In 1990 Dennis Amodeo, a carpenter from Long Island, won a rather amazing VH1 giveaway: A collection of 36 Corvettes, one from each year from the model's birth in 1953 up to the then-recent 1989. Something like that is an American boy or man's dream come true, the crappy 1980s models notwithstanding.
But it's also an American man's dream to receive six-figure checks, so when pop artist Peter Max offered $250,000 for the collection that same year, Amodeo handed over all five pounds of car keys. Max had some kind of art project in mind for the cars, and got as far as taping up the sides of some of them for color tests. But that's as far as Max got, so the cars just sat. And sat. And sat. For decades.(more...)
What kind of organizing products get funded (or try to get funded) on Kickstarter? Having written about the HYVE system, I wondered what else I'd find there. When I went looking, I found designers offering a wide range of interesting stuff.
Anyone who carries keys and a smart phone in the same pocket might be interested in using the KeyDisk 2 to hold those keys. And even those who don't might be intrigued by the design. It can hold up to nine keys, and has a car fob attachment. Membership cards can fit inside, too. It's made from sandblasted and anodized aluminum and uses custom-made screws. People who funded the original KeyDisk are coming back to fund this updated version, which is slightly lighter and holds more keys. The one disadvantage is finding the right key quickly; you need to remember where each key is relative to the KeyDisk logo. This product has already met its funding goal, and will go live on Dec. 5.
For those who aren't happy with the multitude of cable organizers currently on offer, there's the CableStop. CableStop has a polycarbonate body and two stainless steel interior weights. The plans are to manufacture CableStop in Portugal; this makes it more expensive than products made in lower-cost countries, but it also means it will be made with significantly lower pollution. The designer, Philippe Guichard, is both an industrial designer and a mechanical engineer and has over 20 years of experience. CableStop has until Nov. 4 to meet its funding goal.
End users who want to make the most of their refrigerator space might be interested in bottleLoft, a magnetic bottle holder for the refrigerator. The plastic rail is held in place with a strip of 3M VHB (very high bond) tape, a special low temperature application grade suitable for a refrigerator. The bottleLoft can be removed using a plastic putty knife/scraper to shear the adhesive sideways, and replacement adhesive strips will be made available. The designer, Brian Conti, has had four other Kickstarters that funded, including one for Strong Like Bull magnets—and this Kickstarter has met its funding goal, too. It goes live on Nov. 9.(more...)
Hot on the heel-plate-attachment-points of Noonee's "Chairless Chair," the team at Mono+Mono has launched the "Sitpack" on Kickstarter. The Copenhagen-based design consultancy has developed what they're calling "the world's most compact, foldable resting device," and they're looking to bring the pocketable monopod to market via a crowdfunding campaign. Designed in keeping with the seven universal design principles, the form factor looks like something made by, say, Beats, but the device itself is actually entirely mechanical: The canister splits laterally into wings (which serve as the seat), revealing a telescoping leg that extends to up to 85cm (33in). We know it's that time of year, but don't try this with your kid's lightsaber toy:
Originally known as "Rest"—hence the references in the video—the "Sitpack" is essentially a further reduced version of portable camp stools or those canes with a built-in tripod-stool (both of which I came across in the USPTO archive, after a commenter tipped me off about the original 'wearable chair'), as they indicate in a tabulated side-by-side comparison on their Kickstarter page. They're available for the discounted price of kr175 DKK (about $30 USD); retail will be in the kr270 DKK ($46 USD) range—not bad, considering that they're looking to manufacture it in Denmark; see more here.
Process sketches & renders
Portland-based Frank Howarth isn't your average ivory-tower paper architect, but a man who actually makes things with his hands—and shows you his design/building process. With a YouTube channel dedicated to "Architecture at a small scale expressed through woodworking and filmmaking," Howarth presents shop-built projects in a clever, entertaining way. I also like the man's flair for practical, attractive designs.
