Category: Design comment

  • Making and Design: two perspectives

    Making and Design: two perspectives

    Hand and Eye A couple of recent events  both link making and design.  First a conference on Mathematics and Architecture rather at the edge of this blog and second an exhibition of Lucie Rie pots, perhaps closer to its centre. The Nexus Conference on Mathematics and Architecture takes place 12-14 June, 2023 in Turin.  This […]

  • Where is the user choice in automated re-booking systems?

    Where is the user choice in automated re-booking systems?

    In our Design modules, we often ask our students to take a user trip, to experience the issues a user may face. Over the weekend, I took an involuntary user trip. I focused my anger and frustrations into an opportunity to reflect how automated flight rebooking systems make the user feel and what design oportunities […]

  • Hexagonal Living

    Hexagonal Living

    A small group of houses always intrigued me as I hiked past them with my children on the way to birthday parties on the north side of Leamington Spa. Set back from the road, and almost hidden by numerous trees, they still managed to stand out; an experiment from another era. I was thus rather […]

  • Governing cities of multiple intelligences

    Governing cities of multiple intelligences

    No longer artefacts of science fiction, artificially intelligences (AIs) are becoming increasingly embedded in our towns and cities.  Urban AI can now be found in transport systems such as in robots for grocery delivery and connected autonomous vehicles more generally, as well as in city governance, planning and design practices in the form of so-called […]

  • Women in Innovation, Design and Engineering

    Women in Innovation, Design and Engineering

    Engineering is still far from reaching gender equality. In 2020 only about 15% of engineers were women in the UK (Women’s Engineering Society, 2022). Design is in a slightly better position with 22% of female designers in the workforce (Design Council, 2023). The design sectors with the highest numbers of female staff also have the […]

  • Tom Karen

    Tom Karen

    Letchworth Garden City Museum has been hosting an exhibition of the work of designer Tom Karen over the past year. It is still on show and worth a visit. Sadly, Tom Karen died recently, aged 96. This exhibition is a chance to catch up on a lifetime of designing. Many iconic contributions came from his […]

  • Calculating your carbon footprint

    Calculating your carbon footprint

    Earlier in 2022 I was asked to produce some material for OpenLearn on carbon footprints as part of the OU’s Carbon Literacy training and the Digital Transformation project funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales. The OpenLearn article is at: After discussing what is meant by a carbon footprint and ‘net zero’, […]

  • Designing Intelligent Mobility

    Designing Intelligent Mobility

      This week I received a long-awaited early Christmas present. My Design Group colleagues, Matthew Cook, Miguel Valdez, James Warren and I had written a chapter entitled Towards an Intelligent Mobility Regime in the second edition of the Elsevier book Intelligent Environments.  As often happens for a major internationally co-authored publication, this has been almost […]

  • The Secret Genius of Modern Life

    The Secret Genius of Modern Life

    Members of the the Design Group have been working on an OU / BBC co-production called The Secret Genius of Modern Life, a series that uncovers the secrets behind the miraculous technologies of the modern world, revealing the mind-blowing stories behind their invention. Derek Jones and David Sharp were the academic consultants and it’s probably […]

  • Every city needs a Supergarden!

    Every city needs a Supergarden!

    During the last weeks of summer, hot on the athletic heels of the Commonwealth Games, Birmingham burst into flower with the arrival of a spectacular supergarden. PoliNations, a celebration of Birmingham’s diverse population, wove an exploration of the city’s cultural heritage with that of the plants that adorn and breath oxygen into its gardens, conceived […]