traditional processes and systems, enabling out of the box thinking and new ideas, which in turn reshape the entire user experience.' Universities can play an important role in guiding and mentoring students to pursue design entrepreneurship. Industry experts can also play a role in this and enable students to participate in hands-on training. Virtual products have also expanded the scope of design entrepreneurship with designers engaged in designing and developing games and apps. Design entrepreneurship is the new career paradigm. Mr. Bansal suggests, 'Today the scenario has undergone a sea change, with almost every industry, be it apparel, automobiles, film making, animation, product design or gaming, with design playing an intrinsic role in the entire process from an idea to the end product. It's worth the challenge if financial security and stability are not foremost on your mind and you have the patience and inclination to see through the entire process of making the design-centric idea into a successful venture.' Read on...
The Rise of the Contemporary Indian Design Entrepreneur
Author: Vijayant Bansal
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 jul 2019
Landscape design needs to be both functional and artistic. Landscape professional should work towards embodying these elements for beautiful gardens and lawn creations. Here are few ideas to bring art and aesthetics in landscape design - Irrespective of the size of landscaping, massing serves an artistic purpose. Massing is basically grouping of one kind plant species in one big section. It provides good visual impact and also brings balance and proportion to the landscape. Massing plants together helps create texture, form, larger pops of color and it can reduce maintenance in some situations. Incorporating vertical and horizontal layers can provide unique look to massing. Proportioning is also a critical component of garden design if the space has a pool, patio, outdoor kitchen or other similar structure, as their size must fit accordingly with the size of the house; While working with smaller spaces accentuate long views across the garden, as this will help add a greater sense of depth to the area. Instead of creating paths that haphazardly wind around, consider keeping the pathways in one continuous, straight line, as this will help emphasize the garden's length and create more dramatic focal points at each end; Experts suggest use of native or indegenous plants as they would be more resistant to pests and more durable; Landscape lighting also plays an important role as gardens can be utilized in evening. Eliminate hot spots as these will make the lighting look unnatural. Utilize lighting to highlight features in the landscape that should be accentuated, which will also let less important aspects fade into the background; For tiny garden area go vertical. Smaller gardens will feel larger if eyes can be drawn up and over the neighboring fence. Take advantage of vertical gardens along the fence line, running up an arbor or trellis or stretching upward on a brick wall/side of the house. Read on...
Total Landscape Care:
More than meets the eye: The artistry behind landscape designs
Author: Beth Hyatt
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 jun 2019
Creativity is at the core of art and design. They both are visual and material culmination of varied degrees of human expression. Vibhor Sogani, fusing the lines between design and art, between being a product designer and public installation artist, says, 'At the end of the day, it is all about creativity. People may deem art superior to design but designing is serious business and a very responsible job.' He explains the value of public art for the growth-oriented country like India, 'Since India has so many people and so many public spaces, it is an ideal ground for engaging with them through art. The all-important ingredient of public art is engagement with people.' On balancing creativity and guidelines in commissioned projects, he says, 'We all need a sense of direction. After all, you need to align yourself with something. I think the brief given to me by my client is only a starting point. Thereafter, I am free to follow my vision.' An alumnus of National Institute of Design (Ahmedabad, India) and having worked in the field of industrial design, he is well-versed in the craft of materials as well as technology. He follows both reactive and proactive approaches to pursue his creative work. He suggests that while thinking of an idea is instant, putting it into a tangible shape of art is slow and time consuming. His public art works include Joy in Dubai, Sprouts in New Delhi and Kalpavriksha in Ahmedabad. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 may 2019
Graphic design enhances the value of the brands and creates their visual memory in the audience's mind. Check out the latest trends in graphic design and keep evolving - 3D design and Typography (Brings life and depth to flat designs); Mid-century Modern Elements (Give both a mid-age and modern touch to any design); Custom Illustrations (Heavily influenced by natural and botanical elements, with softer lines and less bold text); Buxom Serifs (Serifs are smarter, better, and make content stand out); Open Compositions (Make the elements appear to be floating off of the screen); Isometric Design (Creates an entire universe in the tiniest of spaces and gives depth to any design and object); Pops of Vivid Color (Provides attention grabbing graphics); Strong Typographic Focal Points (Make content visually strong and readable, a function much needed for small devices and social media feeds); Light and Dark Color Schemes (Create a visually stunning impact); Futuristic Influences into the Mainstream (Make the brand stand out and be influencer in the marketplace); Complex Gradients and Duotones (Look great on mobile devices. Add depth and create a timeless look); Colorful Minimalism (Combining design with necessary components using minimalist approach. Limited color use); Art Deco (Add glamour quotient); Bookman and Old-style Serifs (High legibility and contrast of the traditional serifs make them a great choice to highlight the brand's value); Subtle Motion (Enhances user experience and engages users with the interface. Adds seamless transformations and transitions); Abstract Geometry and Shapes (Fits in any design that demands a modern and expressive look. Makes visuals stand out); Asymmetrical Layouts (Create visual tension. Elements have a more complex pattern); Variable Fonts (Are flexible within the multidimensional space. Consume less bandwidth and load websites or web pages faster). Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 apr 2019
HGTV (Home & Garden Television) provides exposure to applicable interior design ideas. Here are a few: (1) Shiplap, a type of siding, is the best thing you can add to a wall to add dimension. (2) Placing an oversized mirror will make any room appear much larger than it actually is. (3) Another way to conserve space is to make sure everything in your home has a function. (4) If you have the patience, DIY (Do It Yourself) is possible for almost everything. (5) Open shelving is a cool way to show off your fancy dinnerware, and will motivate you to keep it organized. (6) 'Open Concept' floor-plans where entire space is one big open room are essential component of interior design. (7) Painting everything white might seem scary, but it's a great way to add more color via furniture and accent pieces. Read on...
7 of the biggest home decor lessons I've learned from HGTV
Author: Gabbi Shaw
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 mar 2019
Financial crisis of 2008 in US became a catalyst for the 'Tiny House' movement. Environmental considerations are also reasons for the popularity of the concept. Tiny house is typically 100 and 400 ft². Modular housing is also gaining ground in the construction world driven by lower costs, more predictability, and a shortage of construction workers. Italian architect Beatrice Bonzanigo is preparing to showcase her miniature house 'Casa Ojalá' in April. Casa Ojalá is a self-contained modular home design, measuring only 27 m² (290 ft²). The circular home can be arranged in 20 different ways by adjusting wooden partitions and fabric walls with built-in ropes, pulleys and cranks. Ms. Bonzanigo says, 'It’s designed to have a minimal impact on the environment around it, and the woods and fabrics used in its manufacture can vary depending on where it is built, for maximum sustainability. Explaining her design she says, 'Ojalá is a word that summarizes the concept of infinite possibilities, hopes related to emptiness and absence, intuition, a key of a door not yet open, a new field of existence, a telescope that brings together and moves horizons, a space of different possibilities and, therefore, a wish that comes true.' Read on...
Self-Sufficient "Micro-Home" Will Join Milan Design Week
Author: Emily Pollock
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 feb 2019
India's 'Development Agenda' as outlined by current government includes development of 100 smart cities, 40 million dwelling units, 20 million affordable homes, better infrastructure facilities through the AMRUT scheme, focus on urban development and transformation, slum rehabilitation, and 'Housing for All' by 2022. It is estimated that to fulfil this agenda there is requirement of 75 million skilled people in real estate and infrastructure. Moreover, according to reports there is need of 4 million core professionals (architects, engineers, planners). Shubika Bilkha, Business Head at The Real Estate Management Institute (REMI), explains the key aspects that architectural graduates and planners should keep in while building their skill set in evolving environment - (1) Be Multifaceted: Take advantage of a number of roles- from design architecture, structural or liaisoning architects, to urban planning, property development, sustainable development, teaching or getting involved with disaster relief/re-building communities. Require skills such as engineering, design, supervisory skills, managing people/teams/vendors/client expectations, an understanding of key building/designing/construction/smart technology, strong communication and persuasion skills to communicate their vision. Have much larger role and bigger scope getting involved from pre-design services, to cost analysis and land-use studies, feasibility reports, environment studies to developing the final construction plans etc. (2) Be Business Minded: Understand key real estate and planning concepts and calculations, municipal and local development regulations, legal limitations, the social and urban infrastructure, fundraising/financing and the evolving policy framework. (3) Be Responsible: Consider social and environmental impact of the recommendations. Understand sustainability and implement it effectively. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 jan 2019
Autonomous shopping concept intends to bring brick-and-mortar and internet shopping into a unified and integrated retail experience. The grab-and-go smart shopping carts promote cashier-free automatic check-out eliminating wait in lines. TechSpot's contributing writer, Cohen Coberly, says, 'While it seemed like brick-and-mortar retail would be all but killed off following the explosive rise of online shopping, what we're instead seeing throughout the US is not death, but evolution.' According to a 2018 survey by RIS News, 'The leading new shopping option wanted by consumers was "grab-and-go" technology (in which customers can self-checkout using their smartphones). 59% said they'd like to use this, and 9% had used it.' In a global survey of 2250 internet users conducted by iVend Retail and AYTM Market Research, 'Roughly 1/3rd of respondents said they would like to make automatic payments using digital shopping carts.' Caper is a smart shopping cart startup. Josh Constine, technology journalist and editor-at-large for TechCrunch, reports, 'The startup makes a shopping cart with a built-in barcode scanner and credit card swiper, but it's finalizing the technology to automatically scan items you drop in thanks to three image recognition cameras and a weight sensor. The company claims people already buy 18% more per visit after stores are equipped with its carts.' Linden Gao, co-founder and CEO of Caper, says, 'It doesn't make sense that you can order a cab with your phone or go book a hotel with your phone, but you can't use your phone to make a payment and leave the store. You still have to stand in line.' The current Caper cart involves scanning an item's barcode and then throwing it into the cart. Brittany Roston, senior editor and contributor at SlashGear, reports, 'The smarter version will eliminate the barcode part, making it possible to simply put the items in the cart while the built-in tech recognizes what they are.' Chris Albrecht, managing editor at The Spoon, also reports, 'The future iterations, already in the works, will remove the barcode and will use a combination of computer vision and built-in weight scales to determine purchases. The customer completes shopping, and pays on the built-in screen.' The concept of scanless carts involves deep learning and machine vision. Cameras are mounted in the cart. The screen on the cart gives the shopper different kinds of information - store map, item locator, promotions, deals etc. It recommends items based on contents already in the basket. Read on...
Next-level autonomous shopping carts are even smarter
Author: Nancy Cohen
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 jan 2019
Team of researchers from University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (Prof. Timothy F. Scott, Prof. Mark A. Burns, Martin P. De Beer, Harry L. Van Der Laan, Megan A. Cole, Riley J. Whelan) have developed a new approach to 3D printing that lifts complex shapes from a vat of liquid at up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D printing processes. 3D printing could by highly beneficial for small manufacturing jobs without the need for a costly mold. But the usual 3D printing approach of building up plastic filaments layer by layer hasn't been usable in that aspect. Prof. Scott says, 'Using conventional approaches, that's not really attainable unless you have hundreds of machines.' The U. of Michigan innovative 3D printing method solidifies the liquid resin using two lights to control where the resin hardens - and where it stays fluid. This enables solidification of the resin in more sophisticated patterns. The process can make a 3D bas-relief in a single shot rather than in a series of 1D lines or 2D cross-sections. The printing demonstrations from this approach include a lattice, a toy boat and a block M. Prof. Burns says, 'It's one of the first true 3D printers ever made.' By creating a relatively large region where no solidification occurs, thicker resins - potentially with strengthening powder additives - can be used to produce more durable objects. The method also bests the structural integrity of filament 3D printing, as those objects have weak points at the interfaces between layers. Prof. Scott adds, 'You can get much tougher, much more wear-resistant materials.' The research paper, 'Rapid, continuous additive manufacturing by volumetric polymerization inhibition patterning', is to be published in Science Advances. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 dec 2018
When design trends get too hyped they lose relevance. Co.Design editor Susanne Labarre discussed the future of design with the judges of the 2018 Innovation by Design awards. Following are 3 over-hyped design trends - (1) ALGORITHMS AREN'T EVERYTHING: Jason Chua, the executive director of advanced topics at United Technologies, says, 'I think there's this impatience to say we have an algorithm for something, and that'll solve all our problems. Machine learning is not a panacea, and if you don't apply human-centered principles, you may see some of these things run amok. I think it's very valuable...but it needs to be applied in very careful ways.' (2) VIRTUAL REALITY HAS NOTHING ON THE PHYSICAL WORLD: Edel Rodriguez, illustrator and graphic designer, says, 'I don't like VR...I don't care how many times people say this is great new technology. It's just not how I want to experience the world and not how I want my kids to experience the world. There's a lot of information a kid can get through flipping a page or touching things.' (3) DATA IS PRODUCING DESIGN THAT ALL LOOKS THE SAME: Marcelo Eduardo, founding partner at Work & Co, says, 'There's an oversimplification - a lot of things look the same...People are designing in such a strict way using data all the time and they're losing the creative potential...that's when you're disruptive. Data-driven design...stagnates really fast. Someone takes over by doing something different that you wouldn't do if you were analyzing the data. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 nov 2018
The idea of coffee table books with thick pages and attractive glossy covers is accessibility, they are reachable and readily readable. Henry Miller said in his book 'The Books in My Life' (1969), 'A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition.' But this may not be the case with coffee table books as they hardly lie idle. Moreover, Susan Sontag defined her library as 'an archive of longings'. Here are coffee table books on design that stand out in 2018 - (1) Andrew Martin Interior Design Review (Volume 22): With over 500 pages of the latest interior styles and trends, marks out the World's 100 greatest interior designers and showcases their projects on an international level. A must-have for interior designers and design professionals. Martin Weller, founder of Andrew Martin, says that the 22nd edition of the review 'honours alterity', due to the 'astonishing breadth and variety of work' involved. (2) Nina Campbell Interior Decoration: Elegance and Ease (Giles Kime): The book features a biographical essay that runs alongside images of lofty rooms with fabric-matched armchairs, tablecloths and curtains, antique occasional pieces and wallpapered wall panelling, each of which is punctuated with the finest upholstered furniture. (3) Shelfie: Clutter-clearing Ideas for Stylish Shelf Art (Martha Roberts): The idea of 'shelfie' started with Marie Kondo's de-cluttering trend, followed-closely by a surge in the popularity of open shelving. #Shelfie became a hot trend on social media with creatives and interior designers showcasing their shelfs. Martha Roberts brings the social media into the pages of the book. Her shelfie digest demonstrates a fusion of great design, an unapologetic display of personality and a deep sense of relevance to the digitally engaged generation of aesthetes. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 nov 2018
In today's businesses, digital is one of the critical component that defines their growth and success. With digital and related analytics, organizations can easily track and create insights to better understand consumer behavior for their benefits. Gabriel Shaoolian, founder of DesignRush, provides valuable statistics in marketing, website design and branding for efficient online strategy and subsequent online success - (1) By 2021, mobile e-commerce will account for 54% of all online sales. (2) 38% of users will stop interacting with a website if the layout is unattractive. (3) Long landing pages generate up to 220% more leads than above-the-fold calls to action. (4) Color improves brand recognition by up to 80%. (5) Consistent brand presentation across all platforms increases revenue by up to 23%. (6) 64% of consumers say that shared values help them create a trusted relationship with a brand. (7) Content marketing efforts receive three times the leads per dollar spent than paid search receives. (8) 64% of consumers make a purchase after viewing a branded social video. (9) Facebook Ad revenue in the US will surpass total print ad spending by 2019. (10) Email has a median return on investment of 122%. Moreover, he suggests the following key points to be noted for digital strategy - Create an easy-to-use website that works on all platforms and devices; Design a memorable brand identity that communicates well with consumers; Maintain an honest and transparent relationship with customers; Invest in content marketing and social media advertisements; Test video marketing campaigns to engage users; Don't forget about the power of email marketing. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 oct 2018
Sustainability is evolving into an essential component of fashion and design industry due to environmental concerns. The Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator (BF+DA), a Pratt Institute (US) initiative, is a hub of ethical fashion and design, providing resources to design entrepreneurs, creative technologists and professionals to turn ideas into businesses. Debera Johnson, founder and ED of BF+DA, also established the Center for Sustainable Design Strategies at Pratt Institute and has been integrating sustainability into art, design and architecture programs. She says, 'There are really three things that we're focused on doing. First - redefining the fashion industry around the environment and society...Second - we have production facilities open to designers. Our goal there is to be a local resource for sustainable production and to help educate designers about how to implement strategies around efficiencies and sustainable supply chain...The third and probably the newest part of what we're doing is becoming a research and design center for the integration of technology into smart garments and functional textiles - and, most importantly, with the idea of sustainability alongside it.' Regarding consumer perceptions, she says, 'Consumers need to decide whether they're more interested in saving pennies or saving the environment. Products that are quality are going to cost more. We just have to decide where we stand...At BF+DA, transparency is a big piece of how we do storytelling...' Regarding coming together of technology and sustainability, she says, 'The digitalization is one of them. I also think that biotech is creating really interesting materials in laboratories and not farms...Then you also have things like blockchain to help with traceability...And there's also nanofibers.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 oct 2018
According to the report by Prof. Anne Boddington (PVC of Research, Business & Innovation at Kingston School of Art, Kingston University, UK), 'Future of design education in India', India needs to produce 65000 designs annually to satisfy the capacity of indigenous creative industry. The current production is around 5000 per year. Prof. Boddington is working on the development of arts and design education in India and collaborating with Indian Institute of Art and Design (IIAD). She says, 'Design and Art as a field is emerging in India. There is not only a huge opportunity but also a sense of enthusiasm and can-do attitude in Indians for it. But to match-up to the emerging field, there is a need to train teachers first...A design teacher needs to make the student autonomous and increase their level of creativity and understanding.' She recommends that arts and design education should not be limited to creative fields, but should also become part of all fields of learning. She considers critical listening, research, and quality assessment are part of design and art curriculum. According to her, there is a great potential to create interdisciplinary programs where creative skills will be imparted as a part of foundation courses. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 sep 2018
Regional elements in home and bulding design make them unique. They represent sense and sensibilities of the culture and environment they are part of. India is no different and its multicultural and diverse regions have specific design aspects. Interior designers from Livspace provide city-centric home design ideas and tips - (1) Rajvi Jhaveri (Mumbai): 'Of late, Mumbai has been leaning towards a global, Scandinavian aesthetic. However, most Mumbai homes are small, so it's an interesting challenge to create a clean, clutter-free look, while incorporating all the necessary furniture and Vaastu considerations.' Tips - Camouflage storage; Work with material palettes. (2) Saswati Mukherjee (Bengaluru): 'Bangaloreans are big fans of the form-follows-function school of thought. A pared down look that is chic, clean and cost-effective is in high demand. On the flip side, if this is not done right, this style will lack personality.' Tips - Limit your colour palette; Accent furniture; Infuse personality with artwork and plants. (3) Nehaa Rakyaan (Delhi): 'The Delhi homeowner is very conscious of aesthetics and well-informed about the latest trends. The main concern here is tempering style with practical considerations without going overboard.' Tips - Prioritize your lifestyle and personal tastes over trends; Leave some breathing room; Embrace modular furniture. (4) Priyanka Pawar Sirigiri (Hyderabad): 'Homeowners in Hyderabad are well-travelled and familiar with design trends around the world. At the same time, they are well-connected to their roots and love traditional interiors.' Tips: Mix traditional and contemporary styles; Greenery. Read on...
Four designers across four cities reveal interior secrets
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 sep 2018
There are many components of exterior and landscape design for buildings. One such component is the retaining wall with the basic purpose of holding back earth. In addition to functionality, they also expand the usable surface area. Aesthetics of these walls is also an important aspect. There are mainly two things to be kept in mind while designing retaining walls. One is the type of material to be used and the other is the use of the land. Traditional materials used were railroad ties, found stone and treated landscape timber. But nowadays bricks, concrete blocks, poured concrete and steel are added to the list. Environmental friendliness is also important while choosing materials. Aesthetics and functionality should go hand in hand. Design of the front of the wall should be in line with the overall exterior design of the building and land should be effectively and beautifully used with each element appropriately fitted. Garden wall, also called screen wall, is a type of retaining wall used to enclose a garden. It is often used to created a tiered or terraced garden. There are multipe ways in which a garden wall can be designed to provide an elegant addition to home design - wall of flowers and shrubbery, next to a pool or patio, outside a home's garden window etc. Read on...
Choosing the right retaining wall for your landscape
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 aug 2018
The possibility of eco-friendly biodegradable paper-based batteries is now made a reality by the scientists at Binghampton University (SUNY), Prof. Seokheun 'Sean' Choi from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and Prof. Omowunmi Sadik from the Chemistry Department. Their research titled 'Green Biobatteries: Hybrid Paper-Polymer Microbial Fuel Cells' was recently published in Advanced Sustainable Systems. Prof. Choi engineered the design of the paper-based battery, while Prof. Sadik was able to make the battery a self-sustaining biobattery. The biobattery uses a hybrid of paper and engineered polymers. The polymers - poly (amic) acid and poly (pyromellitic dianhydride-p-phenylenediamine) - were the key to giving the batteries biodegrading properties. Prof. Choi says, 'There's been a dramatic increase in electronic waste and this may be an excellent way to start reducing that. Our hybrid paper battery exhibited a much higher power-to-cost ratio than all previously reported paper-based microbial batteries. The polymer-paper structures are lightweight, low-cost and flexible. Power enhancement can be potentially achieved by simply folding or stacking the hybrid, flexible paper-polymer devices.' Read on...
