When shotguns fire "shot"—a multitude of small pellets as opposed to a singular slug—the wielder gets "a good spread" with a single pull of the trigger. Depending on what your priorities are, this may or may not make it a good weapon for home defense; in the words of comedian Bill Burr, "I don't want to have to do a bunch of drywall work [after repelling an invader]."
But that "spread" is what a particular type of shotgun—originally called a "fowling piece"—was designed to produce, and specifically for hunting birds. Beretta's updated 486 shotgun, designed by Marc Newson, pays homage to this with artsy patterns on the laser-engraved receiver.The engraving is a clear homage to Asia as the homeland of the pheasant. This unique design is made possible by the high-tech laser technology used in the manufacturing process. This ensures the best texture wrap over the entire surface of the receiver and also allows for a deep contrast and sharp resolution in all the details of the engraving.
The receiver is edgeless, following the current trend in "round body" shotgun designs enabled by precision machinery. But in terms of original flair, the sexy opening lever is pretty Newsonesque:(more...)
Sam Jacob on His New Design Studio, the Demise of FAT Architecture, and 'the Long-Term Benefits of Messing Around'
Name: Sam Jacob
Occupation: I'm the principal of Sam Jacob Studio, a design, architecture and urbanism practice based in London. At the same time, I'm a professor of architecture at Yale and at the University of Illinois at Chicago; Director of Night School at the Architectural Association; and a columnist for Art Review and Dezeen. And until recently I was a co-director of FAT Architecture, which closed this year in a blaze of high-profile projects at the Venice Architecture Biennale and a collaboration on a building with artist Grayson Perry.
I've always pursued an idea of design practice as a combination of criticism, research and speculation that all feed directly into the design studio. So that ideas cross-fertilize, find connections and directions that make the practice stronger, more agile and able to respond intelligently to the problem at hand.
After 20-odd years as co-director of FAT Architecture, it's been exciting to establish a new kind of practice, to work with new people, with new kinds of projects, with different angles of attack.
Location: London (mainly) / Chicago (sometimes)
Current projects: I'm really excited about some collaborative projects that are happening at the moment. The first is developing ways to reinvent the business park—taking the outmoded 1980s model and revitalizing it. The idea of work has changed so dramatically in recent times, so it seems right to be imagining new ways to spatialize and organize new kinds of work patterns. For me it's the perfect combination of research, speculation and design.
Secondly, a big master planning project that's trying to invent a new kind of community—one that's not urban, not rural but also non-suburban, a new kind of hybrid between the rural and the urban. A techno-eco idyll, in other words.
And lastly, designing my own house—the fantasy of any architect, but a daunting one too. Any architect designing his own house is inevitably also writing a manifesto.
Mission: To use design as a form of real-life science fiction—to invent new ways of being in the world, or new kinds of worlds to be in.
Above: Jacob and his drawing of Southwark for the 2014 10x10/Drawing London auction. Top image: A Clockwork Jerusalem, FAT Architecture and Crimson Architectural Historians' exhibition for the British Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. Photo by Cristiano Corte
The Hoogvliet Villa, a cultural center in Rotterdam designed by FAT. Photo by Rob Parrish
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? It just kind of happened... I think it was a real fascination with the idea that architecture could be a combination of many things—that it was artistic, sociological, technical and so on, and that it was all these things at the same time. It's a naïve idea perhaps, but one I still believe in. One lesson I've learnt from older generations is to try to remain as naïvely optimistic as possible in the face of the endless array of problems that beset any design project.
Education: I studied at the Mackintosh in Glasgow, then at the Bartlett in London. It was—totally accidentally—a great combination. First being embedded in the Glasgow School of Art, the serious Modernist tradition of the Mac, then the freedom of the Bartlett gave me a really broad exposure to different ideas of what architecture and design could be.
First design job: Straight from school into FAT. Actually, doing both while I was in my last year. In other words, I've never really had a proper job in design—which is both a blessing and a curse. Not having a model of what an office should be or how it should work has given me a real freedom to invent something that works for me. But at the same time, I'm sure there are a few shortcuts it would have been good to learn faster. Nothing like learning on the job, though.
