Category Archives: adventure

all this useless beauty

Sketch (leaves) 2005, blown glass, 15 x 23 cmcali balles, photo

i came across this paper* while researching for my project and prepping for the last lecture of the year before presentations, and it really highlights some of the ideas i’ve spoken about previously as well as given articulate phrasing to some really interesting connections in the relationship between craft, design and digital technology. craft and design have had a schism since the industrial revolution, when, for all intents and purposes, design was born. greg calls design ‘creation for reproduction’ – making with the direct intention of replicating, and thus requiring systems and standards to ensure exactness throughout that reproductive process. and most digital technology reflects this, presenting us with clean and simple efficiencies of form but very little humanity. i think that craft, however, embodies a bit more of our humanity as the unique experience of making by hand can’t be replicated and our tools and processes do not become extensions of ourselves, but rather interfaces in an empathetic relationship with the materials, the ideas, the user and ourselves. and beauty.

jayne wallace and mike press (the latter of whom is speaking this week in halifax at nscad university’s neocraft conference- i SO WISH i was there) express their thoughts on the role of beauty in craft, it’s approximation in design and it’s role in creating better digital technologies.

1st part of the excerpts below (2nd to follow shortly)

Beauty, we argue, plays a vital role in humanising technology and ensuring its cultural relevance… Industrial design can
employ the illusion of beauty to temper the beast of technology by providing a veneer of desire, seduction and usability. But let us not confuse eternal beauty with the passionate but fast fading blooms of desire. We enjoy the delights of the G4 Powerbook as much as the next fashion-conscious academic, but only as a well designed one night stand at the orgiastic party of our consumer culture.

moar Continue reading


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i’m super excited that prime gallery, canada’s oldest gallery for craft and the decorative arts, is now carrying my work. check it out! stop by if you’re in the neighbourhood – they carry some of canada’s most renowned artists and have a pretty awesome exhibition schedule. i’ll also be participating in a group show there running from 1-dec to 22-dec, called around the neck. :)

as well, in october i attended two workshops offered by interaccess electronics arts centre as part of their fall schedule. in terms of awesomeness, they were off the chart!!


intro to electronics was a 2-day weekend workshop that, true to its name, covered the basics of electronics, which is great for someone who only sort of understood how the toaster works – ohms and resistors, current, voltage, how breadboards work and how to make motors spin and LEDs blink. taught by rob cruickshank – an awesome guy with tons of knowledge!

intro to microcontrollers was also very cool – tom came to this one to, and learning how to make a series of LEDs blink like KITT with the arduino platform was enough to totally make our day! a fairly simple platform with tons of online resources, i like arduino because of its accessibility. i don’t know squat about programming or building chips/boards, and it’s sort of a tough thing to dabble in, but gord hicks rocked the workshop and i’ll be looking forward to many winter nights spent in the interaccess studio (available to all studio members 24/7), experimenting and making stuff.

they also have a really cool blog!


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el vampiro and intuition

in august i spent a couple of days in nyc, in search of conversations and connection. this post is a bit delayed, but such is the nature of being what tom calls pathologically busy. it was really fantastic to touchbase with friends and colleagues, old and new, and flow into the local velocity, and belated thanks is due to those who put up with my questions over lunch or dinner (thx scott, john, elena, baker!). nyc is one of the few places where i feel like the pace of the external environment is matched with what’s going on inside. it would more likely than not make me bonkers to stay for any extended length, but refreshing in short spurts.

i dropped by eyebeam research lab during their open studio hours and chatted with a few of the residents and fellows about what they’re up to. i highly recommend pinging them if you’re in the neighbourhood on tuesday afternoons. it’s a fantastic space, with really incredible people who are fully engaged in their work and totally open about what they want to do. amazing.

michael dila, a fellow overlapper and perpetual troublemaker, was also in the big apple that week and was kind enough to organize an nyc overlap meetup, as serendipity encouraged all those little ducks to line up. an awesome conversation with michael, dave walczyk, paul pangaro, vic lombardi and manuel toscano ensued – somewhat raucous and always inspiring.

conversation eventually turned to innovation, creativity, imagination, the strengthening relationship between business and design practice, and passion. what fuels these things? where do they come from, and what conditions encourage and cultivate them? a recurring conversation that i hope to continue having.

the gem in this conversation was this. to some degree, we are all guided by intuition, the immediate, somewhat difficult to communicate compass that shapes our behaviour in more ways than we perhaps are conscious of.

intuition is tacit knowing – it is an unmediated process of pattern recognition and a reconciliation of complexity (internal/external, systems, ideas, histories, etc, etc) that influence future perceptions and actions.

it is direct, instinctive, perceptive – a form of knowledge that can be fiendishly difficult to communicate or validate because of its resistance to analytical metrics or quantitative definitions. which i think emphasizes its importance in how we construct and share knowledge and ideas – we engage in multi-layered communication of which we’re only partly conscious, and our intuition picks up the subtleties as an unending flow of incoming signals, some strong, and some weak.

