What is good design?

Good design is innovative, useful, aesthetic, honest, and understandable. It is also unobtrusive, thorough, and “as little design as possible.” These principles sound twenty-first century. And they are. But they were articulated by a man who began his career in 1957, Dieter Rams. A visionary German designer, Rams may be best known for his elegant and minimal products such as the Braun Juicer, a revelation in 1972. His 1959 TP1 Radio/phono combination is eerily similar to the first ...

My Artist Statement

Birch trees swayed in the gentle breeze, casting long shadows on the colorful wooden houses that were coming to life after a long, cold winter. Earlier, we had dug up trash from a dump by the pond and buried it in the sandpile by Igor’s dacha. Then we lit a fire in a rusty barrel and melted old plastic toys—typical pastimes for kids with too much free time on their hands in rural Russia. Earlier, we had played dodgeball on the beat-up road, and now we were looking for a way to retrieve the ...

Uniting Differences

Last summer, I spent two weeks as an interpreter for the US-Russia Peer-to-Peer Program in the southern Muslim-majority region of Karachaevo-Cherkesiа in Arkhyz. The program united University of Oregon and North-Caucasus Federal University students in a cultural exchange of ideas about civil society and healthy life choices for youth in both countries. Together, we toured Russia’s modest, but developing, civil society scene. It was my job to translate museum tours, student lectures, ...

Jeanne

To say that Jeanne is the template of a typical french denizen would be an understatement. At a first glance, Jeanne radiates enthusiasm for her culture, she rushed to the shores of the United States to share her knowledge for the language and culture she thrives in, but also to learn more about others. Attending Jeanne D’Arc high school in France, Jeanne’s upbringing defined her strong interest in languages, learning German, English in her compulsory language classes, as well as opting for ...

Checkpoints

There are many checkpoints in life that we believe we must pass to feel mature. In elementary school, it was being able to walk home from school alone. In Middle school, it was finally being allowed to go shopping on my own. And for high school, let’s be honest, the main checkpoint is sexual maturity. I have always thought that these life events made us feel like we are closer to becoming adults. Each time I have reached each checkpoint, however, I have felt lost once again. As we grow ...

Small House

I’ve always been bicultural. Growing up in a fully Russian family, I had a one-sided view of the world for a long time. It’s no surprise that the culture in Russia is vastly different than in America. Ever since I was dropped off in elementary school, I had to let go of Russian cultural conventions, one by one. Perhaps what was most difficult for me was to adjust to American cultural norms. I always thought my Russian traditions were right. One summer when I was five, I was visiting my ...

Daycare

I stammered, resisted, and twisted myself to escape the restraint of the of the car seat. No matter how loud I bellowed the car kept driving. I screamed in desperation, “please! Mom… I don’t want to go to daycare!,” but it was too late, my mom was already pulling up into the parking lot. Defeated, I sat back in my seat. I trotted with my mom to the front desk. My lips puttered up.  A middle-aged lady greeted us. The air was stuffy, emanating with particles of play dough and magic ...

Drugged Up

The alarm clock buzzes. It’s a chore to open my eyes. They spring back closed again. It’s still dark outside. The alarm clock reads 4:17 AM. I lie fatigued in my bed, trying to assimilate yesterday’s events. Trotting to the kitchen, I flick on the lights and close my eyes to escape the blinding presence of the fluorescent light. I open the cupboard, grab a white mug, and pour myself some coffee. I reach for a Danish wrapped in plastic. To my right, rumpled fast food packaging rests on the ...

Shauger

I never thought I would build an electric go-kart until I met Shauger. He is a man of little words, but a craftsman at heart. He unrolled under from under his experimental vehicle he was building for the burning man festival, which can seat four, crafted out of plywood and four electric bike motors. My 8th-grade mind marveled in inspiration. Let’s just say, that I asked a lot of questions, and from there a friendship was established. I’d reach marathon speeds on my bike every weekend biking ...

Raisin

You hop around, scan your surroundings and hop away again. I lose sight of you, and speculate that you’re somewhere behind the table. I hear your soft paws scratching at wood floors somewhere in the distance. “Thump,” I look down and you’re right next to me! Ever since I was eight you’ve been zipping around the house, scavenging on dropped food and spilled water. I’ve had you since I was 8 years old. I remember the day when I came to pick you up from the county fair. I was restless in my ...