Who is your design hero? For his ability to conjure arguments and propositions out of the thin air of everyday culture: the British critic from the '60s and '70s Reyner Banham
For the relentlessness of investigation: Rem Koolhaas
For his belief in the connection between politics and design: William Morris
For beauty in the face of the inevitable tragedy of design: Borromini
Above and below: Drawings from Sam Jacob Studio and Hawkins\Brown's master plan for an Eco Ruburb, a community hybrid of the rural and the urban(more...)
It's about this time of year that you start to see stall owners gearing up for Christmas in the local high street markets in East London—every inch of wall and ceiling space weighed down with yet more shining dancing Psy action figures, Angry Bird backpacks and fluorescent loom-band kits. Although you have to admire some of the inventiveness (in design as well as IP-dodging), walking past these sellers never fails to give me a niggling feeling of waste in the depths of my stomach—what will have become of all this plastic and electronics by this time next year?
Samuel N. Bernier, Creative Director of leFabShop (and 2012 Core77 Design Award honoree and longtime DIYer/hacker extraordinaire) had the idea for Open Toys when he realized he could create toys from scraps of wood and cork he found in the workshop when combined with simple parts made on a 3D printer. Having gone on to design a small selection of pieces that could be used to make cars, planes, boats and helicopters, Samuel was later inspired whilst gardening to replace wood and cork (difficult to drill without tools) with fruits and vegetables.
Being pronounced as some as a "Mr. Potato Head for the era of digital fabrication," it's certainly interesting to see how the bulk of disposable toys plastic can be designed out whilst perhaps also encouraging a little creativity in our digitally addicted toddlers. The question remains however—should we be playing with our food?(more...)
It's that time of the year. Throughout the Northern Hemisphere, it's growing cold and bleak. Though you may be beginning to think of snowy holiday cheer, delicious food roasting amid family and attractive gifts, I have a better option. Reflect on the demise of society as we know it with the New Survivalism project by Parsons & Charlesworth! This semi-sinister art project takes planning for post-apocalyptic living out of the bunker and into a more convivial, personal type of conjecture. What types of preparedness would we need, beyond mere survival?
The project's alternative bug-out bags offer six personal preparedness kits for modern survivalists whose water+rations are already taken care of. What upper-level essentials are there? In case of emergency, as in normal life, our priorities differ along very personal lines. While apocalyptic movies have their standard canon of character types, these packs and their owners' "mini manifestos" push outside of the tropes.
The first bag belongs to the Object Guardian, and it's more of an archival box. In a time after civilization's peak, who will keep the stories of our ancient objects and ways of life? Well, the guardian may be able to help. As a collector of all manner of old objects, the Guardian's bag protects an amalgamated ball of... stuff, seemingly cribbed from a history museum. From the mini manifesto:Trying to memorize just some of them seemed ridiculous but what if I am the only one left to remember? Sure, they've got their Integrated Emergency Management plan all tied up but who is the real guardian? Who is taking the memories of these artifacts to the people, when the people can no longer come to them?
What happens to curators when the museums are abandoned? What happens to the millennia of learning?(more...)
If you are naturally creative and express yourself through fluent craft and hand work rather than through a computer, Design Partners in Dublin has a very exciting new opportunity for an innovator and prototype maker who is ready to broaden the fluency and creative output of their model shop. Design Partners is a product design and strategy consultancy that tunes in to ambitious clients and brings bold, unique product visions to life. Are you the new Model Maker & Creator on the Design Partners team?
They are looking for someone who is organized, precise, highly creative, motivated and ambitious. Hopefully you will have a technically diverse background with experience in the design industry and you will be ready to take on this leadership role in their new purpose built model shop and R+D lab at their Dublin studio. Don't wait, Apply Now.
Imagine you're a Formula One driver doing 240 m.p.h. when a bug slams into your helmet's visor. By chance the smear is directly in front of the pupil of your dominant eye, and this obstruction of your vision is enough to cost you the race (and maybe much more). That's why F1 helmets have four layers of transparent tear-off strips over their visors. The drivers rip them off and let the wind take them, their act of littering forgiven in the name of chasing millions of dollars worth of glory.
In addition to the pull-off strips, there is an impressive investment of design and materials science in the modern-day F1 helmet. First off they're freakishly light, weighing just 1250 grams (under three pounds). This is to avoid burdening the driver with an extra-heavy head as they can experience as much as five G's while cornering and braking.
