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Am I creative person? November 16, 2010

Posted by Karīna Sīmane in Uncategorized.
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Creativity as well as design thinking are one of the top topics for now. There is a pilot project going on in Latvia in order to develop the creative abilities of school children (using the method of de Bono). I myself have had some problems with understanding the terms (for example – what is design thinking) and even to define if I am a creative person. This literature research was done for university course and brings some insights in these terms.

Illustration: Caroline HwangIllustration: Caroline Hwang

What is creativity?

Creativity is often defined as the development of novel ideas that are useful. One popular perspective equates creativity with divergent thinking or the extent to which individuals are able to generate a wide variety of ideas or responses to a particular problem situation. Group creativity can thus be defined as divergent thinking in groups as reflected in ideational fluency (1).

Creativity requires the ability to overcome known routes of thinking. There are many assumptions, tools and methods aiming to foster creativity; for example Smith (2) analyzed 172 idea generation techniques used in organizations and consultants. This huge amount of techniques can be referred to a small set of ‘active ingredients’ from which the best technique for different kinds of tasks can be deduced (2).

Creativity and the team work

Creativity is a very important factor in the team work. Without creative processes innovation becomes impossible. According to Shasvinina (3)over the past years, creativity and innovation are the most often named remedies to ensure a long- term survival of companies and to face a worldwide competition. Therefore it is essential to foster creative processes in school/ university team works as the ability of creative acting will have the utmost importance in graduates’ professional life.

Design Thinking

While creativity is considered to be important in the team work, the design thinking can be useful for each individual, especially if you are dealing with open and ill- defined problems.

For many years design thinking has been associated only with the design discipline, however lately new views about its importance in other fields have emerged. In scientific literature there are more and more articles about the need to incorporate design thinking in other disciplines for example engineering (4), management and business administration (5).

Design thinking is described as the obverse of scientific thinking. Where the scientist sifts facts to discover patterns and insights, the design thinker invents new patterns and concepts to address facts and possibilities. Therefore in a world with growing problems that desperately need understanding and insight, there is also great need for ideas that can blend that understanding and insight in creative new solutions. Implicit in this notion is the belief that design thinking can make special, valuable contributions to decision making (6).

There is an interesting article by Norman (7), where he states that design thinking is just a myth. Thus a very good money earning myth. Because design thinking is the same old creative thinking that has been known long before the designers entered the scene. In my opinion design thinking maybe is even a better word. Design is so hype but creativity as a term is quite difficult for ordinary people. Most of the people think that creativity is just a “thing” that artists have.

Keep in mind:

– creativity is not an ability that comes “out from the blue”. Everyone, who comes up with new ideas or solution  to problems runs through a creative process. Even if you think you are not creative- probably you are wrong:) Creativity is not just an artist thing!

– creativity is a step before innovation.So in order to be able to innovate you have to be creative

– design thinking is something that you can learn. It is just an ability to look at the problem from various points of view. The ability to look at the problem from different viewpoints enhances the creativity and leads you to innovation


(1) Paulus, B. P., 2010,“Groups, Teams, and Creativity: The Creative Potential of Idea- generating Groups”, ID4010 Course Reader Design Theory and Methodology, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands,2010, Chapter 13, pp.171-190

(2) Badke-Schaub, P. (2007) ‘Creativity and innovation in industrial design: wishful thinking?’, J. Design Research, Vol. 5, No. 3, pp.353–367.

(3) Badke- Schaub, P., “Where do creative ideas come from? Uncovering the secrets of creativity”, ID4010 Course Reader Design Theory and Methodology, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands,2010, Chapter 13, pp.159- 170

(4) Dym, L. C., Agogino, M. A., Eris, O., Frey, D. D., Leifer, J. L., Engineering Design Thinking, Teaching, and Learning, Journal of Engineering Education, 2005, January, p.103-120

(5) Dunne, D., Martin, R., Design Thinking and How It Will Change Management Education: An Interview and Discussion, Academy of Management Learning & Education, 2006, Vol. 5, No. 4, 512–523

(6) Owen, C., Design Thinking: Notes on its Nature and Use, Design Research Quarterly Vol. 2, N0. 1, January, 2007, pp. 16-27

(7) Norman, D. (2010) Design Thinking: A Useful Myth? http://www.core77.com/blog/columns/design_thinking_a_useful_myth_16790.asp


HEMA design competition October 22, 2010

Posted by Karīna Sīmane in design competition.
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I spent a wonderful weekend in Amsterdam and also saw some interesting exhibitions.  The first one I want to share with you is the exhibition of HEMA design competition. It is a competition organized by a very popular department store HEMA for design students of Belgium and the Netherlands.

