Public Presentation

July 21, 2008

Here is the presentation I gave of my major project in the large auditorium at AHO on the 4th of June 2008. Although this presentation may be better formulated than the one I gave at the interview with the examiners, the content is unchanged.

The last-presentation includes notes in Norwegian and in English.


Numbers can tell you whatever you want them to tell you..

April 28, 2008

There is an article in Aftenposten today, where concern is expressed over the sinking interest in the old classics of Norwegian litterature. Interestingly, it is a publisher who has observed sinking sales, and it makes me wonder if they ever consider the steadily growing number of books that are already out there, but no longer actively engaged in the commercial machinery. It doesn’t necessarily mean that people don’t read them!? Surely, countless books circulate between friends’ or relatives’ bookshelves, flee markets and antique shops.. Sales numbers can show a lot of things, but it depends what you’re looking for..

It reminds me of a critique of the Norsk Monitor poll that came out a couple of months ago, and which claims that Norwegians have changed from materialistic to more concerned with soft, social values. There is a great leap, as the author of the article argues, between attitude and action, and considering the mass media, people are very aware of what they should answer, not necessarily representative of what they actually do. This report, Norsk Monitor, sells at NOK 300.000 a copy, by the way.

So what is the relevance: We heavily rely on the numbers of commerce, and tend to forget that the market will hit a point of saturation and that reuse and sharing is good.

near future tech, according to IBM

April 20, 2008

In Norwegian main newspaper Aftenposten, on Tuesday April 15th, there was a small article about “Digital food and transport in five years” featuring IBMs “Next 5 in 5” launched just before christmas 2007. As seen on the IBM page:

My two favourites are the digital food control, because it allows greater insight and knowledge for the consumer, and the all-in-one mobile phone, because it reinforces the mobile phone’s growing importance, and makes me wonder how a product this precious and all-including would, or should, look, behave, be treated, protected..

also, slightly different visions from the beginning of the year 2007..

future plans – the 100year goals

April 19, 2008

The Hundred Year project is essentially about creating a plan for the next hundred years. They may not have been planned in advance, but both the 19th and the 20th century had their plans. In the former it was creating the cultural base of the nation, and the latter saw the establishment of the welfare state. The Hundred Year project is a think tank initiative, where the whole nation is invited to suggest long-term goals towards a society where sustainability and quality of life (meaningfulness and happiness) are overall targets. The wish list will eventually be handed over to politicians, who need to start thinking long-term in terms of what this century will stand for.

The project is still in its early days, and have yet to come up with concrete suggestions. It will however, be a very interesting project to follow, even though, as with so many other things, no designers were considered involved.

In my interview with Andersen, he expressed a great interest in the new 3D printing technology, which – one may imagine – can replace physical shops, and thus reduce a considerable amount of waste in between. One thing to be aware of however, is to avoid the same trap John Thackara mentions in his book “In the Bubble” about how the internet was supposed to contribute to a paperless society. One idea Andersen shared was that of a self-sustaining city, which would lead to a drastic reduction in logistics transport.

conclusion: we do need engagement like this, but I’d like to see more means and less meanings; there are plenty of good suggestions to what a better world will imply, no so many suggestions to how to realise them, and that’s the critical part ..isn’t it?

social online consumption

April 17, 2008

Shopping on the internet has apparently exploded recently, even for the luxury brands, to whom the exclusive, and so-very-special shopping experiences are vital (ref. article in Norwegian).
Another, and possibly even greater tendency, however, is shopping combined with social networking. I am wondering if this is the slow revelation of what we are really looking for: not more things, but to get in touch with people, friends.

I have very briefly looked at three sites:

Fun business idea and attractive looking, Rasba promises to “combine shopping and social networking with all things hip (…) designed for both discovering and promoting new brands.” Social network and shopping that  in combination reinforces how you see yourself (your self-generated profile outwards) with what you spend on: a sort of i-am-what-i-shop principle.
“When you buy stuff on Rasba, you can display the purchased items on your profile page and earn a commission if someone buys through your page. You can also create a wish list, get updates on what your friends are buying, and discover cool products…”
I am guessing that this isn’t a one-off, but rather a new(?) trend on the net. One may question though, whether this isn’t exactly the kind of trend we can’t afford to spend our planet on?

“Etsy is an online marketplace for buying & selling all things handmade. Our mission is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers. Our vision is to build a new economy and present a better choice: Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade.”
There seems to be traces of a wish to be sustainable at the back. Handmade at least saves underpaid child labour, and there is the slow, loving production aspect of it. Link to Etzy.

allconsuming is “(…) a website where you can track and talk about the books, music, movies, food and other items that interest you. You can mark a product one of three ways: I am consuming this, I have consumed this, and I intend to consume this.”
What I find great abut this one is that books, food, drink and music somehow don’t represent “evil” consumption. Somehow, they represent slow, social and intangible experiences.


April 16, 2008

Wikipedia: “Upcycling is the use of waste materials to provide useful products. Ideally, it is a reinvestment in the environment and embodiment of the notion that while using resources one is also contributing to them and their value. This is antithesis of the consume and waste concept in society.” link

left + bottom right: Nokias gorgeous ‘remade’ telephone, a rather impressive sculpture made out of tyres and a funky chair made of inner tubes. The phone might be more realistic in terms of its potential impact (“small actions x big numbers = change the world”). Link to Rafael Grignanis site.
The other two projects are from a site called HauteNature which is full of quirky and nifty ideas with upcycling in mind..

food for thought

April 16, 2008

(forgive the cliché headline, I couldn’t resist..)

to the left: a poster (for University of Oslo) on the bus: “Is it sick mobile phones live shorter and shorter, while food last longer and longer?” The funny thing is; the apple in the picture on the right is over a year old. It entered our flat around Easter last year, and was accidentally lying around for a while. When it still looked pristine after a few weeks, we decided to run a little experiment by just keeping it. It’s just recently started going slightly yellow and soft..

