Adam Michaels & Anna Rieger of Project Projects on Designing Core77's First Book, 'Designing Here/Now'
Adam Michaels and Anna Rieger of Project Projects looking over Designing Here/Now
Core77 was delighted to work with New York-based studio Project Projects to design the Designing Here/Now, published by Thames and Hudson. Headed by Adam Michaels and Prem Krishnamurthy, Project Projects is a design studio focusing on print, identity, exhibition and interactive work with clients in art and architecture. In addition to client-based work, the studio initiates and produces independent curatorial and publishing projects.
We sat down with Michaels and designer Anna Rieger to talk about the inception of the project and how it took form.
Core77: We were excited to work with Project Projects on one of the most ambitious projects we've ever taken on. Tell us how you began the design process and what challenges you saw at its inception?
Adam Michaels: We, too, were thrilled to be asked by Core77 to collaborate on Designing Here/Now. It's always a pleasure to work on projects in which design itself is the overt subject matter, as we certainly remain obsessed with this stuff. As potential readers, we found the book's vast array of projects (spanning innumerable media and materials) to be an intriguing, valuable source of information.
Anna Rieger: Core77 had never published a book about their awards before, though they've had a well-visited website for years. In considering the book's design, we thought about the web's interactive features (for example, the live video announcements about the awards, and videos helping to show objects' materiality). For the book we tried to emphasize the strengths of the medium, creating a design that would reward sustained attention (still easier with a book than in the midst of the web's many distractions) and contemplation, while allowing for quick, occasional browsing (the book's navigation is always quite clear so the reader would never feel lost).
How did you approach this project given how many categories and discrete elements of content were involved in the final piece?
AM: As book designers, we're drawn to projects with a degree of complexity and scale, in which we determine through typographic, formal, and material means how best to bring clarity to substantial amounts of information. So we were enthusiastic to develop an overall design that balances a consistent, overarching structure (crucial when working at a scale such as that of this 448-page book) with a varied, playful flow through the book's contents from spread to spread.
This flow is first structured by the book's categorical breakdown (also articulated through elements such as running headers); then a relative weighting of projects kicks in (award winners are generally shown at a greater scale); subsequently, the spreads become the result of a process akin to that of assembling a kind of free-form, information-dense jigsaw puzzle. Variables include the details of text per entry; type of image; potential scale of image (resolution issues remain the scourge of this sort of project, involving hundreds of images from nearly as many sources). Each layout is then the result of an attempt to produce an appealing composition—also making sure a given set of projects works well together on the page—after taking this significant range of details into account.
The Project Projects office in New York City(more...)
Institution of Vienna cafe culture, Cafe Landtmann, have partnered with local design studio Lucy.D to explore the impact design can have on cake decorating. The cafe's management tasked designers Karin Santorso and Barbara Ambros with the brief of finding a new way to allow their customers to order custom-decorated cakes whilst avoiding the possibilities of their brand being tarnished by potential clienteles' kitsch creations.(more...)
Texas A&M Traffic Institute's Crashworthy Structures Program Designs an Anti-Terrorist Barrier to End All Anti-Terrorist Barriers
Down by the Centre Street courthouses in lower Manhattan, where I walk my dogs in the morning, I saw them re-installing one of those anti-terrorist pylons. All government buildings downtown became ringed with them after September 11, 2001. I was impressed to see that the pylon is at least twice as long as you'd think it is, as its metal core is inserted deep into the ground, presumably into some type of concrete mounting block. This is reassuring, as I'd often wondered if those little four-foot-tall cylinders could really stop a dump truck loaded up with explosives.
Hopefully we'll never have to find out—but the U.S. State Department isn't taking any chances. Since 2001 they've been working with Texas A&M's Transportation Institute, and the latter organization's Crashworthy Structures Program is responsible for designing barriers, including the kind that ring government buildlings. They've recently tested a U-shaped steel kind designed to stop a truck dead in its tracks, even with a 50 m.p.h. headway. Take a look at this:
Insane, no? And impressively, according to The Texas Tribune, the 24-foot-wide barrier is only buried 18 inches deep. (The concrete pylons I saw being re-installed appeared to go a lot deeper than that.)
The Crashworthy Structures Program, by the way, designs at least two variants of barrier. Some are "highway safety appurtenances" while others are "perimeter security devices" like the one in the video. And obviously the design considerations with the latter are quite different. "The focus [with perimeter security devices] is on keeping a terrorist from breaching the barrier," TTI's Dean Alberson told the Tribune.
