New concept of mobility – in three lines

I was asked by Seung Yoon Lee, at Korean Design Research Institute, for a three line quote on “a new concept of mobility due to ubiquitous technologies”. (It’s for an upcoming issue of Asian Design Journal).
So I sent this: “Reducing the movement of matter – whether goods, or people – is a main challenge in the transition to sustainability. Technology, in this context, can help us use resources in a radically more efficient way – and by ‘resources’ I do not just mean matter and energy, but also space, and time.” Not bad eh? That’s another perpetually half-finished book I can chuck in the bin.

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Design and sustainable tourism

The next Dott 07 (Designs of the time) Explorers Club meeting on Thursday 14 July, to be held at the Robert Stephenson Centre in Newcastle. Our focus this month is Sustainable Tourism.

In terms of someone’s carbon footprint, a single holiday in New Zealand is equivalent to 60 short visits to the North East. But those sixty trips to the region will not be sustainable if they stimulate a wasteful use of finite resources by visitors and their host businesses. This is a real and pressing dilemma.

Tourism is fundamental to the North East’s Regional Economic Strategy. The region is committed to increasing its share of tourism expenditure in Britain, and to do this by accelerating the rate of investment in tourism facilities, new accommodation, and attractions.

How might we re-shape this economic strategy to be consistent with a commitment to sustainabiity? What might sustainable tourism in North East England be like? Our expert speakers are:

Chris Little, who heads the Tourism Development Unit at One North East. The unit is responsible for directing and influencing investment in development of North East England tourism.

Leandro Pisano and Alessandro Esposito are partners in Ufficio Bifolco, a marketing and cultural planning companythat works on ICT strategies for development of rural areas in South Italy. They are producers of two festivals in Southern Italy – Interferenze, and Mediaterra – that bring together nature and technology, tradition and vanguard, past and future, local and global. This unique convergence of sounds, images, landscapes and carnival rites of a rural land, are signals of new ways we might visit and experience new locations.

Beth Davidson is the mapping creative lead on Mapping The Necklace. This ongoing project in Durham asks: Could a public park be more than grass and benches? Durham’s Necklace Park is a 12 mile stretch of spaces – and experiences – linked to the River Wear. You create your own park by mapping tracks, forests, picnic and fishing spots.

Ross Lowrie is a project leader of the Tyne Salmon Trail. A celebration of the river, its heritage, and its increasingly diverse ecosystem, the project explores low-impact ways to improve access to the River Tyne and its plethora of different species.

It’s free, but you need to reserve a place with Beckie Darlington:

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Design Roads to a One Planet Economy: Art Center lecture

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How do European, American and Asian approaches to green design differ – and what we should learn from each other? Will technology save us, or is a social revolution more important? I’m giving a lecture on this topic at Art Center, in Pasadena, on 5 June – and I’m told there will be a lively debate. My talk accompanies an exhibition (curated by Gloria Gerace with the support of Vitra) called Open House: Architecture and Technology for Intelligent Living. The picture above for a Seoul Commune designed by Mass Studies, is one of the show’s highlights. Before you make a joke about it, I will: The lecture takes place inside the Wind Tunnel. Windy or not, the event is free and is open to all, so do please come. Tuesday 5 June, 7.30pm, Art Center, California. For detrails phone +1.626.396.4254 or email

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How to teach no-product product design

In an excellent piece in Metropolis , Peter Hall argues that “design schools need to rethink how they teach product design.” The subject is booming, Hall writes, and yet the world is filled with terrible products: cars that kill two people every minute; airport X-ray machines that consume more time than Tardis, and designer trains that are less reliable than the ones thay replaced and cost four times as much to ride.
Hall observes that design schools are responding to the crisis in three ways. Some are positioning product design as “a business(week)-friendly, innovation-focused process (IIT and Stanford); others focus on research rather than form-making; a third group produce sexy imagery of objects that are often more hypothetical than manufacturable”. These conceptual products don’t guarantee an income, Hall concedes, but – like paper and digital architecture – can sometmes stimulate fresh thinking.
A fourth new approach to product design, for Hall, is “to shift gears to mapping those object-producing systems and using the data, arrayed in compelling visual form, to drive design change”. That approach is evident in the service design sector; “opportunity maps” (a term I believe was first used by E-Lab ten years ago) are becoming a powerul way to help multiple disciplines work together. Interestingly, many of the best service desgners began life as product designers: their instinct is to make services work well, not just look good.
The above illustraton to Hall’s piece, which I borrowed from Metropolis, is by Martin Lorenz. It’s beautfully done, but I don’t buy the way it puts designers at the centre of multiple systems and flows. Design thinking is key in the transition to a One Planet Life, but it won’t all be done by laptop-toting Designers.

