Micène Fontaine

Micène Fontaine

Executive Director at Design Arts Seminars, Inc.
For Micène's bio, please visit http://www.designarts.org/das-team.

Micène Fontaine:

Micène Fontaine, September 8, 2022

Decanthropy. I like the name, but that's not why I was on a second call with Ian Rolston, NCIDQ, IDC, ARIDO, LEED GA. Ian is Founder and Lead Decanthropist at Decanthropy. We discussed logistical details for his Change by Design presentation but mostly we talked about the change we see unfolding in the architecture & design industry. We talked about the great work we see happening and the less inspiring as well.   

As the conversation unfolded, a pattern emerged as to what was getting in the way of positive change. The familiar pattern goes something like this: Stakeholders on a project get very excited about the potential of a particular solution. And, just as quickly, find a seemingly compelling reason (often something to do with clients) why it could not be implemented. At least not now… 

This is a prevalent and straightforward pattern. And we, humans, are very good at this. We even do it with our own ideas. We quickly find a reason why an idea won't work. It takes no effort. I should know :-)

Stop icon by Freepik - Flaticon
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:Change by DesignDominoesSustainability

Micène Fontaine, September 1, 2022

"Get off the foam." It made me laugh, so I thought I would share. I'll get back to it shortly, but first, after reading about the Italian architecture firm (Ricehouse) that converts the by-products from rice cultivation into regenerative building products, I had two questions. 

First, I wondered about what happens to the by-products of the main crop in my region - sugarcane. I since learned that it goes into the production of disposable plates and trays meant to provide a compostable alternative to the styrofoam trays still widely used by grocery stores to hold everything from cheese assortments to meats, veggies, seafood, etc.

Images: Ricehouse
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:Change by DesignSustainable Cities and CommunitiesRegenerative Materials

Micène Fontaine, August 23, 2022

What does your work add up to? What does it mean or say about you, your design practice, your values, your priorities, and your purpose? For many of us, our identity is closely linked to our work, title, and what we put "out there." Yet, the most common response we get to what we do: Crickets. 

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:Change by Design

Micène Fontaine, August 17, 2022

The room is dark. One eye covered, letters flash smaller and smaller on the wall in front of you. You read what you see out loud - or take a guess before your vision becomes too blurry. Maybe the "guessing" and the "blurry" part is just me, but for most of us, some strings of letters are very comfortable to read, while others require us to strain.  

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:Change by Design

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.

Screencast of one of my boxing workouts in Supernatural.

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.

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:Food for Thought and Action

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.

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:Design Arts SeminarsChange by DesignSustainable Cities and CommunitiesShared Value in Architecture

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.

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:Change by Design

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.

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:Sustainable Cities and Communities

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 theHidden Brainpodcast, 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.

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:Change by DesignInclusive Design

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.

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:Change by Design
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