"The ability of a driver to survive such a crash," the article concludes, "is not a primary concern."(more...)
Digital calendars are everywhere now—but many end-users still prefer to use paper. Calendars like the one above are attractive, but not really functional; there's nowhere to note what's happening on any given day. Fortunately, designers have created a range of calendars and planners that do help end-users keep track of their time commitments.
While many wall calendars have illustrations, REDSTAR Ink provides a wall calendar with just the essentials: good-sized blocks for writing in each day's activities. The calendar measures 11 inches by 17 inches, and is printed on heavy recycled stock with a recycled chipboard cover.
Letter C Design prints this calendar on individual sheets of recycled kraft text paper, which allows multiple pages to be displayed at once. Each page could be mounted to the wall using a clipboard, added to a 3-ring binder using a sheet protector, pinned to a bulletin board, added to the refrigerator door (with magnets to hold it in place), etc.
Sometimes end-users with lots of wall space like to see the whole year at a glance, and designers have created calendars to address this preference. This one, from Crispin Finn, has one row for each month. It measures 99.7cm × 70cm (39.2 inches by 27.6 inches). "Popular observances" such as East Sunday and Bonfire Night have been noted—which will be useful to the U.K. audience, but maybe not to those from other countries. Deciding which holidays to include will always be a design issue for those creating calendars and planners.(more...)
One of the first things they taught us in ID Rendering 101 was about reflections: You need a sky and you need some earth, and placing these correctly indicates the contours of whatever you're drawing up. Nowadays software takes care of all that, but in the days of hand rendering, you created sky and earth with markers, Prismacolors, charcoal or an airbrush. And getting the gradations was just a matter of layering strokes and/or going over it with your fingers.
But in this video, hot rod artist Glen Weisgerber shows us how he does it "When the compressor goes down or the power goes out," i.e. not using an airbrush, but an actual bristle brush. At 23 minutes long, the demo isn't short, but it's worth a scan-through to watch him go from zero to done:
Am I the only one who got the design-school-flashback stress jitters while watching him? I almost found myself glancing towards my window to see if the sun was coming up yet.(more...)
Photos courtesy of Gallery All unless otherwise noted.
A mover-and-shaker in the Chinese creative scene for a decade now, Naihan Li got her start working for Ai Weiwei upon returning to Beijing after completing her studies at London's Bartlett School of Architecture. After subsequently working with various art and design organizations, she founded her own studio in 2010 and is perhaps best known for her CRATES series. This year sees the debut of the I AM A MONUMENT collection at Gallery ALL in the 751 D.Park, as well as a move from the Red Bricks studio/gallery compound (where she hosted an exhibition in her live/work space last year), around the corner to a converted factory. (Rest assured she's still based in Caochangdi, although she handed off her BJDW curatorial duties to Ben Hughes, who gave us a brief tour of the place last week.)
Some two years in the making, the pieces in I AM A MONUMENT take the form of scale models of various landmarks from the Western world: the UN building, Pentagon, New York Stock Exchange and Edinburgh Palm House, which have been re-imagined as a bookcase, bed, shrine and terrarium, respectively. The four new pieces are exhibited alongside the "Armillary Whisky Bar," which was commissioned by Melbourne's Broached Gallery in 2013. Li's artist statement invokes a critical examination of the relationship between art, architecture and design:I AM A MONUMENT originated from Naihan's recognition of the Chinese desire for giant art installations in their homes. People want to own things that are monumental. This desire traces back to Chinese traditional paintings, which play with the idea of scale from a subjective point of view and minimize the universe. Chinese artists attempt to zoom in to a large part of the world on a small scale. The I AM A MONUMENT collection shrinks a landmark building 100 times and turns it into a utilitarian furniture piece, allowing collectors to contain something that is extremely large inside a room of their house.
The Edinburgh Palm House at the Royal Botanic Gardens(more...)
If you don't think about your company's intellectual property very often, it's time to pay closer attention to that which makes up, on average, over 90% of a business's value. Trade secrets, copyright, trademarks and patents for businesses can be confusing topics to explore, but thanks to the next RKS Sessions presentation, plenty of light will be shed on how you can do more to protect your company's most valuable assets.
On October 7th at Cross Campus in Santa Monica, CA, you're invited to the fourth RKS Session where veteran IP attorney, Dan Dooley, who will provide extensive advice and insight regarding intellectual property. He will be joined by a client, Matthew Joynes, CEO of the innovative gaming peripheral company Wikipad, who will give advice on intellectual property from an entrepreneurial perspective.
