Not sure how I missed this when Oli Firth first posted it to our discussion boards three months ago (when it first hit the web), but "Road Bike Party 2"—great title for bike porn, as far as I'm concerned—is just insane. We've seen similar feats from Tim Knoll on BMX and Ines Brunn's fixed-gear track-robatics, but, as the saying goes, steel is real. Non-cyclists might enjoy the general outlandishness of the stunts, but fellow riders will appreciate the technical difficulty (and cojones) of Danny Macaskill (pulling some of his signature moves), Martyn Ashton and Chris Akrigg as they endo, bunnyhop and generally thrash on a £15,000 Colnago C59 Disc like it's a 26er.(more...)
"Untitled (Return to Sender, after Mary Jane Smith, 1865) 2010" detail
Most of the quilts I've seen in the past year have been hanging on walls as artwork in a museum or studio. After all, spending hours weaving a blanket by hand is now considered to be a craft, a quaintly outdated one, perhaps, but one that still has many practitioners to this day. (Trust me—I lived with a quilting editor for a year.)
Stephen Sollins is one of those people. Though I can't really say that he fits the stereotypical grandmotherly image of a quilter—Sollins chooses to forgo soft floral fabrics for patchwork masterpieces made out of Tyvek mailing envelopes.
"Untitled (Missive) 2010"(more...)
Termites are not usually known for their construction. However, if you've ever seen a termite settlement that wasn't house-bound, you'll know that they can build elaborate structures, sometimes over 40 feet high. These huge termite castles are built cooperatively, but autonomously and without (researchers at Harvard suppose) any central control. This swarm construction is the basis for the TERMES robot. TERMES robots are given a blueprint and a set of traffic rules, and from there they work to complete their tasks, independent from but in parallel with, the others. Although they work most efficiently as a collective, each can build the project to completion independently.
Don't image search for "Termite." Just don't.
Equipped with ten sensors and three actuators, these cool crawlers respond visually to their environment and make decisions accordingly, without needing external aid or direction. It's a bold move, and one that pans out well when building large blocky, tiered structures. See them in action:(more...)
While desktop 3D printers have made rapid prototyping at home as easy as the push of a button, that accessibility comes at a price—a much lower level of quality than with traditional manufacturing methods. As a result, desktop 3D printing is still not a viable option for making finished products. At least, that's the general assumption—one that the New York-based Italian designers Barbara Busatta and Dario Buzzini hope to challenge with their Machine Series, a line of containers that are ready for use hot off the printer.
Busatta and Buzzini's collaboration was born out of a promise to do a project together each year under the studio name ICOSAEDRO, each time focusing on a specific material or craft as part of a joint effort to learn a new methodology. For their inaugural effort, Buzzini, a design director at IDEO, said that he and Busatta, a freelance art director, were drawn to the "artisanal process" of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), a 3D-printing technology that involves melting plastic filament and extruding it layer-on-layer to build a form.
The Machine Series includes five containers with lids. There is a black version in three different shapes (top) and red and yellow versions (above).
Until now, FDM has not exactly been a fount of high-end product design. "FDM nowadays is a synonym for tchotchkes and miniatures for Yoda busts," Buzzini says. But he and Busatta felt that there was an opportunity to bring a new level of craft to an imperfect technique, noting that "it felt like the right starting point to express our point of view on what could be a way to bring craftsmanship into the future."(more...)
It's hard to believe that Fujifilm and Kodak were once competitors. Whereas Kodak declared bankruptcy in 2012, following one business failure after another, Fujifilm should be a business school case study on how to deal with tough economic times and a signature product that the world is telling you is obsolete. How does a company that made their name in film stay relevant in the age of digital photography?
We industrial designers can of course appreciate Fujifilm's retro-designed cameras, but there's more to the company's success than that: They've survived and thrived by focusing on the user experience. While they address the physical design of the cameras, they then look beyond it to ask themselves: What role does photography, and photographs themselves, play in people's lives?(more...)
Maybe I should have known better, but I sort of expected a discussion board thread entitled "Greatest Wheels" to be a survey of forumites' favorite automobiles, but—this being an industrial design discussion—it actually refers to the wheels themselves (taking wheels to mean a car is an example of synecdoche, by the way). I'll be the first to admit that automotive design is far beyond my experience, but I must say that I'm weirdly nostalgic about Saab's distinctive tri-spokes, since a 900 was my first car. I didn't appreciate it at the time, but those wheels definitely have a special place in my memory... and I imagine that fellow non-gearheads can appreciate wheels as a design element.