A little bit of the history (text from the exhibition brochure): “in the beginning of the 80’ educational institutions indicated that more and better practical experience was required as part of their courses. During the same period, HEMA switched to a trendier look in designs and packaging. In 1983 and 1984 these two developments came together in the first HEMA design competition”.

During all these years more than 20 successful competition entries have been turned into commercially sold products. Therefore this competition is a wonderful chance for the design students of the Netherlands and Belgium to show their work to the public and if they are lucky- to get their product produced and sold in HEMA.

Le Lapin, author Nikolaï Carels. Winning product from the year 1989/1990. You can still buy it in HEMA

The briefing for the 23rd edition of the HEMA design competition was: design an authentic HEMA product, which makes it easier and more fun for people to get out and about. The design should be inspiring and feasible, broad but not too broad, and it needs to lead to a design that expresses the authentic HEMA feeling effectively while making people’s lives easier and more fun. Exceptional simplicity: that is the essence of a strong HEMA design.

The competition briefing is quite broad; therefore for me it was interesting to see how other design students- my colleagues- have tackled the task. As the complicity for this task also came the condition that the work will be mass-produced. Therefore the design had to be feasible for the production.

As Dutch and Belgian are cycling nations, there were many proposals related to that process. Also the winning work by René Bijsterveld suggests a different way how to bring heavyweight goods on the bike with you. Looking at it doesn’t really convince me that the design works, however jury members of the competition tried it out in the real life. They report that it works perfectly, in spite of the fact that before the production some small changes in the construction have to be carried out.

The first prize winner “Vrachtpatser” (freight heavyweight), author René Bijsterveld, Utrecht School of the Arts.

The first prize winner “Vrachtpatser” (freight heavyweight), author René Bijsterveld, Utrecht School of the Arts.

product in action

product in action

Second prize winner “The last journey”, author Toon Welling, Utrecht School of the Arts. The last journey is a small coffin for pets. Children can decorate the box allowing them to deal with their grief better and learn in playful ways that death is a part of life.

Second prize winner “The last journey”, author Toon Welling, Utrecht School of the Arts. The last journey is a small coffin for pets. Children can decorate the box allowing them to deal with their grief better and learn in playful ways that death is a part of life.

 The third prize winner “Juice on the go”, author Annet Bruil, Delft University of Technology. Annet has designed juice packaging for children; these packages can be used as toys at the same time.

The third prize winner “Juice on the go”, author Annet Bruil, Delft University of Technology. Annet has designed juice packaging for children; these packages can be used as toys at the same time.

The public also gets chance to vote in the competition and this year the winner of the public vote is Yantl Slaats, Amsterdam School of Technology. He has designed a basket that can be mounted straight onto the back of a bicycle and filled with, for instance, picnic necessities.

The public also gets chance to vote in the competition and this year the winner of the public vote is Yantl Slaats, Amsterdam School of Technology. He has designed a basket that can be mounted straight onto the back of a bicycle and filled with, for instance, picnic necessities.

This is also one of my favourite designs. It is simple, easy to produce and can be customized.

There were also many works that made me smile. Not in the bad way, just as a foreigner observing the importance of different things in the locals’ daily life. Or in this case- what do students find important and relevant.

What's the most popular product of HEMA? Many people say it's HEMA sausage. Josha Roymans from Gerrit Rietveld Academy has made a packaging/ box for this popular product, so you can take it easely everywhere.

Glows that allows you to make snowballs fast and easy,author Janet Emmelkamp,Utrecht School of the Arts.

