A key event of the Łódź Design Festival is the international design competition Make Me! showcasing work of up-and-coming talent from Poland, Europe and the rest of the world.
Winner of the spoils this year was Berlin-based studio Blond and Bieber for their 'Algaemy' project (also awarded as a notably student speculative design entry to Core77 Award) using the properties of colorful algae to produce dyes for textile-making. Noting the huge recent scientific interest in the plants, the designers were inspired to explore the creative potential of algae. They created the 'Algaemy' printer—a mobile algae farm, workstation and human-powered textile printer—to print on large sections of textile with shades of blue, green, brown and red, where the colors apparently developing and deepening with time.(more...)
We all know the oceans are filled with plastic waste, and we've seen the horrific photos of dead animals that have ingested the stuff. It is up to activists, responsible corporate citizens and lawmakers to stop these plastic garbage patches from growing. But that won't solve the problem of how to get rid of the stuff that's already floating around in there.
Enter Boyan Slat, just 19 years of age. At 6, he was diving in Greece—that country whose postcards show pristine beaches and blue water--and was horrified at the amount of floating garbage he encountered. "I saw more plastic bags," Slat told the BBC, "than fish." When he returned home to the Netherlands, he started working on a way to rid the oceans of garbage—and his design solution is as promising as it is out-of-the-box.
The conventional thinking goes that ships need to be sent out into these garbage patches with huge tow-nets. The problem is that these nets would capture aquatic life as well as the garbage they're trying to collect. And ships burn fuel. So Slat took a closer look at how oceans operate and how the garbage migrates around.
Oceanbound trash tends to gather into their own little garbage continents, driven by "gyres," or rotating currents. There are five of these trash gyres worldwide.Although the concentration of plastic in these areas is high—it's sometimes described as a plastic soup—it's still spread out over an area twice the size of Texas. What's more, the plastic does not stay in one spot, it rotates. These factors make a clean-up incredibly challenging. "Most people have this image of an island of trash that you can almost walk on, but that's not what it's like," says Slat. "It stretches for millions of square kilometres - if you went there to try and clean up by ship it would take thousands of years." Not only that, it would be very costly in terms of both money and energy, and fish would be accidentally caught in the nets.
Slat reasoned that it would be more efficient to let the ocean move the trash around, as it does on its own. We would then simply place floating barriers in the known trouble spots, allowing the floating garbage to simply run into the barriers. Aquatic life could still flow under the floating barriers unmolested, with no nets for them to get caught in, and the barriers would be anchored to the seabed via cables to prevent them from floating off. Garbage could then be harvested and recycled from an area with a much smaller footprint.(more...)
Drawing is about muscle control, and muscle control comes from reps. Which is why Professor Gary, our Drawing teacher at ID school had us draw hundreds, then thousands, of cubes in perspective. And once we'd gotten those down to his satisfaction, we drew yet more cubes in perspective, then started filling the planes with ellipses.
There is no shortcut, he taught. If your circles suck, draw 10,000 of them and at some point they'll stop sucking.
Well, turns out there is a shortcut, at least for drawing circles of a few specific sizes. Not much applicability for ID sketching, but it was clever enough that we at least had to show you:(more...)
With London Design Festival having wrapped up only a couple of weeks ago, we headed over this week over to the other LDF in Łódź, Poland. Although the design scene of Poland may be relatively in its infancy, this year's festival in Łódź—the country's third biggest city, pronounced something link 'wodch'— marks the 8th year for the event, the words 'Brave New World' having been chosen as title and theme of this edition.
A large part of the festival hub in Łódź this year has been handed over to London-based designer and thinker Daniel Charny—founder of studio From Now On and rebel rousing advocate of the maker movement—to create a prototype of his proposed 'Fixhub' spaces. Building on the models and cultures of public makerspace like FabLabs and Repair Cafe, Charny's Fixhubs are part fix-shop, part library and part gallery brought together in a one stop shop for communities to be inspired, informed and equipped to action to extend the lifespan or usefulness of their belongings.
