Saturday, March 25, 2006

Stephan Sagmeister

Bruce Hinds, a professor at OCAD was looking for some names of people that the students would like to hear speak. So I started a list with some friends. We all thought of some similar big name thinkers: your Malcolm Gladwells, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. However one name that I insisted go on the list was Stephan Sagmeister.

Although I only have a very basic knowledge of Graphic Design, Stephan has been a huge influence on my thinking. His process and ideas are so unique, which is probably why he has become so well known. Hearing him speak is so intriguing and entertaining. The first time I discovered Stephan’s work was through the designer videos on Hillman Curtis’s website. His passion is so evident and captured me even though he is a Graphic Designer. He is truly an individual and does what he believes in. I write this mainly because I thought more people should know about him.

Stephan Sagmeister
I love his website not only for its design but also the student section which gives advice to students. This understanding is something more designers and design firms should get.

Here are some more links with Stephan.
AIGA – Happiness & Design
Type Radio - Interview

Shouldn't all designers be happy?

Friday, March 24, 2006

The True Cost of Water

I recently finished a research project on bottled water. I was looking into the truecost of the product and found some very shocking facts. I also made an ad to illustrate my findings. It was very fun to get make into some graphic stuff. I'll share a bit of the information that i found.

Worldwide, $100 Billion are spent on bottled water each year. From 1999 to 2004 worldwide consumption rose to 154 billion litres from 98 billion: a 57 percent increase! Overall, these trends have turned bottled water into a $35 billion industry.

Although consumers are spending more on bottled water, are they getting what they pay for? The average price of bottled water exceeds that of gas in industrialized countries and cost up to 10,000 times more than tap water. Consumers are buying based on the assumption that bottled water is cleaner than tap water, however research shows this to be false.

A 1997 United Nations report and 2001 World Wildlife Fund study found that in Europe, Canada and the United States, “there are more regulations governing the quality of tap water than bottled water.” While in a 1997 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report, bottled water was found to contain no greater nutritional value than tap water. In fact, a Co-op America study found, “as much as 40 percent of bottled water is actually bottled tap water, sometimes with additional treatment, sometimes not.”

In addition to not being better than tap water, bottled water leaves a greater footprint on the earth. Nearly one quarter of all bottled water is transported across national borders. This means that immense cost is put into transporting it using fuel rather than using existing infrastructure.

Additional environmental damage is created from the mass quantities of natural ground water that is pumped to create bottled water. Because of the time it takes to replenish these sources, this water is considered a non-renewable resource.

This is only the tip of the iceberg because this water is then packaged in harmful polymer bottles for transportation. Worldwide, 2.7 trillion barrels of oil are used in the manufacturing of water bottles. Although PET (the plastic used in the process) is recyclable, 90% of bottles are thrown into regular trash streams to be incinerated. This process emits chlorine gas and heavy metal ash which are both toxic chemicals linked to human and animals health problems. If it isn’t incinerated it is placed in dumps where it takes over 1,00 years to decompose. Some bottles (40% of the US’s consumption) are shipped to foreign countries to be incinerated where pollution laws are more lax.

The bottle itself also leaches harmful chemicals into the water it is meant to protect. Additional studies found many bottled waters to contain numerous dangerous chemicals in high concentration.

The bottled water trend may seem like the “healthy option” however when you realize the real damage it does to the earth you may think twice. The amount of pollution created from transportation, disposal and the mass amount of ground water being pumped from the earth to make this product, bottled water is actually hurting us more than helping us.

For more check out...
Bottled Water: Nectar of the Frauds?
Message in a Bottle
Sierra Club - Corporate Water Privatization Committee
NRDC - Bottled Water: Pure Drink or Pure Hype?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

When I'm 64(0)?

Well after a weekend of procrastination I finally accomplished something (or at least felt like I did). Today I met with Ben and Brad to discuss our project in “Flow” class. We are working on developing new lighting for the city of Toronto to save energy and prevent the orb of light that covers our city (light pollution). We developed some interesting ideas on layering light and creating light that is in a constant state of change. It was a definite step in the right direction. However we are spending more time producing presentations and maps for our Profs than actually producing meaningful work. It is getting frustrating. Hopefully we can produce some great results despite the situation. The project is really a great step in the right direction towards realizing a sustainable and efficient system.

Then as I was flipping through my RSS feeds (I’m totally addicted to information), I found an interesting link. The BBC article discusses a new theory by a Cambridge geneticist Aubrey de Grey. Although he looks like a wacko (who am I to judge) he speculates that not only will people be able to live to be 1000 but that this person may exist today and could possibly already be in their 60’s! This idea is fascinating to me. Here we are just going about our lives like there is an end but is there really? As I discussed in my last post we are consuming continually and without any guilt (at least not the majority). So what will happen when we actually are affected by the consequences of our actions?