our discussion was fuelled by vampiros, the house specialty of a little place called paladar, on ludlow south of houston. perfect for fiesty conversations and exuberant autumn evenings.

el vampiro

  • tequila
  • hibiscus flower  nectar (bought at health food stores, fresh or brewed as tea from the dried flowers)
  • ground chili
  • salt

mix tequila and nectar, in proportion to evening’s intent.

rim  glass with mixture of chili and salt


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change is afoot


oof. the past month has been busy, more so than usual. i spent a couple of days in nyc, started teaching at ocad, had a bit of holiday and tried to wrap up the summertime loose ends before the season changed.

the biggest change of all, though, is that i’m no longer with the beal institute for strategic creativity. after 2 years of fun, great people and absolutely lifechanging work, it was time for something a little different. the sweet spot had shifted, so to speak. i’m sad to be moving on, but am looking forward to future collaborations with the brilliant minds there, as well as having the time to pursue other projects.

in the present, though, i’m pleased to say that i’ll be working part-time with interactive ontario, as project manager and content developer. they’re a great bunch of people, and i’m happy to be a part of their team, getting to know them over the next while. to new things! :)

*to commemorate yesterday being international talk like a pirate day. yar.

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the luck of seven needs you


or rather it needs your $11.11.

and actually it’s noel hidalgo who needs your money. and you should give it to him.

noel left nyc on july 7 2007 to travel the seven continents for seven months, talking to people and “documenting free culture, social innovation and global change.” he’s been through europe, the north of africa, the middle east and is currently in delhi. this journey has been funded entirely by noel asking for donations of $11.11 from 700 people around the global. his adventures – in the form of microblogging, vcasts, photos and blogs – can be found here, here, here and here.

why should you donate? because i don’t know anyone else with the passion, brains and balls to take on such a journey. that’s the biggest reason. scott trudeau can provide you with a few others, but honestly, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to contribute to an amazing project. it’s crazy, mind you, but noel inspires and challenges us all to reconsider what kinds of change we’re capable of. dude. he rawks.

donate here

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studio n open house


Clockwise from left: Logger – Anneke Van Bommel, Acrylic, Vinyl, Paper(2007), The Proximity of Twins – Lara McQuay, Ring – Fiona Macintyre, Sea Grapes – Carolyn Scandiffio

FYI if you’re in town September 16! my studiomates and i are hosting our semi-annual open house show the same weekend as the queen west art crawl. come and have a gander, a chat and perhaps walk away with something a little special. :)

ps: i’ll be showing the first round of work inspired by the ‘dead media’ project

To coincide with the Queen West Art Crawl,

The Girls of Studio N are hosting their Bon Voyage Sweet Summer Exhibition and Sale, in their working studio on Dovercourt (about 68 steps from Queen Street West). We are located in Studio N on the second floor.

Studio N residents will be showing recent explorations, including one-off exhibition pieces, handmade cards, drawings, sculptural interior objects, and Studio Jewellery. We will have some nibbly bits, and look forward to seeing those who can stop by to say hello and see what we’ve been up to.

Featured Artists:
Lesley Ashton
Fiona Mac Intyre
Lara Mc Quay
Carolyn Scandiffio
Michele Perras
Anneke van Bommel

Date: Sunday, September 16, 2007
Time: 12:00pm – 4:00pm
Location: 44 Dovercourt Rd @ corner of Dovercourt and Sudbury, South of Queen St. West. Studio N, 2nd Floor.
Toronto, ON

Phone: 416.536.2152

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if you happen to be in seoul next month…

383583009_2cd45268ab_o.jpg photo thomas purves

the wonderful people at LIFT are organizing a free event to take place sept 12, 2007 in seoul, korea (venue tbd). if you happen to be there, i strongly suggest to go – it will change you. and if korea is too far or too soon, LIFT08 happens in february. congrats to laurent, nicolas and team on the launch of LIFTlabs

Join us for a night in Seoul with Adam Greenfield, Bruce Sterling and Korean architect Yoo Suk Yeon to discuss real and digital spaces.

Topic: Spaces: From Real to Digital. How technological developments in both the physical worlds and virtual environments are reshaping our buildings, our games, and soon our web browsers.

When: 12 September 2007 in Seoul, South Korea. The precise location will be announced later.

Adam Greenfield will show us the opportunities and problems of living in a world where technologies pervaded the physical space.
• The upcoming hybridizations of the digital and the physical will be tackled by Bruce Sterling, who will also present what he, as a science-fiction writer and technology journalist expects.
• Korean architect Yoo Suk Yeon will then talk about the latest trends in architecture and how this hybridization is of importance.
• Virtual spaces and usage of massive multi-player platforms would also be addressed by a fourth speaker coming from the video gaming industry.

Registration: the event will be free but registration is required. To register, email your name to (a better system is coming soon).

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