Despite the low weight, there's an insane amount of material in them—according to F1 Technical and Formula1.com, some 17 layers that can include carbon fiber, titanium, aluminum, magnesium, epoxy resin, polyethylene, polycarbonate, Kevlar, Nomex for fire resistance, and a secret blend of herbs and spices that manufacturers are secretive about.
Small vents are designed to allow airflow into the helmet. As it's the driver's only source of fresh air, there are filters in place to keep out brake dust, splashes of motor oil and the like.
The rest of the helmet, though, is designed to channel air around it, making it as aerodynamic as possible. F1 cars are traveling at such speeds that an overly wind-resistant design would snap the driver's head backwards.
Alongside the chin-mounted comms microphone you'd expect is something more surprising: An in-helmet drinking straw that leads to the driver's beverage of choice. A handy button on the steering wheel lets the liquid start flowing.
On top of all this the helmet is of course designed to provide protection, and this functionality is updated as the designers learn more. For example, at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, Brazil's Felipe Massa was knocked out by a suspension spring that flew off of another driver's car. Watch it in CG:
Last week I upgraded my cracked-screen iPhone 4S... with a 5S. I think the iPhone 6 is pretty, but it's simply too big for me. I tried one out in the store and decided I don't want to double-tap the home button every time I need to reach the top of the screen.
But I am clearly in the minority, as everyone else in the world seems to want a bigger phone. People are willing to put up with the wider, less-convenient-to-carry form factor for the improved UX. So here's my question: Do you think folks would put up with not only a wider, but a thicker form factor—if it meant they could fully charge their phone in less than one minute?
That sub-one-minute mark is what Israeli tech company StoreDot is working on. If you're wondering about the company's strange name, their technology is based on using biorganic nanocrystals that they call "Nanodots" that can store charges. These dots can also do other fancy tricks like serve as flash memory and even compreise display elements, due to their "inherent luminescence in red, green and blue visible spectral regions."
But it's the battery application that's currently generating a wave of buzz. "While the prototype is currently far too bulky for a mobile phone," Reuters reports, "the company believes it will be ready by 2016 to market a slim battery that can absorb and deliver a day's power for a smartphone in just 30 seconds."
It looks unlikely that this Wonderbattery will show up in the iPhone 7; the company has reportedly received financial backing from "a leading mobile phone maker [in Asia]." So it sounds like either Samsung or HTC will have a competitive edge, at least where juice is concerned.(more...)
If you missed last week's Open House/Info Session at the MFA in Products of Design at SVA, the videos have been posted online. Allan Chochinov, Chair of the program, says that "We've divided up the videos into three parts—a State-of-Design talk followed by a deep review of the mission and pedagogy; a detailed overview of the curriculum along with several faculty discussing their courses; and two student panel discussions, one with current students, and one with graduates of the program." Below is the first video (the audio gets way better after the first half-minute), but you can find all three plus snapshots of the event right here:
Also, if you're checking out their grad school, the Products of Design site has a list of how their program is unique, and why you should apply there: "14 THINGS THAT MATTER: What distinguishes the MFA in Products of Design?" And, a reminder that applications are due February 1st, so get those portfolios tuned up!(more...)
It's easy to hate those lists of obviously untested "lifehacks" and bluetooth-strapped "innovations," but if you do nothing to combat them aren't you effectively condoning them? The Stupid Shit No One Needs & Terrible Ideas Hackathon stands up to the tide of bad concepts and needlessly tech-infused bullshit. Organized by Amelia Winger-Bearskin and Sam Lavigne, this year's hackathon produced some truly inventive and horrific creations. Here are some of my favorite innovative stupid hacks (possibly NSFW after the jump):
Tweet Your Food automatically updates Twitter with every bite you take. Now you can plug in and go to town, secure in the knowledge that your meals are finally keeping up with your information age lifestyle.
iPad On A Face is what it sounds like. This "artisanal, handmade, and Certified Organic" invention hacks the necessity of dropping grands and grands on a telepresence robot, by projecting your face digitally via an iPad. The iPad On A Face is mounted with an exclusive "holsterhat" to a human host, and your live projected presence is ready to go!(more...)