SCIENTISTS CREATE BIODEGRADABLE, PAPER-BASED BIOBATTERIES
Author: Rachael Flores
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 aug 2018
Apparel production is generally linked to environmental issues like water and air pollution, alongwith the land, water and pesticide use related to growing natural fibers. But now research points at the source of another problem created by apparels made wholly or partially from synthetic textiles. Microfibers, a type of microplastic, are shed during normal use and laundering, and remain in the environment similar to plastic packaging that coats so many of the world's beaches, and they bond to chemical pollutants in the environment, such as DDT and PCB. Moreover, the textiles from which they are shed are often treated with waterproofing agents, stain- or fire-resistant chemicals or synthetic dyes that could be harmful to organisms that ingest them. Also, microfibers are being consumed alongwith food and drink. Research review (Microplastics in air: Are we breathing it in? - Johnny Gasperi, Stephanie L. Wright, Rachid Dris, France Collard, Corinne Mandin, Mohamed Guerrouache, Valérie Langlois, Frank J.Kelly, Bruno Tassin) published last year shows that microfibers suspended in air are possibly settling in human lungs. Research led by Richard C. Thompson from the University of Plymouth (UK) in 2004 (Lost at Sea: Where Is All the Plastic? - Richard C. Thompson, Ylva Olsen, Richard P. Mitchell, Anthony Davis, Steven J. Rowland, Anthony W. G. John, Daniel McGonigle, Andrea E. Russell) documented and quantified the occurrence of microplastics in the marine environment. Research by Mark Anthony Browne, one of Prof. Thompson's graduate student, published in 2011 (Accumulation of Microplastic on Shorelines Woldwide: Sources and Sinks - Mark Anthony Browne, Phillip Crump, Stewart J. Niven, Emma Teuten, Andrew Tonkin, Tamara Galloway, Richard Thompson) found - (1) Samples taken near wastewater disposal sites had 250% more microplastic than those from reference sites and the types of microplastic fibers found in those samples were mainly polymers often used in synthetic apparel, suggesting the fibers were eluding filters in wastewater treatment plants and being released with treated effluent (which is released into rivers, lakes or ocean water). (2) A single polyester fleece jacket could shed as many as 1900 of these tiny fibers each time it was washed. Another 2016 study by researchers from UC Santa Barbara in US (Microfiber Masses Recovered from Conventional Machine Washing of New or Aged Garments - Niko L. Hartline, Nicholas J. Bruce, Stephanie N. Karba, Elizabeth O. Ruff, Shreya U. Sonar, Patricia A. Holden) has shown far higher numbers - 250000 fibers. Rosalia Project, a nonprofit focused on ocean protection, led a study of microfiber pollution across an entire watershed (from the mouth of Hudson River all the way to where the river meets the Atlantic in Manhattan). Rachael Z. Miller, group's director, was surprised to find that, outside of samples taken near treatment plants, there was no statistically significant difference in the concentration fibers from the alpine region to the agricultural center of New York state to the high population areas of Manhattan and New Jersey. This suggested to her that fibers might be entering surface waters from the air and from septic system drainfields in rural areas without municipal sewage systems. According to Textile World, demand for polyester has grown faster than demand for wool, cotton and other fibers for at least 20 years. And by 2030 synthetics are expected to account for 75% of global apparel fiber production, or 107 million tons. All textiles, including carpeting and upholstery, produce microfibers. So do commercial fishing nets. But due to the frequency with which apparel is laundered and the increasing quantities of clothing being purchased throughout the world (thanks at least in part to the so-called fast fashion trend), apparel is the microfiber source on which researchers and policy-makers are focusing attention. Krystle Moody, a textile industry consultant, says, 'Outdoor gear is heavily reliant on synthetic textiles due to their performance profile (moisture wicking) and durability.' Jeffrey Silberman, professor and chairperson of textile development and marketing with the Fashion Institute of Technology at the State University of New York, says, 'Price is the big driver behind the use of synthetics in textiles. A poly-cotton blend is generally far cheaper than a cotton one, but doesn’t look or feel appreciably different to most consumers. The motivation is to get natural-like fibers and still be able to get a price point that people are willing to pay.' Katy Stevens, sustainability project manager for the outdoor gear industry consortium European Outdoor Group (EOG), says, 'Initial research suggested that recycled polyester might shed more microfibers. Are we doing the right thing by using recycled polyester that might shed more? It has added a whole other big question mark.' Other studies have found microfibers in effluent from wastewater plants (Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW) as a Source of Microplastics in the Aquatic Environment - Fionn Murphy, Ciaran Ewins, Frederic Carbonnier, Brian Quinn), in the digestive tracts of market fish (Ingested plastic transfers hazardous chemicals to fish and induces hepatic stress - Chelsea M. Rochman, Eunha Hoh, Tomofumi Kurobe, Swee J. Teh), throughout riversheds (Mountains to the sea: River study of plastic and non-plastic microfiber pollution in the northeast USA - Rachael Z. Miller, Andrew J. R. Watts, Brooke O. Winslow, Tamara S.Galloway, Abigail P. W. Barrows) and in air samples. Two separate studies released in March 2018 revealed that microfibers are found in bottled water sold all over the world. And a study published weeks later revealed that microplastic - chiefly microfibers - were present in 159 samples of tap water from around the word, a dozen brands of beer (made with Great Lakes water) as well as sea salt, also derived globally. Although most research has focused on synthetics textiles, but Abigail P. W. Barrows, an independent microplastics researcher who has conducted numerous studies on microfibers, says, 'Natural fibers such as cotton and wool, and semi-synthetics such as rayon should not be totally ignored. While they will degrade more quickly than, say, polyester, they may still be treated with chemicals of concern that can move up the food chain if the fibers are consumed before they degrade.' The study she led in 2018 (Marine environment microfiber contamination: Global patterns and the diversity of microparticle origins - Abigail P. W. Barrows, Sara E. Kathey, C. W. Petersen) found that in the surface water samples collected globally while 91% of the particles collected were microfibers, 12% of those were semi-synthetic and 31% were natural. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jul 2018
Team of 25 researchers from 7 institutes in Europe, USA and China (Linköping University, Sweden: Shula Chen, Xiao-Ke Liu, Liangqi Ouyang, Yingzhi Jin, Galia Pozina, Irina A. Buyanova, Weimin M. Chen, Olle Inganäs, Fengling Zhang, Feng Gao; Georgia Institute of Technology, USA: Zilong Zheng, Veaceslav Coropceanu, Jean-Luc Brédas; Chinese Academy of Sciences, China: Deping Qian, Huifeng Yao, Sunsun Li, Bowei Gao, Jianhui Hou; École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland: Wolfgang Tress; Imperial College, UK: Thomas R. Hopper, Artem A. Bakulin; The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong: Jing Liu, Shangshang Chen, He Yan; University of Cambridge, UK: Jiangbin Zhang) have come together to develop rules for designing high-efficiency organic solar cells. Their research, 'Design rules for minimizing voltage losses in high-efficiency organic solar cells', was published in Nature Materials. Lead researcher, Prof. Feng Gao of Linköping University, says, 'We have formulated some rational design rules to minimize energy losses in organic solar cells. Following these rules, we present a range of examples with low energy losses and high power conversion efficiencies.' The research provides two fundamental rules to minimize energy losses in organic solar cells - (1) Minimize the energy offset between donor and acceptor components. (2) Make sure that the low-gap component in the blend has a high photoluminescence yield. According to researchers, theoretically the limit for the fraction of the sun's energy that can be obtained in solar cells is around 33%, but laboratory experiments with silicon-based solar cells have achieved 25% at best. Prof. Olle Inganäs of Linköping University, 'But we now know that there is no difference - the theoretical limit is the same for solar cells manufactured from silicon, perovskites, or polymers.' Read on...
Design Rules for Building Efficient Organic Solar Cells
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jul 2018
Collaborative partnerships between local government, community, nonprofit organizations, academia and businesses can do wonders to enhance the various aspects of localities, cities and regions. An old factory site being rehabilitated as a business park in Lackawanna (New York, USA) is an example of sustainable redevelopment and the impact a local government can have on climate change. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Deputy Executive Maria Whyte and others officials visited Conrnell Universuty campus and discussed the redevelopment project with faculty and shared county initiatives focused on sustainability and economic growth, quality of life and building strong communities. Mr. Poloncarz says, 'Strong partnerships and sustainable practices are essential to progress, giving more people a say in their community and making responsible use of our resources to effect change that benefits generations yet to come.' Basil Safi, Executive Director of the Office of Engagement Initiatives at Cornell, says, 'The event was organized as a launching point to further community-engaged research and learning collaborations with Erie County', seeding ideas for potential projects involving Cornell students and faculty.' Initiatives for a Smart Economy (I4SE) is an economic development strategy Erie County enacted in 2013 and updated last year as I4SE 2.0. It contains 71 initiatives and is focused on inclusion and creating shared opportunities for all residents, to address persistent poverty and underemployment. Max Zhang, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Cornell, says, 'I can envision that students team up with community partners to address specific challenges they are facing.' Rebecca Brenner, a lecturer at the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, began a project in spring 2017 in Buffalo (NY) on improving communications during an emergency for that city's diverse, multilingual refugee population, and creating an emergency notification plan with nonprofit resettlement agencies as community partners. Erie County has about 300 current strategic initiatives led by county departments with community partners. They include fostering hiring of disadvantaged residents in high-poverty areas for construction jobs amid Buffalo's building boom; exploring the feasibility of a new convention center to spur tourism; creating an agribusiness park in rural southern Erie County; supporting health and human services agencies and energy programs targeting low-income households; and infrastructure and environmental remediation in county parks. Shorna Allred, associate professor of natural resources at Cornell, says, 'I was quite impressed and intrigued by what they are doing in Buffalo...We are similarly trying to bring together a partnership of people to work on sustainability issues across the city...' Read on...
Sustainable economic strategies spur engaged research interest
Author: Daniel Aloi
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 jul 2018
In a developing country like India low-income groups often lack access to proper healthcare. But, mobile technology can provide ways to enable these groups have knowledge and resources to drive preventative healthcare. Lead researchers, Aakash Ganju (co-founder of Avegen), Sumiti Saharan (Neuroscientist, Team Lead of Design & Research at Avegen), Alice Lin (Global Director of social innovation at Johnson & Johnson), Lily W. Lee (President of Almata, a division of Avegen), explain the research conducted by their team on the digital usage patterns of underserved groups in two urban areas of India, and iteratively tested user interface and content design. Researchers generated primary research insights from more than 250 new mothers and fathers living in low-income communities, and achieve understanding of the core barriers and digital needs of this population. Researchers suggest, 'Embedding health care into digital tools requires that providers overcome contextual barriers and undertake deliberate design processes. To succeed, providers must develop a nuanced understanding of the obstacles to consuming information digitally, as well as glean insights from technology, interface design, and behavioral science.' Following are some insights from the research - (1) Cost is no longer the biggest barrier: In the last year, a strong government regulatory authority has promoted competition and consumer benefits that have rapidly driven down both smartphone and data costs. (2) Infrastructure can overcome any remaining cost barriers: Only 5% of people living in less-connected and less-developed localities owned smartphones, compared to a significant 56% of individuals with similar incomes living in neighborhoods with good mobile network and infrastructure. (3) Digital experiences are not often built for low-income, urban populations: The most pervasive barrier to digital adoption in India today is a lack of knowledge about how to use digital interfaces. Language is also a barrier. India has an overall literacy rate of 74%. However, only about 10% of Indians can communicate in English - the language of the Internet. Local language content is scarce. There are gaping holes in the understanding of early-stage user requirements and pain points, from both the digital interface and content experience perspectives. (4) There is a lack of trust in health-related digital information: Low-income, underserved communities who have not been exposed to authentic digital content often have extreme distrust in digital information pertaining to health. Only 12% of families thought information from digital sources was reliable, compared to more than 90% finding information from doctors and mothers to be most, very, or somewhat reliable. According to researchers, to truly meet the needs of underserved consumers, providers must focus on the following areas - (1) High-quality content: To engage users on digital platforms, providers must use differentiated content that connects with a user's specific journey. The form, tone, and continuity of content matters. Video formats optimized for small, low-quality displays are most effective in driving engagement. When visual formats are not feasible, audio formats are the next best alternative. Understand the environments in which users consume health. Include local elements in the content, like referring to local clinics etc. (2) Behavior change: Engaging users is vital to directing changes in consumer health behavior. It's important to be deliberate about the design of the user journey. Offering incentives for content consumption, sharing, and specific health-related behaviors can help nudge users toward desired health-related behaviors. (3) Technology: Mobile apps need to be light and fast, have low memory and data requirements, and be able to run on slow and patchy networks. Display data consumption frequently, enhanced ability to view offline content and share content within community is important for engagement. (4) Design team structure: Multidisciplinary teams that bring together expertise in technology, design, business and sustainability, end-user thinking, and behavioral sciences tend to create the most effective designs. To design for the end user, providers must design with the end user, particularly for populations who are not digitally fluent. Teams should develop a thinking environment and processes that allow for hypothesis development, application design, testing, analytics, and retesting in rapid, parallel, iterative cycles. Read on...
Stanford Social Innovation Review:
Expanding Access to Health Care in India Through Strong Mobile Design
Authors: Aakash Ganju, Sumiti Saharan, Alice Lin Fabiano, Lily W. Lee
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 jun 2018
Logos are a brief visual representation of what the brand is all about. They help brands connect with customers and a memorable logo make it easier to do so. According to Siegel+Gale's 2015 study, 'Logos Now', memorable logos are 13% more likely to get consumer attention and 7% more likely to make them want to learn more about the brand. Ross Kimbarovsky, founder of Crowdspring, runs one of the world's leading marketplaces for crowdsourced logo designs, web design, graphic design, product design, and company naming services. Following are five things he recommends all organizations to do before hiring someone to design (or redesign) their logo for optimal results - (1) Your brand has to come before your logo: 'Your logo must derive meaning from your brand, not the other way around. Before a logo can communicate anything about your brand, you will need to better understand your brand. What values, practices, benefits, products or services set your company apart and make it unique?' (2) Assess what styles you like and don't like: 'New design trends and fads in logo design appear every year and not all designers can effectively incorporate popular trends and avoid the fads...Spend some time looking at various styles and build up a list of what you like and don't like.' (3) Decide what you are willing to pay: 'Pre-made logos is a terrible idea that will actually harm your business in the long run...it's not possible for a client to get a great logo for less than several hundred dollars. There's simply not enough incentive for a designer to spend time creating a custom design unless they get a reasonable fee for their work.' (4) Write a stronger 'project brief': 'The project brief can make or break a project...Most designers have limited time to do their work, so they will be picky when choosing which clients to work with...Help designers understand how you see your company or your products...Define the problems and define your goals: designers are problem solvers.' (5) Decide who will make the final branding decision: 'One person should own this process and be able to make the final decision...Pick a group of 2 or 3 people whose opinions you trust, whether in-house or not. In fact, people outside your company can often be better at this than insiders.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 may 2018
Australian fashion designer, Mark Liu, advises creative professionals to recognize the importance of studying STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) at school. He initiated 'Zero Waste Fashion Design' concept in which every piece of fabric is utilized in a fitting pattern. This process is contrary to the traditional linear pattern-making, which assumes a flat surface - with little account for the body's curves. Mr. Liu says, 'When you start pattern-making with zero waste, you really have to understand how it works to a really intricate level. Traditional techniques weren't really cutting it. I had to look at the underlying mathematics. And the more I looked, the more I found problems that mathematics had answers to but traditional pattern-making didn't.' He created 'Non-Euclidean' system of pattern-making that uses a technique called the 'Drape Measure' to record the curvature of surfaces as an angle measurement in order to create a more accurate design. Advocating STEM for creatives and designers, he also want 'A' for 'Arts' to be included to make it STEAM. Mr. Liu also supports and mentors students of International Grammar School (Sydney, Australia) emphasizing importance of maths. Ksenija Doic, design and technology teacher at school, says, 'They come into a creative subject thinking, 'Perhaps all I need is to have an idea, or be good with colours, or have an artistic side'. But what mathematics is useful for is the problem-solving part. The students who do maths find it easier to do the tasks at hand, because they have an innate knowledge of geometry, of working out curves and tangents.' Wynton Lambert, a student, says, 'Without some of the stuff I learned in maths, I wouldn't have been able to do the sleeve (of the shirt). It was very technical.' Mr. Liu considers STEAM to be the future and says, 'There’s this nice intersection between art and mathematics, and when they come together that's when really amazing things happen.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 may 2018
Researchers at The University of British Columbia (Okanagan, Canada), Prof. Abbas Milani and graduate student Armin Rashidi, are working to solve the issue of wrinkling when it comes to making textile composites. Their research, 'A multi-step biaxial bias extension test for wrinkling/de-wrinkling characterization of woven fabrics: Towards optimum forming design guidelines', was recently published in Materials & Design Journal. According to Prof. Milani, wrinkling is one of the most common flaws in textile composites, which are widely used for prototypes, as well as mass production within prominent aerospace, energy, automotive and marine applications. Researchers have investigated several de-wrinkling methods and have discovered that they can improve their effectiveness by pulling the materials in two directions simultaneously during the manufacturing process. Mr. Rashidi says, 'The challenge was to avoid unwanted fibre misalignment or fibre rupture while capturing the out-of-plane wrinkles. Manufacturers who use these types of composites are looking for more information about their mechanical behaviour, especially under combined loading scenarios.' Prof. Milani, who is director of Materials and Manufacturing Research Institute at UBC Okanagan, says, 'Composite textiles are changing the way products are designed and built in advanced manufacturing sectors. As we continue to innovate in the area of composite textiles to include more polymer resin and fibre reinforcement options, this research will need to continue in order to provide the most up-to-date analysis for manufacturers in different application areas.' Read on...
UBC Okanagan News:
Researchers improve textile composite manufacturing
Author: Nathan Skolski
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 may 2018
Design as a separate field is getting more recognition in India. Policy initiatives like 'Design in India' and 'Make in India' will give design further impetus and assist in creating a thriving design ecosystem. India now have 30 to 35 design schools, most of them came up in the last few years. Prof. Anirudha Joshi of Industrial Design Centre at IIT-Bombay explores the condition of design education in India and suggests ways to make it better and more in tune with industry. He lists prevalent gaps between academia and industry - what is taught in design schools and what a professional designer need to do - (1) Uninentional gaps: Things that left out in design curriculums. Course duration is shorter than what is needed to become a good designer. (2) Lack of industry/hands-on environment: Certain things are best taught in industry setup and academic setup doesn't suit them. (3) Intentional gaps: Design school is not supposed to prepare students only for industry. Focus is on developing thought leaders having theoretical concepts and not just skills and training. (4) Limited availability of design teachers. (5) Lack of strong tradition in design research. (6) Lack of design education infrastructure. There is demand/supply gap in terms of skilled human resources. As the industry is growing, at least five million designers are required as compared to the current approximately 20000 designers. Many sectors like manufacturing, small scale industries, small printing and publishing houses etc, although have need for designers but can't afford one in the present scenario. Moreover, the focus of current designs is more global and there are few instances of designs that are specific to the Indian market. More emphasis should be given to designers that specifically focus on India. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 apr 2018
For the betterment and growth of any local industry, it is imperative that global best practices should be emulated and, modified and customized based on the local needs. Pratyush Sarup, interior designer based in Dubai (UAE), provides key insights from Milan Design Week 2018 for Middle East region - (1) The Power Of Simplicity: Prefer clean lines and minimal materiality in design. An installation by American artist Phillip K. Smith III portrays simplicity principle with use of only one material - glass. Applied along clean angles and a humble curve, the reflective surface offered a kaleidoscopic play on light, form and structure. (2) Divine Expression: History, culture, folk tales, nature etc can be inspiration for design. A collection of chairs by designer Lara Bohinc sought inspiration from the skies above. Aptly titled 'Since the World is Round', the spherical form that characterises the collection is derived from gravitationally curved trajectories of planetary and lunar orbits. Dubai-based designer Talin Hazbar has previously turned to 'Kahf al Baba', a folk tale that originates from villages between Khor Fakan and Fujairah for a lighting collection. (3) The Circular Life Of Design: Understanding sustainability is necesssary for the continued growth of design market. Innovative waste management solutions to waste generated by the textile design industry is at the heart of 'Really', a Danish company. They debuted their latest invention, the 'Solid' textile board. Developed from upcycled end-of-life fabrics from the fashion and textile industries, it's potential was showcased via a range of products created by top designers such as Benjamin Hubert, Christien Meindertsma, Front (Sofia Lagerkvist and Anna Lindgren) and Raw-Edges (Yael Mer and Shay Alkalay). Designers can think about finding ways to repurpose waste into contemporary living solutions. (4) Join Forces: Collaboration is key to better outcomes. New York designer Lindsey Adelman and wallpaper maestro Calico (Rachel Cope and Nick Cope), as they were both working with similar surface techniques, decided to work together and presented a joint show 'Beyond the Deep' that explored the corrosive natural chemicals, like salt, to alter the appearance of surfaces. Coming together of diverse thought processes and creative expressions can fast-track creative economies. (5) Have Some Fun: Many top tier brands stepped away from their typical business-oriented presentations to explore alternative out-of-the-box ideas. Czech glass brand Lasvit took over Teatro Gerolamo, a 19th-century puppet theatre to present Monster Cabaret, its latest collection of accessories centred on mythical beasts, fantastical creatures and outcasts. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 apr 2018
According to a report by The Times of India, engineers in India are now showing more interest in the automobile industry as compared to the usual IT industry, signalling a boom time for the more traditional manufacturing sector. Tightening of US visa rules, streamlining of staff by big IT companies and increasing importance of big data and artificial intelligence in automobile industry are some factors promoting this shift. NASSCOM says that IT sector will see single-digit growth for the third-consecutive year and jobless growth for the second year. Gopal Mahadevan, CFO of Ashok Leyland, says, 'Earlier mechanical engineers were going to the IT industry but now they're coming back. There appears a reverse brain drain happening and suddenly we're getting lots of applications from this segment, much more than in the last 3 years.' According to the Naukri Jobspeak data for March 2018, there has been significant hiring growth for the auto industry. The sector has witnessed a 33% growth in March 2018 compared to March 2017. Rajan Wadhera, President of Automotive Division at Mahindra & Mahindra, says, 'The IT allure is beginning to wear off as that segment has almost reached a saturation point. The pay growth is also not as good as it once was. So the attraction to join the auto industry is back.' Thammaiah B. N., MD of Kelly Services, says, 'Product specialists are in demand and their experience levels are in the tune of 8 to 10 years or higher. The auto industry itself has stepped up its hiring by 30% and IT has been a major contributor.' Read on...
