A few months ago, I was contacted by an organization called Women Engineers Pakistan, which introduces girls to the field of engineering and technology. Just reading the name made me curious. For those of you who don't know, I'm an architect, and I come from a family full of engineers and tech-heads. In other words, my choice of becoming an architect has never, at any point of my life, ever been questioned. I went to a technical high school in Uppsala, Sweden, always with the support of mom and dad, brothers and sister, my grandmother, aunts, uncle and most of all my wonderful grandfather. With 26 boys and 5 girls in my class, the male-to-female ratio was rather high, but my knowledge and competence was never questioned by anyone of the male gender. Not by teachers, nor by fellow students.
Hearing about an organization like this and its origins was inspiring, and it takes more then a bit of willpower and skin on the nose (Swedish expression) to start something as groundbreaking and controversial in a country where female students are told that they should reconsider their choice to study engineering and start studying something more suitable for women...
In this interview, I've had the great pleasure of talking directly with Ramla Quershi, the co-founder of Women Engineers Pakistan. She recently moved to the U.S. to study engineering on a full Fullbright scholarship. So even though she's busy with the big move and getting her bearings, she set aside some time for this interview. I hope you get as inspired by reading this as I did from writing it.
Core77: Tell us a bit about the organisation and the thoughts behind it.
Ramla Quershi: The organization is a budding startup, which looks to increase participation from Pakistani women in Pakistan in engineering. Women have always been by and large in domestic and agricultural jobs in Pakistan, and their participation in science and technology has been minimal. We realize that women make over half the Pakistani population and we're working to prevent that potential talent for technical prowess from going to waste. We're working with young girls at high schools to encourage them towards science and math
When did you start working on getting Women Engineers Pakistan up and running?
It started with a Facebook page last August. But it's wasn't until six months ago that we started working as an organization.
Why did you decide on starting WEP?
Throughout my engineering degree, I felt a nagging lack of women in this field. We were often discouraged by our professors that engineering is a 'big boy' area. It was disheartening to realize that there weren't many role models set out for us. So I created this organization to give women engineers a platform to represent themselves.
When the professors talked about it being a "big boy" profession, how did your fellow male students react to those sort of comments?
My fellow males knew that I was good at my studies, so they would often turn up for a group study option and ask me to explain things to them. So they had found out that the women in their class were just as good (some even better) engineers. Barring a few, many were courteous and encouraging. However, there were some 'go make a sandwich' sort of comments—but not many.
There must have been many ideas/incentives to make it go from an concept into reality, what were they?
Oh yes, there were. Initially it was just a Facebook page, but then it started getting attention, and I realized that I had hit a niche. We were contacted by the U.S. Embassy through the Facebook page for meeting with a NASA engineer coming to Pakistan. And i thought, 'Oh wow, not much representation for the women in engineering crowd.'(more...)
Illustration by Ian Stevenson
Designer Célia Esteves first fell in love with the Portuguese tradition of rug weaving at an exhibition in her hometown of Viana do Castelo, in the north of Portugal. There she met—and got a tutorial from—an artisan who was creating rugs on a hand loom. Esteves left the exhibition smitten with the technique and determined to find a way to continue working with the traditional handcraft. "I found it so exciting and promising that I immediately wanted to share it with some of my illustrator friends," she says.
Luckily, Esteves has some very talented friends. She asked illustrators like André da Loba, Marta Monteiro and José Cardoso to create designs to be translated into woven rugs, and worked with the weaver she met at the exhibition to realize the project. The result is Rug by GUR, a remarkable pairing of contemporary illustration and traditional Portuguese rug weaving.
Illustrations by Marta Monteiro (left) and Joao Drumond
Ilustration by Joana Estrela
"The technique is very specific, and it can also be limiting," Esteves admits. "Sometimes it is not possible to do exactly what is designed." One of the challenges is the grid system required of the weaving, making it difficult to create continuous lines. Another is the material used, raw tirela, which is made of rags from used clothing, limiting the colors to what is available from nearby factories.
