New Zealand–born Meena Kadri explores the intersection of communication, culture and creativity from her consultancy Random Specific. Meena is currently a Community Manager on OpenIDEO.









Observed


Can you taste design? Designer, researcher, and author of Why Fonts Matter Sarah Hyndman has been conducting “typosensory research” experiments into how our senses “sway our perception.” 

A Banksy museum… with no Banksys?

Three Black men are suing American Airlines for racial discrimination, alleging all Black male passengers — none of whom were traveling together — were removed from their departing flight "because a white male flight attendant had complained about an unidentified passenger's body odor.” In 2017, the NAACP issued a travel advisory warning Black travelers that the airline had a “corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias.” The advisory was lifted in 2018.

How do you know it’s racist if you didn’t watch it? This was largely the response from the three judges on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel, who appeared unmoved by the accusation of a white former manager that his employer, Honeywell International, had fired him for refusing to attend a brief training session on unconscious bias. “It would be very different if your client had watched it and came in and said, ‘I found it discriminatory for the following reasons,’” Circuit Judge Amy St. Eve said to plaintiff Charles Vavra’s lawyer. Vavra sued Honeywell in 2021.

The not-so-quiet panic from climate scientists.

Donald Trump has been framing Chinese immigrants as mostly “military-age” men, here to stir trouble from within. “And it sounds like to me, are they trying to build a little army in our country? Is that what they’re trying to do?” he said in a campaign stop last month. But one immigrant who traveled through Ecuador to the U.S. border told the AP that it’s not true. “It is impossible that they would walk on foot for over one month” to organize an attack, he said. “We came here to make money.” Another, who hopes to make enough to bring his wife and children, said, “This trip is deadly. People die. The trip isn’t suitable for women — it’s not suitable for anyone.” 

“You need to kick that f***ing door down!” Vice President Kamala Harris was the guest of honor at an AAPI Heritage Month event this week and encouraged attendees to break through the barriers they still face. “We have to know that sometimes, people will open the door for you and leave it open, sometimes they won't. And then you need to kick that f***ing door down," as the audience cheered. "Excuse my language," she laughed.

This is why we can’t have nice things. An art installation project called the Dublin Portal experience, a 24/7 live cam and screen offering a real-time link between Dublin and New York City, is being ruined by “a small minority of people” doing “inappropriate things.”

More than 100 high-profile French art world figures have signed an open letter supporting the Palais de Tokyo in Paris after longtime patron Sandra Hegedüs withdrew her funding, saying, “I don’t want to be associated with the new, very political direction at the Palais de Tokyo...dictated by the defence of wokeism, anti-capitalism, pro-Palestine, etc.’” At issue was the show Past Disquiet, which focuses on four “museums in exile” and is constructed as a touring exhibit. From the response to Hegedüs: “These words and these methods, using a popular tribunal on social networks… are dangerous for the art world, for artists and for the freedom of institutions, as well as for our democracy.”

The pageant system is a toxic workplace, according to Miss USA Noelia Voigt and Miss Teen USA UmaSofia Srivastava, who announced their resignations last week. Srivastava said her "personal values no longer fully align with the direction of the organization," and Voigt cited mental health reasons in a statement, then later accused the Miss America Organization of providing "a toxic work environment ... that, at best, is poor management and, at worst, is bullying and harassment." Miss Colorado Arianna Lemus resigned in solidarity on Friday, writing that Voigt and Srivastava's "voices have been stifled by the constraints of a contract that undermines their rights and dignity.” 

Democracy, it’s a design thing! Last March, a federal judge ruled that New Jersey’s ballot — a confusing design known as the “county line” system — was likely unconstitutional and couldn’t be used in June’s primary. One county has unveiled their new ballot design, which looks awfully familiar. 

Heading to NY Design Week? Here’s the itinerary. (It’s May 16-23.)

Ann Pizzorusso, a geologist and Renaissance art historian, says she has finally solved one of the art world’s enduring mysteries: where in the world was the Mona Lisa when she was sitting for Leonardo da Vinci? It took her dual expertise to find the clues that were there all along. “Geologists don’t look at paintings, and art historians don’t look at geology,” she says. 

Three chatbots explain themselves

Here’s the first design proposal to replace Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, which collapsed last March. It's from an all-star team: Carlo Ratti Associati — the architecture firm led by architect and MIT professor Carlo Ratti — WeBuild, an Italian construction group, and Michel Virlogeux, a French structural engineer known for his work with Foster + Partners designing the world’s tallest bridge.  Their version has a longer span, a raised clearance, and the aesthetic of an enduring landmark. “The team hopes to deliver a bridge that is more contemporary visually and is also safe and durable for decades to come.”