Critical Design, Art & Criticism

April 10, 2008

A mindset and an attitude rather than a set practice, it may be useful for a designer to review values and agendas before diving into the craft of Critical Design.

Critical design is not about criticism, that is something art often takes care of. Critical design is not art, because art, although commercial, is far too removed from our everyday lives and interactions. Critical design is, however, refusing to accept that the current state of things is the sole alternative, and suggests different realities, often placed in the near future. It won’t necessarily present an ideal or optimistic future, but suggests one possibility, presents it in a way that is tangible and easy to relate to and therefore easier to discuss and debate. Critical design aims to engage the viewer by being slightly off normal, provoke by touching at something familiar and stimulate thought by saying that this is a possible future, and make the viewer question whether this is desirable.

I have collected a few works, which I really like, from Dunne and Rabys web site. The first four images from the left are from an exhibition installation they did for the Science Museum in London. When, in the future, our current energy sources may no longer be available, at least not to todays extent, these may be possible alternatives. The combined lunch and poo box for example, suggests the importance of self-/ domestically generated fuel may gain.
Further, cutting edge science (which is where Dunne & Raby prefer to be) is currently experimenting with bacteria from living matter as energy fuel, and based on this, one may imagine a future where you feed your TV with pet animals. For obvious reasons, this concept comes with the book Avoiding emotional attachment to animals purchased for use as energy.

These concepts make me think of a comment made by Erling Dokk Holm in an article (in Norwegian) where he comments on how Norwegians, under the impression that electricity is free, but in times where we need to start looking for alternatives to the North Sea oil and gas, are protesting wildly against windmills, seeing it as they are an eye-sore in the otherwise beautiful Norwegian scenery..

The last three images feature the Faraday Chair from Hertzian Tales and the Electro-Draught Extruder from the Placebo project; both providing for a growing anxiousness around our increasing exposure to electromagnetic radiation and the Needy Robot; one of four, and exploring other, possibly more human sides of robots.

These projects all have some messy, dark, possibly irrational human fear or worry as a starting point (except for the robot maybe) and applies fictional or cutting edge technology to find hypothetical solutions. The reason I like these so much is probably based on a recognition of the emotions dealt with, as well as a fascination by my own reactions to them.

tutorial w Einar, Thurs 7th April

April 9, 2008

Una couldn’t make it, so I got all the attention this time 🙂 I showed the consumption maps (still under construction), a rough visual overview of my project material (as seen under), and my concept sketches..

I went through the areas that I’ve been working on, and we talked about how to put these together to best convey a consistent ‘story’ for the report.. I will keep working on this.

We then went through the concept sketches I have made so far, and tried to redefine what it is each one of them is ‘solving’ or what actually lies in them.. They’re all at fairly early stages anyway, and can take different directions still.. but not for much longer! 🙂

elements to consider:
– existing infrastructure (reverse phone sales)
– folklore: creating new stories, myths, tales
– attitudes, mind-sets, mentalities
– reintroduce respect for things
– up-cycling (fresh, good-looking) over recycling (boring?)
– culture, social structure (‘hverdagskultur’ – a less politically tensioned term for ‘folkelig’?)

to do list:
– thoroughly think through and set the disposition for the report
– to finish the writing of the report
– start working on the lay-out of the report
– start deciding on pictures for report, incl. own graphics
– concepts..

A big thank you to Einar, I really enjoyed our conversation!

tutorial / coffee w Einar and Una, Thurs 3rd April

April 6, 2008

Una, who works with turning products into services, showed her progress, including visuals and some concepts. We ran out of time before it was my turn, but our projects are fairly close and I got lots of good points out of the meeting too. Here are some notes I jolted down while they spoke..

your mobile phone’s behaviour reflects how the world around you reaches in to your life, and mirrors your personal, social interference patterns
the mobile phone’s intelligence makes it a much more honest represenative of your social network than for example facebook, because it knows who you actually speak to (rather than hwo you’ve added as a friend), and it knows when you sleep (because of the alarms set). Truths you may not be aware of?

flickr makes people buy more cameras (increased consumption), but also makes people use their cameras more (adds value, or increased importance to the product?)

“you can’t design a service without considering its touch-points” Matt Webb, of Schulze and Webb (i.e. you cannot aim for a service completely free of physical products)

service-product ecology is a good expression by Adam Greenfield; one may imagine that in the near future, neither product nor service will be independent of the other. Or as he puts it on his blog:
product: “the tangible presence in your life of a larger and much more ambitious experience”
“the product is no longer an isolated entity, but a way of gaining access to content which might ultimately live elsewhere”
challenge (referring to Weiser): “crafting the seams between the distributed components of a product/service, such that they enhance the perception of the whole”

physical products need to have immaterial qualities
the values of the everyday

importance of things: all culture is thing based according to anthropologist Anne Galloway

thing as thing vs/ thing as consumption
representation of what you do vs/ representation of what you own

don’t attempt to save the planet solely by creating a new product, but ask questions about how to make oneself socially acceptable..