Better World, Design, Healthcare
November 8, 2011
“If we think about architecture as simply beautiful objects,” says Michael Murphy, founding partner of Mass Design Group, “then we fail to talk about the process which creates those objects. It’s labor—the construction of craft—that produces beauty.”
Consider Butaro Hospital in Rwanda, an example of MASS Design’s belief in first-rate healthcare facilities for the third world and investing in the local economy as a means of breaking the cycle of poverty. For Butaro’s wall construction, local Rwandans became the masons: hand-chipping volcanic rock and beautifully shaping each piece so they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
Built 100 percent by the community, Butaro’s walls are as much symbolic as they are functional. They testify to a community that labored together, using newly learned skills, to build a hospital for themselves.
Patients benefit from their labors, too, in the design of the hospital. Placing beds in the center, making each bed a window seat creates a positive patient experience. An innovative airflow design minimizes the spread of airborne diseases.
Butaro Hospital is functional, innovative, and beautiful. But, to the community, its best design was the process by which it was created.
Herman Miller is excited about working together with MASS. Learn more here.
November 7, 2011
Students like classrooms designed to support learning—in fact, they like them nearly 20 percent better than traditional classrooms.
These classrooms have movable furniture and technology. These result in more interaction and collaboration during class, and overall, better accommodate progressive teaching styles. Students in these learning spaces knew each other better, were more comfortable together, and were more comfortable asking questions.
As one faculty member who participated in our research program put it, “Most students loved the room and felt it enhanced the learning experience. They liked the fact that they were interacting with small groups a lot before sharing their findings and felt that time moved faster than in other classes. At the end of the semester, we had a small community/family in our classroom, something the setup of the room helped in fostering.”
Since 2007, we have collaborated with over 25 universities and colleges as part of the Learning Spaces Research Program. A program aimed at designing and study learning spaces that support diverse learning and teaching methods.
November 2, 2011
For designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, “creativity does not come from a rational point of view but an emotional one. Design is about finding a certain balance or character when you are looking for solutions to problems that are difficult to solve.”
The Bouroullec’s intention when designing the Steelwood furniture group for Magis, was to find an affordable alternative to plastic, “We needed to reduce the complexity of wood assembling, so we kept our design simple,” says Ronan. Something that said, “’I am a well-constructed, beautiful object, one that will last a long time, and will grow old quite nicely with you.’ Not just something people use, but are happy to have around them.”
Their approach to the Osso chair for Mattiazzi, “…was to let the sensuality of the wood express itself,” says Erwan. “The chair invites people to touch or even caress it, as it is extremely sculpted and polished.”
Brothers, the Paris-based Bouroullecs have been partners in design since the 1990s. Together they have collaborated with companies around the world. Their designs are also part of many international museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Design Museum in London, and the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris.
Design, What's Up
November 1, 2011
Attendees of the recent Cusp Conference in Chicago were encouraged to ask questions and pick the brain of SAYL designer Yves Béhar. Speaking at the conference, Behar talked about problem solving and design, how he approached the design of SAYL, and the layers of its final design solution.
Here are Behar’s answers to a couple of questions:
I’m obsessed with the simplicity and the elegance of the design, but I’m curious to know how the design of the SAYL chair has an effect on its ergonomics, and also on the environment. When conceiving the design of the SAYL chair, and then actualizing it, how did you take into account the question of sustainable design, sustainable material, and use less but get more?
The very foundation of the SAYL chair was to answer the question, “How can I do more with less?” We wanted to deliver ergonomic excellence and do it at a lower cost and carbon footprint. The inspiration from bridges was important as I realized how minimal a tower and tension cable system is relative to the size and function of a bridge.
A lot of experiments took place to see if a similar tower element and a smart material in suspension would deliver back support and allow for upper body movement. The aesthetic of the chair came after we proved to ourselves that we could clearly build a lighter and more efficient design.
You spoke at length at the cusp conference about the source for the forms which comprise the Sayl Chair. You also addressed the economy of materials used to create each part…could you now please elaborate on how you look at the joining together of each of the parts to create the whole?
Too often, task chairs look assembled from a kit of parts, and often they are. There is a dance between SAYL’s functional engineering work and its cosmetic shaping, and there is a relentless desire to have parts run fluidly into each other. For example, I was particularly interested in making the arms look as if they were stretched and growing seamlessly out of their height adjustment posts.
There is also the idea of separate parts drawn as if conceived as one. The SAYL’s frameless back is shaped to both express the tension distribution from the top attachments and visually follow the form and exposed ribbing of the Y-Tower. As a result, the two parts are visually layered as if one.