Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Story of Cap and Trade

Annie Leonard is great. She gives a no-bullshit, concise look at the heart of many of our worlds problems. In terms of how the industrial design community should react to the issues and solutions discussed in the movie, there is a lot we can do. In many ways we are in a much more significant position to bring about change than the average person. By designing products that do not use energy heavy production methods we can bring about an instant drop in CO2 emissions. By designing lighter, more easily transported products, or with locally sourced materials we can get rid of useless carbon emissions for freight.

These practical concerns are important but as Industrial Designers we can also influence economic and social change. For example, if we emphasise the way our designs have succeeded in NOT contributing to climate change, consumers will develop this expectation from their products. Furthermore, the more designers specify environmentally friendly methods and materials, the more these avenues become cheaper due to economies of scale and when this happens the change will speed up exponentially.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Reflection on Design for Disasters

In the end i was happy with what i came up with but it was a mad rush because i switched my design with 2 weeks to go. The thing that gets me about this whole designing process is that you can come so far (1 month down the track in my case) and only then realise that your design isn't great or feasible or there isn't a hole in the market where you are looking. I researched floatation devices for a whole month and put forward some innovations but then i kept finding that it was not feasible or had been solved in a more refined way already.

Fortunately with 2 weeks to go i started looking into hypothermia as this is one of the most common causes of death in these disaster situations and i believe i found a significant hole in the market. This has definitely been the most research heavy project I've undertaken and I am happy because I believe the proof of concept is there - obviously it feels much better to have a product that you think can really work! However after all that research my time was running short, I spent almost a week creating the patterns for the suit and another 2 days learning to sew! In the end it was my posters that suffered. Still, i am happy with the final product and the posters can easily be fixed later for inclusion in my folio.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Design For Maritime Disaster

HRV – Hypothermia Re‐warming Vest

The HRV is a product to quickly re‐warm hypothermia victims in maritime disaster situations. The vests
work by heating a threaded wire element that is concentrated for maximum effectiveness.

The human body loses heat 25 times faster in water. Even in 26 degree water hypothermia can develop
after prolonged exposure. When the body goes into hypothermic shock, blood rushes away from the
limbs and skin to warm the vital organs.

Re‐warming is not simply the process of heating the body. If the limbs are warmed at the same rate as
the torso, blood can rush to them, causing a dramatic drop in blood pressure known as re‐warming
collapse. Thus the heat must be targeted to the torso, in particular the main arteries in the armpits
(brachial), neck (carotid) and groin (femoral).

Using electric blanket technology one is able to create a precisely targeted network of heat elements
for the most effective re‐warming scenario.

Use of the product is simplified so that the rescuers can deal with many people in a short amount of
time. As such the neck is opened and can be Velcro‐ed. The arms wrap under the armpits and the groin
piece is simply wedged between the victims thighs.

The liner material is a fine microfiber fleece which has excellent wicking capabilities as well a superb
warmth retention and comfort. This is knitted with a special electric blanket loom that creates the
tunnels throughout. Another machine specially designed for electric blankets then pushes the wire
through the tunnels.

The outer material is GORE‐TEX which is water and wind proof, locks in heat and allows moisture to

It is important to note that the vest is designed to be used in conjunction with an emergency blanket.
Emergency blankets are highly effective at insulating heat (97%) and are already in wide use.
Furthermore they are extremely compact. Should a rescuer not have access to an emergency blanket,
any spare blankets or clothes to insulate the vests heat as well as protect the rest of the users body. This
is simply wrapped around the rescue to insulate the heat coming from the blanket.

The live system is completely insulated from water – the connection points are kept in the front pouch
which has taped seems for extra protection. This pouch incorporates the control through a window so
that the vest can be easily activated without its removal.

The battery is currently used in motorcycle heated jackets and can provide the wires with 60 degrees
heat at full power. It is flexible and waterproof.

The system does not require a thermostat as the wires have a positive temperature coefficient. That is,
their electrical resistance increases with the temperature which means they are self regulating.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Design for Life

The design ethics that Starck wanted the young designers to demonstrate were somewhat lost. There was just a lot of fluff that watered down any interesting parts of the show and i didn't feel many of the designers stood out with originality or skill. What could have made an interesting show would have been showing the development of a product or exposing the design process of a really talented designer.

Sure, he threw out a few cliche terms - sustainability which he is "increasingly obsessed with," social ethics, democratic, relevance - because he thinks there are too many products in the world, but these are all ideas we have heard before, again and again. Furthermore these ambitious ethical philosophies could barely become relevant due to the products that the designers were generally pitching. The feasibility of the products became the main talking point of the show and it basically became a tiring look at a 1st year studio class.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The 11th Hour

The tragedy of our modern civilization is perhaps that our “progress” has been our undoing. What stuck out to me in the video was how our western culture has evolved in a way that we feel detached from nature, “after the industrial revolution, nature was converted to a resource.” Indeed, when bombarded with media and the stress of daily life it is easy to forget about the bigger picture and take our way of life for granted.

An analogy I had not heard before but that was quite poignant was about how our whole ecosystems are at the foundation powered by the sun and referred to all other resources we exploit as pockets of “ancient sunlight.” Accordingly, if we reverted to making use of only the sunlight we received per day, “the earth could sustain about half a billion people.”

Overpopulation seems to be a big factor in our overexploitation of resources. How we can counter this is unknown to me. What I do recognize is that “the economy is geared for growth,” and that includes people.

Perhaps under this economic system, which has become the greatest force behind all decisions we make as a species, it is impossible to see change occurring in time to counter the severe effects of global warming.

However it is clear that we must look at this problem with optimism; “we get to rethink everything we do.” Realistically it might take a miracle to overcome our environmental crisis, but who knows, the perpetual motion engine might be invented tomorrow! As an industrial designer we can exploit our technology and collective human expertise to strive for advancement in environmental sustainability. Many systems we utilise to do things are extremely detrimental to the environment, and at least we can improve upon these.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Flow Light

"The constant prevailing wind on the coast is an ideal source for lighting. The product is a self maintaining public lighting for the coasts of Cartagena (Colombia) based on the principle of vertical wind power plants, and it is made of bamboo."

core 77 link:

Their link: