A problem of aging leadership at American design firms

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Gmail’s redesign signals the aging of American design Read More

Steven M. Johnson and the Real Life Vehicle

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Steven M. Johnson RLV NORTH

Earlier this week I wrote a post about Steven M. Johnson after finding an article in Frog Design’s Design Mind magazine. The article included images of Steven’s Real Life Vehicle designs, or RLV. Well, after a rapid fire email session between the two of us he sent over colour images of his work and contributed the two paragraphs below. You can discover more at Steven’s web site.

I am often amazed, bemused, and disturbed by how many hours in a typical American’s life are spent inside an automobile. It is not just adults of driving age who are stuck in these hurtling steel cages: Children are virtual prisoners in them. They grow up having to adjust to the presence of a mother who is usually stressed, always shoving them in a car, strapping them in their seat, and racing from errand to errand. For the kids, it is not like storybook reading time at night: When she is driving, her mind is all over the place.

Allison Arieff, columnist for The New York Times, Sunset, and Good magazines, interviewed me in late 2009 for an article to appear in a special 2010 issue of Design Mind magazine/Web page, dedicated to “Work/Life”. She asked me to think up products and systems that relate to Work/Life by applying my whimsical design methods. I prepared dozens of rough concept drawings, dealing mostly with issues around mothers who work full- or part-time at a job or from home. The Real Life Vehicle (RLV) concept, which she selected for me to design and illustrate, acknowledges the unique stresses of a mother’s on-the-go life. A mother must deal with children who pick on each other, a boss that sends urgent emails, Tweets and cell phone messages throughout the day, as well as a family that needs dirty soccer uniforms washed and dried, memos or grocery shopping lists filed, and most of all a body — her own — that cries for a nap! The RLV is one of my typical “combination” inventions that provides for all of those needs. It is a minimally-plausible concept for application in the real world, but good for a laugh.

More images after the jump.

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The wonderful work-life world of Steven M. Johnson

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Steven M Johnson, Frog Design, Design Mind, NORTH

The new issue of Design Mind, Frog Design’s magazine, is out. Good pieces on Steven M. Johnson, the value of sabbaticals, and design Zen.