The Economic Times:
Automobile industry is the new IT for India's engineers
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 mar 2018
Every nation had architects and designers at different periods of time that have influenced these creative fields and inspired the work of others after them. Following is the list of 10 select architets of the modern era - (1) Frank Lloyd Wright (USA): Inspired by buildings in American prairies, he created the simple and practical 'Prairie House' style as a reaction to the over-embellished Victorian aesthetic. (2) Norman Foster (UK): A disciple of both Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier, he worked with Buckminster Fuller and made geodesic designs on his buildings facades as his trademark style. (3) Antoni Gaudi (Spain): Cathedral of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona (Spain) is his most famous creation. It has a style that is a mix of Baroque, Gothic, Moorish and Victorian elements. He also derived influence from nature. (4) Daniel Libeskind (Poland): Notable works include Berlin's Jewish Museum, Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin and Imperial War Museum in England. (5) Renzo Piano (Italy): Has many unique and varied styles that range from the Neo-Brutalism of his Whitney Museum of American Art in New York's Meatpacking District, to the elegant Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. (6) Ben van Berkel (Netherlands): Notable works include Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam, Theatre Agora and the Mercedes-Benz Museum. (7) Santiago Calatrava (Spain; Switzerland): Termed as sci-fi baroque architect by some, he has designed buildings that resembled the ribcages of dinosaurs. One of his recent creation is the Transit Hub for the World Trade Center. (8) Philip Johnson (USA): His modern architectural work includes Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. He is founding director of MoMA's (Museum of Modern Art, New York) Department of Architecture. (9) Eero Sarinen (Finland; USA): He is noted for his neo-futuristic style, later known as the Bauhaus's straight-line philosophy. This became the aesthetic for business and government office buildings around the world. (10) Frank Gehry (Canada; USA): His billowing forms quite literally seem to defy gravity. Design of the Guggenheim Museum branch in Bilbao (Spain) is one of the finest example of his style. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 mar 2018
Architecture and design of living spaces has to adapt to the changing behaviors and lifestyles of people, changing climate and environmental patterns, evolving social and cultural landscape etc. Following are architectural trends for 2018 - (1) Understanding how millennials occupy and use space (Piedad Rojas): Behavior and habits of millennials point to their inclinations for minimal spaces that are highly flexible. They seek small, modern, multifunctional and minimalist apartments. (2) Architects facing the construction of their own work - the urgency of being on site (José Tomás Franco): To attain knowledge, understanding and training about materials and construction processes is a growing trend. To reconnect with the materialization of projects and work in multidsciplinary collaboration with others is key to better architecture. (3) The challenge of current architecture to approach the rural context (Fernanda Amaro): Rem Koolhaas said in 2016, 'The current challenge of architecture is to understand the rural world'. He appeals to architects that the future is in intervening in 'bare, semi-abandoned, sparsely populated, sometimes badly connected spaces', since this is where architects are seeing accelerated processes of change, and must take the lead. The trend is now emerging that understands the need to go to these areas and get to know these communities in order to incorporate, from a contemporary perspective, their ways of living, materials, traditional techniques and vernacular forms to guide the architect to make friendlier, more respectful and harmonious decisions with the natural and social environment in which they are inserted. (4) Social architecture faces the return of the pendulum (Nicolás Valencia): The trend visualizes and values informal architecture, vernacular techniques and commitment to those who have been left behind in society. The selection of Alejandro Aravena as the Director of the XV Biennial of Architecture of Venice and winner of the Pritzker Prize in 2016, signifies this trend. (5) The post-digital era enters the graphic representation timeline in architecture (Karina Zatarain): By merging the available digital tools with the representative intention of collage, some contemporary architecture firms have chosen to move away from the dominant hyperrealism, instead creating a new trend - post-digital representation. This is just the beginning of a new stage of negotiation between the cold precision of technology and the expressive quality inherent in architecture. (6) Political Architecture - creativity faces the regulations and the future of cities (Fabián Dejtiar): Spanish architect Andrés Jaque mentioned in the XX Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism of Chile 2017, by default 'all architects are politicians' and the real question is what forms of policy architects are willing to defend. In this regard, political action is a tool to enhance, incorporate or transform creativity. The process of balancing creativity in the framework of regulations will influence the future of cities. (7) The revenge of women in architecture (Camila Marín, Pola Mora): This year, the Venice Biennial of Architecture will be directed by two women architects - Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara - and the list of curators in charge of the national pavilions already has a much higher female participation than in previous years. Architectural discipline will see concrete actions taken to empower women and bring them in more powerful and prominent position. (8) Learning from Bamboo to reinforce our sensitivity and efficiency (José Tomás Franco): Bamboo is a multifaceted material and has more than 1500 documented uses. In construction, its current use is related to resistance, versatility and efficiency, and is linked to the beauty of the organic and innate respect for the environment. (9) A glimpse of the direction of post-earthquake architecture (Karina Zatarain): Architecture plays an important role in response to the reconstruction needs after different types of natural disasters. Japanese architect Shigeru Ban received the Pritzker Prize in 2014 and is known for his experimental and innovative use of materials such as paper and cardboard in buildings, and for his efforts to help homeless people after natural disasters or in refugee situations. Team of architects from Hong Kong was awarded in World Architecture Festival (WAF) in Berlin for their post-earthquake reconstruction project. They developed a new and economical compacted earth construction technique that will be more resistant to seismic activity. Topics like seismic resistance of different local materials and self-construction are part of architectural discussions. Read on...
The 9 Architecture Topics You Need To Know About in 2018
Authors: Marina Gosselin, Piedad Rojas, José Tomás Franco, Fernanda Amaro, Nicolás Valencia, Karina Zatarain, Fabián Dejtiar, Camila Marín, Pola Mora
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 feb 2018
As with most technology and design trends, there is always something new happening in web design intended to capture the imagination of the audience. Experts in the field suggest the following trends that will dominate 2018 - (1) Paul Jarvis (Designer; Writer; pjrvs.com): Bright and bold minimalism and engaging photographic content. (2) Jane Portman (UI/UX Consultant; Book Author; Founder of Tiny Reminder; Co-founder of Userlist.io): Polished web applications. High-end aesthetics need to get more affordable for SaaS founders globally. As SaaS craftsmanship gets more refined, another wave of frameworks and ready-made UI solutions are expected. (3) Josh Haynam (Co-founder of Interact Quiz Builder): Interactive content. Customers expect more personalized and entertaining experience when they interact with brands, that can inturn be delivered by content like polls, quizzes, and games. (4) Vytautas Alech (UX Designer; Product Developer): Asymmetry and brutalism inspired free-form. (5) Alexey Galyzin (Product and Lead Designer at Crello): Illustrations and animations. Illustrations set a tone for a brand and add playfulness to their content. While, animations allow one to translate more information in an efficient way, driving attention and helping to tell a story in a few seconds. (6) Paula Borowska (Freelance Designer): Consistency and focus on understanding the end users. More user research and interviews to understande target audience. More consistency of the message across all channels. The tone, the company message, the language used, the visuals etc need to stay the same. It increases customer loyalty. (7) Sunil Joshi (Co-founder and Lead Designer at WrapPixel): More video, fluid shapes, use of gradients, animated CSS and typography. Videos are becoming part of a brands presentation and communication. Videos can deliver a great deal of information quickly and visually. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 feb 2018
Diversity and inclusion can be key to unlocking new ideas in creative disciplines. Current statistics suggest massive underrepresentation of minorities in design sector. According to the 2016 AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts)/Google Design Census, 73% of graphic designers are white, 8% are Asian, 7% are Hispanic, and 3% are African-American. This doesn't mirror the U.S. population, which, according to the 2016 U.S. Census, is 17% Hispanic, 13% African-American, and 5% Asian. Jacinda Walker, chair of AIGA's Diversity & Inclusion Task Force, is working to encourage diversity in design education, discourse, and practice. She is also founder of designExplorr that creates opportunities that expose youth to design. Her MFA thesis, 'Design Journeys: Strategies for Increasing Diversity in Design Disciplines' presents strategic ideas to expose African-American and Latino youth to design-related careers. She provides actionable steps that can be applied for building diversity in design fields - (1) Develop a Diversity Plan: Assess requirement. Set specific goals. Develop strategy. Evaluate. Read 'Designing for Diversity: Gender, Race, and Ethnicity in the Architectural Profession' by Kathryn H. Anthony. (2) Recruit Talent from Different Places: Seek niche online recruiting platforms that cater to underrepresented communities. (3) Hire Diverse Interns: Interns are potential employees. Target minority colleges to get them. (4) Use Diverse Imagery: Use diversity in marketing materials and website to attract minorities. (5) Visit a School to Talk about Design: Design educators emphasise the value of interaction of design professionals with students. (6) Mentor: Regularly meeting high school or college students to provide advice, guidance, and portfolio reviews is a necessary commitment. (7) Job Shadow: Allow students to come into the working environment so that they can observe, experience and learn in a professional setting. (8) Support Minority Business Enterprises: Build relationships with minority businesses and support them. Search them through special directories and databases. (9) Expand your Social Networks: Join various social media networks and explore special groups that focus on minority designs and designers. (10) Travel: Travel extensively and explore diverse cultures. It expands thinking and provides different perspectives. It builds emphathy and enhances creativity. Read on...
10 Steps To Increase Diversity In Design Right Now
Author: John Clifford
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 jan 2018
Design evolves with time and new trends become visible accordingly. Here are 5 design trends that are expected to make a mark in 2018: (1) Explained Algorithms: For the last couple of years artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have been most talked about in technology. Tech companies often kept the algorithms secret as protected IP. But now, considering the role of AI in serious decision-making situations, the need for openness and transparency in algorithms is becoming necessary. In this regard, AI community initiated the field of computer science termed as 'Explainable AI (XAI)'. David Gunning of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is building a system on XAI. This new field commits itself to make algorithms more accountable as their use involves sensitive user data. XAI expects to ensure that the relationship between technology and users is built on trust by explaining the working of AI and machine learning in critical decision-making. (2) Less Minimalism: Anti-consumerist in principle and aesthetically pleasing in practice approach to design, called minimalism, that has been at the forefront of design through lifestyle tidying guru Marie Kondo's life-changing concepts, will see a shift. More color and bolder concepts will bring new freshness. In home decor world, companies have replaced cleaned-lined Scandinavian design with chunky, gilded, colourful pieces. Online, people are celebrating ugly design with Tumblrs and Instagrams dedicated to a glittering and gaudy aesthetic. (3) Optimal Use of Technology: Excessive use of technology, specifically social media, has started taking its toll. User well-being is the new technology design mantra, as compared to the user time-spent. The idea is to build apps and technology that quietly augment our lives, not commander it. Some people who are propagating this 'Calm Tech' movement are former Xerox Parc employees Mark Weiser, Rich Gold, and John Seely Brown, who literally wrote the book on calm tech. Tristan Harris, an ex-Google ethicist, is also attempting to loosen technology's excessive grip on our attention spans through technology and app re-design. (4) No More Boring Hardware: New trends are beginning to surface in technology product design hardware, as compared to the typical - cold glass, shiny plastic, blunt shapes. Gadgets are now an inherent part of our living spaces and how they are designed influences the look and feel of our living environment. Some examples in this direction include Google's new smart speakers that were covered in a layer of soft polyester that came in white, grey, and a warm salmon hue and Microsoft Surface Pro tablet with a keyboard covered in teal and maroon Alcantara, the stain-resistant fabric that's used in luxury vehicles. (5) More Inclusive Design: Earlier products were often designed for an average user with a concept - 'If you design for everyone, you'll exclude no one.' But it is now changing and 'Inclusive' design ideas are becoming prominent. Companies like Microsoft and Google are developing a new design process that considers the problems of underserved populations as a lens for designing more thoughtful products and experiences for everyone. The idea is that by building products that are accessible to people with special needs, you're building better products. Read on...
5 Design Trends We'd Like To See More Of This Year
Author: Liz Stinson
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 dec 2017
According to the website tate.org.uk, 'Emotional architecture is a style of modernist architecture conceived in the 1950s that embraced space, colour and light, creating buildings that encouraged meditation and reflection. It was conceived by the Mexican architect Luis Barragán and the sculptor and painter Mathias Goéritz who were frustrated by the cold functionalism of modernism. In 1954 Barragán and Goéritz published 'The Emotional Architecture Manifesto' in which they argued that architecture needs to be spiritually uplifting.' Emotional architecture emphasises and respects human wants and needs. Researchers Ann Sussman (architect), Janice M. Ward (designer) and Justin B. Hollander (academic at Tufts University), are developing a scientific approach to this strategy, gleaning useful insights on how people look at structures and spaces. According to them the best way to understand what factors catch the eye is to literally study its movements through biometrics. Researchers used the same eye-tracking and facial-expression analysis software used by advertisers, software developers, and automotive designers to study our near-subconscious reactions to what we see. Ms. Sussman says, 'At the moment, biometrics are predominantly used to get people to purchase things. We'd like to use them to improve public welfare, health, and well-being. We want to promote better place-making in the world and ease of walkability.' Read on...
Is Biometric Scanning the Future of Architecture Planning?
Author: Tim Nelson
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 nov 2017
EDIT (The Expo for Design, Innovation & Technology), the 10 day event held in Toronto (Canada) showcased art, installations and projects, focused on innovation and design to build a sustainable future for the world. It included talks from David Suzuki, Ian Campeau (A Tribe Called Red), among others. Here are 5 selected ideas and innovations - (1) Prosperity For All: Curated by Canadian designer Bruce Mau, the main exhibit juxtaposed Paolo Pellegrin's photos of devastation throughout world, with people and inventions that are helping to combat issues such as famine, refugee crisis, smog and more. It highlighted Smog Free Project (Dutch artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde's smog free bike that works to purify the air around you while you ride), The Ocean Cleanup (Boyan Slat's creation that intend to remove 50% of the trash found in Great Pacific Garbage patch in just 5 years) and many more. (2) Art With Purpose: Dennis Kavelman, an artist and tech investor, collaborated with the Digital Futures team at OCAD University (Canada) to create a piece of work inspired by Andy Warhol. Expiry Dates works in two phases - It compiles answers from an online questionnaire, measuring your life expectancy against a myriad of points such as your fitness level, whether you smoke, if you're married and more. Then you sit for a self-portrait, which you attach to a QR Code with all your data. In a few minutes your heartbeat appears on the big screen, taken from a reading from your eye, and then your portrait appears along with your predicted date of expiry. Another piece of the installation, titled That's Not Very Many, uses a magnetized digital board to break down those days in months. (3) The New Housing: Living sustainably means looking at where we live and providing affordable housing for all. Exhibit included Mickey Mouse's Home of the Future that was a fully functional shipping container created by students at OCAD. The One House Many Nations home was created by grassroots organization Idle No More, that seeks to provide affordable housing based on traditional indigenous ideas, and consists of two modules that link together, one dubbed shelter and the other service, that can be pieced together based on the family or individual's needs as well as the landscape in which they live. (4) The Future Of Fashion: Fashion Takes Action's Design Forward award was given to a sustainable fashion label Peggy Sue Collection (founded by Peggy Sue Deaven-Smiltnieks), a line of eco-friendly cotton and denim. (5) Waste No More: Keeping in mind the concept of feeding many with minimal impact, Waterfarmers created an on-site aquaponics exhibit to show how fish waste can be used to fertilizer food. The idea is to utilize water that is housing fish to then fertilize plants, providing protein and vegetables in a sustainable manner. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 oct 2017
India's future success will be defined on the basis of how its positive elements like demographic dividend, IT and software, manufacturing, agriculture, government initiatives (Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, Startup India) etc, gel together effectively and grow. Adding to all these, focus on research, design and innovation, will further propel creation and development of new and emerging technologies and concepts. Specifically, Indian auto industry does have R&D capabilities, but it is mostly driven by foreign collaborations and partnerships. Moreover, Indian operations of most foreign auto makers rely on their global development centers when it comes to technological innovations. But the dynamics of the industry are shifting, and companies are mobilizing resources and assets towards design and development also, in addition to manufacturing. The change is also visible in the electric vehicle segment with a strong policy focus. Recent conference organized by NASSCOM and Autocar Professional was directed towards discussing the design, R&D and technology based future of the industry. Sameer Yajnik, COO-APAC of Tata Technologies, says, 'Indian engineers, thus far, have brought together just a few parts of the jigsaw puzzle in terms of vehicle development, but this is set to be transformed. With EVs, ADAS, autonomous, connected cars, et al, there are a slew of technology-driven changes that need to be responded to and India is an excellent place.' Patrick Newbery, Chief Digital Officer of Global Logic, says, 'Design and engineering work best when coupled together, and the Indian start-up ecosystem has displayed a good show of that already...Amalgamating design and engineering, as well as with its ability to innovate and create as a response-stimulus to change, India holds a strong place in developing new future technologies, where even the US would be looking outside to outsource these innovative solutions. There is more likelihood of innovation coming out of such environment.' Current spend in automotive engineering and R&D of Europe is 35%, that of US is 25% and, India's is at 10%. This is expected to triple in next 3 years. Sanjeev Verma, CEO of Altran India, says, 'India holds a very important place in the whole jigsaw and especially can play a great role in designing passive safety and IoT systems...With the whole ecosystem springing up now, the next three to four years are going to be extremely transformational for the development vertical in the Indian automotive sector.' Commenting on design in India, Raman Vaidyanathan of Tech Mahindra says, 'Indian engineering is bound to be more frugal, compared to the rest of the world because of the country’s legacy in being cost conscious. This is very positive as it implies that a good quality product, designed and developed to a cost in India could be produced in the emerged markets, while the reverse is going to prove rather expensive.' The challenge of skilled human resources in design and engineering in India remains. NASSCOM has started a foundation course in integrated product development that has reached 1000 colleges since CY2015. Government, academica and industry has to come up with integrated strategies that need to be applied to upgrade the knowledge and skills of graduates coming out of technology institutes and ensure success of design, research and development in India. Read on...
Beyond Make in India - Design and develop in India now imperative
Authors: Sumantra B. Barooah, Mayank Dhingra
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 oct 2017
Design conscious renters and buyers seek well designed interiors when searching for living spaces, in addition to location, price and amenities. Mary Cook, founder and principal at Mary Cook Associates (MCA), explains the fundamentals of design that should be kept in mind for successful interiors. Moreover, answering the following questions focused on the end user is key to achieve best results - who is my client, where do they live and what does that mean to how they live? Design basics she suggests are - (1) Scale and Proportion: Balancing the scale and proportion of the elements of the interior (like furniture etc) with the overall space is key to achieving comfort. Also keep in mind the target market and adjust the elements accordingly. (2) Function and Livability: Effective design is achieved by understanding the various functions that take place in the living space. Also understand the requirements of those who are expected to occupy it. Designers should consider how the target market will experience and utilize the various spaces within the unit before implementation of their ideas. (3) Lighting: Lighting design is essential and proper balance need to be achieved. It is one of the often overlooked element of interior design. Comprehensive lighting plans that fulfil the needs of those who will occupy the space makes it attractive. Layered lighting is the key to achieving optimal illimination. A combination of natural lighting, foundational lighting and task-centered lighting brings the necessary balance and efficiency. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 sep 2017
Team of architects at Ant Studio (India) - Monish Siripurapu, Abhishek Sonar, Atul Sekhar, Sudhanshu Kumar - have used computational technologies (CFD Analysis) and reinvented the traditional evaporative cooling technique to lower temperature of emissions from an electronics factory with less cost, energy consumption and impact on surrounding environment. Ancient Egyptians, Persians and later on Mughals in India utilized the evaporative cooling technique to overcome hot climate. According to a research study by Prof. Asif Ali of Aligarh Muslim University (India), published in International Transaction Journal of Engineering, Management, & Applied Sciences & Technologies (2013), 'The emperor's throne at the centre of Diwan-e-Khas is surrounded by two sets of openings four meters apart from each other. These openings were covered with grass mats with sprinkled water during summers...' The architects from Ant Studio stacked cylindrical terracotta cones, giving it a circular shape, and water was made to run over them. Hot air coming from the generators passed over the system lowering the temperature substantially. Further technical details of the system can be obtained from an ArchDaily.com article 'This Innovative Cooling Installation Fights Soaring Temperatures in New Delhi.' Monish Siripurapu, founder of Ant Studio, says, 'As an architect, I wanted to find a solution that is ecological and artistic, and at the same time evolves traditional craft methods...I believe this experiment worked quite well functionally. Findings from this attempt opened up a lot more possibilities where we can integrate this technique with forms that could redefine the way we look at cooling systems, a necessary yet ignored component of a building’s functionality. Every installation could be treated as an art piece...The circular profile can be changed into an artistic interpretation while the falling waters lend a comforting ambience. This, intermingled with the sensuous petrichor from the earthen cylinders allow for it to work in any environment with the slightest of breeze. Having said that, there are many factories throughout the country that face a similar issue and this is a solution that can be easily adopted and a widespread multiplication of this concept may even assist the local potters.' Read on...
