Posts Tagged ‘design’
Q: I’ve heard people use UI and UX interchangeably. I thought I knew the difference, but now I’m confused. Can you please clarify this once and for all?
Of course I can. And I can do it using the Presto Hot Dogger. Obviously.
When I was a kid, my brothers and I talked my mom into buying us a hot dog cooking machine. Don’t laugh. This was the 70s, when instant coffee was considered a miracle. The way the Hot Dogger worked was simple. There was a tray with two rows of spikes on either side that slid into a heating element. You impaled the hot dog into the corresponding spike on each side, completing the electrical circuit, and this “cooked” the hot dog. Cooking is a strong word here, as the hot dogs were actually being electrocuted. (Hot dogs contain an insane amount of metal, by the way.) We were thrilled to make our hot dogs this way.
So, what I just described — the spikes, the heating element, the electrocuting — that’s the user interface. Or UI, for short. And I’m sure that the good folks at Presto tested that user interface many times over until they had it just right. I’m sure they tested the proper width of the tray to fit the majority of hot dogs and wieners being made in the USA at the time. I’m sure they tested the force needed to close the tray, maybe even with a robot arm! They probably even tested the visibility of the smoky transparent plastic that allowed you to see your hot dogs being electrocuted, and how much of it you’d want to see.
Now here’s the thing. When you give three boys an appliance that electrocutes meat in an era before their boredom could be diffused with video games and cable, it immediately becomes the most interesting thing in the house. And they start wanting to have experiences. The hunger to electrocute things far outlasted the hunger for hot dogs. And it wasn’t long before we started looking for other things that fit in the Hot Dogger™.
Here’s an incomplete list of items we tried:
- bananas (not enough metal)
- chicken drumsticks (worked, albeit slowly)
- Steak-umm (turned to liquid)
- forks (sparks, small fire)
- a condom we found on the street (the smell lasted for weeks)
- aluminum foil (yep. Aluminum bridges solved our Steak-umm problem. )
We were having user experiences…
Learn more (including why trash bins are exactly 25 feet from hot dog stands at Disneyland) from Mike Monteiro, Design Director at Mule Design, in “How 70s appliances can explain the difference between UX and UI.”
As we put our appliances through their paces, we might spare a thought for an inventor and designer of an earlier period, Garrett Morgan; he died on this date in 1963. He was the first person to patent a traffic signal (which he sold to GE for commercial exploitation). He also developed (among many other inventions) the gas mask, which he used to rescue miners who were trapped underground in a noxious mine in 1914– though soon after, he was asked to produce gas masks for the US Army. It was based in part on his 1912 creation, a safety hood and smoke protector for firefighters.
Everything looks cooler when you blast it with X-rays. The photography of Roy Livingston makes electromagnetic radiation his muse; in his colorful series, X-Ray Visions, the skins of alarm clocks, toy robots, old Crosley radios, and more bubble away to reveal their candy-colored X-Ray cross-sections.
Based in Louisville, Kentucky, Livingston… didn’t always take such colorful X-ray photographs, but after experimenting with digitally adding color to his work as part of a study called “36 Robots,” “the flood gates opened.” Each of his photos begins on the analogue side by taking an X-ray and developing it. He then scans it into his computer in ultra high-resolution, manually cleaning the image as he goes. After cleaning, he creates hundreds of color variations in Photoshop—”I learned about saving large documents in Photoshop the hard way,” Livingston notes—then, after giving the project a few weeks to simmer, goes back to figure out which color paths he likes best.
When it comes to deciding what to X-ray, Livingston says its all about design. “I’m a big fan of all kinds of industrial design whether it’s new or old,” Livingston tells me. “It’s incredible when you see the thinking, craftsmanship and machining that goes into creating some of these objects. They are works of art by themselves.” If there’s anything he’s trying to get across with his work, Livingston says, “it’s that the simplest things can be beautiful.”…
* Buckminster Fuller (the inspiration for the title of Roman Mars’ wonderful design podcast, 99% Invisible)
As we delight in design, we might recall that it was on this date in 1617 that the first one-way streets were established in London. An Act of Common Council was passed to regulate the “disorder and rude behaviour of Carmen, Draymen and others using Cartes,” specifying seventeen narrow and congested lanes running into Thames Street, including Pudding Lane (where the Great Fire of London began in 1667).
