Beauty, Eco & Human – Friendly … Area Rugs

Good news! I am officially a certified Green Accredited Professional by the Sustainable Furnishing Council. While preparing for one of the six exams I had to take to receive my certification, I learnt about carpets and rugs. Did you know that “the standard carpet that covers 70% of floors across the U.S. often contains materials that can be hazardous” and can even affect our health? I am sure many of you recognize the “new carpet smell”. Well that smell comes from “volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are emitted as gases. Some side effects of exposure to VOCs are headaches, allergic skin reactions, irritation in the nose and throat, fatigue and dizziness”. The US Green Building Council doesn’t recommend that “carpet containing VOCs be used in baby nurseries as the gases emitted are not something that should be looming in the air around a new baby”. Allergies are also a common problem for people exposed to carpet VOCs.

So let’s imagine that we all decide to move towards hard surface environments. Well, the downside of that is that spaces may become colder and hard on the feet. Of course, we can always use area rugs. Let me introduce you to the beautiful world of natural fiber area rugs. A world that doesn’t cost more and can make you a healthier human being as well as a more environmentally friendly citizen of this planet. These rugs are made out of: wool, bamboo, jute, sisal, shag, seagrass and other natural fibers.

Wool rugs can be so much fun. Only imagine walking on this hand tufted rug by Gan Rugs.

The textures are sophisticated and unique.

You may even bring the look and feel of natural elements such as pebbles shown in this Pebble Rug by 2Form Design.

And may even have fun around the house with rugs such as the Brain Dead Rug by Timothy Liles.

Of course there are choices for everyone. You may visit Pottery Barn’ wool rug selection.

Bamboo shag rugs are so beautiful and soft that no one can resist relaxing on them.

Shag rugs may also come in leather. So pure and sophisticated.

Here a shot of our famous shag rug where many of my girlfriends enjoy laying down while having a chat and a glass of wine.

There are also beautiful sisal rugs that can be used in more classic environments.

And they also come in darker colors such as the Tonga Deep Sea Rug by Merida Meridian.

Seagrass rugs can be used on foyers and they look so good.

They also come in different shapes and patterns, so you can play with them.

Jute area rugs look and feel so delicate and natural.

They also are fun to mix and match.

Get in your zen zone, be good to your body and respond to the planet. Enjoy a natural fiber area rug!

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Messenger/Bicycle Bags for Women? do they actually exist?

My frustration has been building over the last few years, and today I am sharing it with the world.

About three times a week, I ride my bicycle, and many times I carry a lot of things with me (books, clothes, tapeware, groceries). About four years ago, I decided to invest on a Timbuk2 messenger bag. Not only I wanted to support local designers, but I also was inspired by seeing all the bicyclists in San Francisco sporting their Timbuk2s. Once I started using my cool messenger bag, I realized that it wasn’t made for my body. When carrying a lot of things and leaning on my bicycle, the strap that was supposed to go across my chest started pushing my breasts. It was painful. Since then I have tried to change my pose when riding my bicycle, put pads around the straps, and pull the straps every five minutes, but I am loosing patiente with it. And please dear Timbuk2kers do not take this wrong. I love your designs and support them fully, but I am not sure if you thought about women when designing this product. Trust me, I would be more than happy to go over your studios and help brainstorming on how we may develop more female friendly messenger/bicycle bags.

My messenger bag

Because I am a designer ,and I cannot just sit and cross my arms when facing a design problem, I have decided to see what would be possible for bag developers like Timbuk2 or The Norh Face or even Jansport  to look at when designing a messenger biker bag for us women.

We women love tote bags and bags that  can be carried on the shoulder.

Super functional tote bag

Many of us dislike pink and flowers, so please do not think that by simply changing the color of the backpacks you have made them for us. You must be aware that we have anatomical diferences.

Pink messenger bag for “women” … because it’s pink

We love soft materials and leather. We actually like earthy/natural tones.

Leather messenger bag that still needs to adress the issue of comfort when being used for bicycle riding.

We like bags that are thought out throughly for us, taking into consideration our needs, our anatomic challenges, our tastes, and our busy schedules.

Vera Bradley’s Barcelona backpack.

The thing is that, we probably don’t want to show up to girls happy hour with a backpack … that makes us feel too high school like.

I personally dream of a bag that doesn’t push my breasts …

Study of my current bicycle bag straps pushing my body

I also dream of a bag that can be multifunctional, and when needed, I can carry on one shoulder, and when riding my bicycle, can be carried on my back with the help of my chest … not my breasts.

Front solution for my dream messenger/bicycle bag

From tote to backpack … that is perfection!

And that hopefully uses reclaimed materias such as the beautiful bags from Cyclus Colombia .

