Simplicity class notes

Tangible interfaces for a bar
Tangible interfaces - simplicity studio class

For some reason I never got round to making a contents page for my web responses to the class tasks set by John Maeda, Hiroshi Ishii and Chris Csikszentmihalyi in the Simplicity design studio I took while I was a student at the MIT Media Lab. The studio was John’s Simplicity consortium in the making – exploring ideas of what simplicity can mean. From the simplicity class page:

Intellectual Goal:
To develop a method for making concrete the process of designing for simplicity across interaction, aesthetic, engineering, and cultural concerns.

Method:
Core methods tested, debugged, and invented together with exercises from Design Fellows and Instructors. Skills culminate in a final competition of small teams.

So here they are:

  • P1 more to less to more to less – creating visual scales of More to Less (set by John)
  • P2 haiku to concept – write Haikus and create conceptual pieces based on it (Chris)
    • frozen chicken bird feeder was the highlight for me
  • P3 two parts rum – sketch a tangible interface (Hiroshi)
    • I proposed a cocktail mixing bar projection that would augment the bar top with instructions and advice
  • P4 weather reports – after a presentation from Alexander Gelman and a look at the IDEO design methodology, we were asked to design interfaces for weather information
  • P5 Tablepaperâ„¢ – after a session with Charlie Lazor we were asked to re-design a product that doesn’t ‘work right
    • I decided to redesign placemats as a disposable magazine format for reading, decoration and note taking while eating
  • P6 A onedo flutter – I forget exactly what the brief was for this one, something about process I think
    • I’ve always wanted to make an animation using bank notes. One frame on each note, spending the artwork after scanning it in. I chose ubiquitous materials (spray paint, money, porn, halftone print) and made each frame unrecognisable. It is only in motion that the result is clear. I loved Hiroshi’s feedback in this class – he said the low resolution animation on $1 bills suggested higher resolution on higher denomination.
    • Check out the money animation making-of images
  • P7 hello … hi … hi … er … hello … – create an algorithmic system for generating sound, images or motion
    • I chose sound. My piece involved standing in the MIT infinite corridor with a microphone and recording the first utterance from each person who passed (mp3). This recording was later published in the Ephemera issue of Thresholds magazine.
  • Exhibition
    • Our final exhibition in the foyer of the E15 used simple packaging (brown paper labels and boxes) as its theme. I designed the poster – you can see it on p11 of this pdf of some of my visual work at the lab.
    • My first pieces in the exhibition was a brass map using the Buckminster-Fuller projection that could be carried in the pocket. the idea was that over years, like a favourite sculpture, the map would be polished smooth in regions that the user pointed to often. I’ll see if I can find a picture of this.
    • My second piece was a video of faces to accompany my audio recording, installed inside one of the boxes in the exhibition.

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