But while we're on the topic of cars, I was interested to learn that new research on shared autonomous vehicles (SAVs) suggests, among other things, that just because we won't own cars, the auto industry may actually benefit from the paradigm shift. The University of Austin team determined that "each SAV in the Austin model replaced about 11 conventional household vehicles," with the usual host of benefits of on-demand sharing, saving time, money and energy across the entire system....vehicle-miles traveled doesn't go down in the Austin model. In fact, it goes up about 10 percent. That's because not only are SAVs making all the trips people used to make on their own, but they're repositioning themselves in between trips to reduce wait times. The additional wear also means manufacturers produce about the same number of cars, too, though each new fleet is no doubt a bit smaller and cleaner than the last.
Where cars might have had a 10–20 year lifespan in the past, shared vehicles will putatively be replaced every 18–24 months or so, which means highly accelerated product development cycles of iterative innovation. Given the fact that "less than 17 percent of U.S. household vehicles are in use at a time," new models would be adopted upwards of six times as quickly—assuming, of course, that the number of car trips (and the average distance of those trips) remains constant.(more...)
Here, for your edification, is a video of Near Future Laboratory's "Design & Fiction" event in full. On October 24, 2013, IDEO hosted the panel discussion, moderated by Wired's Cliff Kuang, featuring sometime collaborators Julian Bleecker, James Bridle, and our own Nick Foster, who mentioned that "it was nice (and we think important) that we were physically together in a room." Indeed, given the subject matter.We met to talk about design. And fiction. And the ways of approaching the challenge of all challenges, whatever it may be. We talked about expressing the opportunities those challenges raise as distinctly new tangible forms. As well as the essential value of mundane design. We talked about clarifying the present. We talked about designing the future. And doing both of these things with design. And fiction.
For those of you who can't afford to spend 90 minutes engrossed in a series of presentations about everything from the so-called "Michael Bay Driving Experience" to 1984-worthy surveillant receptacles, here are a few highlights, but of course I recommend watching it in full (or at least absorbing the audio in the background, podcast-style) to, you know, get a sense of what they're talking about.(more...)
When I work with clients to organize their kitchens, knife storage is one of the issues we tackle. Everyone has different needs and constraints—but fortunately, designers have given us numerous options to help meet those needs.
The Toro Legno (Kitchen Bull) shown above is a fanciful item: a knife block with 10 slots, a book shelf and a cheese board. For those with the necessary countertop space, it could be a great way to keep multiple items close at hand—and that cheese board could perhaps serve as a cutting board, something most people are more likely to need quick access to. The Toro Legno is made from renewable plantation pine, which may appeal to end-users with ecological concerns.
But let's back up a minute, and start with the basics. The slanted, slotted knife block, so commonly used, has numerous advantages: It can store a lot of knives, it makes them easy to grab, and it will usually fit under the upper cabinets. Such blocks also tend to be heavy enough, with a low enough center of gravity, that they are unlikely to fall over. One disadvantage is the slots may not match the knives the end-user has, unless the knives were bought from the same manufacturer. Looking at knife blocks from some top name brands, you'll see some variations. The 25-slot knife block from Wüsthof has rubberized feet to help keep it in position. The one from Henckels, on the right, uses horizontal rather than vertical slots for the steak knives, in order to allow the handles on all the company's cutlery to fit.
You can take the same basic design and give it a very different look, as Wüsthof does with this knife block.(more...)
No matter how modern, chic or technologically-forward you may be, everyone loves maps. Innate sense of navigation, likelihood of travel, and taste in worldly-looking decor have little to do with it—we just like to see space laid out, made more understandable, even as we stand still. Maybe it's a cultural value, the image of a globe carrying classy clout or educational nostalgia. Or maybe it's biological, an animal instinct to get the highest ground and the best available intel. (For more ascientific theorizing on the mind ask me how I feel about infographics. Or knolling.)
Whatever the rationalization, the behind-the-scenes look at the bespoke globes of Bellerby & Co. triggered my own love of old maps. According to founder Peter Bellerby, desk globes are still in incredibly high demand, but until his arrival on the scene, only one other company was making them (or at least by hand) as well. Bellerby started out in 2008 by trying to make a globe for his father's birthday (hey, how hard could it be?) and wound up spending over a year (and every subsequent year) working out the kinks in the incredibly labor-intensive process. His accidental move into the odd niche was apparently well worth the effort—their fans now include Martin Scorsese and the Royal Geographic Society.(more...)