"Frog lights"- a diadem with bicycle lamps in form of frogs' eyes, author Leanie van der Vyver, Gerrit Rietveld Academy.

The exhibition is taking place at the Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam just until the 31st of October. I think the place fits very well the exhibition content – the interior of the library itself is wonderfully designed. It seemed that it is not only a place where the locals come to search for books or music, but it is also appreciated by tourists. I was not the only one affected by the design and the technologies, there were also other admires just taking pictures of the interior.

In my opinion these kinds of competitions which result in a mass-produced and commercial product is a very nice way how to bring the design to the real life. That is a gap missing in the design scene of Latvia. Thus design competitions are also well known methods how to integrate users in new product development (see for ex. article by Piller and Walcher, R&D Management 36, 3, 2006).

passion for illustration May 2, 2010

Posted by Karīna Sīmane in Uncategorized.
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Abilities to rule your hand and to be able to express ideas through drawings have always been admired by those who say that they can’t draw. In my opinion simple drawing is just a matter of an exercise – as more you draw as better you get. But then there comes a higher level- called art. Where you don’t only draw what you see but put some special expressions and thoughts that nobody else but you can apply for that special piece of work. In other words – not only copying the nature but searching further…
During my “travels” around the world using internet, I discovered a passionate and joyful fashion illustrator Baiba Ladiga. Originally coming from Latvia, now she is living and working in Shanghai, China. Most probably you have already heard of her. If not then you’ll definitely will.

1.How would you describe your work?

As for fashion illustration – I mostly draw girls, so it is feminine, often bright, a bit chaotic and messy, still poetic and fresh. As for media I love using ( and mixing) China ink, watercolors, markers, pens and pencils and collage. I always love drawing more than anything else and it took me quite a long time to realize that I am good in it and people love my work. But still I believe I am just at the beginning and I am on my way to find my true signature style and create my masterpiece.

I have noticed that many fashion illustrators can be very strong with the portraits, but not so much with full length figure in a movement. And I guess that’s my strength, because that’s what I am teaching and have learned for years so  I can easily see any balance or proportion mistake.

As for my fashion design work – I have made a decision to make something new when I really feel I have something to say and there is a concept, strong story behind it, Making just beautiful cloth every season – it’s not my thing right now, because I live in China, and there are so many unnecessary things produced, including fashion so I don’t wanna be part of it. For me fashion is like an art form. Art form with a concept and story behind it.

But same a fashion illustration I love to use bright colors tome after time, i just love red and somehow it is almost always there in my work.

2.What’s the rhythm of your day?

I have a full time job at Raffles Design Institute, Shanghai where I am fashion design lecturer. Mostly I teach fashion illustration and design, so this is also great way how to improve my own skills. Evenings and weekends I can spend on my own projects and I try to do so, like drawing, sewing etc. Keeping my self busy is my worst or maybe best addiction and sometimes I can‘t even remember when I watched some movie or just did nothing at all. But I try to do something different every day cause I can easily get bored and tired even from my self.

3. Do you have any routines related to designing process ? (like – drawing every day or reading fashion magazines regularly etc)

I guess no, I am quite spontaneous person and  I can easily get bored just doing the same thing every day, so I try not to make plans like drawing one sketch a day. If i start drawing I can end up with full sketchbook in one day and then switch to updating my blog next day and ignore drawing till i feel i am inspired and have something to say.

4.You have involved in quite a lot of social networks (twitter, facebook, behance, etsy etc). Does networking has helped you to find new clients? To get to know other professionals in your field? Or to find collaborators for your projects ?

Well who isn‘t nowadays on twitter  or facebook? J These are quite cool social networks to keep in touch with my friends while i am so far away. As for behance or etsy – that‘s more about what i do and I guess it is quite impossible to sit at home and draw and get clients without being online. You see – fashion illustration is much different  then fashion design– I can make at least a drawing a day for my fashion illustration portfolio, while in fashion design making an outfit a day is quite impossible. And not necessary actually.

