How does design inform our lives?
Paola Antonelli is an Italian-born curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and one of the world’s foremost experts on contemporary architecture and design. She received her MA in Architecture from Milan Polytechnic in 1990, and worked at the design magazines Domus and Abitare before coming to MoMA in 1994. At MoMA, where serves as curator for the Department of Architecture and Design, Antonelli has been a strong of advocate of treating design as art: she’s written that "everything is designed, one way or another.” Antonelli is known for her eclecticism, and has curated well-received shows such as Workspheres (2001), devoted to the workplace of the near future. Her recent exhibit SAFE included – among other materials – a UN refugee tarp, camouflage cream, and a baby buggy. Antonelli has taught design history and theory at UCLA and Harvard and is the author of Humble Masterpieces: Everyday Marvels of Design, and co-author of 2008 book Design and the Elastic Mind.
Question: How does design inform our lives
Antonelli: See the way the word “design” is used in different parts of the world varies a lot. Where I came from . . . Where I come from from Italy design is normal, right? So I grew up being the daughter of two doctors who didn’t have really a training in the arts. But I grew up with all elements in furniture that’s so called of “good” design because that’s what you would find at the store at the corner for a normal price. So it was just part of life. Here in the States interestingly, the word designs assumes all these connotations of luxury, costing more, looking better, possibly non-native. You know if it’s European then it’s more chic. So it becomes this synonym for added value that sometimes leaves me really perplexed. As far as I’m concerned everybody has design in their lives. You’re wearing headsets right now that are design. Are they good or bad? Up to you to judge. We can talk about it. But we’re surrounded by design. That’s why I find it really very, very, very important to help the public, to help people, to help the buyers hone their critical capacity, their critical tools. Because ultimately the critics of design are the people that use design. I can help. I can give some pointers. I can give some tools. But truly design is in everybody’s life and it’s for everybody. So in other words people use design. Design is part of their lives. They don’t know it yet.
Question: How do we use design to identify ourselves
Antonelli: You know we make design choices every second – you know ranging from the type of cell phone we use, or the tie that we wear, you know the shoes. Design is so enormously varied that we make design choices even when we use the desktop of the computer that we use . . . the computer that we use. And of course all of these choices are connected not only to functional determinations and reasonings, but also to stylistic reasonings and to meaning. You know meaning is one of the biggest achievements and additions to the analysis of design over the past 25 years. It’s not anymore just style or looks, but it’s meaning – what something means. So our choice of a PC versus a Mac is very strongly identified. And even now you know it used to be creators could only use Macs because the programs were only for the Mac. No more. You can have platforms that help you simulate the different operating systems on either computer. So hey, it’s really a choice. There’s a study in England that says that people – especially young people – use cell phones as identifiers. You know all cell phones . . . Here in the States you still choose cell phones based on which company you will use because then you will have more or less dropped calls, which is really, you know, the Paleolithic age of cell phones. Elsewhere in the world where you don’t have dropped calls, you choose cell phones based on how they identify you. So you first have the cell phone. Then you personalize it with different colors, etc. Then you have the ringers. So it becomes truly an identifier. So that’s just one example, but I think that all the composition of objects on us and around us is a very personal composition and speaks about us.
Question: What role does branding play?
Antonelli: Well branding is omnipresent. And even the companies that say, “No branding” are branded. __________ is the biggest example. You know ___________, no logo, and then it’s _________ everywhere. So it’s kind of inescapable. Sometimes I find it really funny when people like to have actually the logos all over them. You know it’s kind of weird. I know people that buy basketball hats, baseball hats and then they put stickers on the . . . on the NYU or anything else so it’s not to be identified. But truly of course there’s the brander’s signifier for a style. But also there’s the brander’s guarantee of good design. And you know in some cases like Apple it means something that also has to do with good design. So I really think that brands are inescapable. And instead of seeing them as enemies, one can see them as allies to understand more about design. So the fact that corporations feel responsible about their brands is something that will maybe also force them to act more ethically and to produce more and more better design for the people. I think that some brands, for instance – I’m sorry I’m talking about Apple again, but it’s a good example – have elevated people’s threshold for design, so they also serve some kind of public mission. You know they taught people that you can demand good design. You don’t have to accept whatever comes your way.
How do we use design - and brands - to identify ourselves?
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter
Water may be far more abundant on the lunar surface than previously thought.
- Scientists have long thought that water exists on the lunar surface, but it wasn't until 2018 that ice was first discovered on the moon.
- A study published Monday used NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy to confirm the presence of molecular water..
- A second study suggests that shadowy regions on the lunar surface may also contain more ice than previously thought.