A good case in point is his series on French-cleat-based projects he built around his house. We've all got one of those closets filled with household cleaners and other domestic spillover, and here's how Howarth handled his:(more...)
Like these envelope-pushing urban downhill cyclists, we American motorists are also stretching boundaries—unfortunately, of our waistlines. And while we Yanks have been getting fatter for years, it took until now for someone to notice that crash-test dummies still look like they're in shape.
That's a problem, because having crash-test data from an average-sized dummy isn't much good when we are no longer "average-sized." And since we can't seem to get our fitness and diets together, leading dummy manufacturer Humanetics is going to start making, well, fat crash test dummies.
"Obese people are 78% more likely to die in a crash," Humanetics CEO Chris O' Connor told CNN. "The reason is the way we get fat. We get fat in our middle range. And we get out of position in a typical seat." This skews the data between in-shape, in-proper-position dummy and out-of-shape, out-of-position accident victim, so Humanetics' obese prototype weighs north of 270 pounds and has a Body Mass Index of 35. (A BMI of 18.5 to 25 is considered healthy/fit.)
"[Our] obese crash test dummy... is capable of measuring belt and airbag loads generated from heavier occupants during crash events," O'Connor reported in Crash Test Technology International. "The initial prototype dummy was made available in August 2014 for sled evaluations. Collaborating unversitites and companies will continue evaluations in the later part of 2014."
What we expect to see next: A celebrity or politican fat-shaming one of these dummies, then being forced to apologize on Twitter.(more...)
Cities like New York and Washington D.C. were designed with nice, rational grids. Cities like Tokyo and Kyoto were reportedly designed to confuse invaders with twisting, irrational angles. And cities like Valparaiso, Chile and Taxco, Mexico were designed in reaction to Mother Nature, being built as they are atop a number of rugged hillsides.
The crazily-narrow, winding alleyways of Valparaiso and Taxco follow gravity and topography more than logic, and as it turns out, this makes for an extremely compelling downhill bike course. Organized downhill racing through urban environments has existed since the '90s, but this year a bunch of sponsors got together to organize the City Downhill World Tour 2014, spanning Valparaiso and Taxco as well as Santos, Brasil and Bratislava, Slovakia.
Last week's race was held in Taxco, and the on-bike footage from rider Filip Polc is unsurprisingly insane—this seems like the entire reason GoPro cameras were invented:
How is this not a video game yet?(more...)
I can't for the life of me recall where or when, but I once heard that you turn a bicycle ("cornering," as we call it) not by steering with the handlebars but by 'pointing your belly button in the direction you want to go.' It comes naturally to anyone who has surmounted the learning curve, but it's easy to forget that we aren't born with the ability to ride a bike. Jersey City, NJ-based brothers Steve and Rich Thrush sum up the problem:As you probably know, the experience of riding a traditional tricycle or a bicycle with training wheels is quite different than riding a bicycle. In fact, because you cannot lean into turns on a traditional tricycle nor a bicycle with training wheels, kids riding these toys often develop bad habits which they then have to unlearn when learning to ride a bicycle.
The recently Kickstarted Dreisch leaning tricycle addresses the counterintuitive physics of muscle memory by shifting the steering to the rear axle via a hinge and a pivoting swing-arm that runs the length of the frame. The result is a 'natural' turning mechanism.
As big-time bike nerds, we're glad to see a genuine innovation in bicycle design, albeit for a specific subset of riders. By sheer coincidence, a commenter suggested a use case for a certain much-discussed concept bike just this morning: "Age 2–5 kids glider bike I think. Gonna make one." We'd be curious to see the results if he or she does, as this would be a bicyclic evolution of a baby walker—for which trade names include Exersaucer and Jumperoo—though I'm not exactly sure if a harness has any advantages over a traditional balance bike or, say, Andreas Bhend's convertible take on a child's first bicycle.
Via Bike Rumor(more...)
