This week I was glad to see the Contemporary Jewish Museum’s exhibit “Designing Home: Jews and Midcentury Modernism.” I was nearly still jetlagged from a work trip to Finland where I loved seeing 50s-era home styles at Helsinki’s Design Museum, and the two experiences couldn’t have been more complementary. Clean lines, bright hues and an emphasis on functional designs have made these April museum visits.
As interest in midcentury pieces grows, it’s wonderful to have this work highlighted locally on Mission Street. (Neighbor SFMOMA even lifted their mid-renovation embargo on lending art to contribute furniture.) The exhibit spotlights “both native-born artists and émigrés, most of whom made indelible contributions to American visual culture after fleeing Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in the 1930s.” more
The program is also set to include a new installation by designer Chiraag Bhakta, who works locally as Pardon My Hindi. I first saw his hashtag #WhitePeopleDoingYoga on a museum goer’s tote bag and, curious, tried to find one in the gift shop (no dice). Pardon My Hindi explains:
This piece is a reflection of my personal relationship, as an Indian American, with yoga and its migration to today’s Western context. The project stems off a collection which started when I moved to San Francisco in 2007. I began to collect western grassroots-level meditation and yoga ephemera, book, records, and other educational material, from the 1960s through to the 1980s. During that era, particularly in the Bay Area, yoga started making a big impact on Western culture. I became interested in how yogic practice was being mined and commercialized; how the South Asian face of the discipline was being removed in the branding and portrayal of the practice and culture.
The museum calls the soon-to-be unveiled work (the 132st in the exhibit) “a collection of hundreds of commercial objects produced from the 1960s to the present, serving as a critique of the commercialization and Westernization of yoga.” If you have a chance to see it, please share your thoughts. I expect it to be though-provoking, controversial, and engaging.
During the recent Sochi Olympic Games, Morning Edition listeners had the chance to hear a youth reporter interview a curling coach whose enthusiasm for the sport was infectious. I had thought of curling as an ironic passion for hipsters, but the ecstatic audio that the reporter captured was a pleasure to hear. It was dramatically different from the rest of the newscast. And it reminded me why youth-told and teen-produced stories are so vital: because they capture perspectives that are too often unheard in traditional media.
This spring I’ll be joining the board of directors at Youth Radio, the Oakland-based educational organization that has trained that reporter and many others. In addition to serving content as the National Public Radio youth desk, it provides important employment opportunities for young people. It partners with the MIT Media Lab and hosts a hands-on app creation lab. And it doesn’t just get ideas from adults: I’m especially excited that YR has a youth advisory board helping shape its future directions. Needless to say, I can’t wait to be involved.
As my collaborator and mentor Steph Habif and I kick off the three night course “Know Your Humans: Designing Effective User Research” at the d.school this week, I wanted to share a list of favorite resources for researchers. Some of these helped usher me into the field and some are new (but quickly becoming beloved). My V1 of this list includes:
Research is a tool–a periscope offering you a better view of your surroundings. It can be very powerful if applied thoughtfully. Rather than piling on the costs, research can save you and the rest of your team a ton of time and effort.
In featuring this in the early pages of her book, Erika Hall had me nodding, highlighting, and bookmarking early into reading “Just Enough Research.” Hall, a Mule Design co-founder who shares design research musings as @mulegirl, joined a group of UX Book Club-goers at Mozilla’s SF offices this week. One of the topics that came up first was presentation: how we as researchers describe ourselves (“customer advocate” and “user developer” were amongst the suggestions) and our methods (including “fast insights testing”) to potential skeptics. more
The book provided grateful laughs while I was in the middle of advanced Forrest Yoga teacher training last week. His keys to happiness may not be novel (“Meditate.”), but they are needed: “Become most real.”
On Valentine’s Day (reclaimed as “V-Day” by the anti-violence organization of the same name), playwright Eve Ensler has launched One Billion Rising, a global effort to get one billion people around the world to rise and dance one year from today in defiance of abusive acts against women and girls. In considering statistics that one billion or more women on the planet will be beaten or raped in her lifetime, the organization has issued a call to women and the people who love them to strike (and, in Eve’s words, “be less behaved about the whole thing”) on 2.14.13.
My personal countdown to One Billion Rising has begun, and expect to see information on where and when we’ll be dancing in San Francisco. In the meantime, you can see Ensler speak at Stanford on February 23 as part of the university’s V-Week.
Music discovery has felt a bit lonely to me lately. Because I usually write to music, I’m curious about good new tunes to try but–out of laziness–find myself defaulting to my and close friends’ Rdio playlists without exploring much that’s different.
Enter Band of the Day, a free app from lauded design and development company 955 Dreams (the creators of the eye-catching app The History of Jazz). It features a different band daily in a magazine-style format with large photos, brief stories, social ratings, and, oh, music tracks. Its tiled calendar makes for scrollable fun, and you’d be silly not to give it a whirl.
Today the web-based International Museum of Women launchesMAMA: Motherhood Around the Globe, an online exhibition that I could hardly be more excited about. It will combine art, video documentary, and storytelling to explore the aspirations of a dynamic set of women (including but not limited to working mothers in China, the First Ladies of Africa, and surrogate mothers in India). Other topics including work, identity, advocacy, and modern fatherhood will be spotlighted throughout this year.
Novelist Aminatta Forna said it well when she explained that “to me there is no more pressing concern today than maternal health, and the global failure to save women’s lives is a human rights disaster. The IMOW’s timely exhibition highlights both the wonders and the terrible tragedy which motherhood can be.”
Christy Turlington Burns’ organization Every Mother Counts is partnering on the exhibit, but the body of community work is by no means intended only for new mothers. Instead, it’s created to be a resource for anyone who cares about mothers and children, who’s concerned about the health and leadership of women globally, who has a child, or who has been a child.
This morning I saw a little boy, maybe three years old, walk into a coffee shop door (which would have been me on any other day). It wasn’t because he’s just getting his balance; he had a smartphone in hand and eyes on screen, making him a sort of miniature version of the distracted adults around. It has me thinking about how we design for awareness and more multimedia decision-making.
This year our d.school Design Garage team “The Presence Project” will be focusing on this issue exactly, and I couldn’t be more excited about the work. If you’re also interested in mindfulness and multitasking, the New York Times and Slate have run thoughtful pieces this week and there’s lots of dialogue at #calmingtech.