With lots of making workshops going on and a rack of materials to read, the gallery portion of the space showcased a wide range of making and hacking projects—a collection that Charny believes points to the coming of age of the maker movement. Likening the process to the early days of filmmaking, all the novelty and wacky experimentation (arguably much need to allow for learning) is finally giving way to works of much greater significance.
Launching officially at Dutch Design Week, Belgian studio Unfold gave festival goers in Łódź a sneak peek of their incredible 'Of Instruments and Archetypes'—a set of instruments that measure physical objects and transfer the dimensions to a digital model in real time, allowing users to then send these files off for 3D printing. On show with the video of the tools in action was a selection of vessels hacked with tools, different objects having been used for handles.(more...)
Portland is a solidly 2D town. We do great graphics, our branding is beautiful, and the interactive design coming out of here is innovative and interesting. Which is really lovely... but leaves us a little lacking in the physical department. Traditional crafts are on the rise, but where are the really interesting product design projects? Apparently, they're still in school.
Of all the events and all the open houses attended last week, the University of Oregon Product Design show was easily my favorite. Possibly because I was the only one there and thus didn't have to contend with two dozen graphic designers drawling about their current shows while pretending that they were there for something other than free wine. Also possibly because 97% of the work in the small show was clean, slightly surprising, and whimsical without pretense.
The show features work produced in Asst. Professor Wonhee Arndt's studio, the theme was "Home Away From Home," and selected pieces made an early debut at Milan's Design Week. Here are my favorites.
It's easy to imagine this rolling storage bin by Chris Lau being used as a fun organizer for kiddos or slightly absurd adults. Nice lines, easy to move, easy to clean inside and out.
Ceramic oddities by Trygve Faste and Jessica Swanson titled "Intertidal Deployment Objects" show a fun blend of nautical and traditional pottery influences with disconcertingly neon glazes, and could ostensibly be producible. I'd own one—in this climate you never know when you need to deploy some intertidal objects. The structured but cozy "Construction Quilt" by Wonhee Arndt makes fort building more interesting and wrapping up an architectural affair. Less compelling when wall mounted, but it looks like it would be plenty of fun.(more...)
The AliveCor heart monitor is the first FDA-cleared device to let patients monitor their heart rhythm through a smart phone, enabling cost-efficient, timely diagnosis of cardiac arrhythmias for those at risk. Designed by Karten Design.
With the explosion of wearable technology and legislation like the Affordable Care Act, the medical product industry is rapidly evolving. Healthcare is seeing unprecedented changes, creating new opportunities for devices that connect consumers and doctors to information faster, easier, and more efficiently.
"It's coming to a point where there are just amazing breakthroughs every day," says Tor Alden, Principal and CEO at HS Design (HSD), where he has been directly involved in medical design for over 14 years. "[Technologists] are innovating and changing the landscape of how healthcare is going to be done to the point where we're not going to recognize it in the next three or four years from where it is now." It's a changing landscape that has caught the eye of many innovative startups, who now make up half of HSD's client list. "These new products have amazing technology, but it needs to be humanized and centered on user needs to be successful." HSD is positioning itself to be a bridge connecting the medical and healthcare startups with the investment banker communities. Alden predicts that if the growth continues at this rate, that number could be closer to 80% in the next few years.
One of the factors opening the door for innovation in the medical device industry is the Affordable Care Act. As requirements roll out for health care providers, there is an increasing need for new tools and products that ensure patient compliance. Take a typical hip replacement, for example: Under the Affordable Care Act, if a doctor or hospital is not tracking the compliance and rehabilitation of that patient and they return within a year with no improvement, the hospital owes money to the government. There's a financial incentive to make sure patients get better and, therefore, to track and evaluate their progress. This could spur invention around hip replacements—possibly leading to one with a chip (i.e., embedded UDI) to track rehabilitation or remind patients to get complete their physical therapy exercises.(more...)
