Design in Time and Space

I went to music school as an undergrad. Though I studied classical voice, I hung out mostly with jazzers and composers, folks that not only performed other people's music but improvised and created new music. One of the things we did together was to listen to music. Constantly. If we already knew the record, we'd point out … Continue reading Design in Time and Space


Artists Help Us See the Future

These days there's a lot of talk about STEAM in education. STEAM is a spinoff of the term STEM which stands for "Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics." The A in STEAM stands for "Art." Why is it important to explore Art within STEM? Because time and time again, artists have helped us envision the future. … Continue reading Artists Help Us See the Future

from ‘What We Know’ to ‘A New Aesthetic’

When we invented industrial manufacturing, we looked to Victorian era products and mass-produced everything from dishware to ovens with Victorian ornamentation. We did this until the Bauhaus came along and demanded that new technologies require a new aesthetic. The members of the Bauhaus "listened" to modern materials and processes and "heard" that they wanted to be simple and … Continue reading from ‘What We Know’ to ‘A New Aesthetic’

Beyond Out-of-Phase

I've been thinking a lot lately about the cascade effects of mass production.  The unintended consequences that happen when you mass produce and distribute stuff. Some artists capture this theme extremely well. Charles Sheeler, whose painting titled "Water" is pictured above, was commissioned to paint American factories in the early 20th century. His paintings position the buildings … Continue reading Beyond Out-of-Phase

Nile Rodgers and Figure-Ground

There's a formal principle in art called "The Figure-Ground Relationship." In a painting, for example, the figure is the subject of the painting and the ground is the background. But great artists don't think of the background as something that is secondary to the subject. Instead, they think that backgrounds are just as important. This is … Continue reading Nile Rodgers and Figure-Ground

Skeptics of the “Buy Local” Movement Value Efficiency

Which is fine. With some products, the efficiency of industrial systems is probably a good thing (economies of scale). With other products, smaller and slower production processes are probably a good thing (economies of scope). The hard part, I guess, is figuring out what's better when and for whom. For more: Is Efficiency Effective? 


Art and design students are trained in formal design elements that include color, value, texture, pattern, proportion, scale, and so on. The elements are guidelines for making stuff that is cohesive. This artist photographs mundane objects in tiny architectural models that he builds. He's manipulating scale and the result is fantastic. Check out more work from … Continue reading Scale