I lunched my website and blog only last October partly because that’s when I decided to start freelancing as a fashion illustrator ( so I am very new in this field). And these sites helped me a lot to get more attention and opportunities. I am quite sure there is some connection with the projects I am involved right now. And so far I have fulfilled already my first dreams – participated in a group fashion illustration exhibition at Gallery Nucleus next to fashion illustration superstars like Laura Laine, Ohgushi and Stina Persson. And I am still super exited about that. And a very big book publisher contacted me so my work will be published in a new fashion illustration book! So I guess I must be doing something right and more exiting projects are awaiting me!

And sure, you have to be informed whats is happening in your field and Internet is just perfect for that.

5.We assume you notice how people dress. What catches your eye in the street?

Oh, you see, right now I live in Shanghai and it is the most fashionable city in China, but not further than that, really, cause there is fashion ( and you can buy everything you can imagine– from real thing to fake) but still no taste and style, no clue how to combine things and too much bling bling and fake eyelashes and wigs. But I think it is slowly coming to China and that’s why I am over there – to teach how to do it better.. So not so many stylish people out there.

There is fashion all over the place and at one point I even lost interest about fashion. But I am over it and I am working on new fashion collections ( still it‘s more about fashion as an art statement,concept, not ready-to wear collection). So in Shanghai I am more often exited about some beggars style, cause it is often more creative than some some rich girl wearing LV& Chanel from head to toe, it is boring you see.

But in general, back in Europe, sure I pay more attention to what people are wearing and  I love those who combine things in a very unique way- vintage with new, traditional with super trendy , trashy with edgy. Mix of prints and braking of rules and stereotypes.

6.What inspires you?

It can be even a blank page – I see things even where  most of the people see nothing, so since childhood I used to carry some piece of paper with me, and my favorite one was kind of dirty light brown wrapping paper, I could see so many things on it. So i just had to trace the lines I could see on that paper. And quite often I still do it.

Fashion magazines , especially Vogue Italy is a great inspiration for me – some nice silhouettes, deep, intelligent look.

And China, every day in China is a great inspiration for me. It is so different then anywhere else- so many contrasts, colors. As source of inspiration – Shanghai is just perfect. Like all day on a bike, listening some cool music, and you feel like you have seen 5038902083974 people, seen so many beautiful buildings and things. Shanghai is changing very fast ( Expo is coming) and that’s very exiting.

7.How working and living abroad influences you as a designer?

I have traveled alone a lot for the past three years, especially  around Asia and that changed me a lot, first as a person, then as a designer. After seeing parts of the world I always dreamed of, I felt like suddenly i could see with a wide angle lens.

My job as a fashion lecturer gave mo more confidence and sometimes just a feeling that there are like 200 students a week who are willing to learn from me makes me happy, cause I made a long trip to be where I am now and there is a bright future awaiting for me, I just know it.

And I found my love for fashion Illustration living in China. Decision that would be hard to make just living in Latvia or somewhere in Europe.

A MAD DOLL’S WORLD.Fashion design and styling: Baiba Ladiga

a goddess of a victory April 12, 2010

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Do you know what the word Nike means? If you’re familiar with the ancient history then that’s an easy question for you. If not – see the title of this post (:. But if you’re a sport’s lover or a brand lover then you know what Nike stands for in our days. Recently I’ve heard this name quite often – two guest lectures at the university from marketing people working at Nike and  some posts from other bloggers in my google reader. And if you are wondering why I’m writing about Nike in this blog – keep reading further!

I would like to share an interview with graphic designer Inese Siliņa. Coincidentally I found out that there is a designer working for Nike Golf company (located in Beaverton, Oregon, U.S.) who has a Latvian name. And I  was intrigued. Unfortunately I don’ t know many designers coming from Latvia who are working for big international companies (however I hope that there are some). Therefore  I contacted Inese to ask few questions about her work. Thus recently she and Nike Golf won a prize in REBRAND 100® Global Awards (for redesign of Nike Golf ball packaging line). And I’m very happy to share her answers with you. Enjoy!

1. Could you please tell us more about your job at Nike? (The main duties, designing process etc.)

Nike as a company is large and as a graphic designer your role can vary widely depending on which category (sport) you cater to. In a way it’s great, because as you grow and take on new positions or change categories your job changes with it.

