Testimony Submitted to Montgomery County Delegation for 2022 legislative session

Legislative priorities should include design informed sustainability policies and legislation during the 2022 Maryland General Assembly Session

On November 15, 2021 the Montgomery County Delegation Joint House and Senate Priorities Hearing took place virtually on Zoom. A recording of this hearing is available on the Montgomery County Delegation website. Written testimony was submitted by MarylandByDesign to bring attention to design informed sustainability policy and legislation as priorities for the upcoming Maryland General Assembly Session including additional legislation to establish a State Design Commission:

Design Informed Sustainability Policy and Establishing a State Design Commission Design is integral to sustainable practices for manufacturing and related industries impacting climate change
A priority for the Montgomery County Delegation during the upcoming 2022 legislative session should include the recognition of design as essential to sustainable practices in industry and manufacturing as well as the built environment in the State of Maryland. Most industrialized countries in the world have established a Design Council at either the local or country/national government level, some for as many as 50 years or more, to elevate and implement design as a best practice in many industries including manufacturing. Design has proven to make manufacturing and most industries more sustainable to address the urgency of climate change and reduced carbon emissions.

The initiative to establish a Design Commission, a government organization, in the State of Maryland began in 2014 with the founding of MarylandByDesign by a group of interdisciplinary design professionals including designers from the practices of industrial design, architectural design, graphic design, interior design, urban/landscape design and design research. This group of design professionals presented case studies of design projects completed in the State of Maryland and in other states to prove the importance of design as a best practice in manufacturing and related industries as well as the built environments. Design as a best practice makes it possible to achieve excellence and innovation in results related to sustainability, especially as it relates to mitigating climate change and protecting the natural environment. In addition, members of the MarylandByDesign team were instrumental in passing legislation to implement STEAM-Design Education by establishing the Maryland Education Development Collaborative (Maryland Senate Bill 908, enacted under Article II, § 17(c) of the Maryland Constitution, May 27, 2017). The Maryland Education Development Collaborative led to the work of the Kirwan Commission on Excellence in Education to “foster partnerships between public schools, private businesses, universities, government, and nonprofit entities to develop and support the implementation of modern public school designs, 21st Century curricula, positive school culture, and restorative discipline to promote socioeconomic and demographic diversity and 21st Century learning in public schools in the State.” This initiative would include the study of design as part of the STEAM approach in kindergarten through 12th grade public education.

The members of the MarylandByDesign Team believe the State of Maryland would greatly benefit from establishing a State Design Commission to address many of the current urgent climate change and carbon emissions issues now facing the State of Maryland. Design informed sustainability policies and legislation related to best practices in manufacturing, related industries and the built environment as well as providing robust resources for design education have proven to significantly improve outcomes for environmental quality in many parts of the world, and the same can be done in Maryland if a State Design Commission is established within Maryland’s State Government.

DESIGN DIALOGUES IN MARYLAND-How Design Thinking is relevant to the current global Pandemic

Since  2016, MarylandByDesign has fostered an online community of design practice in Maryland including educators, policy makers, and design practitioners. MarylandByDesign is in the process of scheduling a series of online live discussions about the current global pandemic, and how design can be a conduit for many of the current situations everyone is facing in everyday life. A schedule of live, web based sessions is to be announced within the months of May and June 2020. Check back on this page for this schedule. We apologize for the delay in starting these sessions since April 2020, and look forward to having the opportunity to do live sessions soon.

Tribute to Professor Emeritus Victor Margolin (1941-2019)

The passing of Victor Margolin in November 2019 is a loss to the World Design Community

Those who knew Victor Margolin, Professor Emeritus of Design History at University of Illinois, Chicago and a world renown Design Historian, understand he was truly a great figure in the field of design. Victor’s enormous contribution to defining American Design and the practice of design around the world cannot be overstated. He was simply the most knowledgeable and scholarly source for design in all of its manifestations. The contributors to the content of MarylandByDesign would like to recognize Professor Margolin’s supportive role in nurturing the seed for design policy, which began at a conference in Milan, Italy in 2000, to grow into what is now this rich and expanding dialogue among designers in Maryland and beyond.

We will miss Victor and his constant curiosity, inquisitiveness, humor, encouragement, boldness, vibrancy, and commitment to design throughout the World. Professor Margolin’s World History of Design is a testament to his lifelong dedication to the field of design.

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
[email protected] 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.

Fab Labs: Maryland Joins a World Wide Network

Maryland is now home to two Fab Labs open to the public, Fab Lab Baltimore in Catonsville, Maryland and Montgomery College Fab Lab. What is a Fab Lab? A Fab Lab or fabrication laboratory is a laboratory space set up for designers to realize their ideas in the form of prototypes by using technologies usually available only to large scale mass production projects. The Fab Lab makes it possible for designers to use specialized tools such as 3D printers, rapid protoypers, printed circuit board milling and etching machines, and various types of cutters for sheet metal: laser, plasma and wet jet. There are currently 107 Fab Labs in the U.S. and Canada. The Open Works Maker Space in Baltimore City is planning the next Maryland based Fab Lab to open in September 2016.

The Fab Lab at Haystack Mountain School for Craft in Deer Isle, Maine is a premier example of the interaction between designer’s ability to make things by hand and using technology, one of the key policy goals of the Maryland Design Excellence & Innovation Commission. The activity in the Fab Lab at Haystack is the basis for studying and identifying innovations in both manual creativity and technologies. A more in depth case study is being written to explain how this interaction takes place at Haystack. Please check back for the rest of this story.

Defining Design in Maryland

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