Posted by Ray
| 1 Oct 2014
Having just spent a week in China, my circadian rhythm is pretty much entirely out of sync at this point. Traveling 12 hours into the future was rougher than it had ever been, and now that I'm back, I expect that my usual sleep deprivation will be further compounded by jetlag. Well, Studio Banana Things is looking to put sleepnessness to rest, so to speak, by putting the powernap literally within arm's length away with the new "Ostrich Pillow Mini."
Posted by Ray
| 25 Sep 2014
As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we're pleased to be media partners with Beijing Design Week for the fourth year running, since its inception in 2011. The ever-expanding celebration of Chinese design kicked off last night in Dashilar, which endures as the cynosure of the nine-day event even as it evolves as a design-hub-cum-historic-district.
Last night saw the grand opening of the Dashilar Guild House exhibition space, adjacent to the extant area, at the Quanyechang 'department store'—originally built in 1906 and reopened last month following a three-year restoration process—where dozens of projects are on view across four stories of the skylit main hall. As the story goes, the organizers secured the space only after presenting Beijing Design Week at the Venice Biennale this summer, and a follow-up to that exhibition is on view at the Guild House (concurrently with the Biennale, which runs until November).
This year also saw the debut of a one-night-only pop-up in Dashilar's farmer's market, where the local community was invited to celebrate alongside international guests for a colorful launch party.
Posted by Ray
| 15 Sep 2014
Locale for Herman Miller (2013). Images courtesy of Industrial Facility unless otherwise noted
Given the current vogue for local, handwrought, artisanal or otherwise bespoke goods, the tide has effectively turned against mass production as millennials forgo the efficiencies of economies of scale in favor of purportedly more meaningful modes. The appeal of these objets is ostensibly the deeper level of personal connection—the prospect of shaking the very hand that made your wallet or dress or dining table is simultaneously atavistic and avant-garde—that justifies the cost of championing local production in the face of, um, faceless overseas manufacturing. This resurgence finds its most fundamental expression not in made-to-order heirlooms but in locavorism: Food products are literally rooted in a place, yet the fact that they are perishable precludes preciousness.
It's ironic, then, that "America has this great tradition of keeping kitchen appliances on the countertop." Kim Colin, co-founder and partner of design firm Industrial Facility, brings it up in the context of the broad shift away from the materialistic mentality of yore, rattling off a few generations' worth of examples. "Mr. Coffee's been there, the Kitchenaid's been there, George Foreman's grill was there for a while, the soda machine might be there now..." That these appliances have a shelf life (with the exception, perhaps, of the stand mixer) is a testament to the consummation of a consumer culture that revels in excess, the food itself being incidental. Whether or not we use them frequently enough to justify the countertop real estate, our society has long kept these objects on display, not only as status symbols in themselves but also because we have the luxury of space.
Or at least we did, before the world's metropolises drew in the majority of its 7.2 billion people and twentysomethings found themselves with less space and fewer things anyway. More kale, perhaps, but less of the other stuff.
The Branca Stool for Mattiazzi (2014)
"We don't go out and find work, people find us."
Industrial Facility is arguably the best-kept secret in certain circles that extend far beyond its geographic locale of London. In contrast to the likes of Philippe Starck (with whom IF collaborated on TOG) or, say, friend-of-Apple Marc Newson, Kim Colin and her partner Sam Hecht opt for fly-by-night anonymity, much like one of their longtime clients. "[Muji is] not using design as a personality... if there is a personality, it would be Muji." Like kindred spirit Naoto Fukasawa, Industrial Facility's work dissolves into the client's brand—assuming, of course, that the client shares their refined, purposeful design philosophy.
When Colin notes that "there's a kind of strange public awareness about us—we have what I would characterize as a cult following," she's referring to clients—Established & Sons, LaCie and Issey Miyake, to name a few—but the statement is true of consumers as well. It's not so much a signature style (again, they're designing for the likes of non-brand Muji) but a perspective that guides with their sub rosa appeal. "We're very interested in the actual ways we're living and the ways that's changing," Colin says. "We study it through the different kinds of clients we have... we learn how they're seeing the world, and we often have a very different point of view." She continues: "Those companies then realize that we have more to offer than a specific project on its own, and that we might have something to say about their business, or growth, or direction." Naturally, these deeper relationships tend to be self-selecting, and it's telling that Industrial Facility works closely with companies like Muji and Herman Miller in a design advisory role. "Our clients are unafraid of our level of questioning."
