Googlemap of Design Books

Markus Dressen's Googlemap of his books

Markus Dressen has laid out a selection of his favourite books and created a Googlemap of them. Most of them are design and art books and provide an interesting insight into his tastes. And it’s a clever idea too.

I noticed that he appears to be German and that one of his books was about the Volksboutique work of one of my colleagues here at the Bauhaus, Christine Hill. Anyone know who Markus is?

Thanks to Mike at Digital Agency for the link, which originally came via RandomCulture.

UPDATE: It really is a small connected world. Interaction designer, David Schmidt posted in the comments a link to some Flickr photos of Christine and Shelley Jackson. I had no idea they knew each other (and I’ve not met David in the flesh yet either). (Christine wants it known that she won the tennis match they’re relaxing after!).

So of course I mailed Christine who then replied explaining who Markus Dressen is:

Markus is not my student, he’s a force of nature. He’s a stellar designer based in Leipzig, and did the complete layout of my monograph.  I will show you a copy in Weimar, it will knock you over.  He is amazing.  We are actually about to reprint that, including 32 new pages for the Venice Edition, and I am so looking forward to spending more time with him.  He studied at the HGB in Leipzig, specializing in books, his thesis is a hand made Unikat, that is a feat of both layout and printing, not to mention hand binding and well, I just can’t do the work justice in an email.

Markus also is the brains behind the journal Spector Cut + Paste.

The HGB is also the home of the Spherical Robots project/group who have created some great interactive/installation concepts, including Bitfall.

The War on Blogs

Now that large corporations like Dell have started to ‘get’ blogs since the various Dell Hell blog posts started panning their stock price it appears that Dick Cheney has realised that other people might also “manipulate the media”. How dare they? This from the BBC story (note that he’s talking to Fox News):

Mr Rumsfeld said earlier this year that he was concerned by the success of US enemies in “manipulating the media”.

“That’s the thing that keeps me up at night,” Mr Rumsfeld said.

On Monday, US Vice President Dick Cheney also made reference to the use of media, suggesting insurgents had increased their attacks and were checking the internet to keep track of American public opinion.

“It’s my belief that they’re very sensitive of the fact that we’ve got an election scheduled and they can get on the websites like anybody else,” Mr Cheney told Fox News.

“There isn’t anything that’s on the internet that’s not accessible to them. They’re on it all the time. They’re very sophisticated users of it.”

Sophisticated users of “the Internets”? Next they’ll be using The Google to bomb Bush’s ranch.

Top Hat and a Tail

So of course Greyworld’s Andrew Shoben couldn’t let me name-check Antirom on YouTube without sending me one of his own. This one of him wearing a top hat and tails and a tail. A lot of effort for a pun.

The most astonishing thing is that nobody takes any notice, especially in the supermarket. Not only is it pretty unusual to see someone in full opera gear, but the guy has a tail. Watch all the Londoners wrapped up in their own busy worlds completely refuse to blink at the unusual.

Antirom Performance

I love YouTube, it really is becoming the archive of the world. Here’s a bit of the RGB performance Nic Roope, Joe Stephenson and I did when we were at Antirom. We performed a selection of our interactive sound toys – this climax of the show really where we jumped around on pressure pads triggering sounds and animations. Joe is in green, Nic in the Red and I was blue. Way back in 1997 I think. We really couldn’t dance (three middle-class white boys) but it really was a good time. You should have been there.

Thanks to Nic for finding this and whoever Newbrow is for uploading it to YouTube in the first place.

UPDATE: So, Nic reckons this is the Cybertheatre in Brussels and Shane thinks it might have been the performance we did for the 2nd onedotzero festival at the ICA. It was all a blur at the time for me – maybe someone remembers?

The Black Box Interface

The Black Box   Black Box interface ideas

As most of us know, phones don’t make brilliant music players or games machines. Sure, they can do that stuff, but the 0 to 9 buttons, tiny screen and perhaps a joystick are not the best interfaces. At present most mobile interfaces mimic desktop operating systems. They have a little folder and file icons that you have to navigate through. Most of them leave a lot to be desired.

So what if you made a black box that could do anything and was simply a touch-screen? That’s the idea behind this concept phone from BenQ which just won an iF Design award.

Apart from its multi-modal interface and decent typography, it’s nice to see something playful on there (the carp in the pond, which presumably is some kind of screensaver).

The only problem is that it’s so nice and glossy and techno looking that it’s going to become all scratched and nasty. It’s a common theme with new technologies, which is why I like Hulger’s collaboration with leather designer Bill Amberg. Leather looks better the more it is used and it also becomes more personal. There is still some thinking to be done in this area.

Via Mobiface.

Playful Interactivity

Musical Chairs

I have just read great paper called Adding Playful Interaction to Public Spaces by Amnon Dekel et al. from The Hebrew University Jerusalem and The Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem.

In it they describe three projects that involve physical interaction with fairly everyday objects, but that are all playful. My favourite two are probably the Musical Chairs that consists of a set of stools set up in a row. When sat upon the stool creates some audio-visual feedback, but the best part happens when someone sits on another stool as a kind of circuit is set up between them. When someone then sits in-between, the person on the end is cut out of the circuit – so of course people start playing musical chairs.

I thought this quote was a very good summary of the central principles of interactivity:

Our observations brought us to the realization that as long as the interactive vocabulary of such systems is simple enough to be understood quickly by viewers and participants, then they can be effective. This is a clear barrier – a system that is too complicated to understand within a 30 second window will go unused in most cases. We view effectiveness in this context as a situation in which casual participants, who do not have much time on their hands, will successfully negotiate and understand the interaction model of the object and thus enter into an enjoyable and playful session with it.

I’ll see if I can get some decent images and video from Amnon (perhaps he could upload to YouTube?). in the meantime, read the paper.

What’s in a name?

The Polain family crest The Poleyn family crest

Okay, this has nothing to do with the usual subject matter of this blog, but it was far too amusing not to post. A long time ago my family started looking into the origin of the name Polaine and found Poulain de Liege from Belgium. There are many spellings of the name, but a common Medieval ones are Poleyn (a part of a suit of armour), Poulain (French chocolate) and Poulaine (a type of very pointy shoe).

But most amusing were these two entries in House of Names (which seem totally spurious), in which the describe origins of our name thus:

It was a name for a young buck; it is derived from the Old French word poulain, which meant colt. This nickname would have been given to a person given over to friskiness and possessed of a certain nervous energy in much the same way a young horse is.

So, there you go, young stud.

Bauhaus Blog

Not really a post that may be of interest to lots of you, but I have started a new blog for those of you who are/will be my students from the Bauhaus (or anyone who is interested in what we’re up to).

It’s called GMU (for Gestaltung medialer Umgebungen) and it’s here.

Anyone who has a account and wants to send us some links can add the username gmu to their network and tag their posts ‘for:gmu’ and we should see it. You can add apolaine and tag them ‘for:apolaine’ too if you like and I’ll get them too. (Without the quotes of course in both cases).