Field Trip

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Overall I found our Field Trip on Saturday to be both fabulous and informative. Elizabeth Gillett was extremely hospitable, and surprisingly humble for someone who built an entire design label from the bottom up. I found her story to be inspiring, beginning her whole career with the reproduction of a single scarf. I gained a lot of insight about the business world, as well as the design world, and all the many parts that tie into them. Seeing her studio in person really  tied the connection between design and business for me. Essentially, the two go hand in hand. Having a design in not enough without the business skills to back it up. Just as Elizabeth showed us with her different seasonal designs and fashion forecasts, the design has to fit into what will sell in the business.

The second part of our day, the trip to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), which might I add was my first trip there, was also a success. Apart from seeing many interesting modern art designs,

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as well as getting some inspiration for the decoration of my future house,

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I was also learned a thing or two about Le Corbusier.

Aside from being a brilliant architect, designing building such as the United Nations and the Palace of the Soviets, turns out he was also an amazing painter, as seen in his paintings such as “Still Life FIlled with Space.” I was amazed at the various structures, designs, and pieces of artwork contained in the Le Corbusier exhibit, a place that I certainly intend on returning to and spending more time in.

The entire field trip  really broadened my knowledge and bettered my understanding in the area of design and business. Now that I’ve seen all of the concepts applied, this class is beginning to make a bit more sense to me.

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Faculty Research Day

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While walking around and reading about the research that members of our faculty had conducted in their particular area of expertise, I stumbled upon a display that caught my attention. The Professor whom the display belonged to, John Teehan, who has a PhD in Philosophy and an MA in Psychology, is a Professor of religion here at Hofstra. His study focused mainly on these 5 essential questions:

Why do people believe in God?

Why is religion universal?

How does religion shape behavior?

Why do people commit violence in the name of God?

Can science provide the answers?

In order to answer these questions, Professor Teehan had to further explore the origin of religion. Did God create man or did man create God? That question seems to be the question of the century. According to Professor Teehan, different religions answer that questions differently which create the basis of their religions.

Roman Catholics, for example, believe that God created man and then based on what we learned from the bible, man recreated God.

To answer this question, Professor Teehan decided on a different approach however. He decided that in order to find out the origin of religion we would have to take a look into the origin of our thoughts, the human brain. Taking a look at how the brain works, Professor Teehan explored the idea that the brain is actively trying to find order in the environment which gives rise to the belief in religion. Using science as a means to explain religion, Professor Teehan also took a look at the cognitive bases of the problem of evil. 

Why do people commit violence in the name of God?

He combines his background in Philosophy and Psychology to take a look at empathy, cruelty, and religion from a cognitive perspective. 

Overall I found what he had to say very interesting, to the point where I’m even considering taking his class, to further explore the questions of the universe that might forever go unanswered. 

If We Can’t Cure Them, Accommodate Them

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For a patient with Parkinson’s, a task as simple as feeding themselves is an overwhelming challenge. Losing control over their motor abilities can mean losing their freedom as individual and their dignity as a person. To help patients with their tremors, Anupam Pathak, founder of Lift Labs, created the Liftware.

The Liftware spoon is the first of the kitchen utensils to be created of its kind. Using the technology found in digital cameras and smart phones, the Liftware works motion sensors to counteract tremors and stabilize the hand.

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Unfortunately, the Liftware is nothing cheap, quoted at a steep $299.95. But for patients living with the severe effects of Parkinson’s, its a small price to pay for freedom.

These Booties Are Made for Watching

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Any mother will tell you that the first few months of her newborns life are by far the most stressful. The incessant crying and their sleep deprivation aren’t their only problems though. The constant worry over their newborns well-being is enough to keep most moms up at night. This neat little invention called the “Smart Sock” is designed to calm moms nerves and ease their worries by keeping them updated on their infants’ vitals right from their iphone.

The Smart Sock provides information to parents regarding the infants’ heart rate, oxygen levels, temperature and sleep habits. It even has a feature that will notify parents if and when their infant turns face down in the crib. This is an especially comforting feature considering the number of sudden infant deaths that occur each year.

My bestfriend’s brother just had twin girls last month and I can just imagine how much of a handful they are. With both Emma, Addie, as well as  3 year old brother Noah in the house, it’s safe to say their parents don’t get much of a break.

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As soon as I read this article I thought immediately of them and how useful something like this would be to them. Considering the amount of money they’re going to have to spend on diapers, the $199 per baby will seem like pocket change. However, like any parent will tell you about things concerning the well-being of their child, its a worth while investment.

Ethnographic Research

After reading the blogpost regarding ethnographic research and its effectiveness in the design process, I have a much better understanding of why ethnographic research is so important. In fact, as stated in the article, this kind of research is essential in order to get a better understanding of the situation and context of a target audience. Such forms of ethnographic research can include techniques such as,

  • interviews
  • contextual inquiries
  • focus group

just to name a few.

One great example of putting ethnographic research to good use was mentioned in the redesign of airport security. We all know it to be true that airport security can be a very hostile, stressful environment. In order to better the relationship between the public and Transportation Security Officers (TSO), as well as improve airport security, IDEO created a design that would change the current hostile vibe in the atmosphere.

Their ethnographic research included 300+ interviews and observing travelers and making note of their emotions, moods, archetypes and behaviors. After also taking into account the physical space provided, airport lobbies and checkpoint areas, they came up with a design that would keep passengers at ease and make it easier for TSO’s to identify suspicious personnel.

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Ethnographic research, however, can be both qualitative as well as quantitative. The article references a man by the name of David Gilmore who emphasizes the more qualitative aspects of ethnographic research as opposed to a man by the name of Wilcox who, rather than conduct interviews and surveys, proposes quantitative research. Research that is used to “validate design” tends to be quantitative because “it is about averages and generalities” while research that is used to “inspire design” tends to be qualitative because “it is about idiosyncracies and little details.”

Overall, its apparent that ethnographic research and design go hand and hand for it is much more difficult to design something without really knowing about who you’re designing for.

Practical Art

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For anyone who complains that art doesn’t serve a practical purpose here’s one for you:

Jean-Sébastien Lagrange used the idea of a 3D printer that would allow people to print posters such as this one, right from home, that also serve as night lights. As a college student who can’t stand bare walls and sleeps with a desk lamp on, I think this is brilliant.

From my understanding the assembly process is nothing too difficult. The design behind it is genius, just a simple combination of pen, ink, and LEDs. Looking forward, should they make a printer for this that is accessible to anyone, I can see this transforming the way in which art is made. If we can incorporate lights into a poster, why not into a piece of artwork? With 3D printing the possibilities are limitless.

 

 

Producing “Bigshots”, One Camera At A Time

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Nowadays no one really knows how to do anything anymore. Manual research has been replaced by google, maps have been replaced by navigation systems and people have been replaced by Siri. Professor Shree Nayar of Columbia University came up with an idea that would force kids to actually learn a thing or two before they were able to use this new toy.

Essentially, the Bigshot camera is just a regular digital camera with a twist: It doesn’t come assembled.

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The idea behind it is to engage kids so that they want to learn about the the building process and as a reward they have a camera to show for it. While learning how to assemble the camera, they are also getting a quick lesson in mechanics and engineering principals.

I can remember being seven and feeling so proud after assembling my Barbie Airplane, it made playing with it all the more enjoyable. I see it in my seven year old sister who loves to put her final product on display after she’s created something with her legos.

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I’d imagine this camera will have kids feeling the same way once they’ve pieced together their Bigshot camera.

Fortunately enough, the Bigshot camers has recently been released onto the market and is available online on the official BigShot website for just $89.