It does, you know. You just have to get it hot enough.

Monday, October 20, 2008

RISD plays leapfrog

When I started off on this whole design reedumacation process a few years ago, RISD was one of the schools I immediately crossed off my list. My perception of RISD was that is was that it was a pure design and art school, almost happy to be a technophobic institution wrapped up in pre-21st century ways and a steadfast supporter of the (arguably correct) tenet that technology is not a part of the design process. I’m honestly in awe of people who can study form for extended periods of time, but that’s not who I am. (I do plan on hiring those people for balance, should I ever start a firm.) I’m interested in the symbiotic relation we have with technology and how that interacts with the design process, and that’s not the sort of thing that RISD is known for, much less being technically advanced in general. They were, the best I could tell, very much in the previous century in all sorts of ways.

Except that now, RISD is leapfrogging.

For those of you too lazy to go read wikipedia, “leapfrogging” is when you go from being way behind everyone else to being way ahead by skipping everything between “behind” and “ahead”. As an example, instead of ~30 years of desktop PCs and crappy software in schools, kids around the world are going directly from chalk and slate to OLPCs and mobile phones .

RISD is going to do the same thing.


RISD has Maeda.

There’s a 19th century-like hall of wonders called the “Nature Lab” at RISD, where students can look at something like 80,000 specimens from around the world. Which is a really useful thing to have when you need to study the physical structure of some random animal — why look at a book when you can look at an actual skeleton or taxidermy? Problem being, you need good light to study an object, and the Nature Lab is in a building, not outdoors in, well, nature.

Thanks to Maeda, the Nature Lab has artificial daylight and color adjusting lamps from Zumtobel.

That’s rethinking the education process in action. RISD doesn’t need a fancy computerized database with 3D holographs of everything, they just needed some state-of-the-art lighting in their historic building.

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posted by jet at 09:11  

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