While I understand the appeal of the golden ratio as a rational approach to aesthetics most people would probably agree that it's impossible to reduce beauty to a series of numeric relationships. Yet the myth persists, and it should come as no surprise that these putatively ideal proportions might hypothetically inform graphic design as well—after all, the very premise of digital software is to allow us to create vector images with mathematically unerring accuracy.
And of all the countless logos that we see on a daily basis, Apple's ideogrammatic fruit is a leading candidate for a hypothetically golden (or hypothetically rational, as it were) logomark. Fed up with the conjecture, Quora's David Cole recently decided to investigate.
We won't ruin it for you, but it's a fascinating read. (Pseudo-spoiler alert, Cole ultimately cites Helvetica as a veritable gold standard of visual "...real visual rhythm is hurt by precision. This fact is where we get the saying in design: if it looks right, it is right."
You've heard the expression that [American] football is a game of inches. So, increasingly, is living in Manhattan.
This video of Luke Clark Tyler's apartment (captured by Kirsten Dirksen's Fair Companies) has racked up nearly two million hits, and for good reason: Tyler downsized from his previous 96-square-foot palace to shoehorn his life into a 78-square-foot studio. But what really makes this video distinct from other "tiny living" vids we've seen, and what should be of interest to the Core77 reader, is that Tyler is a trained architect who can design, build and install his own things, like his sideways Murphy Bed.
Also observe the little details, like how he's using eyehooks as toothbrush- and razor-holders and how the bottle-stays on his shelves are just wooden dowels held in place by two carefully-placed sheetrock screws on either side.
This is giving us a potentially cruel idea for design education—but before we get to that, watch the vid:
Design agency smallpond looked to go big time for the inaugural NYCxDesign festival, entering the fray with the support of London's Designjunction. The new INTRO NY show was modest in the best way possible, a showcase of smaller, mostly non-NYC design brands in a well-lit, street-level space in the heart of Little Italy (there was audible din from a parade two blocks over when I visited on Saturday morning).
If on-site retail—a curated neo-utility pop-up shop—and refreshments seem to be par for the course at design shows these days, the backyard pop-up cafe was a nice touch (though I imagine it was rained out on Sunday).
In addition to furnishing the patio, San Francisco's Council made a strong showing with products new and old. They've brought a handful of young designers into the fold since the brand debuted at ICFF in 2007, including Chad Wright, who was happy to discuss the "Twig" chair that he designed for the brand.
The IIT Institute of Design held its annual Strategy Conference last week in downtown Chicago, a two-day event full of inspiring and interesting talks about using design thinking and innovation to solve complex issues. Socially conscious innovation was a common topic this year, from improving agricultural techniques in Africa to enabling University of Chicago students and professionals to collaboratively tackle major problems in healthcare, as well as revitalizing abandoned lands in Detroit with a community development and agriculture program.
Check out the sketchnotes below summarizing the ideas behind this year's event. You'll find synopses on speakers like Carl Bass with Autodesk, Catherine Casserly of Creative Commons, Stepan Pachikov, founder of Evernote, Bruce Nussbaum and Barry Schwartz from Swarthmore College, among others.
Click to view full-size images.
Carl Bass, President and CEO, Autodesk
Mark Tebbe, Operating Executive, Lake Capital / Stepan Pachikov, Founder, Evernote
Amory Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute / Kim Erwin, Assistant Professor, IIT Institute of Design
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Now in its fourth year, Noho Design District has taken on a few different permutations over the years, encompassing various pop-up exhibitions from a tiny Japanese butcher shop to a four-story lumber company headquarters (which happen to be on the same block, no less), reflecting both the changes within the neighborhood and the landscape of American design as a whole. Once again, our friends Jill Singer and Monica Khemsurov of Sight Unseen have masterminded a neighborhood-wide celebration of young and emerging designers. In addition to partnering with several co-conspirators such as Future Perfect and American Design Club, they've also curated the flagship Noho Next group exhibition, featuring 13 handpicked studios that comprise a showcase of design talent.
The exhibition took place over the weekend at Subculture, the event space in the basement of the 45 Bleecker Street Theater, which hosted Tom Dixon's London Underground exhibition last year. (I don't know if I'm dating myself with the reference, but I remember going to the Crosby Connection sandwich shop when they occupied the cafe a few years back...). Although it happens to be closing as I write this, hopefully our documentation can serve as future reference.
Fabrican is a sprayable fabric that actually contains fibers, and after curing it can be washed and re-worn. It first created an internet stir in 2006, but for reasons only the internet gods know, Fabrican is now resurfacing on social media and often being mistakenly presented as new.
Don't get us wrong, Fabrican is amazing. But it is not new, and serves as a reminder of just how long it can take to bring a good idea to market, and how dogged inventors need to be. Manel Torres first conceived of Fabrican way back in 1995, when he was an RCA student studying fashion design, after watching a friend get sprayed with Silly String. Torres began to collaborate with chemical engineers, and by 2000 he'd filed a patent and set up R&D facilities at Imperial College London.
Three years later Torres formed Fabrican Ltd., and another three years went by before the blogosphere picked up on the stuff. Here in 2013, seven years later, there are still no announcements for commercialization; the "News" section of Fabrican's website saw its last update in 2010.
Has Torres given up? Doesn't look like it, as he's delivered several Fabrican-based TED Talks as recently as last year. We can only speculate as to what's preventing the appearance of Fabrican on store shelves, which is what we'd really like to see; while Torres is proposing industrial solutions targeted at the medical, automotive and fashion design industries, we think selling the stuff in cans and letting you guys figure out what to do with it would be a good way to go.
Hit the jump for some videos (one NSFW, if you work in Puritan America) showing the stuff in action.
As we saw with NEMO Equipment's gear, clever design can enable air to play a significant structural role with camping gear. In NEMO's case, that air is provided by a pump.
Portland-based inventor Ryan Frayne is also experimenting with air, but he's zeroed in on a particular element of the user experience: How to get the air into the product. To that end, Frayne has focused on designing a special valve, and the results are pretty impressive. Frayne's Windcatcher design amplifies your exhalation, using physics I don't understand to multiply your air volume by a factor of 10 or 15—with the added benefit that you don't even have to put your mouth on the thing. Observe:
Although this year marks their first ICFF, PELLE Designs actually dates back to 2008 or so, when co-founder Jean Pelle developed the first Bubble Chandelier. She met her future business partner (and husband) Oliver about ten years ago at the Yale School of Architecture, and each went on to work for major firms before setting out on their own.
The "Quadrat" series of tables takes its name from the German word for "square"; Oliver left his native Germany to study architecture in the States
Thus, their debut collection consists of iterations on the designs: the Bubble Chandelier is now UL listed, and they've just introduced a long version (not pictured) for a total of nine different shapes and sizes (they've also taken an interesting step in making all of the items available to order through an online store).
Jean noted that they make and hand-carve the Soap Stones in their Red Hook studio
It's been over a year since Ford has incorporated foot-activated tailgates into their cars, and we're hoping by now some of you have direct experience with them. (The bulk of Core77 editorial staff is a bike-riding, subway-catching, sneaker-treading lot.) Ford designers' simple observation that many people approach their trunk with both hands full, and their incorporation of a feature that pops the trunk open by waving your foot under the bumper, is a welcome one. But for those of you actually living with one of these cars, how is it in practice?
For those of you who've not yet heard of this, the way it works is a sensor on the car detects when someone with the key fob on their person is in proximity. It then enables a laser sensor under the rear bumper to read when a foot breaks the beam, and that opens or closes the trunk. Observe:
But if we look at this less-slickly edited video...