Monthly Archives: October 2006

Arup selected by Icon Magazine to exhibit at Tokyo Designers Week

Arup has been selected by Icon Magazine and the Design Association, Tokyo, to exhibit at the international Container Exhibition of this year’s Tokyo Designer’s Week. Arup designers, Tristan Simmonds and Jennifer Greitschus have transformed a shipping container into a sushi bar with a twist – a postcard bar. Their design, entitled ‘Envois’, presents food for thought from Arup’s ‘Drivers of Change 2006’ publication.

Drivers of Change is an initiative of Arup’s Foresight and Innovation team, a group tasked with exploring emerging trends and how they impact upon the business of Arup and its clients. Earlier in the year Arup published a set of 50 cards which identify leading factors that will affect our future – ageing population, energy use, outsourcing, to name but a few – factors which are known as ‘drivers of change’.

The concept for Envois was developed in response to this year’s exhibition theme of love. ‘Envois’, which loosely translates as ‘message’, is taken from the title of a work by the French philosopher, Jacques Derrida, which includes a series of postcards Derrida wrote to an unnamed lover.

With digitally controlled lighting, designed by Arup’s Francesco Anselmo, the container is transformed into a seductive space bathed in red and pink. Postcards bearing messages in English and Japanese rotate around the bar. Visitors will be able to take a seat on one of the specially designed heart-shaped stools and pick a postcard that appeals to them. They will also have the opportunity to write their own postcard – perhaps a letter to the world, a letter to a lover or maybe a note to the handsome stranger on the opposite side of the bar. Students from Nihon University will act as bar staff, changing and restocking the postcards as necessary.

Jennifer Greitschus says: ”We liked the idea of exploring human communication and jumbling contexts: the global and the personal, high-tech and low-tech, East and West. There is something interesting about putting powerful messages in an intimate setting. The Drivers of Change cards may trigger conversation – who knows where that may lead.”

Tokyo Designer’s Week: 100% Design Tokyo is a unique celebration of the power of good design. Designers, corporations, schools, embassies and the media gather together for six days of exhibitions, talks, installations and parties. Arup’s ENVOIS container is one of five winning containers designs to feature as part of ICON Magazine’s celebration at Designer’s Week.

Supported by: Alex Engineering Co Ltd, Design Association NPO, Japan

Sponsoring manufacturers: Xela Corporation Ltd (conveyor), Targetti (lighting), Tony Corporation (fabric), Takiron Co Ltd (polycarbonate)

The Drivers of Change 2006 cards can be purchased via the Drivers of Change website. Price: £19.95 Published by Editorial Gustavo Gili.

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Ageing Populations in Southern Europe

In the last few weeks I have been to Lisbon and Barcelona. During both of my visits I was struck by the visibility of the ageing population. I don’t know where the elderly go in North America (aside from retirement homes which are, from what I hear, losing popularity among the striving baby boomers – no surprise) but you just don’t see them as much walking the sidewalks, or hitting the local cafes. I am starting to wonder whether we discourage the ageing population from making public appearances due to their concerns with safety, or their sense of disjunction with not belonging to a swiftly moving planet.

You could say that because I have been doing some demographic research on the elderly and have recently attended a conference on ageing that I have become more sensitive to the issue. I could not disagree. It bothers me to no avail to see an older woman standing in the tube after a long day of work, while younger people sit. Despite this, I still think that there are greater numbers of older civilians that continue to participate in European life. I was struck by the demographics of a church that let out in Barcelona this past Sunday. There didn’t appear to be anyone under sixty-five in the mass. I was then also struck by seeing circles of Spaniards joining together for what appeared to be a cultural dance. While I tried to follow their footwork, I couldn’t help but notice that most of the participants were again over sixty-five.

This leads me again to wonder whether in North America we may inadvertently discourage our older population from being more involved, whether socially or politically in their communities. With the arrival of an increasingly ageing population, there are issues that we need to address as a society and as a culture.

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Expo Ageing – October 9

I spoke with Jane Barratt from the International Federation on Ageing office in Canada. We are trying to determine how to frame the Scientific Program for an Expo Ageing event set to take place in Montreal in 2008. Jane is a sharp Australian who has somehow managed to end up in my much loved, but very cold-winter-home of Montreal. She kidded yesterday that when she felt a little overwhelmed her colleague Gary says, “Don’t worry, the snow season is coming soon”. Ah, I love an Aussie who can appreciate the value of snow.

We are sorting out how we want to set the scene for the context of the Expo, and Jane has been won over by the Drivers of Change model. I now need to develop a set of cards which would specifically address ageing. Maybe it is time to visit my grandmother in South America. High time. Jane’s energy is infectious, and working with her is a delight. I am still finding working with people around the world somewhat of a freak of nature. I guess this is what happens when you go from working in a smaller agency to working in major office in London. At some points this summer when I was still working remotely from Montreal, we would coordinate phone calls with Geneva (World Health Oranization), London – Arup and Montreal. Last week we were coordinating London, Seattle and Montreal. I expect the tail to get longer and wrap itself around even more global destinations.

If all goes as planned we will have embarked on being part of building the very first international event and expo on ageing. Very exciting.

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Social and Human Ideas for Technology in Lisbon

Live Notes from the SHIFT conference in Lisbon:

Quick. Before my computer goes down. As usual FB is facing a lot of challenges, or making challenges of many things. In the ongoing battle between the sexy Mac and the old fashioned PC, it appears to be easier for macs to go online at this conference. The majority in attendance are from the Portuguese community, but the Bay area is being represented by Yahoo’s Design team and Adaptive Path is also here from the US. Popular tech guru Stowe Boyd is speaking today, and I am looking forward to finally hearing him in person. JK is always telling me what an interesting speaker he is and his topic reminded me faintly of good old M McLuhan: “We shape technology, technology shapes us”.

For now some quick recaps. The hot conference topics from this society and technology conference are:

- Augmentation: Human IQ, Ubiquitous computing, consumer experience

- Design: experience, systems “the system is the product”, problem solving, key differentiator

As I tried to make my way back to the small hotel where I am staying located in the Alto Bairro – Old Town – I lost my way. The taxis always drop me off at the edge as they can’t enter the cobbled streets. Eventually a kind couple pointed me in the right direction, although the fellow seemed surprised that I was staying at Anjo Azul – the Blue Angel – at first he would not explain his confusion but finally he disclosed that apparently it is very popular among male travellers. Eventually after a few more wrong turns I found myself there and finally melted in bed. I had wakened at 2 AM to catch the 3:30 am train to Gatwick for my 6: 25 flight, where security seemed to enjoy their job too much as a woman physically checked me and then removed my lip gloss, which apparently could have undermined and been a threat to Gatwick Airport. I never realized what a threat female cosmetics could be. They also announced that we were only allowed one carry-on item and for women the purse was considered as such. This meant that if you are a nerd like me and carry a purse and a computer bag overloaded with your clothing, you had to make a choice, your purse with wallet or your computer. I would say that is a little unfairly weighted against women, but maybe that is just me. A warning to all women travelling thru Gatwick put your wallet in your computer bag and leave the purse at home, or stuffed and empty in your checked-in bag. And a warning to all other travellers, going through Gatwick is about as fun as going looking for four leaf clovers.

Luke Wroblewski’s presentation on the Shifting Role in Design.

Kevin Cheng’s OK/Cancel comic strip on user interface.

And to download Peter Me’s presentation on “Stop Designing Products” go to September 29th on his blog.

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