The ShopBot Desktop Warm-up Routine and How to Make a Spoilboard, Part 1[Core77 ShopBot Series, Episode 04]
We're finally ready to cut something on the ShopBot! And now that we're getting ready to cut, some of you may be wondering what the daily maintenance is like for this machine. Every morning before I run the ShopBot, I run this warmup routine to get the machine's juices going:(more...)
Formlabs Introduces New High-Resolution Resin Solutions: Castable & Flexible Allow for SLA-Enabled Investment Casting and Pliable Applications
The folks at Cambridge, MA-based Formlabs recently announced the introduction of two new materials that mark their first major release since they launched on Kickstarter with the FORM1 3D printer, which made nearly 30 times its funding goal in October 2012. The first-generation SLA machine shipped starting in May 2013 and this June saw the release of the FORM1+, an all-around upgraded iteration of their flagship product, but their growing team has also been developing complementary products on both the software and materials sides. Check it out:
Speaking of 3D printing, but I've been meaning to watch Print the Legend, the full-length documentary about the rise of 3D printing, which is streaming on Netflix...(more...)
Messenger bags make you sore on one side. I can just about guarantee those of you that wear them have one shoulder that is constantly stiffer than the other. Backpacks provide more even pressure, but then you lose the key utility of a messenger bag: The ability to quickly slide it around from back-to-front. Years ago when I switched from messenger bag to backpack, I was surprised at how much I took that utility for granted.
On a crowded subway car you want your backpack in front, to prevent pickpocketing and because it's simply good manners; when walking down the street it's a hassle to shrug out of your backpack just to grab one thing, which is why you always see pairs of backpack-wearing tourists where one is fetching something out of the other's bag for them; likewise when you're waiting for a bus which may arrive in 30 seconds or fifteen minutes, you must decide whether to shrug out of the bag and sit, or keep it on and stand.
I always assumed this was just the design trade-off inherent in the choice of form factor, but the development team behind Wolffepack have proved me wrong. These clever gents have designed a backpack that quickly docks and undocks with the shoulder straps, giving you the best of both worlds:
Who else did a double take, thinking it was Scott Wilson?
You probably remember Richard Branson's April Fool's joke about Virgin producing glass-bottomed planes. I figured this next bit of news might be a gag too, but apparently this proposal for a virtually invisible passenger airplane is sincere.
Put forth by the UK's Centre for Process Innovation, a science/engineering/technology incubator, this "Windowless Fuselage" concept is intended to save fuel and reduce emissions. The CPI's thinking is that commercial airplanes have windows for the passengers' comfort, but that if the windows could be jettisoned from the design, airplanes could be made lighter and thus save on fuel. To offset the feeling of sitting inside a tin can, airplanes would then be lined with ultrathin, flexible plastic screens covering the interior surfaces and even the seatbacks.
These screens, the concept goes, could serve as mere lighting, or the entertainment systems, or be linked to external cameras to provide the impression of flying al fresco. The screens could even "allow the colour changes associated with sunrise and sunset to be controlled on long haul journeys, helping passengers to adjust to time zone differences."(more...)
When You Understand People like Pensa Does, You Can Develop Truly Successful Brands and Products. Want to Work For Them?
Pensa is a design firm with a strong track record of developing successful products and brands. At Pensa, that success comes from gaining a deep understanding of people, the products they use and the contexts in which they use them. Their DUMBO team is seeking a Senior Industrial Designer with exceptional story telling skills to join them on their mission of delivering the creative solutions their clients need.
Not only will you need 5-8 years experience working as an Industrial Designer, they're looking for someone with solid experience in consumer product design and the demonstrated ability to resolve 3D form language as the foundation developing brands. This is a fun team comprised of designers with multifaceted backgrounds, but every single person LOVES design. Get your resume, portfolio and cover letter together and Apply Now.