Really cool design, made out of reclaimed rubber tires … that is what we like!

I can’t wait to get/develop the perfect messenger bag for women. If you want to team up or get some feedback, please feel free to contact me. It would be my pleasure!

Happy biking everyone!

I cut an albero’s leg

Sometimes forgetting about projects that you worked so hard, you had dreams and nightmares with is very easy.

Two years ago, I was spending long days at the DAI wood shop working on a torchiere assignment for my Rapid Prototyping class. The goal of the assignment was not only to design but also to build a lamp using CNC (computer numerical control) technology. My goal was to become familiar with the ShopBot and to make the Epilog Laser Engraver my best friend. For a whole semester, this assignment became my life, then it came with me to the four different places I lived in, until finally landing at my current “stable” home. Through all the moves, my poor torchiere survived crashes and a few parties. Today, I hugged her and decided to give her a new look by cutting 15″ off her tall leg. I am not sure if I made the best decision, but at least now she has a new look to be around for another couple of years (hopefully without moving so much). After all, a $500 torchiere should last you at least half decade right?

Let me introduce you the process of designing and building my beautiful (no joke) Albero Lamp:

Research: Understanding how a torchiere works.

Finding inspiration in the Architectural and Fashion worlds.

Study Sketches: 3-4 out of 25.

Study Sketches: 7-8.

Study Sketches: 11-12.

Study Sketches: 15-16.

Study Sketches: 19-20.

Initial 1/4" scale study models.

First 1/2" scale study model. This day was a painful one.

Finding a double layer of inspiration at the Academy of Sciences.

First full-scale prototype out of cardboard.

Expressing my love for endangered species and the epilog laser. Match made in heaven.

Finishing the Albero Torchiere. Made out of FSC certified maple appleply, brown English oak and plexiglass.

Her original height was six feet and starting today she has become a four-foot and three-quarters babe.

Happy indian summer,

~Isabel

A 344 sq. ft. apartment that transforms into 24 different rooms …

Hola from San Francisco!

And I am back into the tornado and the path towards setting my roots in SF. While I pack to move into a new place, apply for jobs, prepare for interviews, type my thesis and catch up with friends and family, I don’t want to leave you all unattended as I appreciate that you follow my blog. So as a little break for you and me, here I am sharing an inspiring video that explains how architect Gary Chang transformed his tiny Hong-Kong apartment into a marvelous example of great space usage and eco efficiency.

Enjoy,

Isabel

iDo Colombia – Final Ceremony at Casa Corazones

Here is a thirteen minute video showcasing the final ceremony we had at Casa Corazones from the Children of the Andes Foundation in Bogota, Colombia.

After two weeks od exploration, creation and prototyping, we developed beautiful instruments that represented our identity and inspirations.

Please enjoy …

Prototype development at Fundacion Niños de Los Andes

Hi all. I wanted to share with you the latest images of prototypes that the teenagers at Fundacion Niños de Los Andes and I have been working on for the last couple of weeks. These are musical instruments made with reclaimed plastic lids and inspired in the teenagers’ personal experiences.

Hope you enjoy them …

iDo Colombia: Week 1 at Fundación Niños de Los Andes

Did you know that your body is capable of getting used to many environments? including highly polluted ones? Yes! Finally my throat doesn’t hurt and my eyes don’t cry any more. I have assimilated Bogota’s pollution.

On Tuesday June 13th, I began to apply my design curriculum with the teenagers from the Children of the Andes Foundation. Although the first day was overwhelming and challenging, as of today, I have learned so much from the kids and am more than happy to have the opportunity of working with them.

Day 1: I introduced the kids to the world of design by presenting a visual gallery with designs made by Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarine, Le Corbusier, Carlos Montana, Custo Barcelona, Desigual and truly yours Isabel Perdomo. I also shared with them inspiring art by Van Gogh, Cezanne, Rodin, Botero and Guayasamin.

They thought about identification through art and design, as well as the different ways design affects their life and they affect design. At the end of the class they made road maps on how they identify themselves through design and exposed their ideas to the class.

Creating road maps in relation to Identification and Design

Day 2 & 3: I introduced them to the creative process by creating a visual gallery in which I showed my personal process to produce the Albero Lamp and the Gaudi Pen. They learned the words sketch and prototype.

After understanding the process of design, they began the sketching process in which they explored their inspirations and how they could transform them into musical instruments.

At the beginning of day 3, I showed them their constrains (exclusive materials they could use when making a musical instrument) that way they could start thinking as a designer (within constrains). In addition, I created a visual gallery with different instruments around the world that could serve as inspiration. On this day their sketches started taking a much more design oriented form. At the end of the day, we had a critique session in which each student exposed his inspiration and possible idea for his design.