It rains a lot in the Pacific Northwest, which sucks if you're outside and are trying to write something on paper, as loggers once needed to. So in the 1920s, well before ruggedized tablets were invented, a guy named Jerry Darling created waterproof paper and sold it in notebook form to the logging industry.
Today the company Darling started has evolved into Rite in the Rain, which manufactures all-weather writing paper. Here's how it stacks up versus regular paper:(more...)
Let me just start off by saying that I don't condone illegal forgery or theft—but I do think that someone who can put the art world in a tizzy with his own look-alike art without breaking any sort of law deserves some major props. Mark Landis is that man. And we're not talking paint-by-numbers, either. Landis's work may not follow the original mediums of his source material—he even mentions using colored pencils where a Sotheby's expert would cite chalk—but his work has been displayed in buildings around the country. Disguised as a philanthropist, Landis spends his time making obscure donations to organizations in order to have his work displayed.
That's all good and well, but here's where it gets really interesting: Registrar Matthew Leininger caught on to Landis's trick and starting following his moves. While the eccentric forger's story is well-documented—Google his name and you'll get results from the likes of the New York Times and the The Daily Beast—a new, Kickstarted documentary presents the cat-and-mouse dynamic between the two as Landis convinces 46 museums in 20 different states to display over 100 pieces of his work. Art and Craft has the makings of a real-life manhunt thriller—think Catch Me If You Can sans the DiCaprio/Hanks draw and fewer costume changes. Check out the trailer:(more...)
We gave you a brief look at this awesome Lego Calendar project earlier in the year, but this is worth a closer look. The UK-based design studio formerly known as Vitamins (now called Special Projects) devised a physical calendar for their studio made out of Legos. Sounds simple, right? Been done before, yes? But here's the thing—this one can be synced to your iCal, Google Calendar or what have you. Check it out:
Since the syncing is one way—which is to say, moving a physical brick will eventually result in the online calendar being updated, but not vice versa—you might think that's a detriment. But Special Projects points out that it actually has an organizational benefit:We're... working on what happens when someone remotely wants to change a date, perhaps they're abroad and need to modify something. Well the next time somebody in the studio uploads a photo of the calendar, they will get an email back immediately, asking them to actually move the bricks that have been modified. It sounds crazy, but this way you actually notice when something has changed, and you need to physically find a place to put the bricks you have removed—rather than a digital square quietly vanishing in the background on your computer screen.
The team—Adrian Westaway, Clara Gaggero, and Duncan Fitzsimons with the assistance of Simon Emberton and Julia Eichler—invented the clever system in 2012, and were hoping to be able to release the software earlier this year. "This is taking a little longer than expected," they write, but Adrian and Clara are still chugging away on the project. If you'd like to get updates, you can sign up here.(more...)
We're sad to note the passing of bold designer Deborah Sussman, who died on Wednesday at the age of 83 after a long battle with cancer. Sussman was a Brooklyn-born artist of many interests, known for colorful large-scale design work that often included whole built environments. Growing up in an artistic family, she was encouraged to explore many disciplines, attending Black Mountain School during the summers, and later studying painting and theater at Bard College.
Sussman first heard her calling "like thunder" at age 22 in the Eames' studio, where the refined combination of drawing and physical creation immediately attracted her. Her own work must have made a positive impact too - she worked for Eames for the next several years. As their Art Director her projects at the firm spanned graphics, print, exhibition layout, showroom design and film. She cut her teeth on both internal work and designing for clients like the Ford Foundation and IBM at the 1964 World's Fair.(more...)
Last day of the semester at SVA, photo by Jeffrey Zeldman
With the start of the fall term just around the corner, the smell of freshly sharpened pencils (er, stylii?) is in the air. While there's no denying the excitement of new classes, spaces and professors, not to mention old friends and hangouts, we know that you're really looking forward to getting your hands dirty and making those spaces your own over the course of the semester. After all, it's these signs of life—of being inhabited and used—that truly mark a time and a place in memory.