At top: Designed by Snøhetta, the reverse sides of all five denominations of Norwegian kroners form a continuous pattern; above: A proposed redesign of the U.S. Dollar
By now, you've probably caught a glimpse of what were widely hailed as "the most beautiful banknotes ever." Somewhat less widely reported, at least in the first wave of press, is the fact that the Snøhetta-designed reverse side of the new Norwegian kroner is based on the Beaufort Scale for windspeed, or the fact that the jury actually selected Enzo Finger as the winner but that Norges Bank overruled their judgment and, um, split the bill between runner-up Metric System—who, in fairness, received credit for the obverse—and the architecture firm's PR-friendly abstraction. (A curiously contrarian interview with Snøhetta's Matthias Frodlund in Creators Project is perhaps the most interesting window into the process behind the pieces; "[Since] this might be the last [paper] money to be produced in Norway, [it's like] giving the digital world a little sneer—look we can be like you, digital and pixelated, just much more beautiful.")
The front and back of the 100kr note, designed by the Metric System and Snøhetta
In fact, all of the entries are available for viewing in the exegetical catalogue [PDF] (published with the October 7 press release), which elaborates on requirements such as standardized dimensions and colors of the notes—these properties remain consistent with extant currency for easy identification by both blind and sighted users—and judging criteria. Taking the theme of "The Sea," each denomination was required to express a subtheme, i.e. "Sea that brings us into the world" (100kr); "Sea that brings us further" (1,000kr). Other considerations include acceptance by the general public, aesthetic longevity, and, interestingly, the fact that it will represent the national idenitity as "a businesss card for Norway."
The front and back of the 1000kr note, designed by the Metric System and Snøhetta
That much I gleaned from some de rigueur Google translating; the 64-page document (only about 15 of the pages have text) is a fairly straightforward outline of the competition, but I won't deny you the surprise of seeing Aslak Gurholt Rønsen's entry (pp. 16–21)...(more...)
In Chattanooga, TN, Feetz is challenging the most basic elements of the footwear industry. Mass Manufacturing is dead. Mass Customization is the future. They combine 3D design, computer vision, biomechanics, additive manufacturing / 3d printing, robotics, and material science in ways that will make you go "WOW". Feetz is also seeking the entrepreneurial game changers, the self-starters, and the team players to join their small funded startup team to create the future.
To join this team, you must turn ideas and sketches into manufacturable designs. You must know what it takes to make something real and have experience in the fabrication space - from additive manufacturing to welding to textiles. You should also want to enjoy all the benefits of living in Chattanooga. If you want to be part of solving big problems in a fast changing environment, Apply Now.
Last we wrote about Black Eyed Peas' irrepressible frontman Will.i.am, he was dispensing nuggets of wisdom about logo design; earlier this year, he debuted a smartwatch on Alan Carr: Chatty Man, which he unveiled in earnest this week at the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. Here's the debut of the as-yet-unnamed Puls from April:
Billed as a cuff, as in cufflink or handcuff, the wearable.i.am. was reportedly two and a half years in the making and is noteworthy in that it need not be paired with a smartphone. Like the Samsung Gear S and Timex Ironman ONE GPS (both released in August), the Puls connects directly to a data network so it can function as a standalone device. Although the user can send and receive calls and texts, "it's on the wrist, therefore it should not mimic a phone." So says Will.i.am in a product walkthrough with the Wall Street Journal, in a video that is a appreciably less surreal than his talk-show appearance:
Jimmy Iovine reference duly noted; not entirely sure why he's pictured with Dr. Dre though...(more...)
If you live in a rural area with four seasons, you know that maintaining your property is a lot of work requiring a lot of tools. And when it comes to powered items, at a minimum you need a lawnmower for the summer, a leaf blower for the fall, a snowblower for the winter and maybe a pressure washer when it comes time to clean the house in spring. That's four contraptions taking up space in your garage, each with their own motor.
Which is why Troy-Bilt's forthcoming FLEX line of products is brilliant, at least in theory. The idea behind the FLEX line is that you buy a single motor (a decent size, too, at 208cc's), then buy lawn mower, leaf blower, snowblower and pressure washer "attachments" as needed, and you can swap each of them in and out, so you've only got one motor to maintain.
