Sweet Osmanthus

Suzhou-Osmanthus-01aI arrived last June with a cab from the airport. Through the open window I smelt unfamiliar odours originating from the many construction works we passed by. They were not likeable, and over time the smells disappeared.

Now I smell Osmanthus. It is a shrub that is indigenous in Asia and is flowering. Its scent led me to it. It is sweet and typical and invades bathroom windows, restaurants, workplaces, highways, nothing remains the same. Suzhou made Osmanthus their city flower.

Some people use the flowers to flavour their food. I once bought Osmanthus tea in the Netherlands at Simon Levelt but found the smell too weird. It fits here and I like it. Makes me wonder whether Dutch cities have city flowers. After all we are famous for being enthusiastic growers!

Sugarcane at Auchan

This week there was a special box at Auchan (supermarket) with sugarcane. Next to it was an employee to provide the cuttings. First he removed the bark. Then he would ask the woman to hold the cleaned part. With one mighty chop he cut the cane in two, and the whole procedure was repeated. Meanwhile the husband held the bag with cut sugarcane. The child also had a piece to nibble on.

Design Conferences? Find them here!

  • Cumulus (International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media). It also includes vacancies.
  • Design Journal & Conference Calls. Site maintained by Filippo Salustri.
  • Design Research Society.
  • JISC mailing list for Design PhD’s. With interesting discussions.
  • Icograda (International Council of Communication Design) events. Mainly for design shows, but also some other events.
  • Students marching by

    Students wearing uniforms near XJTLU-campus

    Students wearing uniforms near XJTLU-campus

    It still is the start of the academic year! That means that first year students will get military training to instil some nationally cherished virtues in them, like discipline and national pride. At the end of their training they have to fire some bullets too. I had heard about the training. But nevertheless I was surprised when I saw four platoons of female students marching by.

    Design wise their uniforms look fresh and colourful. Not the drab greens and rusty reds usually associated with China. After training it is time for relaxation and old habits creep in again: students grap their handbags, mobiles and tea cups. It seems that some of them also wear army issued sneakers.

    Now it is just playtime. But what about the future? Will this training make them support the military more when China does get involved in a conflict? For now my only worry is that this training does not prepare them well for the courses creative thinking at our Industrial Design Department. Of course the training could also work counter productive. I will ask my students.


    Redesigning UK train tickets?


    In 2011 designer Daniel Gray and a friend made two return trips by train in the United Kingdom (UK)  from York to Ipswich. To their surprise they needed 25 seperate tickets to make this journey. Such an amount is not unusual in the UK as also Laura Barnard and Rachel Woodward (14 tickets) can testify too. Gray wrote on his blog: ‘somewhere along the way ticket designers forgot about humans […] one journey, one ticket, how difficult is that?’. Responding to his outcry fellow designers tried to improve UK railway tickets. Did they get ticket design on top of the agenda of British railway companies? Continue reading

    Graphic design history-course at the University of Amsterdam

    In 2006 the Association of Dutch Designers (BNO) and the University of Amsterdam (UVA) established a chair for ‘Modern Typography and Graphic Design’. This chair is taken by prof. dr. Esther Cleven, and will–unfortunately–be abolished in August 2010. Wibo Bakker was asked to develop and teach the last course associated with this chair: ‘Graphic Design and Visual Culture in the 20th Century’.