This is a perfect event for anyone building ideas and starting companies. You can secure your ticket and learn more about this RKS Session here.(more...)
Here at Core77, we get our fair share of business books, in part because to design anything on an industrial level, you need to have business in mind. Perhaps you need to get financing to invest in your first injection molding press plates, to the tune of $250k, and it might be nice to have a little hand holding, someone to tell you the press is good for 500k cycles and at your margin, making $3.00/part on an 8% loan gets you a solid NPV if you can sell 50k widgets a year. And yet, if you stroll into the business aisle of a typical bookstore, you see the face of Jack Welsh telling you Elephants can Dance, and providing his experiences in making an agile multi-billion dollar company, so you might just be entitled to wondering how big the market is for billionaires looking for insight into how to improve their NASDAQ-listed stock, because it certainly doesn't help you. Likewise with the success of Malcolm Gladwell's particular brand of chapter by chapter insight using the case study method by way of aphoristic lessons about obscure ketchup companies.
Given the continual flow of newly minted industrial designers hoping to make a go at their own business with the tools to make products, rather than companies, we've certainly kept our eyes open for new books promising to teach designers how to become business people rather than craftsmen. The latest manifestation of such is The Monocle Guide to Good Business (Gestalten 2014), which is about as far afield as one can go from Malcolm Gladwell while retaining the structure of printed paper laced between two canvas covers. Rather than focus on tycoons and boardrooms, their case studies (beautifully laid out photo spreads with accompanying text) focus principally on small businesses ranging from goat farms to more predictably design-centric shops like type foundries and high street tailors. Each page of the guide has been carefully aligned with the grid and thoughtfully designed, but we confess that at the end of it, we found ourselves far more knowledgeable with how to make an already successful business prettier than understanding how to make successful company in the first place.(more...)
Recent Swiss design graduate Sebastian Marbacher has taken to the streets in Vienna, exhibiting some of his furniture as part of the festivities this week. Sebastian caught our eye immediately with his clever 'Baustellen-Bank' (translating from the German as 'Building Site Bench'), a bench made from a simple hack of components usually used to block public access from building sites.(more...)
Since we opened in 2010, Core77's Hand-Eye Supply has grown into an international design destination and hub for hands-on people of all stripes. Combining the refined aesthetics of designers with the practicality of the trades, Hand-Eye Supply serves and promotes the movement towards a more beautiful, well-made world.
Join us tomorrow, Thursday, October 2, as we open our distinctive store again—bigger, better and more ambitiously dedicated to the creative community—with a Grand Opening Party! This unmissable design event will give the first public look at the beautiful new space, which features custom architecture, innovative interior design and sculpture, a design incubator, and a metal and wood workshop. If you're in Portland, be sure to stop by the inspiring space some have dubbed the Niketown of Design. RSVP on Facebook and stop by for food, drink, live music, and inspiration.
Thursday, October 2, 2014, 6–9pm
427 NW Broadway
Portland, OR 97209
The Red Dot Awards winner's page is usually a fun look at some out-there ideas. But among this year's batch of winners, it's the oh-man-that-is-so-doable concepts that caught our eye. To rethink something simple that already exists can often be far harder, we think, than envisioning a blue-sky solution.
In the Personal Hygiene category, Chen Wanting's clever Tiya Convenient Floor Drain makes perfect sense for anyone who's ever had to remove long hair from a conventional shower drain.(more...)
Having just spent a week in China, my circadian rhythm is pretty much entirely out of sync at this point. Traveling 12 hours into the future was rougher than it had ever been, and now that I'm back, I expect that my usual sleep deprivation will be further compounded by jetlag. Well, Studio Banana Things is looking to put sleepnessness to rest, so to speak, by putting the powernap literally within arm's length away with the new "Ostrich Pillow Mini."
To the uninitiated, a CNC mill might sound like a complicated, intimidating and excessively expensive machine to own and operate. And that might have been true twenty years ago. But now we live in an age where the prices are coming down and the interfaces are becoming ever-easier to use—something like what the original Mac did for desktop publishing. So if you're an independent designer or small business owner looking to prototype or produce your own stuff, now is the time to look into a CNC mill. And we're excited to bring you this new series on how to use one.
