Our entries on the types of wood used for boardwalks might have you wondering: What types of wood are more durable than others?
You may recall that in our wood series, we went over the Janka hardness ratings of wood. But when it comes to durability, Janka numbers only tell part of the tale; the hardness rating of a wood has to do with its ability to resist nicks and scratches, and gives you a heads-up on what types of blades you'll need to machine it.
Outdoor durability, on the other hand, has a slightly different scope. Even though wood used in building boardwalks or houses is almost always elevated off of wet soil on concrete pilings, there are other environmental factors the material has to deal with. For one thing, moisture—whether from rain or in the case of boardwalks, sea spray—and the fungi this can bring. On top of that you've got UV rays, temperature changes and pesky insects. Working in concert, this group of difficulties can impact how long a piece of wood can last and continue to serve its function.
While you can find tons of Janka breakdowns online, we couldn't find many charts that specifically linked wood types with durability. So here's one from Woodworkers UK, a Welsh outfit that makes wooden gates and garage doors—items that are meant to withstand the elements for as long as possible. (Graphically speaking, the layout of the chart is a bit confusing, particularly since we had to edit the image to fit our format, but at least all of the info's there.)
Posted by Carly Ayres
| 23 Jan 2015
When Microsoft approached Azusa Murakami and Alexander Groves last November, offering to partner with them to realize a project of their dreams, it probably goes without saying that the duo jumped at the opportunity. Murakami, an architect, and Groves, an artist, make up the London-based studio SWINE (short for Super Wide Interdisciplinary New Explorers), and they were given only one requirement by Microsoft: to use its Surface Pro 3, a 12-inch, all-in-one tablet meant to compete with laptops currently on the market.
SWINE typically focuses on what Murakami and Groves describe as "luxury artisanship," with projects that are often handcrafted using a range of production techniques and innovative material applications. (You may have seen SWINE's Hair Highway, which uses hair to create a series of vessels, when it made the rounds of the design blogs a few months back.) With the Microsoft-sponsored project, the duo wanted to push things in a new direction. "We aren't a very tech studio," Groves says. "So we embraced the opportunity to do a lot of tech things, such as 3D scanning, modeling and CNC milling."
Murakami and Groves had been closely following the recent NASA mission to place the Philae lander on comet 67P. "It was such a plucky and inspiring mission," Grove says. "We really wanted to celebrate that incredible feat in some way." In addition, he notes, the studio had "always wanted to make heels." Those two desires came together with the Meteorite Shoes, a pair of high heels that, as Groves describes them, "capture the look and sensation of large rocks suspended in zero gravity."
Top and above photos by Petr Krejci
Groves first called up a geologist he knew at London's Natural History Museum, pumping him for everything he knew about meteorites. The designer then made a trip to the vaults deep beneath the museum to see what is widely considered the best meteorite collection in the world. "We put together a proposal and had just three weeks to do the research, design, find the fabricators and make the project," Groves says. "It was like D-Day. There was no time for a prototype." For the material, they settled on aluminum foam, typically reserved for industrial processes such as energy absorption and compression beams in luxury cars—but perfect for its ability, Groves says, to form "bulky, rock-like irregular forms and be incredibly light and strong."
You've seen John Edmark's trippy Fibonacci Zoetrope Sculptures, which bring animation to 3D-printed pieces via a turntable. For those of you who've read up on multicreative, multi-hyphenate Edmark's background, it'll come as no surprise that he's got more tricks up his sleeve than those. Check out other examples of his "playable art," this time made with a laser cutter:
That's the Helicone, which is now carried by the MoMA Store and the Guggenheim.
Maybe one day, someone will make a spiral staircase that unfurls on-site like Edmark's Nautilus Column:
We all know that your average, workaday industrial designer's work often goes unsung. The same could be said of the guys who design UI for videogames. And when those games are designed with an efficient UI, literally millions of players work through those games in smooth immersion, never considering the pains a designer took to make it so.
Dino Ignacio is one such designer. He's the lead for UI Design over at Visceral Games, and a Kill Screen article called "How Dead Space 3 Pulled from Dieter Rams and Instagram" highlights what Ignacio does, like ensuring that game interfaces are designed properly for the hardware they're running on:
"The problem is that most games design thinking they'll have dropdown menus," he says. It reflects a fundamental disconnect between what game designers want and what the players need. Designers suddenly realize the freedom of motion on the PC isn't available on game consoles. "A lot of UI is designed with the mouse in mind. It never translates."
These types of decisions unwittingly doom many games before they've even started. It's Ignacio's job to make sure that doesn't happen. As the user interface design lead for the survival horror game Dead Space 3, he's tasked with designing all the elements that a player might need to navigate and manipulate this virtual world. His fingerprints are all over what you see on screen. To be more specific, it's what you don't see.
In the video below, Ignacio walks you through the weapons crafting interface he designed for the Dead Space series, and shows you how it evolved through the games. (Warning: Potentially NSFW, contains gory action footage.)
Posted by Hand-Eye Supply
| 23 Jan 2015
New American-made Hand-Eye Brand aprons are here! We've been using and curating work aprons long enough to know what really works (and what really looks great), and this new mini collection features our favorite designs and fabrics.
Whether you're in the workshop all day or just lucky Saturdays, and whether your messes are made of paint, metal, ink or flour, these do their job so you can focus on yours. Our thicker fabric keeps you better protected, and the cut comfortably fits a wide range of sizes and uses. They're double stitched for durability, reinforced at all stress points, and ethically produced in small batches in Los Angeles.
