Inspired design at Architecture van Brandenburg

3D printed model showing the centre of the Marisfrolg Headquarters.

Yesterday, I had the divine pleasure to be invited as part of the Hive Dunedin team to Architecture Van Brandenburg in Dunedin. I had heard just a little about the amazing 3D models and designs they are working on and I certainly was not disappointed when I saw their design space in person. The featured design for a Chinese client was epic in many ways. Inspiration drawn from natural organic forms was the key theme of the design, yet the design was distinctly still architecturally structured. All aspects and spaces were clearly well considered, no detail too small or insignificant. Using natural structures really is a stroke of genius as all things in nature have a purpose. It surprises me that we don’t look at nature more often to gain inspiration. Only when we disturb nature do we tend to have problems. Form and function go together. From the way a leaf channels water away from itself or towards its roots, the runway tracks that a flower displays to its pollinators, there is purpose. And these purposes can be adapted to be used in design. From effectively transporting rain runoff, to leading guests to their destinations.

When you look at the design you see palm leaves, or could it be wings, elliptical leaves. and curved leaf margins.  The design is representative of the bird in flight. There are shell inspired rooves and areas that look like dunes.  The

Artwork on the a larger scal model showing how mosaic tiles will be used.

more I look at it the more I see.  This may also be the nature of a building that is clearly a work of art, that the individual sees different things.


Damien and Ashleigh, talked about the construction itself which is underway and expected to take 3 yrs to complete.  The many buildings are being constructed of steel and concrete formwork.  Hard industrial materials that are in contrast to the natural lines of the buildings.  A contrast that works.  Where would we be without contrasting elements.  Contrast is what draws attention to art or design.  Much like colours that are opposite compliment each other.  Red and green, purple and yellow. orange and blue.  I found one building on the model that seemed out of place.  Looking like a lego block.  I instantly thought this was planned but in

I found one building on the model that seemed out of place, looking like a lego block.  I instantly thought this was planned but in fact it was a happy accident of contrast. It was a building hosting the air-conditioning/ventilation system ( I think i got that right), a building that was not allowed to be altered.


deisgn starts with cardboard models

On a larger scale model we got to see the artwork on the building including the tiles on the roof.  This artwork is putting to use gorgeous seconds glazed tiles.  Tiles that would otherwise be waste in an industry where every tile needs to be perfect.  The tiles are being broken up to make the mosaic artwork.


Thanks to Damien and Ashleigh for showing the team and students around.  I know I found the experience inspiring, and given the questions from our 10-12 group, I could tell they enjoyed it too.

Making an Ass out of cultural assumptions

Sometimes even the big guys get it wrong.    Today’s blog post is a cautionary tale about lazy assumptions on cultural stereotypes.  In hindsight, it would seem so obvious as to why Victorias Secret got it all so wrong in their attempt to woo the Chinese market.

Great idea trying to break into the Chinese market. It’s how you went about it that’s lazy. I want to assume its laziness at this point because just a little research should have alerted you to the error in your marketing plan.  Victorias Secret, You can’t just slap a dragon on a practically naked woman and think that’s going to work.  Who came up with that? Who approved that?  Did somebody in your marketing department question this culturally outdated and insensitive move?  They did??? Promote them now!

When entering a new market, you should do your homework.  What are the values, morals, and ethics of that market?  What are the views, agendas, thoughts of your target audience at this time?  What influences them?  What do their cultural symbols mean to them?  How will they feel if a Western country uses their cultural symbols for marketing?  How is China changing?  Because it is changing!

Helen H. Wang got it right when she said that:
“it takes more than a superficial understanding of Chinese culture to attract Chinese consumers.”
And I can’t see how this attempt was anything but superficial.

Helen Wang goes on to talk about NIKE who have so successfully addressed the Chinese Market.  Just watch their video over at her article about addressing the Chinese market here.
Honestly, her take on the whole Victorias secret failure and Nike success is well worth the read and not something I can paraphrase and do justice to.

My point in all this is to know your audience.  If you don’t know your audience, find someone who does, and do some research.

Real time application development technology solutions

As a veteran web developer I have seen huge changes in client requirements and the way we build websites.

In the early days web development was just about creating static documents accessible online, but quickly we needed a way to link these requests into a “session”, and this allowed for user authentication and customisation of user experience.

We built large complex online applications that required user initiated interaction where a request was made to the server and content served to the user. Many developers still use this approach and most websites online today probably fall into this category. To check for changes the user has to refresh.

Then technological developments allowed for asynchronous requests and we could start to build in some degree of continuity between user initiated requests. This became increasingly common with the increasing popularity of jQuery and the use of AJAX (asynchronous JavaScript and XML).

Continue Reading..

The Necessity of moving with the times

Forgive me for my pop culture references with this article.  You see, Art imitates life, and as much as there are lessons in life there are endless opportunities for lessons in Art.  While watching Downton Abbey the other night there was that reference for keeping up with the times.  These people are living in the 20’s, the post war era, and they mentioned how in just 10 years how the acceptable moral standards had changed and also how their lives as aristocrats had changed.  And if they did not accept and embrace these changes they would be left behind.

Continue Reading..

Hashtags (how many?) and Engagement

Have you noticed hashtags are now appearing on Facebook?  At this point it isn’t an integral part of Facebook and there is no need to start adding it to your business posts.  In fact, it has a slight ick factor with some Facebook users as it is not the norm.  But, what about the other social media platforms?

Its pretty simple thankfully when it comes to how many hashtags to use for optimum engagement on Twitter and Instagram.  In terms of hashtag use on Tumblr, we’ll also talk about that.Continue Reading..

The truth about image size – Facebook

Facebook suggests some things in order to have the best quality images on Facebook.  But the fact remains that Facebook still compresses images.  In order to have the best images you can, it is wise to follow some rules.

These are Facebooks recommendations to get your photos and images to display in the highest possible quality?

  • Resize your photo to one of the following supported sizes:

    Regular photos: 720px, 960px, 2048px (width)
    Cover photos: 851px by 315px
  • If you use a 2048px photo, make sure to select the High Quality option when you upload it

    Continue Reading..