With regular video updates, we'll walk you through a basic but powerful 3-axis machine and show you everything you need to know in order to operate one, starting with a group of introductory videos and then diving into a step-by-step project. And in order to be as inclusive as possible, we've opted to take a "...For Dummies" approach—so whether you're a traditional shop vet or have never used a power tool in your life, we believe that you, too can use a CNC mill by understanding certain principles and systematically learning to use some basic software.
The first question you would-be CNC millers might have is, which machine should I look at? There are several different affordable desktop CNC mills on the market, and we decided to go with ShopBot, for a variety of important reasons:
Next up we'll give you an overview of the machine, then show you how to set it up.(more...)
Interview: The Origins and Purpose of Our New Book, Designing Here/Now, with Core77 Chief Editor Allan Chochinov
When a book about design covers so much territory, it's important to understand what motivated its creation and what needs it satisfies. Designing Here/Now offers everyone from the casual dabbler to the seasoned design professional a closer look at what moves design forward, right now. More than a mere collection of honorees from the Core77 Design Awards, this anthology reveals why intention is just as important as material results in design. We interviewed Allan Chochinov, Chief Editor of Core77, and asked him to explain the significance of the essential new volume for the design community and future design trends. Get your copy of Designing Here/Now at Hand Eye Supply, Thames & Hudson, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
From Designing Here/Now, "audioJar" by Sarah Pease, Rhode Island School of Design, DIY - Notable 2012
Why is Designing Here/Now an important book?
Allan Chochinov: This is an important book for a lot of reasons, but let me argue for three:
First, as digital and screens continue to dematerialize information and separate content from form, books have taken on new meaning, new gravity, and can increasingly be seen as a kind of treat. People love books, and though a lot of what Core77 does is on the Internet, our beating heart is in physical things. (Hand Eye Supply, Conferences, bikes, shoes, etc.) This book means a great deal to us, and with it we are proud to have created a tangible (and weighty!) artifact.
The second reason is about the value of time capsuling and creating a permanent record. We see Designing Here/Now as a testament to design enterprise and excellence, but we also see it as an historical record—one that features projects, designers, jury members, design firms, and educational institutions that are critical of the moment we are now living in. The book draws a line in the sand and says, "Design has a long history, but it's also experiencing an amazing moment right now. And here is a group of work that evidences its wonder, its rigor, and its impact."
The third reason (and we're biased here) is that the book was produced by two of the most esteemed design and publishing groups in the world. Thames and Hudson is an incredible publisher with fantastic and essential titles, and Project Projects is the premier design firm for producing cultural printed artifacts. We have great partners, and we're grateful for their contributions.
From Designing Here/Now, "Zoku Character Kit" by Propeller, Inc., Zoku, LLC, Consumer Products - Notable 2012, Team credits - Ken Zorovich, Yos Kumthampinij and John Earle.(more...)
Designers Rita Joao and Pedro Ferreira were inspired by the detailed craftsmanship that the workshop staff gave to huge sheets of mirror and glass, wondering if these skills could be turned to small scale objects. Rita and Pedro set out designing a range of table top objects that could be made simply from the huge array of glass types and mirrors in stock at the shop. The designers incorporated colourful felts—the material used extensively in glass handling for protection—giving some lovely contrast to the pieces.
Although Stiefelmeyer have yet to make any moves to produce the objects, they did allow the designers to set up a showroom in a disused office room at the front of the shop to display the wares.(more...)
Founded by Ian Hall, Arkitrek works to the create socially and environmentally sustainable buildings in Malaysia. I have been following them for several years now, just looking for a reason to contact them other than to just say "Hi! I like what you do. Keep up the good work," and now I have one, so here we go.
Core77: Can you give us a short outline to what Arkitrek is about?
Ian Hall: We are architects and we're motivated use design to solve environmental problems. Problems, like resource consumption, pollution and energy use. To solve these problems usually involves working with people, so we are highly socially minded in the way that we work, but I'm a nature lover foremost and love of wild places and nature is what inspires me
What lead you to start Arkitrek?
Haha. Long story...
One thing led to another. I always knew that I did not want to follow a 'conventional' architecture career. After completing my Part III and getting solid commercial experience, I decided to look for alternatives and I joined an expedition with Raleigh International to Borneo. They asked me to lead a team of young volunteers to do a feasibility study for a jungle research station in Borneo. That was a dream job. I swapped designing shiny urban hotels and started work on primitive huts in the jungle. I joke that 'the people I worked with were primitive too': gap year students mostly. The Raleigh ethos is empowering young people by giving them responsibility for delivering project work in challenging places. After some initial resistance, I embraced this philosophy.
