Nature, 3D Printing, and Rock n’ Roll: Biomimetic Approach to User Experience Design

I had a great time at UX Conference this past weekend and will absolutely write a post about all the brilliant speakers that graced the stage of Canada Museum of Civilization. In the meantime, let me share my presentation about lizards, caterpillars, guitar picks, and my new-found love for UX community.

Enjoying a rock concert with the audience

Enjoying a rock concert with the audience

Of lizards, caterpillars, and love



Happy Birthday, Leonardo!

My friend, another great polymath, Andrew Plumb reminded me that today is Leonardo Da Vinci’s birthday – the epitomy of Renaissance man, whose works inspire all my passions. He was interested in everything: painting, sculpture, music, anatomy, mechanics, optics, architecture, geology, hydraulics, without attributing a real priority to any of these subjects.

He was also a man of multiple personalities (something I get accused of often). Either you are deeply touched watching him beautifully assisting a dying man and, just a few seconds after the death, you become disappointed seeing him calmly dissecting the still warm body. You can watch Leonardo wandering in the countryside, lovingly observing birds and their flight, flowers and their structure, the lives of insects and their anatomy, and the flow of moving water, and then return to his lab to design powerful weapons and war machines.

I sometimes hear debates on whether Leonardo was more of a scientist, an artist, or a technologist and am often frustrated by today’s anachronistic methods of cleaving such polymath into primitive parts. By seeing this world as a whole, and by striving to unify it through all the disciplines, essentially means that he pursued five hundred years ago what every person should today: integral, holistic perspective of the ever changing world we continuously observe and remake.


Francine Houben: culture and nature in landscape design

Designers love to build prototypes. So do architects. Let’s imagine the farmer to be one of such prototypes. “He prospers only insofar as he understands the land and by its management maintains the bounty. So too with the man who builds. If an architect is perceptive to the processes of nature, to materials, and to forms, his creations will be appropriate to the place; they will satisfy the needs of social process and shelter, be expressive and endure.”

Vincenzo and I went to a lovely lecture by Francine Houben, an architect who loves and builds for people. The lecture series, organized by Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism and held at spacious National Gallery of Canada Auditorium, feature such prominent architects as Edouard Francois – the author of Flower Tower; Gregory Burgess – the proponent of architecture as a social, healing, and ecological art; and other inspiring urban innovators.

The Forum Lecture Series kicked off with an inspirational quote by Wim Wenders “If Buildings Could Talk … ”

… some of them would sound like Shakespeare.
Others would speak like the Financial Times,
yet others would praise God, or Allah.
Some would just whisper,
some would loudly sing their own praises,
while others would modestly mumble a few words
and really have nothing to say.
Some are plain dead and don’t speak anymore…

Buildings are like people, in fact.
Old and young, male and female,
ugly and beautiful, fat and skinny,
ambitious and lazy, rich and poor,
clinging to the past
or reaching out to the future.

Don’t get me wrong: this is not a metaphor.
Buildings DO speak to us!
They have messages. Of course.
Some really WANT a constant dialogue with us.
Some rather listen carefully first.
And you have probably noticed:
Some of them like us a lot, some less
and some not at all.

What a perfect introduction to Miss Houben’s lecture about buildings “that are eager to welcome, to help, to be of service”.  The famous Library of Delft University of Technology has brought Francine an international recognition in 1998.  Her reasons for undertaking the project seemed to revolve around the issue of public spaces and natural settings that would welcome people to walk, feed on sunlight, and enjoy the company of each other.

TU Delft Library


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