Maybe then people will wake up!

Listening To: Silence!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

What is the point?

Recently I have been giving a lot of thought to the final year of school: my thesis. The subject of this project is extremely important, as I will have to stick with it for a whole year.

When I first got interested in Industrial Design back in 2001, I thought I would be designing furniture and house wares. My dream was to design chairs and clocks. I imagined this as the role of the designer. Looking back it is funny to see how far I have strayed from that idea (you can’t blame me I was 15).

Today I no longer see much value in this kind of design. Now don’t get me wrong I love well-designed furniture as much as the next guy but there comes a point when you realize that the world may have enough chairs. I don’t that these things aren’t “saying” anything; designers are simply using their talents to promote style for style’s sake. A well-designed object has the power to influence and move its owner/viewer, the same way great art does. This is an opportunity that should be respected.

This got me thinking about recent writings on the new age of product design and the concept of intangible design. The world is filled with objects that are just occupying space and harming the planet in the process. A new age of planned obsolescence has been created and consumers are all too willing to participate. So what is the point of another object? If a problem can be solved without physically manufacturing a product aren’t we better off?

This brings me back to my thesis project. I have been toying with the idea of trying to solve problems using virtual means or others that wouldn’t necessitate a product. I still have no clue which subject this will cover but it was just where my mind was.

Listening to: Wolf Parade – Apologies to the Queen Mary

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Portfolio Shoot

Well, all weekend I have been hard at work on my new portfolio. I wasn’t too happy with the one I made last year so I decided to change formats.

Last year I made a simple PDF that showcased my top eight projects with a picture and small description for each. It was definitely a learning process and I didn’t even realize how much effort went into presenting my work. In the end I was proud of what I did but a year later it isn’t as impressive. This year I tried to top the previous but I may have been a little too ambitious. I thought that the best way to present in a new and creative way would be a film. However I have realized that this might not be the most effective way. The problems associated with using text on film has been just one of the many roadblocks I have encountered.

I made the film using small cutouts of my work and me. I then shot them using my digital camera to be put into a stop-motion animation. I had done this kind of presentation before but never at such a precise level.

I am planning on finishing it by the end of the week along with a PDF of all the projects and a new resume. I have to start setting personal deadlines otherwise it will carry-on forever.

After all the time and effort spent I started to question my work and then realized that my work, although all very current, isn’t really an accurate representation of my design ideas or me. As the design world changes I feel that there will be a seismic shift in the idea of the portfolio. In the future will what I do actually be able to be distilled into a picture book with descriptions? As I thought about my book this year can you really understand my thinking through a visual representation and brief description? Is design not more complex? Eventually we will have to find an answer to allow our work to be represented in a transparent and vivid way.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Tim Flannery Article

I read an article in the Globe and Mail today by Author Tim Flannery who just released a book The Weather Makers: How We Are Changing The Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth. It puts some things into my mind that I thought I would share. The article states that we are at the brink of destruction and without a massive shift in mentality we will not really exist much longer. He offers solution to this problem that I think seem extreme now but will be common practice in a few years. He believes that each individual consumer has the power to start this change because industry and government will only act to please the people.

The point that caught me most was that if green technologies are put in the hands of the majority of the population that change can happen. By creating demand prices will only drop and the technology will only spread further. I couldn’t help but see the parallels between the green technologies and those involved in the IOT. One point Flannery points out is that not only is the environment at a tipping point but the economy is as well. He compares the near future state of the energy sector to that of the Internet. By dispersing the technology the power is in the hands of the user and big businesses and energy suppliers will be cut out of the loop. This is very much similar to what Alex was discussing on the de-centralized grid communication possibilities. I wonder what role will these companies play in the future? If you have seen the Enron documentary you know how much power these energy business hold. Are they able to shift? Who will be the new “big business” when the people are empowered?

Friday, March 03, 2006

The First Post!

Well, here goes. This is my fifth blog this year and I am beginning to hate writing the first post.

Every time you begin a new blog you want it to be just right, the perfect actualization of your vision. However I have finally realized that this post is never read. I have never read the first post on a single blog before and I don’t why anyone would. Just to be safe I’ll introduce myself. My name is Nate Archer and I am a student at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto. I am in the Industrial Design program and have started this blog as a way to articulate my thoughts and showcase my work.

More to come soon