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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  26 Jan 2015  |  Comments (0)

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While L. Young has four albums out and a host of TV music credits, the Kentucky-based R&B singer has been toiling in relative obscurity for years. But 10 months ago he began playing around with an iPhone app (we've not been able to find out which) that records multiple takes of him singing different parts of the same song, then strings them all together into a single split-screen video for upload to social media. Though he's the only member of this "band," he attributed the subsequent videos—primarily covers of R&B classics—to "L. Young & Da Youngstaz" in a nod to his on-screen clones.

The videos were modest hits, with the least-viewed barely cracking 15,000 views and one just squeaking past 100,000. But last week he quietly posted this one, covering "Uptown Funk," Mark Ronson's collaboration with Bruno Mars:

At press time the YouTube version only had 166,000 hits. But uploading the same video to his Facebook account racked up 1.8 million in less than a week.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  22 Jan 2015  |  Comments (1)

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As I was marched over to an unfamiliar bank of elevators towards the back of the building, I realized I was the prime suspect.

An unreleased design that I had access to, and had done dozens of renderings of, had suddenly appeared on the market—produced by a prime competitor of ours. I was in the elevator with my boss, who was the Head of Global Industrial Design at this particular corporation, where I'd been working as a CAD and rendering jockey for many years. But I was still a contract employee, not staff. And I had access to this design that few people in the design group had even seen.

The elevator doors opened at a high floor I'd never been to, and I got my first glimpse of the Legal Department. We walked a maze of cubicles and I was finally sat at the desk of a lawyer. She was pleasant, even friendly. I was shown a bunch of my renderings, and then the competitor's product. There was no denying the similarities, and the small design details were way too dead-on to be a coincidence. And even though I knew I wasn't the source of the leak, I couldn't help but be nervous as they questioned me.

After I'd answered all of their questions—honestly and, it appeared, to their satisfaction—I was made to sign some documents and my boss walked me back down to our floor.

If I was my boss, I'd have definitely thought I was the leak. There were only two other designers besides me and my boss who'd worked on this and they were both company men with kids, guys who'd never risk something like this. And we hadn't sent the drawings out to a model shop yet. To this day, I never found out how the design got leaked or who did it.

One company that's recently experienced a design leak, however, feels certain they've found the source. According to a Cincinnati local newspaper, consumer giant Procter & Gamble filed a lawsuit last week against four former members of their Gillette design team. The Section Head of Industrial Design, a Product Design & Development Group Mechanical Engineer, a Senior Mechanical Design Engineer and a high-level Research & Design employee were all named. It seems all four quit Gillette to work for a competitor, Texas-based ShaveLogic, and the quartet allegedly brought more with them than framed photos of their families:

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Posted by Coroflot  |  16 Jan 2015  |  Comments (0)

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The RKS Sessions are back and the first event of 2015 took place last week at the Cross Campus workspace in Santa Monica. Leading the discussion was CEO of FloWater, and serial entrepreneur, Rich Razgaitis. During the session Razgaitis detailed the company's mission of eliminating bottled water pollution for good with the innovative FloWater water-refill station.

In addition to discussing the company's plans for expansion in the future, he also spoke on past experiences and lessons that helped him during his growth as an entrepreneur and a leader in the business world.

Watch the full session here for all the details:

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Posted by Teshia Treuhaft  |  15 Jan 2015  |  Comments (0)

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Over the last few months, the hot topic of conversation among myself and my female startup friends (and a number of male friends too) has switched from the usual suspects of Shinola, YikYak, Casper etc to an unlikely pick: the New York-based underwear company Dear Kate.

Dear Kate's marketing campaign for their Ada Collection—an underwear line taking its namesake from famed programmer Ada Lovelace—sent a controversial ripple through the press last August in response to its use of high ranking women in tech as underwear models. The small but outspoken company responded publicly to the criticism of 'setting back women in tech' with the hashtag '#notcontroversial,' backed by overwhelming social media support via photos from their devotees outfitted in the company's wares (and not much else).

The incredible devotion of Dear Kate users combined with the ability to strike just the right marketing cord has pushed them into the spotlight, often overshadowing the not-to-be underestimated design and technology credentials of their product. Admittedly, I had mixed feelings about the brand following the launch of the Ada collection, however the quality of their products and attention to the needs of their target audience wins me over every time. As their recent Kickstarter campaign for their new line of yoga pants proves, Dear Kate is doing something very right. The yoga pants use the same Underlux technology as their underwear and solve a number of sensitive issues for their users, unabashedly tackling everything from panty lines to incontinence. I caught up with CEO and Founder Julie Sygiel to shed some light on designing the yoga pants, Underlux technology and outspoken marketing.