Architects in India Use Natural Cooling to Take the Edge off Factory Emissions
Author: Vittoria Traverso
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 sep 2017
Education and learning has to keep pace with the happenings in industry, and equip students with the cutting-edge knowledge and skills, to assure their success in the highly competitive marketplace. Simon Biggs, Education Liaison Officer for Wales at Renishaw, explains how 3D printing is the new technology that is becoming mainstream part of the classrooms for engineering and mathematical learning. Mr. Biggs says, '3D printing is a well-established industrial technology for prototyping and manufacturing, particularly popular with the aerospace and defence sectors. Also known as additive manufacturing (AM), 3D printing is the process of making a solid 3D object from a digital computer aided design (CAD) file...3D printing is a rapid production method with minimal waste material. Its design flexibility means users can manufacture bespoke objects for a low cost...Understanding and using this growing technology can benefit children's learning, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects but also beyond these more traditional fields in music, design technology, history, geography and biology...Exciting and innovative projects are also a simple way to keep pupils engaged in STEM subjects, which is a vital step forward in addressing the STEM skills shortage.' Explaining the rise of 3D printers in schools and their use to develop new skills in students, he says, 'The increasing numbers of 3D printers in schools is not only due to the increasing recognition of 3D printing being a relevant and engaging educational tool, but also relates to the number and availability of low cost 3D printing machines...Advances in resources available for teachers and other education professionals are also making 3D printing more widely accessible...Using 3D printing as a production method enables students and pupils to move from the conception of an idea to producing a physical object with relative ease...Interrogating a physical object can make it easier for pupils to spot mistakes in designs. This allows them to gain valuable problem solving skills in a creative, hands-on way.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 aug 2017
Students often take part in initiatives outside of the structured academic curriculum and pursue their independent learning interests. They create common interest clubs, publish magazines, develop websites etc. Architectural education is an area that demands continuous stream of ideas and creativity. Digital world of collaboration and speed sharing, and reaching out to wider audience is giving new meaning to student-driven platforms. KoozA/rch, Bartlett's Lobby, AA Files (Architectural Association's Journal), Yale School of Achitecture's Perspecta are some examples. Sabrina Syed, Co-founder of Volume64, shares the story of their design platform (Volume64) that evolved out of conversations among students. She explains, 'We test different micro-typologies and challenge architectural norms through our drawing experiments: isometric cubes of 4x4x4 meters - coined the CubeLab. In one season, around 50-70 drawings are produced by a constantly changing team of contributors. Our collaborators write, curate, and edit briefs which our team of contributors (regular and visiting) respond to in drawings that get released in 2-week installments, with 5-6 briefs marking a season...The idea of Volume64 was sparked when our co-founder Lloyd Lee attended a workshop on diagrams during his first term at the Architectural Association.' Mr. Lee says, 'What can we do without the decades of practical experience and necessary compromises in architecture? Can there be a space dedicated purely to the experiments and drawings resulting from this line of questioning? Volume64 finally came to light as we continued our conversations from these questions.' Ms. Syed further explains, 'Challenging everyday spaces, and thus questioning the perception of architecture, became the motivation behind Volume64. The idea of a platform developed: To express these small exercises that could challenge existing rules without the limitations of academic or professional submissions...Volume64 is run by a group of students in their final years of architecture education. Currently, our team members are from the Architectural Association, the Bartlett School of Architecture and the Edinburgh School of Architecture (ESALA). Collaboration is at the heart of the platform.' Jonathan Wren, Bartlett School of Architecture M.Arch, says, 'Cross-school collaboration has encouraged very different takes on similar briefs. [It creates] a lot of cross--fertilization of ideas, approaches, and methods that go beyond speaking with friends at other schools, reading about others' work or visiting degree shows.' Henry Schofield, Bartlett School of Architecture M.Arch, says, 'Volume64 is an essential tool for architecture students to not only exercise their ability to think and question but also to share and engage in a dialogue with their fellow contributors, in order to produce productive architectural content that contributes to the critical discourse of the platform...' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 aug 2017
Design influences products and services from inception to completion. John Maeda, Global Head of Computational Design & Inclusion at Automattic, in his '2017 Design in Tech' report explains that markets are relying on intangibles like design for a higher ROI. Tracy Leigh Hazzard, CEO of industrial design firm Hazz Design, explores the value of design in today's market, and the details Mr. Maeda has provided in his recently released report. Mr. Maeda is spearheading the new convergence across the design & technology industries. Data shows that design is an all-encompassing process of offering something to the market that is complete in every way, and also inclusive. Linking design directly to ROI provides measurement of value that design offers to organizations and how sucessful it actually was/is. Design is about market relevance and meaningful results. Mr. Maeda says, 'We moved from 'tech-led' to 'experience-led' digital products as services on smartphones took over and gave access to everyone.' Designers are finding more acceptance in the technology industry and their headcount is increasing. Linda Naiman, Inc.com Columnist, says, 'Making inclusive design profitable hinges on the principle that if you want to reach a larger market, you have to reach people you're not already reaching by being inclusive. This new frontier of design requires some technical understanding outside of purely classical design. The hybrid designer/developer, referred to as a 'unicorn' in the tech industry, is often relied upon to bridge that gap.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jul 2017
According to 'Instructional Design Report 2016' funded by the Gates Foundation, there are 13000 instructional designers in US. The field is increasing in popularity as online education proliferates and the need to translate content into digital forms rises. Designing online learning experiences is becoming essential training employees, mobilizing customers, serving students, building marketing channels, and sustaining business models. Instructional design has deep roots in distance education, human computer interaction, and visual design. ontemporary instructional design sits at the intersection of three core disciplines: learning science, human-centered design, and digital marketing. Following are some lessons and resources for those starting out in the field of instructionl designs - (1) Start with a deep understanding of your learners: Start by developing an Empathy Guide similar to one put together by Stanford d.School or reviewing the free book 'Talking to Humans' by Giff Constable; Conduct observations and interviews with target learners; Synthesize finds into learner archetypes; Test instructional concepts and product ideas by building rough prototypes; d.School 'Protyping Dashboard', Design Thinking process courses by IDEO.org or free resources offered by IDEO's Teacher's Guild. (2) Ground yourself in the fundamentals of learning science: Research on learning and teaching; 'The ABCS of How We Learn', a 2016 book by Daniel Schwartz; 'How People Learn', the 1999 foundational text edited by John Bransford, Ann Brown, and Rodney Cocking; Online Stanford lectures on Education's Digital Future. (3) Determine the 'powerful ideas' you want to teach and build your curriculum using backwards design: For education technology read Seymour Papert's 'Mindstorms: Children, Computer and Powerful Ideas'; Then use 'Understanding By Design Framework' (ascd.org) to structure your curriculum. (4) Go study other great teachers and other great learning experiences: altMBA program by Seth Godin that runs using Slack; Angela Duckworth's delivery of messages on camera; Animations produced by Amnesty International; Interactive lessonas produced on Oppia; Screen-based technologies produced by groups like Paulo Blikstein's Transformative Learning Technologies Lab; Explore multiple approaches from diverse instructional materials available online. (5) Get a lay of the technological landscape, but don't let your LMS hold you hostage: Get familiar with various platform options, particularly with most popular ones - Coursera, Udacity, Udemy, and EdX; Check out the list of global MOOC platforms curated by Class Central; Read some critical perspectives from the likes of Digital Pedagogy Lab or the MIT Media Lab; Check out the blogs of online learning pioneers like Connie Malmud. (6) Don't try to migrate an in-person experience into an online format: Read 'Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology' by Allan Collins and Richard Halverson; Explore perspectives and research of Mitch Resnick and the late Edith Ackermann of the MIT Media Lab. (7) If you build it, they won't come. Understand the fundamentals of digital marketing: Check out blog post of Alex Turnbull (Founder of Groove) that explains 6-step marketing strategy for selling online course; Udemy has also created a great toolkit to help online course instructors market their learning experience. (8) Collect student feedback. Iterate. Share what you learned. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 jul 2017
Richard J. Weller, professor of landscape architecture at University of Pennsylvania, and team of academics have created an online project called 'Atlas for the End of the World', a collection of maps and graphics to help viewers see where and how urbanization is in conflict with biodiversity. According to Prof. Weller, 'We mapped that interface between urban growth and the world's most valuable diversity...That conflict is bloody, it's disastrous, it's happening all over the world.' The project is an answer to Ortelius's 'Theatrum Orbis Terrarum' (Theatre of the World), printed in 1570 and thought to be the first modern atlas. Prof. Weller hopes that by 'mapping the intricacies of ecological conflict...architects, designers, and others can help create more ecologically sustainable relations between people and the planet.' Read on...
Data Activists Map the World's Ecological Conflict
Author: Cyndi Suarez
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 jul 2017
Technology is taking away traditional jobs from many industries. Even the workers in technology intensive graphic design sector face challenges from online artifical intelligence (AI) platforms that provide graphic design services. Canada-based Logojoy is one such platform providing personalized graphic services for small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs. It's AI platform is intuitive and mimics the process of working with human graphic designer. Dawson Whitfield, founder of Logojoy, says, 'The magic of Logojoy is the groundbreaking algorithm, user-friendly interface, and premium design ingredients. Logojoy has close to 1000 design rules built into its algorithm.' According to EY's recent 'Millennial Economy Report', 72% of new businesses do not have the funding for graphic design services. Mr. Whitfield adds, 'As a graphic designer, many of my clients were looking for budget solutions for their businesses, so this is when I realized I could help a lot of people in the start-up and SMB spaces with this software.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 jun 2017
Innovation Showcase (ISHOW) by American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is a hardware competition for socially minded projects. The purpose is to create awareness that hardware engineers too play a role in social innovation. K. Keith Roe, President of ASME, says, 'Our research showed a tremendous lack of support for hardware innovators seeking to enter global markets and make a societal impact.' Paul Scott, ASME ISHOW Director, says, 'From South America to West Africa to Southeast Asia, there are many talented folks that are changing paradigms with their work.' Currently, ASME ISHOW is held in US, Kenya and India. This year's American competition will be held on 22 June 2017. According to ISHOW website (thisishardware.org), 10 American finalists alongwith their projects are - (1) Hahna Alexander (SmartBoots: Self-charging work boots that collect status and location data and provide workforces in hazardous environments with actionable insights); (2) Jonathan Cedar (BioLite HomeStove: An ultra-clean cookstove that reduces smoke emissions by 90% and biomass fuel consumption by 50% compared to traditional open fire cooking, while also co-generating electricity from the flame to charge mobile phones and lights); (3) Matthew Chun (RevX: A transfemoral rotator that restores dignity to low-income amputees by enabling them to sit cross legged, dress themselves, get back to work, and more); (4) Shivang Dave (QuickSee: PlenOptika developed the QuickSee to disrupt the barriers to eyeglass prescriptions for billions of people worldwide so that they can get the eyeglasses they need); (5) Alexandra Grigore (Simprints: With a novel fingerprinting system, Simprints aims to create a world where lack of identity is never the reason why anyone is denied basic services in healthcare, education and finance); (6) Mary McCulloch (Voz Box: Millions of people, right now, are nonverbal. Current devices are too expensive and uncustomizable. The Voz Box is an innovative speech generation device that has customizable sensors and is affordable); (7) Erica Schwarz (Kaleyedos Imaging Device (KID): A revolutionary infant retinal imager that will empower neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) worldwide to decrease the incidence of visual impairment and blindness due to infant retinal disease); (8) Kenji Tabery (VeggieNest: Smart home gardening systems, and aims to address the growing market need for access to organic, affordable, and nutritious produce that enable global consumers to be food secure); (9) Team Sixth Sense (Team Sixth Sense: We have designed a system of sensor to attach to lower-limb prosthetics that works with NeoSensory's current technology to provide realtime vibrotactile feedback); (10) Quang Truong (EV 8 Cooler: Evaptainers creates low-cost mobile refrigerators that run on water. These are perfect for low income families who live off grid or cannot afford a conventional refrigerator). Read on...
10 engineers will showcase hardware's role in social innovation
Author: Nia Dickens
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 may 2017
Design influences every aspect of human life. Pradyumna Vyas, Director of NID-Ahmedabad (India), says, 'From the minute you wake up and pick up your brush to the time you retire to bed, there is design touching your life every minute.' Sanjay Dhande, former Director of IIT-Kanpur and founder of Avantika University, says, 'Our education, curricula, pedagogy and assessment is all outdated. Avantika University will have courses like liberal arts, body and mind, creative arts and the like. Even economics and management will be taught keeping design in mind.' According to a report, 'Future of Design Education in India' by India Design Council and British Council, 'The market for design in India is expected to touch Rs 18,832 cr by 2020...Only a fifth of the design market is currently tapped.' A design industry survey finds that 57% of design school graduates find jobs with large and medium-sized businesses, with small and medium-sized enterprises employing about 17% of the students. Nearly 13% of D-school graduates work for individuals, 9% work for public sectors and 8% join academic institutions. Apart from the traditional architecture, interior, arts and crafts etc, there more newer design areas for career opportunities - Social Design; Industrial Design; Space Designing; User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) [Tangible Interactions]; Doodling. Nandita Abraham, CEO at Pearl Academy, says, 'Today , especially for young people, doodling has become a language and a way of communicating with each other expressively.' R. Sandesh, Associate Professor at Industrial Design Centre (IIT-Bombay), says, 'Design is an overarching discipline.' Read on...
The Times of India:
No more offbeat - Careers in design define our lives
Author: Hemali Chhapia
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 may 2017
According to design experts at 'ASEAN Creative Cities Forum and Exhibition' (Philippines), creative industry plays an important role in a country's economic growth. Some of the experts that participated include Prof. John Howkins (Author of the book 'The Creative Economy'), Nora K. Terrado (Chairperson, ASEAN 2017 Committee on Business and Investment Promotion-CBIP), Paolo Mercado (Nestle Philippines), Andrew Erskine (Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy), Katelijn Verstraete (British Council East Asia), Kenneth Cobonpue (Philippines), Anon Pairot (Thailand) and Colin Sean (Singapore). Ramon Lopez, Secretary of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), says, 'The goal of the event is to channel these (creative) assets into innovation , employment, trade opportunities, and mobilizing it to drive each of the economies in the whole Southeast Asian region.' Rhea Matute, executive director of Design Center of the Philippines, says, 'We really are committed to develop the creative quotient of the Philippines...This is really an important opportunity by which our designers, our creatives, can branch out beyond our borders to have a more open system of having dialogue with our ASEAN partners in view also of the ASEAN integration.' Moreover, the event was also intended to initiate a movement to have at least one Philippine city to be a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). UCCN currently have 116 cities from 54 countries covering seven creative fields: Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Music and Media Arts. It's goal is 'to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.' Following are some takeaways from the forum: (1) Working in the creative industry is a lucrative career. (2) The road to success is challenging yet fulfilling. (3) Always look around you, and be original. (4) Standing up with your decisions. (5) Government plays a big role in developing the creative industry. (6) School plays an important role, too. According to Colin Seah, Singapore-based architect and Ministry of Design's Founder and Director, 'At the school level, I'm not saying you need to train everyone to be a creative but if you introduce design education at an early stage, then what you do is two fold - you unlock any potential for people who may be seeking these professions. Secondly, you train and educate people who will eventually become patrons and consumers...then it becomes a cycle. You have good creatives, and you get people who can pay for creatives.' Read on...
ASEAN Forum - Creativity is the driving force in economic growth
Author: Romsanne Ortiguero
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 apr 2017
Among the many challenges that startups face during their early stage is that of hiring a first employee. With unspecific and variable requirements, and limited financial resouces, hiring a full-time employee could be a costly option. Autumn Adeigbo, ethical fashion advocate and founder of a fashion label, explains how first hiring or working with freelancers can be an optimum alternative for startups. It not only saves on costs associated with full-time employee, but also prepares the entrepreneur to select the best candidate in future based on specific needs. She shares 7 steps to successfully hire a freelancer - (1) Create A Job Description, Experience & Education Requirement: Be specific in creating a human resource document for every freelancer, advisor and intern needed during the first year of company's operation. (2) Work with an HR Mentor/Advisor: To obtain right guidance, get a mentor. Moreover, obtain information through articles and high quality content. (3) Source Your Talent: Use a combination of offline and online processes to reach out for the talent. Post requirements on focused websites and job boards, in addition to approaching your own network. (4) Interview The Candidates: Take time to prepare the questions to be asked. Browse their profiles diligently. Discuss specific requirements with the candidate. Seek for the right fit with balanced expectations. (5) Alert The Chosen Candidate & Sign Paperwork: Communicate to the selected candidate the period for which they would be needed initially and do the necessary paperwork. (6) Train The Candidate With Company Culture, Background, Rules & Expectations: Create a brand/company culture document to avoid ambiguity. Share brand's evolution. (7) Start Work & Review Their Early Performance: Observe and review the work and communication style for better understanding and working partnership. Read on...
7 Steps To Successfully Hiring Your First Freelancer
Author: Autumn Adeigbo
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 apr 2017
Balancing tradition and modernity can be one of the effective approaches in architecture and design. Architect Sathya Prakash Varanashi explores and explains how use of natural materials can empower the designer to create ideas rooted in tradition, yet retain the freedom to interpret modernity in form and preception. In today's world, reducing environmental degradation through sustainable approaches is a challenge acknowledged by all. Although availability of natural materials is less as compared to manufactured materials, but a balanced hybrid approach to design that gels well with local environment and surroundings along with utilizing traditional techniques can be an effective solution. Mr. Varanashi shares an example of recent architectural installation at Kochi Biennale (India) where the architect Tony Joseph has designed an auditorium, built largely with natural materials such as mud, arecanut, jute and coloured fabric, it also juxtaposes with steel trusses with sheets as wall panel and roof. Mr. Varanashi concludes, 'Given all this, why are the natural materials losing out against manufactured materials? It may not be only because modern materials have greater potential in some respects, but also because we are forgetting certain design fundamentals which would enable us to mix and match the local material to create excellence. Design has to do more with designing than a blind application of a technology or a material.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 mar 2017
Norimasa Nishiyama of German Electron Synchrotron DESY, and international team of researchers from Germany and Japan (Ryo Ishikawa, Hiroaki Ohfuji, Hauke Marquardt, Alexander Kurnosov, Takashi Taniguchi, Byung-Nam Kim, Hidehiro Yoshida, Atsunobu Masuno, Jozef Bednarcik, Eleonora Kulik, Yuichi Ikuhara, Fumihiro Wakai, Tetsuo Irifune), have created a 2mm diameter disc of transparent silicon nitride, one of the hardest material known. The scientific report titled, 'Transparent Polycrystalline Cubic Silicon Nitride', was recently published in Nature. The transparent ceramic could be used for ultra-tough windows able to withstand extreme conditions. Windows that let users peer into engines and industrial reactors, or protect optical sensors from high pressures or heat are usually made of diamond, an expensive material that becomes unstable at 750°C. On the other hand, transparent silicon nitride ceramic can withstand temperatures upto 1400°C and is much cheaper. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 mar 2017
Team of researchers from IIT-Kharagpur, Prof. Sudip Misra, Prof. N. S. Raghuwanshi, Anandarup Mukherjee and Arijit Roy, has designed India's first indgenous drone, BHIM, that can create a Wi-Fi zone within a nearly 1 km radius when it flies overhead. It is specifically designed for emergency and conflict situations. It has a battery backup of 7 hours, can fly into a disaster zone and create a seamless communication network for those involved in the operation. The automated drone has an actual vision-based guidance with built-in intelligence that helps it identify if an area is crowded or not. It will then fly away and land in a safer place. According to Prof. Sudip Mishra, 'Such advanced built-in intelligence is not available in drones now. The design is completely in-house. The controlling and guiding algorithms of the drone have been developed in our lab.' Internet of Things (IoT) is an important component of the drone. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 12 mar 2017
Researchers from Hokkaido University (Japan) have created 'fiber-reinforced soft composites' or tough hydrogels combined with woven fiber fabric. The study, 'Energy-Dissipative Matrices Enable Synergistic Toughening in Fabric Reinforced Soft Composites' (Authors - Yiwan Huang, Daniel R. King, Taolin Sun, Takayuki Nonoyama, Takayuki Kurokawa, Tasuku Nakajima, Jian Ping Gong), was recently published in Advanced Functional Materials. Researchers combined hydrogels containing high levels of water with glass fiber fabric to create bendable, yet tough materials, employing the same method used to produce reinforced plastics. They found that a combination of polyampholyte (PA) gels, a type of hydrogel they developed earlier, and glass fiber fabric with a single fiber measuring around 10µm in diameter produced a strong, tensile material. The procedure to make the material is simply to immerse the fabric in PA precursor solutions for polymerization. The developed fiber-reinforced hydrogels are 25 times tougher than glass fiber fabric, and 100 times tougher than hydrogels. Moreover, the newly developed hydrogels are 5 times tougher compared to carbon steel. According to lead researcher, Prof. Jian Ping Gong, 'The fiber-reinforced hydrogels, with a 40 percent water level, are environmentally friendly. The material has multiple potential applications because of its reliability, durability and flexibility. For example, in addition to fashion and manufacturing uses, it could be used as artificial ligaments and tendons, which are subject to strong load-bearing tensions.' Read on...
Hokkaido University News:
New "tougher-than-metal" fiber-reinforced hydrogels
Authors: Jian Ping Gong, Naoki Namba
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 feb 2017
Society continues to face challenges to construct affordable, high-quality, innovative and future-focused built environments. Many building processes are sub-standard and obsolete, with sustainability concerns. Current research on integration of digital technologies within architectural and construction processes promises substantial contributions to sustainability and productivity. Research connections between diverse fields like architecture, structural design, computer science, materials science, control systems engineering, and robotics are required. Researchers during the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 2017 reveal latest developments in digital fabrication in architecture at 1:1 building scale. They explain successful integration of digital technologies in design, planning, and building processes to transform the building industry. (1) On Site Digital Fabrication for Architecture: Prof. Jonas Buchli, Agile and Dexterous Robotics at ETH Zurich (Switzerland), proposes a radical focus on domain specific robotic technology enabling the use of digital fabrication directly on construction sites and in large scale prefabrication. (2) The New Mathematics of Making: Prof. Jane Burry, Director of the Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory at RMIT University in Melbourne (Australia), explores how these opportunities (Digital computation; Linking of design attributes to extraneous factors; Mathematical design models etc) for automation, optimization, variation, mass-customisation, and quality control can be fully realised in the built environment within full scale construction. (3) Building Materials for 3D Printing: Prof. Ronald Rael, Architecture at University of California at Berkeley (USA), reveals the development of new materials that can overcome the challenges of scale and costs of 3D printing on 1:1 construction scale. He demonstrates that viable solutions for 3D printing in architecture involve a material supply from sustainable resources, culled from waste streams or consideration of the efficiency of a building product's digital materiality. Read on...
