Posted by core jr
| 17 Sep 2014
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Photos by Kyle Oldfield, winner of our design school photo contest
Yesterday we published the last installment of our D-School Futures series, in which we interviewed the chairs of 11 leading industrial design programs about the evolution of ID education. Along the way, we gleaned quite a few insights into what it's like to be an ID student today, how schools are reacting to rapid changes in the industry, and what all of this means for incoming students and recent graduates. For those of you who haven't had time to read the full series—or who just love a good listicle—here's our shortlist of five essential takeaways.
1. Now Is a Really Good Time to Launch a Design Career
OK, so you would expect the chairs of design programs to be bullish about the profession; they couldn't very well tell us that now is a crummy time to get a degree from one of their programs. Even so, our interviewees gave us the distinct impression that now actually is a really good time to be getting into industrial design, or any design field for that matter. With the economy looking increasingly healthy, design firms are hiring new graduates at a steady clip—and, more importantly, businesses of all stripes are continuing to recognize the importance of design to their bottom lines.
2. Designing Physical Stuff Is Not Becoming Less Important—If Anything, the Opposite Is True
Worried that designers of actual, physical stuff are going to become obsolete in the coming decades, as more and more of our daily tasks are handled by digital tools? Don't be. As several of our interviewees noted, physical objects are not going away anytime soon—and, besides, as digital tools become more advanced, people will expect richer and more nuanced experiences in ye olde three-dimensional world. "While our tools and experiences are moving toward digital interactions, there will always be physical, visual or multi-sensorial manifestations that are part of the input and output of those interactions," Art Center's Karen Hofmann told us. "Design will be the differentiator in how successful or meaningful those product experiences will be."
As someone recently introduced to regular bicycling by Citi Bike, New York's bicycle share program, I love bike lanes. I just wish there were more of them; their relative Manhattan scarcity, and my unwillingness to brave the laneless streets with the battle-hardened bike pros, mean I must often choose circuitous routes in order to safely remain a wussy.
I assumed NYC won't add more bike lanes because of the added cost and the resultant auto traffic congestion (more room for bikes means less room for cars). So I was very surprised to read a NYC Department of Transportation study [PDF] released this month that found that adding bike lanes actually increased the flow of auto traffic.
How is this possible? In two words, clever design. But before we get into the details, for those of you not familiar with the style of NYC's newest bike lanes, let's have a look at the old system:
As you can see, placing the bike lane there leaves the cyclist in danger of getting "doored" by someone getting out of a parked car without bothering to look first. And the painted buffer between the cyclist and moving traffic offers zero protection from a car that veers out of control. So in 2007 they started shuffling things around like this:
With this improved design, the cyclist now rides adjacent to the sidewalk. The painted five-foot buffer prevents the cyclist from getting doored by a parked car, which now resides in a parking lane that provides a solid physical barrier protecting a cyclist from colliding with a moving auto. And if you look at the dimensions listed, you'll see the buffer can now safely be reduced by two feet in width, while the bike lane got wider by the same amount.
So right off the bat this second design is smarter than the first, and the numbers bear that out: In 2001, the old-style lanes were in effect. In 2013, the new-style lanes were in existence. And there has been a "75% decrease in average risk of a serious injury to cyclists" in that time period.
Posted by Coroflot
| 17 Sep 2014
The Rockport Company is seeking a Men's Footwear Designer with a global perspective on fashion, performance and lifestyle trends who will be responsible for the ideation of new concepts and the creation of compelling footwear designs that reflect Rockport's unique heritage of product innovation, style and comfort. The Rockport Design Team in Canton, MA carries on the Rockport tradition of improving their customer's lives by introducing advanced technologies into casual shoes.
Working at Rockport will require you to stay current with relevant trends, and apply this understanding into designs to ensure products are contemporary, on trend and market relevant. You'll also need to be able to present designs to the Head of Design, VP and other team members, as needed, in addition to providing product conceptualization, illustration and technical detailing of product, graphics, technical specifications. Apply Now.
