Category Archives: Blog

How the Shutdown has effected Design in government

Design in government has proven to be essential for critical public services. The current federal government shutdown, the longest in
U.S. history, is having a deepening effect on many critical services delivered to the public. If you are a service designer, a design professional working in federal government or if you work with designers in federal government who provide critical services determined to be “non-essential,” MarylandByDesign would like to hear these
stories. Please email these narratives to or submit them by sending a
response in the “leave a reply”. Please indicate if sharing
these experiences by posting them on MarylandByDesign
is acceptable.

Marylandbydesign supports the maryland education development collaborative

On May 27, 2017 legislation was enacted by the State of Maryland to establish the Maryland Education Development Collaborative. This new organization creates an opportunity to promote and enhance 21st-century learning and socioeconomic diversity in Maryland’s Public Schools and establishes an Advisory Council to provide advice on matters relating to 21st-century learning, data collection and sharing. Design leaders would participate with the diversity of disciplines on this Advisory Council. We urge the funding of this Collaborative by the Kirwan Commission. 

Since the passage of this legislation, the community of designers in Maryland has given more thought to how design education needs to be a priority in Maryland’s “STEM” based Public School Education. Without DESIGN as part of STEM education – “STEAM-Design Education” — the human elements of creativity are lost. 

Commentary on STEAM: Art is important to STEM, and Design is the Outpouring of Art

This essay is by Jim Martin a graduate of the
Industrial Design Program at the University of
Cincinnati. He has designed products for Black &
Decker, Gichner Military Shelters, Rubbermaid,
Marx Toys, & Stanley Tools, and holds international patents of both design and utility. 
He has taught
design at Towson University and Baltimore area
high schools,
and has three published books
on design in sports car racing.

We dream in pictures. While we think in words and equations, to flesh out our thoughts and solve problems we begin in pictures. Pictures are understood regardless of culture or language. A tree may be expressed as a baum (German), a medis (Lithuanian), an arbol (Spanish), a isihahia (Zulu) or tsurl (Japanese), but a picture of a tree is universally understood.

The expression “a picture is worth a thousand words” so resonates because we think in pictures? Even in our dreams, the conversations and travels are experienced visually. Regardless of the most complicated system or obscure scientific discovery, the first expressions from the mind were pictures. Then we organize them into concepts expressed in words or mathematical formulas that become applications. The output of STEMs begins visually in our minds.
Like any skill the better we are in its use the more efficient it is. The more skilled we are in expressing those thoughts through the visual medias the better we will be at communicating to others.

Communication began as art. Early cave pictures are thought to be primitive means of expressing to other members of the tribe characteristics of their world; to glorify a hunt or to catalog neighboring animals. Before we had words there were pictures. Abstracting those pictures led to the creation of letters and words and numbers, and to art.

There is an expression in design, “if it looks right, it probably is.” This isn’t to imply that simplistic rough sketches are the best solutions, but an implicit understanding that when components seem in balance to each other, when the parts seem to naturally relate well, then the system has an order that is more likely one that performs its assigned task. Balance is basic to math. The two sides of an equation have to be of equal values. The challenge of math is finding how to achieve balance, even in the most complicated of equations.

Art is also balanced. A painting or sculpture that is unbalanced seems wrong. In math the equation of 6 x 4 is equal to 9/3 x 2 x 2 squared. One side is short and simple with a large basic number while the other side is complex, yet the equation is in balance. So it is with art where masses of form and color are dynamically balanced with different shapes and intensity of color. The composition, like the equation, while at first glance seems uneven is balanced.
And a design is balanced when the product, a poster, an article of clothing or a structure, is in balance with the needs, physical and emotional, of the user. As architect Louis Sullivan proclaimed “form ever follows function.” Find the true function and the form will reveal itself. And it’s curiosity to understanding the range of functions that leads to creating the form. Whether in art or in science the quest begins with being curious and finding how to express both the question and the answer, that often leads to another question.

Humans are unique in our curiosity. While other animals may be curious of a specific incident, like to smell an object for identification, we are curious when we realize that we have an information gap. We must know not only what something is, but why and how it is and what more can we learn about it. We explore, then we exploit.

What we call dreams, in sleep or allegorical, begins in our imagination. The mind tumbles the thoughts around to try to understand. Before Einstein conceived of his famous formula he thought of pictures in his mind of trains running near the speed of light. Forty years before NASA sent landers to Mars, Walt Disney was televising animated Mars missions to a generation of excited children, many who now run NASA missions.