After my Raleigh expedition in 2004, I volunteered to work for The Sabah Foundation, Raleigh's local partner in Sabah, Borneo. The Sabah Foundation manages three rainforest conservation areas and I went on to volunteer for them as an architect, designing jungle camps, staff quarters and research facilities on and off for two years.
I funded this with contract work in London. Six months in London would fund four months in Sabah. During this time, I met the people who would become my first paying clients in Sabah. That's how Arkitrek started.
The name, Arkitrek, was coined by my mate Andy Lo. Andy is a Londoner whose parents are from Sabah. We worked together in London and he came out to visit his family in Sabah and then joined me for a month long design and trekking stint in Sabah's Maliau Basin Conservation Area.
I worked in the most awesome and wild and beautiful places.
What was the main foundation when you started Arkitrek?
During that time with Sabah Foundation I was very concerned with two questions:
1. Should we build anything here? [in this wild and beautiful place]
2. If we do build, what kind of building is appropriate?
A little later, when I was no longer supported by high paying London contract work a third question came into play...
3. How can I keep saying yes to designing small buildings in beautiful places for worthy clients, who can't pay professional fees?
I think that my 'ground pillars' are those three questions.(more...)
To Improve In-Car Visibility, a Better Solution than Rearview Mirrors and Monitors: Just Make the Back of the Car Invisible
This is a fascinating idea that was developed by a research group at Japan's Keio University. By applying optical camouflage technology and using recursive reflectors, which "[reflect] light back in the direction of incidence," the researchers were essentially able to render the back of a Toyota Prius invisible, at least from the driver's point of view. Take a look:
What we found fascinating is their proposal that this could be applied to all 360 degrees. And aside from average motorists trying to back passenger cars into parking spaces, imagine what a boon this would be to folks driving delivery trucks, tractor-trailers, construction machinery and other bulky, blind-spot-laden vehicles.
Unfortunately, the technology may never come to pass. The concept was put forth in 2011, and there's been no word on an update since the video above was released in 2012. But tell me this thing wouldn't get Kickstarted in a heartbeat.
Via DigInfo TV(more...)
'Design Week' season is very much upon us here in Europe. As things wrap in London, we've jetted over to the slightly more sedate and astonishingly grandiose (seriously, Paris ain't got nothing) Vienna—capital of Austria—to hit the trail of Vienna Design Week, running from September 26 to October 5.
We're delighted to see the return of the awesome 'Passionswege' platform—the program in which the city's design department pair traditional manufacturing companies still surviving in the region with emerging international design talent, the partnerships sharing skills and often creating some truly inspiring objects and interventions.
First stop in Vienna this year, world -eknowned crystal manufacturer Lobmeyr—who took part in the Passionswege last year— invited the public to their showroom and workshop to see the fruits of their pairing with design duo BCXSY.(more...)
Editor: This design school story comes to us from Eddie L., who along with two fellow ID students had an eight-week assignment to design a commuter bike. The project started off with a bang....
Crashing your bike at night totally sucks. It sucks a little more when your laptop flies out of your bag during the crash and smashes into the pavement. And it sucks the most when that laptop turns out to be so badly damaged that the data on the hard drive is unrecoverable, and what was on the hard drive are the only existing CAD files for a project that you and two of your fellow design students have been slaving over.
Ironically we were designing a bike, so in that one calamitous moment both a real-world bicycle and the designs for what was supposed to be a sweet future bicycle both got trashed.(more...)
I'm not looking forward to winter, because the ex-manufacturing space I moved into last year is brutally cold and drafty. I spent last winter making futile attempts to caulk this and shrink-wrap that, only to achieve zero perceptible gains in thermal efficiency; the space is simply too deteriorated on all six sides for me to determine where I can best make a dent.
What I need is a focused plan, a way of determining where the largest heat leaks are so I can tackle those first. And I think I've found my solution in this awesome-looking Seek Thermal Smartphone Infrared Camera.
The tiny, three-inch, half-ounce, $199 device brings something close to military- or industrial-grade thermal imaging to the common man with the common paycheck. (A commercial infrared camera would run you four figures.) You plug it into the bottom of your smartphone and bang, you've got an image on your screen that can accurately display a range of temperatures from -40° Celsius (-40° Fahrenheit) up to 330° C (626° F).
Here's a demo of it in action from Android Police's David Ruddock, and you can skip the first 30 seconds of pitch-blackness:(more...)