Mar 22, 2009

Mousharaka: Dialogue in the Desert

For a detailed account of the Icograda Design Week in Doha, March 2009, click here. Visit us here for a photo account

Feb 25, 2009

Finding Your Rwanda: Meaning in Our Work

Designing for Others who are “Different”.

We must ask new questions when challenged to design for people we don’t understand and often we don’t know the questions to ask.

Jody Graff, Graphic Design Program Director, and I are teaching an independent study class at the Drexel University Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design. As part of a Sappi Grant awarded to Drexel University and the ex;it foundation, the students are challenged to design identity and marketing materials to support the success of the Sunflower Oil Cooperative in the Ruggerero Genocide Survivors Village in Western Rwanda. Continue reading »

Feb 5, 2009

Aaron Marcus Celebrates the History of Information Graphics


Every decade, it seems, there are valiant standard-bearers for effective visual communication of data, information, and knowledge, of facts, concepts, and emotions,  who arise and publish guidebooks for business people, computer and information-technology professionals, and others who have not been exposed to the philosophy, principles, and techniques of information design and information visualization.

Currently, Edward Tufte and Richard Saul Wurman in the past decades have been promoted in the media and garnered attention from the general public, having demonstrated unusual entrepreneurial zeal and showmanship in promoting their publications. One benefit is, to be sure, increased attention by the business world and by the general public to information design and information visualization. Continue reading »

Jan 26, 2009

Book Review: Out of Poverty – What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail

Ninety percent of the world’s designers spend all their time working on solutions for the richest 10% of the world’s customers. A revolution in design is needed to reverse this ratio and reach the other 90%.”

Paul Polak’s book, OUT OF POVERTY – What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail, chronicling his twenty-five years in alleviating poverty, presents two reoccurring themes:

• Keep it simple (i.e., affordable)
• Know your audience

How apropos for those of us in the communications field – whenever we have a client’s problem to solve, the best approach is to break it down to its simplest form and to gain an understanding of the audience.

It is enlightening to learn that the same method can be applied to solving social problems, in this case, poverty. Mr. Polak stresses the importance of thoroughly knowing the people you want to help. Don’t assume anything, especially, do not think of poor people as a burden, but look at them as an economic opportunity. Poor people aren’t poor because they are uneducated, subjugated or sick. Quite the contrary, says Mr. Polak, they are poor because they aren’t making enough money. Continue reading »

Jan 4, 2009

Does Good Design lead to Good Decision-Making? An interview with Aaron Marcus

An interview with Aaron Marcus

How does significant information come to the surface of our attention, present itself in an orderly fashion, and enable us to make good decisions that affect our own lives and that may affect the lives of many others?

Effective personal, community, professional, national, and global decision-making is always there as a challenge.

Anyone’s current decision-challenge might concern whether I should reach for that next snack, in relation to my current cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and family medical history. Or, it might concern whether I should reach for that next email message among the 50 that have just arrived in the last half hour. It might concern which of 500 channels of media I should watch during the next 30 minutes of my life. It might concern whether I should deploy missiles targeted to certain positions where I have determined national threats to be located. Or, it might concern what strategic facts and personality traits of delegates around a conference table might enable me to make the right proposal to negotiate a peaceful resolution to a complex political conflict. Continue reading »

Dec 17, 2008

Book Review: The Decline of Men, How the American Male is Tuning Out, Giving Up and Flipping Off His Future

Men wanted!

A startling trend, affecting half the American population, is happening and happening fast. According to Guy Garcia, in his book “The Decline of Men, How the American Male is Tuning Out, Giving Up and Flipping Off His Future,” the dominant American male, as we know and love him, may soon be extinct.

In this thoroughly researched book, Garcia offers up surprising, eye-opening statistics to support his take on this cultural upheaval in America. His premise is as women are strengthening their place in the world and increasing their earning power, younger men are confused by the new rules of masculinity and are not only falling behind, but opting out all together.

As media and pop culture portray and foster this image of the young male as a video-game playing buffoon, it seems men are falling prey to this stereotype and no longer wanting or able to take care of themselves, let alone a wife and family. Continue reading »

Dec 11, 2008

Finding Your Rwanda Part II

What about the human condition needs improvement?

Claiming a personal and a collective uniqueness can be achieved in the participative action of designing our environment.In its essence, this declaration of uniqueness through the design and transformation of place, speaks to the power of branding and is illustrated in the Rugerero Genocide Survivors Village in Rwanda (see my previous blog post, Finding Your Rwanda, designing and debating our role in social responsibility). The cooperative design and building of a genocide memorial and the painting of murals on the mud brick homes of the village changed the spiritual and physical essence of this wounded place.

Continue reading »

Nov 24, 2008

¡Talking Cholula!

Scratch, Tear, Build, Rebuild, and get Dirty: Patricia Cué’s escapade with students into Mexico

“Instant Messaging” was the name of the show that exhibited their capstone project: they own cell phones and use social-networking sites, dubbed themselves the “IM Generation” and me “IM Picante”.

Technology- and brand-savvy, this was a group of twenty design students that traded T-shirts for grapefruits and ate crickets at the market in Cholula, Mexico, during a ten-week-long, full immersion cross-cultural experience.

Continue reading »

Nov 16, 2008

Can Design Shape the Political Landscape?

Measuring the Power of the Visual.

Chaz Maviyane-Davies, 2008

Chaz Maviyane-Davies, 2008

This poster by Chaz Maviyane-Davies was the first to run in the 30 Reasons internet campaign. Mr. Maviyane-Davies is originally from Zimbabwe, and for more than two decades has taken on the issues of consumerism, health, nutrition, social responsibility, the environment and human rights.

Join us in evaluating the role of the graphic designers in shaping the political dialogue or in promoting political agenda around the world.

Nov 16, 2008

E Pluribus Unum

Or, Why I Voted for Barack Obama: Identity Politics for the 21st Century

I am a middle-aged white man, and I voted for Barack Obama. I did not vote for him because he was African-American, young and charismatic. I voted for him because he addressed the most difficult issues of our troubled time in a reasoned manner based on concrete analyses that offered the possibility of pragmatic solutions. I voted for him because he transcended the histrionics of fear-based ideologies on the left and the right and spoke to all sides with the respect and concern that the citizens of a representative democracy deserve. I voted for him because he placed intellect above emotion without sacrificing his humanity. I voted for him because he harnessed the power of words in order to defeat the demagogic populism that pandered to our most easily frightened fellow citizens.

Continue reading »