It's shocking how far communication has come since, let's say, the 1800's. What is now a quick text (or even more succinct emoji) was once a painstakingly designed piece of paper that relied on analog means to delight the receiver. Calling cards were the media of choice for Victorians looking to make an impression. When arriving in a new town, leaving for a trip, searching for a daughter's suitor or simply introducing themselves to someone from a distance, these elaborately decorated cards not only conveyed information but also signified class—especially if you shelled out the extra dough for some border fringe). From hidden sayings and intricately placed names to "Victorian scraps," check out some of these crazy-detailed artifacts of communication from yesteryear:(more...)
Watching movies in 3D is fun, if you can stand the splitting headache those headsets give you. For now they're the moviemakers' way of tricking your eyes into feeding your brain a false sense of depth perception, but a bunch of GIF-happy blogosphere denizens have discovered a more low-tech way to do that: By adding two vertical white stripes to your moving image.
Presumably they needn't be two perfectly vertical stripes, nor is it important that they be precisely white so much as in sharp contrast to the predominant tone of the image. But by adding a visually static element that interrupts, and becomes interrupted by, a moving object, our brains are fooled into perceiving depth.(more...)
To be able to shower in a train station might not sound luxurious, but that's what I felt it was after dropping a few guilders at Amsterdam's Centraal Station to rinse the travel grit off and stow my backpack. Train station bathrooms and lockers are a godsend to travelers, but this American has only ever encountered them in Europe and some parts of Asia.
Now a company called POSH Stow and Go aims to bring readily-available bathrooms and temporary storage to travelers in New York City—minus the train station. The company's plan is to rent street-level spaces and kit them out with lockers, storage rooms, powder rooms with toilets and "luxury showers." And they're even staffed: "Our bathroom facilities—featuring motion-sensored flushers and faucets, high-powered hand dryers and even baby-changing stations—are immaculately clean, sanitized and cared for by a friendly and attentive staff that is always on duty," writes the company.Need a protected place to lock up a change of clothes for an interview, event, change in the weather, meetings, lunch, dinner, party or day of errands? Would you enjoy the convenience of having a private place to change in the city? POSH Stow and Go offers secure storage PLUS individual, soundproof rooms with luxury showers for those long days that require some freshening up before a long night out.
Won't they become infiltrated with homeless, you ask? Not likely—the facilities will only be open to members. Yes, bathroom club members. Annual dues are $15, on top of which one must purchase blocks of time at $24 for 3 days, $42 for 6 days or, for power poopers, $60 for 10 days.
And as the company name suggests, it will be exclusive. "In an effort to keep POSH Stow and Go a place with consistently easy, quick and hassle-free access every time members visit," the company writes, "membership availability is LIMITED." Capitals theirs.
Rollout starts in June of this year, with locations planned for both midtown and downtown Manhattan.(more...)
About nine months ago, we got a first look at a freely articulating 3D printer, developed by Joris Laarman Lab in collaboration with the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC). By extruding a special fast-curing resin with a multi-jointed robotic arm, MATAERIAL proposed a "radically new 3D printing method," suitable for "irregular or non-horizontal surfaces." Now, the Dutch designer has unveiled his latest breakthrough in liberating digital fabrication from a build platform: As its name suggests, MX3D-Metal can print lines of steel, stainless steel, aluminum, bronze or copper "in mid-air."
The MX3D-Metal reportedly debuted at last week's Fabricate2014 conference and will make its way to New York City's Friedman Benda gallery come May. Laarman shared some more information on his approach and what's next for the team.
Our Amsterdam-based lab is an experimental playground that tinkers with engineers and craftsmen on the many new possibilities of emerging technology in the field of art and design. We usually start working on projects based on the concept "what if...?" after which we start figuring out how we could hack or combine certain technologies to make something new. Usually, this results in a new series of design pieces with a form language; and this arises out of the new possibilities of the new technology. We believe we tackle technological challenges very differently than others by using a hands-on approach to create such design objects.(more...)
At DICK'S Sporting Goods, they ensure ultimate customer satisfaction by employing an exceptional team of associates, who truly "live" their brand. The designers they hire demonstrate a combination of drive, skill, commitment and passion for their business that is shared with the athletes and enthusiasts they serve. If you have this kind of passion and enthusiasm, plus experience designing apparel, this is the job for you.