Hence, Colin draws the distinction between their design practice and that of the 21st-Century artisan. "I think there are a lot of people working in design that are doing local products. Those are small batch, limited production or production-on-demand," she matter-of-factly declares. "Our scale is mass production, really, and that's why we named our studio Industrial Facility and not Sam Hecht and Kim Colin Studio. We want big companies not to be afraid to use design."
Formwork for Herman Miller (2014)
Prototypes of Formwork
Posted by Ray
| 10 Sep 2014
The new Apple Watch may offer navigation via a paired iPhone's GPS system, but (Maps bugs notwithstanding) wayfinding used to be a skill, especially here in New York City. While the grid of streets and avenues bears a semblance of intuitive legibility, the sinuously criss-crossing subway lines has long been rather less forgiving. The city-wide system itself originated with the merger of the privately operated IRT, BMT and IND in 1939, but each line continued to publish its own maps (sans the other two) and signage until the late 50's; the major turning point came a decade later, when the NYCTA commissioned a comprehensive overhaul of the signage and wayfinding system in 1967. Some four years in the making, Unimark International's codified design language is far more profound than the empirical typography and glyphs that characterize the subway system today; rather it captures the essence of visual communication qua user experience. Sure, any poseur can get ahold of a 1972 Subway map, but true aficionados will go for the real deal, available now on Kickstarter for the first (and last) time: the 1970 New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual, meticulously authored by the late designers Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda of Unimark.
Known simply as the Standards Manual, the original ring-bound text is something like the contemporary equivalent of the Rosetta Stone: a dictionary, encyclopedia case study and veritable holy text rolled (or rather Smyth-sewn) into one. As a canonical document of high modernism, it's right up there with the Gutenberg bible—a beautiful object in and of itself—and Pentagram's Jesse Reed and Hamish Smith are offering a faithful reproduction with the blessing of the Metropolitan Transit Authority itself.
In 2012—42 years after the Standards Manual was released—we discovered a rare copy in the basement of design firm Pentagram.
Now, under an exclusive agreement with the MTA, we are scanning and printing every page in a full-size hardcover book.
The MTA agreed on the reissue with one condition: it will only be available during this 30-day Kickstarter campaign.
After this campaign, the book will never be reissued again.
Is it just me, or does Standard Medium (later changed to Helvetica, of course) look kind of like a heavier version of Apple's new typeface?
Upon their initial discovery, Reed and Hamish simply published the Standards Manual digitally but have since seen fit to publish a scale reproduction of the 364-page omnibus for posterity's sake, a felicitous tribute to the recently deceased Vignelli and his unsung colleague Noorda (who passed in 2010). Narrated by Pentagram partner Michael Bierut, the reverential video is also on point; drool on your keyboard now because you won't want to ruin your copy of it:
Posted by Ray
| 3 Sep 2014
Cupertino seems to have sprung a few leaks lately, from the iCloud celeb photo hack to a drone-eye view of the spaceship construction site Of course, insofar as Apple is known for its secrecy as much as its industry leadership, the company has long been a target for another reason: speculation about new products.
Hot on the heels of Feld & Volk's hands-on teaser, above, Russian tech reviewer Rozetked brings us a fully assembled iPhone 6 a week prior to its official unveiling next week. Reportedly sourced from various factories that are supplying parts for the sixth generation iPhone, the product walkthrough imparts a strong sense of the larger, thinner smartphone's features, most notably its rounded edges and protruding camera. Other notable details include unibody construction with the signature plastic bands for the antenna, while the 4.7” screen is reportedly not made of solid sapphire (which we'd previously seen and was introduced for the home button of the iPhone 5S).
Check out the video: