Why Design Now

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Valuing World Cultures – Bill Moggridge
The third of the grand challenges posed by Secretary Wayne Clough for the new strategic plan of the Smithsonian is explained by the sentence: “As a steward and ambassador of cultural connections, with a presence in some 100 countries and expertise and collections that encompass the globe, we will build bridges of mutual respect, and...
Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet
This is the second of the grand challenges posed by Secretary Wayne Clough for the new strategic plan of the Smithsonian, with the explanatory sentence: “We will use our resources across scientific museums and centers to significantly advance our knowledge and understanding of life on earth, respond to the growing threat of environmental change, and...
Why Design Now?: Contour Crafting
Why? Contour Crafting is a construction technology that potentially reduces energy use and emissions by using a rapid-prototype or 3-D printing process to fabricate large components. Comprised of robotic arms and extrusion nozzles, a computer-controlled gantry system moves the nozzle back and forth, squeezing out layers of concrete or other material to fabricate a form....
Scenes from Steelcase
Cooper-Hewitt’s Design Watch Members visited Steelcase for a private tour of the showroom and sunset reception on the terrace overlooking Columbus Circle. Lew Epstein presented the trends behind media:space, the convergence of furniture and technology, changing the way we think of work spaces as collaborative “destinations”. Members also previewed the Cobi chair, featured in the...
Why Design Now?: Mapungubwe National Park Interpretive Center
Why? Preindustrial construction methods can provide fundamental lessons about sustainable design and environmental impact today. In this site-specific installation, thin tile vaults stretching across large spaces without formwork is part of a 700-year-old construction method that is energy-efficient, utilizes local materials, and achieves high structural strength. All of these factors have important applications in the...
Why Design Now?: Vault201
Why? Preindustrial construction methods can provide fundamental lessons about sustainable design and environmental impact today. In this site-specific installation, thin tile vaults stretching across large spaces without formwork is part of a 700-year-old construction method that is energy-efficient, utilizes local materials, and achieves high structural strength. All of these factors have important applications in the...
Why Design Now?: E/S Orcelle cargo carrier
Why? Oceangoing ships present significant health, pollution, and efficiency challenges. The concept vessel E/S Orcelle is designed to be propelled without oil. Made of lightweight materials, it relies on energy sources obtained at sea—solar energy collected through photovoltaic panels in the sails, wind energy obtained through propulsion sails, and wave energy from fins, which can...
Why Design Now?: Solar rechargeable battery lanterns
Why? In most rural areas of the developing world, people rely on fuels such as kerosene that are dangerous and pose serious health problems. The Solar-Rechargeable lamp is both a safe, electrical lighting alternative and it reduces greenhouse gases. It is also a service-oriented solution for rural electrification: villagers rent these portable, rechargeable lanterns from...
Why Design Now?: IF Mode Folding Bicycle
Why? Most folding bicycles are heavy and difficult to collapse. Conceived as portable luggage, the IF Mode is made of lightweight materials and eliminates oily chains, complex tubes, hidden dirt traps, and much of the clutter of conventional bicycles. As mobility systems become more interconnected, portable, folding designs like this will facilitate transfers between different...