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Design

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 sep 2020

COVID-19 lockdowns, with stay at home norm and confinement, has brought about more emphasis on gardens, balconies, backyards etc, as they became refreshing and relaxing spaces. The pandemic will impact the future of garden design and following are some ways to consider while designing outdoor spaces in future - (1) More Emphasis On Optimizing Outdoor Spaces: Before outdoor space has often been considered a luxury but the pandemic brought about its essentiality to the home. In future it will become an integral part of the home design. Landscape designers have to make use of every inch of space and make it more usable. (2) Gardens As A Fifth Room: As open spaces become essential more importance will be given to their design. They will be updated more often and will be reorganized to adapt to different usages throughout the day. 'Transterior' (term used by Jamie Durie and Nadine Bush in their book 'Living Design' to describe the space where the interior and exterior of a home merge) spaces will be more in demand in the future. (3) Bigger Focus On Sustainability And Self-Sufficiency: Urban farming saw a boom during lockdowns as more people took to growing their own fruits and vegetables. The trend has been around, but now it will continue with more urban produce growing spaces. The greater focus on sustainability will also influence building materials used in landscaping. More emphasis will be on durable, natural materials like reclaimed wood, hard-wearing garden tiles and natural stone. (4) A Need For Mindful Outdoor Areas: Health benefits of green open spaces is well known - reducing stress and anxiety, and also promoting mindfulness. Use of homes to create a sense of security and wellness will continue and open green spaces are an important part of it. Garden design in the 'new normal' will be about using outdoor areas to evoke a sense of calm and serenity through thoughtful design. Read on...

Total Landscape Design: The world's 'new norm' and what it means for garden design
Author: Suhayl Laher


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 aug 2020

COVID-19 pandemic has affected art and culture sector, and significantly impacted talent associated with it. Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO in her message on World Art Day (15 April 2020), celebrated on the birthday of Leonardo da Vinci, said, 'Bringing people together, inspiring, soothing and sharing: these are the powers of art, the importance of which has been made emphatically obvious during the COVID-19 pandemic.' The art community is adapting to the new challenges and finding innovative solutions to keep the spirit alive. The program, 'Arts and Culture Education Change-Up', a collaboration between South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korea Culture and Arts Education Service and the Seokyeong University Arts Education Center, has come up with something positive during the pandemic. The program teaches and supports creative people who are interested in social entrepreneurial projects in the field of arts and culture education. Han Jeong-seop, professor and dean of the Seokyeong University Arts Education Center, says, 'If it were not for COVID-19, we might not have brought those international guest speakers or have participants from Jeju Island due to geographical factors...We wanted to showcase how overseas cultural social enterprises play a role in resolving social problems between the public and private sector.' The participants in the online interaction included representatives from STEPS (Canada-based charitable public art organization that develops one-of-a-kind public art plans, installations and engagement strategies that foster vibrant communities), and Starcatchers (Scotland-based art organization specializing in creating performances and exploring creative activities for babies, toddlers and young children up to the age of five and the adults who care for them). Anjuli Solanki, program director of the STEPS Initiative, says, 'Applying our multidisciplinary expertise, we strive to develop a strong contextual understanding of the neighborhoods and sites we are working in for all our projects. Our goal is to create iconic public works that attract widespread attention by transforming underutilized public spaces.' Bebhinn Jennings, program manager at STEPS, says, 'The pandemic has highlighted our need to connect, to be inspired and to contribute to our communities. As such, art and public art in particular are increasingly important as they offer numerous entry points for engagement. Public art can both beautify a space, and ignite dialogues around important issues such has climate change, public health and systemic inequalities - all conversations that have been active throughout the pandemic.' Rhona Matheson, chief executive of Starcatchers, says, 'We know we are not going to be able to tour any of our productions until at least spring 2021 so our focus is on providing a range of activities that parents or childcare settings can share with very young children. Retaining a connection with audiences has been very important and making the offers through our online activities has been essential. Similarly, being able to retain connection with the families who participate in our community engagement programs has been very important - this has been a means to offer support to young families who experience social and rural isolation and have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.' Lee In-kyung, an art instructor at an alternative school on Jeju Island, says, 'If it were not operated online, it would be very difficult and time-consuming for me to participate in a training program held in Seoul. Now I can communicate with other social entrepreneurs while on Jeju...We made environmental picture books and tried junk art, campaigning for environment. I realized that students could learn better through empirical art education.' She developed such experiences into an idea for a social enterprise, aiming to support teenagers to cultivate creativity, problem-solving skills and empathic abilities. Kim Soo-jung, CEO of Open Your Arts and in the second year of Change-Up program, says, 'I wanted to provide sustainable art education for socially disadvantaged children, but it was impossible to solve the problem as a volunteer. So I came up with this art educational kit developed in collaboration with artists...Their (Starcatchers and STEPS) business model is not based nor suitable for online, but it was interesting to see the possibility of online platforms, transcending physical or regional limitations.' Read on...

The Korea Times: Social enterprise bridges art, community amid pandemic
Author: Kwon Mee-yoo


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2020

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around in its various forms for many years. But now it is reaching a level of disruption in many industries and has potential to influence many more. There are major investments in AI with tech giants leading the pack. Businesses are seeing value in AI to make process improvements, enhance efficiencies etc to improve bottom line and at the same time there are concerns related to job losses. Even creative industries like graphic design, that require exceptional human skills to thrive are being significantly influenced by AI. Graphic design softwares are now AI-powered and can mimic human designers by understanding client requirements effectively. These may not not be emotion-powered like humans, but can provide outputs that are fast, affordable and customizable. Moreover, these softwares have their own limitations at this time and the role of designers is not becoming obsolete. In fact, on one side these tools are designed and developed by incorporating inputs from designers and on the other they are complementing and enhancing the capabilities of designers and assisting them to achieve even better outcomes. Following are some limitations of AI in graphic design - Understanding nuances that come naturally to humans; Originality of humans that is derived from being highly imaginative; Human touch that is needed as part of a personalized interactive experience. Read on...

