for what it’s worth

stories and stimulus from a consumer insight consultant

Cameron Sinclair, Architecture for Humanity – offers real food for thought

I go to loads of events, conferences and talks, and although I always have the best intentions I very rarely get round to writing up my notes for you to enjoy. This time however the talk I went to this evening was so amazing it would be wrong not to share! The event was at the RSA to honour Cameron Sinclair, co-founder of the truly incredible Architecture for Humanity, with the RSA 2009 Bicentenary Medal.

I’ve been a fan of the non-profit design organization for a while now, ever since I learned about their tsunami relief project (thanks to Design Museum’s Designer of the Year competition) and love getting their newsletters and wishing I was clever enough to enter their design competitions, but this was the first time I’ve had the opportunity to see Sinclair in action – and I think I love him!

The video gives you a pretty good overview of the way the organization works, and is definitely worth watching – but it was the content of his talk that was even more powerful. Here are my jumbled notes, I hope they make some sense and give a bit of an insight what was a truly eye-opening and inspirational hour it was, and I highly recommend you watch the video when it’s up on the RSA site (probably in a week or so)

– Architecture for Humanity has helped somewhere between 750,000 and 1 million people so far

– It is a decentralised network of people using their architectural skills to make a difference – 72 local chapters 5383 volunteers – they were surprised to find that the majority are licensed architects (67%) [ie not students], 62% are female, average age is 32 years, 15% are British, and there’s a 50/50 split between those from developed and developing countries

– Aftermath of Katrina was ‘criminal neglect from US government’

– ‘don’t just be the change – be the bank’ – allow people access to funds directly
Lots of the African Americans in New Orleans owned their houses outright (had been passed down through generations) so didn’t have mortgage = didn’t have credit rating, so got nothing to rebuild

– A4H created a library of skills for/ with residents – swapping practical skills – invisible economy coming up to help each other. They found that lots of architects were turning up just to get involved and help rebuild the community

if you don’t build it it doesn’t exist – you can’t just design it you have to build it

– One graphic design student converted 70 pages of government policy into a one page visualisation – this was so powerful for the government A4H managed to force change in policy

– Needed to create homes to be sustainable – to help the families afford the insurance and the energy bills- being sustainable as a way to create equity

– There are 4bn people in emerging middle class – spending money on healthcare, improving homes and education

– In this century we’re going to double the number of structures on this earth – it’s  pretty exciting time to be an architect

– Creative commons architectural ideas – 21000 people involved so far

– A4H ran a competition to design a classroom for the future – connecting with local schools – teachers and students being part of the design team – creating site specific ideas. 1000 teams entered from 65 nations, 250 schools got new designs

– some recent projects: Skatistan, Plastiki, The Homeless World Cup in Brazil

– some brilliant points:

  • It’s better to be the tugboat than the oiltanker – we can move much faster with the ebb and flow
  • It’s better to have 5billion clients than 50
  • Culture is an aspect of sustainability – everything is local – people interpret religion, community in diff ways
  • A strong society creates strong economy
  • There is no such thing as the 3rd world
  • Your client is your design expert
  • Ethics is aesthetics
  • We build communities not destinations
  • Instigate the no asshole policy – don’t work with them, don’t take money from them, don’t hire them
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Filed under: collaborative working, creative ideas, good, Uncategorized, , , , ,

And i’m back…

Apologies for the serious lack of posting, I took a hiatus from blogging but have decided it is time to return!

I have seen and done so much amazing stuff over the last 8 months that I don’t even know where to begin, so for now will just offer one awesome thing I discovered today, together with a promise to fill in the blanks as much as possible… and post much more regularly from now on!

– everyone needs awesomeness like this:

An Awesome book

An Awesome book

Based on the simple concept of dreaming big, “An Awesome Book” is the inspiring debut work of Los Angeles writer/artist Dallas Clayton. Written in the vein of classic tales by Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, and Maurice Sendak it is a sure hit for all generations young and old.

more Awesomeness

Dallas initially wrote the story for his son, but when other people showed an interest he decided to produce and sell the book himself and its popularity has led him to tour around the US reading it to as many kids as possible with the explicit aim of giving away one book for every one sold.

Watch this video of his experience creating and selling the book, and how incredulous he finds this sudden success of something made purely out of love – that really is awesome! (sorry, it won’t embed for some reason!)

(via booooooom)

Filed under: products with a purpose, search this out, Uncategorized,

I <3 Siftables

I’m a HUGE fan of this idea from MIT grad student David Merrill and really hope these go into production soon. I tweeted a link to this the other week but have only just come across the video of his presentation at TED earlier this month. No point me explaining more- just watch the video below or here, or read more about the project here

Vodpod videos no longer available.

David’s last thought at the end of his presentation: “My passion is for making new human computer interfaces that are a better match to the ways our brains and bodies work… We are on the cusp of this new generation of tools for interacting with digital media, that are going to bring information into our world, on our terms”

Filed under: talent worth watching, technology, Uncategorized, visions of the future

MCDONALDS GETS A FASHION MAKEOVER

mcdonalds fashion

First it was new designer chairs and muted colours, now McDonald’s in the UK have decided that the staff themselves need a design overhaul and have replaced the brightly coloured uniforms of the burger-flippers of yore with a smarter, sleeker range of designs by UK design institution Bruce Oldfield.

From Brand Republic:

McDonald’s is providing its staff with a new range of uniforms designed by Bruce Oldfield, famous for dressing Princess Diana, Jemima Khan and Sienna Miller, in an attempt to appear more upmarket.

The old outfit’s bright colours have been replaced with more subtle shades of black, beige and brown for the air-hostess style uniforms.

