The Cloth Car Seat is Getting an Upgrade

relates to The Seats in Your Next Luxury Car May Be Made From Soybeans and Eucalyptus

Animal-gran leather has permeated the car interior world for decades now. As cloth became a stereotypical cheaper option when buying a car, leather has become synonymous with luxury and money.

However, I’ve always had animus towards animal-grain anything for some time now. And I’ve actually been hearing quite a few people – in my design field and outside – state the same opinion. Leather is overrated.

The quality of materials, especially paired with the level of technology and application processes today, now have the ability to change the opinions of the general population too. I’m not saying leather doesn’t have its place inside of a car, but with special attention to detail, like the wool blend in the Range Rover Velar in the above photo, luxury can start to change.

Audi has started to create carbon-neutral materials for some concept interiors. And the projected price difference between the normal leather and these new innovative materials? There is none.

How cool is it that companies are starting to blend eucalyptus fibers and even mushroom compounds into their lineup?? I think it’s incredible. Check out this article if you want to read more!

Go Out and Experience the World

Even in the age of having everything at our fingertips, there are certain experiences you can’t get online. I went to an unbelievably amazing glass art gallery with a friend tonight (hi Brian!) and was blown away (lol) by the talent. There had to be hundreds of pieces throughout the several buildings we walked aimlessly through. I was continuously shocked by the textures and colors in the art. I took over 30 photos tonight, zooming into the intricate details of things I thought were extraordinary.

My CMF teacher had told us earlier in the semester that if we were to come across really interesting materials in person, to take a photo of it. She had told us how difficult it was to find these kinds of images online. And quite honestly I think I’m going to make an extra effort to start making my own archive of stuff like this. I was geeking out about it all tonight, and I hope the depth of the artwork is translated in the photos for you to see it properly. Enjoy the start to my new archive!

A Designer’s Website

I finally have a website. If you’re in the art and design field, you know how time consuming making and updating a portfolio is. I’ve probably spent over 50 hours making my current portfolio which is in a PDF file. It has 5 projects, and was obsolete the moment I saved and compressed it.

I’ve been curious about having a personal website for a long time. But I never had the content for it. Until now. Not saying I have the most or the best, but I’m finally starting to feel comfortable about putting myself and my work out there.

My projects are all over the place content wise, so everything is still a work in progress. If you’re curious about checking out my site though, feel free to find me here:

I only have a few hours into the bones of it right now, but I’m really excited to start fine tuning everything! Art and Design is always such a fast-paced environment, so I’m hoping this keeps me on my toes.

I only have about 15 more days for this blog challenge, but I know I can transfer all of this content to my personal website if I so desire. Curious to see if I’ll be able to continue over there. We shall see!

Color Project Update

In the remaining few weeks of school, I have a lot of photos to take. I have over 200 pictures edited and placed in my catalog. My goal is to have more than 400 by the time the semester is almost over. I haven’t quite figured out my approach for the final presentation.

Color picking from photos is fascinating to me. Above, I’ve placed the photo catalog document (showing a few yellow ranges), and the corresponding swatches directly next to it. As you can see, the swatches sometimes don’t even seem to match the photo. But when you pick certain pixels – let’s look at the bottommost left picture of the doorway – the overall color you might see as a muted buttercup in the picture, ends up being on the peachier side of yellow (creamsicle maybe?) in the swatch.

I have quite a few color ranges – dark reds (mostly of varying bricks), teals (a lot of old window panes and trim), whites (mural and sign lettering), etc. – that will be showcased in the final catalog. Because I will have such a large swathe of swatches (that’s a tongue twister) I’m curious if having the corresponding swatch for each photo will be excessive.

My professor let me borrow a device that can scan a surface and tell you the exact color. It’s called a Cube. Here’s a quick video to show it in action:

My plan is to create the full catalog, see what colors are most prominent or common, and then go around to physically scan a few buildings and materials with the Cube for those hues. As for now, I’m still gathering photos and will check back in when everything is more complete!

Color has the Ability to Inspire


I am currently working with Ford in a studio of mine this semester. I had posted about the overview of the class in January, and in that post, I mentioned I would update with progress reports if something interesting occurred. Well, I’m here today, sharing a snippet of my process and some good news!

My goal for the semester is to create a color palette to inspire Ford for the renovations that will occur over the next few years at their new Corktown, Detroit campus. One of the ideas that has permeated the conversations over the last few months, has been Ford’s desire to fully integrate within the existing community. More often than not, when a large company is creating a new campus, the plans are structured around a self-sufficient and free-standing area that is almost completely separate from its surroundings – whether that be residential or industrial.