ClickZ: The rise of AI in graphics design
Author: Carl Dean


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 jul 2020

Downtime for workforce is a reality that needs to be managed well. Experts provide suggestions to web designers to effectively utilize downtime, whether it is normal as in between projects or unusual circumstances like COVID-19 pandemic - (1) Support Your Juniors: Priscilla Coates, managing director at Magma Digital, says, 'Our developers focus on continuous learning as a principle...they engage in targeted supervision opportunities to support more junior developers more closely...we embrace the notion of working on the business as well as in the business.' (2) Test Your Skills With A Side Project: Melin Edomwonyi, director of product for Illustrate Digital, says, 'Downtime is a great opportunity to work on something you've been needing or wanting to do for a while...If the downtime is short, i.e. less than a day, then we'll use this time to explore new UX trends or tidy up our code library to make future projects more efficient.' (3) Read A Good Book: Bryony Sutton, UX and UI designer at Banc, says, 'When a project ends, I take the opportunity to meditate my mind and desktop...To help draw a line under a project, I like to read. I find that completing a book separates one project from the next and puts my mind in a different space.' (4) Host A Hackathon: Paul Ferry, director and co-founder of ShopTalk, says, 'At ShopTalk, we have an internal initiative...a quarterly design-hackathon where the team get to apply their creative skills to their own ideas, and ShopTalk invest in helping to make these happen.' (5) Learn A New Skill: Benoit Soucaret, creative director of experience design at LiveArea, says, 'Downtime can present an opportunity to upskill...So while disruption can see many projects shorten, downtime can still be used productively. There are more opportunities to learn than ever before, designers and developers simply have to open to them.' (6) Improve Your Processes: Arrann Diamond, digital director at Greenwich Design, says, 'I use downtime to improve our processes...I also like learning about new ways to make projects run more smoothly...As digital director, really understanding a developer’s point of view and having a good knowledge of technologies and build processes is essential...Understanding information, rather than just relaying it, is very different, but it’s the key to conveying trust with both clients and developers.' Read on...

Creative Bloq: The web designer's guide to dealing with downtime
Author: Tom May


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 jun 2020

COVID-19 has brought to the fore the issue of medical textiles as masks, gowns and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are necessary for safeguarding healthcare workers against virus infections. The use of mask specifically became more widespread among general public and the debate centered around the type of material of the fabric that can minimize spread of the virus from person to person and also be affordable. As the demand for PPEs rose the challenge for the scientific and manufacturing community has been to find a way to provide better protection while allowing for the safe reuse of these items. Team of researchers from University of Pittsburgh - Anthony J. Galante, Sajad Haghanifar, Eric G. Romanowski, Robert M. Q. Shanks, Paul W. Leu - has created a textile coating that can not only repel liquids like blood and saliva but can also prevent viruses from adhering to the surface. Their research titled, 'Superhemophobic and Antivirofouling Coating for Mechanically Durable and Wash-Stable Medical Textiles', was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. Lead author of the paper, Mr. Galante, who is the Ph.D. student in industrial engineering at Pitt, says, 'Recently there's been focus on blood-repellent surfaces, and we were interested in achieving this with mechanical durability.' The coating is unique as it is able to withstand ultrasonic washing, scrubbing and scraping. Prof. Leu, co-author and associate professor of industrial engineering, says, 'The durability is very important because there are other surface treatments out there, but they’re limited to disposable textiles. You can only use a gown or mask once before disposing of it. Given the PPE shortage, there is a need for coatings that can be applied to reusable medical textiles that can be properly washed and sanitized.' Prof. Romanowski, Research Director at Charles T. Campbell Microbiology Laboratory, says, 'As this fabric was already shown to repel blood, protein and bacteria, the logical next step was to determine whether it repels viruses. We chose human adenovirus types 4 and 7, as these are causes of acute respiratory disease as well as conjunctivitis (pink eye)...As it turned out, the adenoviruses were repelled in a similar way as proteins.' Prof. Shanks, Director of Basic Research in the Department of Ophthalmology at Pitt, says, 'Adenovirus can be inadvertently picked up in hospital waiting rooms and from contaminated surfaces in general. It is rapidly spread in schools and homes and has an enormous impact on quality of life - keeping kids out of school and parents out of work. This coating on waiting room furniture, for example, could be a major step towards reducing this problem.' The next step for the researchers will be to test the effectiveness against betacoronaviruses, like the one that causes COVID-19. Read on...

University of Pittsburgh News: Pitt Researchers Create Durable, Washable Textile Coating That Can Repel Viruses
Author: Maggie Pavlick