ETH Zurich Global News:
Digital Fabrication in Architecture - The Challenge to Transform the Building Industry
Author: Rahel Byland Skvarc
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 jan 2017
Team of researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA) (Markus Buehler, Zhao Qin, Gang Seob Jung, Min Jeong Kang), has designed one of the strongest lightweight materials known, by compressing and fusing flakes of graphene, a 2-dimensional form of carbon. The new material, a sponge-like configuration with just 5% the density of steel, can have a strength 10 times more. The findings, published in the journal 'Science Advances', show that critical factor of 3-D form is their unusual geometrical figure, suggesting that similar strong, lightweight materials can be made from other materials by creating similar geometric figures. 2-D materials have exceptional strength alongwith unique electrical proberties. But they are extraordinarily thin. Prof. Buehler says, 'They are not very useful for making 3-D materials that could be used in vehicles, buildings, or devices. What we've done is to realize the wish of translating these 2-D materials into 3-D structures.' Prof. Qin adds, 'Once we created these 3-D structures, we wanted to see what's the limit - what's the strongest possible material we can produce.' According to Prof. Buehler, 'You can replace the material itself with anything. The geometry is the dominant factor. It's something that has the potential to transfer to many things.' Prof. Huajian Gao of Brown University comments, 'This is an inspiring study on the mechanics of 3-D graphene assembly. The combination of computational modeling with 3-D-printing-based experiments used in this paper is a powerful new approach in engineering research. It is impressive to see the scaling laws initially derived from nanoscale simulations resurface in macroscale experiments under the help of 3-D printing. This study shows a promising direction of bringing the strength of 2-D materials and the power of material architecture design together.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 dec 2016
10 biggest architecture trends of 2016 - (1) Minimalist interiors finished with cool-toned marble, uniform woodwork and block coloured walls (2) Prefabricated houses for long-term housing (3) Co-living and co-working spaces, largely targeting millennials (4) Shingles (Concept is broadly utilized with a huge variety of materials and scales demonstrating the versatility of the cladding) (5) Charred timber (Japanese wood-preservation technique known as shou sugi ban has been used to blacken the cladding of hotels, houses, pavilions and studios the world over) (6) London house extension boom resulting from inclination towards contemporary design (7) Sustainability (8) Backyard and garden studios are constructed by architects, designers, writers and artists as they seek to maximize limited inner city space (9) Skinny skyscrapers (10) Carbon fibre is tipped as building tool of the future. Experts suggest that when the material is combined with robotic construction techniques is paving the way for a fourth industrial revolution. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 02 dec 2016
The rising tide of mobile devices brought with it the deluge of apps. As of June 2016, there were an overwhelming 4.2 million apps available on both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. For an app to stand out among such a crowded app-place is not an easy task. Dima Rakovitsky, Founder and CEO of ROKO Labs, shares the following best practices for an aspiring app inventor - (1) Know Your Audience: Diligently figure out who will use the app and what problem will it solve; Focus on customer aesthetics based on the platform (iOS or Android) they use and design accordingly. (2) Validate Before You Build: Research the competitive market; Do customer surveys; Draw user flows; Professionally design the app and make a clickable prototype; Share it with potential users and seek suggestions and feedback. (3) Marketing And User Acquisition Plans: Make sure app has viral components; Create a marketing strategy supported with strong tactics; Have a marketing and advertising budget. (4) Make a Positive First Impression: It is key to acquiring and retaining users; Have a well-designed and memobrable app icon with short engaging description; To reduce churn rates, make sure your app is fast, intuitive and allows anonymous usage. (5) Easier is Always Better: Keep your app simple and accessible to everyone; Have understanding of UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience). (6) Consistency Is Key: The app should look and feel cohesive; Have unified color scheme and consistent typography; Make sure your app takes advantage of the unique features and norms of each mobile platform, but still coordinates with your website. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 nov 2016
Local climate conditions and natural environment defines the efficiency, effectiveness and aesthetics of landscape design. Arizona's (USA) climate is charecterized by abundance of sunlight throughout the year with warm days, refreshing night and dry air. Therefore, outdoor living spaces are given extra importance by residents. To cater to this requirement, and provide comfort and functionality, architects and landscape designers are giving special emphasis to trends observed by CreativeEnvironments.com - (1) Sustainability: Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) considers sustainability as one of the leading trends of 2016; Water-starved state like Arizona, with twenty year of draught, has more relevance; Xeriscaping; Use of native, draught-tolerant, desert-adaptive plants; Grouping plants based on their water consumption; Rainwater harvesting; Use of rain barrels to capture water flowing off the roof; Designs can include contours like depressions, berms, or basins that collect rainwater; Edible gardens with native plants. (2) Indoor Comforts: Extending the comforts of indoors to backyards; Outdoor living spaces like kitchens, seating areas, fireplaces etc; Use of technology like WiFi, TV sets, irrigation controlling advanced systems; Energy-efficient LED lighting. (3) Modern Design: Modern landscape design includes a minimalist approach to planting, as well as geometric pools and patios that are defined by straight lines and right angles. These are a natural match for desert environment that is generally admired for stark beauty, simplicity, and clean lines. The austerity of modern design allows nature to take center stage, accentuating rather than distracting from the beauty of the surroundings. Read on...
AZ Big Media:
Top landscape design trends harness the beauty of Arizona
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 oct 2016
45% of increase in jobs has been recorded in the creative economy since 1997 and it made upto 2.6 million jobs in total. Web design demands creativity, attention to detail, and practice. To observe and understand the work of successful designers and learn from it can help budding designers to master the art of web design. Here are some ways to enhance web design skills - (1) Avoid slideshows and carousels: They provide more information than what visitors can absorb; Offer a concise value proposition, particularly on homepage; Provide meaningful and relevant content. (2) Simplify the navigation through your design: Complex website with too many options can be counterproductive; Uncrowd your sidebar and header; Minimize dropdown menus; Be mobile-friendly. (3) Use a sketchbook: Assists during brainstorming and helps to organize design process better. (4) Try the squint test: Continuous staring at screen harms visions, take a break and view the design with partially closed eyes. Squint few times, and the prominent aspects of the design will be clearly visible; Provides clarity on website's focal points and sections that are to be highlighted. (5) Black, white and gray should be your starting point: Beginning with shades of gray and then adding colors helps to create a website that lets user focus on the crucial aspects of the site; Also helps to prevent from overdesigning a page. Moreover, technology facilitates creativity and helps design better websites through following ways - Seamless integration; Breaking down barriers; Creative alliances; Informational accessiblity; Advanced graphic tools; Expert feedback; Low cost of failure; Massive marketing platform; Adapt to survive; Percolation of creativity. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 oct 2016
Design is critical for national and industrial competitiveness. Prof. Sanjay Dhande, former director of IIT-Kanpur and chief mentor of design-centered Avantika University, explains the value of design in India's competitiveness for manufacturing and service industries, analyzes the evolution of design education and suggests how India can further develop design education to impart skills and training, and nurture creative talent that keeps it at the cutting edge of innovation and design. He says, 'By incorporating design, which by and large shapes our ideas better is inherent in our every act. We design, we create experiences to make the life of individuals more comfortable, information readily available, work more efficient, spaces more convivial, and in turn making peoples' life more meaningful...The government of India has initiated a consultee approach with industry and designers to develop the broad contours for a combined vision towards a design enabled Indian industry.' National Institute of Design was first setup in 1961 by Government of India based on the report on design education developed by American industrial designer duo Charles Eames and his wife Ray Eames. Since then, to fulfil the demand of growing design professionals, number of institutes have come into existence over the years, giving rise to a thriving design ecosystem. But to maintain high quality of design education is an obvious challenge. According to Prof. Dhande, 'Though with a faster-changing world even the standards in design education are very high. And the question remains around how can we remove the loopholes and sustain a high-quality education from a conventional structure?...There is a growing need to eradicate the redundancies in the traditional course curriculum. A strategic streamlining of the education structure which offers practice exposure encourages focussed learning is much required.' He suggests continously evolving and innovation directed approach to design education, starting with admission process, practical learning, quest for right faculty, learning environment and a specialization focus. He concludes, 'Innovation is essential to be able to adapt to, for creating that difference in Indian design education to help students work better in unpredictable market conditions and intense global competition. Incremental improvements by themselves will not do and hence the listed points will help address improve the quality of design training in India.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 sep 2016
Researchers from Stanford University [Po-Chun Hsu, Alex Y. Song, Peter B. Catrysse, Chong Liu, Yucan Peng, Jin Xie, Shanhui Fan, Yi Cui] have developed a low-cost, plastic-based textile that, when woven into clothing, has the ability to keep the body cool more efficiently as compared to the natural or synthetic fabrics that are used today. The research was published in journal 'Science' titled, 'Radiative human body cooling by nanoporous polyethylene textile'. According to Prof. Yi Cui of Materials Science and Engineering, 'If you can cool the person rather than the building where they work or live, that will save energy.' The new material cools by letting perspiration evaporate through it, as fabrics normally do. But the other most innovative characteristic of the material's cooling mechanism is that it allows heat that the body emits as infrared radiation to pass through the plastic textile. Prof. Shanhui Fan of Electrical Engineering says, '40-60% of our body heat is dissipated as infrared radiation when we are sitting in an office. But until now there has been little or no research on designing the thermal radiation characteristics of textiles.' Researchers engineered the cooling material by blending nanotechnology photonics and chemistry to give polyethylene, the material used as kitchen wrap, a number of characteristics desirable in clothing material. It allows thermal radiation, air and water vapor to pass right through, and it is opaque to visible light. Prof. Cui says, 'If you want to make a textile, you have to be able to make huge volumes inexpensively.' According to Prof. Fan, 'This research opens up new avenues of inquiry to cool or heat things, passively, without the use of outside energy, by tuning materials to dissipate or trap infrared radiation.' Read on...
Stanford engineers develop a plastic clothing material that cools the skin
Author: Tom Abate
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 sep 2016
Multidisciplinary team of researchers lead by Prof. Amin Salehi-Khojin from University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) have engineered a process through a solar cell to mimic plants' ability to convert carbon dioxide into fuel, a way to decrease the amounts of harmful gas in the atmosphere and produce clean energy. According to Prof. Salehi-Khojin, 'The artificial leaf essentially recycles carbon dioxide. And it's powered entirely by the sun, mimicking the real photosynthesis process. Real leaves use the energy from the sun and convert carbon dioxide to sugar. In the artificial leaf that we built, we use the sun and we convert CO2 to (synthetic gas), which can be converted to any hydrocarbon, like gasoline.' Describing the process Prof. Salehi-Khojin said, 'The energy of the sun rearranges the chemical bonds of the carbon dioxide. So the sun's energy is being stored in the form of chemical bonds, which can be burned as fuel...Scientists around the world have been studying carbon reduction, as this type of reaction is called, for years.' Prof. Nathan Lewis of California Institute of Technology, who has been studying solar fuels and artificial photosynthesis for more than 40 years, says, 'UIC's development is only a small piece of an eventual solar fuel product that can be widely implemented. There's a lot of steps that need to occur to envision how these things would translate into a commercializable system, but it's a step for building a piece of a full system that may be useful.' Prof. Michael R. Wasielewski of Northwestern University comments, 'UIC's development could push renewable energy technology forward.' The research, 'Nanostructured transition metal dichalcogenide electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction in ionic liquid', was recently published in journal 'Science'. UIC News Center website (news.uic.edu) provides the following information about co-authors and collaborators of this research - Amin Salehi-Khojin, Mohammad Asadi, Kibum Kim, Aditya Venkata Addepalli, Pedram Abbasi, Poya Yasaei, Amirhossein Behranginia, Bijandra Kumar and Jeremiah Abiade of UIC's Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, who performed the electrochemical experiments and prepared the catalyst; Robert F. Klie and Patrick Phillips of UIC's Physics Department, who performed electron microscopy and spectroscopy experiments; Larry A. Curtiss, Cong Liu and Peter Zapol of Argonne National Laboratory, who did Density Functional Theory calculations; Richard Haasch of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who did ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy; José M. Cerrato of the University of New Mexico, who did elemental analysis. Read on...
UIC researchers develop artificial leaf that turns CO2 into fuel
Author: Ally Marotti
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 12 aug 2016
Team of multidisciplinary researchers from Case Western Reserve University (USA) [Victoria Webster; Roger Quinn; Hillel Chiel; Ozan Akkus; Umut Gurkan; Emma L. Hawley; Jill M. Patel; Katherine J. Chapin], have created a 'biohybrid' robot by combining sea slug materials with 3D printed parts, that can crawl like sea turtle. Scientists suggest that in future, swarms of biohybrid robots could be released for such tasks as locating the source of a toxic leak in a pond that would send animals fleeing. They could also be used to search the ocean floor for a black box flight data recorder, a potentially long process that may leave current robots stilled with dead batteries. According to Ms. Webster, PhD student and lead researcher, 'We're building a living machine - a biohybrid robot that's not completely organic - yet. For the searching tasks, we want the robots to be compliant, to interact with the environment. One of the problems with traditional robotics, especially on the small scale, is that actuators - the units that provide movement - tend to be rigid.' Researchers also explain that if completely organic robots prove workable a swarm released at sea or in a pond or a remote piece of land, won't be much of a worry if they can't be recovered. They're likely to be inexpensive and won't pollute the location with metals and battery chemicals but be eaten or degrade into compost. Read on...
think - CWRU Blog:
Researchers build a crawling robot from sea slug parts and a 3-D printed body
Author: Kevin Mayhood
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jul 2016
Packaging is an important component of product handling, logistics, advertising, marketing and selling. There are variety of materials that are currently in use for packaging. Environmental challenges arise due to the waste generated through discarded packagings. The packaging industry is exploring better materials that can reduce environmental footprint. In spite of scientific breakthroughs in developing new packaging materials, there are issues related to their performance and price, inhibiting their mass adoption and usage. Bryan Shova, packaging designer and industrial design director at Kaleidoscope, explains sustainability aspects of packaging. He says, 'I dream of the day when material science and manufacturing can deliver on the promise of zero environmental impact, high performance, premium finish and low costs.' He explains, 'The viability of true sustainability is a complex economic challenge, and the ugly truth is that few consumers, brand owners or municipalities are willing to pay the premium price for cutting-edge sustainable packaging solutions. True solutions will come through "systems thinking" that requires the material supplier, manufacturer, retailer, consumer and the municipality to share in the premium costs and labor required to design, collect and recycle packaged materials.' He provides 10 principles for designing sustainable packaging - (1) Start with commodity materials that are commonly recycled. (2) Design the package from a single material. (3) Focus on the product-to-package ratio. (4) Design for assembly at the point of manufacture. (5) Avoid gluing and laminations. (6) Design for distribution. (7) Eliminate secondary and tertiary packaging when possible. (8) Design for disassembly. (9) Clearly mark the materials on the packaging components. (10) Use Lifecycle Assessment. Read on...
10 ways to design sustainable packaging with intent
Author: Bryan Shova
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 jun 2016
Women are more prominently visible in some professions, but not in all. According to the International Interior Design Association, 69% of the 87,000 design practitioners in the United States are women. But the dismal stat is that, only 25% of firm leaders are female. Although Zaha Hadid, Odile Decq and Jennifer Siegal have reached the top and inspired other women to walk in their footsteps, but there are challenges that women face to get there. Here are views of the four creatives that have worked hard to be leaders in design and architecture - (1) Nicole Hollis, Principal and Creative Director of NICOLEHOLLIS: CHALLENGES - 'Working on construction sites can occasionally be challenging...Also, getting out of my office and working together on site, rather than via email or phone, generates a lot of mutual respect.' OPPORTUNITIES - 'I believe that women have the same opportunities as men. Often having quiet determination and hanging in there during the tough times can be more of a factor than gender.' (2) Lisa Bottom, Design Principal at Gensler San Francisco: CHALLENGES - 'I learned early on that my proclivity for hard work would serve me well. I had to work harder than most of the men and ensure that all my delivered product was the best I could produce.' OPPORTUNITIES - 'The Co-CEO of Gensler, Diane Hoskins, is a woman. Our most recent Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Gensler, Robin Klehr-Avia, is a woman, and the Managing Directors of many of the Gensler offices are women. Gender is no longer the determining factor for success in a design career.' (3) Anne Fougeron, Principal of Fougeron Architecture: CHALLENGES - The challenge is to convince people that you are as capable as your male colleagues. There seems to be an underlying assumption that men understand and know more about construction than women!' OPPORTUNITIES - 'I think women are primed to take over and be the new emerging voice in the field of architecture...We must remember to always ask for what is rightfully ours.' (4) Kendall Wilkinson, Principal of Kendall Wilkinson Design: CHALLENGES - I never thought about being less or more because of my gender, I always knew that I had something to bring to any table, regardless of the audience.' OPPORTUNITIES - 'Doors are opening in so many areas related to design now. More and more, you are seeing women in construction be it electricians, project managers, or even general contractors...our industry is undergoing disruption which I think will lead to interesting new paths for both women and men.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 jun 2016
Designers need continuous flow of creative ideas and motivation in their work. Sometimes they reach a state of creative block when they lack internal motivation and inspiration to generate ideas. In such situations an external source of inspiration would be of assistance. Following are 8 online resources for designers that can provide the spark of creativity and rekindle inspiration - (1) Designspiration: A design portal that has architecture, typography, illustrations and print. Features the work of global artists and innovators. (2) Dribbble: A hub for creatives to connect, share and inspire one another. Includes typography, website design, logos, illustrations and graphics. Designers can also be hired through the site. (3) Awwards: Recognizes best designed website from around the world. Jury comprises of renowned designers, bloggers and agencies. It rates websites and gives score comprised of different elements, including creativity, design, content and usability. (4) Siteinspire: Has some of the best filtering of any design portal. Can choose from multiple categories, and follow designers and their work. (5) Smashing Magazine: Includes editorial and professional resources for designers and developers. Have blogs from designers. (6) The Best Designs: Includes web design works of best designers. Helps find, connect with and share work with other designers. (7) Behance: Have archives of graphic design, photography, interactive design, art direction, illustration and more. (8) Adobe Kuler: As color is one of the most important aspect of design, Adobe Kuler can help one share, create and browse color schemes from designers and users around the world. Read on...
Business 2 Community:
8 Incredible Online Resources for Creative Design Inspiration
Author: Brittney Ervin
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 may 2016
As the need for intensive and intermediate care increases, the hospitals must have spaces that can fulfil the requirement. The multi-organizational collaborative EVICURES project at Seinäjoki Central Hospital in Finland was undertaken to develop a new design model for future intensive and intermediate care needs. The result of research conducted by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland on evidence-based design (EBD) and user orientation were applied to design work. Currently, there are no ICUs with single patient rooms in Finland. According to Kari Saarinen, Project Manager of the EVICURES project and Chief Physician at ICU of Hospital District of South Ostrobothnia, 'The international trend is that the need for intermediate care in particular is increasing. More and more demanding methods are being used for treating patients, and the share of elderly patients is increasing.' Regarding the project, he adds, 'The operations will be more cost-efficient and of higher quality, when the equipment and nursing staff are concentrated into one place. We also expect the solution to have remarkable effects on patient healing.' The hospital staff, management, patients and their families, the hospital district, and other cooperation partners participated in the design work. Tiina Yli-Karhu, Design Coordinator at Hospital District of South Ostrobothnia, says, 'A user-oriented approach was an essential foundation for the whole project. This way we can all together make the major change about to happen easier, when the nursing staff is moving from facilities for multiple patients to working alone in single rooms.' Using the Human Thermal Model tool, VTT performed questionnaire studies and measurements to evaluate the individual thermal sensation and comfort of both the staff and patients, that were utilized in HVAC design. Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences used CAD methods to model a virtual space in accordance with the architectural drawing, which VTT utilised for improving user-friendliness. From this 3D model, VTT developed a Unity3D game for computer and tablet, allowing the staff to move around in the ICU facilities virtually and to experience realistic interactive care situations in the new working area in advance. Finland's first single-patient intensive and intermediate care and cardiac unit designed in accordance with this model will become operational in 2018. Read on...
VTT Research News:
A new treatment room design model for future hospitals
Author: Nykänen Esa
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 may 2016
A number of studies have strengthened the common belief that being around trees and close to nature improves one's mental and physical well-being. Research by Prof. Bin Jiang of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (now at University of Hong Kong) and his team, further emboldens the belief regarding the soothing aspects of green environment on stress levels and blood pressure. The study was undertaken to determine the dose-response curve between tree cover density and stress recovery. It included 158 volunteers in mildly stressful situations. The experiment utilized virtual reality headset to view 360-degree videos of an urban space with varying amounts of tree canopy visible. Results obtained from the tests showed a positive linear association between the density of trees and the self reported recovery from stress. Prof. Jiang comments, 'These finding suggest that viewing a tree canopy in communities can aid stress recovery and that every tree matters.' Researchers found that regardless of age, gender, and baseline stress levels the greater the exposure to trees, the less stress the subject felt. Read on...
