a curious mind

A hero in my life. chad mooney.

chad mooney book cover

I have been a witness to my brother's 5 year battle with cancer. Through pure determination, a profoundly positive fighting spirit, a love of life and 34 surgeries with heavy chemo treatments, radiation therapy and more chemo inbetween, he has survived beyond any medical professional's best guess.

Now, as the options for further treatment have been reduced, I have seen him transit into a deeper state of grace. He has taken his beaten body out of the chair to share his story of perseverance through adversity with young men on the football field and in presentations across corporate boardrooms. He has used cancer as a gift to let others know that there is no room for defeat. from his pinnacle days on wall street to his fight with cancer, he has written a book to reflect on the value of life's hard lessons and why each day is a gift, no matter the pain.

he is living his true character with integrity as a coach, mentor, an advocate for human rights and a passionate competitor who left it all on the field of play.

he is a hero to me.


the 6th extinction.

Somewhere along the way, we lost our way.

i read today of the increased speed with which species are dying. as a nation, we have told the world that we want to renegotiate the Paris climate accord. if time is of the essence, where is the urgency to act?

what future have we left the next generation and those who will try to survive and thrive thereafter?

the blackest black

vantablack is the blackest black on earth. consisting of tiny carbon nanotubes adhered to a substrate, the tubes capture more than 96% of light. the effect on three-dimensional surfaces obliterates the visual changes in form. the material has been developed for use in outer space where thermal cycling, high shock and vacuum are present.


vantablack samples are available to commercial and educational customers and may be ordered from the lab in england. a new spray version of the material allows applications to be applied like paint, but controlled conditions are required. samples are currently costing about 600 Euro.

missing zaha

of the many stellar women in the world today, zaha hadid was a creative standout for me. her bravery and strength of vision were evidence of a once-in-a-lifetime talent. she stood self-assured in a profession dominated by men. her bold and noble persian eyes wide open, she throttled architecture where it had not gone before to realize the crisp shards of her seminal "peak" project in hong kong to the undulating curves and speed-filled volumes of stadiums, office towers and museums.

zaha hadid imagined a new architecture. she strode a wave born from the architectural association, the radical london school. around the world, experiments were percolating by gehry, tschumi and koolhas (the latter, her professor at the aa). zaha plotted her own course. she had the mathematician's view of digital age design and the artist's spirit where gravity no longer existed and fluid architecture floated curves with rigorous abandon.

i miss zaha. i wish that i had known her in life. she was an amazing architect and an amazing woman.

future watch.

DesignWeek/PDX, Cia Mooney

DesignWeek/PDX, Cia Mooney

the world is shifting. not just baby seismic rumblings from the salton sea, but big thunderous tsunami warnings from the tech future of now. you see, we can't wait anymore for breathing room to ascend the heights by slow learning. today, you/me/we have to hook the rocket. VR (virtual reality) is great for gaming, but you're isolated in a specific bubble. AR (augmented reality) takes it up a notch, but xR/mr (mixed reality) is the new frontier.  here, the environment that you experience in real time (your life) is fully mapped by the machine enabling designers or the user to build therein or there upon. architects use it to walk through virtual constructions and imagined spaces.  

so, get a google cardboard VR set that uses your cell phone as the screen. it's very low cost and you can pick the apps to watch. the apps are not very high fideliity, but you can go into museums that you may never get a chance to visit and skydive in a wing suit through cragged peaks and treetops. try this world out.

if designers fear obsolescence, we should. if we choose to participate in new technologies and tools, like TILT BRUSH and HOLOLENS, we can and should. the tech industry is pulling human experiences into the virtual domains of tomorrow. if you go without resistance, fine. we have to trust the creative sensibilities of artists, designers, architects and purveyors of techno-culture to help us crack the the tech future in which humankind and the planet can thrive. less violence. less threats of war. less pressure on the planet and other species, let alone our own.