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 may 2020

A group of researchers led by Prof. Raul Gonzalez Lima and Prof. Marcelo Knorich Zuffo at the University of São Paulo's Engineering School (POLI-USP) in Brazil have developed a mechanical ventilator that costs only approximately 7% as much as a conventional ventilator. Prof. Lima says, 'Our ventilator is designed to be used in emergencies where there's a shortage of ICU (Intensive Care Unit) ventilators, which are more monitored, but it has all the functionality required by a severe patient. It also has the advantage of not depending on a compressed air line, as conventional ventilators do. It only needs an electric power outlet and piped oxygen from the hospital or even bottled O2.' In developing the ventilator, the researchers needed to analyze the range of oxygen flow rates and levels it could offer patients. For this purpose, they simulated the various breathing frequencies of human lungs using a gas analyzer and gas flow meter in a lab headed by Prof. Guenther Carlos Krieger Filho, also a professor at POLI-USP. Animal tests were conducted under the coordination of Denise Tabacchi Fantoni and Aline Ambrósio, both of whom are professors at School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science (FMVZ-USP). The tests were performed at Medical School's (FM-USP) anesthesiology laboratory (LIM08) under the supervision of Professor José Otávio Costa Auler Junior, in collaboration with Denise Aya Otsuki, a researcher in the lab. The first human trials involved four patients undergoing treatment at FM-USP's Heart Institute (INCOR). They were led by Auler Junior, with the collaboration of Filomena Regina Barbosa Gomes Galas, the supervisor at INCOR's surgical ICU, nurse Suely Pereira Zeferino, and physical therapist Alcino Costa Leme. The researchers are now preparing a clinical trial with a larger number of patients. This will be one of the last steps before production of the ventilator is approved by ANVISA, Brazil's national health surveillance authority. Read on...

News-Medical.Net: Brazilian researchers design low-cost mechanical ventilators
Author: Emily Henderson


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 apr 2020

Diversity and inclusion at workplace brings creativity and enhances culture of innovation. There is inclination towards bridging the gender gap and promoting gender parity in organizations. According to McKinsey's 'Women in the Workplace 2019' report, since 2015 the number of women in senior leadership has grown and in the C-suite the representation of women has increased from 17% to 21%. Moreover, in 2019 44% of companies have three or more women in their C-suite, up from 29% of companies in 2015. The 2017 study 'What Women Want - And Why You Want Women - In the Workplace' by Center for Creative Leadership (ccl.org) found that having more women in the workplace actually makes an organization a better place to work. Moreover, having a higher percentage of female talent in an organization predicted - More job satisfaction; More organizational dedication; More meaningful work; Less burnout. The study also found that having more women in the workplace was also positively related to employee engagement and retention. Top architectural and design schools in US are setting the examples in academia by bringing women at leadership positions. The following five thought leaders are now molding the next generation of talent and reshaping the design field for the 21st century - (1) J. Meejin Yoon (Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning): 'I'm optimistic about architectural education going forward and the role of the academy as a leader around critical social and environmental issues, as well as emerging technologies and their impact on the built environment. It feels significant to be a part of this group of women academic leaders, all of whom are deeply committed to both education and practice...Diversity means better research, better education, better design.' (2) Sarah Whiting (Harvard University Graduate School of Design): 'Our mandate is to identify questions that are relevant and urgent, questions like ethics, climate change, and housing. It's important to make sure the world knows that design is not a frivolous add-on to our lives but rather at the root of how we live.' (3) Mónica Ponce de León (Princeton University School of Architecture): 'Architecture materializes culture. We have the capacity to put on the table alternatives to the status quo. But if architecture is going to impact culture, it has to represent and argue for a broad cohort of communities. Diversity is key.' (4) Deborah Berke (Yale School of Architecture): 'One of the ways that we can make the profession more inclusive is to reduce the enormous burden of student debt...I am a strong believer in what I call built environment social justice. Those most vulnerable are those being most hurt...Everyone is entitled to beauty in their everyday life. The built environment can, at its very finest, bring joy.' (5) Amale Andraos (Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation): 'Architecture got cut up into all these different disciplines, leaving us with a very small, cosmetic part, limiting what the field can mean and what practice can do. Unless we integrate and collaborate, we cannot engage with the scale of issues such as climate change...Academia can change the profession.' Read on...

Architectural Digest: These Trailblazing Women are the New Deans of American Design
Author: Sam Cochran


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 mar 2020

Designers are utilizing their creative expertise to find innovative solutions to fight against COVID-19 pandemic. Italian architects Carlo Ratti and Italo Rota designed a series of interconnected intensive care unit (ICU) pods from shipping containers. A prototype of the pods is now being built and is called Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments (CURA). Industrial design brand Dyson also announced that it has developed a CoVent ventilator after UK PM Boris Johnson requested the company to fulfil the hike in demand. Danish startup Stykka has created a design for a simple flat-pack workstation that can be easily assembled from three pieces of folded cardboard. Architectural designers Ivo Tedbury and Freddie Hong have developed a 3D-printed device that can be attached to door handles to enable hands-free opening. Ukranian architect Sergey Makhno forecasted the changes in living spaces in the aftermath of the pandemic that include people preferring houses over apartments, wanting to become self-sufficient with their own water supply and heating, and more attention placed on creating a workplace at home. Dezeen's editor Tom Ravenscroft predicted that the huge amount of people being forced to work-from-home will have long-term impacts on how companies approach remote working. Graphic designer Jure Tovrljan recreates iconic brand logos to highlight current situation. Cartoonist Toby Morris and microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles created playful animated illustrations and graphs to depict social distancing necessity. Read on...

Dezeen: This week, designers created objects and structures to help fight coronavirus
Author: Natashah Hitti


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 mar 2020

Landscape architects can utilize sustainability and environmental design while providing beautiful landscapes. This showcases sensitivity towards the larger ecosystem. Cheryl Brown and Holley Owings, landscape architects at Earth Design, share a landscape design process for better outcomes - (1) Determine your Goals: Create a list of likes and dislikes. Get photo example, property's sitemap or survey for planning. (2) Define your Style: Ms. Owings says, 'We look at a landscape from an environmental and ecological standpoint which supports a range of styles.' She suggests natural, low maintenance landscapes. Outdoor elements include moss gardens, permeable hardscapes, raised beds for vegetable gardens and cut flowers, and she-shed garden cottages. (3) Seek Professional Guidance: Ms. Brown says, 'Many times, we have to think outside the box to meet a homeowner's specific goals and budget.' Landscape architects have the skills to provide creative solutions for difficult landscape challenges. (4) Landscape Assessment: Assessing the present condition of the property is the start of the design process. Ms. Brown says, 'We're taking into account sun, shade, location, and water and looking at what the landscape wants to be. We don't want to go against nature.' An assessment reveals design challenges, as well as identify some of the most common problems. (5) Selecting Plants: Good design is about form, texture and layering, and good landscape design hinges on choosing and grouping the right plants in the right place. Ms. Owings says, 'Your outdoor space should be a sanctuary. It should attract the things that bring you joy, such as birds and butterflies, so plant choices are important.' (6) The Master Plan: Ms. Brown says, 'A landscape project should be looked at as a whole...a master plan is such an important investment. It includes everything in one place, even if it's installed in stages.' Read on...