Right now I am a senior designer at Nike Golf and I get to work on a wide range of projects from logo work to finalizing a product’s launch to market. This can entail naming, developing branding, packaging, information graphics, defining visual style guide for how to bring product to market, and creating different retail executions. Developing brand experiences – environments, campaigns… I get to be there from A to Z, to help define strategy, develop concepts, refine designs, establish guidelines, and lead its global adaptation. It’s a very fast paced job that is result driven but innovation and fresh approach to things is always a must. And that’s what I love about it – everyday I keep asking myself what can I do better or different? What kind of an impact my design decision on a color selection, shape of the box or treatments or materials I select will have in the global marketplace? How can I change the design so that it uses the least amount of resources… and you go on and on. You truly challenge everything you do and it keeps it interesting.

2. How long time did it take to redesign Nike Golf ball packaging line?

Overall it was a quite of a task to redesign the whole global golf ball line packaging in approximately a six month period. It started with a redefine strategy and examination of how a systematic design approach would translate through different product brands. At the beginning we were working on different conceptual designs and after the direction was approved we had to design and refine each brand, including creating a whole new information architecture, graphics, illustrations, as well as lead and manage all of the execution phase as well. It was an incredible amount of work that had to be accomplished fast with quite small team but the result was great. Knowing that our choices from the design perspective allowed Nike Golf to reduce their global environmental footprint was rewarding.

3. Which of your projects have given you the most satisfaction?

After being in the industry for awhile I realized that it’s not the end result – the “form (logo, poster, campaign)” — that really satisfies me, it’s the process you go through to create that brings the most fruitful lessons and gratification. It’s the people that you work with that really make the difference.

4. Does your background in painting give you some advantage working as graphic designer?

My artistic background is quite an advantage in the design field since I been practicing and studying fine art since I was 11 years old.

For me being a graphic designer is somewhat an extension of a fine artist; I don’t separate those in my mind – the form of the outcome is different but you use the same skill set to create a painting or defining retail environments, branding experiences or designing packaging for a product. You have to think strategically, conceptually; you have to be able to compose and articulate visually your ideas by using same the principals of composition, color and different techniques. The art piece perhaps is harder to define, measure, and articulate because so much of it is a subjective expression of one’s vision.  In graphic design the outcome is more result/form driven since it has to meet an objective, and because of that it’s more measurable.

5. And of course we want to know what is the secret  to become a successful designer in USA …

What I like about the USA (which might sound like a cliché) is that everyone does have an opportunity. It’s up to the individual to make out of it something that is worth their time.

I moved to USA with one suitcase in hand leaving all my life behind. I had my BFA in painting (Latvian Art Academy in Riga) and the only person I knew was my husband. What did I do to make it where I am today? The short answer was that I studied (MFA from Academy of Art University, San Francisco) and worked really hard and always was passionate about what I did. Without that inner motivation and believing that what you do makes a difference you can’t really invest so much of your life into it. And people do take notice of that and are attracted to it.

A few tips:

–  It’s crucial to choose the right school with a great program that is known and respected in the industry that you want to break into.

–  Invest everything; don’t hold back while you are at school. This is the time to study really hard, experiment and try out new things, approaches. In the working world more often than not you won’t get to explore and do as much conceptual work as you do in school. You have to take advantage of that. In real life setting on whatever project you will work there always will be boundaries in which you will have to operate. In school – there really are few boundaries. The biggest boundary is how much you are willing to put into your own explorations.

–  Go where is fear. That will always be the most meaningful experience when you have done something that you never thought you could. It’s easy to choose a direction where you know you’ll excel because it’s familiar. But exploring new ideas/techniques/concepts is what will allow you to grow as a designer.

–   People always say you have to network and I always hated that. But I now understand how important it really is. I have found just by being yourself and being open to others and doing the best work you can, you will build your network. I never expected that one of my teachers would become one of my best friends, the guest speaker at my design school would later become my first employer (MetaDesign, San Francisco), and that many of my classmates would be my future colleagues.

