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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  12 Sep 2014  |  Comments (2)

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Ants like to move things, presumably to carry them back to their nests. Which doesn't make much sense when ant hill entrances are tiny and you see them hauling back things like this relatively huge Dorito chip:

But who knows, maybe it's just about the accomplishment of dragging it back to the nest. And maybe they build dioramas and put the objects on display. Because there's also footage of these herpetology-minded ants transporting a lizard skull (and a second crew bringing back the spine):

So far nothing special, these guys move items the same way you, me and a few buddies would move a couch, by getting individual bodies around it. But someone in Southeast Asia recently posted this video, where a species of Leptogenys ants have apparently learned to form a daisy chain in order to haul this big-ass millipede:

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  12 Sep 2014  |  Comments (7)

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What we have here is a sleek and squint-worthy concept project. Award-winning Artist-slash-Industrial Designer Philippe Starck recently partnered with the bike company Moustache to design a series of electric bikes. Not content to stop after attaching fur to a battery-powered snow bike, Starck struck out to reimagine the humble helmet too. Teaming up with bike accessory giant Giro, who have been in the game for a few decades, the result is the elegantly named "The Giro by S+ARCKBIKE Helmet Concept." It's an intentionally layered, architectural-feeling take on one of the least sexy parts of riding a bike.

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The helmet was designed with the positive social and environmental impacts of cycling in mind. Its features include a thin aluminum outer skin, a cork body, aluminum and leather harness system. The materials chosen reflect Starck's interest in both "new ergonomics" and renewable resources. They tout the unusual use of "sophisticated, unconventional" cork as a good choice for its anti-microbial and water-resistant properties (properties not shared by the leather components), and the fact that it's a green resource. (For a peek into the [relatively] green production of cork check out our photo gallery or this video on Portuguese production.) Also, cork theoretically has good "impact energy management"—y'know, the entire point of wearing a helmet.

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Posted by Carly Ayres  |  12 Sep 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Last February, Kai Lin was watching YouTube videos of mountain goats jumping up a vertical mountain side when he was struck with an idea. Lin, now a senior at Pratt Institute, was enrolled in a prosthetic-design class at the time, and he wondered if the same anatomy that allowed the goats to so swiftly and accurately scale the vertical surface could be applied to humans.

This was the beginning of KLIPPA—the name is Swedish for "cliff"—a prosthetic leg designed specifically for amputee rock climbers. With the seedling of the idea in mind, Lin dug deeper into the anatomy of mountain goats, learning that their hooves have small cupped surfaces that create suction, coupled with a hard outer shell that allows the goats to stabilize their bodies on even the steepest surfaces. Looking for design opportunities, the student stumbled upon the documentary High Ground, which tells the story of 11 veterans who heal mental and emotional trauma during a 20,000-foot Himalayan ascent. Lin also discovered that rock climbing was the first choice of physically demanding sports for veteran amputees looking to maintain an active lifestyle after returning from Afghanistan or Iraq. "I realized from the demographic of amputee patients that quite a few of them are wounded soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, and many of them suffer from physical and psychological trauma," Lin says. "That just gave me more reason to design something meaningful—not only for day-to-day patients but for someone who might use my rock-climbing prosthetic legs to help with their recovery process."

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Further research took the product design student to Brooklyn Boulders, a local climbing gym, where he interviewed experienced climbers about their technique, ankle articulation and muscle use. Lin took to the wall to give it a shot himself, attaching blue foam stilts to his feet to understand what it was like to climb without sensory feedback. Creating a series of blue foam stilts varying in surface size, Lin tested the ideal size for a prosthetic. "What I found was that when a [foot] surface is too big, it blocks you from seeing what is underneath and it becomes hard to step," Lin explains. "But when the contact surface is too small, you lose your balance." He created three main sizes of stilts in proportion to a human foot—full, half and quarter—discovering that the ideal solution was somewhere between a half-size and quarter-size foot, which limited the contact surface while still maintaing balance.

