Design After Sarah Palin

Last week I attended a lecture at New York’s Sony Club by Dr. Kazuo Kawasaki, an industrial designer, professor of engineering, and doctor of medical science best known for his MP-704 spectacles, made notorious last election cycle by a certain moose-hunting Alaskan governor. But while the fervor over Palin’s rimless glasses was admittedly “a very big event” for him, Kawasaki is now focused on much more substantive design issues. His Peace-Keeping Design (PKD) initiative tackles catastrophes on the international front (war, poverty, environmental destruction) with eminently functional objects like a folding disposable syringe and a set of colored medical “triage tags” for rapidly identifying patients’ treatment priority.

AP Photo/Katsumi Kasahara

Perhaps even more notable is Kawasaki’s Total Artificial Heart, inspired by the Möbius strip and machined from a single chunk of material. Although it’s only been tested on goats so far, the TAH is a far more sophisticated model than William H. Sewell’s pump, an Erector Set heart developed in the late 1940s and still used today. And Kawasaki isn’t stopping there: he’s already considering developing an artificial spleen or liver, and in the coming months he will reveal a “top secret” PKD/Clinton Foundation collaboration to aid impoverished populations.

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