–  And if you can’t stomach it, if you lack discipline and are not ready to work hard, find something different to do with your life.

Another work by Inese Siliņa and MetaDesign. Identity and collateral for San Francisco Conservatory of Music that won Rebrand and Spark Awards

the form and the function March 18, 2010

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Last weekend I had the chance to visit Utrecht and see the exhibition of Alexander Van Slobbe at the Central Museum of Utrecht, the Netherlands.

If you are not familiar with the fashion industry and fashion design in general, there are some facts you should definitely know. Alexander van Slobbe (1959) is one of the pioneers who put the Netherlands on the map in the international world of fashion. Van Slobbe was always far ahead of his time. From the beginning of his career he has shown a constant interest in the design process, craftsmanship, quality and construction. In the fashion industry this trend only reemerged in the late nineties, as a reaction against the industrialization of fashion – technique and the creative hand was once again the main focus. Taking the forefront in the Netherlands, Alexander van Slobbe now serves as an important inspiration to present Dutch designers.
Alexander van Slobbe graduated cum laude at the art academy of Arnhem in the Netherlands. Since the late eighties, his designs have been admired worldwide in cities such as Paris, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Vienna, Stockholm and Hong Kong.

Van Slobbe is also known for his collaborations with other artists and labels like Marc Mulders, Makkum and PUMA.  He has his own brands, women’s fashion label Orson + Bodil (founded in 1988), which has a boutique in Amsterdam and was the first Dutch label to be sold in Barneys New York and Joseph in London, and men’s label SO (founded in 1993).

The exhibition is like a deep dive in Van Slobbe’s world. The exhibition not only displays his finished designs, but also gives insights in the creative processes. Retrospection in images and interviews, displaying black&white copies from different fashion magazines, provides a wonderful insight into Van Slobbe’s activities. Also the numerous samples on display tells  about designer’s ways of designing. There is a ‘real’ sewing workplace installed in the center of the exhibition space. When I was there a sewing course went on (for local citizens, who are interested in sewing). That also gave me a feeling that I am observing the process of creation. Not only seeing the past work of a designer.

Thus I really appreciate Van Slobbe’s passion for workmanship – embroideries and  weaving together different materials, the use of natural fabrics like silk and wool to create the garments that has a wonderful form and function at the same time. Van Slobbe shows that clothes can be very simple, without complexity in pattern, but have the quality of highlighting the wearer’s body and personality. All the unnecessary features can be deleted.

If you have a chance, go and see the exhibition of Alexander Van Slobbe at the Central Museum of Utrecht until the 16th of May, 2010.

Enjoy the pure forms and lines!

Designs for the new world March 13, 2010

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It is already two weeks since the 21st international design competition “INTERIEUR 2010” has been launched. This year’s theme is: Designs for the new world.

” The world is changing fast. We are living in turbulent, uncertain times. The music industry, the automobile sector and the press are struggling. Pop culture seems to have lost its momentum. We spend more time online than in our living homes. How can design cope with the new world? Should design be sustainable? Should it be virtual? Should design make us think? Or should it make us feel good? In short: design a product that is relevant right now.”

In my opinion the theme is quite broad. There is given free choice for designer what to design. It could be anything- seating, lightning, things that helps us to arrange our stuff (I think, that is a major problem for many people. We just buy and buy. And we own so many things. How to cope with that?). Design should definitely make us happy and the same time force us to think about the environment around us. Sustainable design for happiness. Thus I would like to express my identity through the things I own. Wouldn’t be nice to have a cupboard in a shape of a barn as an ultimate symbol of the Latvian national character? :

Cabinet by Mara Skujeniece

First of all it’s worth to participate in order to check your creativeness and abilities. Secondly also the total prize money is quite appealing- 40 000 euros spread between 7 different awards. Plus 2 places in the Summer Workshop 2011, organized by the Vitra Design Museum in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou and 2 stands in the idea fair. Even if you will not be among the winners don’t worry. All the entries will be on display during the design biennale from 15th – 24th of October (place- Kortrijk, Belgium) and will be published in the catalog.

