"Barrenness of thinking, a relinquishment of creativity..."

My thesis is constantly growing and changing as I continue to learn more about the absolutely unacceptable state of our current product culture. I've been reflecting a lot on this quote from Stuart Walker's Sustainable By Design lately and wanted to share. 

Whether we like to admit it or not, within the discipline of industrial or product design, there is a major emphasis on product appearance, in both professional practice and design education, and it is this preoccupation that, in many ways, renders products aesthetics hollow and superficial. The dominance of fashion-oriented, essentially trivial aesthetic definitions suggests a barrenness of thinking, a relinquishment of creativity, and a replacement of originality with bland, market-led ‘safe’ solutions. This prevents industrial design from evolving into an authentic, substantive discipline capable of effectively tackling the important issues of our time: the pressing contemporary concerns that are not being appropriately dealt with in product design and manufacturing are the ethical and environmental ramifications of our actions.
— Stuart Walker (Sustainable By Design)

Sketch Exercise #01

I started this page by playing with different blobs and shapes. I didn't really have an end goal in mind but I think that's what made this page so interesting and enjoyable. This is a great concept generation/ sketch exercise to help you loosen up when you're feeling a sketch block.

Update: New Project + Thesis

1. Thesis is in full effect! I recently chose a direction and an area of focus for the duration of this semester. My study stems from a question that I've been wrestling with as I grow as an industrial designer. How can we justify designing and making more stuff when most of it will, one day, end up in a landfill? How can my study influence the lifecycle of commonly used house-ware, kitchen-ware and/or consumer electronics? It's a tough question but I wanted my thesis to be a topic that I struggled with. A deep, thorough study reveals itself over and over. As an old mentor advised me, a good thesis should be a question that lingers on in my life after school.

2. I've posted my ebola project! (Read previous post) 
My design solution addresses how we can change the way people experience the news rather than trying to change the news at the source.

Note: I haven't been able to sketch as much lately but I'm always looking for a few minutes to fit in a doodle here and there. If you don't already, please follow me on Instagram for regular updates! 

Ebola & American Media

Last week on our first day of studio, we were given a prompt. Our professors handed us a sheet of paper that had one word on it. Ebola. That's it. We were told that we had two days to give a 3 minute presentation somehow related to this one word. They refused to talk to us before presentation day and proceeded to end class. This was a way for them to measure our maturity as seniors in design. To see what we did with so little.

Instead of focusing on the disease itself, I chose to focus on the effect ebola had on the American mentality in 2014. How ebola became a fear inducing buzzword despite the extremely low risks of contracting it in the U.S. Ultimately, my study became about how we could deconstruct the way in which (alarmist) news is delivered and how design thinking could potentially make media less fear inducing. More to come very soon!

Sketchbook #02

A few sketch pages from the past few weeks. I've been testing out a new brown paper sketchbook lately and it's been interesting experimenting with the new medium! If you would like to see more regular updates please follow me on Instagram! Username: id_jonathan

Travel #01 | Richmond, Virginia

A brief photo journal from my visit to Richmond. The city was relatively quiet with Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) students still on winter break but I didn't mind. 

Webbing Timelapse

With nearly 30 years of experience, my parents are among the most seasoned upholstery craftsmen in the Northern Virginia/ Washington, DC area. When I started studying industrial design, I decided early on that it would be foolish to not take advantage of learning about their craft. Thus, two summers ago, I worked as a shop apprentice to see what I could learn. 

Since then, I still stop by every now and then to help out. This is a brief video of some basic webbing that I worked on at the shop last week. It's one of the many steps involved after an old or damaged piece is disassembled. Upholstery is a layered craft that takes years to master and though I can usually only help with the preliminary steps, I'm always reminded of the importance of working with my hands when in the shop. Being part of a generation of designers that grew up with the convenience of technology, I can easily find myself stuck behind a screen for hours on end. There is something about making and working with something tangible that is always humbling as a designer. 

Timelapse HD - iPhone 6

Sketchbook #01

For my first post, I wanted to share a few pages from my sketchbook over the past few months. I usually try to set time aside during the day to get my pen moving on paper. Though designers are rapidly transitioning to a digital medium, I believe that manual sketching is a skill that should be practiced regularly.  

I'll upload sets of sketches periodically. If you're interested in more regular updates, please follow me on Instagram! Username: id_jonathan