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Do Beautiful Machines Make Beautiful Objects?

Posted by Plish |

I have fond memories of my mother’s sewing machine.  It wasn’t antique, it would be more apropos to say it was ‘retro’.  Still, I remember popping open the various hatches and looking at how the mechanisms worked.  More than once I experimented with trying various stitches and created tangled messes of thread.

My mother, though she was extremely adept at using the machine, (and could spot machine-made embroidery a mile away) also sewed by hand and made embroidered pillows, shirts, ornamental towels, table cloths, and various other objects that sometimes were functional, but were always beautiful…

Sewing machines have  quite an intense history.  If you want to read about innovation, read about the development of sewing machines.  They’ve gone from being mechanical works of art, to technologically efficient machines.  Antique machines were powered by the sewer and created stitches that were relatively weak.  Modern, electric, motorized, programmable machines can make stronger and more complex stitches and do it with blazing speed and minimal human input.

In some ways it’s the old ’human vs. machine’ battle, only in this case it’s more of a ‘human+machine vs. machine-human).    In other words, is the output obtained through using a person powered machine as beautiful as that from a pre-programmed machine? (As an aside, why don’t sewing machine makers put ‘accidents’ into their programs to make patterns less perfect?) Sigue leyendo

Is Your Design S.I.M.P.L.E.? Take the Test

Simplicity…  What is it?  Is it needed?

How do I know if a design is simple enough?

Here’s a ‘Simplicity Test’ for your designs. Judge your designed product or process against the following list. You can assign a numerical value to each category and rank the design and the ‘what ifs?’.

The design is S.I.M.P.L.E. if it embodies the following:

S – Sublime-ness

I – Implicit; The more that needs to be made explicit the further away from simple you’re going.

M – Mysterious; As in, filled with mystery – it makes you say “Wow!” “Why didn’t someone thinks this before?”    “How does it work?”

P – Pleasing; To experience, it does what it’s supposed to- it’s experienced as what it’s supposed to be.

– Longing; At best, it creates a sense of wanting to return to product/process/system. At worst, it doesn’t scare people from coming back.

E – Emotive; Brings forth positive emotions or doesn’t elicit negative emotions. Sigue leyendo

Alone and Need Ideas? Try This Tool

by Plish

There is something to be said for the dynamic that occurs when people can engage and bounce ideas off of each other.

Sometimes though, we need to come up with ideas on our own.  One great tool for this is the Reverse Dictionary.

The human mind is great at making connections between disparate concepts, at building off of metaphor.  A Reverse Dictionary provides idea fuel for the brain.

The best way to learn about this is to try it yourself.   To get the ball rolling though, I’m going to walk through an example.

Say I’m looking for a way to decrease problems in nursing homes.  I entered in three words on the main page: ‘loneliness, mistakes, illness’.  Three terms that define what many people in nursing homes go through.

The results are here.  When I look at these 100 terms I see some  that are curious, others that I have no idea what they are, some that seem totally unrelated.  Those are the terms that I follow up with and investigate further.  I’ll list some of those here… Sigue leyendo

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