Design as an act of neighborly pettiness.

The Biden Harris campaign is looking for a design lead and a graphic designer. (Both positions are full-time and based in Wilmington, Delaware.)

Mexico City is facing a desperate but unsurprising water crisis.  But, Javier Sánchez, founder of architectural firm JSa, says that by returning to ancient water technologies—like efficient rainwater harvesting—homes can be both beautiful and water-self-sufficient. 

Climeworks, a Swiss start-up, has just unveiled Mammoth, the world’s biggest carbon-absorbing plant. Located in Hellisheidi, Iceland, Mammoth is designed to remove 36,000 metric tons of carbon each year, the equivalent of taking 8,600 cars off the road. “It’s a drop in the bucket, but it’s a much bigger drop in the bucket than any we’ve seen so far,”  Klaus Lackner, who heads the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions at Arizona State University, tells the Washington Post. 

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has instituted a voluntary “Secure by Design” pledge for enterprise software makers. It affirms they are improving, documenting, and publicly sharing a host of security protocols, fixes, and best practices. All the cool kids seemed to have signed up.    

Veterans are now playing an essential role in helping VA health centers design new facilities by piloting design simulators and assessing physical mockups before construction begins.  

It's hard out there for a young designer, says Nendo founder Oki Sato. "You have to think about materials and the process — not just human-centered, but for the planet — and we have to think about how it will be recycled in the future as well.”

Fast Company’s global design editor, Mark Wilson, sat down with Fuse Project founder Yves Béhar, Neri & Hu Design cofounder Rosanna Hu, IKEA CEO Jesper Brodin, and Mattel Chief Design Officer Chris Down and asked how AI was impacting their businesses. “The era of designing general devices and or apps that work the same way for everyone is going to be over soon,” says Béhar. Good ideas come from teams, but in the future, says Hu, “we might be able to get something in three minutes.” But Brodin asked the big questions. “What are the risks to humanity? How are we impacting truth?”

At the screening of Gary Hustwit’s new documentary, Eno, visionary musician Brian Eno said: "Algorithms cannot be in the hands of individuals like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg."⁠ It’s a capitalism thing. “Well, one thing that is really, really clear to me is that whoever designs the algorithms, designs the future. And it’s completely terrifying to me that the design of those algorithms is, in fact, almost 99 percent made by a few young Americans who want to make a lot of money. If profitability is the main goal of the design, then we’re going to end up with the same kind of shit that we got from social media.”

Did you know that since 1956, each Eurovision host broadcaster has had to come up with its own logo? Some are generic and forgettable, while others are more professional (and maybe also forgettable) (and speaking of forgetting, Istanbul completely forgot to design one in 2004, which is where at least one generic stand-in proved useful). As a suite of visual emblems, they're fascinating as a collective snapshot, sitting at the intersection of typography, globalism, and the amped-up TV culture of the music business. Among our favorites is the 2017 logo, which claims to have taken its inspiration from a traditional Ukrainian necklace, or namysto—considered to be a protective amulet and a symbol of beauty and health—and in this case, a way to honor and celebrate diversity.

Wonderful job opportunity—perhaps for a newly-minted MFA grad—working with the amazing people at Cita Press, where they celebrate the spread of culture and knowledge by publishing the writings of women authors whose works are open-licensed or in the public domain. Through its library of collaboratively designed free books, Cita honors the principles of decentralization, collective knowledge production, and equitable access to knowledge.

Struggling to figure out what to watch on Netflix? You're not alone! That's a challenge that still keeps Steve Johnson, Netflix’s VP of design, up at night.

How does color function In factories, schools, and hospitals? In the 1950s, it functioned like this. (Part Two is here.)

As if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn't have enough on his plate, public response to a new identity program sparks controversy (and ridicule). "It looks like a moose getting a prostrate exam!" one person noted. "It looks like a Minecraft character milking an elk!" observed another. Behold: the communications kerfuffle around the design of a new logo for the Canadian Army.

Every object we bring into the world has a contextual backdrop, and every design decision is a compromise. How long should objects last? Charlie Humble-Thomas—a student at the RCA in London—ponders the question of what he calls “conditional longevity”. 



Jobs | May 30