Posted by erika rae
| 16 Sep 2014
, a high-speed optical Internet service provider in Japan, has created what may be the best commercial I've ever seen.
I've always been a fan of Rube Goldberg machines—I was even in a club in elementary school whose sole purpose was to create one to compete against other schools in the state. Now, we've covered plenty of Goldbergian machines that are purportedly the best of the best—all awesome machines that are worth revisiting—but au Hikari has a new twist on the contraption. A commercial for the Japanese high-speed optical ISP features a Rube Goldberg machine that is 'powered' by a single beam of light as it is reflected, refracted and magnified by various lenses and glasses throughout the two-minute sequence.
In keeping with the solemn, tenebrist ambiance of the mechanism, the commercial features naturalistic sound; an American company would probably have opted for non-diegetic audio—listen to OK Go in the background if you must. Check it out for yourself:
Editor: In the previous entry of this Automoblox origin story, the plucky Pat Calello had put together a sweet distribution deal with BRIO. Which would have been great news--if the factory hadn't screwed up on the tooling. How can Calello meet the order and save his start-up?
Despite my clear specifications and a detailed evaluation of all molded samples along with detailed engineering analysis, my manufacturer, Swift Tread, never was able to achieve the standard with respect to functionality. After the disappointing trip to China in March 2004, I was forced to accept defeat; my manufacturing partners in Swift Tread weren't going to provide the quality I required.
By this time the expiration date was looming for BRIO's Letter of Credit, and 10,000-piece order was quickly slipping away. Because of the production delays, BRIO missed out on the spring selling season, and by their own estimation would not even be able to sell 10,000 in 2004. They were now seeking a lower price because of lost sales, and were considering other changes to the distribution strategy. I couldn't swing a lower margin, and concluded that I would be better off financially if I managed distribution in North America myself for the first year. As a consequence, I reluctantly cut ties with BRIO.
I had a new problem though. I no longer had the 10,000-piece BRIO order, but Swift Tread had already begun production of 15,000 parts--of which only 5,000 were spoken for by my international customers. Ultimately, Swift Tread was able to assemble only 13,000 pieces. I ordered an inspection by an independent company to evaluate the quality; the shipment failed inspection. A second inspection requested by Swift Tread also failed. My options were limited, to say the least. I had 13,000 products sitting in China that failed to meet my quality standards...so much for a brand strategy and four years of blood, sweat and tears. To me, releasing products that did not measure up to my own standards made me feel like I was selling out on my dream--and that was not acceptable.
I was in a tough situation. If I refused the goods, Vinnie from Swift Tread informed me the factory would simply sell the goods to a broker or distributor to regain their investment. (Despite the fact that each product embodied my global patents and trademarks, Vinnie had no qualms about breaking international intellectual properties laws and selling them on the open market.) In this scenario, it was likely that Automoblox would be on sale somewhere in the world and I would not get one thin dime of the revenue. I had to make a difficult decision. I felt a fervent need to protect the carefully crafted Automoblox brand, and decided to accept the goods at a discount. My plan was to distribute them in the US, Japan and UK, and to respond to consumer quality claims as they came in. By the time the dust cleared and the freight company actually delivered the goods to my warehouse, it was mid-July.
Posted by core jr
| 16 Sep 2014
[Editor's Note: This product was sent to us from Savora for review.]
Among food lovers, graduating from "parmesan" powder out of a green cardboard cylinder to freshly grating Parmigiano-Reggiano at the table is a rite of passage. So too is grating your own nutmeg and zesting your own orange peel. The staggering selection of graters at a Williams-Sonoma indicates that more Americans are willing to GIY (Grate-It-Yourself). You can find graters in all shapes and sizes, tailor-made for specific ingredients (nutmeg, ginger, citrus zest, chocolate and coconut, to name a few). But with 3,795 search results for "grater" in Amazon's Home & Kitchen department, do we really need another one to throw on the pile? The people at Savora, a line of culinary gadgets owned by the North American Lifetime Brands, think so.
