Could tapping influence our kindness?

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Overturning a creative technique

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A good designer is a problem solver...

Clockwise, from upper left: Jerry Seinfeld, Ricky Gervais, Louis CK, and Chris Rock. © HBO
There is a strong similarity between designer and comedians. See which are the things in common and learn from them!
Seven things designers can learn from stand up comics. The premise of HBO's hour-long special "Talking Funny" is simple: invite four top-ranked comedians — Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Louis C.K. — turn on the cameras, and let them talk shop for an hour. There are laughs, of course, but the most interesting parts focus on the technical craft of getting those laughs. This is serious business. Stand up comedy is a high-risk creative enterprise, executed in real time in front of a critical audience. 

1. It's all about the basics.
"I love jokes so much," says Jerry Seinfeld towards the beginning of the show. "I love them so much." He loves them because they're the indestructible building blocks of comedy. The others agree. "So many of these young guys think it's all attitude," says Chris Rock. "But you have to have jokes under your weird persona, under your crazy glasses, under your crazy voice." Design has basic building blocks too: scale, proportion, hierarchy, contrast. Get those right first. Or, as Seinfeld concludes: "You can put in all kinds of furniture, but you have to have steel in the walls."

2. Once you've mastered the basics, make your work your own.
"Do you think you have to have a thing?" asks Ricky Gervais."Well, you've gotta figure something out," responds Seinfeld. Between all the "things" and "somethings," we know exactly what they're talking about. Every successful comedian is different. The best have an immediately identifiable attitude, whether it's Henny Youngman, Demetri Martin, or the four participants in "Talking Funny." The best designers are no different. Think of how many ways there are to design something like, say, a Vladimir Nabokov book cover. A good designer is a problem solver. A great designer can figure out a way to solve a problem that's completely unique.  At one point, Seinfeld tells a Louis C.K. joke his way, and asks, "Is that how it goes?" Louis CK replies, "Well, that's a completely Seinfelded version. You made it...nice." It's one of my favorite parts of the show.

3. Respect your audience.
Chris Rock says: "A lot of comedians have great jokes, and they're like, 'Why is this not working?' It's not working because the audience doesn't understand the premise. If I set this premise up right, this joke will always work." The comics talk about ensuring the audience — so demanding, so easily distracted — is with them for every joke during the act. This doesn't mean talking down or pandering. Rather, it's good old-fashioned respect. I sometimes tell students that every design needs a welcome mat and a doorknob. The first helps a person realize, "Hey, this is for me." The second gives them a way into the design. Good design, like good comedy, is about surprise. But surprise can't happen in a vacuum. It needs a context that establishes familiarity. If you respect your audience, you provide that context.

4. Know your tools.
The tools of a stand up comic are words. Some are good for every job. Some are more powerful and should be used sparingly. All of them are potentially crutches. Louis C.K. says that Jerry Seinfeld once told him, "The F word is like a Corvette." "And I thought," says Louis C.K., "that means that it's fast and it's cool and it's got power and thrust to it. But then I thought, wait a minute, this guy grew up on Long Island and collected Porsches. So to him, a Corvette is a piece of shit, with a Chevy engine, just a flashy bullshit car." Your own favorite tool may be a typeface, or a Photoshop effect, or a certain color combination. Seinfeld says he stopped using the F word when he realized it had become a crutch. Of course, one man's crutch is another man's secret weapon. Or, as Louis C.K. observes, "Where I grew up, a Corvette is an awesome car."

5. Honor your craft.
One striking running theme of "Talking Funny" is that each of the comics works extremely hard, creating challenges where they might just as easily coast. Chris Rock reinvents his entire show every year. Louis C.K. regularly takes his closing bit — the strongest part of his show — moves it to the beginning, and forces himself to create a new show designed to top the old climax. Ricky Gervais says, "Oh, it's not just being funny. It's being proud of your stuff and doing things that other people couldn't do." Louis C.K. adds that, for him, "Easy laughs, cheap laughs, they don't exist." Chris Rock: "How many unfunny comedians have ever sustained a career not being funny?" Mastery of craft is tied to perpetual self-improvement. And, just as in design, mere technique is never enough. Louis C.K. is nervous when he feels he's relying on technical skill. "This bit is working because I know how to do stand up, not because it's something that's important to me." Hone your skills, but make certain they serve ends that are important to you.

6. Don't be afraid of failure.
Good comedians experiment constantly. Every time they test a new joke, they risk bombing. That's why they'll try out new material in smaller venues, polishing pieces in front of live audiences: they need to hear what's working and what's not working. Seinfeld admits that when he was starting out, "I was hitting 500. I would have a good show and a bad show, a good show and a bad show." His very first show was bad. "But success wasn't my objective." He was desperate to simply be on stage, and was willing to risk failure every other night to get there. Designers take risks for the same reasons. Trying something new means not being sure of the outcome. But it's the only way that anyone working in a creative field can hope to make progress. Ambition is a strong enough antidote to fear. Louis C.K. remembers how he idolized good comics: "I wanted to be one of them, and I didn't care if I sucked at it."