Greenville News: Building Your Dream Landscape
Author: Renata Parker


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 jan 2020

Earlier web development was in silos with front-end and back-end design, development and management requiring different set of skills. But now full stack application development approach is more integrated and involves end-to-end development. This requires front-end developers to have broader set of skills and working knowledge of multiple technologies. Tarun Nagar, founder and CEO of Dev Technosys, suggests must-have skills for front-end developers in 2020 - (1) HTML, a language that communicates with the browser, and CSS, which is responsible for the styling of the page and the betterment of the user interface. Together they are essential component of front-end development. (2) Javascript, a client-side programming language, makes the webpage elements functional. For audio, video, animation and hat features, Javascript library and jQuery extensions are used for faster functions widely used by full-stack web development services. (3) JavaScript frameworks like Angular Js, ReactJS and Vue.js, make the JS code easier to use and make development faster. (4) CSS preprocessing is the advanced CSS version. It is a better version of the primary CSS classes, which enhances the website features. (5) Version Control Software or Git is the most popular software used for the large team of developers. The version control system helps in collaborating with the changes and making a better software development process. (6) Testing and debugging is an integral part of the development process. (7) Automated building software makes the front-end development easier. The performance is usually measured at the loading time. Functional User Interface, collective term for HTML, CSS and Javascript, is used wisely as best web development company practices. (8) Browser tools are the browser component, which helps in developing the browser-friendly pages. This helps the developers in increasing the UI quality give optimum website development services. (9) Responsive design ensures that web page UI is compatible with every screen size. (10) Command-Line Interface (CLI) is used to give functionality, unlike Graphical User Interface (GUI) which is used to build the page and perform the tasks in the front-end. (11) Good problem solving skills make the developer work effectively in a team and efficiently handle large projects. Read on...

Customer Think: 11 skills to become a Front-End developer in 2020
Author: Tarun Nagar


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 dec 2019

Graphic design continuously evolves and experts spot the trends and also make predictions. Here are graphic desing professionals predicting trends for 2020 - (1) Intensifying minimalism: Brian Dixon, creative director at Grady Britton; Paul Levy, designer; Adam Murdoch, senior art director. (2) Abstract 3D and vibrant colours: Tamryn Kerr, associate creative director at VMLY&R; Consuela Onighi, UX designer at Illustrate Digital; Alex Halfpenny, design director at Elmwood. (3) Type-only approaches: Emily Benwell, digital design and marketing specialist at Liberty Marketing; Davide Baratta, design director at Impero; Nazar Begen, head of project at Crello; Steve Sharp, director of Fat Cow Media; Chris Willis, head of design at VMLY&R; Katie Larosa, designer at Grady Britton. (4) Super-maximalist and ultra-minimalist: Justin Au, designer at Gretel. (5) Taking GIFs to the next level: Steve Sharp, director of Fat Cow Media; Mark Chatelier, executive creative director at StormBrands. (6) Multisensoral moving content: Davide Baratta, design director at Impero; Iain Acton, head of motion design at DixonBaxi; Emma Newnes of B&B Studio. (7) Motion with intent: Kelli Miller, creative director and partner at And/Or; Dan Healy, image and motion director at Bulletproof. (8) Ingrigue overtakes legibility: Alex Halfpenny, design director for Elmwood; Emily Benwell, digital design and marketing specialist for Liberty Marketing; Dave Gee, co-founder of Jam_. (9) Graphical disruption: Sarah Sanders, head of strategic insight at Precipice Design; Kelli Miller, creative director and partner at And/Or. (10) Backlash against Insta-perfection: Jennie Potts, design director at B&B Studio. (11) Focus on Gen Alpha: Lee Hoddy, creative partner at Conran Design Group. (12) Organic look and feel: Andy Capper, creative director at Echo Brand Design. (13) Action on sustainability: Charlie Smith, creative director at Charlie Smith Design; Steve Austen-Brown, creative director at Avantgarde London; Alex Halfpenny, design director at Elmwood. (14) New perspectives on gender and sexuality: Lee Hoddy, creative partner at Conran Design Group; Davide Baratta, design director at Impero. (15) A spirit of rebellion: Maisie Benson, designer at B&B Studio; Curro de la Villa, creative director at 72andSunny Amsterdam. (16) Device dependent design: Harry East, co-founder and creative director at Equals Collective. (17) Cause-based branding: Adam Murdoch, senior art director at Grady Britton. (18) Immersive experiences: Dave Gee, co-founder of Jam_; Mark Davis, creative director at me&dave; (19) Making brand stories more believable: Andy Askren, partner and creative director at Grady Britton. (20) Uncertainty: Alex Halfpenny, design director at Elmwood. Read on...