dreamers and creative thinkers will interpret new spaces for human interactions. the built world will be sensorially-responsive made of light, color, sound and haptic responses.

it's moving fast. 

hang on.

studio swine


studio swine (super wide interdisciplinary new explorers) is a creative practice that explores contemporary themes like terraforming and upcycling with fresh eyes. they are an inspiring duo - architect and artist. 

liquid modern

liquid modernity

liquid modernity is written by zygmunt bauman, the noted polish sociologist. he clearly outlines the transient nature of modern life and the parallel universe of inequality between those who thrive in the fluid techno-infused present versus those skilled in the trades of the past. 

i recommend reading bauman's insightful body of work.


the oval is a beautiful form and sized right, it's easy for the hand to hold. this study is in black mdf and the sides are tapered slightly inward to improve grip. each person grabbed it like a remote control. weird, but predictable.  what if it was made of clear glass or soft fabric...what if it was thinner or fatter...what then? how does form communicate function any more? next time, take a look at a home device that you are supposed to talk to...what's guiding you except the advertising about use? how do you know that you can have a conversation with the thing? now, take a look a JIBO. ok. it's more far off and beyond delayed in getting to the market. call it unrealistic and unrehearsed challenges with limited product development expectation setting, but i give the team props. In their effort to create humanistic references without a cheap impersonation of a human being, they've offered one potent view for our assistive objects.

robots are here to stay. they will grow in the image we make of them. i see many designers struggle with these reference points. i would do not better. 

post-plastic economy

exploded - cia mooney

exploded - cia mooney

with my students, i explore the world of the big box stores for product design lessons.

products in these stores have a short shelf life. many toys have limited educational benefits and given the number of parts and pieces shown above, limited sustainable qualities. compare childhood learning of shape and color to the tactile richness of wooden blocks serving the same function.

although this particular product is designed for disassembly, it's probably hitting the landfill at the end of its useful life. 

essential form

sloop - cia mooney

sloop - cia mooney

the functional beauty of a hull. the utility of rigging. the elimination of excess.

lessons for design.


seaweed inspired

island shore - cia mooney

island shore - cia mooney

the naturally buoyant forms scattered at the water's edge never cease to amaze. 


skill sets

seattle waterfront - cia mooney

seattle waterfront - cia mooney

if you could hire anyone, wouldn't you want the captains of these vessels on your side?


minimalism communicated

seattle museum - cia mooney

seattle museum - cia mooney

carl andre, the legendary minimalist sculptor, presented his design instructions for a piece in simple terms.


bare necessity

brooklyn loft - cia mooney

brooklyn loft - cia mooney

the rusty handle and galvanized window, stripped of paint, become more noble objects.



vintage army tinware - cia mooney

vintage army tinware - cia mooney

utilitarian beauty.

seen on the street

bark box, new york city - cia mooney

bark box, new york city - cia mooney

In New York City, the window box wrapped in bark is a strong contrast to the urban space.


happy feet

chinatown - cia mooney

chinatown - cia mooney

a cool foot chart that shows the location of vital organs and body parts connected to our feet. the illustration is clear to the user, even if you cannot read the language.


salt shaker

poulsbo - cia mooney

poulsbo - cia mooney

at a neighborhood restaurant, found this german-made salt shaker to be a big, beat up and beautiful tabletop object. 


little charts

I like graphic charts, maps and things that tell you facts in a tactile way. This little pocket chart is one favorite. 


saving the oceans

here's the advice from parley, an initiative to clear the oceans of plastic. adidas and parley have created the first shoe and sports jerseys made from this plastic waste. scientists estimate that by 2048, the world's commercial fisheries will be depleted and more dire predictions from environmentalists state that ocean species will begin to vanish in the next 6-16 years. overfishing and over-population are causes, as well as polluted waters. 

1. AVOID plastic wherever possible.
2. INTERCEPT plastic waste.
3. REDESIGN the plastic economy.