The Savora Hand Grater, a relative newcomer, combines rasp-like perforations with a removable container in one racy handheld grater. The company's lead designer, Sid Ramnarace—who has previously worked with Ford Motors—is behind the ergonomic designs that "mirror the smooth, aerodynamic lines of a modern automobile." Indeed, Savora's products have a whiff of something newly acquired by a man in a midlife crisis.
Posted by Anki Delfmann
| 16 Sep 2014
Photography by Anki Delfmann for Core77
Burning Man is a bombastic playground for all participants, but it's paradise for the enthusiastic designer!
Starting with the preparation, no matter what you plan to do to get involved, what ludicrous costume you've thought up, or how good your survival equipment is, there will be tinkering and building, sketching, planning and teamwork. You might end up inventing the next generation of collapsible shade structures along the way, spend hours getting the heat sensor settings on your LED suit right, improve your dust mask for simultaneous karaoke singing, or sew the ultimate protection bag for your camera equipment.
On the Playa, it's time for co-creation and non-intentional design at its very best. The whole event is based on participation, so if you help to build a sculpture, engineer the best way to evaporate your gray water, or choreograph a new dance-based typography, you'll find creativity is oozing from all corners in Black Rock City. And the radical inclusion principle is both enjoyable and surprisingly productive.
Make sure to bring along your all-time favorite basics like lots of tape, markers, sugru, ziplock bags, hooks, clips, sewing kit, and the basic tools. There is use for everything, if not by you, then surely your camp neighbor. And the very best: once the event has started, there are no deadlines, no show stoppers, no best practices. And instead of blue sky thinking there are only blue skies.
Alongside all the productivity and involvement, don't forget to take lots of time to explore the art on the playa, and visit the many theme camps around you. There are some brilliant examples of experience design out there, and a lot of fun to be had. Imagine all your favorite classes in university thrown into the middle of the desert. Remove all requirements and grades, add some unnecessary decoration, stick an LED on it and always have a chilled drink at hand. Enjoy!
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Posted by core jr
| 16 Sep 2014
This is the final installment of D-School Futures, our interview series on the evolution of industrial design education. Today we have answers from from Lisa Norton, director of Designed Objects within the Architecture, Interior Architecture and Designed Objects (AIADO) Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Tomorrow we'll have a list of what we consider the biggest insights and lessons from this eleven-part interview series.
How different is industrial design education today than it was ten years ago? Will it look very different ten years from now?
Industrial design education today is vastly different with respect to technology, manufacturing, distribution and the roles of designers within changing and expanding markets for their skills and offerings. Due to the exponentially increasing speed of the diffusion of innovation and the fact that design touches all sectors, I think it's safe to say that both design education and design practice will experience decisive shifts generated from within and outside of academia.
What would you say to a prospective student who worries about the relevance of an ID education in an increasingly digital world?
Industrial design practice and pedagogy are always changing in order to keep pace with emerging digital tools and new possibilities. Many leading programs in industrial design have long ceased making a distinction between digital and analog approaches to design education. Digital and analog methods are complementary avenues along a continuum of technological developments. Given the wide range of research, ideation and production choices available to designers today, it is no longer possible to make meaningful distinctions between these terms.
Lisa Norton and student work from the Designed Objects progam
Posted by core jr
| 16 Sep 2014
The Aronoff Center at UC DAAP, shortly after it opened in 1996 (L) and present day (R). Photos by Patricio Ortiz and Kyle Oldfield.
For our September 2014 Back-to-School Special, we're going back to the basics and delving deep into the Core77 forums to answer common student queries. This seven-part series of crowdsourced wisdom includes an attempt to define Industrial Design, a comparison of ID degree options, some pointers on teaching (and dealing with teachers), insight into why it's never too late to get into ID, a handy list of resume do's and don'ts, and advice on overcoming design OD. This is our ultimate list of pro tips.
Like any forum, the C77 boards are full of smack talk and advice, but some corners are more sage than others. For our seventh and final Discussion Board Digest, here is our updated and evergreen collection of the choicest advice and insight that older designers wish they'd had when they were students, aggregated and adopted from the OG discussion thread "If I Knew Then What I Know Now."
Ready? There are a lot of 'em, so pay attention:
Food and sleep. Skimp on either and it'll dock your ability to think and work effectively. Yes, you will be broke sometimes. Yes, there will always be tight deadlines and red-eye projects. But if it comes down to getting a couple more hours of sleep vs putting the maximum finish on a model before a critique, opt for the sleep: you'll be more coherent, more convincing and able to get more out of the feedback. And basic nutrition is required for basic neural functioning. The guy who lives on ramen is probably not doing so well synaptically, and your ability to think critically and remember stuff is the point of being in school. Balancing your diet right now is worth having to balance your bank account later.
Get in the Studio!
Spend as much time as you can bear in the studio. As several people have mentioned, it's impossible to do great work at your desk in the dorm, and having a dedicated space to get your thoughts out and work through ideas is important. Camaraderie and company are helpful too, and you can learn a ton from peers. Though it's less sexy than a bolt of inspiration from on high, good work truly only comes with effort and hours, or as Frank Tibbolt put it: "Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action." So get in there.
...But Get Out of the Studio Too
A breath of fresh air can make all the difference when you're stumped on creative pursuits, and inspiration strikes in unexpected places. Leave the studio if you're feeling stuck, take a walk or get a coffee, do something else with your eyes and mind and body and you'll find it easier when you get back. When you're not on assignment try to visit new places, different departments, and take in work outside of your focus. Movies, plays, lectures and art are all idea-stimulating and easy to find on campus.
Spend a lot of time improving your sketching. A lot. Really. Like, you can't spend too much time doing it, so stop reading and start sketching. Of all the technical skills a designer is expected to have, this is regarded as the single most important one. Practice a lot, not to impress anyone with your art chops, but so you can stay out of your own way and uncover ideas while problem solving. Sketching is faster than any other form of model-building or rendering. It's a portable, cheap, and (if you're good) immediate communication of ideas. It's the tool at the very core of being a designer. Careers have been launched over great napkin sketches—don't blow it off.
Brooks Stevens was a Raymond-Loewy-level industrial designer, and in fact, formed the IDSA in conjunction with Loewy and a group of other ID'ers. And while his name never seemed to achieve the recognition of Loewy's, he had a career every bit as colorful and influential. Upon his death in 1995, The New York Times called him a "giant in industrial design" and revealed that back in the 1940s, he nailed a certain appliance's form factor that still exists today:
One of his early successes was with a prototype clothes dryer, which had been developed by Hamilton Industries in Two Rivers, Wis. At the time, the only way to dry clothes was to hang them on a line.
Hamilton's engineers had developed a metal box with an electrically powered rotating drum inside and equipment for gas heating. The device was featureless except for an on/off switch.
"You can't sell this thing," Mr. Stevens recalled telling the developers. "It's just a sheet metal box." Mr. Stevens suggested putting a glass panel in the front and loading it with the most brightly colored boxer shorts the manufacturer could find for demonstrations in department stores. That is what happened, and modern clothes dryers still follow the same basic layout.
As another example of design longevity, Stevens designed the 1949 Harley-Davidson Hydra Glide. Harley-Davidson's 2014 Heritage Softail Classic has essentially retained the same front fender and tank-mounted speedometer.
A year earlier Stevens had designed a very different vehicle: These sweet Skytop Lounge passenger railcars produced by Pullman-Standard in 1948, and used to run the route from Chicago to the Twin Cities. The Skytop Lounges remained in service until 1970.