In the non-square, non-level, non-plumb world we live in, the Stanley FatMax laser level is one of the handiest tools I own. Can't remember what I paid for it—mine is way outdated—but it was less than a hundred bucks, and X/Y only.
On the other end of the cost scale, a California-based company called Origin Laser Tools produces extremely expensive high-end laser levels. Optomechanical engineer Tim Litvin started the company in 2010 with the aim of making laser levels that would be the best of the best—with locally-sourced parts and construction:Our laser's mechanical parts are CNC-milled by a local machine shop, a local circuit board manufacturer fabricates and assembles our custom electronics... even the hand-checkered wooden grips are the product of a local craftsman. Almost every other component is also made in the United States. The components are finally assembled, by hand, here in Santa Cruz... Our laser tools are an investment, made by craftsmen, for craftsmen. We hope they'll become a tool that you'll look forward to using, every day.
Zoe Mowat on Interpreting Intuition, Taking Productive Breaks, and Why Large Rolls of Paper Are Her Most Important Tool
Name: Zoë Mowat
Occupation: Designer and maker
Location: Montreal, Canada
Current projects: Recently I've been in my workshop a lot. I've been prototyping a new product and I'm finishing up an edition of my Arbor Jewelry Stand—I've been doing a limited version all in brass. And then I'm balancing that with custom orders and client work.
Mission: To challenge myself, and ultimately to make things that people want to keep around.
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? Actually, my plan was always to be a sculptor, like my mother. When I was growing up, we would spend afternoons in her studio building things and assembling materials together. So that's where it started. And then it was in high school that I discovered design. In art class for a while I was really into drawing modernist buildings, sort of breaking down the geometry—I don't know why I was doing that, but one day I was drawing Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion, and from there I discovered the Barcelona Chair, and I think that was it. Seeing a real vision, and how it can apply to many things—that everyday items can be designed by a governing philosophy. Also, I wanted to make objects that can be touched and used, unlike sculpture in most cases; I guess I'm really drawn to that intimacy. So at the end of the school year I ended up applying for industrial design instead of sculpture.
Education: I studied industrial design and graphic design at the University of Alberta.
First design job: While I was in university, I designed window displays for a design store. It was equal parts concept, working with your hands and planning. And when it came to working with my hands, it usually involved a lot of glitter, electrical tape, spray paint and the need to attach a hundred of one thing to another thing. I loved it.
Who is your design hero? I'm not sure about the word "hero," but there are many designers whose work I really admire. I especially admire many of the women from the early 20th century, like Eileen Gray, Charlotte Perriand, Eva Zeisel, Ray Eames . . . the list goes on.
Mowat's recent Tablescape series (Tablescape I pictured) was inspired by Charles and Ray Eames's philosophy of "select and arrange."(more...)
Just launched on Kickstarter, Fireside is bicoastal startup that promises to revolutionize digital photography—not in how we create images and videos but how we share and enjoy them for posterity.
"1,000 songs in your pocket."
So goes the tagline for the very first iPod, released 13 years ago (nearly to the day), a quaint conceit in hindsight. In fact, history has shown that the mp3 player and iTunes alike are merely incremental steps along the path to more versatile hardware and software: Smartphones are capable of fulfilling our listening needs beyond our wildest imaginations. With the concurrent advent of 3- and 4G networks, mobile devices can extract melodies from the ether, while streaming services offer unprecedented depth and breadth when it comes to choices and recommendations, neatly categorized with tags and filtered through metadata.
A database with millions upon millions of songs is one thing, but what about other media? Video is a younger cousin of audio to the extent that it too has exploded with the twofold emergence of online hosting platforms—viz. YouTube and Vimeo—and widely accessible hardware. GoPro is a case study in itself, but even our phones are powerful enough to capture everything from historic events and major occasions to random moments between those milestones.
