Lisa Rave and Sascha PohfleppBerlin University of the Arts, Berlin, Germany
Assigned in class to touch “the heart of a group,” Lisa Rave and Sascha Pohflepp created a visual bestiary for the people of Berlin—stenciled images of wildlife not normally found in urban environments. The designers applied paint containing tiny acrylic beads— the same ingredient used in road markers—which becomes fully visible in a headlight’s beam. The goal: To surprise city drivers with ghostly ursine and avian afterimages. “It’s really simple and guerrilla-like,” Maeda noted. Unlike most graffiti artists, Rave and Pohflepp were looking not to mark territory or display a coded identity, but rather to create moments of covert joy (the animals often disappeared into the visual “underbrush” of Berlin street art). “It’s like tagging, but with animals,” Maeda added. “It’s poetry, not functional at all.”
The Brain Title SequenceGilad AraziBezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Israel
To create a title sequence for an Israeli feature film chronicling the exploits of a master safecracker, Gilad Arazi studied the tools of the burglar’s trade. He counterpoised titles with three-dimensional models of spinning dials, clicking safe mechanisms, and swirling drill bits. Even his original typeface, Meyfer, was drawn from the shape of a caliper. Jurors praised the sequence’s shadowy, industrial look, a mixture of still photography and animation. “I want to see the film now,” Carlos said.
OutsourceTara KeltonParsons school of design, New York
A computer on Parsons’s campus communicates to a sign painter in India, so that when users type letters onto the keyboard, the letters are hand-rendered thousands of miles away in Helvetica Bold. Two webcams—one capturing the painter and the other tightly focused on the letters—transmit the data back to the Parsons computer screen. Tara Kelton’s typography project is an imaginative take on outsourcing, particularly in telecommunications. While the jurors thought the renderings and mock-ups of the graphic interface could have been better, they agreed that Kelton’s critique of this practice was spot on.
Nyumbani Village Concept FolioShawn Randall, Nikolai Cornell, Brody Larson, Caitlin SmithArt Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA
This information tool resembles flash cards that document the design of prototype villages in Kenya for people—particularly orphans and the elderly—affected by AIDS. One card features maps that illustrate Kenya’s language families; another breaks down the country’s ethnic groups. “They’re called flash cards, but there’s no way you could absorb the information in an instant,” Henderson complained. But Carlos commended the folio as “very beautifully done,” and Maeda liked the “high level of design and execution. It just feels fresh in an old-school kind of way,” he said.
Sake SetMorgan LevinePratt Institute, New York
For an unconventional take on serving Japanese rice wine, Morgan Levine devised forms in pillow-shaped ceramic. A crushed, plaster-filled bag served as the mold for the sake bottle (a corner of the pillow has a simple hole for a spout), which also provides a nest for the two ceramic cups. Altering the design of culturally specific or ritualistic objects can be risky, but Maeda, who is of Japanese descent, approved the “kind of excitement” generated by the set’s non-Japanese appearance. Carlos noticed that the bottle resembled a cocaine bag, and wondered if hot sake would be hard to hold.
Minho Shin (2003+DVD+Subway Project+Portfolio)Minho ShinSavannah College of Art and Design, Georgia
Jurors were dazzled by the range and technique of Minho Shin’s explorations in music video, animation, motion graphics, and experimental forms such as resume animation. Shin’s interactive video “Subway Project” follows an ordinary man through mass transit and is itself a meditation on the presence of the graphic user interface in everyday life. “Funky,” noted Maeda. “This person has a career in broadcast graphics.”
Ballistic VaseJeewon JungCranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI
To create the splintered form of Jeewon Jung’s vase, the 3-d design student shot a bullet into solid silicon, used by police in ballistics testing; the bullet’s path remains framed inside. Maeda responded to the way in which Jung tamed an explosive force: “It’s such a feeling of power,” he said. “Seeing this made that feeling peaceful; it held on to the power, or rendered it powerless in this form.” Henderson compared the vase to the Droog bench composed of chair backs affixed to a raw log. “The only thing I didn’t like was the shape,” Carlos said of the urn-like form. “I know he was trying to do an archetypal vase.”
Fruit BowlIan GonsherRhode Island School of Design, Providence
Ian Gonsher’s exploration of wood’s elastic properties led to this flexible fruit bowl made of laser-cut wood joined in an accordion-style band. “It’s a nice industrial process that’s turned into something warm and lifestyle-based,” Henderson said. The jurors disapproved only of the plain acrylic circle used for the bottom, a crude addendum to an elegant construction.
LocalKelly CullinanCranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI
A response to the homogenization of cityscapes, Kelly Cullinan’s Local offers a way for neighborhood retailers to band together while preserving the identity of independent businesses. The word “Local” is repeated across a retail strip, but each O incorporates a different icon relating to individual products or services (a guitar for a music shop, silverware for a cafZ, and so forth). Cullinan designed the system for Detroit but intends it as a template for other towns. “It’s making a unifying statement but still keeping diversity,” Carlos said. “It’s a way to compete with Wal-Mart.”