As of yet there's no details on the FLEX's "Lock & Latch" connection system, but since the devil is in the design details, we imagine the ease or difficulty of swapping attachments is something that will boost or kill sales after customer reviews hit the web. Which will be next year; the FLEX line is slated to roll out in Spring of 2015, exclusively through Lowes.
Via Consumer Reports
If you have ever shipped mass quantities of products worldwide, it's likely that you've worked with a packing solutions company. Experts in cardboard, foam and other packing products, these companies work with clients to make sure your beautifully designed product reaches the hands of consumers in one piece. "It's like the walls of a house in a tornado," explains Mike Martinez, Director of Consulting Services at Ernest Packaging Solutions, based near Los Angeles. "We protect your contents from the outside elements."
But that's not all Ernest Packaging Solutions does. Last month, to kick off its Cardboard Chaos series—in which the company hopes to push its skills by inventing alternative uses for its paper products—Ernest collaborated with Signal Surfboards to create a cardboard surfboard, a far cry from its daily services.
Martinez led the endeavor, putting together a small team at Ernest with each member specializing in various packing techniques, from food handling to shipping fragile china. The crew at nearby Signal Snowboards introduced Martinez and his team to Jeff "Doc" Lausch, a legend in the world of surfboard shaping. With Lausch's help, the team decided to model its board after a standard foam surfboard, using Hexacomb, a paper-based honeycomb, as the underlying structure.
Taller and thicker than cardboard, Hexacomb's structure makes it ideal for safeguarding objects, with crushable air cells that protect on impact. In a surfboard, these pockets of air provide buoyancy. "To recreate a foam-core surfboard out of paper, we needed to maintain buoyancy through compartmentalization that will keep that air inside," Martinez says. "Foam is just a bunch of small, trapped air bubbles. We wanted to create these air pockets and knew that Hexacomb was a great medium to do it."(more...)
This young student's name, country of origin, and the specific design school she attended are not important. But in this video she explains why she was motivated to study industrial design. At nearly ten minutes long the video is a bit rambling (cut the kid some slack), but one of the relevant stories is from 1:45 to 3:30 in the video; around 6:28 she discusses how she sees ID as the perfect blend of art and science, although it was actually her second choice as a major; and starting at 8:20 she reveals her perception of ID programs as being more cooperative than competitive. (Was not the case for me, but I guess your mileage may vary.)
So why are we showing you that video? Because later on she decided to quit ID, and explained why in this next video. At just over four minutes this one's a bit tighter, and while some of her points obviously have to do with her specific personal traits, other points she makes might hit home for some of you, depending on your program:(more...)
L: ABC Dataset Samples; R: Photo credit: NOAA, Vancouver Aquarium.
We've long been enamored with the Eames' Powers of Ten short film, which is as much an introduction to aerial photography as it is to the math behind astronomy and biology. Just as everyone now takes beautiful images (and the retina displays to view them on) for granted, there is also a sense in which we are collectively GPS-enabled: After all, digital cartography is perhaps the most practical application of constant connectivity, and we can thank one company for the ability to zoom out to god's-(or satellites'-)eye view with a pinch of the fingers.
The invention of a man named William Louden is a great example of industrial design in the era before the term "industrial design" was invented.
One of the first issues dealt with by the earliest farmers was where to keep their livestock. So they designed and built barns. They also needed a place to store the hay to feed those livestock, so the hay went into the barn too. The amount of livestock a farmer could keep, and feed, was thus limited to the size of the barn's footprint.
One early design solution to this limitation was to add a hayloft, or "mow," so you could keep the hay up above and maximize your floorspace below to house more livestock. But getting all that hay up to the mow was a lot of work, even after you rolled the hay wagon into the barn and stood on it to get a little extra elevation.
Enter William Louden, one of nine children born on a farm in Iowa in the 1800s. Louden was sickly and suffered from rheumatism, meaning he couldn't engage in the farm labor that his siblings did. But by observing their work, specifically the way that they had to pitch hay up onto the mow from the wagon, he designed a clever way to cut the workload down drastically.
