Archive for the ‘Communication Design’Category

Ice Cube Hanging with Designers Charles and Ray Eames

I’m hooked on this: Actor/rapper Ice Cube steps into the world of industrial design, posing in a series of advertisements highlighting the innovative chair designs of mid-century design luminaries Charles and Ray Eames, for the Collecting Eames Collection. Held at the Pacific Time Standard, this event began this October to celebrate the Los Angeles art and design scene’s groundbreaking years between 1945 and 1990.

Besides the series of colorful ads, check the video of Ice Cube talking about the Eames House. You’ll be surprised to learn that Cube at one point tried his hand at architectural drafting while in trade school back in the 1980s.

In the video below, Cube says: “In a world of McMansions—where structures take up all the land—the Eameses made structure and nature one.” He strolls around the grounds of Eames House, rapping about how they were doing mash-ups before mash-ups even existed. Check out the L.A. Ice Cube knows and Loves!


12 2011

Media Review of GLIDE’10: Global Interaction in Design

GLIDE’12  rev’s up planning for the next symposium promises to surely be loaded with stellar presenters and topics. If you are interested in receiving information just leave me a comment, I’ll add you to our contact database. For now you’ll just have to settle for reading advisory board member Gloria Gomez’s review on GLIDE’10. The compelling and exciting work that was presented at GLIDE’10 can make designers feel proud of the powerful design contributions we can make to society on a global scale. The presentations mainly represented work on the facilitation, consequences, and challenges of cross-cultural collaboration in indigenous and underserved communities, and the effect of such on human/user experience. This review summarizes the conference facts, the conference schedule as well as discusses the presentationsblogging comments, and the virtual conference format. The review ends with concluding remarks and a summary of each presentation, photographs, and a hyperlink to the video recording published on YouTube –

GLIDE'10: Presenters and Topic DescriptionsTable 1: Presenters and Topic Descriptions of GLIDE’10

GLIDE biennial virtual conferences disseminate cutting-edge research on global interaction in design. The virtual format bridges cultural and geographic divides in an eco-friendly manner. Truly interdisciplinary, GLIDE’s review committee invite submissions from design and design-related disciplines including: art, architecture, human-computer interaction, communication, information technology, computer science, and STEM disciplines. The first GLIDE’08 conference was held on October 22, 2008 and details can be found at

For more click:  Indigo Design Network


Remembering Sylvia Harris

By Michele Y. Washington design critic and friend

photo credit: george larkins

The process of paying tribute to the passing of my dear friend Sylvia Harris is an honor, but at the same time it’s perplexing. It is with profound sadness that the design community mourns the lost of Sylvia who passed away on July 24th at the age of 57. On Thursday, July 21st, she collapsed during a meeting in Washington, was rushed to George Washington University Hospital where doctors put her on life support. Surrounded by a host of family members and heartfelt friends who rallied by her side, she later passed due to heart complications.

Sylvia was a beacon, one of those luminous stars whose brilliance encapsulated the design profession at a time when black women designers were few in numbers. I first stumbled upon an article in either Print Magazine of Communication Arts featuring Sylvia with her partners at Two Twelve Associates, a firm she helped cofound with several classmates from Yale Graduate School of Design. It was her smiling face beaming from the photo, a fluke phone call that lead to us meeting. And thus our 20-year friendship blossomed.

Her vibrant career spans more than 25 years. Sylvia functioned in the design community more like a cultural ambassador, serving on the AIGA national board, the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, and was the recipient of a Design Trust Fellowship for Taxi 07.  Much like that fluke phone of us meeting planted the seeds of friendship, the same scenario replayed when Sylvia joined forces with a group of designers that ignited the charge for the first OBD conference,“Dogon to Digital,” held in Chicago. Known as a kind-spirited person, Sylvia could always be called upon to mentor and inspire numerous designers, whom she counseled to keep forging ahead and they too could make inroads in the design profession.