But if it's easier than ever to document our lives, the friction occurs at a different point in the user experience. For one thing, having hundreds of thousands of photos and videos means that each one becomes a proverbial drop in the pond, and organizing/editing them can be a chore in itself. Then there's the incongruity between shooting—for which a small but powerful device is ideal—and actually viewing the results. A glass rectangle the size of the palm of your hand may be perfect for taking a call, accessing a music library and snapping a selfie, but it's hardly the best format for appreciating visuals that inundate our screens these days.
More on this below...
Indeed, the latest generation of iPhones marks a slight concession to Apple's competitors. Tim, Jony & co. decided that screen could stand to be bigger after all, and the sales figures validate the hypothesis thus far. With a screen that is nearly 40% bigger than that of its predecessor, the iPhone 6 is certainly easier on the eyes, not to mention the obligatory improvements in camera technology.
But it turns out that the ability to take better photos and store them in one's pocket is only half of the equation. We've all been there: We want to show someone an older photo of that Halloween costume or that trip to Paris or that street art from a few years back, and despite
camera rolls' perfunctory affordance to sort images by location or date, the virtual 'shoebox' of chronological thumbnail images leaves a lot to be desired.
Conversely—and arguably worse still—we often forget about older photos and videos as it gets buried under the figurative weight of new memories. As with ring-bound albums, one-hour-photo envelopes and dusty shoeboxes, we simply neglect to resurface bygone years despite the easy access of digital storage. Sure, there are Flickr and Facebook albums full of memories, but the former rarely occasions revisiting and the latter offers far too many distractions to offer a meaningful viewing experience.
Enter the Fireside Smartframe. As with the iPod, it's not the first device to do what it does—as you might have guessed, it's a digital picture frame—but it is intended to be the first to do it well. Co-founder Andy Jagoe introduces it as Pandora or SONOS for photos: the former reference point has far better name recognition and captures the data-as-genome element of the playlists, but the latter is slightly more accurate in that it is a largely source-agnostic hardware (and quasi-IoT) system. He and fellow co-founder Don Lehman acknowledged as much when they demo'd the Smartframe for me last week, in anticipation of the launch of their Kickstarter campaign this morning [disclosure: Lehman has contributed to Core77 in various capacities for over a decade].(more...)
Students in the new MFA program will have access to the New School's University Center, which opened last January. Photo by Jacob A. Pritchard
Earlier this month, Parsons The New School for Design announced that it's launching a Master of Fine Arts in Industrial Design for fall 2015 enrollment. As a postscript to our recent D-School Futures series—in which we asked the chairs of several prominent design programs to reflect on the state of ID education—we caught up with Rama Chorpash to find out more about the thinking behind this new MFA. In addition to being an accomplished designer in his own right, Chorpash is the director of Parsons's existing BFA in product design; he developed the MFA program and will be serving as its director as well. (Ed. Note: He was also one of five designers who represented Staten Island in our "All-City All-Stars" exhibition for NYDW2012.]
Our New York–based readers may also want to mark their calendars for this Thursday evening, when Chorpash will co-moderate a panel discussion to celebrate the program's launch. The discussion topic is "Product City: Shortening the Supply Chain," and it will feature the founders of Makers Row and the head of responsible growth at Etsy. That event is free and open to the public—find the complete details here.
Core77: Who is this program for?
Our focus is on supporting both design professionals and recent graduates who want to advance in the field while forwarding the field itself. To this end, we'll also be accepting candidates from other disciplines to enrich studio culture and diversify knowledge and peer learning.
What sets this program apart from other MFAs in industrial design?
The program prepares the next generation of designers to navigate seemingly contradictory dichotomies—manufacturing and sustainability, consumerism and need, globalization and localization, offshoring and onshoring—with an eye toward reconciling them and shaping a more integrated future. To explore some of these tensions, The New School, as one of the only design-led universities globally, provides significant intellectual resources. Students have access to leading experts in economics, ethnography, environmental policy, sustainability management and so on. The program is located in the School of Constructed Environments at Parsons, the only integrated school of architecture, interior design, product design and lighting design in the United States. Our university has over 135 undergraduate and graduate degrees, minors, certificates and continuing education programs.
