Clay Shirky re:

In a piece on his blog titled and the Gulf Between Planning and Reality, Clay Shirky reflects on the role of testing, constant testing and a iterative design process…

One of the great descriptions of what real testing looks like comes from Valve software, in a piece detailing the making of its game Half-Life. After designing a game that was only sort of good, the team at Valve revamped its process, including constant testing:

This [testing] was also a sure way to settle any design arguments. It became obvious that any personal opinion you had given really didn’t mean anything, at least not until the next test. Just because you were sure something was going to be fun didn’t make it so; the testers could still show up and demonstrate just how wrong you really were.

The mismatch between technical competence and executive authority is at least as bad in government now as it was in media companies in the 1990s, but with much more at stake.


Three from Abitare

Norman Foster writing about Foster and Partner’s design for the Beijing airport. He writes “I think that the Beijing airport is an attempt to recapture a golden era of travel; when it was more generous, when it was a luxury experience, but accessible to all. And in that sense, I think it is really radical and also very successful.” Foster also describes a bit of the firm’s design process in terms of evaluation and testing, the iterative development of a design. Surprisingly although a computer is important he writes, “What you can do with a model is also take photographs of the model and you can insert scale references, like figures. And curiously, the photograph of a model is one of the most important tools for usIn the past we worked with two types of models: a model to communicate an idea and a model to explore an idea.” More (here)


Yehuda Safran in Gravity and Grace on Steven Holl’s  Horizontal Skyscraper-Vanke Center in Shenzhen. “Unlike most buildings in this town, Holl’s Horizontal Skyscraper not only resurrects dreams of past generations of Megaform/Megastructure, but it does so in a manner which retains a large variety of interiors and a constant shift in direction. Rhizomatic in plan, it provides an endless play on the inside/outside experience.

Peter Fischli, Rem Koolhaas and Hans Ulrich Obrist talk about the photos taken during the Venturi, Izenour and Scott-Brown’ noted trip to the US town. Koolhaas speaking almost nostalgically about the 1960’s notes “At that point there was still a more elegant form of mass culture. That’s perhaps the great thing about the 1960s. It had that kind of perfection not only in high culture, but also in low culture. If you look at the interiors of the largest restaurants, the largest casinos or hotels from that time, they looked exactly like this. It was before the arrival of populism as we know it.” He also distinguishes between the ‘as found’ and Pop art movements thusly, “More nostalgic maybe, too. With Pop, everything was new. But “as found” could also be amazingly touching, or amazingly sad … But there’s nothing tragic to Pop. Whereas I would say that even Ed Ruscha’s pictures of parking lots have something tragic about them.” More (here)

The evolution of “Spring Thaw”

This video shows the design process that goes into the development and evolution of  “Spring Thaw”  which is a menu item for Alinea’s Spring 2010 menu. What is interesting to me is the concept of iteration(s) and how they go from a concept to the eventual product. Design by iteration…?

Via NYMag’s Grub Street blog (here)