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 | January 17

The long lost connection between and Marilyn Monroe’s most famous scene and Design Observer’s own Bonnie Siegler. [MB]

Juventus—an Italian soccer team— reveals its pared down, minimalist new logo. You know what happens next. [JH]

“I want to create new things.” A New York Times profile of legendary book designer Irma Boom. [MB]

Peter Mendelsund on family, memory, and W.G. Sebald. [MB]

The suit is dead. Long live the suit! [JH]


Observed | January 16

V&A Head Designer Annabel Judd is taking on science. And here’s what’s happening Stateside. [JH]

Wells Fargo rejects a Black Lives Matter debit card. [JH]

Richard Prince disavows his appropriated Instagram portrait of Ivanka Trump and returns the money they paid him for it. [MB]


Observed | January 13

Yves Béhar designs a robot for the elderly he’s calling a “companion”. [JH]

Mr. Poopie explores the uncanny visual relationship between poop and ice cream. (Via Modes of Criticism.) [MB]

Shepherd Fairey’s protest posters. [JH]

Beautiful data: NYC-style but open and available to all. [JH]


Observed | January 12

The newly-minted field of “behavioral design” looks to have pretty much nothing to doing with design. Is taking design’s name in vain OK? I’m starting to wonder. [JH]

Sleep Mode is an exhibition on the art of the screensaver at Het Nieuwe Institute, Rotterdam. [MB]

Engineers at UCLA have come up with a design that offers unlimited phone bandwidth. [JH]

Everything you ever wanted to know about publishers, design, and newsletters. [JH]

Forget about robots taking our jobs: in Australia a new fashion startup lets customers design their own products. [JH]

The irresistible narrative behind the legendary napkin sketch that upended US tax policy. [MB]


Observed | January 11

The folk power of Jamaican dancehall signs. [MB]

Seven ways for architecture and design firms to attract top talent. [MB]

Is Thomas Heatherwick’s iconic update to the London double decker bus being discontinued? [MB]

The shopping experience at every mall in America can be traced back to one second-tier city in the Midwest. [MB]

In honor of his 86th birthday, a quick overview of Massimo Vignelli‘s enduring NYC subway legacy. [MB]

Meet Galina Balashova, the woman who spent three decades designing the interior of Soviet spacecraft. [MB]


Observed | January 10

Photographer Michael Wolf and the dazzling and depressing architecture of density in megacities. [MB]

Thomas Hine‘s Populuxe once imagined a sedan where four people could sit in the back seat and play bridge. That moment may be coming soon: the future of the “occupant” experience in self-driving cars, from BMW. [JH]

Nielsen reports that most people scan web pages in a pattern—a “F” pattern, to be exact. More on why UX is a science and not an art. [JH]

Service design, when your client is New York City. [JH]

“We are not an advertising agency. We are Hoodwink.” [MB]

“Architecture saved my life.” Did not see this coming: Pablo Escobar’s son is a good architect now. [MB]



Jobs | January 17