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Posted by core jr  |  28 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

OM2014-Pensa_Horse-Logo.jpgOM2014-Pensa_Horse-1.jpg

Today saw the unveiling of the collaborative bicycle designs that are going head to head in the third edition of the Oregon Manifest, in which five teams in as many cities set out to create and craft the best urban utility bike. As of this morning's launch, the public is invited to vote on their favorite one, which may well be produced by Fuji Bikes in the near future. We are pleased to present exclusive Q&As with each team so they have a chance to explain why their bicycle is the best before the voting period closes this Sunday, August 3.

First up, Brooklyn's own Pensa × Horse Cycles, representing New York City.

Core77: Did you and Thomas know (or know of) each other before the collaboration? What was the matchmaking process like?

Mark Prommel (Pensa): We had seen Horse Cycles on various design and local maker blogs, and were already really into his work. When we were invited to participate as the NYC representative for The Bike Design Project, Thomas Callahan was definitely at the top of the list of bike craftsmen we were interested in talking to. After meeting a few builders, the choice was easy.

By its very nature, the design-fabrication relationship for this collaboration is far more intimate than your average designer's relationship with a contractor or manufacturer. To what degree did you educate each other on your respective areas of expertise? Has the collaboration yielded broader lessons?

One of the things that really made this relationship work well was the fact that Thomas is an established designer in his own right, and we at Pensa are also accomplished makers and fabricators. So it wasn't just a "we design it / you build it" relationship—it was a fully collaborative from the first day. All of our concepts were born out of our first few weeks of open collaboration workshops. Thomas was very open to our approach of establishing the big picture story of the bike first, ensuring it was unique, compelling, and based on real insight about the New York City urban rider. We had to make sure that we were looking at the full range of possibilities for the bike and that the foundation of our concept would have enough layers to make the end result truly special. In developing our early concepts together, Thomas lent a wealth of experience and expertise that prevented us from going down paths that would have been wrought with insurmountable challenges.

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Posted by core jr  |  28 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

Those are the cities, but not the bikes; the big reveal is below...

Now in its third edition, the Oregon Manifest Bike Design Project set out a challenge for five teams in five cycling-heavy cities: pairing design firms and bike builders, who can make the most innovative utility bike? Once partnered, these designers and builders dug deep into what they thought a utilitarian bike should provide and hustled to bring their ideas off the page and onto the street. Last Friday, the teams from New York (Pensa × Horse Cycles), Portland (Industry × Ti Cycles), San Francisco (HUGE × 4130 Cycle Works), Seattle (Teague × Sizemore Bicycle) and Chicago (MNML × Method) unveiled their creations to local audiences. Public voting opens today, and cycling enthusiasts are invited to determine which design is the most visionary and best suited for the everyday rider; once the votes are tallied following the August 2 deadline, the winner will earn a chance at being put into production by Fuji Bikes.

Details from MNML and Pensa; full bikes below

Check out the teams and what they made and stay tuned for our exclusive designer Q&As throughout the week.

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Posted by core jr  |  24 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

OscarZhaoYvesBehar.jpgOscar Zhao & Yves Béhar: "You had me at nihao."

Late yesterday afternoon, we learned that Beijing's BlueFocus Communication Group will be taking a majority stake in fuseproject, Yves Béhar's design firm. This marks the growing agency's first foray into the States; it first dipped its toes into Western waters in April of last year, with a 20% stake in Huntsworth PR group, followed by taking a majority stake in We Are Social (both based in the UK). Now, the Financial Times reports that "BlueFocus will pay $46.7m in cash for 75 per cent of Fuseproject, to be paid out over several years depending on performance." (Figures on the agency's net worth and remarkable ascendancy are available here.)

Where fuseproject is a household name in the design world, we (like most of you) hadn't heard of BlueFocus prior to yesterday's announcement. Make no mistake, they are by all accounts a juggernaut, not just among native Chinese companies but on the world stage as well. Founded by Oscar Zhao in 1996, BlueFocus currently employs some 2,800 people—it is reportedly the biggest PR agency in the world—and Béhar's 75-person team, will join the ranks of the ~700 others at companies in which BlueFocus has a majority stake. fuseproject will continue to operate independently; while its multidisciplinary portfolio and services (i.e. rebranding Paypal) may well complement and align with BlueFocus's long-term goals, the San Francisco-based company is ostensibly the first industrial design consultancy in the Chinese company's highly diversified holdings.

BlueFocus.jpgContrary to alarming AQI reports, BlueFocus invites blue-sky thinking at their Beijing headquarters (via Baidu maps)

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Posted by core jr  |  22 Jul 2014  |  Comments (1)

AminaHorozic-BreakingIn-1.jpg

Published at the beginning of the summer—just in time for freshly minted design grads to take note but relevant for just about any designer these days—Breaking In: Product Design (Tuk Tuk Press, 2014) by Amina Horozic offers dozens of insights into today's highly competitive job market. Featuring interviews with over 100 designers from across the industry and around the globe, the book is a valuable resource for anyone looking to get their foot in the door at design-led companies big and small (see the full list of interviewees and companies here). We turned the tables on Horozic, who revealed a bit of her own background and process in a Q&A

Core77: This the second book in the 'Breaking In' series; how did it come about? Were you familiar with the first book in the series Breaking In: Advertising by William Burks Spencer, or had you been working on this project independently?

