graffiti and public space.

free speech

This is a fol­low up to a con­ver­sa­tion that start­ed over at think:lab.

I make the argu­ment graf­fit­ti is free speech. Take a look at the tagged images of linked to in this post… thanks to every­one who has con­tributed at flickr. If you have images you would like to add go to flickr and add the tags: graf­fit­ti, public­space, and freespeech to your images and upload them.

Spraypaint and free speech.

bor­ough high street
Orig­i­nal­ly uploaded by emble­ton.

I was over at Chris­tian’s blog thin­klab and read his post about a group of design­ers and oth­er inter­est­ed par­ties argu­ing that graf­fi­ti is free speech. Most of this is from a com­ment I made at his blog but… I’ve added a bit and will be adding a pho­tolink soon. The law in New York bans any­one under the age of 21 from buy­ing spray paint or wide tipped markers.

I have to weigh in on this hav­ing been a design stu­dent in NYC. The legal age to use spray­paint or mark­ers is — 21? So, how old are first years when they head off to art school, archi­tec­ture school, design school, col­lege? 19? So that means you can’t go to the art sup­ply store buy some oak­tag and sharpies and do posters? Can’t spray paint that chair you picked up on Canal Street when you were walk­ing home?

I remem­ber them lock­ing every­thing up at Pearl Paint it was stu­pid then and now.

I hate graf­fi­ti that isn’t more than some­one mark­ing their ter­ri­to­ry like a dog. But I think that graf­fi­ti is free speech, its art, and art con­tin­ues to fright­en some peo­ple. Usu­al­ly because it speaks a truth that is uncon­ve­nient or uncomfortable.
We need a more cre­ative solution.

Just think about 7eleven lock­ing up cig­a­rettes like NYC locks up spray paint. That would be something.

Now it’s got me on a ram­page. For the next week I’m going to pho­to­graph graf­fi­ti… maybe I’ll ask some of my com­padres at Flickr to help me out. Keep a look­out for my post of a gallery. Then you can think about it too.


Rome Dinnerware

Joel Katz my friend, neigh­bor, and col­league has designed a set of din­ner­ware based on his Urban Icons project. These are a series of icon­ic maps of cities con­tained with­in cir­cles. I love these art­ful reduc­tions of an urban land­scape. I’m try­ing to decide how many place set­tings we’ll need to order. I guess it depends when the Paris set will be ready. Don’t you think we need a Philadel­phia set? I imag­ine hav­ing each per­son dine on a set from a dif­fer­ent city.

Joel is an excep­tion­al design­er, infor­ma­tion archi­tect, car­tog­ra­ph­er, pho­tog­ra­ph­er and teacher. His office designed the largest wayfind­ing sys­tem in North Amer­i­ca, Walk!Philadelphia. His pho­tog­ra­phy has been exhib­it­ed and pub­lished in both the U.S. and abroad, and his work is in the col­lec­tion of the Muse­um of Mod­ern Art and the Coop­er-Hewitt Muse­um, New York, and the Muse­um of Mod­ern Art, Tokyo and Kyoto.
Joel intro­duced us to the build­ing that is now the home of both of our stu­dios. We share the joys of our work on a dai­ly basis its only a walk across the hall.

A six-piece set of din­ner­ware based on a dia­gram­mat­ic map of Rome. The Quiri­nale is in the cen­ter, sur­round­ed by Trinità dei Mon­ti, Sta Maria Mag­giore, the Colos­se­um, and the Pan­theon. Also on the full map (on the din­ner plate) are the Tiber, St Peter’s, the Borgh­ese Gar­dens, the Baths of Cara­calla, and the Aure­lian Wall with its gates. The salad/dessert plate with type is a dia­gram of Etr­uscan heaven.

Din­ner­ware is avail­able through Joel Katz Design Associates
215 985 4747 TEL

Take a look at his pho­tog­ra­phy at :

Changing a place : re-expressing learning.

building stellarvisions
Last week Ali­na was head­ing to a talk about The Vil­lage of Arts and Human­i­ties; this is the Vil­lage’s 20th Anniver­sary. In her always gen­er­ous way she intro­duced me [ and Mar­garet ] to Chris­t­ian Long who was at a brand iden­ti­ty talk she gave in Texas and had made a stop in Philadel­phia. Chris­t­ian is Pres­i­dent and CEO of Design Share an inter­na­tion­al forum for inno­v­a­tive schools.

What a great joy when he walked into our stu­dio and exclaimed: “What a great space!” Noth­ing makes me hap­pi­er than some­one enjoy­ing the space we have cre­at­ed that dri­ves our day to day work expe­ri­ence. We had a great chance to give him the speed tour of Stel­larvi­sions. Lat­er that night we had a twen­ty minute chat at a cafe across the street from the stu­dio. We talked about what we each do at a speedy pace. It was, describe what you do con­cen­trate. After we explained what we do he said; “Oh, IDEO on a human scale.” Wow, was that was spot on.
Chris­t­ian has bound­less ener­gy, tremen­dous focus, and a relent­less com­mit­ment to rein­vent the way we think about edu­ca­tion and edu­cat­ing. His work to cre­ate bet­ter learn­ing envi­ron­ments is aligned with our work around cul­ture-dri­ven tools™. The place where learn­ing takes place is as impor­tant as what you teach. Design of an envi­ron­ment express­es and sup­ports its cul­ture and values.

