About

Sinclair Smith & Company is a multi-disciplinary design studio based in Brooklyn, NY. Our services include strategic consulting, industrial design and interior design.

Contact

info_at_sinclairsmithco.com

Why can’t we make robots at home anymore?

Posted on Feb 1, 2013 in Children, Craft, Education, Hardware, Manufacturing, Process

Via the New York Times’ Lively Morgue blog, “In 1955, a 14-year-old with ambitions to go to the moon built a robot he named Gismo, winning the Industrial Arts Competition run by the Ford Motor Company. Gismo walked, talked and waved his arms, and he cost $15 to make. He was one of 72 examples of craftsmanship by teenagers on display at the Waldorf-Astoria.” (via silencematters)

So what’s wrong with us now? Can our kids still do this? Are they less educated? Less mechanically inclined? Are the tools of manufacture too complex and removed from them? Are the skills of manual labor devalued bu their surrounding people and culture?

I think the entire system of early childhood development and education is completely out of alignment with reasonable expectations for the life goals of the majority of American children and teaches them to devalue rudimentary materials and skills that were the grist for the mill of human innovation for millenia. I am percolating and bringing together ideas from a number of directions in which I’ working at the moment and hope to arrive at a cohesive early childhood educational philosophy in the next year or two.

Rapid prototyping as tool for teaching art

Posted on Jun 19, 2012 in Art, Education, Tech

Virginia Postrel has an opinion piece in Bloomberg exploring how 3D mapping and rapid prototyping are bringing difficult to see pieces of art into the classroom. Surprisingly or not, institutions like the Met and Getty are engaged with Makerbot to create libraries of accessible 3D digital files that can output scale reproductions of 3D works of art. Intellectual property and authenticity issues surrounding reproduction are sure to arise as they have since the birth of industrialization (see Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction) but I’m heartened by the generosity with which art institutions seem to be willing to open their doors via any means available. Even Makerbots.

Don’t Fear the Internet

Posted on May 10, 2012 in Craft, Education, I want it, Tech, Web

Today I am inspired by rumors I heard about John Travolta. So on this day after a momentus day in the history of our nation’s socio-political landscape, I too am coming out of the closet and prepare to be wed. To web.

The truth is, I have always wanted to know how to program a website. There. I said it, it’s out. Yes, yes, I am valued by my clients as a brick and mortar kind of design/build guy, and I can be frequently heard calling myself a luddite, but secretly I look at html/css class schedules at 3rd Ward and buy intructional books at Barnes & Noble, and shamefully keep them spine-in on a shelf by the bed painfully wondering when I will ever be able to program a website myself like those other cool kids and cease to be a slave to their plug-ins and cryptic jokes all riddled with m-dashes and back slashes.

Well, today all that changes, now that I have found Jessica Hische and Russ Maschmeyer’s instructional site Don’t Fear the Internet (with videos!). Full discloser: I have had a design crush on Hische for a while now. Her skills are sick. And I have come very close to working with Russ. I contacted Russ via Liz Danzigo at SVA Interaction Design because I needed a programmer, well, because– wait for it– I don’t know how to program a fucking website!! But again, today all that changes. Those two are geniuses. Check out the site. Extremely clear. While watching one of the videos I almost started crying as I considered the world of code that would suddenly demystify in front of my eyes. Matrix, here I come….

Pratt ID View

Posted on May 3, 2012 in Brooklyn, Craft, Education

20120506-235902.jpg

It’s always a pleasure to be invited back to Pratt at year’s end to be a guest critic at reviews. There was some really strong work this year.

20120507-000151.jpg

Brooklyn Technical High School

Brooklyn Tech, as it’s known, has some great stone work on its facade, with inspiring machine age iconography. The building was built from 1930-33, at the exact time as Rockefeller Center, and its exterior iconography is of the same post-crash, WPA vintage and spirit, calling people to work hard and to excel in sciences, technology, industry and American innovation. We seriously need a big ass booster shot of that stuff in this country. Read more on wikipedia… and marvel at the facilities originally housed inside for educating young New Yorkers in real trades.

On teaching kids to ride a bike

Posted on Jun 17, 2011 in Children, Cycling, Education, parenting, Transportation

Henry Cutler, the Brooklyn transplant industrial designer/owner of Amsterdam based Workcycles has a great piece on the stages of teaching children to ride a bicycle. Read for yourself… (by the way, check out that badass cross frame Opa in the background of the photo above. Gorgeous.)

NYC Goes Three Way

Posted on Jun 6, 2011 in Cycling, Education, New York, Transportation

Ron Gabriel’s 2011 design thesis from SVA focuses on the three parties involved in the war that is the streets of NYC: pedestrians, cyclists and automobiles. His work focused on one intersection in particular and in a fascinating video he highlights the turbulence and near misses of how the three parties use and abuse traffic laws. Personally, I’m pleased to see someone take an examined and seemingly unbiased eye to all involved parties and suggest that it is not just cyclists that need change, but pedestrians and drivers. I look forward to digging further into his work and conclusions. But take a look at this video for sure….

3-Way Street from ronconcocacola on Vimeo.

Ten Things I Have Learned from Milton Glaser

Posted on May 20, 2011 in Education, graphic design

My good friend Adam Ogilvie sent me this essay by Milton Glaser. It’s from a 2001 talk so I’m late to the party, but no matter. It’s timeless advice to be read again and again.

Products of Design, MFA program at SVA

Posted on Mar 23, 2011 in Education, SS&CO projects

It’s a real honor to be able to announce the new Products of Design MFA program at SVA beginning Fall 2013 and to be a part of its accomplished faculty. Department chair and mastermind Allan Chochinov has put together an amazing cast of characters to carry forward his mission to teach design with less emphasis on artifacts and greater emphasis on systems and consequences. The role of design and designers is changing and Allan has been a passionate and inspiring voice for moving the study and practice of design in a new direction. I am proud to have been his student and to call him a mentor and even more proud that now that he has his platform he has asked me to join the cause.

Goodnight, Murder Avenue

Posted on Feb 16, 2011 in Architecture, Brooklyn, Education, New York

The New York Times gives Pratt Institute’s deserved attention to Myrtle Avenue some deserved attention of its own.