Yasser Fathi Qudih
Some projects can create a surprisingly extensive ripple effect. They can inspire the creation of new projects or light a spark of curiosity within a single individual. In this case, the project that is causing the ripple effect is a group of guys in the city of Khan Younis, Gaza, who use parkour to find common ground and hope in an area of the world where that is exactly what is needed.
Who would ever think that one of the things you might end up seeing when walking around in Gaza is a bunch of young guys practicing parkour in the middle of the ruins. Well, if you happen to be in the city of Khan Younis, and you walk around when school is over, that is likely to happen. I had the great pleasure of interviewing one of the gents from PK Gaza, Ahmed Matar, to hear more about the organisation and their plans.
After the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Gaza Strip back in 2005, Captain Mohamed Algakhbeer and Abdallah Enshasy created the very first parkour crew in Gaza, a crew that's now seen as the best parkour team in the Arab world. Back then, it was just the two of them, but steadily the numbers of member in the crew have grown and now they are up to 18 official members from age 17–25.(more...)
With annual sales of $11 billion, the Johnson & Johnson Global Surgery Group is the world's largest, most innovative surgical company. The strength of the Global Surgery Group is illustrated by the fact that more than 80% of their sales come from businesses with #1 or #2 global market share positions. The Industrial Design|Human Factors team provides user-centered design leadership to business partners across several businesses within the J&J Global Surgery Group. How would you like to join this powerhouse brand as an Industrial Designer?
The best candidate for this job will embrace the various roles this position requires, using traditional sketching, digital tools, CAD models, and physical mock-ups to communicate unique ideas and product concepts. They'll also be a problem solver with a keen understanding of how things work who is self-directed and organized. If this sounds like you, Apply Now.
It was on the photography-based PetaPixel website that I first heard of what are called cinemagraphs. While cinemagraphs are uploaded as GIFs, in essence a cinemagraph is to a standard GIF what color footage is to black-and-white. With a cinemagraph, a photographer uses photo compositing techniques to animate only selective elements of a photograph, while the rest of it remains still.
In the hands of a master photographer like Julien Douvier, who produced the three shots below, the effect is simply stunning.(more...)
When Poltrona Frau turned one hundred in 2012, the Italian furniture maker decided it was time to rethink its classic armchair, which had been around since the very beginning. An overstuffed wing chair with a built-in ashtray for the gentleman who likes to smoke at home—clearly it was time for a revamp. So the CEO reached out to 12 designers to take part in a competition for the "centenary armchair"—one that not only brought new life to Poltrona Frau's classic, but that also predicted the future of the armchair in the home.
The winning design was by Satyendra Pakhalé, an Amsterdam-based industrial designer originally from India (who answered our Core77 Questionnaire last spring). Pakahalé envisions a future where work and life intersect more than ever. "The concept was inspired from contemporary life in an increasingly connected world where the boundaries between the domestic space and the workplace are further blurred," Pakhalé says. "The resulting collection is a synthesis between the contemporary and the traditional; between the needs of an evolving society and the excellence of Poltrona Frau's craftsmanship in processing leather and hide."
In addition to the new armchair, the Assaya collection includes a table, a lap tray and a pouf. The idea, Pakhalé says, is for the armchair to provide "a flexible way of living and working, where one could use it as a writing desk and also as a place to relax." The lap tray is provided for the use of digital devices, while the pouf and side table can be used in formal or informal settings for work and leisure.
The project began with a trip taken by Pakhalé to the Poltrona Frau factory in Tolentino, Italy. "I was curious, keen to grasp, assess and evaluate in my own manner the legendary heritage of Poltrona Frau," Pakhalé says. The designer drew upon the company's extensive leather production facilities and craftsmen in the design of Assaya, which is constructed in hide and leather all sourced from Italian and Swedish tanning factories owned by Poltrona Frau.
Poltrona Frau's original armchair, with its built-in ashtray(more...)
We've periodically covered Big Ass Fans (here and here), the Kentucky-based company that shrewdly changed their name from High Volume Low Speed Fan Company. Due to their no-nonsense marketing approach, the efficient, sturdy design of their product and periodic design refreshes, they've grown into something like the Dyson of overhead air movement systems. And now they've moved into a new product category, with another line of overhead-mounted objects: Big Ass Lights.
