Disaster Relief


Paul Polak
The SunWater Project: Advanced Solar Technology for Poor Farmers
Paul Polak on SunWater: a radically affordable solar water pump that will transform small plot agriculture and help bring the world's poorest families out of poverty.


John Thackara
‘Beyond Good Intentions’ – The Movie
A new documentary hopes to answer the question "What happens in a disaster area after the initial wave of support?"


John Thackara
From Druids to Biorefineries: Innovation in a Small Nation
Small nations can be flexible in ways that big one cannot.



Mark Lamster
Majority Report
Review of Design with the Other 90%: Cities


John Thackara
Utopia is Here
Ridley Scott's film Blade Runner, made in 1982, portrays a dystopian Los Angeles as it might be in 2019. In just eight years we are due to find out whether or not the film was an accurate prediction.



Ernest Beck
Creative Support for Japan
Creative responses to the crisis in Japan.



Ernest Beck
Mensch at Work
Review of The Power of Pro Bono



Tony Whitfield
Prepared for Haiti
Tony Whitfield meditates on the assistance designers should give in Haiti following the earthquake, and in future catastrophes.



Ernest Beck
State of Shelter
Relief organizations still rely on the same basic options for emergency housing, but new ideas are taking hold.



Aspen Editors
Aspen Design Summit Report: UNICEF and Early Childhood Development
At the Aspen Design Summit November 11–14, 2009, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute, the UNICEF Early Childhood Development Project proposed a new approach to emergency kits that would be more precisely tuned to young children’s intellectual and emotional needs, as well as outlined a basis for the next AIGA/INDEX: Aspen Design Challenge.



Aspen Editors
Aspen Design Summit: Initial Report
Initial report on the 2009 Aspen Design Summit, sponsored by AIGA and Winterhouse Institute.


Bradford McKee
Float House
Report on a floating house designed by Morphosis and UCLA architecture students for the Make It Right Foundation,



Ernest Beck
Emergency Response Studio
Report on artist Paul Villinski's mobile studio, which he converted from a trailer of the type used by FEMA to house victims of Hurricane Katrina.



Observed | August 30

License plate redesign fail in Oklahoma: their state bird—the scissor-tailed flycatcher—has a symbolic role in Native American culture, but here, looks more like the Twitter logo. [JH]

It’s the start of design festival season: in London, Istanbul—and Anchorage! [JH]

Relatives of late president Dwight D. Eisenhower think that Frank Gehry’s proposed memorial design is too extravagant. A design stalemate between a family, the US House Appropriations Committee, and now—Congress. [JH]

Tactical urbanism: coming soon to a city near you. [MB]

Proving that they are brave as well as brilliant, who better than the Italians to redesign, um, cow poop? [JH]


Observed | August 29

3D printed garments at the U of Hertfordshire + a dress literally worth its weight in salt. [JH]

British artist Sarah Crake looks at the intersection of the biological and the bibliographic, excavating (and visualizing) the bacteria on a 1735 copy of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. [JH]

In Greenville, designers are linked directly with manufacturers and suppliers in real time, in what General Electric calls a “digital thread.” This means they can collaborate in ways that have changed the work process while making it more likely that problems or defects are spotted sooner. [JH]

"Sitting up: a brief history of chairs", by Witold Rybczynski. [MB]

"Stanford Business School will offer a two-week class in 2017 co-taught by media personality Tyra Banks focused on “building and protecting a personal brand.” [MB]

"I decided that that was where I wanted to be: this is modern, this is new, this is everything.” Jane Thompson, the writer and design theorist who brought modernism to American shopping, has died at 89. [MB]


Observed | August 26

Two conferences on design and health: the Transform Conference, at the Mayo Clinic and this October at Cornell, a symposium on Hospitality, Health and Design. [JH]

New museum explores the relationship of possession to loss, the madness inherent in love, and the undeniable importance of the individual’s voice in recording and interpreting history and its sweep. [JH]

Design first. Act later. [JH]

Smart design in The Hague leads to an actual conviction. Maybe design can save the world after all? [JH]


Observed | August 25

Great discoveries in the annals of UI: boosting empathy through Botox? (Yes, you read that right.) [JH]

In Washington, Federal agencies are starting to use design thinking to creatively address mission objectives and improve processes. (Not sure whether this is a good thing.) [JH]

Open to any resident of one of the 16 UNESCO “Cities of Design”a design competition focused on eliminating homelessness. [JH]

Design as a synonym for feelings? Forbes India says so. [JH]

The Rational Dress Society introduces Jumpsuit, an ungendered, multi-use monogarment for everyday wear. [MB]

Sci-fi typography obsessives, look no further! [JH]


Observed | August 24

177 film critics from around the world pick the 100 greatest films of the 21st century (so far). [MB]

Collage is cool again. (Was it ever not?) A new book from Thames and Hudson tells us why. [JH]

The amazing Anne Trubek on handwriting, and why it matters. [JH]

Susan Gardner started "gluing things" to the front of her Cobble Hill home as a therapeutic exercise after 9/11. Fifteen years later, it’s a Brooklyn landmark. [MB]

Boston’s Museum of Science announces a design competition launched by the U.S. Department of Defense. [JH]

Looking for something meaningful in these last, dog days of summer? Help San Francisco design its future transit system! [JH]

A visit with Jennifer Kinon, design director of Hillary for America. [MB]

When bad design leads to bad things. [JH]


Observed | August 23

Engineers at Princeton University have designed a scalable microchip that promises to boost efficiency and slash energy consumption. [JH]



Jobs | August 31