Gail Anderson, Michele Y. Washington and Sylvia Harris

Recently, Sylvia rebranded her firm from Sylvia Harris LLC to Citizen Research & Design a name befitting of her commitment in communicating the needs of public programming and design policy for government, educational and non-profit institutions. Last summer 2010, Sylvia participated in Design Journey: You Are Here, exhibit held at the AIGA national headquarters in NYC. (click this link:

Yes, I can boast of the mountainous accolades and awards as an acclaimed information designer, however her biggest rewards were being a loving wife to Gary, an attentive mother to a teenage daughter Thai, and fabulous sister to Juliette Harris, and a gracious friend to many. We will all miss Sylvia’s fortitude for life, her spirited walk, sparkling smile, inquisitive chats, and her brilliant mind. (Above image from AIGA Design Journey opening, Spring 2010).

Please share your blessings as Sylvia’s spirit walks through the starry night skies along her journey.

Details for a memorial service will be posted during the fall on

Citizen R&D BCAT Feature from CitizenRD on Vimeo.

IRAAA Special Issue Merges Science, Technology, Art + Design

The International Review of African American Art just published a special issue which shows how aesthetic, scientific and mathematical configurations can be perceived in everything and experienced in many ways. This full seeing and being is a spark for innovation in art, science, technology, engineering, architecture and mathematics and, more broadly, in education and business… and life!

This Spring issue features a spectacular group of design and cultural critics, and theorist writing on science, Afro Futurism, STEM Education and the Interplay of Patterns are just a few of the amazing features highlighted in this issue. Pick up a copy and delve into creative intelligence!


STEM Education from Life


Article from IRAAA Special Issue on Science, Technology and Art
By Michele Y. Washington

A dynamic husband-and-wife team is creating innovative, technology-based projects that merge design, art, computing, and social justice. Both work at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Ron Eglash is a professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies, and Audrey Bennett is an associate professor in the Department of Language, Literature and Communication.

Audrey Bennett’s efforts span scholarly research (in communication design theory); social activism (in participatory design that involves users in the design process); professional design for clients; and creative, graphic arts that reflects her Dartmouth College studio art background. She has an M.F.A. in graphic design from Yale University. Her work in participatory design led to a book, Design Studies: Theory and Research in Graphic Design (Princeton Architectural Press), and the development of GLIDE: Global Interaction in Design, a biennial, virtual forum and research hub on our ever-changing world of design and technology.

The October 2010 virtual conference brought together a distinguished group of design educators, graduate students and researchers from across the globe in real time communication. Covering a broad range, the topics included the use of design solutions to help the indigenous, marginalized people of southern Mexico build business capacity; green design concepts in Asia; and the use of digital technologies in teaching and research in Pacific communities.

During the GLIDE 10, keynote presentation, Ron Eglash discussed his research on the vernacular knowledge systems of global, indigenous cultures and the need to dispel myths about these groups as being backwards, “primitive,” illiterate. He also discussed his world with African American, Puerto Rican and Native American cultures in the United States. In applying these systems for use in design and education. Eglash cautioned that sensitivity is required to make sure that these users are beneficial to the people who created them.
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Parsons Challenge: The Dearth of African-American Artists, Designers

Architect Craig L. Wilkins, design scholar Carol Tulloch, and art historian Kymberly Pinder at the Parsons conference (photos by Jonathan Grassi, courtesy of Parsons

Last weekend March 26 Parsons School of Design presented Black Studies in Art and Design Education addressed arguably the the disproportionate number of students and faculty of color in Design Schools not just in the United States but across the globe in countries likes England, Canada and South Africa. This major event was organized by Coco Fusco and Yvonne Watson professors at Parsons School of Design. I was not only in attendance, but I also spoke on a panel addressing the troubling gap that persist within the classrooms of design and art schools. Bill Gaskin, of Parsons moderated my panel Curricular Reform in the Foundation and Advanced Studio Courses presenters included Janice Cheddie, from UK, Van Dyke Lewis from Canada,  Mabel O. Wilson of Columbia University and myself. It was such an exhilarating experience for me to interface with some of the best black scholars in design, architecture, art history and fashion, it is not often that such opportunities happen in one setting.  I must commend Coco Fusco and Yvonne Watsons for taking a strident position and challenging the needs for an overhaul in the academe of design and art schools which is seriously long overdue for revision. Many of the big design and art schools had major showing of faculty and administrators from Pratt Institute, Yale University and MICA.

As reported  in the Chronicle of Higher Education by By W. Ian Bourland

Why are there so few black artists and designers?  The conference, Black Studies in Art and Design Education: Past Gains, Present Resistance, Future Challenges, held last weekend at Parsons The New School for design, investigated both the causes and possible solutions for what is arguably a disproportionate paucity of students and instructors of color in the fields of art, architecture, and design.

Although many of the themes discussed by panels composed of veteran educators and practitioners were not new, Black Studies was notable for its emphasis on concrete and pragmatic solutions for educators.  The timing, moreover, could not be better: On the one hand, humanities and arts budgets within higher education have been roiled by recent economic challenges; on the other, the wider marketplace has capitalized on work by black and other minority practitioners during the past five years. The Phillips de Pury’s 2010 “Africa Auction” was highly lucrative for the auction house, and artists such as Glenn Ligon, Kara Walker, Yinka Shonibare, and Julie Mehretu have been the subject of marquee exhibitions in major global institutions, including the Whitney and Smithsonian museums.

For more checkout

Van Dyke Lewis standing, Mabel Wilson, (seated) and Michele Y.Washington.




Black Studies in Art & Design Education Conference

Coming in March
Black Studies in Art & Design Education Conference at the The New School

March 26th-27th 2011. Two Day Conference on interdisciplinary conference on Black Studies in Art and Design Education, featuring speakers from art, fashion. architecture, urban planning, art and design history and theory. Organised by Coco Fusco and Yvonne Watkins, Parsons The New School for Design, New York. Presenters include: Craig Wilkins, University of Michigan; Mabel Wilson, Columbia University; Noel Mayo, Ohio State; Carol Tulloch, Chelsea College of Art and Design; Jennifer Gonzales, North Carolina State University; Michele Y. Washington, School of Visual Arts; Kim Piner, School of the Arts Institute of Chicago; Noliwe Rooks, Princeton University; Clyde Johnson MICA are amongst the list of designers, cultural and design critics, and educators presenters.

The conference is intended to be a forum for reflection on the troubling gap between the notable significance of Black creativity in global culture and its lack of presence in art and design education. The goal of the conference is to elaborate and assess strategies of reform that would diversify curricular offerings and thus improve education for all art and design students while simultaneously generating a more supportive environment for Black students and faculty.

Scholars and practitioners in Fine Arts, Industrial Design, Fashion Design, Architecture, Urban Planning and Art and Design History and Theory will engage in an interdisciplinary discussion about the challenges involved in rethinking  curriculum, engaging with historically disenfranchised communities, and recruiting and retaining Black students and faculty. The conference will also feature two keynote speeches by prominent members of the fields under  figures whose efforts have been central to diversifying the many fields that comprise art and design studies. Panels will address the following topics: rethinking art and design theory and history courses in light of the global influence of cultures of the African diaspora; curricular reform in practical courses of art and design; strategies of engagement with black communities; Black student experiences in art and design schools; and the specific challenges of recruiting and retaining Black students and faculty in school of art and design.

photo credit:

GLIDE10: Ron Eglash Bridges The Gap Between Vernacular and Indigenous Cultures

Ron Eglash computations

by Michele Y. Washington
Click to hear Ron Eglash’s presentation.
Our final keynote speaker brilliantly closed out GLIDE10 on his continuous investigation on Culture and Science in the sphere of indigenous and vernacular cultures existing within the United States ethnic communities such as Asian, Latin American and African American. Ron gives an in-depth explanation of global indigenous cultures to dispel numerous myths that exist of such groups as being backwards, primitive and illiterate.  This raises several fundamental issues of cultural sensitivity, and he provides specific examples from one project featured on his website on the process of mapping out Native American asymmetrical and symmetrical beading systems. For another project you can sample an example of African Architectural typology replicated through the application of African Fractals, an organic branching structure referencing nature.