So here we see how selling directly to customers can help a company develop new products: Direct feedback, which would likely get lost or mangled if filtered through a distributor middleman. By interacting directly with customers and visiting their facilities, the company is in a position to overhear their needs—and gripes. "One we heard over and over again: employers' once-bright lights now glowed a dim yellow, making it difficult for workers to do their jobs and forcing maintenance teams to constantly replace bulbs," the company writes. "Those inefficient bulbs also kept energy costs high."
Seeing an opportunity, they then hired new talent, adding lighting experts to their stable of engineers. The resultant design of their LED-sporting Big Ass Light isn't actually that physically big—the smaller model's a little over three feet in length, and the larger model just under four—but the company reckons they've created "The last light you'll buy," as it's energy-efficient, well-designed and durable.
The main body of the light is an aluminum extrusion, finned to serve as a heat sink:(more...)
I'm cheap, so I save all hardware and fasteners that aren't bent out of shape or stripped. As I disassemble one DIY project and prepare to move on to the next, all of the old screws and such go into the sad "system" you see below, a collection of plastic containers. When they're full I dump them out onto a tray and sort more precisely.
It's a lame system, I know. And I became aware of just how lame when I saw this killer idea from "Wulf" over on the Craftster community:At the shop where I work we just toss loose screws, bolts, nails and other bits and pieces of hardware from the workbenches and the floor into a bucket and, every couple of years when the bucket gets too full, somebody has to dump the whole mess out and sort everything back to where it belongs. When that job fell to me this Spring, I decided there had to be a better solution. So I designed a bin that would help to at least divide things by type to make the final sorting easier. Though built for an industrial situation, it would work equally well in the home craft room for jewellery findings, sewing notions, etc.(more...)
I once got stabbed in the head with a wooden knife. It was an accident that occurred during a martial arts training exercise. I'd heard that head wounds bleed badly, but as I waited for the taxi to take me to the hospital (an ambulance is not what you take in NYC if speed is a priority) I was shocked at the amount of blood that came out of my head.
While head wounds are bad, severing a femoral or carotid artery is way worse in terms of blood loss. If you slice one of these open and can't stop the bleeding, that's basically the last selfie you'll ever take. But now a tiny biotech company in Brooklyn can change that equation, having developed a product that stops bleeding, whether pinprick or grievous wound, almost instantly.
Called VetiGel, the material is a plant-based polymer. It requires no training to use and can be loaded into an ordinary plastic syringe; rather than needing to learn how to prepare a field dressing, someone providing aid can simply aim and squirt it like toothpaste onto a brush. Watch how it works in this video:
The leftover material, by the way, can be safely resorbed into the body or removed.
As for why it's called VetiGel, the material is first being marketed towards veterinarians, with approval for human use planned for further down the line.
Should the product pass human trials and prove affordable enough to manufacture, it could be a real game changer: Simple syringes loaded up with the stuff and placed into every ambulance, soldier's pack and first aid kit around the world could mean the difference between life and death for countless people, particularly those for whom a hospital is more than a cab ride away.(more...)
During the holiday season, there's something about being a creative industry professional that makes you a prime target for delegation of certain tasks requiring an appreciation for the visual and delicate hand-eye coordination. But every year it's the same humiliation, OCD irritability and disappointment of small children everywhere when we reach the annual realization that sick Adobe technique, awesome CAD modelling skills or even decades of workshop experience doesn't always translate to graceful arrangement of tinsel or prim and proper present wrapping.
Icing biscuits—of course a prime and reoccurring example of this phenomenon of holiday ham-fistedness (what is it about coloured liquid sugar that can look so appalling despite being spread with the upmost care!)—has fallen into the sights of home-making bloggers and entrepreneurs this year with (an industry already well into it's cycle) videos and new products aimed at the icing-incompetent.
In a lengthy video tutorial, Amber of SweetAmbs—YouTube cookie decoration sorceress—gives an highly informative if insanely detail breakdown of the process to iced cookie perfection. It seems we've been destined to failure with attempts to spread on the sugar coating—only a piping technique will suffice, not forgetting a dry time of 8 hours for the base layer. Jokes aside, you got to give her credit for her use of a scribe manipulating the sugar to form the delicate patterns.(more...)
