Energy

John Thackara
Energy: Thriving On Five Percent?
Energy requirements per person in modern times are 60 times higher than our ancestors. How do we sustain that need as populations also increase?


Alexandra Lange
Premature Demolition
The Folk Art Museum, David Adjaye's market hall, and the first addition to the Morgan Library. If three makes a trend, then premature demolition qualifies.


John Thackara
Design In The Light of Dark Energy
A shortened version of a talk on why the world has to reduce energy consumption, the five per cent energy solution and some of the people around the world who are leading the way.



John Thackara
A Reading List for Mr. Mario Monti
A (mostly) online list of readings for the new Italian Prime Minister, Mr. Mario Monti, and anyone else who is ready for a cold hard look at our energy resources and options.


Alexandra Lange
Round Thermostats and Crystal Lanterns, Revisited
Old designs, new tricks: updates on lawsuits filed against the new Nest thermometer, and on behalf of midcentury masterpiece Manufacturers Hanover.



Courtney Drake, William Drenttel, and Deirdre Cerminaro
Design and the Social Sector: An Annotated Bibliography
This bibiography surveys the literature of social design — the spectrum from design process and thinking to the zones of social innovation.



John Thackara
Iceland: Eaten Alive, or Growing to Live?
Exploding the myth of Iceland's "green" energy — with alternative suggestions



Phil Patton
The Green Dashboard
The design of instrument panels reflects the new technologies of hybrid and electric vehicles



Phil Patton
Another Wrong Turn for Chris Paine
Review of the documentary film Revenge of the Electric Car.




John Thackara
Renewable Energy: Salvation or Snake Oil?
Critique of The Energy Report published by the World Wildlife Fund, which asserts that the world's energy needs could be met by alternative sources.



Phil Patton
Charging Double
Comparing two new electric-car chargers: Blink and WattStation



Ernest Beck
Climate Change Chocolate Update
Update on Climate Change Chocolate and other ideas for offsetting carbon. Originally published August 17, 2009.



Ernest Beck
SELCO: Case Study Synopsis & Teaching Objectives

This case study about SELCO, a solar energy company in India, provides an opportunity to examine the strategy of a business with a social purpose and a heavy reliance on innovative design.





Phil Patton
Mitsubishi i-MiEV Electric Car
Review of Mitsubishi's i-MiEV electric car.



John Thackara
Could Green Energy Kill the Desert?
Large scale wind power might not be as green as you think.



Mitch Epstein
Why Not in My Backyard?
Mitch Epstein's photo of Amos Coal Power Plant, Raymond City, West Virginia 2004, from his book American Power (Steidl, 2009).



Jane Withers
In Praise of Shadows
Essay adapted from "In Praise of Shadows: New European Lighting Design," presented at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, September 19–October 18, 2009.



Julie Lasky
CO2 CUBES
Description of CO2 CUBES: Visualize a Tonne of Change, a multimedia installation created for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Conference of the Parties (COP-15), held in Copenhagen in December 2009.



Jonathan Schultz
Better Place
Report on Better Place, winner of the 2009 INDEX Award in the Community category.



Bryan Mealer, and William Kamkwamba
The Doers Club
Design prodigy William Kamkwamba recalls building a windmill to generate electricity for his village in Malawi, Africa.



Mark Dery
Paradise Fouled
Review of Crude, Joe Berlinger's documentary film about a lawsuit filed against Chevron by denizens of the Ecuadorean Amazon.


Phil Patton
Triple-Digit Inflation
Phil Patton questions GM's sustainability claims for its Chevrolet Volt electric car.



Karrie Jacobs
A Thousand Points on Light: Part II
Continuation of debate between lighting designer Leni Schwendinger and Dark-Sky advocate Susan Harder about proper illumination of urban, suburban and rural environments.



Karrie Jacobs
A Thousand Points on Light: Part I
Debate between lighting designer Leni Schwendinger and Dark-Sky advocate Susan Harder about proper illumination of urban, suburban and rural environments.



Teun Voeten
Hell in a Horse Cart
Photo of coal merchant in Shanxi Province, China, by Teun Voeten.



Alec Appelbaum
FLAP Bag
Report on the FLAP bag, a multipurpose messenger bag for developing-world populations.



Ernest Beck
Climate Change Chocolate
While environmentalists debate the ethics and effectiveness of carbon offsets, designers work to make them appealing.



Julie Lasky
When Worlds Collide
Report on TEDGlobal 2009, held July 21–24 in Oxford, England.



Taryn Simon
Blue Note
Nuclear Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility Cherenkov Radiation, Hanford Site, U.S. Department of Energy, Southeastern Washington State. Photograph by Taryn Simon.



Observed | January 20

From Portland-based designer Ilisha Helfman, a color palette tool for fountain pens with a custom-cut Canson paper top so you can make notes for each pen or sample ink vial. [JH]

On this historic day in America, as we struggle to honor truth, tolerance, and a deeply uncertain future, let us remember that inclusiveness is not only a matter of race and gender and nationality, but also a question of mutual respect and cross-disciplinary freedom. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: doctors who create! [JH]

The day has come. Here’s a reading list for designers in Trump‘s America. [MPL]

“Taking cues from the Girl Scouts, Soviet-era Constructivism, the WPA, and Kara Walker…” Behind the branding of the Women’s March on Washington. [MB]


Observed | January 19

Design as a proactive response to disaster, and the challenges for climate change. [JH]

In a design exploration that has taken nearly two years and six significant iterations of the prototype—during which the app’s usage has grown eightfold to 4 million daily active users—Slack introduces threaded conversations. Meanwhile, Mozilla (remember them, before Netscape?) introduces a revamped design identity. [JH]

In the US, nuclear plant design goes modular. [JH]

The lost signs of Montreal. [MB]

Paula Scher, Christoph Niemann and more visionary designers: coming soon on Netflix. Watch the trailer here! [JH]

Apple vs.Samsung: it‘s not over! [JH]

Design, detente—and defiance. [JH]

“Trump sits for hours with architects and designers, instinctively pointing to what he likes and doesn’t like.” The President-elect as design client. Sad! [JH]


Observed | January 18

“They’re the spiritual successors to the visual metaphors of early graphical user interfaces, but there’s a big difference between an icon shaped like a trash can and the tilt of a robotic eyebrow.” Visualizing AI—and why it may not be as ‘user-friendly’ as you’d think. [JH]

Trump, His Gilded Taste, and Me, a strange and prescient piece by the late Herbert Muschamp (via Paul Goldberger). [MB]

From the Department of Thespian Schadenfreude: when good actors have bad auditions. (Spoiler alert: they’re still pretty good.) [JH]

From The Amplifier Foundation—an extraordinary initiative that needs to be funded, now—before it’s too late. [JH]

From our friends at Continuum, a cogent, level-headed argument explaining why so many corporate-level design thinking initiatives are inevitably doomed to failure. [JH]

Shepard Fairey, Jessica Sabogal, and Ernesto Yerena launch a campaign to fund public art to protest the inauguration and beyond. [MB]


Observed | January 17

Extraordinary motion graphics from the French motion graphics genius Maxime Causeret, with music by Max Cooper. [JH]

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]



Jobs | January 20