You can get some insights in the last INTERIEUR (2008) here:
INTERIEUR 2008 was visited by more than 95.000 visitors and 800 journalists from all over the world. The total event was a great success! Thus 2 Latvian designers were among the winners – Ieva Laurina (founder and co- writer of this blog) and Indra Merca:

Ieva Laurina NEST. Prize awarded by Durlet for a luxurious but relaxing seating element for individual and family use in limited spaces. In addition to that Ieva also received a free stand in 'theyoungdesignersfair'.

Indra Merca BIOSEAT. Category "Playing". Prize awarded by Kortrijk Xpo.

Indra Merca BIO SEAT. Prize awarded by Kortrijk Xpo.

The show is taking place every second year. INTERIEUR was launched in 1968 as Europe’s first International Design Biennale, with a focus on product development and creative innovation. Besides the Biennale INTERIEUR foundation is hosting and organizing many side events like exhibitions, a reputed International Design Competition, debates and lectures. INTERIEUR’s guests of honour have included Raymond Loewy, Gio Ponti, Philippe Starck, Alessandro Mendini, Dieter Rams, Andrea Branzi, Jasper Morrison, Rolf Fehlbaum, Konstantin Grcic, Alfredo Häberli and Jaime Hayon.

For more info check out the website http://www.interieur.be/

magic signs in the center of Tallin March 5, 2010

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Spending a Friday evening searching on the web for some inspiring traditional Latvian ornaments, I accidentally came across a quite an old article from designblog.lv. There they write about an Estonian company named LOOVVOOL http://www.loovvool.com/ ,that has designed visual identity for a restaurant Kaerajaan in Tallin. The interior part was done by Ruumilabor www.ruumilabor.ee .

As LOOVVOOL themselves tell about the design: “As the name Kaerajaan comes from local folklore, we developed a symbol and a series of motifs influenced by traditional Estonian clothing patterns and with colours fine-tuned for a modern look. Combined with an elegant typeface, the overall outcome is “the new old”.”

So what’s so special in my opinion about it?
Well, 2 things:

First of all, the used symbols. They are half forgotten but still very powerful. In the past these signs were perceived as symbols that have some magical guarding powers. Over time the perception has changed and now they are mostly used as ornamentation for decorative purposes. However LOOVVOOL’s design has given these symbols a more up-to-date twist.

Secondly, I was delighted to see their news on the web page that they have just opened a new office in Hong Kong. In my opinion there are not so many companies/ designers coming from the Baltic’s who are able and so brave to compete in global markets. For these reasons I contacted LOOVVOOL and asked to answer to the following questions. The questions were answered by Hannes Unt, founder&creative director of LOOVVOOL.

1. Are you a company with Estonian origin?

LOOVVOOL was initially an Estonian company, but now the brand is associated with Hong Kong based company and we’re working with international clients and we’re not in Estonian market anymore.

2. What the word LOOVVOOL stands for, does it have any meaning?

It’s a palindromic word-play in Estonian. The “loov” means “creative” and “vool” stands for “rush or flow”.

3. How many designers do you have?

Our new agency model is not traditional in the sense that we don’t have a big studio somewhere with many designers, but only a strong core team of few people who collaborate with the best talents in their respective design fields when necessary. That’s why we’re also quite location independent. It makes us very flexible and we can always compete with big agencies and pull together bigger teams for each project.

4. Do you take interns?

In the past, we had, but currently no.

5. How do you find your clients?

We do a lot of networking and we also got referred by previous clients. Also, taking part in international design competitions is good for gaining more visibility.

6. Which of your projects has given you the most satisfaction?

The most satisfying projects would be the most demanding ones, whether in terms of analytical problem solving or design excellence or both.

7. How long it took to develop visual identity for Kaerajaan restaurant?

The whole project period was about 2-3 months as it included many different materials. The development of logo and visual patterns took probably about few weeks.