This African Fractals project offers clear cut examples of his teaching methods applied in the cultural significance of the ancestral origins of cornrows for Black American students in high schools. His goal was to challenge the students to investigate the issues that surrounded the Black Transatlantic Slave Trade to the Americas and Caribbean, students were able to identify hygiene, resistance, retaining ones culture identity linking their own cornrow hairstyles to its origins. Other examples of paring the musicality of Hip-hop provide a broader sensibility of the connection as to why they wear this hairstyle. He’s developed a computation where he feeds in various iterations of how many plaits are in one braid. According to Ron, such concepts can be applied to other ethnic groups to gain a better understanding of the ancestral heritage. The Cultural expression opens the door to engage students to consider the various modalities of the design patterns replicated by cornrow hairstyles, which blurs the line between indigenous and vernacular design. He also looks at graffiti as a form of vernacular stereotyping. Ends his talk on Puerto Rican youth rooted to challenge the students through mathematical computation of Spanish music through rhythms and beats of the music. Summary of what limits racial intelligence, he states, while no one wants to talk about it, the thoughts loom in the back of many educators and peoples mind.

What part of collective memory fuels some of this iconic bead work, rug design, totems that are also evident in other global cultures such as Africans, Aboriginal, India, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries?

Defeating myths of cultural determinism
Using mathematics to bridge cultural gaps
Making cultural capital more available to its owners (individuals) Educational capital
Looking at new forms of hybridity for learning Peace and social justice efforts
Environmental sustainability

Making contributions to mathematics, and inspirations Challenges:

Not all modeling of culture involves translation of indigenous or vernacular knowledge. Ethnomath: provide more evidences of application of knowledge Interesting concept over cultural ownership of whose holds on to authentic cultural heritage for example, Shawnee Native Americans. Alternative methods for kids to go from consumers to producers, makers by apply the discovery as a learning method.

Take a look at Ron presentation at TED.COM

GLIDE10: Fabiola Berdiel + Cynthia Lawson Development through Empowerment, Entrepreneurship, and Design.

GLIDE10: Fabiola Berdiel + Cynthia Lawson Development through Empowerment, Entrepreneurship, and Design presenters brings us up-to-date on Parsons School of Design ongoing mission of incorporating social responsibility in to learning processes as applied to several design disciplines such as product, architecture and more.

One great aspect of Parsons School of Design  program is there hybridity of bringing students together from various disciplines to share information to build stronger coherent knowledge bases. The challenge is instructors function as facilitators, this mode of teaching forces the students to take a more interactive role to immerse themselves fully in there projects, and learn new platforms of studying beyond formal and informal methods of learning.  Students also have the opportunity to acquire primary research through traveling to developing/emerging  countries and explore various modes of practices while interacting with local people,  investigating new materials and methods to enhance new ways of design thinking. This provides the student with practical and hands-on experiences to build a diverse dialog rooted  in social and cultural constructs not available by just sitting in a classroom or surfing the internet.


I’m curious how the outcomes are measured by the students each semester? When the students interact with other cultures through travels, how does this figure into the collaborative process? How do these other ethnic cultures respond to the presences of your students?

I love the concept of students taking on the role of facilitators as a shared experience with this projects. How does this method evolve from semester to semester? Do the students view themselves as real agents of change? If so what are some of the outcomes?

What are the draws backs of the participatory process in this model of learning?

For more information click on:

GlIDE10: Justine Hsueh/integration of green design and visual typography

Justine presents signboard communication in Asia. Objective is to improve technology design in the future, through better design and visual typography by integrating green design concepts.

What is phenomenology and phenomenography?

How will Justine apply theories of postmodernism to her research? Last year while visiting Macao, and Hong Kong, Beijing I was able to experience the density of signboards on many streets.

How are signboards in Asian countries different than the busy exterior signage in NYCs Time Square?

Below images from my travels last January to Beijing, Hong Kong and Macao the streets are brilliantly lite-up with signboards. One thing to consider is the amount of energy generated to keep these signs glowing day and night. Brilliant concept Justine’s offers alternative materials such as legos parts, old computer boards, and small car toys to develop more efficient signboards.

She offers interesting keyword: bricolage as main methodology.


Hong Kong