Friday, November 21, 2008

Museum + LEED Friday: How Green is Good Design?

A colleague forwarded a book review from Business Week the other day for “Do you matter? How Great Design Makes People Love Your Company”, by industrial designer Robert Brunner and corporate consultant Stewart Emery. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“Their theory is simple: Successful executives should treat design as more than a finishing discipline that simply improves products' aesthetics. Instead, design should influence every aspect of customers' experiences. For Brunner and Emery, design is an infrastructural element that helps define every aspect of a company, including Web site, stores, customer support, packaging, and messaging as well as products. "Design…can't be a veneer," they explain.”
In a nutshell, this book is about the importance of creating endearing products. I, like many, also add that good design [read: considered] is inherently green. In my personal experience for every 2 PCs my husband buys, I buy 1 Mac. Why? I like the machine, it’s a better design inside and out thus, I want to keep it longer.

However, we’re talking about museums, not products. So, what can we learn from their world?

I know that museums have long been engaged in building meaningful relationships with its “customers” and “following the visitor home” is fast becoming a mantra. As the authors foster the idea that a systemic approach to design needs to be an infrastructural element in an organization, I realize that’s what LEED is based on. The folks at Inhabitat put it simply: “Good Design is Green Design and Green Design is Good Design”.

Really, green design is fully considered design- it takes into account the entire system in which we live and operate. I would go further to say that if you have an approach that is meshed with your mission, your resources, and your audience (i.e., fully considered), it makes the entire development of your organization more efficient. Think of all the issues you wouldn’t have to debate, and how much you could focus on other things.

I’m not arguing for a monotheistic approach to design, nor am I saying that Apple Computer is the precise model to follow. I’m simply suggesting that there is a lot of efficiency built into their approach, which mirrors the LEED approach- that’s something we could learn from.

So in order to be successful at [green] design, looks like it needs to be treated as a core value in an organization, not a finish. Which means that ideas such as the ones put forward in that book may help in getting that point to rise to the top of an organization.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Relevance, Please!

maria mortati, gyroscope inc, museums Recently, I had a chance to see the exhibit Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Some of the artifacts, both small and larger are amazing... and beautiful. The scale and scope of the exhibit is grand. In addition, they made a good use of docents-a-plenty and public programs- such as having activities like casting a mastodon's teeth in plaster of paris nearby. One of the things I especially enjoyed was the use of time context, or as we like to call it, relevance. Peppered throughout the exhibit were placards indicating where in time periods such as the pleistocene fell. They also had another, similarly scaled component where they informed you of where in Colorado you might have found these creatures. My only beef is that just as the sheer size of these reptiles are awesome, so is their place in time in relation to ours. Rather than having it be a side note, I believe that it would have greater impact on the visitor to bring forward any connection, such as time or place, into the primary exhibit area. Drawing connections from object to visitor creates a more lasting memory. When visitors are given the opportunity to make a link in relation to themselves (rather than an abstract idea), they have a way to forever locate it in their internal world Plus I think it could make for a cool interactive. I'm curious to hear about what others think about this. Do you feel it would "take away" from the awesomeness of the exhibit if more resources were spent to make room for this? Would you give up a dino skeleton for this?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Museum + LEED Fridays: A Wordle Review

As promised, I've taken all of the LEED and green-related posts thus far and plugged them into Wordle. Probably not a shocking result, but overall "systemic" comes to mind as I look at this. Which, when you think about it, makes a lot of sense. It's less about the silver bullet and all about the holistic, multi-tiered approach.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How to Read a Floor Plan - elevation markers

maria mortati, gyroscope inc, museums A while back I started this thread by introducing the basics of the drawing sheet. Now I'm moving the next level deeper into the guts. Above is a floor plan for an exhibit area in a museum. Click on it to see it in greater detail and for descriptions in blue. You'll see that I've highlighted the elevation markers, and described some common acronyms. The elevation markers indicate the drawing sheet that the elevation (meaning vertical view vs. a plan view) lives on. It also tells you where on that sheet you'll find it. Typically, drawings that end in .0 are plans, by the way. Any questions? Feel free to ask. I can address it here or in the next posting on this topic.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Little Review

Recently, several of you forwarded me the link to Wordle (and Skitch, given my affinity for Comic Life). I thought it would be fun to see what would emerge if I put all my posts into it. Here's the result:maria mortati, gyroscope inc, museums
Interesting, eh? I'll do this from time to time and see how... or if it changes. Maybe Friday I'll put all the "green" posts in the hopper.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Museums + LEED Friday: green materials palette

maria mortati, gyroscope inc, museums As a follow-on to my post earlier this week about natural environments and children, I thought I would post a palette swatch we have used (and some we are about to use) in our projects. We'll dive into the particulars in future posts. While I haven't included the brightest of brights, they do exist. The nice thing about using these materials in your museum (beyond the obvious) is that it has the effect of inspiring visitors to use the materials themselves. When they see a Vetrazzo countertop, for instance, they say "I can use that in my house"- while at the same time you are walking the walk.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Towards a Thriving Museum - a model

Recently, I put together a comic with excerpts from an article that became John Falk and Beverly Sheppard's book "Thriving in the Knowledge Age". It presents a theoretical model for business and visitation, and encourage museums to look deep and answer some fundamental questions. They emphasize that we are fast moving from an authoritarian to a cooperative model of informal learning. They believe (as do I) that the public needs us to help contextualize and synthesize information- not lecture to them. It's a good read for anyone interested in this new generation of institutions. Dr. Falk now teaches free-choice learning and science education at Oregon State. Beverly Sheppard is the CEO at the Institute for Learning Innovation.
maria mortati, gyroscope inc, museums