Total Landscape Care:
University study - Stress falls as exposure to trees increases
Author: Jill Odom
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 may 2016
Online education is continuously evolving and over the years have gone through many iterations. In recent years, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have been trying to change and tranform online education with active involvement of traditional education providers and their expanded reach to global learners. Although, inspite of their popularity with millions of users, providers are still struggling for success as the learner drop-out rates are high. Instructional designers, faculty members and education providers are experimenting with improvements in learning design environments to provide better value to learners. Prof. Curt Bonk of Indiana University is the author of the book, 'The World is Open', and conducts research in the field of self-directed open learning environments and online motivation. According to him, 'The MOOC is just one idea of many that are causing us to reflect on changes in higher education today. There are a lot of derivatives of MOOCs, and there will continue to be more. Community-building, sharing and peer support are three key aspects of success in building new types of course experiences.' In a video chat hosted by consultant and futurist Bryan Alexander, Prof. Bonk shares his own online learning experiences, his research and explores trends in the design of open courses. He says that in future, the majority of learning is going to be informal and self-directed. But government is still emphasizing on traditional education and less attention is paid to adult learning and informal learning. To better design learning environments it is important to understand self-directed learners and their experiences. According to him, 'Professional development could be what changes the discussion around open education and MOOCs. This could be for doctors, dentists, lawyers and physical therapists. They could take modules in the summer at their own leisure as part of a cohort that does community-building. That is the game changer.' He emphasises on a feedback process, collaborative approach, continous design improvements and redesign, if the need be, for better online course development. Commenting on faculty and their use of technology, he says, 'Instead of focusing on the technologies themselves, focus on what the faculty members want to do to foster feedback, goal setting, relevance or autonomy.' On using videos in learning, he says, 'We are moving from an age of Wikipedia to Videopedia.' Read on...
The Keys to Designing Successful Open Course Experiences
Author: David Raths
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 apr 2016
As web technologies continue to evolve along with user expectations, businesses have to keep pace with them for successful digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO). User experience optimization (UXO) and user experience design (UXD) are at the core of online marketing and SEO strategies. UXO keeps customers hooked to the website and UXD is the process that is used to create the website with customers in mind. Optimal UXD utilizes best usability principles to provide best user interface by keeping customer interactions at the core of design. Dan Makoski, VP of Design for CapitalOne and most currently Chief Design Officer at Garage Partners, says, 'Experiences are personal moments felt by people, something that can't be owned by designers; however, we can design for it. The experience of the people we design for is what determines the success of the products, services and relationships that we create.' Don Dodds, Managing Partner and Chief Strategist at M16 Marketing, suggests a list of 38 tips for website design, content creation and online marketing strategies for better user experience. Here are some selections from the list - (1) Top of the page is critical for user attention. (2) Make sure content is visible and readable for everyone including colorblind users. (3) Provide symmetry in object placement. (4) Place objects in logical order for better user flow. (5) Keep site navigation panel consistent. (6) Design for ease of use and easy comprehension. (7) For better loading use content before images. (8) Keep pages as short as possible for ease of content utilization by user. (9) For long pages use sticky menu that moves with the scrolling. (10) Make sure your pages load quickly, preferably in couple of seconds. (11) Make it easy for users to undo an action or back out of a navigation option. (12) For mobile content, do not require a double-click to activate an element. (13) Pay attention to contrast when designing your mobile content. (14) Link anchor text should tell the user exactly where the link will take them. (15) Use fonts that are easy to read. (16) Most website visitors scan your content first before reading it. Use elements like bold text, headlines etc to attract attention to the content that is most meaningful to users. (17) Avoid pop-ups, banners and slideshows as much as possible. (18) Always be truthful regarding what you can offer. Avoid false advertising and misleading information. (19) Use icons that are simply designed and easy to understand. (20) Establish a brand image and include it everywhere you've established a presence online. Read on...
38 Design Tips for Creating an Amazing User Experience
Author: Don Dodds
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 apr 2016
To build human-like machines that can demonstrate ingenuity and creativity, the race is on to develop next generation of advanced AI (Artifical Intelligence). AI is already tackling complex tasks like stock market predictions, research synthesis etc, and 'smart manufacturing' is becoming a reality where deep learning is paired with new robotics and digital manufacturing tools. Prof. Hod Lipson, director of Creative Machines Lab at Columbia University, has embarked upon exploring a higher level of AI and develop biology-inspired machines that can evolve, self-model, and self-reflect - where machines will generate new ideas, and then build them. To build self-aware robots is the ultimate goal. Prof. Lipson explains, 'Biology-inspired engineering is about learning from nature, and then using it to try to solve the hardest problems. It happens at all scales. It's not just copying nature at the surface level. It could be copying the learning at a deeper level, such as learning how nature uses materials or learning about the adaptation processes that evolution uses...We are looking at what I think is the ultimate challenge in artificial intelligence and robotics-creating machines that are creative; machines that can invent new things; machines that can come up with new ideas and then make those very things. Creativity is one of these last frontiers of AI. People still think that humans are superior to machines in their ability to create things, and we are looking at that challenge.' He is working on a new AI termed as 'divergent AI', that is exploratory and involves creating many new ideas from original idea, and is different from 'convergent AI' that involves taking data and distilling it into a decision. ON SELF-AWARENESS IN AI: He says, 'Creativity is a big challenge, but even greater than that is self-awareness. For a long time, in robotics and AI, we sometimes called it the "C" word-consciousness.' ON AI IN MANUFACTURING: He comments, 'When it comes to manufacturing, there are two angles. One is the simple automation, where we're seeing robots that can work side-by-side with humans...The other side of manufacturing, which is disrupted by AI, is the side of design. Manufacturing and design always go hand-in-hand...When AI creeps into the design world through these new types of creative AI, you suddenly expand what you can manufacture because the AI on the design side can take advantage of your manufacturing tools in new ways.' ON TWO COMPETING SCHOOLS OF THOUGHTS IN AI: He explains, 'There's the school of thought that is top-down, logic, programming, and search approach, and then there is the machine learning approach. The machine learning approach says, "Forget about programming robots, forget about programming AI, you just make it learn, and it will figure out everything on its own from data"...I think the machine learning approach has played out perfectly, and we're just at the beginning. It's going to accelerate.' Read on...
The Last Frontiers of AI - Can Scientists Design Creativity and Self-Awareness?
Author: Alison E. Berman
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 mar 2016
Instances like female architect Denise Scott Brown getting the AIA Gold Medal and women heading some of the best architecture schools in US, may show that architecture profession is making efforts towards gender equality. But Architectural Review's fifth annual 2016 Women in Architecture Survey of 1152 female practitioners (68% based in UK), tells a different story. According to the survey - One in five women worldwide say they would not encourage a women to start a career in architecture; About 40% (in UK) and over 40% (in other countries) thought that they would be paid more if they were male; 72% say they have experienced sexual discrimination, harassment, or victimization on the job; 67% believed that the building industry does not accept female authority. Read on...
Survey - 72% Of Female Architects Have Experienced Harassment Or Discrimination
Author: Diana Budds
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 05 mar 2016
According to American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) survey of 803 US-based landscape architects, people are overwhelmingly concerned with water conservation. Some of the highlights of the survey include the following top 5 trends - (1) 88% reported that clients seemed most interested in rainwater or graywater harvesting elements. (2) Native plants. (3) Native or adaptive drought tolerant plants. (4) Low-maintenance landscapes. (5) Permeable landscapes. Nancy Somerville, CEO of ASLA, says, 'It does reflect a much greater awareness from the population as a whole, about critical issues like water conservation and energy efficiency, as well as water efficiency, and stormwater issues.' James Brown, Governor of California, considering the expected 5th consecutive year of drought, in addition to other measures also ordered that 50-million square feet of state-owned lawns be replaced with drought tolerant landscaping. According to Prof. Mitchell Pavao-Zuckerman, Department of Environmental Science and Technology at the University of Maryland, 'People are starting to think about how their house and property fits into the broader urban landscape context, and how they might contribute to more sustainable built environments than we've had in the past.' The survey also observed that the creative shift towards water conservation is already visible. Lush, maximalist gardens and fountains, are being replaced by cool, sculptured minimalism. Prof. Pavao-Zuckerman adds, 'There are non-profits springing up devoted to teaching homeowners how to install water-saving elements themselves.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 feb 2016
According to World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution has become the world's biggest environmental risk, linked to over 7 million deaths a year. A global team of scientists (Farid Touati, Claudio Legena, Alessio Galli, Damiano Crescini, Paolo Crescini, Adel Ben Mnaouer) from Canadian University Dubai, Qatar University, and the University of Brescia (Italy), have developed a technology, known as SENNO (Sensor Node), that enables high-efficiency air quality monitoring, to help promote a cleaner environment and reduce the health risks associated with poor atmospheric quality. The technology promises to make air quality monitoring cost-effective. The research paper, 'Environmentally Powered Multiparametric Wireless Sensor Node for Air Quality Diagnostic', was published in Sensors and Materials journal. Prof. Adel Ben Mnaouer of Canadian University Dubai (CUD), says, 'Sensor networks dedicated to atmospheric monitoring can provide an early warning of environmental hazards. However, remote systems need robust and reliable sensor nodes, which require high levels of power efficiency for autonomous, continuous and long-term use...Our technology harvests environmental energy...it optimises energy use by the sensory equipment, so as to function only for the time needed to achieve the operations of sensor warm-up, sampling, data processing and wireless data transmission, thereby creating an air quality monitoring system that measures pollutants in a sustainable and efficient way.' Read on...
The Gulf Today:
Dubai professor develops innovation to combat increasing air pollution
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 feb 2016
As digital get seamlessly interwoven into the fabric of life, it will not remain anything extraordinary. In future, advancements in digital technologies will converge to enhance physical experiences that involve our bodies, feelings, emotions, actions and reactions. Auro Trini Castelli, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at gyro, explains how the 'Physical Revolution' will be driven by the following five trends - (1) Sensors will be the new devices (Virtual Reality; Motion and Gesture Recognition Technologies; Haptic Technology). (2) Surfaces will be the new screens (Interactive digital screens on walls, floors, ceilings, walkways etc). (3) Smart cities will make us smart citizens (Interactive city systems and digital environments). (4) Only meaningful interactions will survive (Well-integrated interfaces that get activated when required; Focus on human experience). (5) The world will be printed (3D printing for mass customization; Laser cutting; Computer modeling). In this experiential world, architects, designers, engineers, technologists, marketers, advertisers etc have to increasingly think and create with focus on providing solutions that appeal to all five human senses. The success will depend on how invisibly the digital will become part of the physical and improves every aspect of human interactions and experiences. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 feb 2016
There is an established relationship between built environment and human health. It is important to understand how architectural design, interior design, building technologies and materials etc, interact with external natural environment. Health-centric design approaches are now being utilized for built environments like hospitals, schools, office spaces, homes etc. Urbanization is another aspect that has public health related consequences. According to the study, 'Walls talk: Microbial biogeography of homes spanning urbanization' (by Jean F. Ruiz-Calderon, Humberto Cavallin, Se Jin Song, Atila Novoselac, Luis R. Pericchi, Jean N. Hernandez, Rafael Rios, Oralee H. Branch, Henrique Pereira, Luciana C. Paulino, Martin J. Blaser, Rob Knight, and Maria G. Dominguez-Bello) published in journal Science, certain aspects of a house's design could have an influence on the types of microbes found inside, with more urban homes separating humans from the outdoors and keeping out the environmental microbes we once evolved to coexist with. Researchers speculate that these changes may be having impact on public health. The study focused on four communities of Amazon Basin with similar climates and outside environment, but with different levels of urbanization. Prof. Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello of NYU School of Medicine, 'We humans build the environments we live in and spend most of our time (in), and these may be very different to the natural environments. Very little is known about microbes of the built environment.' According to Prof. Graham Rook of University College London, who was not part of the study, 'There is increasing evidence that exposure to microbial biodiversity from the natural environment is important for health.' Prof. Humberto Cavallin of University of Puerto Rico's School of Architecture, comments, 'As we move from rural to urban...houses become more isolated from the outside environment and also become more internally compartmentalized according to the function of the spaces.' Prof. Jean Ruiz-Calderon, a biologist at University of Puerto Rico and lead author of the study, says, 'The results of the study reveal that microbes from house walls and floors differ across habitations. With increasing urbanization, houses contain a higher proportion of human-associated bacteria...and decreasing proportions of environmental bacteria...walls become reservoirs of bacteria that come from different sources depending on the use of the spaces.' Prof. Dominguez-Bello adds, 'We are in environments that are highly humanized, and therefore a lack of ventilation and high concentrations of human bacteria may...facilitate human-to-human transmission of microbes.' Prof. Ruiz-Calderon warns, 'As we alter our built environments in ways that diverge from the natural exposures we evolve with, we need to be aware of the possible consequences.' Read on...
The Washington Post:
The hidden health consequences of how we design our homes
Author: Chelsea Harvey
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 feb 2016
Make in India Week has now started in Mumbai and along with it India Design Forum (IDF) 2016 is developing strategies and advocating how a facilitating design environment and culture can be nurtured to enable growth of manufacturing. IDF is integrated into Make in India campaign's plan to demonstrate the potential of design, innovation and sustainability across India's manufacturing sector. Rajshree Pathy, founder of IDF, explains, 'Design is not merely about clothes, shoes, handbags and jewellery, as is commonly believed. Those are incidental. Design is, in fact, at the heart of the manufacturing process. It is not a 'thing', it is a way of thinking.' Satyendra Pakhale, an Amsterdam-based designer, citing Tata Nano's example says, 'It is a good example of Indian design, which combined engineering innovations with a careful consideration for the demands of the domestic market. In fact, one of India's most famous qualities - jugaad - is indicative of an innovative mindset.' According to Simran Lal, CEO of Good Earth, 'It's important that we bring rural design and India's rural design communities along on this journey.' Time is now ripe for India to upgrade to a design-driven manufacturing ecosystem, attract global investments, partner with global corporations and manufacture for the world, but without losing the focus on serving the needs of the large local market. Read on...
The Indian Express:
Make in India Week - Putting design at the heart of manufacturing
Author: Pooja Pillai
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 07 feb 2016
Team of researchers from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Prof. Dipanjan Pan (Bioengineering), postdoctoral researchers Manas Gartia and Santosh Misra, along with Dr. Leanne Labriola, an ophthalmologist at Carle Foundation Hospital, are collaborating to develop a portable sensor that can quickly and inexpensively detect whether the eye injury is mild or severe. The device measures the levels of vitamin C in the fluids that coat or leak from the eye. According to Prof. Pan, 'The sensor takes advantage of the fact that the ocular tear film - the viscous fluid that coats the eyeball - contains low levels of ascorbic acid, which is just vitamin C, while the interior of the eye contains much higher levels. So the concept is, if there is severe damage to the eye that penetrates deeply, the ascorbic acid will leak out in high concentration.' Dr. Labriola says, 'The new device will change the standard of care for evaluating eye traumas. This technology has the ability to impact a large number of patients, particularly in rural settings, where access to an ophthalmologist can be limited.' Researchers suggest accident sites and battlefields as other places where the device will be of great use as chances of eye injury are high there. Prof. Pan comments on the new engineering-based medical college coming up at UIUC, 'This is a perfect example of physicians and engineers working together to find solutions to current problems in healthcare.' The team is further collaborating with a U of I industrial design professor to build a housing for the sensor that will be portable and easy to use and have founded a startup to bring the device to market. Read on...
Illinois News Bureau:
Portable device can quickly determine the extent of an eye injury
Author: Diana Yates
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 jan 2016
Good designers often seek a balance between comfort and fashion while designing their clothes. They design to improve human lives. For most people jeans provide comfort and also fulfil their fashion quotient. Professor Elazer Edelman, a cardiologist and director of Harvard-MIT Biomedical Engineering Center, is going a step further and utilizing scientific approach to create 'FYT Jeans', that are designed for health and comfort. These jeans, developed in collaboration with designers from Portugal, are particularly suited for people who sit for long hours, like office workers. Initially the project was targeted for wheelchair dependent people, to provide them safe clothes. According to Prof. Edelman, 'There are a variety of modifications to the design around the knee...The zipper on the back is a very important and innovative design.' FYT Jeans don't bunch up behind the knee. He further adds, 'It's extra material, extra pressure. It's uncomfortable and it can actually be unsafe. It's everything from a little irritation to when people have diabetes or poor circulation, developing sores that never heal.' While explaining the future of healthy clothings, he says, 'You could certainly embed all kinds of sensors in them, and you could even give something, or embed something that was itself therapeutic.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 jan 2016
Home interior design concepts continue to evolve with both designers and customers seeking new ways to update and upgrade the living environment. Following are the 25 latest design trends that include materials, strategies and concepts for modern homes in 2016 - (1) Two-tone kitchen cabinets (2) Outdoor fabric used indoors (3) Colored stainless steel appliances (Black stainless steel is one of the preferred color) (4) Extra-large-format tile (5) Separate bidet unit in bathroom (6) Deep kitchen drawers (7) Formal dining rooms (8) Niche appliances in kitchen (Steam ovens, warming drawers, induction cooktops, kimchi refrigerators etc) (9) Heated entryway floors (10) Workhorse islands (Becoming central features in modern kitchens with deep storage, prep sinks, room for sitting etc) (11) Statement mirrors in bathrooms (12) Barely there kitchens (13) Living rooms that ditch the tech for family (14) Kitchens that embrace openness and raw materials (15) Surprising backsplash and countertop pairings (16) Fully decorated living rooms that don't go overboard (17) Special kitchen features (18) Sunrooms (19) Punched-up white kitchens (20) Bold powder room wall coverings (Use of dazzling prints, textures and custom graphics) (21) Mixing modern materials, finishes and colors in the kitchen (22) Attention-seeking bedrooms (23) Bathrooms that feel more like living spaces (Use of graphic wallpaper, ornate chandeliers and furniture-like pieces etc) (24) Fireplaces and fire features (25) Farmhouse entryways. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 jan 2016
Concerned authorities try to provide affordable housing to their marginalized communities. In regions with extreme climate conditions it becomes even more challenging to manage costs related to energy consumption. Nanaimo Aboriginal Center (British Columbia, Canada) in partnership with the city administration is planning to build an affordable housing complex that will abide by the energy efficiency standards. The project will use passive housing design, that is more economical and is an alternative to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design). According to Chris Beaton, Executive Director of Nanaimo Aboriginal Center, 'You build your building so it's oriented to the sun and during the winter, you're allowing in the heat of the sun to warm the interior of the building. You put in robust insulation...then you vapour barrier it so no cold air is coming in and you're not losing heat during the winter.' Read on...
Nanaimo News Bulletin:
Affordable housing project aims to use passive house design
Author: Karl Yu
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 jan 2016
According to a recent study by business psychologists at OPP, based on an online survey of over 300 people (71% female and with average age of 47 years) Modern features such as shared space and open-plan floors appeal mainly to extroverted workers and made introverts uncomfortable. The study explains that modern features like shared space and open-plan floors appeal mainly to extroverted workers and made introverts uncomfortable. John Hackston, Chartered Psychologist and Head of Research at OPP, says 'Despite changes in technology many people still work in an office. Understanding how personality interacts with the office environment is key to improving job satisfaction and productivity.' He suggests some of the simple changes that can be made - Allowing staff more storage for personal items when hot desking; Creating smaller neighbourhoods within open-plan offices; Not overdoing clear desk policies as clearing away all personal items can be demotivating to some people; Providing quiet zones for people to work in when needed. Read on...
Modern office design principles favour extroverts, study claims
Author: Mark Eltringham
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 dec 2015
Although Business Intelligence (BI) and Big Data Analytics (BDA) are being successfully utilized for incremental innovation, but they are insufficient to provide breakthrough innovation, which is more challenging and requires uncovering latent needs, or even creating needs and meaning. Soren Petersen, author of the book 'Profit from Design', and Finn Birger Lie (Co-founder and Chairman of Northern Analytics AS), explains how combination of BDA and Small Data (SD) when integrated at the early stages of new product development process can create breakthrough innovation. The conventional design process includes steps that combine analysis and synthesis, prototyping, testing and learning to create unique and valuable insights. While more advanced design processes, like Design Thinking, include an element of design research or Design Science Research, to enable design teams gain better understanding of the current and future market, and technologies, leverage this knowledge, and then create roadmap that includes the concurrent building of new capabilities that assist them to design future offerings. Mr. Petersen says, 'Innovation is often ambiguous. The 'Market-Technology Risk Matrix' provides a useful mapping of new ventures and offerings according to their position in the market (Recognized Needs, Clarifying Needs and Realizing Needs) and their technology level (Current Technology, Applied New Technology and Development of New Technology). Different combinations of Big Data Analytics (BDA) and Small Data Analytics (SDA) may prove more productive, depending on where design identifies insights within the Market-Technology Risk Matrix.' With grounded research and vertical thinking, BDA can support incremental innovation, while through lateral thinking, SDA can utilize a combination of hypothesis and grounded research to support breakthrough innovation. Read on...