“Fabulously glamorous puppets model fashions and bewitch men at The Cypress Club in London, 1960”
Part of Vintage Fashion, a subset of the 85,000 historical films available from British Pathé.
* Yves Saint-Laurent
As we canter down the catwalk, we might send elegant birthday greetings to Giorgio Armani; he was born on this date in 1934. A fashion designer probably best known for his mens line, Armani brought clean, tailored lines, natural fit, and subtle colors to his work. While he was warmly received from his first collection (in 1975), Armani became a sensation in the 80s when his clothes were worn by Richard Gere in American Gigolo and by the protagonists of Miami Vice. By the late 80s, his “power suits” had become a symbol of success. Today, Armani’s brand adorns home goods, books, and hotels in addition to clothing; he’s widely regarded as the most successful Italian designer ever.
Picnic season is upon us. One might wonder whither the ubiquitous design, illustrated above, adorning paper cups and plates in parks and backyards across the nation– Solo’s highest-grossing design ever… In fact, many did wonder, and took to the web to investigate. The crowd made some headway– they discovered it was created by a designer named “Gina”– but it took an intrepid reporter, Thomas Gounley of the Springfield (MO) News-Leader, to get the whole (and fascinating) story.
As we have some more potato salad, we might recall that it was on this date in 1880 that O Canada, the song that would become our northern neighbor’s national anthem (de facto by 1939; officially in 1980) was first performed, in French, at the the Congrès national des Canadiens-Français. Commissioned by Lieutenant Governor of Quebec Théodore Robitaille for the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day ceremony, Calixa Lavallée composed the music, after which words were written by the poet and judge Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier. English lyrics were created in 1906; but the second English version, created in 1908 by Robert Stanley Weir, were more popular and became the official English lyrics.
Trinidad and Tobago, the tiny twin-island nation off the coast of Venezuela, has struck gold. Its newly re-released $50 note (TT) earned top billing in this year’s competition convened by the International Bank Note Society (IBNS).
Designed in partnership with the British banknote manufacturer De La Rue to commemorate the 50th (golden) anniversary of the country’s Central Bank, the $50 note shows familiar takes on its national symbols like its coat of arms, a red hibiscus flower, and a red capped cardinal bird, its wings fanned out like a palm tree. The back of the note depicts a smiling carnival dancer, collaged in front of the 22-story Central Bank and Ministry of Finance twin towers, which are the tallest buildings in the entire country…
Read the whole story and see the runners-up at “The world’s best banknotes of the year.”
* Irving Berlin, “I Got the Sun in the Morning”
As we reach for our wallets, we might recall that it was on this date in 2012 that Facebook went public. The IPO was the biggest in technology and one of the biggest in Internet history, with a peak market capitalization of over $104 billion. Some pundits called it a “cultural milestone”; in any case, a great deal of money was “printed.”
“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way… But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself”*…
“We’ve taken a complete rethink of how wood is used as a material,” said designer Gavin Munro. His production method upends traditional furniture manufacturing processes that involve cutting down trees, trucking logs, sawing the wood, then gluing back them together, generating a lot of industrial and ecological waste in the process.
Over the last four years, Munro and his team at Full Grown have been nurturing hundreds of willow trees, patiently waiting for the right harvest time. Guided by Munro’s studies in tree shaping and botanical craftsmanship, the trained furniture designer is using grafting techniques to coax the tree branches to form chairs, tables and lamp, and frames…
* William Blake
As we agree that there is nothing like a tree, we might recall that it was on this date in 1898 that the first school of professional forestry in the U.S., the New York State College of Forestry at Cornell, was created by an act of the New York State Legislature. Dr. Bernhard Fernow, then chief of the USDA’s Division of Forestry, was invited to head the new College, and set about creating a 30,000 acre demonstration forest in the Adirondacks. In part to test his theories of forest management and in part to help pay for the program, Fernow and Cornell entered into a contract with the Brooklyn Cooperage Company to deliver them wood… and set about clear-cutting large swaths of the forest. As a result of the public outcry that followed, the school was defunded and closed in 1903. (It “reopened” under new management in 1911 at Syracuse University, where it has been operating since.)