No, I was not familiar with the first book at all. I had just wrapped up my MBA in Design Strategy at California College of the Arts, and was working as an industrial designer at frog when my colleague Catherine Sun sent me an e-mail, saying, "You'd be perfect for this." Essentially, she forwarded me the publisher's e-mail asking if anyone knew of any industrial designers interested in writing a similar book about how to break into the field. Recalling firsthand the amount of time it took me to craft a portfolio and cater it to appropriate employer and industry—I'm a classically trained car designer who "jumped ship" into consulting world—I jumped at the chance to discover what everyone is looking for.

The rest is history. I simply couldn't pass on the opportunity to try and talk to all of these industrial design gurus; a lot of them were my personal heroes.

How did you find the interviewees? What was the criteria for them? Did you know some of them before you took on the book? I imagine the project picked up its own momentum through word of mouth as well...

The only criteria from the publisher was that they had to be management level or up, essentially designers who are making hiring decisions—which eliminated about 90% of my personal network at the time as we were all in our mid-to-late 20s, and still in the trenches. For context, I started this book back in 2011, so my background as it stands today was not that wide or rich. And I had to interview a minimum of 100 designers.

Of course, I leveraged people I had known at Chrysler and at frog, alongside Career Services at my alma mater College for Creative Studies—but honestly, a lot of it was my own legwork. I wrote down all of the car companies, all of the consulting agencies, all of the revered products that came out—essentially, people and places one would want to work for or with—and then I searched for the contacts online and through my network. I was actually quite surprised by how many replied back with interest, they loved the idea of the book!

Basically, I was determined to cover all of the branches of our field: automotive design, product design, furniture design, soft goods, consultancies and solo practices. As Kickstarter was getting traction, I made sure to include at least one success story from there. I also wanted to include some young guns, who started their own firms straight out of college. I wanted to show aspiring designers that there are many ways to "break in." I was also adamant to have a global representation, to show that opportunities abound everywhere. The book literally has a designer from each continent, aside from Antarctica. I also included educators to get an academic perspective for comparison. Finally, as a woman, I was adamant to include women in industrial design leadership positions, as well—something that was sadly notoriously difficult to find.

Somehow the big question is always: so what "big names" are in the book? The thing is, for every Yves and Ralph and Jony, there are tons of design leaders (and designers) out there whose work has revolutionized our everyday lives, but who remain relatively anonymous. I truly hope that with this book—and the accompanying Breaking In blog where we feature their work and bios—the design community learns more about who is behind the products we use, and admire, every day.

AminaHorozic-BreakingIn-2.jpg

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Posted by core jr  |  21 Jul 2014  |  Comments (1)

JamesSelf-0.jpgFigure 1: Digital CAD used to communicate form and design aesthetic. All images Courtesy of Younghoon Hwang, UNIST, Korea

From thumbnail sketches to low fidelity models and prototypes to test rigs, CAD concept renderings, illustrations, mock-ups and visualizations, designers embody their design intentions using a variety of Tools of Design Representation (TDRs) during conceptual design in an attempt to provide creative solutions to often ill-defined design problems. The industrial designer employs TDRs with two objectives in mind. First, they provide a means to describe, explain and communicate design intentions to others. Second, they are used to reflect upon and develop one's own design intent towards emergent—but still conceptual—solutions. As such, TDR use is a critical component of conceptual design practices. In a previous Core77 article (CAD vs. Sketching, Why Ask?), I responded to what I see as a limiting and somewhat circular debate on the role and use of CAD tools during conceptual design, drawing attention to the fact tools are only tools insofar as they are used as such to achieve a purpose. That is, the effectiveness of TDRs (CAD and sketching included) is dependent upon both context of use and, critically, the designers' own skills, knowledge and judgment in their application.

In light of the dizzying array of digital, conventional and hybrid tools now available to the designer, this article builds on some of the issues previously touched upon. I aim to move beyond anecdotal accounts of this or that best tool, way of working, method or media in this or that context or working environment towards the fundamentals of TDR use during conceptual design practice. What kinds of fundamental designerly knowledge, skills and practices underpin effective and productive engagement with and use of TDRs during conceptual design? I believe that knowledge of these fundamentals is required both to develop more effective digital design tools and to contribute to design pedagogy alongside the more traditional studio teaching environment of practical skills acquisition.

Fortuitously, design research over the past 30 years provides us with important insights into the act of designing and the kinds of thinking it involves. Donald Schon's seminal work (The Reflective Practitioner, 1991) on the notion of design as a reflective practice has been influential in providing a means to understand design activity and tool use. Briefly, considered through the lens of reflection-in-action, design activity is characterized by reflection (considering what has just been done, such as reflecting upon a sketch) and action (revising a sketch or CAD model in light of reflective understanding). Within this iterative process of reflection and action, the representation or embodiment of design intent is critically important. The designer must externalize design intentions through TDR use—sketches, drawings, notes, CAD models, physical prototypes, etc., of varying levels of fidelity—in order to reflect upon, test, and develop design ideas.

Important in influencing the nature of this reflection-action is the distinct character of the design problem. Design problems, unlike problems in the sciences, may often be ill-defined or wicked. The primary feature of these ill-defined problems is that there is and cannot be a single correct solution to the original problem but that there are many possible outcomes. In fact, there may potentially be an infinite number of possible solutions and a limitless number of ways to proceed towards a final design solution.

Harold Nelson and Erik Stolterman (The Design Way: Intentional Change in an Unpredictable World, 2012) describe this engagement with the design problem as a search for an ultimate particular. The designer must come to a solution that is itself new or particular in relation to any other solution that may have come before, one that must provide a best or ultimate possible result given the designer's emergent understanding of the design problem.

JamesSelf-2.jpgFigure 2: Sketch illustration to reflectively explore design intent

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