Chris­t­ian has a blog think:lab, I vis­it twice a week now. Imag­ine my sur­prise when there was a post from him about my blog and Stel­larvi­sions. You can check it out here.
This is the begin­ning of a con­ver­sa­tion I first became involved in with our fund rais­ing work at CHAD: Char­ter High School for Archi­tec­ture and Design.

Learn­ing nev­er stops. The pho­to up top is a from the con­struc­tion of the Stel­larvi­sions stu­dio. Our space was cre­at­ed to sup­port our core val­ues, fos­ter col­lab­o­ra­tion, share knowl­edge, and inspire new ideas.

More about The Vil­lage of Arts and Humanities
“Begin­ning in 1986, with a sin­gle goal of trans­form­ing a vacant lot into a park for chil­dren in the neigh­bor­hood the Vil­lage of Arts and Human­i­ties was created.”

The Vil­lage is an inspir­ing expe­ri­ence for any­one who walks through it. It is spir­it visu­al­ized. There are a num­ber of events tak­ing place. If you can attend one do it. It will awake your heart and soul.

The Vil­lage of Arts and Humanities
2544 Ger­man­town Avenue
Philadel­phia, PA 19133

Check out the web­site for more.

ipod as diagnostic tool?

ipod heart sounds
I’m not sure how I end­ed up at this arti­cle but it hap­pened through the amaz­ing tan­gen­tial inter­net land­scape. [,8599,1150017,00.html ]

Wow, what a smart idea. Let’s have doc­tors brush up their skills by lis­ten­ing to actu­al heart­beats over and over to hone their skills. Do it on an ipod isn’t that using tech­nol­o­gy in a super duper new way?

Been there. Done that.

Hearts sounds spread 2Hearts sounds spread 1Heart and Breath Sounds product
Here are the cov­ers of a project that we did at Stel­larvi­sions back in 1988. You can click on the thumb­nails to see them at full size. This includ­ed a paper­back book 130 pages and a cas­sette tape. One prod­uct was for heart sounds the oth­er breath sounds. The prod­ucts were cre­at­ed for nurs­es. A first for the pub­lish­er, the books were pro­duced using total­ly elec­tron­ic files. Illus­tra­tions indi­cat­ing where to place the stetho­scope and ECG’s were cre­at­ed in Adobe Illus­tra­tor 88. The book files were cre­at­ed in Aldus Page­mak­er and out­put imposed direct­ly to film. We cre­at­ed the dig­i­tal files on an Apple Mac­in­tosh SE30.

Maybe we should sug­gest the client bring back the prod­uct and sell it with an ipod shuffle.

Just so we cov­er all the bases.

Pub­lish­er: Spring­house Corporation

Art Direc­tor: John Hubbard

Cov­er design: Don­na Giannola

Design­er: Stellarvisions

Stephanie Peters, asso­ciate art director

William Sloane Coffin Dies at 81

We lost a great voice for human­i­ty this past week. An inspi­ra­tion for most of my life Rev William Sloan Cof­fin had a steady moral com­pass. He will be remem­bered and great­ly missed.
From the New York Times:

Dr. Cof­fin, a believ­er in the pow­er of civ­il dis­obe­di­ence to bring social and polit­i­cal change, was arrest­ed as a Free­dom Rid­er ear­ly in the 1960’s and was an ear­ly admir­er of the Rev. Dr. Mar­tin Luther King Jr.

eightytwo degrees?


I looked at my weath­er wid­get this morn­ing and found that it would be a sun­ny 82 degrees. Isn’t that just a bit too warm too ear­ly? I was hop­ing to be wear­ing my sweaters for at least anoth­er week.

It made me think about An Incon­ve­nient Truth the sto­ry of Al Gore fight­ing to save our plan­et by rais­ing aware­ness about glob­al warm­ing. The film was shown at Sun­dance and will be released in the­aters on May 24th. The com­pelling truth is a ral­ly­ing cry.

It is time to design better.


This is me edit­ing my blog with a ter­rif­ic lit­tle… well not so lit­tle 38 meg appli­ca­tion Flock. 

It has its own blog edi­tor which I am using right now. I can style my con­tent and make it bold, ital­ic, and my favorite crossed out. It will let me cre­ate num­bered lists so that I can num­ber things I need to do: 

  1. make a cap­ture of the editor.
  2. put a link to the web­site
  3. select the right categories.
  4. look for upload tool for my captures.

I think it has a spell checker… 

Yes it does and the win­dow is very sweet. Easy to understand.
I like this tool bet­ter than the inter­face that Word­Press offers you even using the OSX inter­face. This inter­face under­stands how I want to do things. 


  • it has an edi­tor view and a source view [so if you want to link to files you have already uploaded or do html if you want to 
  • the inter­face is very clean.
  • you have a pop up selec­tor for accounts.
  • you can select a post to edit or cre­ate a new post

It has a win­dow to drag con­tent into. I’m going to try drag­ging the cap­ture of this win­dow in here. Nope. Ok I did­n’t under­stand. I need­ed to set up access to my flickr account. Then I can upload to flickr by drag­ging files int a bar. I can also access all my images. Please under­stand that I am fly­ing by the seat off my pants here. I did­n’t read any­thing. I always try to see how mucch I can do with any appli­ca­tion with­out direc­tions. Direc­tions are for old people.


Ok. I’m select­ing the cat­e­gories for the post. 

And I’m going to publish.