Ford’s extensive and progressive goals are to create a campus – one of those buildings being the famous Michigan Central Station – that fit homogeneously within the Corktown landscape. One of the most inspiring things I’ve personally observed throughout this landscape, is the unique color palette. It is so unique, lively, and the colors permeate almost every inch of the community. My personal project and goal is to create a comprehensive Color Catalog throughout Corktown by compiling photographs from the area. All photos will be taken by myself – within the train station, and the neighboring streets. I’ve inserted a few from today’s shoot above and below. As you can see, the rusty oranges and warm tans, complemented by the minty greens and hazy blues, are already starting to pattern themselves out.

A color palette proposal will be created by color sampling from this catalog I’m compiling. My goal is to help give inspiration to Ford for upcoming projects so that the renovations directly assimilate colors from the community into the campus. Here is a piece of inspiration I found from a fellow student of mine. He directly sought out green in the Detroit area and created swatches that could then be used for the project’s final:


My goal is slightly different – I want to see what comes out of the cataloged photos. Instead of directly seeking out a specific hue, my mission is to shoot as many photos of color in the area as possible, and see what trends form by themselves. Especially in the light of these new renovations, the last thing I want to do is force my own voice, perspective, or motive onto the catalog. The colors will speak for themselves.

As Ford tries to integrate their campus within Corktown, incorporating the existing neighborhood colors into new buildings will help establish a more seamless and culture-appropriate approach. I received great feedback for my proposal during our pitch meetings today, and I hope my project fulfills a gap I think is currently missing in this new age of the Corktown landscape. Color is such a driving force within cities and communities and I am extremely excited about the prospects. Will update as more surfaces!

infographics are cool

I’m a big sucker for graphs. I become absolutely fascinated with the physical representation of data, and yes, you can call me a nerd for that. Completely understandable. But, if you aren’t a graph person, I implore you…why not??

Fun fact, the infographic was created by Florence Nightingale. I recently found that out from a random podcast I was listening to the other day. The infographic is meant to distill dense – and oftentimes industry specific jargon – and display it for the average person to comprehend. She created these visuals (graphs and infographics especially) to show her theories on medicine and combat mortality rates. Here’s a preview of one of her masterpieces:

Image result for florence nightingale infographic

Now, I digress slightly. Bringing you back to present day, BASF – the leading enterprise for OEM color coatings in North America – released their Color Report for 2018 in mid-January. I hadn’t looked at it since there doesn’t seem to be very interesting diversions as of late from the norm; but, they broke down vehicles by segment – subcompact, compact/midsize, and onward – and the infographics sucked me in:

Doesn’t seem very interesting until you go segment by segment. The majority of vehicles in the States are currently achromatic (white, gray, and black). That’s not hard to comprehend. But then you go by subcategories (largest graph shown above) and you see that sports cars have a rising section of yellow paint in their totals. All of these categories show different results, each just as interesting as the last.

Trend forecasters, I’m sure, are all over the potentials for expansion in these specific categories. I’m not completely sure how these data points relate to last years results, but nevertheless, it’s fascinating. If you want to check out the full report I highly recommend looking up the pdf they supply (I can’t seem to embed a pdf file to this website, so Google BASF Color Report 2018 and you’ll find it).

a physical object is merely the representation of the idea

Image result for flat lay

I met with my teacher Sally this afternoon (if you’re reading this, hi Sally!). We had a brief discussion about my current department at school. I had mentioned how the transition between an industrial design major to CMF design major, was interesting, to say the least. I told her I always came up short when people asked me what Color and Materials was all about. Saying that we research and develop color and materials for future applications, seems rudimentary and frankly, kind of stupid. It’s always met with blank stares and silence. So, being someone who talks a lot, I launch into babbling that just results in them being even more confused, inevitably making me feel even more useless. A mutually frustrating conversation. 

I’ve been in the art and design world for almost 6 years now. I’ve gone through several study changes, and in the process, have seen the very different approaches to art. Some areas of art and design are slow and steady, with a heavy emphasis on the front end of a project. Others, fly through the beginning research stages and launch right into product development. Others still, skip most, if not all, of the R&D and go straight into producing. My current department tends to fall into the latter of those categories. We skip most of the thinking and just produce things. If you don’t deliver a final model (car exterior, interior, etc) then you have failed the class. That process is conducive for what our industry calls for. So I shouldn’t be frustrated. But I am. 