Lin synthesized this knowledge in a series of (really awesome) sketches, working to incorporate his research along with other identified problems amputee climbers face like strength loss, passive articulation, and a lack of sensory feedback and grip. The first iteration of sketches for KLIPPA was a direct biomimetic approach pulling inspiration from mountain goats, while his second series echoed a more human feel. From these sketches, Lin made five prototypes from blue foam and 3D-printed features like textured heels, hoof-like feet and rubber shoe encasings. His final design took the best pieces from each of these prototypes, resulting in a progression of human to goat anatomy moving down to the foot.

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Posted by erika rae  |  12 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

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We're pretty big on process here at Core77—where other publications usually stick to pristine product shots, we like to show what goes on behind the scenes, not least because
you, faithful readers, are often the ones behind those scenes. And with the advent of inexpensive digital photography and videography tools—namely smartphones—it's easier than ever to document your process. Case in point, architect-turned-master-woodworker Frank Howarth demonstrates both his woodshop chops and his cinematography skills in his stop-motion videos.

The Portland, OR-based craftsman has been posting making-of videos YouTube channel for years, and they go beyond a superficial treatment to actually illustrate each step of the process—some of these mini films push ten minutes (and some are even longer). Most of them include Howarth walking you through each design decision. But my favorite one takes an anthropomorphic tack. It doesn't have a voiceover or even human presence at all—rather, each element and tool becomes a character in a production of sorts. Check it out:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  12 Sep 2014  |  Comments (1)

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If you've ever passed a park in Chinatown and seen the older folks playing Mahjong, you've undoubtedly seen them manually "shuffle" the tiles between games before rearranging them into fresh rows. This is how they've done it for thousands of years, but in the past few decades, Mahjong tile shuffling and dealing has received a rather awesome upgrade:

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  12 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Strolling through any of London's more creative districts today, you're almost certain to see preparations in full swing as the eyes of the design world turn to the city over the next eight days. Now in its 12th year, the London Design Festival is set to kick off this weekend.

The branding for this year's event prompts revellers to 'Lose Yourself in Design'—perhaps a little less ridiculous than it sounds considering that this year sees some 300+ events (not including the parties), spread wider than ever before across the metropolis. Six areas across the city center have been given official 'design district' status this year, with the usual suspects Brompton Design District (with the V&A and its environs), Clerkenwell Design Quarter (design furniture showrooms abound), Chelsea Design Quarter (the crazy posh stuff) and Shoreditch Design Triangle (the edgier destination in the East) joined by two new comers—Islington Design District (North Central-ish) and Queen's Park Design District (West-ish)—set to join the fray.

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As in past years, a number of 'Landmark Projects' headline proceedings with installations and interventions on a grand scale. Whilst true to form, this year's centrepieces sees the involvement of some big brands. In an expected move, AirBnb appear to be a major sponsor of this year's festival and will be taking over the famous Trafalgar Square in the heart of the city with an installation entitled 'A Place Called Home,' an arrangement of miniature homes each with interiors design by acclaimed designers. BMW will also get in on the act, taking over the enormous Raphael Gallery space at the V&A museum with a collaboration with industrial design darlings Barber Osgerby, involving a kinetic sculpture of giant mirrored surfaces.

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Posted by core jr  |  12 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

DSchoolFutures-SVA-1.jpgTop left: Ziyun Qi and Wan Jung Hung at a futuring workshop. Other images: The Cloud and a thesis presentation, both by Richard Clarkson

This is the latest installment of D-School Futures, our interview series on the evolution of industrial design education. Today we have answers from our own Allan Chochinov, partner of Core77 and chair of the Products of Design graduate program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

How different is industrial design education today than it was ten years ago? Will it look very different ten years from now?

I believe it's very different than it was a decade ago, and certainly will look different again in the medium-term future. Of course, much of this change is precipitated by tools and technology (digital manufacturing, physical computing, crowdfunding/sourcing platforms, etc.), but there have also been sea changes in the way we think about design and its offerings—the shift from product to service, systems thinking, design thinking, sharing ecologies, economies of abundance, interdisciplinarity—to name a handful.