Creative Bloq: 20 top graphic design trends for 2020
Author: Tom May


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 nov 2019

Team of researchers from Poland's Łódź University of Technology (ŁUT) led by Prof. Katarzyna Grabowska, the dean of the Faculty of Material Technologies and Textile Design, have developed a textile charger, which allows to charge phones, tablets, and other portable electronic devices using the power generated by their users' physical activity. Monika Malinowska-Olszowy, the vice dean of the faculty and member of the research team, says, 'The textile charger for mobile electronic devices is an inseparable part of the fabric or knitwear from which it is made, such as clothing...This invention replaces heavy, large batteries and power banks that often contain toxic substances. It is shock resistant and weatherproof. The main purpose of this technology is to ensure its users with uninterrupted access to electricity to sustain the operations of their mobile devices. As a result, this will exclude various problematic processes related to frequent charging of mobile phones or tablets.' ŁUT research has focused on the development of innovative textile inventions. Some of the latest examples include textile clothing for premature infants that is to protect them against dehydration and ensure thermal stability through special layered textile systems, and a prototype textronics solution that allows the integration of muscle-stimulating electrodes within various types of clothing, such as underwear, wristbands and socks, and use it to treat patients with various diseases that require such stimulation, among others. Read on...

Innovation In Textiles: Polish researchers develop textile mobile device charger
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 24 oct 2019

Concrete is a preferred material, second-most used (about 22 billion ton annually), in the building and construction industry. But, it is also second-largest emitter of Carbon dioxide, as cement manufacturing accounts for 5-7% of annual emissions. According to Lucy Rodgers of BBC News, 'If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter in the world - behind China and the US.' In order to meet the requirements of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, annual cement emissions must fall by 16% by 2030. This situation brings concrete at the cusp of innovation, encouraging architects and scientists to experiment with concrete and help evolve its greener variants. Most innovations in this regard focus on reduction of cement in the concrete mix. MIT researchers developed an experimental method of manufacturing cement while eliminating CO2 emissions. Researchers at Lancaster University in the UK unveiled a novel approach of using nanoplatelets extracted from carrots and root vegetables to enhance concrete mixes. Dr. Sandra Manso-Blanco's approach of 'bioreceptive concrete' has structural concrete layered with materials to encourage the growth of CO2-absorbing moss and lichen. Another alternative mixture becoming mainstream in construction is GFRC (Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete). The material consists of a mortar made of concrete, sand, alkali-resistant glass fiber and water. Plasticity is one of the main qualities of GFRC, enabling the molding of thinner and thus lighter façade pieces. Another novel approach to concrete used by Zaha Hadid Architects is 3D-knitted shell. Termed as KnitCandela, it is inspired by Spanish-Mexican architect and engineer Felix Candela's inventive concrete shell structures. The knitted fabric for KnitCandela was developed at ETH Zurich. ETH Zurich has been at the forefront of a number of innovations concerning concrete. With the intention of maximizing available space and avoiding steep construction costs, researchers from ETH Zurich's Department of Architecture have devised a concrete floor slab that with a thickness of a mere 2 cm, remains load-bearing and simultaneously sustainable. The institute also showcased the potential of robotically 3D printed concrete. Read on...

ArchDaily: What is the Future of Concrete in Architecture?
Author: Niall Patrick Walsh


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 sep 2019

According to Learning Enterprise Institute (lean.org), the book, 'Designing the Future' by James M. Morgan and Jeffrey K. Liker, describes the robust new Lean Product and Process Development (LPPD) framework and shares real-world examples from a diverse set of industries. The book explains how the leading companies are using LPPD to create better futures for themselves and all their stakeholders. Authors go beyond broad generalizations on how to 'be innovative' and dig deeper into the theoretical bedrock and concrete development practices that are generating exceptional results at pioneering LPPD companies. Examples in the book show specifically how companies are redesigning product development systems to consistently design and deliver a progression of market-leading products and services. The book explains how LPPD is different from traditional ways of thinking and doing product development. The book helps in learning how to - (1) Avoid the 'extremes' that turn milestones into a 'coercive bureaucracy' and instead turn them into the foundation of a lean development process. (2) Drive out fear, but not accountability. (3) Develop high-performance teams and team members. (4) Cultivate chief architects with complete product and business responsibility. (5) Create flow and reduce rework in the development process. (6) Apply leadership lessons from Alan Mulally and other senior development leaders, as well as the critical elements of a powerful management system. (7) Use the Obeya (big room, war room) system to increase transparency, collaboration, focus, and speed while engaging the entire enterprise. (8) Improve the scientific thinking skills of engineers and developers. (9) Apply the seemingly contradictory concept of 'fixed and flexible' - Yin and Yang - of lean product development as an opportunity, not a conflict. (10) Hire the right people using different approaches, including extreme interviewing events. (11) Use a Commodity Development Plan to develop components in parallel that are on time, functional, and fit together. (12) Improve development problem solving through effective use of A3s and employ a simple but effective 'trick' to check the quality of an A3 report. EXCERPTS FROM INTERVIEW WITH AUTHORS - James M. Morgan: 'The book is for all serious practitioners who are working to find a better way to develop products, processes and services. Especially for those who are in leadership positions who want to improve organizational development capabilities in order to create great products and a great place to work.'; 'Deep immersion at the gemba (the actual place) during the study period to truly understand your customer and their context. To truly study and listen deeply to your customer in a very intentional way. To look broadly across your industry to understand the current state and conduct detailed product or service dissections where called for. Creating an active learning plan and experimentation to test ideas and close knowledge gaps. To create a concept paper to clarify your thinking and engage and enroll others.'; 'Milestones are the key to orchestrating development across functions. They are the primary mechanism for integrating work and for understanding normal from abnormal conditions so that the development team may act accordingly.'; 'The obeya space needs to become the center and the heartbeat of the project. Whether the team is collocated or not, it is the place where they come together to share and collaborate. It is the primary source of project information.'; 'I believe that it (to build aligned and focused teams) is impacted by hiring/selection of people, development of people, manager selection and promotion and of course leadership behaviors. One key is to develop an effective management system. In my view a management system is comprised of two key elements: leadership behaviors and an operating system.'; 'The best leaders have the grit to keep going - and to keep their team moving forward. One key is to look at problems as gems, as opportunities to improve your product, your process, your team - yourself.'; 'Make it okay to experiment, make mistakes, question things and raise issues. Create time and resources for learning - both capturing and applying learning. Design reviews are an excellent mechanism for learning. Then make knowledge available in user-friendly way.'; 'Apply the LPPD principles and practices in your transformation. Start by deeply understanding your current state, develop a compelling vision, learn through pilot experimentation, create an aligned plan, and focus on relentless executing leveraging tools like obeya, milestones, reflection events and design reviews.' Jeffrey K. Liker: 'We also talk about the role of the chief engineer - an overall architect for the product who assimilates all the data and spends time with customers and integrates many perspectives into a vision. These are specially developed people who become the chief architects.'; 'The main failure mode of milestones is viewing them as checkpoints. In LPPD there is feedback and adjustment happening all of the time. The checkpoint is a major opportunity to reflect and learn. It should not feel like passing a test.'; 'The obeya paces the work of many functional specialists so they are checking the status of their work products in short intervals, seeing how they can help each other, seeing gaps between plan versus actual and taking corrective action. It should focus on deviation management.'; 'A big part of the management system is the target setting process. The chief engineer sets the product targets and each function develops appropriate targets to support the chief engineer.'; 'It is also critical to have knowledge gatekeepers for each function who are the keepers of the know-how database for their specialty to avoid lots of information that never gets used.'; 'An exciting culture leads to an exciting product. We also talk about the importance of strong functional groups that are teaching the deep knowledge of their engineering discipline.' Read on...

