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Welcome to the New Lantern blog. Our goal is to shine light on leading innovators and creative artists, and how your business can learn and profit from them. Companies large, medium, and small can benefit from employees who think more creatively. New Lantern may be just the source of inspiration your company needs to spark more innovative products, services, and processes.

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Monthly Archive for October, 2010

Shining Light on Great Design

Posted by on October 25, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Adobe Systems, a leading creative software company, announced its 10th Annual Design Achievement Awards (ADAA) awards today in Los Angeles, CA. The awards celebrate “global student achievements that bring technology and the creative arts together.”

Winners were chosen in 12 categories across interactive media, film, motion picture, and traditional media. For example, Laura Bordin of Venice, Italy won in the Mobile Design category for her design work on “Heart Lift,” which is a telemonitoring system for heart patients.

Since ADAA’s inception in 2001, nearly 20,000 students from 52 countries have participated in the annual competition. This year’s winners received a $3,000 cash prize and free copies of Adobe’s high-end designer software.

Adobe Senior Vice President, Ann Lewnes, notes that “the Adobe Design Achievement Award competition attracts the best student designers in the world. We feel fortunate to be able to shine light on these future creative leaders.”

At New Lantern, we feel fortunate to shine light on these creative leaders as well, which is at the heart of our mission.

It Pays to Have a “Plan B”

Posted by on October 17, 2010 at 11:25 pm

This past week, we all watched joyously as the 33 Chilean miners were pulled alive from the depths of the earth that had entrapped them for 69 days.

It was back on August 5th when the copper mine in Copiapo, Chile collapsed, leaving 33 men trapped 2,300 feet below the earth’s surface. Seventeen days passed before rescuers received any sign of life, when the eighth test bore drill came back to the surface with notes attached to the drill bit stating that 33 miners were indeed alive.

At that point, the world rallied to help Chilean officials and mine experts craft complex plans to rescue the miners. Three drill plans — A, B, and C — were launched using different drilling technologies in an effort to reach the miners with a shaft just large enough for their escape. Meanwhile, medicine, liquid food, and oxygen were sent nearly half a mile down via the tiny bore hole as the three drilling rigs worked for weeks around the clock.

NASA developed and built a special transport cylinder to bring the miners to the surface that was a mere 21 inches in diameter inside. Some miners, who had lost over 20 pounds during the first 17 days, were later put on a special diet to ensure that each could fit into the slender rescue tube. Miners were also put on an exercise regimen to minimize muscle atrophy. Mental health experts were consulted on how to engage the miners in certain routines to address the severe mental stress from the ordeal.

In the end, it was the “Plan B” drill that finally reached the small refuge area on October 9th where the miners were located. The “Plan B” drill used a special drill bit from a Pennsylvania company with a hammering mechanism never before used by the Chilean mining industry.

The Chilean government, including its President and its Mining Minister, deserve a lot of credit for the unprecedented rescue. Against enormous odds, they put together a plan of action that embraced both the known and the unknown, while giving themselves necessary contingencies. They also were willing to accept critical input, assistance, and know-how from around the globe, yet remained in control of one of the most complex and intensive rescue operations in history. They proceeded to relentlessly pursue their plan, and 33 lives were saved as a result.

It is a tribute to human ingenuity and the human ideal. When lives are at stake, I marvel at what humans can do when working together.

Corporate executives can learn from this survival phenomenon. The last two years have brought near-death experiences to many companies around the globe. Those companies whose managers and employees rally together, stay focused, and design necessary contingencies are more apt to come out of their hole alive.

It ultimately just might be your “Plan B” that saves your company.

If the Shoe Fits

Posted by on October 10, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Today’s New York Times features a story about the multibillion-dollar Italian footwear company, Tod’s, which was started by Diego Della Valle in 1978.

I’ve long been a fan of Tod’s shoes, having bought my first pair during a trip to Rome almost 20 years ago. Tod’s shoes allow you to be comfortable, yet stylish at the same time, which you cannot say for the vast majority of designer shoes.

My husband actually bought his first pair of Tod’s shoes at Barney’s in Manhattan this past Friday. While I was sitting at my hairdresser’s, he slipped across Madison Avenue to buy a pair of dark brown, suede chukka-type boots by Tod’s.

Chukka boots are now on their second comeback tour, having first become popular in the 1940s and 50s, then again in the 1970s. I wore chukkas in the 70s, and have fond memories of the shock-absorbing feel of the crepe soles, the simple, two-eyelet design, and the soft feel of the suede of the ankle-high boot.

As the New York Times article notes, Tod’s is somewhat unique in that it continues to manufacture its shoes in Italy. Most other large Italian shoemakers, like Geox, have moved their production operations to China and other parts of Asia, in an effort to dramatically cut labor costs.

Tod’s decision to stay in Italy comes at a cost, literally, to the consumer, who can expect to pay nearly double what he or she would probably otherwise pay. But that’s really the point. Certain customers are apparently willing to pay more for the look, fit and feel of what has made Italy the envy of the rest of the design world for decades. Admittedly, it’s a risky approach, particularly in this economy, when consumers are re-thinking the value of brand and designer, and in many cases are opting for lower-cost alternatives.

We’ll see whether or not Tod’s decision to stay in Italy proves wise or euro-foolish over the next few years. I’m hoping for the former. Smart business is not always about taking the cheaper road. When brand, quality, and customer loyalty are at stake, sometimes the best decision is to stay on the same road that got you where you are — no matter how attractive that short-cut may look.

And if you’re getting there by foot, you’ll need a comfortable pair of shoes.

Design to Improve Life

Posted by on October 3, 2010 at 9:07 pm

The online nomination period for the world’s largest monetary design award by INDEX: opened September 7 and closes on December 17, 2010.

INDEX: (yes, spelled with a colon) is a Danish-based non-profit organization started in 2002, whose motto is “Design to Improve Life.” INDEX: describes its mission as working “globally to promote and apply both design and design processes that have the capacity to improve the lives of people worldwide.”

INDEX: is best known for its lucrative biennial award for top designs in five life-changing categories: body, home, work, play and community. Its awards total 500,000 euros, split among the five categories, making it the largest monetary prize for design in the world.

According to its website, INDEX: was originally conceived by designer Johan Adam Lindeballe and Danish Permanent Secretary Jørgen Rosted as a “world event.” INDEX: promotes its “Design to Improve Life” objective via the biennial design award, a world-touring exhibition, a summer camp, conferences, and publications.

In 2009, INDEX: received over 700 nominations from 54 countries. The winners included the Freeplay fetal heart rate monitor that can be used in remote areas of the world, where electricity is scarce, and a person-to-person micro-financing company called Kiva. Past winners have included the One Laptop Per Child Foundation (2007) and Tesla Motors for its the all-electric Roadster sports car (2007).

Anyone can nominate his or her favorite life-improving design for the 2011 INDEX: award, which will be determined by an “international jury of designers, design scholars and thinkers, business people, and curators.”

So what has improved your life or the lives of others this past year? Visit the INDEX: website to enter your nomination.

Global recognition is a powerful lure to encourage designers and inventors to reach new heights. The sweet smell of 500,000 euros doesn’t hurt either.