With that in mind, we're looking to feature your photos from bygone years. Whether you're a rising sophomore, a recent grad or a nostalgic alum, we want to see candid shots of you and your classmates in deep D-school mode. We want to know what your cafeteria looked like, how you hacked your dorm room, where you met your bestie, where you snuck cigarettes—and, of course, what the studio looked like the night before (or should we say morning of?) a deadline. You can even send us pictures of an awesome campus bathroom if you've got 'em.
Here are a few examples of the kind of thing we're looking for:
The engine room at Pratt Institute, photo by George Estreich
The Nature Lab at RISD, photo by Emily Hummel(more...)
littleBits is looking for an energetic, creative and talented Design Intern to work with them in New York, NY. The right person for this opportunity is a superstar maker with a great sense of aesthetic and experience with concept development and prototyping. The ability to convey the littleBits brand is a must as is being well versed in Adobe Creative Suite. This isn't just a go-get-coffee internship - it's your chance to get in on the ground level with a stipend and a chance at full time employment.
If you have an undergraduate or Master's Degree in, Industrial Design, Physical Computing, Product Design, Architecture, Mechanical Engineering and are very well versed in the design process, from brainstorm to iteration to final product/project with a focus on user experience, Apply Now.
Being an organized traveller involves packing just the right stuff—and for most end users, that involves electronics. After deciding which devices to take (laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.) the end-user also needs to decide how to keep them charged.
If the travel is international, that often means packing one or more adapters. For those who are traveling to multiple countries and want an all-in-one adapter rather than individual ones, there's this universal travel adapter from Kikkerland, which works in more than 150 countries. At 8 × 5 × 0.6 inches, it's flatter than any other such converter. And at 2.4 ounces, it's very lightweight. The two downsides: The two parts both have projections that could snag something else in the luggage. And while the converter comes with instructions showing you how to make it work in each country, they may be too complex for some end-users. But some end users have noted with delight that using this adapter felt like playing with a Transformer toy.
The 4-in-1 adapter from Flight 001 is notable for its use of color-coding; the colors of the adapters match to a list of 150+ countries, and to a map. This will be less attractive to colorblind end users—but the parts are also labeled (EU, UK, etc.), and the color-coded list also allows for matching by shape. The adapter is small, measuring just 2.25 x 2 x 1.5 inches, and it weighs just 4 ounces.
When we first wrote about Twelve South's PlugBug back in 2011, a commenter said, "Great product but does me no good when I travel to Europe." Well, that's been fixed with the new PlugBug World. As with the older version, the PlugBug World attaches to a MacBook power adapter, converting it to a dual-charger for both the MacBook and an iPad or iPhone—and it will charge that iPad faster than the factory-supplied charger. But the PlugBug World also has five attachments which allow it to work around the world. It measures 2.44 x 2.57 x 1.14 inches, and weighs 3.5 ounces. One minor quibble: An end user noted that the U.S. adapter plug isn't retractable like the Apple adapter plug is.(more...)
When it comes bicycles, we're often inclined to say nay. Call us snobs/cranks/grouches or what have you, but we are generally of the opinion that you don't go reinventing the proverbial human-powered two-wheel conveyance. Here's a new one that (if nothing else) offers a new approach to an integrated locking mechanism.
Starting with the notion that any lock can be broken, Juan José Monsalve, Andrés Roi and Cristóbal Cabello have designed the "Yerka," a bicycle frame that features an integrated lock—i.e. the bike cannot be ridden if the lock is severed. Where many of the past Oregon Manifest entries (for which a lock is required per the brief) explored concepts that were integrated into the main triangle of the frame—Tony Pereira's version was deemed worthy of first place in 2009 and 2011—the Chilean engineering students have opted to build the shackle into a main tube. I don't condone locking to trees, but kudos to the team for developing a working prototype:(more...)
