Micène Fontaine, August 10, 2022
Three times a week, you can find me on a beach in Hawaii, near the pyramids of Giza, or on Mars for a 30-minute virtual reality boxing session with a coach. Instead of gloves, I wear controllers and an Oculus Quest headset. The targets rush toward me often faster than I can dish out jabs, hooks, and uppercuts.
I have one job: Ignore the distractions to stay focused on the target in front of me and the one right behind it. It gives my body a chance to queue up the next two moves. That’s all I can handle. The moment I get distracted by the targets or the score flashing in the background, I start missing more and more targets until I regain my focus.
I love the physical activity as much as I like the mental exercise. It’s a reminder of the importance of the architecture of choice and of separating the noise (distractions) from the signal (where I need to place my attention). It’s a critical skill to master when running a small business. It’s also a reminder that as small business owners or practitioners, we must keep an eye on what is coming next. In a world where everything is interconnected, it’s a delicate balance between drowning in a sea of irrelevant information and ignoring critical signals of what’s to come.Continue Reading
Micène Fontaine, August 2, 2022
This cartoon made me smile because it captures our tendency to overcomplicate (and at times oversimplify things.) Sometimes things are fine the way they are.Continue Reading
Micène Fontaine, July 28, 2022
In 1982, when the term "third place" was coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg to refer to spaces that are neither home nor work, social media did not exist, neither did the internet, and there were clear lines between where people worked and where they lived. Things have changed quite a bit on that front. Yet, third places are as essential to community life today - if not more - than 40 years ago.Continue Reading
Cindy Grant, July 25, 2022
After hosting a Change by Design session on The Art of Urban Mining with Resa Weber, it was clear that architects and designers are very receptive to the idea so why has the building industry not yet integrated Urban Mining into its sustainable practices? What are the obstacles standing in the way of widespread adoption by design professional?Continue Reading
Micène Fontaine, July 19, 2022
Connections - meaningful ones - we all crave them. Even hardcore introverts like me need them, and after two years of semi-isolation, I am reminiscing on hours spent working in coffee shops. Dubbed the “third place,” coffee shops are the ultra local/decentralized hubs of community life. The inevitable pinboard offers a window into what the community is up to and how to get involved.Continue Reading
Micène Fontaine, July 12, 2022
“No pets allowed.” Who would have thought 3 words on a sign would be a deterrent to women coming in to seek shelter in a place designed to make them feel welcome and safe. If you listen to the “Hidden Brain” podcast, you already know that it was indeed a deterrent. There was a “mismatch.” Women who had found the courage to leave an abusive situation often left with children and the family pet. Was it an oversight or a flaw in the design process?
In contrast, you have designers like Cas Holman. “Design for Play '' is the title of the Netflix documentary dedicated to her work. In the episode, she shares her creative process and the care she takes in imagining the various ways in which kids could intuitively engage with a single toy. It involves a lot of time thinking like a kid and observing kids engage with various prototypes. Cas Holman’s approach to design is fundamentally about inclusion. It removes or lowers as many barriers as can be for as many end users (kids in this case) as possible from engaging with the task at hand (play).
Inclusive design is not about compliance with existing accessibility standards. It is a given that the solution should - at the very least - meet these standards. Instead, inclusive design is about identifying where the frictions are in a particular experience across as wide a range of users in as wide a range of situations as possible. While inclusive design started in the digital world and was primarily concerned with user interface and user experience, it has long since been adopted as a design approach for products, services, and the built environment.Continue Reading
Micène Fontaine, June 30, 2022
With America's birthday only a few days away, independence is in the air alongside countless American flags. The idea of autonomy and independence - albeit severely bruised for some and unencumbered for others - is deeply embedded in our shared American DNA.Continue Reading
Micène Fontaine, June 29, 2022
Words etched in braille onto a railing. The idea is simple, yet it's my second time writing about it and it's not just me. It was this railing's claim to social media fame. It's a seemingly minor change, yet for a person who is blind visiting the site, it means being able to share in the experience - on their own.Continue Reading
Micène Fontaine, June 22, 2022
Monroe, LA. Population 47,702. That is not where I pictured myself - ever. Yet, in 2020, when it became obvious that my 85- and 87-year-old in-laws needed extra support, we moved. We bought a house, and they moved in with us while the detached garage was being rebuilt into their own space. Preserving their sense of independence was paramount. That meant accessibility, visitability, and safety were at the top of our list.Continue Reading
Micène Fontaine, May 24, 2022
From architecture to anatomy, art, and science, we each stand to learn something from Leonardo da Vinci but perhaps more so for architects and designers whose work it is to help us chart a path forward through “uncertain” times.Continue Reading