InfoQ: Q&A on the Book 'Designing the Future'
Authors: Ben Linders, James Morgan, Jeffrey Liker


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 aug 2019

Considering increase in online population and also number of websites, it becomes imperative for those with websites to give special emphasis on latest web design and technologies to differentiate. Peter Boyd, attorney and founder of PaperStreet, suggests latest web design, development, content, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and PPC (Pay Per Click) trends to increase traffic and improve engagement to the website - (1) Design Trends: Bigger is better and embrace wide designs to give more space to visual images; Consistent branding across all media; Mobile friendly design is a must; Incorporate compelling videos before the fold to increase conversion rates; Include reviews feed on website; Declutter website with minimalist design approach; Have detailed information on the leadership team for better connect and personal touch; Give opportunities to audience to interact through drop-down menus, hover states, unique pages leads, chatbots etc. (2) Development Trends: Mobile optimization; Chatbot technology; Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliance; Push notifications; Fast website loading speed. (3) Content Trends: Long-form content; Include knowledge and education resources; Use storytelling approach to connect at a personal level with audience. (4) SEO & PPC Trends: Cross-channel marketing including paid search, organic search and social media ad campaigns; Use organic link building and naturally used keywords and keyword phrases; Niche marketing to the specific practice area and demographic; Facebook targeted advertising. Read on...

Forbes: The Hottest Website Trends Of 2019
Author: Peter Boyd


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 aug 2019

Research study, 'Onboard Evolution of Understandable Swarm Behaviors', published in Advanced Intelligent Systems by researchers from University of Bristol (Simon Jones, Sabine Hauert) and University of the West of England (Alan F. Winfield, Matthew Studley), brings development of a new generation of swarming robots which can independently learn and evolve new behaviours in the wild a step closer. Researchers used artificial evolution to enable the robots to automatically learn swarm behaviours which are understandable to humans. This could create new robotic possibilities for environmental monitoring, disaster recovery, infrastructure maintenance, logistics and agriculture. This new approach uses a custom-made swarm of robots with high-processing power embedded within the swarm. In most recent approaches, artificial evolution has typically been run on a computer which is external to the swarm, with the best strategy then copied to the robots. Prof. Jones says, 'Human-understandable controllers allow us to analyse and verify automatic designs, to ensure safety for deployment in real-world applications.' Researchers took advantage of the recent advances in high-performance mobile computing, to build a swarm of robots inspired by those in nature. Their 'Teraflop Swarm' has the ability to run the computationally intensive automatic design process entirely within the swarm, freeing it from the constraint of off-line resources. Prof. Hauert says, 'This is the first step towards robot swarms that automatically discover suitable swarm strategies in the wild. The next step will be to get these robot swarms out of the lab and demonstrate our proposed approach in real-world applications.' Prof. Winfield says, 'In many modern AI systems, especially those that employ Deep Learning, it is almost impossible to understand why the system made a particular decision...An important advantage of the system described in this paper is that it is transparent: its decision making process is understandable by humans.' Read on...

Engineering.com: Robots Learn Swarm Behaviors, Aim to Escape the Lab
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 jul 2019

Landscape design needs to be both functional and artistic. Landscape professional should work towards embodying these elements for beautiful gardens and lawn creations. Here are few ideas to bring art and aesthetics in landscape design - Irrespective of the size of landscaping, massing serves an artistic purpose. Massing is basically grouping of one kind plant species in one big section. It provides good visual impact and also brings balance and proportion to the landscape. Massing plants together helps create texture, form, larger pops of color and it can reduce maintenance in some situations. Incorporating vertical and horizontal layers can provide unique look to massing. Proportioning is also a critical component of garden design if the space has a pool, patio, outdoor kitchen or other similar structure, as their size must fit accordingly with the size of the house; While working with smaller spaces accentuate long views across the garden, as this will help add a greater sense of depth to the area. Instead of creating paths that haphazardly wind around, consider keeping the pathways in one continuous, straight line, as this will help emphasize the garden's length and create more dramatic focal points at each end; Experts suggest use of native or indegenous plants as they would be more resistant to pests and more durable; Landscape lighting also plays an important role as gardens can be utilized in evening. Eliminate hot spots as these will make the lighting look unnatural. Utilize lighting to highlight features in the landscape that should be accentuated, which will also let less important aspects fade into the background; For tiny garden area go vertical. Smaller gardens will feel larger if eyes can be drawn up and over the neighboring fence. Take advantage of vertical gardens along the fence line, running up an arbor or trellis or stretching upward on a brick wall/side of the house. Read on...