Last week, we published a piece on the Bottlass packaging design in which I was critical of the concept. We were since contacted by Kyung Kook, the Vice President of Bellevue-based Innovative Design Service Inc., the company that produced the design. In his response, Kyung rebutts several of the points made in the original entry, and has included photographs showing that the Bottlass is, in fact, in production. Kyung's response is printed below.
Frankly, I was very excited to see the [Core77] post about our design, "Bottlass" and am pleased that someone was interested enough to share his take on our design. I believe this is a valuable opportunity to look at our design from a different perspective.
First and foremost, the design phase I of Bottlass is actually being manufactured and sold in South Korea at this moment.
The product based on our design was made available to the public in Korea since April of this year. The material used is called eco-zen, a type of enhanced plastic.
Secondly, I am aware that opening the container may cause a bit of hassle. But this can be easily fixed. If we print instructions on the container, informing the drinker to set up the container before holding it in place and pulling off the seal, this should bypass the inconvenience. It may take a bit more steps than the conventional bottles or cans, but the excitement and satisfaction gained from Bottlass's unique design will do more than justice.(more...)
So your kid draws all over your expensive carpet with a handful of Sharpies. You're so infuriated that after giving him a time-out, you need to go outside to carve some sand patterns in your Zen garden just to cool off. Well, if only you had access to the designs of Yuta Sugiura, a professor at Keio University's Graduate School of Media Design, you could cleanly ameliorate both situations.
Sugiura headed up the research team that produced "Graffiti Fur: Turning Your Carpet Into a Computer Display." Three clever devices can put images that you've either drawn or captured onto a plain ol' carpet, Sharpie-free and completely reversible:
Sugiura's team—which was comprised of researchers not only from Keio, but from the Nagoya Institute of Technology and The University of Tokyo—presented "Graffiti Fur" at this month's SIGGRAPH in the Emerging Technologies & Studio Collaboration category.(more...)
In a previous life, I rendered bottles for a living, and as I was doing it without rendering software, I was always happy when the assignment called for glass and bummed when it called for PET. PET bottles always had crazier shapes, and the amount of reflectivity required to get the material to read was a PITA.
I thought of this while watching illustrator Marcello Barenghi's YouTube channel, specifically this illustration of a Heinz ketchup bottle, which clearly reads as PET:
Obviously a hyperreal illustration and an ID rendering are two different things, as the latter's more concerned with form, gesture and emotion than cold accuracy, but Barenghi's understanding of light, texture and surfaces is unparalleled. So much so that while his channel is called "How to Draw," it might as well be called "Things Most of Us Wouldn't Want to Render by Hand." Like this ruby:(more...)
We think of factories producing iPhones, IKEA flatpacks and Infinitis, and as ID'ers we have an idea of what those production lines look like. But chances are you've never been inside a factory that makes cakes and desserts. Unifiller Systems, Inc. is a company that creates cake-decorating machines and food processing equipment, and their "sizzle reel" is pretty fascinating:
Once you've seen those machines above in action, it makes sense that circular cakes would be filled and iced on a turntable. But how do they get the filling into rectangular cakes, which don't have rotational symmetry? Surprisingly, for sheet cakes they use a "split and fill" technology that slices the cake horizontally while simultaneously injecting the filling (see it in action around 0:28):(more...)
Fabrique-Hacktion: Making Public Inconveniences Easier to Handle, One Boldly Painted Add-On at a Time
When it comes to shared spaces, amenities such as public charging stations aren't necessarily a priority when there's tax money to be spent. So, like any designer looking to contribute to the greater good, Paris-based industrial designers Sylvain Chasseriaux, Léa Bardin and Raphaël Pluvinage chose to solve the problem an innovative way. Their solution: Taking on these moments of inconvenience with a guerrilla campaign of boldly painted, machine-made items aimed at providing life-hacks that are quite literally hidden in plain sight.
Their series, Fabrique-Hacktion, ranges from tiny tabletops for folding chairs, hand-crank phone chargers, discarded newspaper stations and a tool for easier change-grabbing from vending machines, among other tools.
Aside from providing an unexpected convenience for passersby, Chasseriaux hopes to create "an involvement of people in their public and collective space through installing 'grafts'—complementary objects—which support a usage and practice while improving or questioning current urban systems and furnitures." Check out the video below to get a glimpse into the entire series of gadgets:
A couple of the apparatuses caught my eye in particular. Check out the making/function of these fantastic four:(more...)
Wrap Your Head Around This One: Potentially Immortal Bacteria That Eat Electricity and Could Become Living Batteries
One of the stranger (and little known) facts of nature is that our living cells are electric, or can carry electricity. Every thought, feeling and movement we have comes from an electric spark. And we find this in complicated beings like us, as well as in the most basic forms of bacteria. But there is something that bacteria can do that no other living thing on Earth can: Consume pure electricity for their own energy. Sounds Frankensteinian but it's real.
Scientists have been luring all sorts of bacteria deep in rocks and mud with electric juice. And they've found that these creatures are eating and then excreting electrons. Now this isn't all that crazy, considering that, as I mentioned, we are made of electric pulses. And this process is fueled by food (specifically ATP, the molecule that provides storage for energy.) Electrons can and are taken from every food we eat, and they are carried by molecules throughout our bodies—this is a necessary process for life.
The difference and extraordinary thing about bacteria is that they don't need the "food" middleman. They consume pure electricity! Just like our (non-living) laptop plugged into the wall. (Think of this next time we consider how far removed we think we are from robotic devices.)
But what are the practical implications for innovative designers? Scientists have been able to grow all kinds of what they are calling "electricity breathers" in areas where you might not find other life forms. Researchers are saying this opens up a previously unknown biosphere. A biosphere of very useful, self-powered helpers.(more...)
A bunch of industrial designers sitting around a table and poring over research can come up with some awesome stuff, but I also love seeing that breed of object designed by insightful end-users. Those items that a person is subconsciously designing in their head, out in the field, while performing a task over and over again with its predecessor and thinking: Wouldn't it be cool if this object had X right here, wouldn't this work better if this part was shaped like Y, et cetera.
Enter Andy Tran, a cinematographer who makes his living shooting outdoor and sports footage. When he's not on the clock, Tran is out in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, shooting educational wilderness videos for his InnerBark YouTube channel. Informative and (naturally) well-shot, Tran's videos aim to teach you how to get by "If hiking, camping, hunting and fishing were a day job," and among the product reviews and tutorials, his latest videos feature a well-thought-out knife of his own design.
As an avid outdoorsman who was taught outdoor living skills by his father, Tran has had a knife strapped to his hip since the age of 7, so the design of his Tahoma Field Knife must've been brewing a long time indeed. Check out the features and functionality of the design, produced by Rocky-Mountains-based TOPS Knives:
Yesterday, our friends at PSFK released a report on a movement that is within our purview much as it is in theirs: The first edition of the "Maker's Manual" "provides insights into how people can learn, program, prototype and even sell their projects." Available for free download, it goes beyond your average trend report to offer "a wealth of tools, support and services available for every project size—from the hobbyist's tinkering to the entrepreneur's hack."
The "Maker's Manual" a fluent top-level survey of the technologies, services and communities that are out there today, online and off, and while the the report is not by any means comprehensive, it's certainly an excellent place to start if you're looking for, say, a Maker Shop or Collaboration Hub. There are nods to the usual suspects—Inventables, Makerbot, IFTTT, Techshop, etc.—but also more obscure or otherwise emerging projects and companies such as GaussBricks and Craftsman Ave. Sure, there's a good chance that some of these resources may be too experimental or as-yet-inchoate to have a long-term impact, but this is precisely why the "Maker's Manual" serves as a kind of State of the Union. Indeed, the introduction includes a pithy Obama quote, from the recent White House Maker Faire: "Today's D.I.Y. is tomorrow's 'Made in America.'"