When Sally and I talked, I expressed this irritation. How do I explain that the thinking and front-end of a project – research, user experience, interaction processes, etc – is just as important, sometimes even more so, than the final product?? Why do people put so much emphasis on a physical, final product? I am so intrigued with the fleshing out of the research. Hence why so may of my posts here are just questions. Why this? Why that? What am I not asking that I should be? And she told me something very simple that will stick with me for a long time. She said (and I’m paraphrasing): “Sydney, a physical object is merely the representation of the idea.” Without the idea, that product wouldn’t exist. Without the idea, there is nothing. WOW. To hear it said so simply and effectively.

But if the above is true, why isn’t the process itself treasured? Our world has become mesmerized with material objects. There is so much value placed in a physical thing, that what goes on without a physical element, is rendered almost useless. How do you make original thoughts, feelings, intent, analysis, etc materialize? Being smart, and I mean truly smart, is not valued as being society’s smart, until you make something of it. Take Elon Musk. Brilliant guy. Would he be any less brilliant if he had never made a Tesla car? No, I don’t think he would be. But, I would argue that society would call him crazy in that instance. So how do we solve this problem within our society? Beats me. 

Like I said before, most of my posts here are just questions. And random thoughts being flung into the void of the internet doesn’t necessarily count as materialization. Right now I don’t have an answer. But maybe within the next few years of my life, I’ll be able to get closer to it. Right now, I’m content with just learning, even if I have “nothing” to show for it.

Natural materials in unexpected places


I had done a project researching materials that we native to Hawaii a few years ago. One of the natural materials I had found quite interesting, was cork. We’ve seen product and automotive companies branch out with new wood and natural fiber applications, but rarely do you see extremely specific organic substances in the market.

Sprout, a home appliance line made by the Scandinavian design agency No Picnic, features a solid cork bottom on their products. It might sound weird to the average consumer. But I picked up a mug with a cork bottom a few years ago, and to this day, it’s one of my favorite cups. Completely microwave safe, spill proof, and germ-free, it’s a neat design that still captures my attention.

Cork has several attributes that make it so versatile. One of the most intriguing to me, is it’s ability to repel bacteria – effectively warding off insects and small vermin as well. The waxy substance called suberin, gives it this unique property. As one of the more physically soft, yet strong, organic materials, it’s a perfect choice – though definitely unexpected in the best way! – for kitchens.

Sprout products show us that natural materials are just as viable and pleasing as their overly-popular plastic counterparts today.


The Possibilities are Endless

One of the biggest technology upgrades we’ve seen recently is 3D printing. For those of you who may (or may not) live under a rock, 3D printing has been all the rage in the world of product design and engineering especially. I highly recommend looking up a short video on processes. Click here if you want to see a quick time-lapse.

Now, since 3D printing became more accessible and somewhat affordable as of late, we’ve seen people (amateurs or companies) get a little more creative with the possibilities. One of my favorite applications is the adidas 4D shoe concept that utilizes a flexible plastic material, 3D printed with air gaps. So, instead of having a solid sole, the shoe has a membrane-like bottom. I can imagine it would be extremely comfortable, but I don’t know how practical it would be to clean.

Still, the idea is brand new and completely original. I look forward to seeing 3D printing become even more crazy. What if the shoe laces became a flexible membrane over the outside of a normal shoe frame? Would shoes ever become fully printed? Not sure how many materials are used in 3D printing right now, but I’m it’d be interesting to see a mono-material application for something that is usually broken up in its segments by different materials. In the meantime, things like this are more than just eye-candy; they push the boundaries and make more people think.

The Touch of an Artist


Design is something that shines its light on every corner of the world. Art has given life to millions of products, people, and places. As someone in the art field, I see redundancy more than I care to. I wouldn’t call myself a genius, a prodigy, or a gift. Beautiful art is hard to capture. And often, it is not created for everyone equally. It is easy for millionaires to buy classic paintings and timeless sculpture. But the average person finds something special in the every day. The average artist, often overlooked, creates something special out of something mundane. Take Tim Zarki’s project Hue.

The medical field rarely sees the touch of an artist. Unfortunately, we forget that products like stretchers, medical instruments, or inhalers, can receive the same undivided attention and treatment that purses, cars, or shoes get. Zarki has designed inhalers for kids that makes the every day, bright. Not only from the vibrant colors, but the material applications, to the ergonomics, and the delightful details.

I don’t want to speak for his project, but I do want to say how refreshing it is to see something like this brought to life. Kudos to you, Zarki. I hope the art and design world sees more from you in the future.