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This was really a tough book to read partially because it was quite philosophical, and, well, it was also in German! Still, it’s amazing what you can accomplish with some patience. I thought I’d write some of of my thoughts on this book in German as well.

In diesem Buch geht es um vier großen Themen bezüglich Raums: Kultur, Medium, Politik, und Wissen. Es ist eine sehr gute Einleitung von vielen sehr wichtigen (Raum)theoretiker wie Harvey, Castells, Lynch, und viele mehr.

Eigentlich war es sehr schwer zu lesen, außer den Texten, die ich schon gelesen hatte. Zu der Grammatik war die Satzstruktur in vielen diesen Kapiteln sehr kompliziert. Die Autoren dieser Kapitel nutzen die passiv Formen der Verben und vielen sehr lange Sätze. Der übersetzte Texte klingt auch inrgendwie seltsam.

While there were many insights that the book provided, in a more general sense it was amazing to see how many different disciplines these theories extend into, as well as showing how the question of the understanding of space has remained a hot topic for centuries. Theories range from the 16th century to present day, showing that there is still a need for many disciplines to understand how space works or how it relates to different disciplines.

Es ist schwer zu sagen, was eigentlich meine Meinung über dieses Buch ist. Es gibt vielen kleinen Kapitel, jeden mit einem neuen Rahmen, durch den man Raum sehen könnten. Statt einer Rezension, liste ich die Bücher und Autoren, die ich jetzt noch lesen will!:

Kognaitive Karten und Verhalten im Raum – Roger M. Downs/David Stea (1973)
Die Straße und die unendliche Ferne – Johannes Linschoten (1954)
Nicht-Orte – Marc Augé (1991)
Raum der Ströme – Manuel Castells (1996)
Eigenschaften der Soundscape – R. Murray Schafer (1977)
Orientalisierung des Orients – Edward Said (1978)

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This week’s tab-closing is all about sensory mapping – many people are wandering into the world of mapping the senses and a lot of very interesting problems are being faced. There are growing questions about what the purpose of geographical accuracy holds in the spatial representation of the senses. As well, the purpose of the map is called into question – is it for planning purposes, or to experience the senses of the world? What is the point of ‘collecting’ and archiving sensory experiences? Interestingly many of the maps and analyses have come out of the UK.

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(Photo copyright Joe Cornish)

British Coast Sound Map 

During the summer of 2015, the British Library is crowdsourcing a map of the sounds of the UK coast. The Library basically collects the sounds and posts them to the coordinates of the recording location. The result is a Google map with several points corresponding to different sounds throughout the UK’s coast. The aim was to have a permanent archive of the sounds of the UK summer. Interestingly the British Library already has an enormous collection of sound recordings in their holdings. Some of the holdings can be seen here:


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(Photo copyright Kate McLean, Daniele Quercia, Rossano Schifanella and Luca Maria Aiello)

London’s Stinkmap 

Another map by UK designer Kate McLean, along with three computer scientists. The stinkmaps are visualizations of tags and words from social media posts, based on smell-words. The words were collected into a few categories (animals, food, emissions, nature) using algorithms that found word clusters.  Apparently the group has made the first dictionary of urban scents, containing about 285 words in English.


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(Photo copyright the Sound Survey UK)

Mapping the sound of London’s waterways 

This is a map collecting sounds of along London’s canals and streams. The map is based on the London Tube map. It always seems like subway map design is often a popular way to visualize data – people seem always to be attracted to these forms of maps.


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(Photo copyright

Questioning Sound Maps

From the same blog as the waterways sound map, is an interesting critique of sound maps that are overly dependent on spatial accuracy (specifically Google maps). The post discusses different ways in which sound mapping and web design are being creatively developed on the internet. It also contains a treasure trove of interesting interactive sound websites.


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(Photo copyright Eric Moschopedis and Mia Rushton)

Tasting Toronto through neighbourhood vegetation

This event took place at the Luminato Festival this past June and involved two artists cooking plant life from three iconic Torontonian neighbourhoods. The idea would be to give a sense of what the different communities ‘taste like’. The artists cook the plant material and serve it as meals for attendees.

It really never ends. More interesting things occupying my browser space. Today I’ll be closing a number of tabs within the theme of “new materials.”

Bubble Wrap redesigned without the ‘Pop’

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Apparently the company that makes bubble wrap has come up with a version that doesn’t ‘pop’ when you squeeze it. It’s interesting to think about the alternative uses of products that were intended for something completely different, and how these alternative uses can begin to shape the nature of the product itself. There is a logic of efficiency that underlies the production of these products, but their unintentional use runs counter to that. Still, the company made sure to assure customers that the pop-able version would not be discontinued. also, January 26 is apparently bubble wrap appreciation day.


Radioactive Clay for Vases

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(Photo copyright Toby Smith/Unknown Fields)

A group of designers have created a set of vases that are made from tailing pond mud from China. The mud is apparently the waste product from a refinery process that produces rare earth metals for mobile devices and laptops. The designers produced three Ming-style vases, the sizes of which are determined by the amount of mud needed for a smartphone, a laptop and an electric car battery. The vases, which are dark, heavy, somber, and also quite radioactive, stand in stark contrast to the light, clean and bright electronics sold all across the world.


