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Design and/for Sustainability

15 Mar

We had a visit in the MDes studio last week from Dr Stuart Walker.

He works at Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts and the blurb on his page, which reflects the theme of his lecture, says:

Research Interests
Product Design for Sustainability – explored from a variety of perspectives but emphasizing, in combination with critical reflection and writing, the creative activity of ‘designing’ as a legitimate research element. Explorations in theory and practice that examine the inter-related issues of social equity, ethics and the spiritual, aesthetics, localization and the environment. The relationship between localization and globalization, and design for sustainability.”

His work struck a chord with everyone, I would say, because we could all see relevance to our individual projects. But more than that, although I can only speak for myself, I think he hit on the nerve that tells me that everything that is wrong with commercialism and consumerism has been touched by a designer and by default, it would seem, ‘all’ designers are implicated in this crime, however small their guilt.

I’ve certainly had the ‘commercialism’ tag aimed squarely at SuperFly when, at the beginning of 2010, I did a street poster art exhibition that was also an advertising campaign for a Pop-up event in Dundee; an exhibition that is all about the ‘art’ is somehow more valid than an exhibition that also incorporates ‘advertising’. The advertising didn’t take up any more of the poster than the sponsors logo section had on the previous poster, neither was the art compromised as a result; but of course, the advertisers did pay for the exhibition!

However, that aside, their is no escaping the fact that, for Product, Packaging and Graphic Designers in particular, there is always a question of conscience concerning the work that is taken on.

While this had been something I had thought about personally, Neville Brody was the first ‘well known’ designer that I had heard publicly express ‘matters of conscience’ in the context of design.

He has said,

“I think intelligent, questioning design that can somehow help extend and open up people’s awareness is valid. I wouldn’t work for cigarette or oil companies, or even alcohol. I would find it immoral to have my persuasive skills used to encourage people to start smoking.”

While everyone will have their own ‘line in the sand’ with regards to these kinds of ethics, I believe it’s important for every designer, working on any project, to have ‘sustainability’ as one of their key objectives.

You can view some of Dr Walker’s ‘research objects’ here, and while many of them resemble props from Mad Max II, there were two points that I came away with: 1. We don’t need to wait for a nuclear holocaust in order to act responsibly; and 2. design may well be used inappropriately at time, but it can also be part of the solution.

Creative Crowd-sourced QR Codes

10 Mar

UPDATE: Today (20 May 2011) i’m at the ‘Open For Education’ Conference – for ‘Open‘ read ‘Open source‘.
I’ll be giving a talk, ‘QReativity – The Mystery of the QR Code’
This post, from back in March might be useful as it contains a brief screen cast of how to create your own QR Code.

All feedback gratefully received!

ORIGINAL POST:

I’m pleased and excited to announce that my exhibition project SuperFly will be exhibiting at the Games Based Learning conference Game To Learn: Take 2 next Friday and Saturday.

I’m working on a new QR hunt as well as preparing a potential lecture for the event… just in case…

I’ve also decide to try and gather a crowd sourced collection of QRs, called ‘SuperFly QReative’. In many ways these little black and white collections of squares are just about as dull as any contrasting collection of ink or light could be. However, it turns out that the technology that scans them is very forgiving in the way that it reads the information. This means that, should you be so inclined, there is the possibility to get extremely creative with the humble QR and turn it into a thing of even greater beauty! (there are examples on the SuperFly website…)

If you’re unsure about how to make your own #QR.. i’ve made a little video to help!

So, visit SuperFly, send in your modified QRs, and the good news is you only have until next wednesday, 16 March!

So not even time to think about it too much, just do it!

Visit SuperFly for more info! (and please spread the word…)

Knights around-the-table once more..?

28 Feb

Exciting possibility of another NEoN Knights style QR Hunt in Dundee very soon… more will be revealed very shortly but in the meantime why not have a lookie at what happened in November at the NEoN Digital Arts Festival: SuperFly’s NEoN Knights QR Hunt

Project Presentation

22 Feb

Indirectly related to ‘presentations’ and ‘projects’, I recently produced a photo book using iPhoto which is the free photo library and editing software that comes on the Mac. It documents SuperFly in pictures (and a few words) from mid 2009 when I started organising the first show through to November 2010 when myself and two friends created a city wide QR game in Dundee for the NEoN Digital Arts Festival.

I’m currently working on my version of the ‘knowledge swatch’ idea… but I think this book idea is a nice way to present a finished project in pictures and my preferred, tactile alternative, to a laptop to present projects and photos…

I’ve blogged some words and pictures about the book on my SuperFly Blog