Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Design never ends

Following this seminar, design will certainly play an integral role in my life; it always has even if at the subconscious level. Design is abound. It is incorporated into all things--from brooms to boxes, sidewalks to shoes, rugs to rattles. In this way, all lives are influenced by design. Now, if anything, I will look more closely at why things are designed the way they are, always critiquing, always questioning.

I would stress the importance of studying and timely completion and submission of assignments to first year students as these are the most important factors that determine success. Likewise, I would stress these same factors to students who enroll in this seminar.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Red Square: redesign, renovation

Red Square, the sole location providing for a plaza-like assembly on-campus, is dated, worn, functionally idiosyncratic, and is generally lacking the understated grandeur that so permeates much of the remainder of the campus. Collectively, these faults dissuade Red Square successfully becoming a much needed third place—that is—an area of informal social interaction separate from home and work; fortunately redesign and consequent renovation of the area would mitigate these dilemmas.

I plan to address the constraints of cost and perhaps historical preservation if applicable. Trigger points include, seating, water feature, and unattractive concrete stairs leading to the place.

The most recent readings are applicable: "Third Place," "The Experience Architect," "City," and "Principles of Marketing," perhaps with an excerpt or two from "Main Street."

The following passages from Ray Oldenberg (Third Place) are relevant:

“Most needed are those ‘third places’ which lend a public balance to the increased privatization of home life. Third places are nothing more than informal public gathering places. The phrase ‘third places’ derives from considering our homes to be the ‘first’ places in our lives, and our work places the ‘second.’” "The character of a third place is determined most of all by its regular clientele and is marked by a playful mood, which contrasts with people's more serious involvement in other spheres. Though a radically different kind of setting for a home, the third place is remarkably similar to a good home in the psychological comfort and support that it extends…They are the heart of a community's social vitality, the grassroots of democracy, but sadly, they constitute a diminishing aspect of the American social landscape."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Observing Red Square

Red square, the plaza-like location nestled between Mandelle and Dewing, was subject of observation on the afternoon of 11.13.08. With the exception of the red brick paving, which I assume the name "Red Square" was derived, the area is generally dated, worn, tired, and doesn't mesh well with its surroundings. The seating is bench-like and very much reminiscent of what one will find in some dated pavilion of some park; I observed no persons seated on them, probably for this reason. The several people I did observe quietly passed right through the square with little to no interaction; this leads one to believe the location to be mostly a kind of pass-through area, connecting central campus to the library and proximal buildings.

Red Square projects the image most analogous to that of an everyday dated park, I have observed similarly designed components in these places. I do not feel Kalamazoo College wishes to project such an image, an image so contradictory to the understated elegance that permeates much of the rest of the campus.

I found it interesting that the college chose messy crab apple trees to flank the water feature. I observed several rotten fruits from these trees in the fountain!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Marketing is paramount

Design and marketing are very much intertwined insomuch that the various qualities of a product's design produce a message, a message often found appealing by certain demographies. Marketing, in turn, further strengthens and hones this message, articulating it through branding, packaging, etc., thus locking on to these desired consumers. It seems the most important elements of marketing center on branding and packaging as these largely contribute to the consumer's most outward perceptions of a product.

There is much similarity between the ideas presented in this text, the "Principles of Marketing," and in Tom Kelly's "Design of Experiences."
Marketing often plays into experience; this is evident in various phrases found on product packaging which express ideas relevant to the consumer's experience with the product.

The Kalamazoo College brand is one of exclusivity, celebrated academics, and unparalleled study abroad. These qualities are exemplified in the college's architecture, its competitive student body, and its notoriety, particularly in the realm of academia. K is successful in reinforcing this brand through cite of graduate doctoral attainment rates similar to those of many of the Ivies.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Red Square

I am considering writing about the possible renovation of red square.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Designing for the experience

Experience Architects, as they are called, design for the engagement of senses, activating the senses of sound, touch and often taste; in this way all senses are paramount in design by an architect of this type. Never should an experience be marked by the ordinary, the mundane. Whenever possible, this crafty designer actively seeks to add a touch of extraordinary to trite commodities. Even so, these improvements need not place undue financial duress on a company; often simple convenience enhancements to a product produce profound and perhaps very profitable effects. This is exemplified in what the author terms "trigger points," or primary aspects of business that would benefit from a boost in experience. Innovative experience enhancements to these fundamental business drivers can prove most profitable.

In the design of experiences, much emphasis is placed on activation of the senses, this entails discard of the ordinary and institution of the extraordinary. The design of many consumer products, while placing some emphasis on activation of the senses, seem often to be designed just for the sake of being designed--for some superficial innovation-- and as an unfortunate result, largely fail to consider the consumer's journey, their interactions--the experience.

A class visit to any place where experience is central will suffice; perhaps a visit to some trendy museum of modern sculpture or art.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Styker Corporation as defined on Wikipedia.