Posted in communication and networking, Illumination, Solar and Alternative Energy

Making technology pretty

Two different articles spawned this idea for me; the idea of making technology and scientific technologies aesthetically pleasing and more human-friendly.

This first article is a critique on so-called “green” architecture. The writer feels that a lot of green architecture is not very nice to look at and not very well integrated into the new buildings using them. I agree that this is a concern: if people do not feel like green architecture is “normal” or fits their needs, they will not be as inclined to use it or request it in their building projects. The problem I find is that often green technologies have been incorporated into a house or building after construction, and it does look like an add-on rather than a part of the building. Hopefully, as this author states, new architects will be forward-thinking enough to incorporate green architecture ideas from the beginning of the project so it doesn’t stick out like a sore green thumb.

This other article also deals with integrating aesthetics into daily tech usage, but in a different way. Dating back from 2007, the article highlights a phenomenon they’re calling “steam-punking“, in which tinkerers take devices like laptops and other modern machines and add some flair to them, like metal keyboards or just a wooden shell, often giving a Victorian look to it. I think this article is a nice illustration of how people are using art, or at least their artistic talents, to feel more connected to technology. Also, by working on their laptops and cars in this fashion it gives people the feeling that they own the technology, rather than letting it own them.

*edit* And here’s one more: a wind turbine that was designes specifically to be quieter and look better. It really is a nice art statement, even if you don’t use it to power things.



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.