Tag Archives: design thinking


25 Feb

So I’m really bad at math. I know a lot of people say that, but really, it would anger you how bad I am. I once tried to add 3 to 19, and somehow came out with 12. Really. Bad.

That having been said, there are some things in the mathematical world that I find simply fascinating. Like sacred geometry. YUM. I mean, I can understand visually how the golden spiral relates to the Fibonacci sequence,

but when I look at it expressed like this…

HA! What does that even mean?

But I love the visuals that math creates. I love seeing something beautiful come from a strict set of patterns and rules. And I’m mildly obsessed with fractals.

Benoit Mandelbrot, the French-American mathematician hailed as the father of fractal geometry defines fractals as “a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole, a property called self-similarity.” Basically, a strict mathematical pattern that repeats itself into infinity by exponentially getting smaller. You’re probably more familiar with fractals than you think. Ever played Legend of Zelda? The triforce is just the beginnings of the Sierpinski Triangle.

Boom. Fractal.

No doubt the most famous fractal is the Mandelbrot set, named after the aforementioned father of fractal geometry, the late Benoit Mandelbrot.

The Mandelbrot Set is generated from the formula, z=z^2+c. I have no idea why.

Here’s a short video on the Mandelbrot Set that explains quite succinctly what appeals to me about fractals:

A form in which the boundaries of that form contain miniature copies of the entire set, and within that endless unique shapes. Strikingly similar yet mathematically unique shapes from the same formula repeating into infinity. There’s something just so elegant and somewhat tragic about that thought. I’ve decided that fractals are a beautiful way to wrap my senior thesis in the proper language. I’ll be posting more on my thesis as it develops, but for now, enjoy this TED talk from mathematician Ron Eglash on fractals that occur in African villages. If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing (which is fascinating), at least watch the first three minutes or so as they really delve into the beauty of fractals and how they occur over and over and over in the natural world.

I love the future!

2 Feb

Okay, if you love watching internet videos as much as I do, you’re going to love this post.

So lately I’ve been mildly obsessed with futurism. Not the Marinetti’s-crazy-manifesto-birthed Italian art movement from the early 20th century. I’m talking about the futurists of today..the scientists, engineers, designers and other brilliant people who imagine and innovate to envision the future of humanity, technology and everything:

Brian David Johnson on being an Intel futurist

The Morrow Project is this incredible book that I haven’t finished reading yet in which four different authors describe a typical day in the typical life of the typical person in the freaking future. Intel has provided the whole book as a free pdf download here. Brian David Johnson is the Head Futurist (I so love that that’s a job) at Intel, and he’s all about using science fiction narratives as a jumping off point to begin the discussion about the actual future.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what draws me to futurism today. I don’t care if you’re not a geek, everybody loves a good science fiction story. Everybody wants their own robot butler and flying car. I mean Threadless even sells a shirt about it:

When I was younger, I loved cartoons like every good kid is supposed to. Some of my favorites, though, were “home of tomorrow” themed. I loved them because they seemed at once ridiculous and attainable. Some of you may have seen the 1967 Wink Martindale film, “1999 AD,” as it’s made its rounds on the internet recently. I’ll post for you part two of three (all three parts can be found on YouTube):

1999 AD

This film, produced by Philco-Ford (company acquisitions and nonsense…look it up), is eerily close to predicting the modern conveniences of today. What I find fascinating about this film is that the concepts for these conveniences were there, but they were wrapped in the context of the technology that was available at the time. While seeing a fax machine hailed as the future brings us a laugh, it immediately raises the question: what do we think is awesome now that will look like a pile of dog poop in fifteen years? And what will be the technological advancement that makes it look so? The same questions are raised by this much more recent (1994) excerpt from the Today Show:

What is the internet, anyway?

Hilarious. Also, exciting. Exciting because technology is advancing at exponential speed. Exciting because the future is going to blow everyone’s minds. All your 2012 nonsense aside, imagine how awesome 2030’s going to be. YES, PLEASE.

I love watching people who are thinking about these kinds of things and sharing them with the world. Design thinking combined with technological advancements is going to make the future incredible. But you know, the future we live in now is already pretty incredible. I know a lot of you have seen what Louis C.K. had to say on Conan, but to remind you of how right he was:

Everything’s amazing, and nobody’s happy

So very true. What we have now is indeed amazing. Which makes what the future holds downright mind-blowing. Here are some of my favorite projects I’ve found on the internets:

How can we make mobile communication more emotional?

Electrolux “Heart of the Home”

Microsoft Future Vision Montage

Philips “Daylight Window”

IDEO Future of the Book

The Future of the Book. from IDEO on Vimeo.

The William: The Stove Top of the Future

So there’s a quick glance at what I’ve been doing around the internet lately, and where some of my latest inspiration is coming from. I leave you now with a link to this article from Impact Lab on what the future may very well hold for us.