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Core77: What's the history of Dear Kate?

Julie Sygiel: The business plan for Dear Kate was hatched in my college entrepreneurship class. At first it was a fun, unique idea (especially given that our class was 80% male), and then the longer we worked on it, the more committed I became to actually creating the underwear. Studying chemical engineering in school gave me the confidence to dive in and start learning about technical fabrics. Once I got started, it snowballed into collaborating with textile development teams at fabric manufacturers to create Underlux. Instead of having to totally outsource product development, my science background allowed me to be the one guiding everything from the fabric to the designs to the construction and fit of the product, which is something that I continue to be very involved in today as we develop new products.

How has your background influenced the trajectory of the company?

Aside from my technical background, I've always had an interest in fashion and feminism. I was also a Girl Scout for 12 years and sold over 10,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies so the notion that I could create and then market a product that is fashionable, plus make women's lives easier, was a dream come true. It checked all of my boxes in a way that I didn't know was possible and just felt "right." Once I started working on the business idea, it was addictive and became all I thought about.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   6 Jan 2015  |  Comments (0)

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Business in the front...

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...party in the back

Sadly, there are no Vines of industrial design studios from seventy years ago. But we're lucky indeed that ID'er C. Stowe Myers was toting a film camera around inside Walter Dorwin Teague's office in the 1940s, giving us some rare (and of course unnarrated) glimpses at what it was like in there.

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Posted by core jr  |  23 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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It's not every day you get to hear the President of the United States weigh in on and answer questions about the future of innovation. Our friends at RKS attended an Innovation Friday event at the Cross Campus space in Santa Monica (where they have a satellite office) that featured the commander in chief addressing audience questions about what the future holds for the innovators and institutions driving change in this country.

From the valuable role accessible health care plays to the success of American entrepreneurs, to the importance of getting more girls involved in the science, technology, engineering and math fields at a young age, the President addressed questions and concerns from the crowd in a confident, yet conversational way. He even fielded a job offer from a Cross Campus member towards the end of the QnA. Ravi at RKS published his thoughts on the visit, along with a video of the whole speech. It's well worth the read and the watch, so view it all here on the RKS blog.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  12 Dec 2014  |  Comments (1)

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The Fletcher Capstan table, like the Jupe table before it, has undoubtedly been copied in garages and workshops around the world. And while it's unlikely that anyone can duplicate David Fletcher's fastidious and multimaterial construction, some enjoy the challenge of DIY'ing something similar that's more within reach.

Contractor Scott Rumschlag falls into this category, and has put more than 400 hours over a couple of years attempting to produce a self-built version of the Fletcher Capstan, complete with star-shaped center and multi-level leaves. Here's what Rumschlag had come up with by February of last year:

While he was not able to duplicate the always-round design of the Fletcher Capstan, here's the version he posted a video of last week, where he explains the mechanicals he devised to achieve Fletcher-like results:

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Posted by core jr  |   8 Dec 2014  |  Comments (1)

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By Geoff Ledford, Industrial Designer at Soulcake Creative/INDUS Outdoors

The modern designer/manufacturer/consumer loop isn't sustainable. That's well-covered territory and the subject of books, lectures and articles by people that are smarter and much more qualified to speak on the subject than me.

But as a product designer going into the holiday spend-a-thon™, the realities of a society obsessed with stuff always hits me particularly hard this time of year. Every product that we design, produce and sell uses finite resources that will eventually run out. Mass-produced products are easily replaceable (read: disposable), which compounds the problem. And, sadly, the only inexhaustible part of the loop seems to be consumers' incessant demand for more.

What's a designer to do?
As designers, we can't do much to discourage society's obsession with stuff. (Admittedly, I suppose a designer could combat consumerism by creating hard to use, ugly or otherwise inferior products. But then he'd likely be out of a job too.) If designers do our jobs well, we actually encourage customers to buy more stuff, not less.

So if designers are, in fact, the problem solvers that we claim to be, how do we confront consumerism in the face of the impending environmental crisis? To paraphrase leadership guru Stephen Covey, it's a much better strategy to focus on things that you can control rather than worry about the things you can't. (He called it a "circle of influence.") And it's within this circle of influence that design can start to sing a sustainable tune.