The right person will be responsible for all Technical Design functions for a segment of the DICK'S Sporting Goods private brand apparel with supervision from a Technical Designer. He/She will follow the technical design process with consideration to integrity of design, fit, garment construction and manufacturing processes needed to achieve cost and delivery standards. Sound good? Apply Now.
Bert Loeschner Twists and Turns Monobloc Garden Chairs Until They're Intriguing Pieces of Humorous Art
From left to right: "Waterproof," "Hitchhiking" and "Rocking Chair""Valet"
Bert Loeschner has a thing for garden chairs. You know, the ones we buy, use for a couple of family get-togethers and eventually leave in the lawn to slowly disappear into the weeds—my family has a green version that's been sitting underneath a tree in our yard since I was in elementary school. While these plastic fixtures typically recede into the background as they take on the patina of dirt, precipitation and time itself, Loeschner has taken to elevating them above and beyond the banal. With a lot of twisting and a little humor, Loeschner manages to replace the image we have of the common deck fixture.
Part performance piece and part product abuse, California-based artist Evan Holm's "Submerged Turntables" installation does, well, what it says on the tin. Holm built a sort of woodland-themed installation in his studio, complete with trees and a small body of water, then broke everything down to truck it over to the SFMOMA's atrium, where he was invited to re-install it and perform.
This first video isn't of the SFMOMA atrium, but does reveal what a record sounds like when played underwater:
Try doing that with an iPod.(more...)
Play is educational... some times more than others. Help your junior (or senior) get acquainted with the reality of food origins using a model tuna that breaks down into its sushi composites. The set comes with the necessary sword and cutting board, and will run you around 300 cold briny dollars (on sale now for as low as 29,400 yen!).
But you can't put a price on learning, particularly learning about something as delicious and ecologically decimated as large fish. Designed by Kazuyoshi Watanabe, the owner of a wholesale fish vending business in Tokyo, and put out by Hobbystock, this thing is more grisly—or at least more true to life—than your standard Playskool food offerings. And I respect that. Particularly because this thing is as ingeniously put together as the fish itself, with hidden cuts and neatly removable parts. (For the dedicated fish fancier, the produced "cuts" include akami, toro, chutoro, otoro, no tuna salad.)(more...)
The big challenge for renewable energy is storage: Energy captured by solar or wind power will never be much good if there isn't a cheap way to store it. Lithium batteries are just not up to a wide-reaching, cost-effective task. So a lot of researchers are working to solve this problem, including a team who founded the startup Aquion, which recently raised $55 million of venture capital funding, including $35 million from Bill Gates.
The funds will help ramp up production of a new kind of battery. Jay Whitacre, a materials science professor at Carnegie Mellon, invented it and says it will as cheap as a lead-acid battery—the oldest rechargeable battery, which is still widely used to restart our cars—but it can last twice as long. It's also very safe—safe enough to eat, apparently. Lead-acid batteries, on the other hand, are toxic and pretty dangerous.
These batteries, charged with renewable energy, can mimic the balancing of supply and demand on a power grid and so can replace the much more expensive natural gas power plants that are currently taking on that job.(more...)
When we say Ikea has two furniture lines for the record books, we mean they've got one for the records and one for the books. While the Billy is the world's best-selling piece of furniture for housing printed tomes, it is the grid-like Expedit that is the record collectors' essential buy, second in importance only to their turntables. And it's no surprise why: The individual Expedit compartment's standard, relatively narrow 13.25" width and stacked verticals provide the support needed for heavy vinyl. Those with LPs stored on more conventional, longer-span shelves typically experience more SAG than a Hollywood film production.
So it caused communal dismay when a record collector learned that IKEA was discontinuing the Expedit in his home country of Germany, the first to lose the line; upon posting his concerns to IKEA Deutschland's Facebook page, he received confirmation that come April, the Expedit will be kaput.
A replacement has been promised: The Kallax, which seems identical to the Expedit, yet has thinner sides and rounded edges (purportedly for the safety of children!)(more...)
We've seen 3D-printed bike parts before, but now two British firms have advanced into printing out the entire frame (albeit not in a single piece, presumably because no laser sintering machine yet has that kind of footprint). Additive manufacturing firm Renishaw has joined forces with Empire Cycles to create a one-off version of Empire's MX6-EVO, which typically comes in aluminum; the one-off, however, was done with titanium alloy, and the duo reckon this is the world's first to be 3D-printed.(more...)