Week 1 Swipe | Raw Edges Gallery

Raw-Edges-Make-Yourself-Comfortable-installation-at-Chatsworth-House_dezeen_ssEndgrain is London design studio Raw Edges‘ colorful wooden floor and seating installation.

This a wonderfully heuristic technique to guide someone through a space. The paths are clearly defined but seamlessly integrated into the experience of being in the space.

Rarely are we aware that we’re influenced by the colors around us, but it still happens. The colors here are both making us more aware of the space (which is great for a sculpture gallery) and they’re helping us feel a part of the space (which is great for a flowing-through-feeling experience).

Random Thoughts on Organization

The Simple Rules of Everyday Objects

When it comes to computer storage* the hierarchical folder system is the standard. It’s a fine option. Probably not the best option. But ostensibly the only option widely applied.

Folder > (sub)Folder > File

The folder system has simple rules that allow for the formation of complex structures. These four rules define how almost every who uses a computer keeps track of their files:

1. A Folder may contain a Folder

2. A Folder may contain a File

3. A File may not contain a Folder

4. A File may not contain another File

That’s pretty neat.

The challenge is to create a set of simple rules like these that allow for complexity to emerge as needed.

*There’s obviously a difference between storage structures and the visual representation of the storage structure (i.e. user interface vs. low level data storage structure). I have almost no clue as to how the files on my computer are actually, physically and systematically stored. As far as this class and this project goes, let’s assume I’m talking about the representation of a file storage system.


  • WinFS (Windows Future Storage): a “rich database” storage schema that is the one thing Bill Gates has said he wishes was fully developed.
  • Notes for a Liberated Computer Language: by Alex Galloway & Eugene Thacker (c. 2006). I’m honestly not entirely sure what this is. But I love it. It seems to be definitions of the parts of a fictional (theoretical?) programming language.
    • E.g. the “Zombie” data type is a process that is inactive but cannot be killed; the “Maybe” control structure allows for possible, but not guaranteed, execution of code blocks.

Design Tool Studio Project


I’m a digital packrat. I bookmark everything. I drag images willy-nilly onto my desktop. I’ve got folders nested so deep you need an oxygen tank to get files.

I keep things fairly organized but I’m always wondering if there’s a better system. So for Design Tool Studio, I’d like to explore the theory and development of a organizational or archival system.


Thinking about potential projects I immediately go to things I wish I would have thought of. My favorites are the ones that are simple and functional.

  • Grid: An interesting take on the spreadsheet. 
  • Evernote: Everyone’s favorite task-managing, note-taking, work-spacing, collecting-ing, cross-platforming app.
  • Pocket: Article saving app.
  • Linkub.us: Internet bookmark organizer.
  • JSON: Data format.

Let me know if you have one I should check out.


In order to get some information on other people’s preferences and habits I sent out a survey to the ITP student list. Waiting on responses now, but I’ll link to the results when I have a reasonable number of responses.

Piano Tops

“If you are in a shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top buoyant enough to keep you afloat that comes along makes a fortuitous life preserver. But this is not to say that the best way to design a life preserver is in the form of a piano top.”

That’s Bucky Fuller. And this idea was the starting point Design Tool Studio.

The discussion centered around questions like: What ideas or tools do we take for granted? What “piano tops” are they based on? Can you imagine a tool not based on a something else?

In the end, the consensus was that most tools are necessarily based on a previous version or analogous tool. It’s easy enough to simplify a tool’s basic function to find a parent. Simply, piano tops exist because things have existed before them.

In fact, they need to exist. If designers continuously went around wholesale reinventing tools we’d see a different tool for every designer, there’d never be enough adoption to make it viable, and replacement would edge out refinement. 

Path Dependency

That being said, we’re lazy. And that’s actually the reason that many of these piano tops still exist.

Take the QWERTY keyboard layout. The popular tale is that Christopher Latham Sholes designed this layout (c. 1870), which separated many of the most common letter pairings, to slow typists down in order to prevent jams on early mechanical typewriters. (Some point to the proximity of ‘e’ and ‘r’ to debunk this theory. Others think it was in response to typists input that the layout evolved as it did.) In any case, this “decidedly counterintuitive” layout became the standard and has remain so for quite a while.