Creating Breakthrough Innovations Through Design With Big and Small Data Analysis
Authors: Soren Petersen, Finn Birger Lie
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 dec 2015
Design education promises to inculcate and enhance creativity within students and equip them with skills to build and develop products, services, spaces and environments in diverse industries. Given below is the select list of America's top design academics and educators from the disciplines of architecture, industrial design, interior design and landscape architecture, that was created with inputs from design professionals, academic department heads and students - Amale Andraos (Architecture, Planning & Preservation at Columbia University); Alan DeFrees (Architecture at University of Notre Dame); Dawn Finley (Architecture at Rice University); Steve French (Architecture at Georgia Tech); Geraldine Forbes Isais (Architecture & Planning at University of New Mexico); Charles Graham (Architecture at University of Oklahoma); Aki Ishida (Architecture & Design at Virginia Tech); Kent Kleinman (Architecture & Interior Design at Cornell University); Sharon Kuska (Architecture & Civil Engineering at University of Nebraska); Alison Kwok (Architecture at University of Oregon); Mohsen Mostafavi (Architecture & Design at Harvard University); Daniel Nadenicek (Planning & Landscape at University of Georgia); Guy Nordenson (Architecture & Structural Engineering at Princeton University); Juhani Pallasmaa (Architect & Lecturer from Helsinki. Visiting Professor at Washington University in St. Louis & University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign); James Rose (Architecture & Design at University of Tennessee); Hashim Sarkis (Architecture & Planning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology); Jeff Shannon (Architecture at University of Arkansas); Robert Shibley (Architecture & Planning at SUNY Buffalo); Christine Theodoropoulos (Architecture & Environment Design at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo); James Timberlake (Architecture at University of Pennsylvania); Ada Tremonte (Architecture & Interior Design at Drexel University); Rod Underwood (Architecture &' Planning at Ball State University); Adam Wells (Architecture at University of Houston); Jim West (Architecture, Art, & Design at Mississippi State University); Keith Wiley (Architecture & Environmental Design at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo). Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 dec 2015
Although government of UK states that the creative industries in the country now equal £76.9 billion per year, and the design sector seeing the biggest growth. But there is another debate brewing in UK regarding the condition of design and creative education. According to John Sorrell, founder of London Design Festival and Creative Industries Federation, 'Schools in UK saw a 50% decrease in students taking design and technology GSEC (General Certificate of Secondary Education) subjects in the 10 years leading upto 2013, and 25% drop in other craft-related GCSEs between 2007 and 2013.' He says that the government is reducing investments in creative education that would eventually lead to inadequate development of the next generation of creative talent. He explains, 'It is the government's calling card everywhere in the world...it's this amazing work we're part of which makes Britain so loved by the rest of the world - our creativity.' He further adds, 'If we can get our act together and work together we can take advantage of the opportunities in international development that certainly China is going to be doing in the next 20 years.' Similar sentiments were recently voiced by this year's London Design Medal winners, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, who said 'UK government doesn't value the role of creativity.' Another angle to this debate was provided by inventor James Dyson, who criticized the UK government's steps regarding the foreign students to return home after completing their education. This immigration plan will threaten UK's status as a global design and architecture center. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 dec 2015
Healthcare systems in US are taking initiatives to achieve sustainable designs in their buildings. They are targeting high levels of energy efficiency as part of their new facility design. They are trying to balance both sustainability and bottom line and seek to positively impact their communities. They consider sustainability design as a continuously evolving process so that they can adjust, tweak, and redesign, and achieve higher standards. Alan Eber of Gundersen Health System, one of the industry's green leaders, says 'Our goal was to achieve 115 kBtu per square foot per year. The average for hospitals in our region is about 250 kBtu so it was well below half of what the average hospital uses.' Mr. Eber adds, 'One of the biggest design lessons on the project was the potential to reduce energy use with the geothermal heat pump. The system takes excess heat in the hospital and puts it back into the system so burning fossil fuels isn't required to heat the hospital, resulting in a huge energy savings.' Another health organization, Ascension Health, adopted new design standards and achieved an Energy Star rating of 97 for its new facility, through a combination of technologies such as energy recovery air handling units and a variable air volume turndown in non-critical spaces to minimize fan, cooling, and reheat energy. According to Gerry Kaiser of Ascension Health, 'We use a lifecycle approach to justify what might be a slight upfront premium to put in the kind of systems and equipment that it does. Once the hospital is open, it's very difficult to get money spent on upgrading equipment, whether it's five or 20 years old. We try to design our hospitals to last and to perform knowing that no one wants to spend money on the unglamorous things in the future.' Palomar Medical Center (PMC), for which the work started in 2002 and got completed in 2012, utilized the latest concepts, best practices and technologies available at that time. Building Information Management (BIM), Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and sustainable design were at the initial stages of their development. Thomas Chessum of CO Architects says, 'PMC took advantage of the technology of the time, such as passive shading systems, heat-load reduction, and daylighting, to reduce its energy consumption, since LED lighting was still cost-prohibitive and active building programs like chilled beam systems weren't yet mainstream.' PMC had two main directives in their design process - (1) Create an environment that promotes health and healing. (2) Reduce the impact on the natural environment in construction and operations. Healthcare systems around the world have to effectively merge sustainability into their design processes and collaboratively work with the architects, engineers, designers, and their stakeholders like health staff and patients, and community at large, to provide better health solutions with reduced ecological footprint. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 dec 2015
It has been observed in many cases that science fiction writers have talked about products that became reality later on. For example earbud headphones were first mentioned by Ray Bradbury in his classic novel 'Fahrenheit 451'. Emphasis on technological development and advancement is also part of economic agendas of many nations. Japan is one country that gives siginificant importance to merging technology with social and economic development. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his economic roadmap, often termed as 'Abenomics', puts technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), big data, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) at the core of his revitilization strategy. Japan leads the world with its strength in robotics by bringing out the first personal robot 'Pepper'. But the robot lacks the expected intelligence as it couldn't pass the Turing Test which is a benchmark in AI to determine how close the machine thinks like humans. Although Japan's strength in industrial robotics is visible but it lags the advancements in IoT, big data and AI. According to Prof. Mitsuru Ishizuka of Waseda University and University of Tokyo, 'Japan is considerably behind the United States in 'deep learning', a central technology in AI, although the country is working hard to catch up...These companies (Google, Facebook, IBM etc) can invest big money in AI and add the resulting new values to their services. In Japan, there are much smaller companies with specific AI technologies.' IBM developed Watson, an AI computer, and over the years it has evolved into multiple applications. The computer's core framework reflects human decision-making (observe, interpret, evaluate, decide) but its data crunching abilities are incomparable. William Saito, Japanese entrepreneur and professional cook, utilized Watson to prepare some unique recipes. Citing Watson's strengths in IoT, big data and AI, Mr. Saito comments, 'Combine Watson with a refrigerator, for instance. You go to your refrigerator and it gives you a recipe based on the food in the fridge prioritized by expiration date.' Japan's focus on creating cyborgs (humans with mechanical parts) is also understandable considering its ageing population and growing need for assisted living. Toyota is collaborating with Stanford and MIT on technologies with emphasis on creating automobiles that assist the driver for safer travel, contrary to the approaches of Google and Tesla Motors that are working on driverless cars. Mr. Saito believes that Japan has to come out of its 'Galápagos Syndrome' and strike a balance between logic and creative thinking and move from electro-mechanical robotics to thinking and self-learning machines. Prof. Masakazu Hirokawa, AI researcher at University of Tsukuba, expresses similar views on Japanese model that focuses more on technology that addresses social issues and is less about creating global solutions. He comments, 'We have the hardware to be able to do it, but the important thing is developing the software...I'm trying to create algorithms that help robots learn and predictively determine what and how humans want them to act through experience-based inferences.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 05 dec 2015
US-based Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) while describing the goals of architectural education explains, 'As a professional discipline, architecture spans both the arts and the sciences. Students must have an understanding of the arts and humanities, as well as a basic technical understanding of structures and construction. Skills in communication, both visual and verbal, are essential. While knowledge and skills must be developed, design is ultimately a process of critical thinking, analysis, and creative activity.' Prof. Akhtar Chauhan, Director of Rizvi College of Architecture (Mumbai, India) and founder president of International Association for Humane Habitat (IAHH), provides architectural students his views, discusses various aspects of architectural education and suggests what the education system should look for to create professionals who can work cohesively and sustainably for the future. ON CURRICULUM AND CLASSROOM LEARNING: 'Each student is encouraged to find his or her own expression through creative exploration...several electives are included which provides colleges with opportunities to experiment, explore and evolve their distinctive philosophy. Here at Rizvi, we are concerned with issues of sustainable architecture, affordable housing, appropriate and innovative technology and humane habitat.' ON ACADEMICS AND STUDENTS: 'You are likely to find the dreamers and the rebels. The dreamers create new kinds of environments. The rebels are the ones who want to change the world and look at every aspect of academics accordingly...since students in architecture are generally stressed with creativity, they are more involved in the process of self discovery over marks.' ON SOFT SKILLS: 'These are integrated within the curriculum...It is imperative for students of architecture to learn to express themselves through different mediums, including model making, photography, design, films, and so on.' ON CHALLENGES FACED BY STUDENTS: 'For those getting into first year, the environment change is huge...They need to unlearn those old methods at every step and adopt a new approach which is much more creative and open-ended...Due to emphasis on creativity, almost every student struggles initially to find his or her own expression. And students soon realise that this becomes a lifelong struggle.' ON BALANCE BETWEEN INDIVIDUAL CREATIVITY AND CLIENT'S NEEDS: 'Creating something for a client is a two-way process and every student should try and develop solutions for spaces...Students should think about the environment, sustainability, and aesthetic expression so that their architecture contributes a pride-level in society.' ON FINDING INSPIRATION: 'Nature itself is a great source of inspiration. Students can also look upon the great role models, architects like Charles Correa, Achyut Kanvinde, Christopher Benninger and Laurie Baker...At institutional level, they can approach architecture societies, associations and networks for advice, consultation and guidance.' Read on...
The Free Press Journal:
"To create and innovate, you can't rely on copy and paste!" - Prof. Akhtar Chauhan
Author: Shraddha Kamdar
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 dec 2015
According to Wikipedia, 'Employee Experience' is defined as 'What an employee received during their interaction with careers' elements (e.g. firms, supervisors, coworkers, customer, environment, etc.) that affect their cognition and affection and leads to their particular behaviors.' Professor Kaveh Abhari of University of Hawaii at Manoa conceptualized 'Employee Experience Management' (EEM) as 'An approach to deliver excellent experience to employees, which leads to the positive customer experience by emphasizing on their experiential needs.' Successful and future-focused organizations are both customer- and employee-centric, and they shift away from thinking of work as just a utility and emphasise on creating 'beautiful experiences', a term used by Pat Wadors (Chief Human Resource Officer of Linkedin). Jacob Morgan, entrepreneur and author of 'The Future of Work', defines three employee experience environments that all organizations must focus on - physical, cultural and technological. Here he explains the nature of physical environment and its impact on employee experience. Physical environment includes - Demographics; Workplace Perks; Workplace Layout; Workplace Creative. There is a strong correlation between employee well-being and employee productivity and performance, and physical workspace is one of the largest factor for well-being. Mr. Morgan's suggestions regarding the physical aspects of work environment include - (1) Focus on multiple ways of working: According to Gensler employees need spaces to focus, collaborate, learn, and socialize. Organizations need to shift away from having a single floor plan to integrating and incorporating multiple floor plans. (2) Make the space reflect the culture: Organizations should make efforts to build an environment that reflect their values and culture. (3) Look at how employees work: Engage with employees and ask what they value and care about at work and make investments in those areas. (4) Treat physical space like software: Just the way software is continuously iterated, upgraded and evolves, organizations should use the same process to bring necessary transformations in the work space. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 nov 2015
The fast-paced world of fashion and related consumption leads to generation of large amount of waste that leaves a substantial ecological footprint. According to the nonprofit GrowNYC, in the city of New York the average person throws out 46 pounds of clothings and textiles every year (totals 193000 tons for NY). While Council for Textile Recycling found that US generates 25 billion pounds of textile waste per year (82 pounds per person) and estimates that it will increase to 35.4 billion pounds by 2019. But only about 4 billion pounds (15%) gets donated and recycled and the remaining reaches landfills, contributing 5.2% to all trash generated in US. Elizabeth Cline, author of the book "Overdressed: The Shockingly High Price of Cheap Fashion", says 'There is so much waste being created and that has changed really dramatically in the last 15 years with the rise of fast fashion and disposable consumption.' Adam Baruchowitz, CEO of Wearable Collections, which coordinates textile recycling in partnership with GrowNYC, acknowledges the increasing rise in textile waste. While Nate Herman, VP of international trade at American Apparel and Footwear Association, have a contrarian view and explains 'People are actually buying less than they did 10 years. While there has been a lot of press about [wastefulness], the numbers don't bear that out.' But he acknowledges that the industry is trying to effectively handle the clothing's end-of-life issues. Some companies provide small credit to consumers who trade-in used garments, while others donate used clothings to charities. Some companies provide support and contribute to the recycle programs where used textiles end up in producing materials used in other industries like insulation in buildings. Moreover, there are a number of startups that are working to give a second life to used clothings. A small number of fashion companies are also incorporating recycled materials in their new line of clothings. Eco-friendly strategies are considered costly by the industry. According to Jill Dumain, director of environmental strategy at Patagonia, 'It's an industry-wide dilemma, for sure, on how do we do something at scale that the industry can participate in...The end result is that you have smaller-scale production that ends up to be more expensive.' She suggests that awareness about recycling is necessary and at the same time there need to be a thinking among consumers not to treat clothes like a cheap disposable item. Slow fashion might be the way forward. She further explains, 'I do think consumption is a big part. People need to learn how to buy less and companies need to learn how to be profitable in selling less.' Read on...
Is the fast fashion industry ready to change its wasteful ways?
Author: Michael Casey
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 oct 2015
User experience is one of the most critical factor to be considered while designing a product or service. Great designs make customers feel good, enjoy and above all fully utilize the desired functionality of the product or service for their benefit. Scott Sundvor, co-founder of 6SensorLabs, explains that there are generally two schools of thought in the product design process - 'Design-First' approach, that promotes the process of initially designing look and feel of the product and then make engineering fit that design, and the other is 'Engineering-First' approach, in which the engineering aspects of the product are considered first while the industrial design works under constraints of the engineering specifications e.g. hardware, components etc. Apple generally applies the design-first approach and gives substantial importance to the aesthetics of the product, and of course without compromising on the engineering. Mr. Sundvor suggests that startups and companies with relevantly less funds as compared to Apple can find success by following the engineering-first approach. They should focus on the utility of the product i.e. providing better usability and functionality. Hardware startups that pursue crowdfunding to generate capital often sell products with a different initial industrial design while ship something else. This generally happends due to lack of convergence of engineering and hardware aspects with the industrial design. In other cases it might happen that original industrial design was not manufacturable or the cost to manufacture it was too high. Startups and companies on low budget can avoid such problems by focusing first on making the product work and then create aesthetic aspects of industrial design around it. Engineering team and industrial design firm should work together closely. Product leader should be created within the product/engineering team to coordinate collaboration between the two and should gather feedback from all sources including user's perspective and engineering constraints. The selection of the right industrial firm could be a challenge and should be done by doing thorough research based on budgetary constraints, product requirements and the design firm's capabilities. Once the selection is made product/engineering team should pitch their product vision and specifications to the industrial design firm. The design firm should be convinced regarding the long-term viability of the product. To raise funds after this would depend on the high-quality prototype design that comes through a partnership with the design firm. Startups should be prepared to spend right amount of money to create this prototype and if they don't have much funds they should consider giving equity to the design firm. This is the critical stage of product development and startups shouldn't shy away from pulling all the strings to get a good design firm to work on their product vision and specifications. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 oct 2015
In a highly competitive automobile industry in India, companies have to safeguard and secure their industrial designs by going through a registration and validation process. Sarthak Saran of BananaIP explains the step-by-step procedure to file a design application in India and how the companies should devise strategies and protect their designs. According to Mr. Saran, 'Industrial design means the shape and configuration of an article. Design does not protect the functionality of any product. It protects only the ornamentation of the product.' He also explains situations in which a design is considered to be invalid by the Controller of Design. In case there are no objections to the design by the Examiner and the Controller of Design accepts the application, it is registered and published in the patent office journal ordinarily within one month. The design is generally valid for a period of 10 years and can be renewed for another 5 years. The total number of registered designs by major companies in the automobile industry are - Tata Motors (396); Mahindra & Mahindra (205); Hero MotoCorp (85); TVS Motor Company (72). Read on...
Industrial Designs for Automobile Industry in India
Author: Sarthak Saran
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 sep 2015
According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 'Nearly 170 million tons of building-related construction and demolition (C&D) debris was generated in the United States in 2003.' Although C&D waste has potential for recycling and re-use but considering its high volume and accumulation leading to adverse impact on environment, builders and developers continue to seek ways to reduce waste and increase efficiency. This need for eco-friendy materials is bringing wood back as a sustainable construction material in the designs of architects and engineers. Developers are utilizing prefabricated wall technology in their constructions and utilizing other environment-friendly materials and processes to show their commitment to greener and better environment and get LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification granted by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). Alex Knecht, President at Pacific Wall Systems says, 'One of the greatest advantages to using prefabricated wall panels is simultaneous construction. While your grading and foundation crews are working, so are we.' Mr. Knecht adds, 'Assembling the frame components in a controlled environment allows us to deliver a superior product on the client's production schedule. As real estate becomes more valuable and building continues to go vertical, on-site lumber storage is practically non-existent. Having your wall panels delivered just in time is very attractive, especially on tight job sites.' Prefabricated wall panels result in 90% reduction of waste on average and saving of 50% on framing labor alone for developers. According to Norm Dowty, Vice Presidentl at R&H Construction, 'I think it is a trend and as you have more congested urban sites, prefab and panelization can really expedite things...other thing that makes it more viable is computerized drawings. They can do the prefab planning digitally, execute it off-site and bring the panels on-site.' Read on...
Developers' Eco-Friendly Solution for More-Efficient Construction
Author: Andie Lowenstein
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 sep 2015
Design thinking is used by organizations to spur innovation. It is often a source for product innovation teams to generate radical new product ideas and concepts. Once applied effectively and become a part of organization's culture it can emerge as a sustainable competitive advantage. According to Professor Michal Herzenstein, who teaches marketing at University of Delaware, 'Radically new products are products that allow consumers to do something that they couldn't have done before. They are products that create a shift in consumption - how consumers respond to and use products.' Her chapter 'Optimal Design for Radically New Products' alongwith Prof. Steve Hoeffler of Vanderbilt University and Tamar Ginzburg of Vanderbilt University, appears in PDMA Essentials book titled, 'Design and Design Thinking' by Michael I. Luchs of College of William and Mary, Scott Swan of College of William and Mary, Abbie Griffin of University of Utah. Prof. Herzenstein provides six processes that product innovation teams need to implement to create ideas for radically new products. Large organizations can use them in an ascending sequence with a focus on communicating the goal of achieving breakthrough product to innovation team. While smaller companies and startups can pick any process that they feel will assist them to learn more about developing radically innovative product ideas. The six processes are - (1) Communicate the Challenge Goal Toward Radically New Products. (2) Shift Time Frames to Future and Past. (3) Promote an Emerging Technology Focus Across the Product Consumption Chain. (4) Promote the Use of Analogical Thinking. (5) Look for Novel Ways to Solve Simple Problems. (6) Leverage More Ideators Via Crowdsourcing. Read on...
Product Innovation Educators Blog:
6 Processes for Generating Ideas for Radical Innovations
Author: Chad McAllister
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 sep 2015
Indian IT firms, in order to attract high-end digital contracts that are design and creative skills intensive, are building dedicated design practices, acquiring design firms, modifying their hiring practices to accomodate design and creative talent, and mandating internal marketing design teams to work with clients. Hiring artists and designers seems to be the new trend in the IT industry. According to Paul Nanneti of Capgemini Group, 'More digital work could move to India, but there is a gap in the design capabilities. That is still being done mostly onshore. So we are building out a design and user capability practice in India.' Tata Consultancy Services has been developing its design practice for last 5 years. Satya Ramaswamy of TCS Digital Enterprise says, 'There are some very good artists and designers who don't have bachelor's degrees. So we have to create exceptions in our hiring policies to be able to bring them on board. Even managing artistic and design people is different.' Wipro recently acquired a Danish design firm Designit. According to Rajan Kohli of Wipro Digital, 'While we had been trying to hire senior designers in the market, it became clear to us that we needed a proven design platform, a heritage and brand in design, to be able to attract the best people to Wipro.' Read on...
The Economic Times:
Lack of design and creative skills could shut out Indian IT from lucrative digital contracts
Author: Jochelle Mendonca
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 sep 2015
Architects often espouse some philosophical concepts while designing and creating their projects apart from imbibing what their clients want. Architect Mona Doctor Pingel of Studio Naqshbandi in Auroville (Tamil Nadu, India), considers building as not merely a functional structure but a space that effectively addresses the five senses. She is influenced by writer-philosopher-artist Hugo Kukelhaus who considered various aspects of modern architecture as 'inhuman'. Ms. Pingel focuses on creating healthy living and work spaces. She thoroughly studies the impact of built environment on human health before embarking on projects. According to her, 'Starting from location and climate to the materials selected, and the interiors, all add up to prevent the sick building syndrome. A building should bring into perspective all the five senses, thereby giving a three-dimensional angle to the structure. Like the sight of greenery, sound of water, feel of natural stone under the feet, the smell of trees, flowers, and fresh mud, the taste of a charming yet sensitive design, all the five senses need to be addressed by a building.' She uses natural materials in her projects like stone, terracotta blocks, bricks alongwith seamlessly blending greenery into the environment. She believes that architects have to be envoronmentally responsible in their designs and advocates practices of resource efficiency and recycling. She says, 'The scale in which cities are growing is not sustainable. Villages need revival through awareness, education and commitment brought into design.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 sep 2015
Gaming technologies can transform the architecture practice with their ability to create interactive visual spaces. Architects at Tsoi/Kobus & Associates in Cambridge (USA) are utilizing processing system that powers virtual reality games to put clients inside development projects before they are built. Using a cloud based system, architects can create the building and then ask clients to visualize it through entering it with a pair of virtual reality goggles. Client gets a immersive first-person view, can walk around the building and make suggestions to tweak designs. The process can be used before the contract for the building project is awarded and could eliminate the need for creating life-size physical models. Architect Luis Cetrangolo was responsible for bringing the system to the firm. Read on...
