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Perrin Drumm

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Posted by Perrin Drumm  |  19 Nov 2012  |  Comments (4)


The Bavarian Forest National Park recently built a towering, egg-shaped vantage point called the Tree Top Walk, a 150 foot high open air lookout built around three massive fir trees each measuring 125 feet around. From the top, visitors can take in sweeping views of the surrounding mountain ranges, including the northern Alps on a clear day, but the really significant part of the structure is its accessibility. Yes, there's an elevator to shoot children and those with disabilities straight up, but because the circular walkway winds at a steady, smooth incline like the Guggenheim's rotunda, everyone can amble around the 4,250 foot long path to the platform that sits above the tops of the fir trees.


For those craving a little more adventure, there are three stations with unprotected, unscreened wooden bridges, rope bridges and other challenges. And because this is in Germany, there's a restaurant and beer garden at the top where you can wash down a plate of wiener schnitzel with a pint or warm up on a winter's day with a cup of a tea with rum. A scenic treetop walk followed by a crisp beer in the middle of the woods - Germans do hiking right. Good thing there's an elevator for the way down.



Posted by Perrin Drumm  |  16 Nov 2012  |  Comments (4)


Toronto-based design group Castor gets called a lot of names, especially sustainable—that S word whose egregious misuse irks us so. Not that Castor isn't sustainable, there are just so many better ways to describe them. Founders Kei Ng and Brian Richer say their furniture and lighting collection has a "sense of irreverence," a sentiment echoed by their highly irreverent and really kind of awesome head shot, above.

As far as their actual products are concerned, we suggest descriptors like recycled, or perhaps upcycled. The short doc, Castor is French For Beaver (it is—we checked), recently made by Carling Acthim and Lana Mauro, takes a closer look at two of Castor's best known lighting designs, the Tank Light and the Tube Light, both of which repurpose cast off materials like old fire extinguishers and burnt out halogen tubes and turn them into hanging light fixtures whose final form is completely removed from their previous lives.



Posted by Perrin Drumm  |   6 Nov 2012  |  Comments (0)

Images by Francis Dzikowski/ Esto

Since we visited UM Project's Brooklyn studio, earlier this year, founder François Chambard has produced an impressive amount of work. It seems that we can't go brunch and boutique-hopping without coming across a couple of his best-selling Milking Stools in an array of bright colors, but he created a staggering number of Craft System Lamps for NY Design Week. If you went to Wanted Design you no doubt saw his small army of whimsical lighting units that are equal parts functional and playful, with lamps that double as theremins, greenhouses and friendly robots.


Chambard's signature technocraft approach is also evident in his latest project, a custom hybrid analog-digital mixing console for Brian Bender's Brooklyn recording studio, Motherbrain. Few recording studios feature both analog and digital sound equipment and even fewer go to the lengths of commissioning one-of-a-kind, custom made consoles that offer sound quality as stunning as their physical aesthetic.


Chambard and Bender began their 15 month-long collaboration by repurposing a very rare, late-60s recording console by Wiener Schwachstromwerke (WSW), Siemen's Austrian sister company. The unit is divided into three main parts. One third is made up of four different types of rebuilt WSW mixing channels, one third is comprised mainly of a modular, modern line mixer by Tonelux, which forms "the backbone of the audio signals for the entire console," and one third is dedicated to digital integration with Pro Tools and includes "a touch sensitive digital controller as well as an Apple display."


Aside from repurposing outdated recording equipment and integrating them with modern technologies, the other major feat is the console's relatively lightweight appearance. Chambard designed four corner legs so that even though the unit weighs a whopping 1,400 pounds it can be disassembled for transport and, moreover, doesn't look like a typical, heavy piece of equipment, but speaks to "the language of furniture" and "reinforces the impression of levitation and accessibility."

Images by Francis Dzikowski/ Esto


Posted by Perrin Drumm  |   6 Nov 2012  |  Comments (1)


Though over-packaging is often seen as the epitome of excess, it's really only the tip of the iceberg of a resource-hungry process. According to Laurel Miller and Stephen Aldridge, authors of Why Shrink-wrap A Cucumber? The Complete Guide to Environmental Packaging (Laurence King, 2012): "As is befitting in a convenience society, [packaging] is a convenient, high-visibility target that deflects attention from less palatable forms of environmental action, such as reducing our dependence on high-carbon fossil fuels and heavy industry." In their remarkably thorough new book, Miller and Aldridge debunk the common myths of sustainable production, introduce new materials, and help designers navigate the often treacherous waters that lie between manufacturers and the client, providing plenty of case studies for inspiration.


Miller and Aldridge begin by discussing how poor packaging choices are linked with global climate change by breaking down every step of a product's life cycle, from its production to its recycling or disposal. There's even a refresher that's helpful for anyone interested in sustainable design, from the lords of the LCA (life cycle assessment) to the everyday concerned citizen. Miller and Aldridge have included Futerra's invaluable "10 Signs of Greenwash" and they take the time to define terms that are as common as they are misunderstood: green, sustainability, and environmentally friendly.


And for designers struggling to "negotiate the environmental maze [while] balancing profitability and creativity with sensitivity to the environment," there are few first steps you can take to address your client's concerns about brand identity while delivering a design with low environmental impact. The case studies are grouped by packaging categories like shape and weight. The iconic Orangina bottle, for example, evolved from a nondescript glass jar to its current shape as a result of a design that took both branding and cost effective packaging into consideration. The Heinz ketchup bottle, too, has changed from a glass bottle to a plastic squeeze bottle for similar reasons. Weight has also played a huge role in packaging design, especially in metal drink cans, which have become 77% lighter since the 1960s, from 60g down to just 14g.


Posted by Perrin Drumm  |   5 Nov 2012  |  Comments (5)

biomuseum1.jpgPhotos courtesy Biomusueo, copyright Victoria Murillo.

Even though Frank Gehry's new Biomuseo has received support from Panama's federal government, the Smithsonian Institute, the Amador Foundation and the University of Panama, as well as reserved but positive commentary from a smattering of architecture blogs, we're a little surprised that we're the one of the first, if not in fact the very first site to admit that our skepticism of Gehry's original plans has not been alleviated by images of the final phases of the building's construction. While some might call the disjointed roofline a signature Gehry move, it might also be a case of an old dog unable to learn any new tricks.



We know it's unfair to critique a project before the proverbial ribbon has been cut, and we welcome your input and comments, but we can't help but liken the angled, metal rooftop to a crumpled, jumbled scrap heap. Far calmer and cleaner is the interior design by Bruce Mau, which includes eight permanent galleries, temporary exhibition spaces, a public atrium and a three-story digital 'Panamarama' covered in 14 screens that, according to Mau, will take visitors along a "thematic path [with] exhibits [that go] beyond the mere illustration of ideas to become functional models whose effects bridge art and science."