What’s fascinating and unbelievable is there’s been very little competition or inclination to change the layout since. Even Sholes, QWERTY’s daddy, spent the rest of his life refining the typewriter and its layouts. He even patented layouts that he deemed to be more efficient. You’d think that as the keyboard became ubiquitous (and shrunk to the size of a phone screen) someone would have developed a better system. And you’d be right. Of course there are other keyboard layouts. But they’re been almost no adoption of them.

Adoption means relearning how to type. It means changing manufacturing processes. It means switching a massive, intrenched system. It means a lot of work for a lot of people. And at the end of the day most people would rather lay out sunning ourselves on a piano top than get off and build something better.

Four Types of Drawings


The idea is to dissociate the details of the object from the object itself, and instead look at the positive and negative spaces that construct our perception of it.

Photo Feb 04, 8 25 33 PM

Blind Contour

This is done without looking at the hand, pencil or paper in order to get a better sense of the curves and shapes of the object.

Photo Feb 03, 11 31 39 AM

Five Minute Sketch

This sketch is done in a set time frame. The objective being to depict the object as accurately as possible in the given time.

Photo Feb 03, 11 54 49 AM

Top View + Side View Elevations

These illustrations give an idea of the construction and layout of the object as seen from two matching perspectives 90º apart.

Photo Feb 03, 12 00 53 PM

Playful Comm – Researching Researchers

In my search for an excellent research partner I cast a wide net across NYU’s many nooks and crannies. Here’s who I’ve reached out to so far and their areas of research:

  • Jun Zhang. Professor of Applied Mathematics, Courant Institute – Flow Systems
  • Joo Kim. Asst. Professor, NYU Poly – Robotic Exoskeletons
  • Anthony Townsend. Adjunct Professor & Research Director at NYU Wagner – Longterm Technology Forecasts, Urban Development
  • Mark Tuckerman. Professor of Chemistry, Courant Institute – Phase Changes
  • Nadrian Seeman. Professor of Chemistry – Nanomaterial Structures
  • Dr. Chris Barker. Chair Department of Linguistics.
  • Michael Ward. Professor of Chemistry, Director of Molecular Design Institute – Molecular Design
  • Yao Wang. Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NYU Poly- Video Lab
  • Maurizio Porfiri. Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering – Dynamical Systems
  • Jennifer Berg. Clinical Associate Professor of Food Studies – Food and Cultural Identity
  • Ikuko Acosta. Clinical Assistant Professor of Art and Art Education – Art Therapy
  • David Darts. Associate Professor of Art Education – Contemporary Art & Open-Source Software and Culture
  • Alex Galloway. Professor of Media, Culture and Communication – Critical Theory, Semiotics, Aesthetics, Digital Media, Networks, Software, New Media Art

And now we wait…

Subtraction: Week 1

The Router

Today I took the first step on the path I’ve dreamt about my entire life–the path towards becoming a master of the art of decorative moulding. And I know deep in my heart that one day I will shake the world of decorative moulding to the very core. Much the same way Duchamp rattled the the artistic establishment.

In the annals of history I will be referred to as the “Marcel Duchamp of decorative moulding.”

But before I become a master of the tools, I must be a student of the tools. Which brings us to this week’s “Skillbuilder:” recreate a partially circular shape using a router and a circular cutting jig.

I spent most of my time figuring out a workable setup for the table and jig. I used scrap wood to raise my material above the worktable and used C-clamps to hold everything in place. The placement of the clamps was a bit of an issue, as they got in the way of the jig. After some rearranging I found a suitable configuration.

I cut the round section through and then removed the jig and placed a makeshift fence on the material, which provided me a straight-edge to work off of for the remaining cut. Patience proved virtuous throughout the process. It was time consuming slowly raising the bit bit by bit.

Not yet a true master of the router, I have graduated from pupil to TA. I am one step closer to reinventing the very concept of decorative moulding.