7. Finally, never forget you have a special gift.
Ricky Gervais, in a revealing moment, asks, "Don't you ever think, when we make people have this feeling of laughter, and they pay us money: what if they discover they can do it themselves?" The other comics are rather stunned at this. Seinfeld shouts, "But they can do it themselves!" Gervais, almost glumly asks, "Then why are they paying us?" Louis C.K. answers, "We're a high octane version of it. We're pros. They can play touch football, too." And Seinfeld adds: "But that doesn't hurt the NFL." We live at a time when the tools of design are more available than ever before. What client doesn't have a nephew who knows InDesign, or, better still, a spouse with a newly discovered enthusiasm for Powerpoint? Graphic design: anyone can do it, right? Well, yes. But the professionals still understand what it means to do something well. And that confidence makes its own statement. 


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The Buckminster Fuller Challenge Finalists

One of the semifinalists: The Portable Light Project
The Buckminster Fuller Challenge  is an annual international design award grants $100,000 to support the development and implementation of a "bold, visionary, tangible initiative that is focused on a well-defined need of critical importance and comprehensive, anticipatory, integrated approach". 
Winning solutions to the most significant challenges including:
  • ocean restoration
  • protecting indigenous knowledge
  • combating women’s illiteracy
  • connecting the remote developing world to the communication grid
"When evaluating these entries we were looking for those projects that mark the emergence of a new paradigm, one that not only addresses the problems but carries us beyond— into a new mode of being. These finalists do just that. Reviewing them has been deeply inspirational"
Jean Gardner, 2011 Challenge Juror
Here all the semifinalists
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Olfactory charme - Scent marketing

Scent of Lithuania
Lietuvos Kvapas is the first lithuanian national scent.
Audronius Azubalis the foreign minister says: "When creating the Scent of Lithuania, our goal was not only to impersonate the fragrances of the country, but also to tell a story about its cities and villages, its nature, ancient traditions and cultural heritage, the character and the achievements of its people: everything what we are justly proud of and respected for".

We will see if it has the same success of the fragrance Eau de Cologne created by Giovanni Maria Farina an Italian perfume designer and maker. In the 17th century Eau the Cologne became rapidly famous worldwide and was an indispensable accessory at all royal courts. Being the very first perfume of its kind on the market, the word "Cologne" quickly became a household name. This perfume contributed to Cologne’s global fame. (source Wikipedia).

Again about scent marketing, never forget that the Church was the first institution of all the time that invested in scent to convey and spread its brand.
Eau du Cologne

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Shoot your aurea

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Milan Design Week 2011 - Breaths of light

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DUNE - From sand to stone

Photo Magnus Larsson
Photo Magnus Larsson
Thank to a bacteria, sand is solidified into a habitable structure that protects from wind and sand. As the architect Magnus Larsson said: "in this way, we can start 'growing' controlled oases in the desert, and stop the sand from pushing people away from their homes and villages, which, in the worst-case scenario, may lead to huge migration floods, food shortages, wars, and other horrible situations". Starting upon a research carried out by professor Jason De Jong's team at the Soil Interactions Laboratory, UC Davis (, as well as conversations with professor Stefano Ciurli at the University of Bologna, Larsson designs to flush a particular microorganism, Bacillus Pasteurii, through the dunescape to cause a biological reaction that turns the sand into solid sandstone.

Photo Magnus Larsson
In 2008, "DUNE – Arenaceous Anti-desertification Architecture" won first prize in the Holcim Awards 'Next Generation' category for Africa/Middle East (
Photo Magnus Larsson

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Step 3 - MARKET TRENDS. Musa Boom designs a sustainable table.

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Milan Design Week 2011 - Rememberme

For those throwing his favourite pair of jeans is like mutilating, now a viable alternative. Old jeans and apparel live again with a different shape and use in this chair. What was born for dressing are now revived for seating. Sustainability through recycling. Designer Tobias Juretzek for  Casamania.

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Milan Design Week 2011 - Ultra Gamma

A boost towards the future where emotions will be designed by colours of ultra gamma rays that currently do not exist. Five giant cones under LED technology lighting, controlled by a workstation, featuring changeable hue and lighting intensities depending on the colour chosen by each person.
Designer Ezri Tarazi and the d-vision Group. A design installation at "50 + 50 Designing the Future" during "Salone del Mobile" Milan Fair.

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Milan Design Week 2011 - La dote

By Agnieszka Lasota a reflection on interpersonal relationships, women conditions and flaunted nudity. Hanging embroidered linens with strategic holes like first wedding nights some decades ago in the south of Italy.

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