Thus, LOOVVOOL won a Red Dot award for this project


Check out the website of Kaerajaan as well! http://www.kaerajaan.ee/eng/

Another prize for Latvian design! May 27, 2009

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I have a great pleasure to share good some good news with you! Latvian designer, the leading person in RIJADA and Design Drive group and also my friend Rihards Funts (see him on the picture, in the middle) won an international design competition in Vinius (Lithuania). The competition “NEFORMATE 2009” was organized by “Lithuanian Design Forum” and its aim was to stimulate designers to create furniture for public spaces. More than one hundred projects from Baltic states, Scandinavia, France and Spain were submitted.

Bench DOMINO is inspired by typical Latvian home made benches in countryside households. Rihards found the sitting principle, when the wall or fence is used as back of the seat, unique and particularly comfortable. . This type of bench is usually located in front of a house near the main entrance, which often faces the street.

The concept of the bench is to make it possible for the user to adapt the bench to his taste, wishes and needs. DOMINO is a “Green Seating” project that encourages people to apply used materials such as planking, doors, furniture, snowboards and others.

The production process of the supports is fast and simple: just punch and fold the metal sheet. Once mounted, the construction is very strong. The supports are made from zinced steel and are colored with weatherproof powder coating.

And once again- Bravo for Rihards!

P.S.: When I will finally live in my own house, I will certainly order from him some bench legs!

Photos by Valdis Jansons.

Herman de Vries in Kröller-Müller museum. May 20, 2009

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Herman de Vries is a Dutch artist (1931), who’s currently exhibiting his work at the Kroller-Muller museum that is located in a beautiful area of Netherlands, in the middle of a forest (yes, there are some..).

He writes his name in lower-case “to avoid hierarchy”.

,,Nature in itself is enough and must be enough for people as well, ” he states. He thinks that nature doesn’t have to be elevated to the state of art as it is beautiful and interesting in itself. He believes that humanity does to nature an injustice by making a difference between nature and culture or between art and non-art. It is not necessary to explain nature or to attach symbols to it. Anyone who observes nature attentively will encounter a wealth of ideas.

Samples of earth from all over the world rubbed on paper.

Poster for an exhibition.

One of my favorite pieces..

(zoom in)

artist, himself..

What’s inside my teddy bear? May 11, 2009

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It’s a book I found amazing since the first time I saw it six months ago. Beautiful and shocking. It tells what we (at least me as a long time vegetarian) don’t like to know- the pig is EVERYWHERE!!

The book ,,PIG 05049,, by Christien Meindertsma is the result of three years long research. It is also an example of simple and beautiful graphic design.

,,The idea of this book arose from my interest in the invisible lines that link raw materials, producers and consumers world wide. In a strongly globalised world, it is becoming increasingly difficult to trace these lines and due to the increasing scope and complexity of the meat processing industry, the consumer has hardly any idea of the route an animal takes to the various finished products.” says Chrisien Meindertsma. She claims the book is not meant to be a manual for vegetarians or people who, due to their religious convictions, don’t eat pork. It is an impossible manual- impossible to follow for those who live in our ,,developed,, Western society.

Here are some examples of the long list:

Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells used to transport oxygen around the body. Recently hemoglobin derived from pig blood has been started to be used in cigarette filters. It creates an ,,artificial lung,, where harmful reactions take place before the chemicals reach the smoker.

Bone ash is added to fine bone china to achieve a high strength and translucency. Amongst other things it is used to make hand painted figurines.

Glycerine is an alcohol made through hydrolysis of pork fat. Glycerine can be used in toothpaste.

Gelatine capsules are used to hold oils or ingredients suspended in oil.

In the production of wine, bear and juices gelatine can be used as a clarifying agent. Gelatine reacts with the tannins and bitter substances and absorbs the cloudy elements that can then be separated from the drink.

Fatty acids derived from pork bone fat are used in body lotions.

Bone glue can be used to prepare wall before applying wallpaper as well as an ingredient in the paper itself.

And so on and so on… we find pig in nearly 200 products.

Is it ethical? Do we have rights to know what we pay for? Are the producers interested to inform us? Is it better to know or not to know? Well, at least, if we don’t know what we don’t want to know, then we can’t feel bad about it…

P.S. The book is Christien’s graduation project at the Design Academy Eindhoven.

P.S. The photos of the products above have nothing to do with the beautiful pictures in the book.