But perhaps the biggest impact on design education will stem from one of the most important high-water marks right now: Design can finally be understood and engaged in as a more social, collaborative and transparent enterprise...hopefully with a discourse to match. So we need design programs whose pedagogy (both technical and philosophical) can respond to all these changes nimbly and quickly, and which understand design to be a fundamentally participatory enterprise poised to fortify for a time when the world desperately needs it most. (Of course, you could effectively argue that design has created most of the problems we're currently facing!) On the supply side, I think there will be many, many options for design education—from deep, prolonged investigations through undergraduate and graduate programs to less formal, a-la-carte classes, hackathon-inspired intensives and online learning. Design is unquestionably enjoying its moment right now, and we are thrilled to be a part of it.

DSchoolFutures-SVA-2.jpgClockwise from bottom left: Allan Chochinov; Presence by Kathryn McElroy; Shine by Cassandra Michel (worn by Charlotta Hellichius)

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Posted by Shaun Fynn  |  12 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

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"These great towns, temples and buildings rising from the water, all made of stone, seemed like an enchanted vision from the tale of Amadis. Indeed, some of our soldiers asked whether it was not all a dream. It was all so wonderful that I do not know how to describe this first glimpse of things never heard of, seen or dreamed of before.""

–Spanish conquistador Bernal Díaz del Castillo, circa 1519 on first sighting of Tenochtitlan
(Original translation by J.M Cohen from the Conquest of New Spain)

Mexico City, formerly known as Tenochtitlan, is the fifth chapter in StudioFYNN's Brave New Modernism series. The ideas of progress and evolution are fundamental concepts behind modernity. The pursuit of growth, technological development and knowledge are seen as prerequisites for economic development and in turn influence how we build today's cities. However, progress may have many interpretations and there are no guarantees that all ideas of progress manifest in sustainable and enduring plans.

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Founded in 1325AD, Tenochtitlan was the ancient capital of the Aztecs and prospered as one of Mesoamerica's greatest cities until its siege, conquest and destruction by the Conquistadores from 1519–1521AD. The ancient Aztec city incorporated complex ideas of cosmology, mythology and religion entirely alien to the Westerners, which were almost completely eliminated as a new city was built in accordance with European ideals and concepts of civilization. With a population at the time of conquest exceeding 200,000 (among the world's largest cities at the time), it appears that in Tenochtitlan, the Aztec concepts of civic function were masterfully integrated with the higher beliefs of their civilization. From the urban plan to the iconography so powerfully represented in sculpture, murals and artworks, the centers of trade, worship, governance and habitat were woven together with the coherent thread of the deeper belief systems.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  11 Sep 2014  |  Comments (3)

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Next weekend Toyota will unveil a concept car not at an auto show, but at the World Maker Faire in New York City. The chosen venue is purposeful: To create their Urban Utility (U2) concept vehicle, Toyota's CALTY design arm conducted interviews with previous Maker Faire participants. The resultant design has yielded a car described as "a flexible, functional gadget that owners can customize according to individual, on-the-go needs."

While text descriptions of the concept are light, the renderings tell the tale. Makers apparently expressed a strong desire to haul a variety of goods, as a lot of attention has been given to how onboard storage is to be managed via a "Multipurpose Utility Bar" and "Retractable Latching System:"

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Posted by erika rae  |  11 Sep 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Whether you live in an overstimulating city center or a more bucolic setting, the countless details of the built environment often barely register as designed objects. Telephone wires are among those often-overlooked systems. And judging by these photos of a telephone from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, we've come quite a long way. The steely subject of these shots is Stockholm's Telefontornet ("Telephone Tower"), which was the main communication hub in the area from 1887–1913.

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Despite the fact that the tower is a complete eyesore, it's hard not to be impressed by the fact that the the carefully routed lines comprised an entire city's phone network. As if it wasn't already the cynosure of Norrmalm, the city thought the tower was missing something, so they held a competition for an "embellishment" that would be placed at the top of the tower. In 1890, architect Fritz Eckert came up with the winning design, bedecking the tower with turrets on its four corners, each adorned with a pennant.

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