Distinctive to the curriculum are the local and global design studios, which involve significant off-site work and community engagement. In the first term, students will have the opportunity to do hands-on self-production, as well as conduct user testing in NYC. In the second term, they continue their industry-integrated approach by either visiting or working with international production and supply chains. Students utilize advanced making skills and critical inquiry to design products at various scales of production, from low-volume to high-volume—from desktop manufacturing to international global supply-chains.
Left: Rama Chorpash. Right: Inside the New School's Sheila C. Johnson Design Center. Interior photo by Bob Handleman(more...)
Would you like to:
Work on products that people love
Work for a great company in a fun industry
Have control of your design intent
Work on an industry leading design team
If you answered yes to these, love bikes and are an accomplished Graphic Designers, SRAM wants to hire you to elevate their mountain bike suspension, brakes, wheels, and drivetrain products through the innovative use of color, finish, branding, and graphics. If you have a proven history of developing strong designs and are skilled at working cross-functionally with people from other departments, Apply Now.
In Casey Neistat's review of Google Glass, the filmmaker likens the wearable device to another much-lampooned gadget of a previous generation. Indeed, the Segway endures in pop culture, if only as a cautionary tale. Dean Kamen's much-hyped invention effectively poisoned the well for the personal mobility industry as a whole; short of the comfort and convenience of, say, the hoverchairs in Wall-E, this category will likely remain stigmatized as solutions looking for a problem. (Although a recent Kickstarter project may portend Disney/Pixar's rotund prognostication for the human race, task-oriented assistive devices may be the growth area for the time being.)
The use case that we didn't foresee: the ever-popular music video. Today sees the debut of yet another carefully choreographed performance from none other than OK Go, who have long since made the transition from run-of-the-(tread)mill rock band to viral video soundtrackers, writing generically catchy power-pop earworms solely in service of their increasingly over-the-top cinematic efforts. More impressive than OK Go's songcraft is their clever use of props and optical illusions; for their latest effort, "I Won't Let You Down"—the second single from their new full-length, Hungry Ghosts, following the forced-perspective trompe l'oeils of "The Writing's On the Wall"—the foursome saddle up on Honda UNI-CUBs, a stool-sized monowheel vehicle (more on that below).
I won't reveal the grand finale, but quasi-spoiler alert: At about 1:03, it becomes apparent that the entire video—a continuously shot long take as in their previous vids—was filmed with a UAV, which is also pretty impressive in itself (props to Multi-Copter Pilot Kenji Yasuda). Let's just say they've come a long way from the treadmills...(more...)
Google Glass: Some people love it, some hate it, and this guy became addicted to it. But overall they haven't gained much traction among the masses, presumably because there's no overarching unmet need they're fulfilling.
However, if there's one guy who can utilize them, it's filmmaker Casey Neistat; having a camera permanently hanging on the front of your face is a good fit for a guy who always seems to be recording everything around him. Check out Neistat's Google Glass review, and dig the clever, low-tech way he came up with for addressing the audience:(more...)
Mercedes' Counterintuitive, Award-Winning Materials Choice: Lose Weight and Increase Efficiency--By Replacing Aluminum with Steel
Left: Aluminum; Right: Steel.
When trying to "lightweight" something made out of steel, the designer's natural inclination is to turn to aluminum. But the R&D guys over at Mercedes-Benz recently did the opposite of that, and scooped up a Materialica Design and Technology Award for their trouble.
The MDT Awards are part of recently-held trade fair Materialica, which is dedicated to "Materials applications, surface technology and product engineering," and were intended to highlight lightweight design in transportation. To that end Mercedes took an aluminum piston design for a diesel passenger car and replaced it with a redesigned steel one.(more...)