To express his dreams Einstein converted his imagination through equations. For the Disney staff, they expressed their imagination through animated pictures. Few of us can fully comprehend Einstein’s equation, but we all can see the Disney staff’s dream realized in the forms of Curiosity, Spirit and Opportunity roving on the surface of Mars.

Art is the release of imagination, the outlet of curiosity. Most scientific discoveries began as sketches or crude models. The better the sketch or model the better the creator can understand their concept to expand and improve towards the intended solution or product. But calculations are the end result after dreams have become thoughts and thoughts have become concepts that are then tested and proven.

Art is the open mind, where there are no limits to what can be conceived. Everything can be expressed and considered as the First Amendment made visual. When creativity is not limited by constraints, either external or internal, new methods, materials, or means of application can be explored. To really understand art you must understand science. The best way to express the thoughts and dreams it helps to be able to best utilize the medias. Media materials have physical properties and an understanding of those properties allows better expression of our thoughts. Art education is an introduction to drawing and painting, putting thought to 2-D surface. The clearer the drawing, the more understandable the thought to both the artist and the viewer. Materials like ceramics and wood working allow thought projection in 3-D. With CAD and 3-D printing new means of expression are being opened up. But while helpful tools, they can only assist in displaying what the mind has imagined. They are new technology taking their place alongside like paint brushes and chisels as tools. A creative mind must direct them.

DaVinci’s understanding of form, perspective and lighting came from his observations of the natural laws. In his curiosity to create his art he found laws of science through nature.

To fully understand science you must understand art. Art is about seeing, to go beyond the obvious to how components inter relate. How a branch relates to a leaf and how a muscle relates to the contours of a shoulder. Art is taking the rules of nature and forming and reforming them to the artists will, often even to destroy the established rule. Art is the most subversive of human endeavors.
It is possibly not a coincidence that many Nobel laureates received the award for work they began in their twenties when their field of study was fresh and unknown. They had to imagine original areas where no one had ventured before, new solutions to old problems. They had to dream and know how to express what they discovered. And then they had to spend years balancing the equations to the acceptance of their peers. They had to work in formulas and thesis papers leaving little time for dreaming.

Without Art, STEM can be continually making old ideas better. Without design, forms lack the connection to human users. Humans have achieved greatness by being curious of what more there could be, is there a better way? What can we create to make our world better. And how to best express the special things that make us human.

U.S. Congressional STEAM Caucus

All Members of the House of Representatives are encouraged to join the Congressional STEAM Caucus

Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici chairs The STEAM Caucus
(science, technology, engineering, design/arts and math) launched in January 2013 to emphasize the important of design subjects as part of a broad based education.

The Caucus aims “to change the vocabulary of education to recognize the benefits of a well rounded education to our country’s
future generations. Caucus members will work to increase
awareness of the importance of STEAM education and explore new strategies to advocate for STEAM programs.”

The following Congressional Representatives participate on the STEAM Caucus:

CALIFORNIA: Rep. Tony Cárdenas, Rep. Julia Brownley, Rep. Susan Davis, Rep. Michael Honda, Rep. Jared Huffman, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Rep. Doris Matsui, Rep. Scott Peters, Rep. Adam Schiff,
Rep. Jackie Speier, Rep. Mark Takano.

COLORADO: Rep. Jared Polis


DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton

FLORIDA: Rep. Corrine Brown, Rep. Lois Frankel,
Rep. Alcee Hastings, Rep.Ted Yoho

GEORGIA: Rep. Sanford Bishop, Rep. Hank Johnson,
Rep. David Scott

GUAM: Rep. Madeleine Bordallo

HAWAII: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

ILLINOIS: Rep. Danny Davis, Rep. Rodney Davis, Rep. Mike Quigley,
Rep. Janice Schakowsky

INDIANA: Rep. Susan Brooks, Rep. André Carson

IOWA: Rep. Dave Loebsack

MAINE: Rep. Chellie Pingree

MARYLAND: Rep. Jamie Raskin

MASSACHUSETTS: Rep. Michael Capuano, Rep. Bill Keating,
Rep. Joseph Kennedy Rep. Stephen Lynch,
Rep. James McGovern, Rep. Richard Neal,