Total Landscape Care: More than meets the eye: The artistry behind landscape designs
Author: Beth Hyatt


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 may 2019

Graphic design enhances the value of the brands and creates their visual memory in the audience's mind. Check out the latest trends in graphic design and keep evolving - 3D design and Typography (Brings life and depth to flat designs); Mid-century Modern Elements (Give both a mid-age and modern touch to any design); Custom Illustrations (Heavily influenced by natural and botanical elements, with softer lines and less bold text); Buxom Serifs (Serifs are smarter, better, and make content stand out); Open Compositions (Make the elements appear to be floating off of the screen); Isometric Design (Creates an entire universe in the tiniest of spaces and gives depth to any design and object); Pops of Vivid Color (Provides attention grabbing graphics); Strong Typographic Focal Points (Make content visually strong and readable, a function much needed for small devices and social media feeds); Light and Dark Color Schemes (Create a visually stunning impact); Futuristic Influences into the Mainstream (Make the brand stand out and be influencer in the marketplace); Complex Gradients and Duotones (Look great on mobile devices. Add depth and create a timeless look); Colorful Minimalism (Combining design with necessary components using minimalist approach. Limited color use); Art Deco (Add glamour quotient); Bookman and Old-style Serifs (High legibility and contrast of the traditional serifs make them a great choice to highlight the brand's value); Subtle Motion (Enhances user experience and engages users with the interface. Adds seamless transformations and transitions); Abstract Geometry and Shapes (Fits in any design that demands a modern and expressive look. Makes visuals stand out); Asymmetrical Layouts (Create visual tension. Elements have a more complex pattern); Variable Fonts (Are flexible within the multidimensional space. Consume less bandwidth and load websites or web pages faster). Read on...

G2 Crowd: 18 Innovative Graphic Design Trends for 2019
Author: Prateeksha Mathur


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 apr 2019

HGTV (Home & Garden Television) provides exposure to applicable interior design ideas. Here are a few: (1) Shiplap, a type of siding, is the best thing you can add to a wall to add dimension. (2) Placing an oversized mirror will make any room appear much larger than it actually is. (3) Another way to conserve space is to make sure everything in your home has a function. (4) If you have the patience, DIY (Do It Yourself) is possible for almost everything. (5) Open shelving is a cool way to show off your fancy dinnerware, and will motivate you to keep it organized. (6) 'Open Concept' floor-plans where entire space is one big open room are essential component of interior design. (7) Painting everything white might seem scary, but it's a great way to add more color via furniture and accent pieces. Read on...

INSIDER: 7 of the biggest home decor lessons I've learned from HGTV
Author: Gabbi Shaw


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 mar 2019

Financial crisis of 2008 in US became a catalyst for the 'Tiny House' movement. Environmental considerations are also reasons for the popularity of the concept. Tiny house is typically 100 and 400 ft². Modular housing is also gaining ground in the construction world driven by lower costs, more predictability, and a shortage of construction workers. Italian architect Beatrice Bonzanigo is preparing to showcase her miniature house 'Casa Ojalá' in April. Casa Ojalá is a self-contained modular home design, measuring only 27 m² (290 ft²). The circular home can be arranged in 20 different ways by adjusting wooden partitions and fabric walls with built-in ropes, pulleys and cranks. Ms. Bonzanigo says, 'It’s designed to have a minimal impact on the environment around it, and the woods and fabrics used in its manufacture can vary depending on where it is built, for maximum sustainability. Explaining her design she says, 'Ojalá is a word that summarizes the concept of infinite possibilities, hopes related to emptiness and absence, intuition, a key of a door not yet open, a new field of existence, a telescope that brings together and moves horizons, a space of different possibilities and, therefore, a wish that comes true.' Read on...

Engineering.com: Self-Sufficient "Micro-Home" Will Join Milan Design Week
Author: Emily Pollock


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 jan 2019

Autonomous shopping concept intends to bring brick-and-mortar and internet shopping into a unified and integrated retail experience. The grab-and-go smart shopping carts promote cashier-free automatic check-out eliminating wait in lines. TechSpot's contributing writer, Cohen Coberly, says, 'While it seemed like brick-and-mortar retail would be all but killed off following the explosive rise of online shopping, what we're instead seeing throughout the US is not death, but evolution.' According to a 2018 survey by RIS News, 'The leading new shopping option wanted by consumers was "grab-and-go" technology (in which customers can self-checkout using their smartphones). 59% said they'd like to use this, and 9% had used it.' In a global survey of 2250 internet users conducted by iVend Retail and AYTM Market Research, 'Roughly 1/3rd of respondents said they would like to make automatic payments using digital shopping carts.' Caper is a smart shopping cart startup. Josh Constine, technology journalist and editor-at-large for TechCrunch, reports, 'The startup makes a shopping cart with a built-in barcode scanner and credit card swiper, but it's finalizing the technology to automatically scan items you drop in thanks to three image recognition cameras and a weight sensor. The company claims people already buy 18% more per visit after stores are equipped with its carts.' Linden Gao, co-founder and CEO of Caper, says, 'It doesn't make sense that you can order a cab with your phone or go book a hotel with your phone, but you can't use your phone to make a payment and leave the store. You still have to stand in line.' The current Caper cart involves scanning an item's barcode and then throwing it into the cart. Brittany Roston, senior editor and contributor at SlashGear, reports, 'The smarter version will eliminate the barcode part, making it possible to simply put the items in the cart while the built-in tech recognizes what they are.' Chris Albrecht, managing editor at The Spoon, also reports, 'The future iterations, already in the works, will remove the barcode and will use a combination of computer vision and built-in weight scales to determine purchases. The customer completes shopping, and pays on the built-in screen.' The concept of scanless carts involves deep learning and machine vision. Cameras are mounted in the cart. The screen on the cart gives the shopper different kinds of information - store map, item locator, promotions, deals etc. It recommends items based on contents already in the basket. Read on...

