Physical work space is particularly important to designers. Not just to designers obviously but that’s what I’m familiar with. On the one hand, we need a wide variety of resources readily at hand but don’t want the place to look like a kindergarten classroom. On the other hand, we have labored for years to develop refined taste but often don’t have the interior design budget of a Wall Street firm that has a lot of government bailout money to throw around. It can be tricky to figure out how to integrate these competing interests. As with all things the power of example is… well… powerful. I’ve long wanted to assemble a collection of local design shop spaces but as the saying goes “He who hesitates is lost.”
So, it is with the urgency and sense of self-satisfaction of an Emergency Medical Technician arriving on the scene just in time to prevent a tragic interior design disaster that I present Office Snapshots. It’s a great site in blog format that showcases a ton of office spaces that can be sorted by industry (Including advertising and graphic design) or location (including Minneapolis’ Blu Dot, Mono, Walker Art Center). Now I happen to know for a fact that there are many other amazing office spaces in the Twin Cities so check out the site and then submit your cool space and let help MSP get the credit it deserves.
I recently had the opportunity to do some illustrations for Allina Hospitals (specifically Unity and Mercy in Anoka County) to support a book they are producing. The book provides guidance to adults who are newly diagnosed with cancer with strategies and understand to aid them in talking about their condition with the children in there lives. As such I hope you never get to see this book – I wish no one needed to. But I’m glad to have contributed a little to helping those in such a difficult situation.
In the illustrations the idea of the cancer present in a loved one is represented by the elephant while the child is represented by the mouse. The flower offered by the elephant is eventually accepted by the mouse as the series progresses and symbolizes an acceptance of the idea of the cancer which leads to an ability to begin to understand it. At first the mouse does not want to let the elephant into its life. Once it does it is confused by its nature. As the two attempt to come to terms they grapple with barriers to understanding but eventually persistence pays off and a relationship is possible. So, a happy ending at least.
The recent (and long overdue) restyle of my portfolio BrainstormOverload has been recognized by the good folks over at RefreshStyle.net. Hopefully you recognize it there in the bottom-left corner. Who’s behind this collection of “refreshingly stylish web design” you ask? In a word – Canadians. While those of you living below the Mason-Dixon Line may be challenged by this notion I can assure you that Canadians love design just like you do. But don’t take my word for it – check out 350 Designs (the makers of RefreshStyle) for yourself. It’s fun to see sites for brands you aren’t familiar with. Oh, and if web design isn’t your thing you’re in luck. There is actually a suite of sites including: StationaryStyle.net, DrupalStyle.net and ArchitectureStyle.net. If you don’t love any of those things seek immediate medical attention.
As you are no-doubt well aware the internet currently resembles the imagined offspring of a mad love affair between your attic and your garage. We all know whatever we are looking for is in there somewhere we’re just not sure where. Hence the current explosion of sites like notcot.org and materialicious.com that simply aggregate cool stuff. They don’t editorialize much – if at all. They don’t even provide much context beyond the central organizational theme. As such they are like a dresser – simultaneously no big deal and amazingly useful.
For those of us in creative fields there are many excellent portfolio sites like behance.net and design:related.com that provide lots of organization along with tools, community, rating systems and the works. However, there has been an open niche for a super simple mechanism for simply finding cool stuff when “cool stuff” equals portfolios and “finding” means in a specific city. In another stroke of minimalistic brilliance 37Signals has come to the rescue by launching a new tool called sortfolio.com.
Here you can browse for web designers and companies by city and budget range. There are larger, paid modules followed by smaller, free modules. I am digging the way new modules automatically load as you scroll down the page. Check it out and get yourself listed so the wide world can find you without having to go through all that stuff they’re saving for when Antiques Roadshow comes to town.
I found this video on Twisted Sifter and while it may not be the most exciting eleven minutes you ever spend it’s a pretty cool example of the synergy that can happen when you think outside of the box. The basic story is how the time spent typing a captcha (the distorted type used as an online security device) has been turned to a productive purpose and will in less than twelve months completely digitize the analog archives (all isses between 1851 and the mid 1980′s) of the New York Times one word at a time. That’s 130 years worth of newspapers. Facebook, Ticketmaster, Craigslist, and Twitter are among the sites using the new re-captcha technology so you and 400 million other people have already helped.
Update: Thanks to Bill Skellenger I can share with you that if 11 minutes of insight into human computing was not enough Luis von Ahn is featured in a full 50 minute Google TechTalk that is full of all kinds of interesting stuff. Put on your thinking cap before pressing play.
Whatever you believe about global warming 2009 demonstrated that the governments of the world aren’t prepared to do much about it. Yet I suspect most of us appreciate that treading lightly and nurturing our planet are good ideas. The truth of this fact is all around us and the tools to contribute to reducing your personal impact are nearer at hand than ever before. There are many small things you can do that are improvements on multiple levels. For instance, you can replace your battery hungry flashlight with one that you crank by hand. Not only will you save money and prevent all those heavy metals from entering the landfill (and eventually your drinking water) every time you pick up your flashlight it will actually work!
There are also some big things you can do like changing the car you drive and the home you live in. Buildings account for a massive portion of the energy we use and as with the flashlight bringing your home up-to-date has many advantages like energy savings and the opportunity to mold your home around the way you live rather than the other way around. Why wait for the G-men to get their act together when you can get going right now? For a little inspiration check out the terrific collection of 62 innovative green homes on jetsongreen.com. They’ll pique your appetite for improvements large and small.