This being 1867, ropes, pulleys, wheels and beams had all long existed. But Louden put all these things together in a novel way, starting with the beam, which he suspended from the ceiling and used as an overhead track—an early monorail. His resultant monorail-based design for a hay carrier allowed men to get bales of hay up into the mow with a fraction of the effort required when done manually. Here's a modern-day demonstration of the Louden Barn Hay Carrier:(more...)
Recreational furniture is one of the more unusual subsets of furniture design, but it's apparently one that people will pay good money for, judging by the plethora of flip-top gaming tables on the market. Up above you see Hammacher Schlemmer's Rotating Air Hockey to Billiards Table, a 350-pound behemoth with a built-in blower for the air hockey side. Flip the surface over and you're set up for pocket billiards (though at seven feet in length, you're not exactly in Minnesota Fats' playground).
This competing table at Hayneedle has HS beat by one game, as they've got table tennis (again, truncated at seven feet) on top of the first two games. Literally on top of them; what a difference a piece of MDF makes, huh?
That lousy giraffe that runs Toys R Us also sells a 3-in-1 gaming table, albeit a tiny one at just four feet in length.(more...)
Maybe you're designing a garage for end users who wants to actually put their cars in their garages, along with all the other stuff they're storing there. Or maybe you'd like to create a shop, but you also need storage space for non-shop items. One way to solve that problem is to create some overhead ceiling storage.
One obvious way to do that is to install some racks. The racks from Monkey Bars, hold either 500 or 750 pounds, depending on the model. The height is adjustable, so there's a lot of flexibility regarding what gets stored, and where. There's a 2-inch lip around the edge to help ensure things stay in place, without making it too difficult to lift a bin into place.
And as you can see with these racks from NewAge Products, users can add hooks (if vertical space allows) to create even more storage.
Not everyone is going to want to climb up on a ladder to get things down from a ceiling rack. Some people will have issues with balance; others may have heavy items which can be tricky to handle on a ladder. In such situations, a lift system might be a better approach. This is a general-purpose lift from Racor. The pulley systems lowers the rack eight feet from the ceiling; it can hold 250 pounds.
Designers have also create lifts to deal with specific items often stored in garages. For example, here's a bicycle lift. This one can be installed on ceilings as high as 14 feet. While end-users generally agree it's a good design, many of them have complained about the quality of the rope. It's a good reminder to properly consider the cost-vs-quality tradeoff for a product's components.
Do you like feeling you're on the right side of history? Do you value the true craft of storytelling (not just designers and advertisers telling you their products tell stories)? Do you love unexpected views into the lives and histories and work of others? Shh. Just click here.
The Radiotopia network kicked off last November with a super successful KS campaign spearheaded by Roman Mars and Radio PRX, who proposed banding creative indie podcasts together in a "new kind of radio." Their early efforts have paid off, with more amazing work coming out all the time. The networked shows include (my unabashed favorite) 99% Invisible, Fugitive Waves, Love + Radio, Radio Diaries, Strangers, Theory of Everything, and The Truth. They're very different, but each features a well-developed voice, interesting subject matter, and interesting production. There's fiction, history, design, sound art... Tuning in feels like stumbling on that special driveway moment more times than not. They've all expanded a ton in the first year, now they're moving into a second year of programming with the aim of bolstering the original member shows and bringing more into the fold.
Unsurprisingly (the founding podcast is entirely about design) the campaign has some good looking perks to offer. There are the standard attractive shirts and mugs, but there are also interesting prints, beautiful headphones, a chance at guest producing episodes, storytelling workshops, and the chance to get a stranger as a pen pal, among several others. That's awesome.
If you ever find yourself enjoying (or craving more) podcasts as you stoop over your work for hours, do yourself a favor and give Radiotopia a little love.(more...)
We assume that gesture control will be the wave of the future, if you'll pardon the pun. And we also assumed it would be perfected by developers tweaking camera-based information. But now Elliptic Labs, a spinoff company from a research outfit at Norway's University of Oslo, has developed the technology to read gestures via sound. Specifically, ultrasound.