Tech Xplore: Next-level autonomous shopping carts are even smarter
Author: Nancy Cohen


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 jan 2019

Team of researchers from University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (Prof. Timothy F. Scott, Prof. Mark A. Burns, Martin P. De Beer, Harry L. Van Der Laan, Megan A. Cole, Riley J. Whelan) have developed a new approach to 3D printing that lifts complex shapes from a vat of liquid at up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D printing processes. 3D printing could by highly beneficial for small manufacturing jobs without the need for a costly mold. But the usual 3D printing approach of building up plastic filaments layer by layer hasn't been usable in that aspect. Prof. Scott says, 'Using conventional approaches, that's not really attainable unless you have hundreds of machines.' The U. of Michigan innovative 3D printing method solidifies the liquid resin using two lights to control where the resin hardens - and where it stays fluid. This enables solidification of the resin in more sophisticated patterns. The process can make a 3D bas-relief in a single shot rather than in a series of 1D lines or 2D cross-sections. The printing demonstrations from this approach include a lattice, a toy boat and a block M. Prof. Burns says, 'It's one of the first true 3D printers ever made.' By creating a relatively large region where no solidification occurs, thicker resins - potentially with strengthening powder additives - can be used to produce more durable objects. The method also bests the structural integrity of filament 3D printing, as those objects have weak points at the interfaces between layers. Prof. Scott adds, 'You can get much tougher, much more wear-resistant materials.' The research paper, 'Rapid, continuous additive manufacturing by volumetric polymerization inhibition patterning', is to be published in Science Advances. Read on...

University of Michigan News: 3D printing 100 times faster with light
Authors: Timothy Scott, Mark Burns, Nicole Casal Moore, Kate McAlpine


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 dec 2018

When design trends get too hyped they lose relevance. Co.Design editor Susanne Labarre discussed the future of design with the judges of the 2018 Innovation by Design awards. Following are 3 over-hyped design trends - (1) ALGORITHMS AREN'T EVERYTHING: Jason Chua, the executive director of advanced topics at United Technologies, says, 'I think there's this impatience to say we have an algorithm for something, and that'll solve all our problems. Machine learning is not a panacea, and if you don't apply human-centered principles, you may see some of these things run amok. I think it's very valuable...but it needs to be applied in very careful ways.' (2) VIRTUAL REALITY HAS NOTHING ON THE PHYSICAL WORLD: Edel Rodriguez, illustrator and graphic designer, says, 'I don't like VR...I don't care how many times people say this is great new technology. It's just not how I want to experience the world and not how I want my kids to experience the world. There's a lot of information a kid can get through flipping a page or touching things.' (3) DATA IS PRODUCING DESIGN THAT ALL LOOKS THE SAME: Marcelo Eduardo, founding partner at Work & Co, says, 'There's an oversimplification - a lot of things look the same...People are designing in such a strict way using data all the time and they're losing the creative potential...that's when you're disruptive. Data-driven design...stagnates really fast. Someone takes over by doing something different that you wouldn't do if you were analyzing the data. Read on...

Fast Company: The 3 most over-hyped design trends of today
Author: Katharine Schwab


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 nov 2018

The idea of coffee table books with thick pages and attractive glossy covers is accessibility, they are reachable and readily readable. Henry Miller said in his book 'The Books in My Life' (1969), 'A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition.' But this may not be the case with coffee table books as they hardly lie idle. Moreover, Susan Sontag defined her library as 'an archive of longings'. Here are coffee table books on design that stand out in 2018 - (1) Andrew Martin Interior Design Review (Volume 22): With over 500 pages of the latest interior styles and trends, marks out the World's 100 greatest interior designers and showcases their projects on an international level. A must-have for interior designers and design professionals. Martin Weller, founder of Andrew Martin, says that the 22nd edition of the review 'honours alterity', due to the 'astonishing breadth and variety of work' involved. (2) Nina Campbell Interior Decoration: Elegance and Ease (Giles Kime): The book features a biographical essay that runs alongside images of lofty rooms with fabric-matched armchairs, tablecloths and curtains, antique occasional pieces and wallpapered wall panelling, each of which is punctuated with the finest upholstered furniture. (3) Shelfie: Clutter-clearing Ideas for Stylish Shelf Art (Martha Roberts): The idea of 'shelfie' started with Marie Kondo's de-cluttering trend, followed-closely by a surge in the popularity of open shelving. #Shelfie became a hot trend on social media with creatives and interior designers showcasing their shelfs. Martha Roberts brings the social media into the pages of the book. Her shelfie digest demonstrates a fusion of great design, an unapologetic display of personality and a deep sense of relevance to the digitally engaged generation of aesthetes. Read on...

The Independent: Best design coffee table books of 2018
Author: Anya Cooklin-Lofting

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