As a professional organizer, I often recommend that gift-givers consider consumables—things that will get used up, and won't become clutter. There are many ways to design a normally mundane item so that it becomes an interesting gift (whether a stocking stuffer or more), and to design a commonly gifted item so it stands out in the crowd.
Idea #1: Take a common product and make it a work of art, such as this toothbrush from Bogobrush.
Idea #2: Get creative with the holiday offerings. Many companies offer special products for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. But not many have an offering for Burns Day, as L. A. Burdick does with its limited edition Scotch whisky chocolates.
Idea #3: Combine items in interesting ways. For example, Hen & Hammock sells seed combinations: four kinds of chills, four purple vegetables, four Christmas dinner vegetables, etc.(more...)
When children fall victim to a gunman, that generates press interest. But the media being what it is, eleven children dying because of a toy does not get much ink. Eleven is the number of children that died "toy-related deaths" in North America in 2012, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. That number may not sound high to you, but it's still eleven families having eleven funerals with eleven small coffins. The number ought to be zero. And the same year, by the way, there were an estimated 265,000 trips to the emergency room following toy-related injuries.
Choking, strangulation, electrocution, falling, slicing, piercing, these are all things that can happen to a child in the average home filled with average grown-up things. Toy design, at least, should avoid replicating these hazards, yet the field still occasionally falls short. In the past twelve months the CPSC has recalled some 17 toy designs totaling just under five million units. But "Recalls are reactive, not proactive," writes W.A.T.C.H. (World Against Toys Causing Harm), a watchdog organization dedicated to calling out dangerous toys.
"Safe design and manufacture," the organization reckons, is the "first line of defense."Consumers have a right to expect the toys they select for their children are designed with safety as a priority. While proper labeling, regulations and recalls are important for toy safety, toy manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure safe products reach the marketplace. Some toys that are in compliance with current industry or regulatory standards have proven to be hazardous, proving the inadequacy of existing standards. It is unbelievable that toys with parts that can detach and become lodged in a child's throat are often not considered "small parts" by the industry...(more...)
By Sohrab Vossoughi, President & Founder, Ziba
Last month marked Ziba's 30th anniversary as an innovation and design agency, and besides giving us a reason to celebrate, this milestone is also a perfect opportunity to look into the past as well as the future. Ziba today is a far different company than the one I founded in 1984 in a bedroom in Beaverton, Oregon. We're a larger organization now, of course, but also a far more multidisciplinary and collaborative one. It's a shift that reflects the product design field as a whole.
To help quantify this shift, we recently hosted a panel conversation between three of the most forward-thinking designers and educators in the country. "The Future of Product Design" asked these panelists—Allan Chochinov of the School of Visual Arts and Core77, Aura Oslapas of A+O, and John Jay of Wieden + Kennedy, plus myself—to evaluate how product design has changed since we first entered the field, and to make some predictions about where it's headed.
All four of us have been working designers since the '80s or '90s, and we've all seen dramatic changes in the tools that people use to turn concepts into products. And while our opinions diverged in some ways, we all agreed that the tools matter far less than the intention and empathy behind them. It's true that software like Adobe Creative Suite and various 3D CAD and rendering packages have gotten much more powerful and easier to use, empowering millions of people to take on design tasks once reserved for professionals. The real expertise of product designers, though, isn't in their mastery of computers, but their ability to identify needs, create meaning and form a thoughtful point of view on what a design should do... and why.
Out of the themes that emerged from the discussion, five were especially pronounced, and worth exploring in greater detail—not just as a way of taking stock of past achievements, but of anticipating where product design could go in the next 30 years.
1. The product is rarely just physical anymore.
The term "product" was once reserved for physical objects, but since the late '80s it's been used to describe software, websites and other digital offerings. More recently, we've started calling almost anything that brings value to consumers a product, from apps and financial investments to banking and car-sharing services. Part of this is an attempt to make something abstract feel more substantial. But it also reflects a fundamental shift in perceptions. The growing preference among younger consumers for services instead of products—using Zipcar instead of buying a car, for example—is well established. The growing flexibility of the word "product" points to the fact that, in many cases, what we value today is not the object, but the experience that the object provides.(more...)