Nanocellulose materials with a marbelled look

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This process was something similar to what was being done at the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto. The designer produced a small set of pieces that used nanocellulose fibers to help bind the material together. Apparently it can be formed in different densities and requires no additional binding chemicals (a known problem with MDF). The colours, I assume, come from a dyed mixture of fibers.


Multi-coloured, man-made marble

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This material, which was used to design a bathroom for Desgin Miami/Basel 2015, is a composite material made up of an aggregate of marble combined with polyester binder. The material reminds me of polished concrete or materials similar to that. It seems like the process to create this aggregate marble may be similar.


Corian – material from Dupont

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Dupont creates not only different chemicals, but also materials. One relatively new material they’ve produced is called Corian and is being used to create seamless surfaces. I think the material looks a bit strange though – it seems so matte that it hardly shows light patterns or slight reflection. It’s almost eerie, like a bad photoshop job, but in real life.

Another set of tabs to be closed, another post to be written.

Designers exploring the vivid world of scent 

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(Photo copyright Gionata Xerra)

Apparently many designers have been wandering into the world of smell, especially at big-name design schools like Eindhoven and Lund. This link outlines several of the unique and creative projects that were dreamed up by design graduates and furniture designers, all in the theme of smell and scent. Many of the works go beyond merely composing new scents, but encompass new technology and experiences that surround the concept of smell.


Recreating the smells of the past 

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Working with Norwegian chemist Sissel Tolaas, Mickaël Wiesengrün created an installation that allows participants to smell the past, in a way. The installation was presented in a re-purposed factory and sought to reveal the smells that would have been there in the past. A selection of scents were chosen and through various tubes and devices, are presented to the participant as a sniff-able scent-fog. More details on the setup are in the link.


Textiles made based on different tastes 

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Using the five principal tastes as a springboard, desiger Martyna Barbara Golik designed a set of textiles. Called “Touch that Taste!” the textiles were used to design various household items. These include: Bitter shoes, Salty room divider (above), Sour blanket and chair cover, Sweet pouf and Umami carpet. The textiles make a start towards translating taste into texture.


‘Bistro in Vitro’: designing the meats of the future

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(Photo copyright Bistro in Vitro)

Finally, and perhaps most strangely, Dutch artist and philosopher Koert Mensvoort has launched a virtual restaurant (i.e., not real) that poses a menu of possible dishes made with synthetic meat. Some of the options are interesting like ‘Friendly Foie Gras’, and others make my stomach churn (celebrity cubes, meat foam cocktail, ‘the throat tickler’). I suppose the question to ask is, why do some of these dishes seem so unappetizing and how do we relate to meat when eating it?

A perennial problem on my computer is that dreaded point where I can no longer see the icons in my browser tabs. There are just too many.

I’ve decided that, instead of leaving them there and fretting that I’ll one day need that tab listing German prefixes, or that tab with photos of cats, or that tab about some city-turned-construction-site – instead of that I’ll post them to my blog with some thoughtful reflections.

The first instance is a set of tabs that exemplify something I’ve been encountering more and more lately – Science inspired design.

Jólan van der Wiel creates spiky shoes for Iris van Herpen using magnets 

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(photo by Yannis Vlamos)

This article shows a set of shoes designed by Jólan van der Wiel, which were made using a resin mixture containing iron filings. Before setting, the mixture was placed near strong magnets which pulled the mixture into spikey shapes. The designer is known for this technique and has made other products with it (ex. stools)


Studio Swine’s Meteorite Shoes simulate space debris

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(Photos by Petr Krejci)

More shoes. These ones were created by London-based Studio Swine using aluminium foam. Dezeen magazine quotes the designers on the technique: “Whilst the metal is in a molten state, gassing agents are injected creating a pumice-like material full of thousands of irregular cells,” said the designers. “It’s an example of how industry and natural forces can merge to create a beautiful material.” The designers have used the material before to create a set of cabinets.


Copper ID: Topaz

(Photo from Domus Magazine)

From the current Milan Salone 2015  furniture fair, comes this design from Australian industrial design studio Copper ID. From the Domus blog, these lamps are said to, “pay homage to the exquisite geometric chaos that are Nature’s mineral crystallisations.”


Wine Snobs Are Right: Glass Shape Does Affect Flavor

More science of design, Kohji Mitsubayashi and colleagues at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University used a colour-changing mesh to measure the concentration of alcohol leaving through the top of a wine glass. More details about the experimental setup are in the article, but immediately one can see the connection between glass geometry and the experience and enjoyment of wine.


Biothing: Repository of Computation Design

(Photo by Alisa Andrasek)

Biothing is an interdisciplinary laboratory, “that focuses on the generative potential of computational systems for design.” It’s headed by Alisa Andrasek, an architect and designer. The Lab has engages with computational approaches to architecture and design and interfaces between algorithm and material.


QueryTreeQueryTree is a recently produced application that allows users to get more information from their data sets. The application takes a different approach to database management and data exploration than the standards – Microsoft’s Excel and Access. The app, which runs within the browser environment, represents your data as small icons which can be joined or related to other data sets. The application also features a number of visualization tools to produce graphs and charts.

The app currently has a free preview option, and provides certain plans if users want to continue using the app.