Credits: NASA/Daniel Rutter<p>Still, it's not as if the moon is dripping wet. The observations suggest that a cubic meter of the lunar surface (in the Clavius crater site, at least) contains water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million. That's roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water. In comparison, the same plot of land in the Sahara desert contains about 100 times more water.</p><p>But a second study suggests other parts of the lunar surface also contain water — and potentially lots of it. Also publishing their findings in <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-020-1198-9#_blank" target="_blank">Nature Astronomy</a> on Monday, the researchers used the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to study "cold traps" near the moon's polar regions. These areas of the lunar surface are permanently covered in shadows. In fact, about 0.15 percent of the lunar surface is permanently shadowed, and it's here that water could remain frozen for millions of years.</p><p>Some of these permanently shadowed regions are huge, extending more than a kilometer wide. But others span just 1 cm. These smaller "micro cold traps" are much more abundant than previously thought, and they're spread out across more regions of the lunar surface, according to the new research.</p>
Credit: dottedyeti via AdobeStock<p>Still, the second study didn't confirm that ice is embedded in micro cold traps. But if there is, it would mean that water would be much more accessible to astronauts, considering they wouldn't have to travel into deep, shadowy craters to extract water.</p><p>Greater accessibility to water would not only make it easier for astronauts to get drinking water, but could also enable them to generate rocket fuel and power.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Water is a valuable resource, for both scientific purposes and for use by our explorers," said Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist in the advanced exploration systems division for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, in a statement. "If we can use the resources at the Moon, then we can carry less water and more equipment to help enable new scientific discoveries."</p>
A study finds 1.8 billion trees and shrubs in the Sahara desert.
- AI analysis of satellite images sees trees and shrubs where human eyes can't.
- At the western edge of the Sahara is more significant vegetation than previously suspected.
- Machine learning trained to recognize trees completed the detailed study in hours.
Why this matters<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2MDQ1OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzOTkyODg5NX0.O3S2DRTyAxh-JZqxGKj9KkC6ndZAloEh4hKhpcyeFDQ/img.jpg?width=980" id="3770d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3c27b79d4c0600fb6ebb82e650cabec0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Area in which trees were located
Credit: University of Copenhagen<p>As important as trees are in fighting climate change, scientists need to know what trees there are, and where, and the study's finding represents a significant addition to the global tree inventory.</p><p>The vegetation Brandt and his colleagues have identified is in the Western Sahara, a region of about 1.3 million square kilometers that includes the desert, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahel" target="_blank">the Sahel</a>, and the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/subhumid-zones" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">sub-humid zones</a> of West Africa.</p><p>These trees and shrubs have been left out of previous tabulations of carbon-processing worldwide forests. Says Brandt, "Trees outside of forested areas are usually not included in climate models, and we know very little about their carbon stocks. They are basically a white spot on maps and an unknown component in the global carbon cycle."</p><p>In addition to being valuable climate-change information, the research can help facilitate strategic development of the region in which the vegetation grows due to a greater understanding of local ecosystems.</p>
Trained for trees<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDU2MDQ3MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTk5NTI3NH0.fR-n1I2DHBIRPLvXv4g0PVM8ciZwSLWorBUUw2wc-Vk/img.jpg?width=980" id="e02c0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="79955b13661dca8b6e19007935129af1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Credit: Martin Brandt/University of Copenhagen<p>There's been an assumption that there's hardly enough vegetation outside of forested areas to be worth counting in areas such as this one. As a result the study represents the first time a significant number of trees — likely in the hundreds of millions when shrubs are subtracted from the overall figure — have been catalogued in the drylands region.</p><p>Members of the university's Department of Computer Science trained a machine-learning module to recognize trees by feeding it thousands of pictures of them. This training left the AI be capable of spotting trees in the tiny details of satellite images supplied by NASA. The task took the AI just hours — it would take a human years to perform an equivalent analysis.</p><p>"This technology has enormous potential when it comes to documenting changes on a global scale and ultimately, in contributing towards global climate goals," says co-author Christian Igel. "It is a motivation for us to develop this type of beneficial artificial intelligence."</p><p>"Indeed," says Brandt says, "I think it marks the beginning of a new scientific era."</p>
Looking ahead and beyond<p>The researchers hope to further refine their AI to provide a more detailed accounting of the trees it identifies in satellite photos.</p><p>The study's senior author, Rasmus Fensholt, says, "we are also interested in using satellites to determine tree species, as tree types are significant in relation to their value to local populations who use wood resources as part of their livelihoods. Trees and their fruit are consumed by both livestock and humans, and when preserved in the fields, trees have a positive effect on crop yields because they improve the balance of water and nutrients."</p><p>Ahead is an expansion of the team's tree hunt to a larger area of Africa, with the long-term goal being the creation of a more comprehensive and accurate global database of trees that grow beyond the boundaries of forests.</p>
Tea and coffee have known health benefits, but now we know they can work together.
Credit: NIKOLAY OSMACHKO from Pexels
- A new study finds drinking large amounts of coffee and tea lowers the risk of death in some adults by nearly two thirds.
- This is the first study to suggest the known benefits of these drinks are additive.
- The findings are great, but only directly apply to certain people.