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Carly Ayres

The Core77 Design Blog

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Posted by Carly Ayres  |  19 Dec 2014  |  Comments (1)

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When Micah Baclig embarked on his senior degree project at the Rhode Island School of Design last year, he wanted to create an object that spoke to the ideals of our modern society. "We are a more globalized community with almost instant access to unprecedented amounts of information," Baclig says. "We are constantly striving to do more, learn more and experience more of this life around us." So he created...a spork.

Specifically, Baclig created a compact aluminum spork that he has dubbed Kuma, and which he is now funding on Kickstarter in an effort to do a production run for next year. (As of press time, he had raised more than 80 percent of his $18,000 goal.) But wait—why exactly does today's globalized, information-soaked society need a reusable aluminum spork?

Kuma is the result of Baclig's insatiable curiosity and fascination with eating utensils—their history, how they work and what cultures created them. "From forks to chopsticks to even our own hands, what we eat with says something about who we are and where we came from," Baclig says. "Growing up in Hawaii with multi-ethnic parents, I constantly experienced this dynamic between food, utensils and culture. I fondly remember the times at the dinner table when my father, a first-generation immigrant from the Philippines, would put down his utensils to eat a meal he particularly enjoyed with his hands."

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For his degree project, Baclig focused his interest on eating tools that were both multifunctional and portable, which immediately brings to mind the spork. "In trying to be both a fork and spoon the spork is neither, which for some reason fascinates me," he says. "I also appreciate the spork's subtext of trying to achieve an ideal functionality."

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Posted by Carly Ayres  |  12 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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For centuries, scientists, thinkers, makers and—of course—designers have looked up to the sky and stars for inspiration. From satellite imagery on silk scarves to the movie Interstellar, some great stuff has come from celestial-oriented thinking. One of the latest examples is a set of tableware by Chi and Chi that takes its cue from astronomical objects and other cosmic phenomena.

Founded last year, Chi and Chi is a product design studio based in Taiwan, run by brothers Stephen and Leo Chiu. The duo were approached by a close friend, Sappho Wong, who wanted to develop a set of tableware for her brand Saniyo. Wong offered to provide her expertise in OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturing) consulting and her connections in the ceramic industry, while giving the Chiu brothers free rein over the ideation and creative process.

The designers started off by thinking about the concept of "gathering"—a natural point of entry for tableware "We think that it is very interesting how people meet and get to know each other and become friends; it is something very natural and we never know if there is a law or pattern behind it," Stephen Chiu says. "We think it is similar to the universe—everything is in order, and when all the things join together, it brings harmony and diversity. It is exactly like the relationship between humans."

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Posted by Carly Ayres  |   5 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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When choosing materials for a side table, squishy and compressible polyether foam might not be at the top of your list. The porous material is fantastic for packaging fragile goods and for use as a tolerable mattress pad, but as a side table meant to support other objects—particularly a slab of marble? Not so much. Yet it's exactly those features that led Dutch designer Pieteke Korte to use the material for a series of side tables appropriately dubbed Stone & Foam.

A recent graduate of the Man and Identity program at Design Academy Eindhoven, Korte developed the Stone & Foam series during one of her studio courses. The brief, titled "Carry," tasked students with capturing the expression of weight in a design. Korte had focused on textiles, materials and art direction during her time at school, so she naturally began with material research and experimentation, playing with structure, weights and color. She didn't get very far into testing foam samples before stumbling upon the magical pairing of stone and foam, quickly moving to scale models and full-scale prototypes. "The foam and the stone create a really nice dialectic—soft and hard, light and heavy, cheap and upscale," Korte says. "It just made sense. I know it sounds like the idea was there from the beginning, but it took a while to get there."

Full-scale prototypes were where Korte ran into the most trouble. "There were plenty of failures after moving to full scale—split blocks of foam, wasted resins and urethane," she says. "There isn't a lot of information out there on the particular properties of foam." At full scale, Korte found that the foam was put under more stress, changing its degree of flexibility compared to her smaller mockups. This was particularly problematic with her folded table, which required that Korte find a more ductile foam for the full-scale version. The designer also explored working with resin and urethane as a way of sealing the foam and securing its shape, but was disappointed with the results. "It yellowed, it couldn't be used to create the kind of membranes I wanted," she says. "It was a week of experimentation that I quickly learned wasn't worth continuing."

PietekeKorte-StoneFoam-4.jpgFoam and marble, plus trial and error

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Posted by Carly Ayres  |  21 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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When Poltrona Frau turned one hundred in 2012, the Italian furniture maker decided it was time to rethink its classic armchair, which had been around since the very beginning. An overstuffed wing chair with a built-in ashtray for the gentleman who likes to smoke at home—clearly it was time for a revamp. So the CEO reached out to 12 designers to take part in a competition for the "centenary armchair"—one that not only brought new life to Poltrona Frau's classic, but that also predicted the future of the armchair in the home.

The winning design was by Satyendra Pakhalé, an Amsterdam-based industrial designer originally from India (who answered our Core77 Questionnaire last spring). Pakahalé envisions a future where work and life intersect more than ever. "The concept was inspired from contemporary life in an increasingly connected world where the boundaries between the domestic space and the workplace are further blurred," Pakhalé says. "The resulting collection is a synthesis between the contemporary and the traditional; between the needs of an evolving society and the excellence of Poltrona Frau's craftsmanship in processing leather and hide."

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In addition to the new armchair, the Assaya collection includes a table, a lap tray and a pouf. The idea, Pakhalé says, is for the armchair to provide "a flexible way of living and working, where one could use it as a writing desk and also as a place to relax." The lap tray is provided for the use of digital devices, while the pouf and side table can be used in formal or informal settings for work and leisure.

The project began with a trip taken by Pakhalé to the Poltrona Frau factory in Tolentino, Italy. "I was curious, keen to grasp, assess and evaluate in my own manner the legendary heritage of Poltrona Frau," Pakhalé says. The designer drew upon the company's extensive leather production facilities and craftsmen in the design of Assaya, which is constructed in hide and leather all sourced from Italian and Swedish tanning factories owned by Poltrona Frau.

SatyendraPakhale-AssayaChair-3.jpgPoltrona Frau's original armchair, with its built-in ashtray

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Posted by Carly Ayres  |  14 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Winter is coming. Between blustery winds and slushy streets, sometimes it can be a challenge to decide whether you need an umbrella, an overcoat, a trash bag or all of the above. Enter the Häring Poncho, a lightweight, multifunctional solution from The Arrivals, a New York City-based clothing company focused specifically on American-made outerwear.

The Arrivals' creative team is made up of architects, designers and engineers, championed by creative director Jeff Johnson, who originally hails from San Diego, but spent time living in the Netherlands. "Living in Amsterdam, the weather is unpredictable, likely resulting in a soaking wet afternoon," Johnson says. "I wanted to design something light, packable and functional." Taking its name from the German architect Hugo Häring, known for his obsession with place and condition, the Häring Poncho is a "wearable, waterproof shelter" constructed of weatherproof poly-spandex and rubberized twill.

"Our fabrics for all of our garments are chosen for their performance properties," Johnson says. In the case of the Häring Poncho, that means an Italian twill undergoes a rubberizing process where an impermeable layer of matte rubberized film is laminated onto a portion of the material. This creates a double-face effect to the fabric, resulting in a water-resistant and windproof coating. For the body of the poncho, the designers fused a breathable yet water-repellent Korean Din-Tex micro-knit mesh to the rest of the shell.

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