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Posted by core jr  |  26 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)


Once again, we're pleased to present our annual gift guide for all of your gift-giving needs this holiday season. As with last year's guide, the list comprises 77 items—a lucky number if we say so ourselves—selected by our seven guest curators, each a luminary in his or her own right. The 2014 Ultimate Gift Guide is a collective effort from Randy Hunt, Creative Director of Etsy; Jill Singer & Monica Khemsurov, Founders/Editors of Sight Unseen; John Maeda, Design Partner at KPCB; Chris Wu, Associate at Project Projects; Richard Sachs, bicycle framebuilder; and Sam Vinz, co-founder/director of Volume Gallery.

From tasteful consumables and future heirlooms to ultra-contemporary apps and accessible art editions, our esteemed guest curators have compiled six lists of distinctive gift items, 77 in all.

Check out the 2014 Core77 Gift Guide, "Curators' Delight"→

Posted by core jr  |  25 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)


This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to Brad Ascalon.

Name: Sam Jacob

Occupation: I'm the principal of Sam Jacob Studio, a design, architecture and urbanism practice based in London. At the same time, I'm a professor of architecture at Yale and at the University of Illinois at Chicago; Director of Night School at the Architectural Association; and a columnist for Art Review and Dezeen. And until recently I was a co-director of FAT Architecture, which closed this year in a blaze of high-profile projects at the Venice Architecture Biennale and a collaboration on a building with artist Grayson Perry.

I've always pursued an idea of design practice as a combination of criticism, research and speculation that all feed directly into the design studio. So that ideas cross-fertilize, find connections and directions that make the practice stronger, more agile and able to respond intelligently to the problem at hand.

After 20-odd years as co-director of FAT Architecture, it's been exciting to establish a new kind of practice, to work with new people, with new kinds of projects, with different angles of attack.

Location: London (mainly) / Chicago (sometimes)

Current projects: I'm really excited about some collaborative projects that are happening at the moment. The first is developing ways to reinvent the business park—taking the outmoded 1980s model and revitalizing it. The idea of work has changed so dramatically in recent times, so it seems right to be imagining new ways to spatialize and organize new kinds of work patterns. For me it's the perfect combination of research, speculation and design.

Secondly, a big master planning project that's trying to invent a new kind of community—one that's not urban, not rural but also non-suburban, a new kind of hybrid between the rural and the urban. A techno-eco idyll, in other words.

And lastly, designing my own house—the fantasy of any architect, but a daunting one too. Any architect designing his own house is inevitably also writing a manifesto.

Mission: To use design as a form of real-life science fiction—to invent new ways of being in the world, or new kinds of worlds to be in.

SamJacob-QA-2.jpgAbove: Jacob and his drawing of Southwark for the 2014 10x10/Drawing London auction. Top image: A Clockwork Jerusalem, FAT Architecture and Crimson Architectural Historians' exhibition for the British Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. Photo by Cristiano Corte

SamJacob-QA-11.jpgThe Hoogvliet Villa, a cultural center in Rotterdam designed by FAT. Photo by Rob Parrish

When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? It just kind of happened... I think it was a real fascination with the idea that architecture could be a combination of many things—that it was artistic, sociological, technical and so on, and that it was all these things at the same time. It's a naïve idea perhaps, but one I still believe in. One lesson I've learnt from older generations is to try to remain as naïvely optimistic as possible in the face of the endless array of problems that beset any design project.

Education: I studied at the Mackintosh in Glasgow, then at the Bartlett in London. It was—totally accidentally—a great combination. First being embedded in the Glasgow School of Art, the serious Modernist tradition of the Mac, then the freedom of the Bartlett gave me a really broad exposure to different ideas of what architecture and design could be.

First design job: Straight from school into FAT. Actually, doing both while I was in my last year. In other words, I've never really had a proper job in design—which is both a blessing and a curse. Not having a model of what an office should be or how it should work has given me a real freedom to invent something that works for me. But at the same time, I'm sure there are a few shortcuts it would have been good to learn faster. Nothing like learning on the job, though.