MINNESOTA: Rep. Keith Ellison, Rep. Rick Nolan,
Rep. Collin Peterson

NEVADA: Rep. Dina Titus

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Rep. Ann McLane Kuster

NEW MEXICO: Rep. Ben Ray Luján

NEW YORK: Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Rep. Jerrold Nadler,
Rep. Charles Rangel, Rep. Louise Slaughter, Rep. Paul Tonko

NORTH CAROLINA: Rep. David Price

OHIO: Rep. Tim Ryan, Rep. Pat Tiberi

OREGON: Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici,
Rep. Peter DeFazio

PENNSYLVANIA: Rep. Matthew Cartwright, Rep. Scott Perry,
Rep. Joe Pitts

RHODE ISLAND: Rep. David Cicilline, Rep. James Langevin

TEXAS: Rep. Lloyd Doggett, Rep. Blake Farenthold

VIRGINIA: Rep. Gerry Connolly, Rep. Bobby Scott

WASHINGTON: Rep. Suzan DelBene, Rep. Derek Kilmer

WISCONSIN: Rep. Mark Pocan

For more information, please contact the office of Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici at 202-225-0855.

2017 STEAM Act Requires Art and Design Education in STEM Subjects

On July 20, 2017 the newest addition to the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art/design, math) legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Congressman James R. Langevin (D-RI) authored the legislation
(H.R. 3344) to require the National Science Foundation to promote the
integration of art and design in STEM Education. The original
STEM Education Act was passed in 2015. The 2017 legislation is for the purpose of integrating art and design in STEM education to promote creativity and innovation. This new language of the STEM to STEAM Act of 2017 emphasizes the central importance of art and
design education together with science, technology, engineering and math rather than having these disciplines taught strictly in separate
enrichment and after school programs as has historically been done in most public education school systems. The legislation is important for expansion of STEAM Education throughout the United States.

Check back to this posting for further developments as this legislation makes its way through the legislative process. Contact your U.S. Congressperson to ask them to join the Congressional STEAM Caucus and support this historic and important legislation.

Discussions to Establish the Maryland Design Excellence and Innovation Commission to Continue Among Members of the Maryland General Assembly

The outcome for the Maryland Design Excellence and Innovation Commission legislation in the 2016 Maryland General Assembly was not dissimilar to the 2015 Session. The exceptional panels who presented testimony opened the possibility of more understanding among the members of both the Senate Finance and House Economic Matters Committees. The bills have now been held over until the 2017 Session so supporters of the legislation within the design community can negotiate solid collaborative agreements, especially with Open Works Maker Space that is due to open this fall. There will be more opportunities to interact with Maryland Legislators to help them gain further understanding of the value of design for growth and the quality of life in the State.

The collaboration between Open Works and the Maryland Design Excellence & Innovation Commission will be a mutually beneficial arrangement, since the Commission is in need of physical space for prototyping, and the possibility that new products may emerge to be licensed and produced within Maryland. Similarly, Open Works is in need of professional design guidance to develop design research and design-based instructional programs to be responsive to people’s need for design training.

Periodic updates about summer briefings with legislators during 2016 will be announced on this website. Volunteers are needed to meet face-to-face with legislators in Annapolis or in the legislator’s home district office  to speak with them in more detail about the necessity of design and its importance to innovation and growth in Maryland.

2016 Maryland General Assembly Considering Legislation for Maryland Design Excellence and Innovation Commission

The 2016 Maryland General Assembly is now considering legislation for establishing the Maryland Design Excellence and Innovation Commission. This is the second year the General Assembly is discussing legislation to establish the Commission. Senate Bill 429 was introduced in the Senate Finance Committee on February 1, 2016, and House Bill 548 was introduced in the House of Delegates Economic Matters Committee on February 3, 2016.

The Senate Finance and House Economic Matters Committees are reviewing the legislation, and have heard evidence from the public about the mission, goals and efforts of Maryland Design Excellence and Innovation Commission. The Commission, which will meet several times a year under a five year design policy plan to be set by the members of the Commission, would implement design led innovation to improve the quality of life for all Marylanders. If established by legislation, the Commission would begin operating as of October 1, 2016.