03_Indus_Process_handle_claymodel.jpgIndus designers create a clay model for a hiking stick handle that allows for multiple, ergonomic grips.

A modest example
At Soulcake, we've found a way to help the environment that is within our direct circle of influence—going after upstream sources of manufacturer waste that are many of our clients' backyards. Companies routinely purge scraps and "manufacturer excess" as an accepted part of their business practice—in many cases long before finished products ever get into the hands of consumers.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   8 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Have you guys ever sold your house? When potential buyers file in, you want them to see your spacious rooms—but you don't want them lingering too long picking out the flaws. What's the best way to hustle them through so they can see it all, without their eyes picking up on the imperfect miters on the crown molding and such?

Simple: Build an in-house rollercoaster:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   1 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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This holiday season, buy the forgotten dreams of the young man in 22-D

More people than ever are flying these days. Which means more people than ever are forgetting stuff on airplanes and/or experiencing lost baggage. Did you ever wonder what happens to all of those belongings that go unclaimed?

Chances are it winds up on the shelves of a store in northern Alabama, perhaps the most unique retail outfit an American shopper could visit on this Black Friday. Unclaimed Baggage, as it's called, receives a staggering 7,000 items a day that never made it to their intended destination. The family-owned company then re-sells the best of the best, drawing a million shoppers a year to their sleepy town (population 15,000) out of a facility that "covers more than a city block."

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Before you think it's all junk like unwanted scarves, forgotten earbuds and cheap sunglasses, think again: They do a brisk business in laptops, cell phones and iPads. "We've become quite the Apple Store in our own way," Barbara Cantrell, the store's Brand Ambassador, told The New York Times. Other big-ticket items are designer-label clothing, jewelry and high-end watches, like a $60,000 Rolex. Then there's the weird stuff they've come across, like a batch of 50 vacuum-packed frogs, a 19th-Century replica suit of armor, a diamond hidden in a sock, a 4,000-year-old Egyptican burial mask, a live rattlesnake, and a freaking U.S. Air Force missile guidance system (which they returned to the government).

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   1 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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This AirDog drone may soon have a bit of unwelcome competition

The web is abuzz with news that GoPro is expanding beyond cameras into aircraft. As drone-loving videographers already attach GoPros to their own quadrotor rigs, the San-Mateo-based company figures they may as well get in on the action by producing and selling their own drones. The specs are vague, but the Wall Street Journal reports that GoPro is working on "multirotor helicopters" that will ship late next year, reportedly for more than $500 but less than $1,000.

It's possible that the move came about in reaction to China's SZ DJI Technology Co., the world's largest drone manufacturer. DJI observed that many of its customers were attaching GoPros to their products; that company then started producing their own small cameras and selling them along with the drones.

It's also possible, however, that GoPro was working on this before DJI started to muscle in on their territory. The Journal, by the way, warns that when GoPro goes drone, competing drone manufacturers may be motivated to stop supporting the GoPro in favor of going the DJI route. Ah, competition.

Here's the report:

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  21 Nov 2014  |  Comments (2)

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We've periodically covered Big Ass Fans (here and here), the Kentucky-based company that shrewdly changed their name from High Volume Low Speed Fan Company. Due to their no-nonsense marketing approach, the efficient, sturdy design of their product and periodic design refreshes, they've grown into something like the Dyson of overhead air movement systems. And now they've moved into a new product category, with another line of overhead-mounted objects: Big Ass Lights.

So here we see how selling directly to customers can help a company develop new products: Direct feedback, which would likely get lost or mangled if filtered through a distributor middleman. By interacting directly with customers and visiting their facilities, the company is in a position to overhear their needs—and gripes. "One we heard over and over again: employers' once-bright lights now glowed a dim yellow, making it difficult for workers to do their jobs and forcing maintenance teams to constantly replace bulbs," the company writes. "Those inefficient bulbs also kept energy costs high."

Seeing an opportunity, they then hired new talent, adding lighting experts to their stable of engineers. The resultant design of their LED-sporting Big Ass Light isn't actually that physically big—the smaller model's a little over three feet in length, and the larger model just under four—but the company reckons they've created "The last light you'll buy," as it's energy-efficient, well-designed and durable.

The main body of the light is an aluminum extrusion, finned to serve as a heat sink:

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

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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.

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

DH-group.jpgPaul Hatch, at top right, with fellow founders Susan Estes and Pam Daniels, and the student team from Chicago Studio

By Paul Hatch, Founder/President, TEAMS Design USA; Co-Founder, DesignHouse, LLC.