Process to ProgressAndre AndreevCalifornia College of the Arts, San Francisco
For his thesis project, Andre Andreev examined the design process itself, using as his “product” the U.S.’s National Security Strategy. He created three books employing as many design approaches. “Chance” yielded a maroon and aqua book (the colors were chosen by throwing darts) that hides its text in the gutter; to read it, one must tear off big portions of the pages. “Clement Mok’s 12 Step Process” inspired a blank book with all the copy printed on the cover. “Thinking Wrong” proposes the most impractical approach to reading: alphabetizing the entire text. Carlos found the p
roject enticing. “I would like to spend more time with it,” he said.
In Search of IdentityNikolai CornellArt Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA
In Nikolai Cornell’s master’s thesis, “In Search of Identity,” a sensepad-driven interactive exhibit showcases the photography of Mexican-born artist Tatiana Parcero. The photos beam through a pane of half-silvered glass, so viewers simultaneously see themselves and the art; a wave of a hand moves the personal narrative along, and a touch of the sensepad brings up the artist’s timeline. Maeda was impressed by the technology, heretofore realized most notably in the film Minority Report.
Bubble BlocksJulia SorzanoArt Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA
The rigorous research behind this entry impressed the jurors as much as the product itself: a set of colorful, inflatable, interlocking blocks. Julia Sorzano, a product design student, deconstructed the process and purpose of play through interviews and anthropological research with kids and parents. Maeda appreciated the graphic representations accompanying the entry—Venn diagrams and other charts depicting market competition, children’s developmental patterns, and product analysis. “The process is designed,” he said. “Many of the processes we saw were just napkin sketches.” The variously sized and shaped blocks are meant to foster children’s motor skills, sensory learning, and cooperative play. Bells, confetti, or feathers can be inserted into the blocks, adding further sensory delights. “My daughter would love one of these,” Henderson said. Carlos had only one reservation: “Who’s going to blow it up?”
Chaise LireJacques LevyPratt Institute, New York
Graduate student Jacques Levy’s “reading chair” takes the shape of an open tome, with white curves of poplar plywood forming the seat and back. The jurors liked the literal interpretation yet wondered whether the chair would offer true comfort. Henderson found the “page” behind the headrest superfluous: “If he had stored a magazine there, it would be better. Every other piece makes sense.”
The Bird, the Mouse, and the SausageJeremy HolmesTyler School of Art, Elkins Park, PA
In richly drawn multimedia, Jeremy Holmes retold the Brothers Grimm story of three companions (a bird, a mouse, and a sausage) who reassign their household chores. The CD, in a slipcase resembling a well-worn album, animates woodcut-style, antique-feeling illustrations, as if an old book had been brought to life on one of Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscopes. “It’s nice that it created its own world,” Carlos said of the project. Maeda was reminded of early French digital media CDs, as well as the work of Tim Burton.
The Bible: It’s All RightLauren MonchikSchool of Visual Arts, New York
Lauren Monchik’s French door?bound, dualistic interpretation of the Bible features opposing interpretations of practices—from slavery to polygamy—culled from actual passages. While Carlos wasn’t crazy about the typography, “The concept of the design overrides that,” he said.
Rollie PollieTrilby NelsonArt Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA
Trilby Nelson’s Rollie Pollie doubles as a soft enclosure and a rockable toy. Made from felt supported by curved plywood, the simple shape emerged from the designer’s realization that a cardboard box is often a child’s favorite plaything, allowing for free rein of imagination. “I can imagine kids playing with this,” Maeda said.
Sink SpongeStephen HornbeekCleveland Institute of Art
Noting that the majority of household accidents occur in kitchens, industrial design student Stephen Hornbeek set out to imagine safer, more ergonomic kitchen utensils. The jurors took issue with some of his ideas—Henderson worried that a cutting board with integrated knife might be dangerous—but admired the Sink Sponge, a suction-cup-mounted beveled sponge shaped like a drinking glass. It cleans inside and out simultaneously, so the glass is unlikely to break during wash-up, and a large-handed person can easily clean the narrowest cranny.
Iconic Ironic FurnitureThomas Gray, Lea Lagasse, Diego BelloCentral Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London
For an installation at Bloomberg’s London headquarters, students at Central Saint Martins imprinted images of classic modernist furniture onto the sides of MDF cubes. The works achieve, as the designers put it, a kind of “perfection in mediocrity.” “It’s funny that even though they’re so primitive, we can recognize them easily,” Maeda said, hankering after a chance to sit on the reductive version of a Corbu lounge. Henderson suggested that, compared with the genuine artifact, “This might be more comfortable.”