Committee Bill Hearings
The Maryland General Assembly held public Committee bill hearings on February 16, 2016 in the Senate Finance Committee and February 17, 2016 in the House Economic Matters Committee to hear statements from the public about the legislation. The Committee hearing can be viewed on-line through these links to the Maryland General Assembly website:
Senate Finance Committee Public Hearing
House Economic Matters Committee Public Hearing

Submitting Written Statements 
Written statements are still being accepted by Maryland General Assembly legislators, and can be submitted to legislators until there is a vote held on the bills in the Senate and House Committees. If you are able to provide written support for the legislation, the guidelines are available here for the Senate Finance Committee and here for the House Economic Matters Committee. The same statements should be made to both Committees. Text of the Senate Finance legislation is available here, and for the House of Delegates legislation here.  A statement guide/template is available for the Senate Finance Committee here and for the House Economic Matters Committee here to use for composing a written statement. Anyone can submit a written statement by sending it to
MarylandbyDesign at

Contact Legislators about the Maryland Design Excellence
Commission Legislation

If you are a resident of Maryland, contacting your State Senator and Delegates from your home district is one of the best ways to voice your views about establishing the Maryland Design Excellence  and Innovation Commission. To find out legislators who represents you, go to the search page here and enter your home address.

MarylandbyDesign and The Maryland Open Data Project

MarylandbyDesign is dedicated to improving the understanding of design’s impact throughout the State of Maryland. One way to measure this impact is through various data and index indicators. Since 2009, Maryland has used the General Progress Indicator (GPI) to measure various aspects of environmental sustainability which is a significant  aspect of all design practices. The General Progress Indicator measures a different set of factors as compared to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Open Data Project provides another resource for measurement of design as a factor in the States economic growth related to innovation. One of the goals for the soon to be established Maryland Design Excellence Commission is to develop an indicator for how design impacts the quality of life throughout the State of Maryland which would be included in the State’s GPI.

Citymart helps U.S. cities rethink public procurement to unlock civic innovation and citizen engagement

Public procurement by local governments accounts for the world’s single largest budget dedicated to improving our communities – roughly $1 trillion annually in the U.S. alone. Despite this staggering potential, public procurement the world over is plagued by an opaque, confusing, and often impenetrable process.

In traditional procurement, companies bid to develop solutions prescribed by the city using requests for proposals (RFPs). Often, RFPs are loaded with specifications, terms and conditions, and legal clauses that make it almost impossible for small businesses or entrepreneurs to participate. As a result, most contracts are awarded to only a handful of large vendors who are well-versed in navigating a complex system. In Barcelona, for example a traditional $1.5 million procurement budget attracts interest from only 20 vendors. This leaves out a wide swath of potential sources of innovation and holds governments back from delivering services most effectively to citizens.

Citymart, a global organization focused on civic innovation has found a way to open up the government procurement process. They set out to replace the hundreds of pages of detailed specifications in RFPs with a simple problem statement and explanation of the desired result. With this problem-based approach, Citymart is able to help cities identify and frame community needs in a user-friendly RFP process. The bidding is then uploaded to the CItymart online collaborative open-source platform for anyone to access.

Citymart’s RFP process levels the playing field in public contracts for everyone from global vendors to social entrepreneurs, designers, and even residents. In Barcelona, a recent $1.5 million RFP published with Citymart attracted 55,000 citizens and entrepreneurs to deliver solutions to combat bicycle theft. The process not only helps cities deliver better quality services at lower costs, it also accomplishes this without increasing risks for the administration. Most importantly, it gets more citizens to engage directly with everyday acts of city governance, reinforcing transparency and accountability in the public sphere.

To date, more than 50 cities have adopted Citymart, including London, Paris, Barcelona, San Francisco, Fukuoka and Mexico City. Organized in a #citiesshare alliance, these partner cities work together with the aim to open at least 1 percent of their annual procurement through Citymart. By actively engaging vendors, communities, organizations and experts, Citymart’s innovation network creates an open knowledge resource for sharing across cities around the world, promising efficiencies by learning from the experiences in other cities.

The platform was recent awarded funding from the Knight Foundation, which will help Citymart expand its operations to the U.S. later this year. They plan to partner with four U.S. cities in adopting their problem-based and collaborative online procurement approach.

Watch Citymart founder, Sascha Haselmayer ‘s inspiring talk at on “Open, Agile, and Empathic Cities” on to learn more about their approach.

-Posted by Maren Maier, Founder of