In a weird way this is somewhat tied to Norway's oil boom. In addition to the medical applications of ultrasound, Norwegian companies have been using ultrasound for seismic applications, like scouring the coastline for oil deposits. Elliptic Labs emerged from the Norwegian "ultrasonics cluster" that popped up to support industrial needs, and the eggheads at Elliptical subsequently figured out how to use echolocation on a micro scale to read your hand's position in space.With Elliptic Labs' gesture recognition technology the entire zone above and around a mobile device becomes interactive and responsive to the smallest gesture. The active area is 180 degrees around the device, and up to 50 cm with precise distance measurements made possible by ultrasound... The interaction space can also be customized by device manufacturers or software developers according to user requirements.
Using a small ultrasound speaker, a trio of microphones and clever software, a smartphone (or anything larger) can be programmed to detect your hand's location in 3D space with a higher "resolution" (read: accuracy) than cameras, while using only a miniscule amount of power. And "Most manufacturers only need to install the ultrasound speaker and the software in their smartphones," reckons the company, "since most devices already have at least 3 microphones."
The demo of the technology, which they're calling Multi Layer Interaction, looks pretty darn cool:(more...)
Ziba turns 30 this year, and the renowned design company is understandably proud. To celebrate the diverse and lasting work of founder Sohrab Vossoughi, he and other design veterans discussed the future of product design. On the panel were Vossoughi, Allan Chochinov of SVA and Core77, John Jay of Wieden+Kennedy, and Aura Oslapas, previously Chief Design Officer for Best Buy, with questions and moderation by Carl Alviani. These folks had strong opinions, punchy advice, and more personality than your average lineup of industry heads. Here's our synopsis of the key questions and insights.
The definition of "product" has shifted over time. What does it mean now and why?
Oslapas started off clarifying that a product has come to describe services and software, in addition to hardware. Vossoughi agreed, but pointed out that even as design becomes more integrated with business the consumer still thinks of "product" in physical terms. Jay, as a communications and advertising pro, disagreed, pointing out that in his field of design creating an emotional response and relationship to another product is itself a product. Chochinov jumped on this, noting that Product Design has never been a particularly clarifying term, and now the growth of interaction design has made things even more complicated: "I can never hope to have a career moniker that makes sense. If it weren't so funny it would be cruel." Referencing the recent Facebook/Ello debate, he pointed out that point of view is everything, since from one angle Facebook is the product, but in reality it's us the users who are the profitable product. Oslapas countered that consumers still call the product by what it is, unless there's an issue—"product" is just a business term for the thing that we sell, rather than name or noun used by the user. In Allen's words: a product is something that needs to be fixed.
What are new impacts on the field and practice of design?
Social media was the first, albeit obvious, theme. In Jay's estimation, user engagement is empowering enough that it's changing everything. Ideas necessarily have to come from different places, and the production process is no longer a Push theory from the producer's end. Oslapas credited design methodologies and tools that cross disciplines. Prototyping tools and new work models are both rapidly shifting expectations towards greater collaboration.
User-centeredness, as Chochinov put it, is design's current but deeply problematic frame. "Users are part of the problem! Earth-centric design won't fly with consumers, but it's essential that we use the privilege of the design community towards making something of use at all." This shifted into a scathing critique of what he sees as the main goals in design, namely providing convenience, beauty, pleasure to anyone with the disposable income to afford it.
From left: Allan Chochinov, Aura Oslapas, Carl Alviani, John Jay & Sohrab Vossoughi(more...)
Nest is growing and there's a lot to do. You've never had this much fun working this hard. Nest is passionate about reinventing unloved but important home products by redefining human interaction and its aesthetic quality with strong attention to detail. This Palo Alto, CA team is looking for talented Industrial Designer who will collaborate closely with Engineering, Operations and the User Experience group to fulfill the complex demands of modern industrial production.
This role requires a holistic and user oriented approach to create delightful products that are simple and easy to use as well as having a good quality build. The Designers accompany and influence the product development process from concept till ramp. Being a great team player doesn't hurt either, so Apply Now.