Sketching and Critiquing work in order to design a musical instrument

Day 4: Today we began making the first prototype of what will be a musical instrument made with reclaimed plastic lids and leather. I showed them how to use the crop-a-dile, gave them materials to build their prototype and helped them to solve design problems.

We played music and enjoyed ourselves as we wandered around the world of design with our own hands. Today, was the most productive day and, to be honest, the most exciting. Indeed, they like to use their hands and their imagination. Some kids worked on their own, while others partnered with a close friend in order to explore and create.

Exploring, creating, working together, Designing!

Please feel free to comment and of course to follow this blog in order to receive updates of this exciting and inspiring project.

Warm regards,

Isabel

iDo Colombia – Segunda Parte

Done and done with classes . Now my main focus is to continue the development of my graduate creative work. That is: iDo Colombia, Industrial Design Outreach for at risk teenagers in Bogota, Colombia. In less than a month, I’ll … Continue reading

iDo Colombia: Opening doors and creating opportunities

It has been a while since I can focus on this blog. For the last month, I have been focusing on writing my graduate creative work proposal. Tomorrow, I’ll turn it in hoping that it gets approved, so I can go ahead and focus on making the best out of it. Today, I’ll share a small part of my proposal, as it is design related, and most importantly, I would like to know what you think of it.

Industrial Design Outreach Version for Homeless Teenagers in Colombia: Design Education – Opening doors and creating opportunities

Introduction

“The mission of the Industrial Outreach Project (iDo) is to promote the field of industrial design and use of its methodologies to enhance education.” iDo is a collaboration between public high school professors and SF State college students on hands-on interdisciplinary design projects that provide “high-school students with experiences that foster curiosity, promote creativity, and build self-confidence.” The aim of the program is to help students develop vocational skills in the industrial design field.

In the summer of 2011, iDo Colombia will be delivered to homeless teenagers living at the Casa Corazones (Hearts Home) from the Children of the Andes Foundation (Fundación Niños de los Andes) in Bogotá, Colombia. With iDo Colombia, I aim to help homeless teenagers gain a basic understanding of industrial design skills that could be applied in their everyday lives. An understanding of the design process will help them to identify, analyze and solve problems. This will help them to express their emotions, learn new ways to make a living, become more environmentally conscious and learn how to work as a team.

The Fundación Niños de los Andes has been active for almost three decades and in that time has helped transform hundreds of children’s lives. The foundation’s work involves psychological work with abandoned kids and teenagers to help them feel a valuable part society. Many graduates of the program have confirmed that it has helped them to:

  • Escape from violence, prostitution and drug addiction
  • Increase their weight and overcome malnutrition
  • Acquire the skills necessary to sustain themselves
  • Enjoy healthy recreation
  • Heal their wounds, both on their body and their soul
  • Enjoy their childhood and escape child labor
  • Share their life with their peers
  • Learn how to forgive
  • Make their dreams a reality

Today, many graduates of The Children of the Andes Foundation have left the streets behind and now live normal and successful lives with new families.

Teenagers from the Fundacion Niños de Los Andes

Genesis of the Research

From the moment I started my graduate studies in the Design and Industry department at San Francisco State University, I wanted to focus on something that had a connection with my Colombian heritage. At first, I wanted to create a piece of furniture with Colombian symbols that also included a modern European feel. During the first year of my graduate studies, I kept on going back and forth on how to achieve a meaningful design for the Colombian Diaspora. I knew that I wanted to create a product or a piece of furniture that could be of use to my country and other communities around the world. In my search for a meaningful way to focus my thesis, I decided to join iDo. After my first couple of months, I developed an understanding of the importance of bringing design education to at risk teenagers. By joining the California Bench curriculum as a mentor, I learnt how to develop an experience for the kids and realized that I could share my designs with others through both a designer-user relationship and importantly, a designer/mentor-student relationship. As a result, I refocused my creative work with the goal of bringing a similar experience to Colombia.

Teaching high-school students how to create better compositions

The next step was to identify the most appropriate part Colombian society to work with and after seeing the documentary The Two Escobars, I decided to focus on homeless kids.  The Two Escobars explores violence and inequality in Colombia. The film focuses on Pablo Escobar, the world’s most wanted drug lord of the eighties and nineties, and Andres Escobar a humble soccer player raised in the slums of Medellin. The following quote inspired the concept behind iDo Colombia:

We went to school in the same neighborhood, our families didn’t have enough money to feed us, and one day Pablo said a phrase that caught my attention: ‘Jaime, cousin, no rich person in Colombia does anything for the poor. How can we balance inequality in our country? Stealing from the rich. What opportunities of education and employment did Pablo have? His option was to steal. Soon he turned to more lucrative ventures like contraband and dealing drugs – Jaime Gaviria, Pablo Escobar’s cousin.