To test them out we visited the coffee techs at Portland's Barista cafe. While the guys went through the meticulous rigors of a cupping, we got to watch our new favorite aprons in action. Check out the photo essay and the fly new American-Made Hand-Eye Aprons!
Posted by Sam Dunne
| 23 Jan 2015
If you haven't seen it already, BeMyEyes is a wonderfully promising and impeccably presented app allowing fully sighted individuals to 'lend their eyes' to someone with a visual impairment to help them through their day. As the slick promo video above introduces beautifully, the app connects those in need of some eyes (a blind person needing to read a sign or label for example) with a community of people willing to help—who can use the blind person's smartphone camera to help with the needed task. I can hear the 'CEO's pitch already—'Like Uber for eyes!'.
As if that wasn't enough triumph for the overcoming of sensory impairment, researchers at Colorado State University have been in the headlines this week with news of a new device that could help the auditory impaired by allowing them to listen with their tongues—thus avoiding expensive and invasive cochlear implants.
To be clear, the device won't magically transform the tongue into a hearing organ, instead it transforms sounds waves into electrical stimulation applied to the tongue (apparently with a sensation similar to sampling sparkling wine). In time, the sensation can be interpreted by the brain—a bit like braille in your mouth.
These developments are of course very exciting (we're wondering what implications these ideas could have for the impaired and unimpaired alike) but if you've been listening to This American Life's podcast recently you might already be questioning if these developments are as beneficial as they seem.
Posted by Coroflot
| 23 Jan 2015
Winter Walking is North America's leading manufacturer of industrial ice cleats and winter traction gear. They've been helping the world's largest organizations to reduce their employee slips and falls for over 40 years. These cleats are built to be industrial strength because they are used in industrial settings. How would you like to make walking on icy surfaces much safer through your designs?
With your 5-7 years of Footwear Design experience (with an emphasis on industrial footwear and work boots) you'll be a great fit for this role. You will be responsible for helping Winter Walking perpetually improve and evolve their line with a constant eye on the market demands, so knowledge and experience with industrial footwear is key. Don't let this opportunity slip by. Apply Now.
This past weekend I was at a martial arts training session. With twenty of us in the room, we rotated through partners for the hand drills. One woman neglected to take her wedding ring off, and left me this little gift on my forearm:
Sure, it's just a tiny scratch, but it could've been a lot worse if we were going faster or harder.
I get that people don't want to remove rings that are difficult to take off, but it's kind of inconsiderate. And it's not just martial artists that need to regularly remove rings: Gym goers, folks who use hand tools, tradespeople whose fingers might get snagged are all better off with the jewelry off.
Someone who recognizes this, and is doing something about it, is designer Jeff McWhinney. An athlete, bicycle component designer and former Senior Research Machinist for 3M, McWhinney has turned to designing easily-removable "active wedding rings."
Each design features unique, hinged opening mechanisms. This avoids the need for buying an over-sized band to gain knuckle clearance and can be a vital performance and safety feature in many professions or sports—places where all jewelry must be removed prior to activity. It also allows easy removal for washing hands, showering or even sleeping. These special features contribute to functional, modern art pieces that you will enjoy wearing daily.
Posted by Anki Delfmann
| 22 Jan 2015
Klanglichter by Onat Hekimogulu and Tobias Kreter
Our first stop during Cologne's design week is Passagen, a collection of 190 exhibitions scattered throughout the north part of the city. Off the beaten path for people who are more used to strolling through more established hubs and brands, the chilly walk lead us to some unusual venues and reused spaces. Our favorite exhibition was held in an empty, glass-fronted shop space in the brutalist concrete underground station of Ebertplatz. LABOR: Design n+1 by Köln International School of Design showed some experimental objects and lighting, exploring the boundaries of art, design and research.
Klanglichter, above, is a laser harp that combines gamification and music-making. The Arduino-based audiovisual interactive installation was designed by Onat Hekimogulu and Tobias Kreter. Fueled by the will to hit targets on a projection on the wall, visitors play the laser harp to create new compositions.
Binary Talk by Niklas Isselburg and Jakob Kilian transforms the ASCII data of a word into binary code, which is then translated into a smoke signal sent off through the air by a subwoofer. We loved this experimental approach to uncover hidden processes of modern communication. The project combines advanced technology and one of the oldest forms of long distance transmission, the smoke signal. Light sensors in the recipient module detect the binary smoke puffs, which are translated back into ASCII code on a second computer. Mistakes in interpretation caused by a breeze in the room remind us of the telephone game, and the accuracy we have come to expect in modern means of communication.
Posted by Jeri Dansky
| 22 Jan 2015
Professional organizers are always looking for good places to stash the stuff our clients need, so furniture that comes with storage always catches my attention. Prior posts have discussed beds and coffee tables with storage; now let's look at stools.
The bucket stools from Pedersen+Lennard are made from recycled steel buckets. Since these are galvanized, powder coated buckets, they're going to be quite durable. The stools provide a nice amount of storage—but they wouldn't work well for small items, which would tend to get lost at the bottom.
Users who do want to store smaller items would appreciate a design like Matt Blatt's Orbit storage stool. Since this is wood, it's not going to be as forgiving as the bucket stool if someone carelessly puts something wet or sticky inside—so it wouldn't be practical for users with small children.
The XTOOL from Combo Colab, first offered via Kickstarter, would be good for users who like their items to be at least somewhat visible. This is another durable product, designed to be used indoors or outdoors. Because the stools don't have a cushion top, they can be stacked when not in use. (But the lack of a cushion may also make them less comfortable.)