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Carly Ayres

The Core77 Design Blog

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Posted by Carly Ayres  |  24 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Based in Tahoe City, California, Barclay Moore has been making custom furniture in his tiny one-car garage since 1986. Working in the small space, the furniture maker relied heavily on folding sawhorses for their ease of storage and light weight. One huge drawback, however, was their lack of strength and stability—over the years, Moore amassed a pile of broken plastic versions. Last summer, he finally got fed up and decided to invent a sawhorse of his own.

"So the idea came in July, when all my plastic horses lay in ruins," Moore says. "I needed a set that was bomb-proof but that still folded." With a background in engineering, Moore took out a piece of cardboard and began sketching. "The goal was to make something that will last years, fold up, be transportable, be able to stand on it, be able to modify it and use a material that is appropriate," he says. Moore chose plywood for its stiffness, durability, weather resistance, light weight and ability to be machined using tools he already had on hand.

The result is the MORHORSE, which Moore calls a "folding sawhorse on steroids." It comes in two versions: the Clydesdale—"the mother of all horses as far as strength to weight"—and the Mustang, a slimmer and lighter design. Both are CNC-cut from 4-by-8-foot sheets of 3/4-inch CDX plywood, yielding three and six sawhorses per sheet for the Clydesdale and Mustang, respectively. To test the strength of his designs, Moore loaded two Clydesdales with 3,320 pounds of lumber, and they held up without a crack. The Mustang made it to 1,720 pounds—before Moore dropped the load from eight feet to finally break them.

Moore's Kickstarter video

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Posted by Carly Ayres  |  17 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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If you have ever shipped mass quantities of products worldwide, it's likely that you've worked with a packing solutions company. Experts in cardboard, foam and other packing products, these companies work with clients to make sure your beautifully designed product reaches the hands of consumers in one piece. "It's like the walls of a house in a tornado," explains Mike Martinez, Director of Consulting Services at Ernest Packaging Solutions, based near Los Angeles. "We protect your contents from the outside elements."

But that's not all Ernest Packaging Solutions does. Last month, to kick off its Cardboard Chaos series—in which the company hopes to push its skills by inventing alternative uses for its paper products—Ernest collaborated with Signal Surfboards to create a cardboard surfboard, a far cry from its daily services.

Martinez led the endeavor, putting together a small team at Ernest with each member specializing in various packing techniques, from food handling to shipping fragile china. The crew at nearby Signal Snowboards introduced Martinez and his team to Jeff "Doc" Lausch, a legend in the world of surfboard shaping. With Lausch's help, the team decided to model its board after a standard foam surfboard, using Hexacomb, a paper-based honeycomb, as the underlying structure.

Taller and thicker than cardboard, Hexacomb's structure makes it ideal for safeguarding objects, with crushable air cells that protect on impact. In a surfboard, these pockets of air provide buoyancy. "To recreate a foam-core surfboard out of paper, we needed to maintain buoyancy through compartmentalization that will keep that air inside," Martinez says. "Foam is just a bunch of small, trapped air bubbles. We wanted to create these air pockets and knew that Hexacomb was a great medium to do it."

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Posted by Carly Ayres  |  10 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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I first stumbled upon TJ Volonis's work while attending the Fiercely Made design show last month in Brooklyn. Standing at 30 inches tall and 60 inches long, the Brooklyn-Barcelona Console Table was the centerpiece of the show, inviting attendees to admire its complex geometries—inspired by the bridges and arches of its namesake cities—and its simple use of materials. Just as the show highlighted the work of Brooklyn makers, Volonis's table is a product of his surroundings. For the artist, the city provides the inspiration and backdrop for his work, as well as the pathway to discovering the medium of copper tubing in the first place.

Volonis began working with copper tubing back in 2005, when a dumpster-diving roommate brought home an awful IKEA coffee table. "It was in pretty bad shape," Volonis says. "The legs were quite wobbly, as the supports between them had broken off.". Always curious about copper tubing, Volonis picked some up at his local Lowe's and taught himself how to manipulate and solder it to build new legs for the discarded table.