The Boston Globe:
Architecture firm turns to virtual reality to show off building designs
Author: Katie Johnston
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 aug 2015
As modern businesses and technologies evolve, their convergence brings organizational complexities. Business environment becomes chaotic and creates challenging situations that need to be overcome effectively to succeed. These challenges are giving rise to shifts in large organizations where design is becoming a center of focus. John Kolko, Vice President of Design at Blackboard, explains how these organizations are applying principles of design, not much of the aesthetic part, to the way people work. People would like to handle complexities efficiently and want their interactions with technologies and other complex systems to be simple, intuitive and pleasurable. These principles of design, termed as 'Design Thinking', involve empathy with users, a discipline of prototyping, and tolerance for failure, as core concepts to create these interactions and develop a responsive, flexible organizational culture. Mr. Kolko elaborates on the design-centric culture as one that transcends design as a role and imparts a set of principles to all people who help bring ideas to life - (1) Focus on users' experiences, especially their emotional ones. (2) Create models to examine complex problems. (3) Use prototypes to explore potential solutions. (4) Tolerate failure. (5) Exhibit thoughtful restraint. As design thinking is considered as an essential tool to simplify and humanize, most future ready organizations are utilizing it as part of their core strategy and competence. According to Mr. Kolko, 'Every established company that has moved from products to services, from hardware to software, or from physical to digital products needs to focus anew on user experience. Every established company that intends to globalize its business must invent processes that can adjust to different cultural contexts. And every established company that chooses to compete on innovation rather than efficiency must be able to define problems artfully and experiment its way to solutions.' The shift towards design as a core competence brings its own challenges - (1) Accepting more ambiguity (2) Embracing risk (3) Resetting expectations. Mr. Kolko further explains that, 'Organizational focus on design offers unique opportunities for humanizing technology and for developing emotionally resonant products and services...It helps create a workplace where people want to be, one that responds quickly to changing business dynamics and empowers individual contributors. And because design is empathetic, it implicitly drives a more thoughtful, human approach to business.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 aug 2015
According to The Data Governance Institute website, 'Data Governance is a system of decision rights and accountabilities for information-related processes, executed according to agreed-upon models which describe who can take what actions with what information, and when, under what circumstances, using what methods.' While TechTarget.com explains, 'Data governance (DG) refers to the overall management of the availability, usability, integrity, and security of the data employed in an enterprise. A sound data governance program includes a governing body or council, a defined set of procedures, and a plan to execute those procedures.' Angie Pribor of First San Francisco Partners provides 8 data governance design principles as logical steps before getting deep into the specifics of Master Data Management (MDM) - (1) Be clear on purpose (2) Use enterprise thinking (3) Be flexible (4) Simplicity and usability are the keys to acceptance (5) Be deliberate on participation and process (6) Align enterprise-wide goals (7) Establish policies with proper mandate and ensure compliance (8) Communicate effectively. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 jul 2015
Effective collaboration between private and public entities, by pooling their strengths and resources, can bring better and efficient outcomes of public and civic services for the citizens. An example of such a collaborative approach is the Small Business Portal that was launched in 2014 in San Francisco. For the project, Mayor's Office, Department of Technology, Office of Economic and Workforce Development, Office of Small Business and Tomorrow Parter's (a design firm), came together to create a one-stop portal for people that provides information for starting, managing and expanding a company. The design firm utilized human-centered design principles to shape the innovation strategy and build a website that simplified and streamlined the process of starting a business. They took an 'inside out' and 'outside in' approach to understanding the challenges. Extensive research and focus groups were used and this finally led to establishing six main attributes for building a successful interface. According to Gaby Brink, founder and chief designer of Tomorrow Partners, 'They were filters for us to evaluate our design and establish clear guidelines for the various people developing content to ensure that we had a consistent voice.' The six key principles of digital design that represent their approach are - (1) Do the Right Thing: Sets the overall tone of the project. Sets clear expectations and make the process transparent. Assures the caring attitude. (2) Curate Content: Maintains the quality and availability of the right information to the diverse set of audience. (3) Make It Accessible: Responsive design and customization utilized to provide access to website on multiple devices and platforms. (4) Treat Constituents as Consumers: Users are to be treated as consumers, instead of taxpayers or voters, that civic authorities serve. (5) Dole Out Delight: Make the experience of the users pain-free, simple and as enjoyable as possible with a human approach. Shouldn't be a typical government portal. (6) Increase Trust: Make sure that the users feel that the government is working for them. Assuring that interacting with government is not a difficult and doubtful process. Jane Gong, Program Director of the Department of Technology, says 'From a user perspective, most of the time government thinks about putting together a website, it's copying from municipal code and pasting in some clip art. For the first time we did UX/UI research. This needs to be the approach of all government websites. It's time for government to take a step back and say we're here to serve people and make sure that we're accessible and responsive.' Read on...
6 Principles Of Digital Design For Civic Innovation
Author: Diana Budds
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 jul 2015
Wikipedia article on 'Emotional Intelligence' explains it as, 'The ability to recognize one's own and other people's emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior'. The article further categorizes EI into three models - (1) Ability Model (by Peter Salovey and John Mayer): Focuses on the individual's ability to process emotional information and use it to navigate the social environment. (2) Trait Model (by Konstantin Vasily Petrides): Encompasses behavioral dispositions and self perceived abilities and is measured through self report. (3) Mixed Model (by Daniel Goleman): A combination of both ability and trait EI. It defines EI as an array of skills and characteristics that drive leadership performance. While most people may believe that innovation and creativity are born traits and might not have any connection with EI, but Harvey Deutschendorf, author and EI expert, explains that EI plays an important role in innovative and creative thinking. He outlines 7 common EI-related traits that innovators have - (1) Innovators have their ego in check. (2) Emotionally intelligent people are confident, not arrogant. (3) They are continually curious. (4) They are good listeners. (5) They don't let their emotions affect their innovation efforts. (6) They can take direction. (7) They empathize with co-workers and customers. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 16 jul 2015
Design is an important aspect of web and mobile strategy of businesses. It is necessary that users of the website and apps have ease of access to information regarding products and services, and can effectively interact and engage with it. Usability and other aspects of design become all the more critical when the website is a social platform like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc. Continuous improvement and transformation of design on these platforms is driven both by internal and external necessities. The redesigns are generally due to the evolving and dynamic nature of technologies and the changing behavior of users and needs of the customers. According to Amy Parnell, Director of User Experience at LinkedIn, 'Our design principles focus on creating experiences that are approachable, streamlined, personalized and guided. We want to ensure the experience feels efficient and productive, helping our members to achieve their goals.' According to her, redesign at LinkedIn is based on data collected from multiple sources - market research, user research, site metrics and analytics and help center feedback. Internal feedback from employees is critical before the public launch. External feedback from customers is obtained to further refine or modify the design based on user requirements. Valuable content is needed to engage and retain customers. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jun 2015
In addition to 'Make in India' initiative, it would be the right opportunity and strategy for India to also promote arts, design, and other creative concepts and activities. The creative community in India holds a view that 'Make in India' campaign should be complemented with participation in international art shows and cultural reach-out campaigns and also an upgrade of India's design standards. Feroze Gujral, philanthropist and art enthusiast, says 'The world now considers India to be the most important market for art and it would be prudent to participate in art fairs and organise cultural reach-outs that would tell the world about contemporary India.' Peter Martin of APCO Worldwide considers India's soft power potential as significant and suggests that more emphasis should be given to tap it. According to Latheesh Lakshman, artist and designer, 'India needs to set up art fairs and participate in such events abroad...such events would also promote a design revamp in India. There is a significant lag in the design potential of India and the standards that are in operation today.' Product designer Satish Gokhale says, 'Make in India campaign must have a design component that will focus on making manufacturing design-centric. In India, we have not fully understood the significance of design and application of design thinking. The Make in India campaign can even change the way of green growth of our country if synced with design and design thinking.' He further points out that India's creative potential will get a boost by adding a cultural reach-out and design platforms as part of the campaign. Although national design policy was brought out in 2007 that considered a need for design overhaul in India to improve manufacturing competitiveness, there is a lot that is expected from the present government to lead India towards a design-enabled economy. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jun 2015
Developing a design ecosystem in India is critical for the effective implementation of the 'Make in India' concept. Recent announcement by the Government of India regarding smart cities and housing for all by 2020 will provide a boost for the design industry. In an interview, Pradeep Nair of Autodesk, explains how his company would participate in 'Make in India' and Digital India' initiatives, what are opportunities in India in the design space and how the company plans to evolve in the Indian market in future. According to him, 'Our go-to-market strategy constitutes of having a strong and expansive partner ecosystem spread across multiple cities. With the aim of democratising technology, we provide the best of design innovation solutions to large, mid-size and SMBs. We also ensure that our partners are trained requisitely with the apt skills to provide these solutions to the customers.' While mentioning the company's focus in India he explains that automobile design, manufacturing, architecture, infrastructure and the media & entertainment sectors, will be the main thrust areas. He further elaborates, 'We have been advocating Distributed Manufacturing as the key to the Next Industrial Revolution and encouraging companies, individuals to developing groundbreaking hardware, software, materials, marketplaces and maker spaces through 3D technology.' He sees cloud as the future of design. According to him, 'Leveraging the power of cloud can help in democratising design technology and enable the future of making things. Every software provider, whether it be design or IT, is undergoing a massive transformation where users are opting for cloud as the preferred platform for computation. Pervasive connectivity enabled by software that tap into cloud, lets project teams tap expertise globally...we're seeing the digital and physical sides of products and projects become more deeply entwined. Autodesk will be playing a pioneering role in driving this evolution by harnessing the power of cloud, leverage connected desktops and cloud experiences tailored for designers, engineers, visual artists worldwide.' Read on...
The Financial Express:
We see cloud as the future for the design industry - Pradeep Nair
Author: Sudhir Chowdhary
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 jun 2015
Companies are targeting their product and service offerings to the growing Millennial market. Pew Research predicts that this year Millennials, with 75 million people in US under 34, will overtake the Baby Boomers. But the question is: Should the companies consider Millennials as homogeneous entity and design their products and services accordingly? Authors, Timothy Morey and Allison Schoop of frog (a global product and strategy design firm), argue that to design offerings with exclusive focus on generational cohorts will result in meaningless or potentially damaging outcomes. There is little that unites them totally. According to them, 'A better approach is to design for archetypes that are representative of certain attitudinal and behavioral traits, and then combine these with social, market and emerging technology trends-all things that transcend age or generation. Defining an ideal customer for a potential product or service using broader human themes allows you to create solutions that resonate with a larger group of people.' They further explain, 'Far too many companies take a "product-out" view of segmentation, where they essentially ask their customers to line up around their products by demographics such as age or income. They should take an "outside-in" view that orients its products around their customers' attitudes and behaviors instead. Meeting the functional and emotional needs of a group of people is much more likely to generate transformative results than targeting a generational cohort with tenuous links.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 may 2015
Staying close to the customer and fulfil his needs and wants has been the mantra of successful brands and businesses. Technology has brought the customer even closer and given brands the opportunity to better understand and analyze the customer behavior and focus strategies to satisfy him/her. Considering the highly competitive and fast paced world of fashion and luxury, established luxury brands need to think like disrupters by putting customers at the center of their strategies. Disrupters focus on 'jobs to be done' in the present. Clayton Christensen's disrupter framework focuses on consumers' social, emotional or functional problem, and turns business into its solution. This framework makes innovation independent of the latest technology or the hottest new gadget and firmly relies on human behavior. Thinking about customers and their behavior patterns provide brands insights into the future. Understanding the next generation of customers and removing friction from their brand experience with a well thought out solution will hold the key for the brand's survival. Following are four ways established luxury brands can succeed by staying close to the customer - (1) Create a seamless path from inspiration to purchase. (2) Make your brand narrative attainable, intuitive and immersive. (3) Evoke in your customers the feeling of belonging and being special. (4) Serve and reward. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 may 2015
Architecture Software Tutorials - Which Are The Best Out There?
Author: Rory Stott
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 02 may 2015
Seven design experts and judges of the 2015 Innovation by Design Awards define what an innovative design means to them - (1) Richard Florida, founder of the Creative Class Group: Innovative design is strikingly elegant but simple and intuitive to use. (2) Mark Rolston, founder of argodesign: By its very nature it should surprise us. It exposes the intrinsic power of technology. It reminds us of the profound nature of invention...should make life more beautiful. (3) Bradford Shellhammer, founder of Bezar: Did this design change the world and change it for the better...I am much more interested in the problem design solves. (4) Andrew Dent, vice president of library and materials research at Material ConneXion: How is it solving the problem it was designed for? What new approaches have been taken in this solution? Is it really offering an improvement over other designs or is it just 'new'?...I always initially zone in on the materials choices. I feel that there needs to be at minimum an 'appropriateness' when selecting them. (5) Bobby Martin Jr., co-founder of Original Champions of Design: Innovation comes from pushing beyond the expected... Innovative design is thoughtful, appropriate and ambitious. Innovative design is risky, so not everyone can be an innovator. (6) Dan Gardner, co-founder and executive creative director at Code and Theory: Is the design timeless? Does the design demonstrate new thinking and/or solve a problem in a new way? Does it have broader impact and application beyond the specific instance of the design? Does the design affect behavior in a meaningful way? (7) Stuart Karten, founder of Karten Design: Innovative design is new and different. It introduces aesthetics that haven't been seen before...the product must be meaningful. It must respond creatively to a real market need...when 'inventive' tech-driven products have functionality that is driven by people and connects to human needs that innovation occurs. Read on...
What Is Innovative Design? 7 Designers And Thinkers Weigh In
Author: Suzanne LaBarre
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 apr 2015
Professor Shree K. Nayar of Columbia University, research engineer Daniel Sims and consultant Mikhail Fridberg of ADSP Consulting, have invented a fully self-powered video camera that can produce an image each second, indefinitely, of a well-lit indoor scene. They designed a pixel that can not only measure incident light but also convert the incident light into electric power. According to Prof. Nayar, 'We are in the middle of a digital imaging revolution. I think we have just seen the tip of the iceberg. Digital imaging is expected to enable many emerging fields including wearable devices, sensor networks, smart environments, personalized medicine, and the Internet of Things. A camera that can function as an untethered device forever - without any external power supply - would be incredibly useful.' The team used off-the-shelf components to fabricate an image sensor with 30x40 pixels. In this prototype camera, which is housed in a 3D printed body, each pixel's photodiode is always operated in the photovoltaic mode. Read on...
Columbia Engineering Professor Invents Video Camera that Runs without a Battery
Author: Holly Evarts
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 mar 2015
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 'With reduced demand for production workers, total US manufacturing employment dropped from approximately 19 million in 1980 to 11.5 million in 2010. Most of manufacturing job losses were in the section of the workforce without a high school diploma.' The recent report 'Making Value for America' by National Academy of Engineering (NAE), points out the changing face of US manufacturing and the challenges faced by the human resources employed in manufacturing. The report suggests need of collaborative approach between government, companies and educators to strengthen workforce training programs and enhance innovation and productivity. Manufacturing is to be considered an important component of the value chain and businesses that focus on the entire system of product and service delivery help make value for their customers and are less likely to be disrupted by new technologies or increased competition from emerging economies around the world. According to the report, 'While technological advances offer companies new ways to understand customers' needs and in turn increase demand for their products, automation and streamlined operations are likely to supplant an increasing number of workers in a variety of occupations.' Nicholas Donofrio, chair of the committee that conducted the study, says 'Advancing skills and creating skilled jobs are the best bet to aid the workforce that has been left behind by changes in manufacturing and the broader economy.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 mar 2015
'Synthetic Biology' is an interdisciplinary and emerging area of research in biology. SyntheticBiology.org defines it as - (a) the design and construction of new biological parts, devices and systems and (b) the re-design of existing natural biological systems for useful purposes. 'Synbio' as it is often termed as, involves writing genetic code and inserting it into simple organisms to change their function. Boston-based Ginkgo Bioworks sells custom-crafted organisms - mostly yeasts, baceteria and algae and they make synthetic scents that might be used in sprays and perfumes in future. Ginkgo was mostly funded initially by US government agencies. Jason Kelly, co-founder of Ginkgo, says 'Their belief was that the United States should be on the leading edge of creating tools to program cells - sort of like creating the base elements of the early Internet.' According to Professor Pamela Silver of Harvard Medical School, 'Synbio industry is going to grow quickly, especially in Boston.' Tom Knight, another founder of Ginkgo, explains 'Engineering biology has been an artisanal craft. You did things at a small scale, manually. We're moving into an age when we can start automating a lot of the processes and take advantage of economies of scale.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 mar 2015
Web design is a constantly evolving field. New concepts, technologies and designs give rise to new trends, that some time stay and catch on user's attention while at other times they just fizzle out in popularity. But there are also designs that stay too long in use due their popularity at one point of time but in actuality they have already lost their shine. Repetition of old ideas and trends just because of being comfortable and familiar with them may lead to loss of customers and business. Ilya Pozin, CEO of Pluto TV and Ciplex, explains why the following five web design trends have become obsolete and should be replaced by new concepts - (1) Mobile versions of websites are not cool anymore. Innovative designers are using responsive design that allows the layout to adjust based on the contextual experience of users. It provides fully integrated experience irrespective of the width of the user's device. (2) Text-heavy websites are unable to hold user attention. More designs now have precise text integrated with visuals like images and videos alongwith interactive functionality. (3) SEO copywriting, which was large part of web design and promotion at one time, is now should be replaced by developing keyword informed and user-centric content. (4) Pay-per-click advertising is losing its popularity as new technology tools are available that utilize new mediums and new targeting capablities to reach precise customer segments. Some new concepts are contextual advertising, online video and highly targeted product ads. (5) Designs below 200 pixels per inch (ppi) is getting obsolete as new devices are adopting retina displays. If the design resolution is low it gives poor quality on these displays. Moreover most web design is now more simplified with flat user interface and avoids use of gradients and shadows that provided three-dimensional look. Read on...
Let It Go - Say Farewell To These 5 Web Design Trends
Author: Ilya Pozin
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 mar 2015
The Dutch industrial and product designer, Hella Jongerius, is critical of design purely by profit, design without conscience and design without awareness. She advocates more holistic approach to industrial design with focus on quality and practical economics. She argues that design shouldn't view objects as isolated items and should interrogate their relationship with people. She suggests 6 steps for industrial designers to achieve this objective - (1) Design the materials. (2) Keep the design process hands-on. (3) Celebrate imperfection. (4) Make use of archives. (5) Have a signature style for differentiation and recognition. (6) Research extensively. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 05 mar 2015
In the world where products and services are designed to be simple and bring ease in human lives, Brian Millar, head of strategy at Sense Worldwide, brings out a contrarian view. According to him difficulty can sometime make lives and jobs more meaningful. To explain his perspective he mentions an influential book 'Drive', in which author Daniel Pink argues that humans are motivated by autonomy, mastery and purpose and when things are designed to be simple, it takes away the fulfilment and satisfaction that come from mastery. He cites example of phishing scams that prey on trance-like state of people where clicking a link to reset password is not always thought about well. He also provides a case of shared space movement, a successful road safety design campaign, where ambiguity is brought back into road use at certain points, by making unclear who has right of way, for both padestrians and drivers. This resulted in slowing down of traffic and subsequent 43% fall in accident rates. He talks about his experience of an unsuccessful risk assessment sofware product that was designed to be very simple but since complexity was prevalent in investment banks for decision-making at that time, it was rejected. He argues that by incorporating a little difficulty in the design of that sofware might have resulted in a better outcome as the industry's practice relied on it. Read on...
Why we should design things to be difficult to use
Author: Brian Millar
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 mar 2015
In addition to just aesthetics, architects are now applying neuroscience, by studying how brain reacts to various environments through brain scanners, to design schools, hospitals, community spaces etc. Eve Edelstein, president of consulting firm Innovative Design Science, says 'Understanding the power and significance of design is not a luxury. It has a direct impact on wellness issues and a direct influence on activity within that space.' According to Betsey Olenick Dougherty of Dougherty + Dougherty Architects, 'Visual access to sky, trees and landscape stimulates brain function. Providing vistas throughout the facility and particularly in classrooms has been a major strategy in the design of this building (Corona del Mar High School, Newport Beach, California).' Justin Hollander, co-author of the book 'Cognitive Architecture' and urban planning professor at Tufts University, says 'Patterns matter. And edges matter. The research argues that not only do we need order but our brain likes hearing stories...When you go to Times Square, you're told a story. You go to Disneyland, it's a story.' He further adds, 'Humans have a clear bias for curves over straight or sharp lines. Studies have shown that curves elicit feelings of happiness and elation, while jagged and sharp forms tend to connect to feelings of pain and sadness.' Hospitals and care centers are now being designed based on how brains of Alzheimer's patients reacts or how lighting affects patient's sleep cycle. Neuroscience shows light triggers brain reactions far beyond vision. 'It has an impact on heart rate.' says Edelstein. Michael Arbib of University of Southern California Brain Project and the vice president of the Academy of Architecture and Neuroscience, says 'Smart architecture can learn from brain science. To use artificial intelligence to build buildings that can better interact with people...is going to be very applicable to a home.' Read on...
Smart buildings- Architects using brain science for design guidance
Author: Haya El Nasser
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 feb 2015
Designing for Internet of Things (IoT) is pushing the boundaries for designers and engineers to experiment and evolve out of their specific roles. Martin Charlier, design consultant and co-founder of Rain Cloud, provides his perspective on the future of interfaces and how to design for IoT. According to him, 'Products in today's world, especially, need to be thought about from variety of angles. A designer has to consider both the looks and working of the product while designing.' He stresses the importance of symbiotic nature of interaction design and service design. On working of cross-disciplinary teams, he says, 'Every field needs to know a little bit, have a basic understanding, of the other side... The key, though, is that they started working as one team together, before splitting up into their respective domain areas, so that there was a joined vision.' While discussing the role of human values in IoT design, he suggests, 'Designers need to start thinking about how they change people's behaviors and affect their lives.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 jan 2015
Apple Inc. is associated with the best designed world-class products. It's a result of extraordinary design process that they apply before their products reach the hands of their customers. Here are few product design lessons from Apple - (1) Quality counts at every stage of product development and customer experience. (2) Embrace change and continuously iterate, evolve and develop new products. (3) Stay ahead and provide new to market technologies within compelling new products people need. (4) Whole widget, meaning owns the primary software technology giving it the flexibility to introduce new solutions and add new features over time. (5) Riding without wheels, meaning the robust, inventive and long design process that takes time to launch new to market product categories. (6) Take risks, embrace failures and learn. Apple understands the value of process innovation in order to maintain its design lead. (7) Thoroughly understand the various elements of the innovations process like use of advanced new materials and technologies etc. (8) Deeply complex but simple to users. Develop products so that they work intuitively. (9) Customers count at every stage. (10) Consistency across every strand of the user experience. Read on...
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