Who is your design hero? For his ability to conjure arguments and propositions out of the thin air of everyday culture: the British critic from the '60s and '70s Reyner Banham

For the relentlessness of investigation: Rem Koolhaas

For his belief in the connection between politics and design: William Morris

For beauty in the face of the inevitable tragedy of design: Borromini

SamJacob-QA-4.jpgAbove and below: Drawings from Sam Jacob Studio and Hawkins\Brown's master plan for an Eco Ruburb, a community hybrid of the rural and the urban


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


If you missed last week's Open House/Info Session at the MFA in Products of Design at SVA, the videos have been posted online. Allan Chochinov, Chair of the program, says that "We've divided up the videos into three parts—a State-of-Design talk followed by a deep review of the mission and pedagogy; a detailed overview of the curriculum along with several faculty discussing their courses; and two student panel discussions, one with current students, and one with graduates of the program." Below is the first video (the audio gets way better after the first half-minute), but you can find all three plus snapshots of the event right here:

Also, if you're checking out their grad school, the Products of Design site has a list of how their program is unique, and why you should apply there: "14 THINGS THAT MATTER: What distinguishes the MFA in Products of Design?" And, a reminder that applications are due February 1st, so get those portfolios tuned up!

Posted by core jr  |  20 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)


A "product" today is rarely just physical, but consumers' expectations for meaningful product experiences are greater than ever. The challenge for designers is to bring empathy and sensitivity to their work, regardless of the tools and technologies at their disposal.

By Sohrab Vossoughi, President & Founder, Ziba

Last month marked Ziba's 30th anniversary as an innovation and design agency, and besides giving us a reason to celebrate, this milestone is also a perfect opportunity to look into the past as well as the future. Ziba today is a far different company than the one I founded in 1984 in a bedroom in Beaverton, Oregon. We're a larger organization now, of course, but also a far more multidisciplinary and collaborative one. It's a shift that reflects the product design field as a whole.

To help quantify this shift, we recently hosted a panel conversation between three of the most forward-thinking designers and educators in the country. "The Future of Product Design" asked these panelists—Allan Chochinov of the School of Visual Arts and Core77, Aura Oslapas of A+O, and John Jay of Wieden + Kennedy, plus myself—to evaluate how product design has changed since we first entered the field, and to make some predictions about where it's headed.

All four of us have been working designers since the '80s or '90s, and we've all seen dramatic changes in the tools that people use to turn concepts into products. And while our opinions diverged in some ways, we all agreed that the tools matter far less than the intention and empathy behind them. It's true that software like Adobe Creative Suite and various 3D CAD and rendering packages have gotten much more powerful and easier to use, empowering millions of people to take on design tasks once reserved for professionals. The real expertise of product designers, though, isn't in their mastery of computers, but their ability to identify needs, create meaning and form a thoughtful point of view on what a design should do... and why.

Out of the themes that emerged from the discussion, five were especially pronounced, and worth exploring in greater detail—not just as a way of taking stock of past achievements, but of anticipating where product design could go in the next 30 years.

1. The product is rarely just physical anymore.

The term "product" was once reserved for physical objects, but since the late '80s it's been used to describe software, websites and other digital offerings. More recently, we've started calling almost anything that brings value to consumers a product, from apps and financial investments to banking and car-sharing services. Part of this is an attempt to make something abstract feel more substantial. But it also reflects a fundamental shift in perceptions. The growing preference among younger consumers for services instead of products—using Zipcar instead of buying a car, for example—is well established. The growing flexibility of the word "product" points to the fact that, in many cases, what we value today is not the object, but the experience that the object provides.


Posted by core jr  |  18 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)


In a previous post, Paul Hatch shared the origin story and mission behind DesignHouse, LLC.: to bring the power of design to small manufacturers. We spoke to him about the "Reveal," the non-profit organization's first product, which launched last week on Kickstarter. We had a chance to talk to Hatch about the product itself.

Core77: Why did you choose to launch "Reveal" on Kickstarter?

Paul Hatch: Kickstarter is the perfect medium for us to get the word out about what DesignHouse is doing. The product itself is great, but its true worth is that it represents the backers' intent to support local industry as a whole. It's giving us a gauge on how important this is to people. The feedback we've had has been tremendous, and we are creating a network of contacts across the country of people who want to help. Seeing the groundswell from the Design Jam, I think we're launching at just the right time. I hope we can inspire others to join us and do the same in their area.