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Beauty, mortality, presence.

I don’t know about you but I’m off mapping today (and hope to see many of you there ). While I’m away, here’s another of the Belsay projects, this one by Francesca Steele. Her work engages with beauty, mortality, and presence.

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Bluebells at Belsay

You missed a truly gorgeous day: The opening of Picture House at Belsay. Here is Dott’s Beckie Darlington playing with the installation by UVA, which (the image) I borrowed from Pixelsumo (Chris O’Shea) who has posted a ton more on Flickr. Uber-blogger Regine Debatty was there, too, so you don’t need any more from me. Regine’s pix are here. The Picture House team worked three years to make the event happen and usually they’d now have to start work again on the laborious task of disseminating results. But in the age of Flickr, publishing the results of an event has become easy as….. this.

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The point of it all

This is a big week for Dott. The Picture House exhibition at Belsay Hall Mansion opens with a Digital Dinner on Thursday. The exhibition features three projects curated for Dott by Juha Huuskonen / Pixelache: a new work from Golan Levin; Adam Somlai-Fischer & Bengt Sjölén; and UVA. Adam-Somlai Fischer and Bengt Sjölén have documented the making of their installation at Belsay, a kinetic reflection display system called Aleph. The name Aleph comes from a fictional point of singularity by Jorge Luis Borges, “a point in space” (explain the artists) “that contains all other points. Anyone who gazes into it can see everything in the universe from every angle simultaneously, without distortion, overlapping or confusion”.

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Mapping the beauty of cows

Roam, meet, share, map. There’s only a week to go before a gorgeous array of teams assemble in Durham for Mapping The Necklace (5-7 May). One group is interested in mapping the most beautiful cows in the park. Other teams will do Audio Mapping (using ambient and verbal cues as waymarkers along the riverside); Busking (a map of performance spaces in the Park); Chaos Mapping (mapping of “chaos vs tranquillity” by award-winning Venezuelan multi-media artist Cipriano Martinez); Dog Tracks (to help you understand what your dog is thinking about on the journeys you take together); GeoScrooting (share your experience and memories of hidden gems in the Park through photos, art, sound, music, story, poetry… ); Gimme Shelter! (What is a shelter? something physical or psychological, natural or man-made?); Honey I ate the map! (investigating and eating the foods of the Necklace Park); Orimapping (a map of temporary origami sculptures); Tree Testimonials (the Durham Necklace Park has some beautiful and distinctive trees); Park-Parkour (Is it a sport? Is it dangerous? Do you need a special place to do it?); Vennel mapping (an architecturally-trained theatre producer is creating a sensory map of Durham’s vennels); Wild about food (mapping the edible Park bounty– whether it be garlic, elderflower or fungi). You can’t afford to miss this! Join us at Old Durham Gardens, Sunday 6 May. Details from:

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Environmental mapping

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Along, I suspect, with some of you, I failed to get into Ecologic studio’s blog (story below) but I did find this intriguing project for them by Slider Studio to “automate the process of mapping data from an environmental analysis software package to a three-dimensional grid.” This is part of a larger ambition to “insert environmental analysis seamlessly into the design process….to find a balance between a building’s environmental performance and appearance”. I wish them every success in this worthwhile if ambitious project, and would only comment that if they use as much Flash in their software for buildings as EcoLogic do in their website, the biosphere will burn while we wait for the solution to load….

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