For our retail studio, we were given a 4600 sq. ft. leasehold (mall or streetfront as appropriate), and asked to find a cutting-edge international fashion designer and create a boutique for them. This was a special challenge for me, because I have never been interested in fashion because most haute couture is so unwearable on my frame. I looked at designers from Korea and India especially, and settled on Anand Kabra as my designer of choice. The boutique’s design was to reflect the future direction of our designer’s three most prominent design elements. In my programming, I analyzed Kabra’s past work, the characteristics and demographics of my King’s Road site in Chelsea, London UK, and the needs of the store.
See the programming report (PDF 9mb).
Step inside the Tesla, and step sideways in time to visit a world where steam technology is common, but so are clockwork cybernetics and aetheric transference of matter not only to other continents but other universes. Dance under the light of a forty-foot high array of plasma lamps and drink absinthe or phlogiston cocktails. Step into a steampunk world where history, technology, fantasy, adventure, and mad science mingle.
The Tesla is the fruit of my hospitality studio project, where I was asked to program, plan, and develop a five-star themed venue with restaurant, nightclub, and exhibition space, in a major city anywhere in the world but North America. The concept had to be cutting-edge, integrate modern technology throughout, and cause guests to be educated as well as entertained by their visit. And so, given license to do anything I wanted, no matter how wild so long as it was commercially plausible, I decided that I wanted to do something steampunk. I’m a life-long science fiction and fantasy fan, and even more so for alternate history, especially with fantastical elements. Steampunk hits every one of those buttons and then some, because I also love Victorian tools and Art Nouveau, and steampunk covers them too. If I was going to design a club, it was going to be one that I wanted to attend.
See the work:
- Work-Research binder for the Loft Full of Curves (PDF, 3 mb)
- Final CAD drawings of the loft (AutoCAD 2004 DWG file, 254 kb)
- Client booklet and renderings on Flickr:
The loft full of curves is the result of our Design Project I course. The goal was a from-the-bare-concrete renovation for a Westboro loft apartment. The client was John Spencer, a senior designer at William McDonough + Partners. As a single man in his 40s, he needed space to live, work, and entertain, but wanted to avoid walls. He insisted on at least 30% sustainable materials, enjoyed transparent materials, and hoped for minimal use of colour, and space to display his art collection. Continue reading
Whoever it was that said “it takes twice as long as you think it will” was an optimist. Sometimes it takes three times — as this project did. The silver lining for you is that it taught me how not to manage my time, and how to recognize when I need advice in order to stop banging my head on the wall.
We were asked to design, draw and model a 650 sq. ft. house for two people anywhere in the world but North America. Outdoor spaces were encouraged since they didn’t count towards our square footage, but no major functions could be left outdoors. I asked my friend Allison if she and her husband Paul would be my clients, and we promptly had a brainstorming session over tea. She wanted the house to be on New Zealand’s North Island, but didn’t have a specific town in mind. I located it in the Coromandel Peninsula, between Tararu and Whakatete Bay. Allison is a witch, Paul is a shaman and energy healer, and they are both tall, so they both wanted the house to be in harmony with nature, have high ceilings, and have quiet space to meditate in. There were many other desiderata, but these were the most important. Continue reading
In 2003 Chris Reed of BlueLightning Studios and I collaborated on a speculative business proposal to Solectron about why and how they needed to improve their callcenter intranet and knowledgebase (KB). Chris, having worked there between contracts, knew what condition the intranet was in. Working at HP had taught me that KBs have to be maintained, and it’s best if they’re maintained by the people using them,1 because nobody else has the same incentive or expertise to keep it up to date. Therefore we recommended turning the KB into a wiki with some editorial controls, and using an enterprise-strength wiki engine on a Debian Linux server for maximum value at minimum cost.
Intranet Improvement Proposal (PDF, 1.3 mb)
The Long Version
When Chris worked there, the Solectron callcenter in Belleville had a rudimentary intranet and KB, but the de facto way to get information was to ask your neighbour or a second level tech (henceforth a “second”) for advice. Having worked in callcenters before, Chris knew that this was an inefficient, unreliable and unscalable way to do research. When he and I had worked together at Compaq, we had a comprehensive, up-to-date KB, which made it much easier and faster to support our callers. Personal advice is a wonderful way to get answers, but often those people are busy, and you could look the answer up for yourself. Continue reading
- This was before Wikipedia became a household word and people admitted that user-maintained content might be worthy of consulting. Only geeks knew about wikis at all. ↩