His next foray into copper tubing was for a chair he made for a benefit art auction. Entering anonymously, Volonis ended up taking home the Best Emerging Artist Award for mixed media, garnering the attention of a gallerist who asked to see the rest of his portfolio. As the chair was only the second piece he had made at the time (and the IKEA table left a bit to be desired), Volonis did as all good creative folks do—said yes and ran home to figure it out. He quickly made another four or five pieces to show the gallerist, and while the opportunity never quite panned out, Volonis began to look more seriously at his work.

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Posted by Carly Ayres  |  26 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Anyone who has had to empty out the entirety of her suitcase's contents on the floor of airport check-in knows the plight of overweight luggage. Sure, you can buy suitcase scales and other devices, but they often get misplaced and—somewhat ironically—can't account for their own weight. Enter the TUL Suitcase, which has its own built-in weighing scale.

Pisan Kulkaew came up with the idea for TUL after watching his mother struggle to weigh her suitcase following a surgery. Unable to lift heavy objects, she incurred excess baggage fees of around $100. Kulkaew, a PhD student at the University of Queensland, Australia, started thinking. "I asked myself, What do I see suitcases looking like in ten years' time?" he says. "To which I answered: Definitely something along the lines of a smart suitcase. Even the cheapest suitcases would at least have the self-weighing function."

With degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering coupled with mathematics, the Brisbane-based student is no stranger to challenging problems. Kulkaew began by brainstorming with his mother around the functionality this futuristic suitcase would have. After connecting with an electrical engineer who believed in the idea, he used the yellow pages to call up suitcase factories, meeting with owners and trying to convince them to help make TUL a reality.

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Due to limited resources, Kulkaew opted to modify an existing suitcase mold instead of designing his own from scratch. With a first prototype in hand, he cracked open his digital bathroom scale to understand its underlying electronics and mechanisms. For Kulkaew, the bathroom scale was a perfect model for TUL, as it removes its own weight from the final calculation. "I'd say that this technology is there for a long time, just that it hasn't been adapted for this application," he says.

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

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While studying abroad in Denmark during the fall of 2013, Meg Czaja toured Lego Headquarters and was disappointed with what she saw. For a class at the Kolding School of Design focused on the topic of play, the designer explored the toymaker's facilities, becoming increasingly disillusioned with the company's outlook on children in the United States. "One of the speakers, whom I believe worked in marketing, said that children in the U.S. don't know how to use Legos without instructions, which is why they are now sold in sets," Czaja says. "Rather than trying to challenge the notion, this mentality was driving their current designs—in lieu of a child's capacity to create. I found it to be incredibly troublesome."

That experience stuck with the Pratt MID candidate when she came back to the States, as she actively sought out opportunities to design for children's unrestricted, self-prompted play. The perfect opportunity came last spring in a soft-goods class taught by Rebbecah Pailes-Freedman. Given the task to design a backpack that incorporated an inherent social message, Czaja naturally gravitated to the topic of free play. The result is the PlayPack, which incorporates toys in its construction and can even become a toy itself.

Czaja kicked off the 14-week project with a comprehensive competitive analysis of existing backpacks. Making trips across New York and New Jersey, Czaja visited Target and REI stores to take photos and gather information about the bags they sold. Focusing on the bag construction, she looked at materials and the way zippers and other fasteners were handled, along with other features. "I think I examined over a hundred backpacks," she says. Czaja sketched out potential designs, honing those down to a final ten to present to her class.

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In an effort to make the experience similar to that of a client/designer relationship, the professor picked the final direction for PlayPack, and then Czaja had to execute it. Designing and prototyping happened concurrently as the designer spent a few days mocking up the paper backpack from craft paper and masking tape on a child-sized mannequin, while simultaneously figuring out how the pack could be played with as individual pieces. "What if the bag itself became a toy that could be used in conjunction with the objects it held?" Czaja asked herself. "The form came from there. I never wanted the bag to be a toy in typical terms. I wasn't aiming to make a backpack that looked like a rocket ship or an octopus because, overall, that's limiting."

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