18 09 2009

I woke up this morning and realized that my room looked like a Kenyan shrine!  I have a purple Khanga hanging on my wall, a mahogany carved elephant on my armoire, a safari painting on my shelf, and a giraffe bookstands holding my African themed books.

I miss Africa… and so I plugged in my external and browsed though 1000 pictures and a couple hundred videos.  Here are a few that I have FINALLY found the time to upload…  I leave for Ohio tomorrow morning to visit an underground home with my friend and colleague Hillary.  If I’m not too exhausted when I get back, I’ll post some of my most memorable photographs.


Born Into Brothels

11 05 2009

This is a MUST SEE documentary… If you have a Netflix account, you can watch it on instant play…


This Oscar-winning documentary is a portrait of several unforgettable children who live in Calcutta’s red-light district, where their mothers work as prostitutes. Spurred by the kids’ fascination with her camera, Zana Briski, a photographer documenting life in the brothels, decides to teach them photography. As they begin to look at and record their world through new eyes, the kids awaken to their own talents and sense of worth.

Here are some of the remarkable pictures that were taken by the children of Calcutta’s red-light district…. keep in mind, they are only 10-13 years old:






I spoke with a member of my thesis committee about this documentary, and she suggested that I use the same concept to record the children’s perspective of life in a public primary school in Kenya.  As Westerners (or Middle Easterners), we tend to think that we know what’s best for people in developing countries, but what ends up happening is we strip them of their culture and way of life, forcing western influence onto them. I truly want to provide an environment that works best for the users… and not the designer.

So… the questions is… What can I do to effectively research the day to day routine of students and teachers?  

What can YOU do to save the world?

8 05 2009

So… I have this theory…

It doesn’t matter what your background is… there is always SOMETHING you can do with your professional skills to make the world a better place…


Like a doctor who donates his time to care for children and mothers infected with HIV… 

Like a journalist who writes about female circumcision in Sudan and Malawi, making the world more aware of the ugly situation…

Like an environmentalist who teaches developing communities how to grow their own food, so they can self-sustain themselves… 


What would you do, with your profession, to help the less fortunate???  Be creative… and remember, every little bit counts :)

“Every Family Deserves to Live in a Home Designed by an [Interior Designer]”

18 10 2008

BSB Design, an award winning architectural and planning firm, has a patent pending on a revolutionary housing project known as Abōd.  Most of their innovative work has been accomplished within the United States, but they are now targeting impoverished nations like South Africa.

Their goal is to develop a number of options for low-cost housing structures that can be assembled quickly and easily on pretty much any surface, whether the existing foundation supports it or not.  Here are a few floor plan options:

Abod Floor Plan Options

The unit itself is a standardized structure that can be joint together to create a larger structure. The homes, which are made of corrugated metal and plexiglas panels, are readily manufactured and acquired locally, if available.  Here is what the Abōd looks like:

Single Unit

Single Unit Abōd

L-Shaped Abōd

L-Shaped Abōd

Pretty innovative, but not very sustainable, especially since the materials are pre-fabricated outside of South Africa (shipping causes pollution that could have been avoided if local materials were used instead).  I do have to give props to the ease of assembly though.  The Abōd can be constructed by four people, using only a screw driver and an awl (that’s ok, I didn’t know what awl meant either and had to look it up – it’s a tool that allows you pierce holes into surfaces such as leather).

The Abōd costs $1500 a piece and can be purchased by a low-income family through micro-financing, another revolutionary idea that I’ll post about another time.

Here’s what it looks like on the interior:

Not bad!  But what happens in the winter time though?  Corrugated metal is not the best heat insulator. 

This inspired me to look into developing a standardized floor plan for a K-12 school than can be adjusted based on its location.

That’s all I’ve got for today!  It’s friday night and I need a drink.