This here is your standard NYPD barricade. They link together by having hooks on one end and loops on the other. The police use these to block areas off for parades and street festivals. Sometimes when they come to pick them all up, they leave one or two behind, so
NYC's MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) has been making noise about the new R211 subway cars they're acquiring, which are supposed to have a bunch of design upgrades. To get public feedback, they've built two full-sized mockups and put them on display at the 34th Street / Hudson Yards station. So
Designers Lisa Siedlecki and Jennifer Silbert worked in fashion and architecture, respectively, two industries where they saw their share of wasted materials. Three years ago they'd had enough and quit, teaming up to produce something useful and ecologically responsible. "We started Rewilder to combat the fast fashion craze with meticulous
The storefront for this appointment-only, high-end jewelry store in SoHo has a shabby appearance. The black paint probably looked chic for the first week after it was applied. But now it is chipped and peeling, and we see that black is a poor choice because it readily shows dust. The
Manhattan's Chinatown is filled with shops, and many of them have outdoor displays. During the day you can't see the actual display unit, just the goods covering them. But early in the morning the displays are visible. They are functional, and only that. Visually they are horrific-looking. I call it
Above is a Google Street View image of the Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral, located in what is now hip NoLita. I pass this building often, and a point of interest for me is this massive iron door that leads into the church grounds. You might be wondering why
This simple steel wire-mesh trash basket is a staple of many an NYC neighborhood. In recent years I've noticed that various neighborhoods' B.I.D.s (Business Improvement District committees) have been lining them with trash bags, as seen here. I presume this is an effort to make emptying the can a
It's a shame that everyone from name-brand architects to homeowners to neighborhood beautification organizations often miss this important fact: Wood, if not properly maintained, is actually a very poor materials choice for outdoor products and facades. It has to have a protective coating that must regularly be re-applied. And
This building on Kenmare Street may not look special from the front. But look at the left edge of it. The building is incredibly narrow, tapering almost to a point. In Google Maps you can see it's just a thin slice of a building. The incredibly narrow footprint is fine
If you throw a sofa away in New York City, it will often linger on the curb for days. For three mornings in a row, I passed this spot on Elizabeth Street where a homeless guy had scored a discarded sofa and sofa end. The weather is getting colder now,
Spotted on SoHo's once-glitzy West Broadway, which is now clearly in decline: Someone wanted a bench, but damn sure didn't want to pay for a bench. All materials were, I assume, looted from a nearby construction site.
Looks like someone's gonna have a crappy Thanksgiving: The makeshift Baxter Street Lounge I've been writing about… The lounge, in happier days…has been shut down! Passed it this morning to see this: All gone.So much for the holiday spirit. I though the "disposed of as garbage" part was a bit
While they clearly did not hire a graphic designer to lay out the type, this sign cost the city money to design, produce, distribute and install. The entire point of these two symbols… …is that they don't require an explanation and can be understood by those who cannot read
The makeshift sidewalk lounge I wrote about earlier, sited on Baxter Street, is apparently experiencing growth in its numbers of patrons. The unseen people who populate this lounge--I've yet to catch them in the act, as I only pass this way in the morning--have amassed more furniture, including two rolling
Situated at an intersection of two streets that each have a slight grade, this restaurant has angled sidewalks on both its south and east faces. The restaurant owner had custom benches made to compensate for the grades on each side. But every morning when they open, the guy who pulls
Spotted in Chinatown, placed out on the curb as garbage. Some chef or butcher definitely got his or her money's worth out of this butcher block.
Sustainable Surf is a California-based nonprofit that seeks to use surf culture to get people interested in environmental issues concerning our oceans. When they recently teamed up with Mafia Bags, an upcycling bag manufacturing company, to create a useful backpack, they found the perfect designer for it: Yves Behar.
The reliability of New York City's overtaxed, delay-ridden subway system has declined precipitously in recent years. Individual tales of woe abound on social media; after a recent three-hour delay, this student even missed his own graduation. One of the worst commutes is the morning crush from overcrowded Williamsburg to
A fishing town in Ísafjörður, Iceland is experimenting with a way to get drivers to pay attention to the road. What they've come up with is this optical illusion: Artist Jenny McCracken did something similar in New Zealand: As did the New Delhi Municipal Council in India:
One of the best parts of camping is sitting around a fire with your friends--unless you're in that position where the wind is blowing the smoke directly in your face. BioLite has solved this with their FirePit, an intelligently-designed sort of floating hearth that uses 51 air jets to
Maybe you buy a backpack for your new camping hobby, then discover you hate camping. Or there's a two-year-old jacket in your closet that you hardly ever wear because it looked better on you in the store. Maybe you received a better bike light as a birthday gift, and now
Modernist Studio focuses on strategy and design work for big brands. In working with these companies, we've seen a theme around "owning the consumer." Each company is fighting to become front and center in people's lives, with a particular focus on the home. Big companies speak about locking in customers
For anyone who has experienced it firsthand, a visit to the gynecologist can easily be a dreaded one. Some purport the experience to be so awkward, they skip the opportunity to visit a doctor entirely, which can be seriously detrimental to a woman's overall health. Last week designers at frog
In this tutorial, I'll show you how to make a variety of useful zippered gear bags that are incredibly tough, lightweight and waterproof. This tutorial is intended for someone like me: familiar with rapid prototyping tools like 3d printers and laser cutters, reasonably competent with hand tools, but pretty clueless
Rapid prototyping is a core human-centered design skill. Design that Matters uses prototypes to better communicate with stakeholders across languages and cultures, quickly testing assumptions to efficiently converge on a final solution. This essay includes six examples of insights we gained using prototypes and how we taught these methods to our social enterprise partner, MTTS.
On Wednesday, Earther.com ran an article pointing out that with its power grid mostly destroyed, Puerto Rico has "an opportunity to completely transform the way electricity is generated [locally]." It described a local woman who had solar panels on her roof, granting her with electricity, unlike most of her neighbors
As designers, we naturally think of what systems could be devised to prevent tragedies like the mass shooting in Vegas. Realistically it would require a cocktail of procedures well beyond the scope of mere design, but let's go through some ideas here, some supplied by readers, as a mental exercise.
Google just announced their new Google Pixel Buds, which are way more exciting than they appear. About halfway through Google's product presentation, it was revealed that the buds are live-translating, meaning they allow seamless face-to-face communication between people that speak different languages. The presentation is the only demonstration out at
Humans will always invent mechanical contrivances that help them solve particular problems. By shaping materials and assembling parts in novel ways, these contrivances increased efficiency, whether they're eggbeaters, deli slicers or something more nefarious. Here we're going to look at the bump stock, which Stephen Paddock used to murder 58
As authorities search to find a motive behind Sunday's horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, others are re-examining security measures. The police now state that 23 firearms were found in Stephen Paddock's suite, and it seems incredible that he was able to transport that amount of guns and hundreds of
There are things that we design to keep us safe from those who would do us harm: Pylons and cordons, bulletproof vests, security checkpoints, facial recognition software, personal firearms, criminal databases. But the tactics used by last night's mass killer in Las Vegas defied all of them. At 10:08pm
Engineer Nigel Gifford, who has completed over 1,000 parachute jumps, had a job you've probably never heard of: As a Captain in the British Army Catering Corps, his job was to feed soldiers in hostile environments. Given his specialty, after retirement he was approached by the British military and asked
Delivering crucial supplies to people on the ground is a logistics problem faced by both military and humanitarian organizations. One way to do it is via air drops, and we showed you some awesome footage of that here. But "The biggest problem we have with dropping relief supplies is, they
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