And although some of the headings and copy might read as hype, the "Maker's Manual" does well to addresses pragmatic issues such as fundraising and IP. All told, the 33 pages are chock full of solid information, presented in an appropriately skimmable format, one that invites readers to further investigate the companies and services that strike their fancy.
Unfortunately, the PDF is encoded in a way such that the text isn't searchable; not only does this mean that there's no quick way to find a keyword but also none of the links are clickable—not even the one for Intel, which underwrote the whole thing—which, considering the inclusion of bit.ly links, seems like an egregious oversight. After all, the availability of new tools and resources is a cardinal tenet of its subject matter, and the utility of the "Maker's Manual" as a reference guide is rather diminished by the lack of search- and clickability.(more...)
'Designing Innovation': Consumer Involvement in Designing the Future, Transparent Collaboration & the Democracy of Autonomous Designs
On Saturday, August 16, Ford and IDSA brought us the third panel discussion in a series on 'Designing Innovation.' We've been following along as the two organizations have brought together some of the biggest names in the design world to discuss and hash out real-life design topics onstage. While this panel's theme loosely focused around designing customer experiences, the four designers onstage took us into the inner workings of their own designing processes and shared the ways they incorporate their customers into the creation of their future products. Read on to see what Modern Edge CEO Austen Angell, Dell VP of Experience Design Ed Boyd and Ford Motor Company Exterior Design Manager Kevin George had to say on involving the consumer in today's design feats.
The Challenges of Customer-Led Innovation
The conversation began with a backgrounder on the panelists' respective companies and how each one approach predicting the future of design and technology. Seeing that all of the products have some sort of production timeframe, it's important for the design teams to nail down an idea and time it out to fit the needs of a group of consumers. Boyd shared some insight on the timeframe his team considers: "We look about three generations out and think about where technology will be and how will we solve these problems. You're looking at anywhere from six to ten years out." Ford's Kevin George discussed the practice of using consumer's own descriptions for the cars to lead future automotive design projects. When working on Ford's newest release, the Edge, two words stood out and informed the design direction of the recently launched car. "We take the words that they use to describe the car—some said dominating, some some accommodating. Very different. So we said, why don't we blend them?"
Finding the sweet spot in terms of a timeframe or design skeleton is one thing, but the real challenge comes with translating consumer insights into something innovative that the designers can stand behind. Angell had some words on designers' intuition that stuck with me for the duration of the panel discussion:You need the rigor of academia, the rigor to have the proper amount of skepticism about your own assumptions, but we also recognize that there's part of the investigation that needs to take some risks. Designers have this intuition. It's marrying those two that we think produces some tangible results with the right amount of credibility that people can act on.
As exciting as it may seem, the toughest critics might be within company itself. "As a large company, if you talk about blowing things up, it's pretty challenging," says Boyd. "At Sony, we were holding on to legacy business, but I think today you need to be willing to blow that up in a really objective way. Every new idea that's very disruptive and different starts with a lot of anti-bodies before it's adopted."(more...)
Dolmen is made up of designers, strategists and they are very good at answering the questions their clients haven't even asked yet. Their clients range from entrepreneurs to multinationals and for 21 years, they've been developing award-winning new products and experiences for a diverse range of industries. As part of their ongoing growth strategy, Dolmen is looking for a sharp industrial designer with 2 to 5 years experience to join their team in Dublin, Ireland. Perhaps you'd like to jump on board?
You'd be joining a fast paced but fun environment where you'll work with the senior creative team to interpret client requirements while developing innovative new product propositions using a range of ideation techniques. In exchange, you'll get a competitive salary and an opportunity to contribute to the continuing development of exciting new products. Hint: loving good coffee, bad music, surfing and frisbee is not required, but are helpful to have. Apply Now.