Female management and front of house staff will wear high heels, pencil skirts and scarves, male counterparts will have suits, and the staff who serve the food will wear polo shirts, all in similar colours.

The new uniform will appear in the UK next month for all 67,000 workers to complement the company’s restyled restaurants, at a cost of £2m. McDonald’s said that the clothes made staff feel more confident and customers respect them more.

David Fairhurst, chief people officer at McDonald’s, was reported in The Guardian to have said: “We’ve been on the journey of confidence. And part of that confidence will come from having the staff feel good in their uniforms. “The new uniform reflects how there is now a more upmarket feel to the business. You still have the value meals but there are also the premium ones, and these uniforms give a more premium feel.”

Oldfield said that it had been fun to design the “contemporary look” for employees at McDonald’s and that he had come up with a design that is practical and stylish.

Brand Republic: McDonald’s aims for premium image with designer uniforms

Filed under: Uncategorized, ,

ADVERTISMENT VS REALITY

pundo3000

Advertisement Vs Reality is the name of a project by Pundo3000 that has photographed and compared the images on food packaging with the actual products inside. It’s no surprise to anyone to find blatant mis-advertising on food, and this site created by German journalist Samuel Mueller shows 100 of the worst in what he explains is a true light, with no additions or alterations to add effect. See some of the most unappealing items on this video.

via: Consumerist

Filed under: Uncategorized, ,

GUERRILLA RESTAURANT OPERATES ONE DAY A WEEK ONLY

one-day-a-week

Jean Snow points us on his blog to what may be the next step in guerrilla retail extremes: restaurants serving on one day only. Vegie Shokudou is open for lunch and dinner – but only on a Wednesday:

Néojaponisme contributor Dwayne Dixon and amazing vegan chefs Yoyo and Yuka offer up the tastiest vegan lunch in Tokyo on Wednesdays at Vegie Shokudou, a renegade restaurant inside of a bar in Koenji. Note that the restaurant operates ONLY ON WEDNESDAYS. There is a break period from 3pm-5pm, and the restaurant will be closed. Eats start at 1PM.

Jean Snow.net: Vegie Shokudou

Filed under: Uncategorized, ,

RESTAURANTS LET CHEFS GET INTIMATE WITH DINERS

NY chefs

Todays New York Times has an interesting article on a new breed of intimate restaurants aiming to enhance the dining experience through stronger interaction with the chefs. Citing locations in New York, Chicago and Montreal, the article details restaurants with very few tables who are taking the open kitchen concept a step further with the chef becoming a multi-tasking performer- and it seems to be appealing to both the diners and the chefs.

Grab a stool and belly up to a new brand of upscale dining, where closeness to the cook comes with your meal as routinely as bread. Although counter seating, open kitchens, and chef’s tables are not new to the scene, Momofuku Ko and a few other restaurants are reaching for a new level of intimacy. The chefs are not only cooking and plating the food, but also serving it, taking coats, recommending wine and confirming reservations.

“Everyone who works here is a chef, and everyone is also a dishwasher,” said Michael Carlson, the chef at Schwa in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago, which serves elaborate multicourse menus of dishes such as parsnip custard with ice-wine vinegar caramel, candied sweetbreads and a lavender lecithin bubble. (It’s a dessert.)

The new model was inspired by sushi bars and re-engineered by the French chef Joël Robuchon in 2003 at his Paris restaurant L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, where a counter surrounds an open kitchen. Adopters of this model across the Atlantic tend toward the young and the restless, who are interested in testing received notions not only about food but also about what a restaurant can and should be.

The decision to minimize service staff ripples throughout the meal. “We’re just cutting out the middleman,” said Sam Gelman, a sous-chef at Momofuku Ko. “It’s you eating and me cooking.”

His words reflect a sensibility about food that also drives modern eaters to seek direct contact with farmers and fishers, fromagers and foragers. “This way I can tell people myself about the food they’re eating, the wine, everything,” he said, grating a snowfall of frozen foie gras over a bowl of riesling jelly and pine-nut brittle.

NYT: Your Waiter Tonight… Will Be The Chef

Filed under: Uncategorized, ,

Fashion Week Front Rows

Forget what’s on the catwalk, Socialite Rank has highlights of the real action – what’s happening on the front row. Covering Fashion Week from a different perspective, the website is bringing you all the goss  from the inside. Personally i’ve never heard of half the celebs mentioned, but makes for fun reading nonetheless!

Filed under: Uncategorized,

Elixir- The Answer to Ageing?

Announced today: the launch of the world’s first glossy magazine devoted to anti-ageing and rejuvenation! Elixir will go on sale on Februaury 16th, full of information on the hot new anti-ageing products and services available globally.

The magazine will cover an array of topics including nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, fitness, cosmetic surgery, cosmetic dentistry, spas and medical anti-ageing and rejuvenation therapies, as well as including a column on opportunities to invest in global stocks in the sector such as Allergen (Botox) and Pfizer (Viagra). With the anti-ageing market growing at an astounding pace and new products and services being launched weekly, Elixir targets its content towards a 30+ audience of affluent women and men who are keen to defy the laws of nature. It’s a worrying trend but it seems that growing old naturally is so last year.

via sourcewire

Filed under: Uncategorized

FINALLY- PAY BY PHONE PARKING


Westminster Council have launched a 6-month trial of a new pay by phone parking facility in large areas of the West End. Covent Garden and Soho will see all parking meters removed and replaced by ‘Pay by Phone Only’ bays, and Pay & Display areas will include pay by phone options.

A great idea- UK should have more options to use mobiles as payment methods, it makes life so much easier. Let’s hope this trial is successful and the scheme spreads throughout London

read more here

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