Dutch artists celebrated George Orwell’s 110th birthday yesterday by placing party hats on surveillance cameras. party-hats-on-surveillance-cameras
Twitter  26 June 2013 | LINK | Filed in , ,
RT @OccupyDesignUK: De-branding the City. Exposing the mythology that the City uses to justify itself.
Twitter  16 September 2012 | LINK | Filed in ,
RT @DesignObserver: 20 Years Later: The Ambiguous Legacies of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots:
Twitter  19 April 2012 | LINK | Filed in ,

Tahrir, Revolution, and Design

Stunning photos today of the millions of Egyptians out in the streets to commemorate the start of the revolution a year ago that turned out Mubarak — and to demand transition from military to civilian rule.

A few things have been written on the supporting role of design in the revolution and the urban landscape as both site and medium of protest:

But I think my favorite detail is in this annotated overview of Tahrir square by BBC News.

The authors of direct action (particularly in West Asia and North Africa) are often depicted as a rowdy mob of thugs. But instead of the usual sea of angry Arab men so often shown by the mainstream media, the photo shows a kindergarten set up in the square. Schools in Cairo had been closed during the protests, but many mothers wanted to attend the demonstration as well. So demonstrators organized an impromptu kindergarten.

The image captures the spirit of mutual support that sprang up around the occupation. And my favorite detail: the newsprint under the paintings to keep the square, the city and country they love, free from spills. No random acts of violence here, but using the city to create something new, a different future, with hope and love.

Tahrir Kindergarten

>  25 January 2012 | LINK | Filed in , , , ,
Visualizing Slumlords. Using social nework analysis and information viauzliation to reveal patterns of real estate ownership, kinship, finance, and a conspiracy to sidestep housing violations. The methodology was used by tenants to successfully sue absentee landlords.
Social Network Analysis
>  14 January 2012 | LINK | Filed in ,

Design with the Other 90 Percent: Cities


I would argue that the biggest events in design for social impact this year were not in sustainable design, service design, or design innovation, but in civic space: people rising up, occupying their cities, streets, and public squares, and using graphics, their bodies, and their cities as both place and medium to express themselves and shake the pillars of state across west Asia, north Africa, and southern Europe.

So it’s with some interest that I’m looking forward to Design with the Other 90 Percent: Cities, an upcoming exhibition organized by the Cooper-Hewitt. I was somewhat skeptical of the previous incarnation, the 2007 Design for the Other 90%, wherein the national design museum took a break from its usual curatorial criteria to focus on appropriate technology gadgets. Indeed, a more critical eye would have been welcome: the XO Laptop is aesthetically pleasing and swaddled in do-good discourse, but has otherwise been roundly criticized as a failure. Likewise, the LifeStraw, featured on the exhibition catalog cover itself turns out to be a carbon trading scam.

But the museum is having another go. To my delight the idea of design for social impact has been institutionalized and in October a second exhibition will focus on design for social impact and cities. This time the exhibit will take place at the United Nations while the museum is under renovation — a fortuitous move that nudges it quietly into the realm of advocacy.

And finally (and just as important) the name has been edited from design for to design with. It’s a promising change.

>  11 June 2011 | LINK | Filed in
I Park Art. i-park-art.jpgThe PARK(ing) Day meme lands in Paris and Italy to promote the guerilla re-appropriation of public (parking) space through art and intervention.
>  22 May 2010 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

Invisible City

Why is New York City’s census count always so low? In addition some concern about a history of census abuse targeting minorities, there’s a whole host of ways people bend the rules to live here. Folks may not want to be counted if you live in off-the-books housing, with off-the-books tenants, or do off-the-books work for a living.

And though immigration is a perennially hot-button issue, I wonder whether this latest flare-up has more to do with mid-term elections or suppressing counts (thus money and power) in non-white districts where Democrats tend to lead.

>  22 May 2010 | LINK | Filed in , ,

MayDay Posters

“What does International Workers’ Day mean for the self-employed — for the designer or any other highly flexible working person today? Or someone unemployed? How does someone self-employed go on strike? How do you fight for better working conditions?”

In much of the globe, workers of the world celebrate the first of May with demonstrations, parades, and parties led by community groups, unions, and left wing political organizations.

Once a celebration of Spring and a commemoration of attacks on workers, EuroMayDay is a modern reinvention of the May Day tradition. The first MayDay Parade was held in Milan in 2001 and has since spread across Europe. In 2006, it grew into EuroMayday, a day of protests and actions to fight “precarization” of workers and discrimination against migrants in Europe and beyond. New forms of Precarity are a result of shifts in the modern workplace from permanent employment to temp work, freelance, and other instruments of “flexible labor.” This has resulted in an existence for workers without predictability or security, affecting both material and psychological welfare.

Hundreds of activists and volunteers over the years have come together to organize the MayDay events. Since 2007, the design studio bildwechsel / image-shift has joined them, producing a series of beautiful and provocative MayDay posters. To celebrate MayDay (and the anniversary of this blog) I asked the studio partners about their MayDay poster designs from the last 4 years.

Continue reading "MayDay Posters" »

>  1 May 2010 | LINK | Filed in , ,
High street 'revived' by fake shop front. “Fake businesses are to be used to lessen the impact of the recession on high streets in North Tyneside. With 140 empty shops in the borough, council bosses think they have come up with a unique way of ensuring shopping areas remain as vibrant as possible. The first empty shop unit to be given a makeover with a ‘flat pack’ shop front is in Whitley Bay.” (via)

Update 5/25/10: BLGDBLOG has more on fake storefronts and dummy houses in Paris, London, and Brooklyn.
>  26 April 2010 | LINK | Filed in ,

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