Pablo Escobar became the master architect of more than 5,000 murders. As a child, he wanted a bright future, yet because of the lack of accessibility to education and opportunities, he turned to the streets to become “El Capo” (The Boss).

Pablo Escobar was born in the 1950s, a very difficult time for Colombia. According to the International Bank of Reconstruction and Promotion, the Colombian educational system was grim.  The rate of illiteracy impacted 44 percent of the population and grade school reached only 46 percent of children between seven and eleven years old.

The Two Escobars opened my eyes to the necessity of providing educational opportunities to children and teenagers not only in Colombia, but also in other parts of the world. It also made me question whether poor kids in Colombia knew what design was. At this moment, I saw a strong connection between the work done at iDo, bringing design education to high school students, and the necessity to offer possibilities to children, teenagers and young people in Colombia.

Objectives of the Study

The iDo Colombia curriculum has been in development since 2010, will be implemented in the summer of 2011 and will then be evaluated to determine its impact. While I have been developing the curriculum, I’ve been focusing on the following objectives:

  1. Teach the design process to the teenagers from the Fundacion Niños de Los Andes – I aim to introduce participants to the different steps designers go through in order to solve a problem and give them a framework to apply that rationale to challenges faced in everyday life. I believe the design process should not be exclusive to designers and instead, it should be inclusive and universal.
  2. Provide basic design/construction skills – With small workshops, I hope to teach basic design concepts and how they may be applied to the construction of prototypes. Hopefully some of these concepts can be combined with skills the kids have acquired in other classes to help them prepare to rejoin the broader society.
  3. Gain insights to be applied into future iDo programs – As this is the first time iDo concepts will be applied to a different country and different target group, there are many lessons to be learnt from this project. Even if the project doesn’t succeed, together with the iDo team, we will have acquired unique insight into what worked and what didn’t work out. This is important as we can use the information to refine future iDo projects to increase the probability of success.

Statement of Problem

On the streets, kids have access to many negative things, including drugs, which could lead them to engage in illegal activities (see fig. 1). “With trust in the home severely eroded by violence, children spend long periods of time in the streets with their friends. Young men often join gangs or military groups associated with political violence. Young women engage in sexual relations at an early age, often becoming pregnant.” Teenage life anywhere in the world is challenging and involves decisive moments that mark a young adult’s future. “Adolescence is generally understood as the period between the ages of 15-19 … the term young adult is the most apt term for this age group, and without doubt, many biological, psychological, and behavioral changes take place.” When teenagers are not being provided with the right educational tools they may choose vandalism, drug use and criminal behavior as a response to boredom and a lack of opportunity. Through iDo Colombia, I hope to share an educational tool (design) that could help improve the life of street teenagers. My intention is also to reconnect them to their Colombian heritage by showing them what other Colombian artisans and designers have done in order to share a cultural identity. Through creative expression, homeless teenagers could develop a positive sense of identity and purpose.

1. Cathy Moser. Ed., Urban Poor Perceptions of Violence and Exclusion in Colombia. (Washington: The International Bank of Reconstruction and Remodeling, 2000), 23, 7.1.

Since Fall 2010, I have been working on the California Bench curriculum at iDo. The bench is meant to house thirty panels made by Thurgood Marshal High School (TMHS) students. Each panel represents a slice of California’s history and how each student perceives it. The curriculum inspires students to look at their personal history and connect it to the history of California. Through this curriculum, I am inspiring students to learn and celebrate their heritage, explore their creative expression and discover laser technology, as each design is being engraved on a small wood panel. I believe some of the activities developed by the iDo team could be introduced in Colombia as a way to inspire students to celebrate their cultural roots, enjoy education, stay at school and graduate.

In the Children of the Andes Foundation 2009 report, they manifested the need for people to teach their young students how to make Christmas cards. They also identified the need for designers to teach them how to make useable products with recyclable materials or materials they could easily access. They are in need of designers willing to share their knowledge and guide them towards becoming active and positive members of the society. This is one more reason to focus my creative work towards this cause.

“Providing a fair start for children means taking a long-term view and investing in human potential, and experience. This has shown to be a productive venture.” Supporting the right type of educational environment for teenagers is investing in human capital. This is not only important in Colombia, but also all over the world.

If you believe in this project, I am rasin funds to get all the necessary materials to implement this project. Please contact me if you want to make a donation. Not only me, but also the kids from the Children of the Andes Foundation would greatly appreciated.


Bags Across the Globe (BAG)

Last Monday, I went to UC Davis to meet with my graduate thesis external advisor Ann Savageau. She also invited me to speak at her sustainable design class which happened to be visiting the UCD Design Museum. While at the … Continue reading