Better x Design, the student-run research center at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island, is hosting its second annual “A Better World by Design” conference on the two campuses next weekend (Oct 2-4). Jan Chipchase, principal engineer at the Nokia Research Center, heads an impressive slate of 18 speakers known internationally for their ground-breaking use of design and architecture for social entrepreneurship and green innovation.
“Today’s students, no matter their academic concentration, are recognizing their unlimited potential to use integrative design methods to make the world a better place,” explains Willem Van Lancker, RISD ’10 Graphic Design, one of the conference’s chief organizers.
Man, nature and machine have been brought together in the new “Harmony” advertising campaign for the third-generation Prius hybrid. Your eyes are not deceiving you if you think the landscape is alive with people. It is. Two hundred costumed extras were filmed and then computer cloned to create a surreal landscape made to look like over a million people. Evocative of photographer Ann Geddes’s pictures of babies fancifully dressed like fairies, flowers and bunnies, the Prius cast was costumed to represent blades of grass, puffy clouds, flowers and leaves. Conceived by Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles, with Mike McKay as executive creative director, the Prius commercial was filmed in New Zealand. Hideaki Hosono –better known as Mr. Hide (pronounced hee-day) — represented by The Sweet Shop production company, directed the human sequences. Nine different nature costumes were designed for the shoot, with 150 people forming the grass and water, 22 people for the tree trunks, 20 for the stones, 30 for the leaves, 20 for the clouds, 10 for the sun, 8 for the flowers, 8 for the butterflies and 23 for the autumn leaves.
A grand palace it isn’t, but for down-on-their-luck laborers who gather informally on street corners and in parking lots hoping that an employer will drive up and offer them a job for the day doing clean-up chores, construction or agricultural work, the self-contained Day Labor Station is a joy to behold. Basically a semi-permanent open box with a canopy, the compact shelter houses a restroom, bleacher seating, a kitchen cubicle to make food or sell it, an education/training space, and a meeting area where employers can interview candidates privately. The entire structure is built to be environmentally sustainable, using solar power, a fresh and greywater system, and green and recycled materials.
Supposedly electric hand dryers found in public restrooms are better than paper towels because they are more hygienic, require less manufacturing energy, lower janitorial costs, and reduce landfill. Supposedly. However, most people who use hand dryers in public restrooms either punch the start button several times to evaporate residual moisture, walk out with damp hands, or complete the drying process by wiping their hands on their clothes. The conventional hand dryer is a candidate for the “bad design” award.
Good design begins with considering what happens to the product at the end of its useful life. The materials and processes you select have ramifications beyond the marketplace and the consumer. Here’s a case in point.