February 2010


Urban Ominbus contributor, Gerald Frug, recently adapted text from a 2005 speech given at an Urban Age conference. I was fortunately living in England when the exhibit based on the studies of Urban Age entitled “Global Cities” took its temporary home at the Tate Modern. It brings to light the growing concern of population growth for the worlds most dense cities coming from both developing and developed nations, and the complexities facing each, with the underlying question of where do we place all of these people?  

Within the same vein of the exhibit, although strictly looking at New York and London, the article begins to articulate the difference in local governance types between the city of New York and London, which are at the heart of what doesn’t work for both. However, my response (see the bottom of the Urban Ominbus article) to the condition resonates more political differences, which I believe lies at the heart of the “Empowerment of Cities.”  If you have a second, take some time and learn a bit more about the governance of New York and London and some of the critical differences in understanding what works and what doesn’t. 

The photos are of pics I took at the Global Cities Exhibit in 2007. It inhabited the northern portion in Turbine Hall in a two-tier display of models, maps and videos. The most memorable was a video of Sao Paulo depicting the decline of their cities’ infrastructure, where helicopters are more prevalent thaN cars! The city appears dead, as highways are deserted; used more as paths than motorways. This exhibit was an eye-opening experience; a true insight of what Americans take for granted.

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Margaret Stewart, User Experience Manager for You Tube, eloquently stated the future of design lies within the open-ended choice of its end users, in a design conference held at Taubman College last year. She addressed the current way of designing as a Closed Loop and described the future of design as an Open System. She further explored the Closed System by comparing it to a Rubik’s Cube: once you have it figured out, the challenge is gone and tossed in a box that is then stored in an attic or closet.  She assimilates this idea to a children’s book and ultimately to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, where the future of design must pertain to the bottom of the pyramid. As a firm believer in cross-pollination, and more importantly the social and economic diversity of design’s end-users, I believe Margaret poetically describes this collaboration as Open System Design. From creative commons to TED, the sharing of ideas fuels creativity, and not just from the ‘select’ few, but from everyone who has a voice and believes in sharing and collaborating their ideas with the masses. I can not begin to articulate as well as Margaret, the Future of Design; however, I do know this, I’m excited to be a designer today and I am optimistic of  the future of our world. Please take a moment to listen to Margaret’s outstanding speech. It is an important message, supporting the intrinsic qualities of all that is human and our incredible role as designers, both academic and innate.

Additionally, I would like to thank the dean of Taubman College, Monica Ponce de Leon for being a beacon to the design industry. And to You Tube, for providing a fantastic consortium of forward thinking designer visions, free to the public. The future of design is bright….

I just visited the website of 7story, a local creative consultant that addresses how to engage and enliven public space, catching up on my ‘education’ of all that is San Francisco. I was delighted to find a link to this Volkswagen commercial on 7story’s blog.  A subway comes to life… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivg56TX9kWI. Although it is not in SF, it could be; an inspiring and fantastic way to engage the collective in a seemingly uninviting space. Brilliant!