Like many products of design, DesignHouse originated with a problem. I visited a small metalshop around the corner from the TEAMS Design office because I needed a metal prototype made and wondered if they would be able to help. Their response was that they only make hinges and wouldn't be able to do it. But I had a look in their shop and saw that they had all the right machinery and certainly had the talent, so I pushed some more. "But it would be expensive," they said. "It could be $100 or more," to which I replied that I would pay $500, which would already save me money. Baffled, they made the part and it was perfect in every detail.

They closed six months later. Their 60 years of hinge-making experience had not prevented their clients from sourcing cheaper products from China.



So the idea of DesignHouse was to bring the power of design to small companies like this, so that they can utilize existing talent and machinery for other purposes and diversify their product range, so if their hinge business falls away, they still have other streams of income to keep them afloat without huge investment or retraining. In February 2013, I met Susan Estes who had similar ideas, and together with Pam Daniels we formulated our mission and founded the non-profit organization DesignHouse LLC.

Usually, when someone designs a product, he or she starts with the idea and then tries to find a vendor to make it affordably. Despite all intentions to the contrary, this method often leads people to source from China. So to keep it local, we created a unique working method that starts with a vendor and then we ideate around their particular skills. This way we could even create ideas for latent capabilities, that cool old machine in the corner, thus clearly adding to their workload rather than replacing it.

DH-problem_solution.jpgThe problem, at left: From idea to sourcing and ultimately outsourcing production. Starting with a local manufacturer and designing based on its capabilities ensures that the product is made locally.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  17 Nov 2014  |  Comments (4)

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We all know what Oprah's Book Club has done for authors. Can Martha Stewart do the same for MakerBot?

Apparently that's the hope. Today MakerBot and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia announced that they've launched an exclusive partnership, whereby not only will there be co-branded PLA filaments available for sale—forget yellow, blue and green, shortly you'll be printing in "Lemon Drop," "Robin's Egg" and "Jadeite"—but Martha's team of designers will also be producing downloadable designs for consumer purchase.

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It's easy for the hardened ID'er to snicker, but this actually signifies a potentially massive shift, or at least the start of one, for 3D printing to go seriously mainstream. If Martha Stewart's gigantic audience can be wooed into paying 99 cents to download a design they can print as many times as they want, it's entirely possible MakerBot will start seeing some sales spikes.

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  10 Nov 2014  |  Comments (2)

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The iPhone 6 and Apple Watch double launch may have put some minds at rest, but Apple is undeniably still struggling to shake off lingering pessimism regarding its future—countless column inches having been dedicated to assessments of the company's mojo and conclusions on whether it can be regained in a post-Jobs era. Time, of course, will be the judge, but the recent iOS8 update withdrawal, 'Celebgate' iCloud scandal and even the astronomical Beats buy-out, are all reminders (painful for the most fanatic) that things have not quite been the same since the untimely departure of Steve.

Recorded in 1995 and released in 2012, 'Steve Job: The Lost Interview' (full video), shows the then-ousted visionary offering a striking summation of how technology giants like IBM and Xerox lost their foothold at the height of their success. This clip from the interview is now, of course, making rounds with the suggestion that Jobs's analysis bears striking relevance regarding the current state of his former company.

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Posted by core jr  |  31 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Apropos word that industry stalwart Smart Design is closing its San Francisco studio after nearly a decade and a half in the Bay Area, our Discussion Boards are abuzz about what may well be an industry-wide shift that finds its epicenter in Silicon Valley. OP jarman65 follows up to his opener with a link to a Peter Merholz blogpost unpacking the phenomenon; forumite Cyberdemon initially chimes in with the pros and cons of in-house vs. consultancy and a general shift in the industry, later concisely summing it up: "Smart and the big guys got contracts from the mega-corporations who could afford their hefty price tag, and those are the guys who now have fairly large and mature design teams internally." Meanwhile, Surface Phil puts it bluntly:

I think it's time to face the music that if you are an agency whose core offering is industrial design alone (i.e. designing plastic) chances are this service can be found elsewhere. Whether it be in-house design resource or outsourced overseas. You better be bringing something else to the table. UX, business innovation, commercialization strategy. Something...

Commentators also note that Smart Design recently opened a London office (after quietly dissolving a Barcelona satellite) and there is no indication that the company is in anything less than ship-shape—which is precisely why some, such as Merholz, conclude that the trend is a symptom of the ascendancy of tech companies. In short, these juggernauts are increasingly investing in design, which may spell the demise of the brand-name consultancy as we know it. That, or maybe it's simply the case that Shoreditch is the new SoMa:

All told, it remains to be seen as to whether the shakeup at Smart Design is a Bay Area bellwether or an isolated incident. The second page of the discussion thread broadly addresses the facts, with more of the nitty-gritty from industry vets bepster, Yo, FluffyData and slippyfish; speculation though it may be, their comments speak to the dynamic—and sometimes outright political—nature of the relationship between consultancies and their clients.

» Join the conversation

Posted by core jr  |  14 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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By Robert Grace

Business executives, designers and Chinese government officials alike received a hefty dose of knowledge and insight this past weekend about the value and importance of design not only to products and environments but also to the human condition.

A diverse mix of more than 700 attendees—of whom roughly half were non-designer, C-level business officials—attended the inaugural Design Success Summit at the Portman Ritz-Carlton Shanghai on Oct. 11 to listen, learn and debate the role that design can play in enhancing business and improving lives. Held in the midst of Shanghai Design Week, the day-long conference was capped by presentation of about 180 awards to the winners of the ninth annual Successful Design Awards competition.

An underlying yet high-minded theme that emerged at the DSS event, in addition to its stated goal of "amplifying the value of design," was the role that designers can and should play in the betterment of society.

In the highlight of the event, Don Norman, former Apple VP and co-founder/principal of the Fremont, Calif.-based Nielsen Norman Group (and sometime Core77 columnist), tag-teamed with Prof. Patrick Whitney, dean of the Illinois Institute of Technology's Institute of Design, on a 90-minute discussion, during which the pair challenged the aspiring designers in the audience.

Referring to design as "the intermediary between technology and people," Norman urged young designers to become generalists, not specialists. He suggested that students not major in design, but rather focus on gaining an understanding in history, literature, politics, and other such broad-based topics, because designers need to be able "to look at the entire issue." The key, he suggested, is not just solving the immediate problems that present themselves, but rather analyzing the entire situation. "Design is not about giving you answers," he said, "it's a process to determine what the real problem is."

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   9 Oct 2014  |  Comments (2)

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This week Adobe released a trailer showing what they've (hopefully) got in the pipeline, setting user forums alight with cries of both "Bravo!" and "BS!" Depending on your disposition, you will inevitably feel one or the other while watching it:

While the footage is obviously cooked (with After Effects, no doubt), most of the stuff seems possible—even that nutty part with the rotoscoped horses, given enough computing power.

That theoretical computing power is meant to be the unseen but still understood message behind this bit of advertising, as it was done in conjunction between Adobe and Microsoft. The two companies have apparently gotten into bed together, with Microsoft putting in a surprise appearance at this week's Adobe Max conference, where the boys from Redmond pulled the Oprah-like move of lacing everyone in the keynote audience with free Surface Pro 3 tablets.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   8 Oct 2014  |  Comments (2)

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Bruno Francois is a clever man. Back in 2012 he figured out how to game the vibrating function in an iPhone 5, combined with data from the gyro and compass, in order to cause the iPhone to precisely rotate in place when stood up on its edge. The resultant app he created, Cycloramic, could then shoot hands-free panoramic photos and video:

This was good enough to garner Francois some 600,000-plus downloads, and with a $0.99 retail price, he presumably recouped whatever investment of time and money he put into developing the app. But earlier this year he appeared on the competitive "Shark Tank" TV show, where entrepreneurs compete to gain financial backing from Mark-Cuban-level big dogs, to see if he could go next-level. The clip was riveting:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  17 Sep 2014  |  Comments (1)

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The key characteristic of a Military-Industrial Complex is that armaments manufacturers want wars to keep going, so that they can keep making profits. Thankfully for the human race, not all industrialists are willing to propagate this system. France's Andre Citröen, an engineer by training, was one such enlightened individual.

See, Citröen was responsible for mass-producing armaments for France during World War I. But he realized the war wouldn't last forever, and knew that the factory he was running was going to be shut down unless there was something else to mass produce afterwards. With six years of pre-war experience working for the early French automobile manufacturer Mors, Citröen decided he'd produce a car—and he started working on it as early as 1916, two years before the war even ended.

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That's why, when Allied victory came in late 1918, Citröen was ready to roll out a car just four months later. The lightweight, relatively affordable 18-horsepower Citröen Type A was a success, and by 1920 the Parisian factory was producing 100 per day.

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They cranked out some 24,000 units before Citröen succeeded the Type A with the Type B2.

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Posted by Ray  |  15 Sep 2014  |  Comments (1)

IndustrialFacility-HermanMiller-Locale-1.jpgLocale 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.

IndustrialFacility-Mattiazzi-BrancaStool.jpgThe 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."

IndustrialFacility-HermanMiller-Formwork.jpgFormwork for Herman Miller (2014)

IndustrialFacility-HermanMiller-Formwork-prototypes.jpgPrototypes of Formwork

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  10 Sep 2014  |  Comments (6)

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Watching yesterday's Apple Live event, I oohed and aahed over the shots of the iPhone 6 with the rest of you, and when my screen turned black at the end of the Apple Watch teaser, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the monitor and saw my mouth was hanging open. But to this design lover, it wasn't any of the beauty shots, but the pull-quote below that I thought was the most significant takeaway from the entire presentation.

CEO Tim Cook was pacing the stage, rattling off facts: The credit card is fifty years old, it's no longer convenient nor secure, people have been attempting to replace them with digital wallets...

...But they've all failed. Why is this?
It's because most people that've worked on this have started by focusing on creating a business model that was centered around their self interest, instead of focusing on the user experience.
We love this kind of problem. This is exactly what Apple does best.

Cook proceeded to unveil Apple Pay, the NFC-based one-touch payment process that the new iPhones and the Apple Watch will all be able to perform.

I say that quote is significant because Cook essentially laid out Apple's key competitive advantage, the business secret that does not need to be secret because none of their competitors seem to be able to get those five words right.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   6 Sep 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Late yesterday Vanity Fair broke the news: Marc Newson is joining Apple's design team!

Apple's design veep Jonathan Ive is not only close friends with Newson, but the two have collaborated before, on the 43-object (Red) Auction project, and according to VF have been working together on an unspecified Apple project during the past year. Given Apple's typical development timelines, it's unlikely (if possible) that we'll see what the Newson collaboration has yielded at Apple's September 9 press event—mApple's mum on whether he was involved with their forthcoming smartwatch—but in any case, Newson is in fact getting an Apple ID card.

"Marc is without question one of the most influential designers of this generation," Ive said in a statement provided to VF Daily. "He is extraordinarily talented. We are particularly excited to formalize our collaboration as we enjoy working together so much and have found our partnership so effective."
"I'm full of admiration and respect for the extraordinary design work that has been produced by Jony and the team at Apple," Newson said. "My close friendship with Jony has not only given me a unique insight into that process, but the opportunity to work together with him and the people that have been responsible. I am enormously proud to join them."

One thing Newson won't be doing is picking up stakes; the London-based designer will remain in the UK to collaborate from afar.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   4 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Among pet lovers it's a common, if somewhat weird, practice for them to give their animal a Facebook page or Twitter account, as if Spot and Felix had the wherewithal to operate a computer. But Portland, Oregon-based Mike and Megan Wilson, the husband-and-wife team behind CatastrophiCreations, are taking it one step further and claiming their cats can design and build.

One morning we woke up and stumbled into the living room. To our suprise, our new baby kitten had gotten into my tool box and taken apart our couch and rebuilt it into a cat bridge. After that we thought, "Bingo", we'll lock him in a room and start selling all of his creations on Etsy.
After a couple weeks we started feeling bad for the load we were putting on our new cat, so we got another cat to give him a hand and double the amount of orders we can produce. Toys for cats, by cats.

Gag aside, their Indiana Jones Cat Bridge ($150 to $180) has proven to be a hit, and the couple began designing and building more cat-based furniture. Hammocks, ramps, shelves, climbing holes, feeders, and even a Super-Mario-Bros.-inspired "complex":

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  27 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Don't let the bland name of Scottish start-up Design LED Products fool you. At last year's Lux Live 2013 lighting exhibition, DLP showed off the flexible resin-based LED tile you see above, considered to be a potential game-changer in lighting design. The tiles are flexible, modular, inexpensive, highly efficient (roughly 90%), can emit light on one or both sides, and "can be produced in any shape or size up to 1m, offering up to 20,000 lumen per square meter," according to the press release. They also do not require external "thermal management," i.e. bulky heat sinks.

Well, someone noticed, and that someone was IKEA. Today it was reported that Ikea's GreenTech venture capital division plunked down an undisclosed sum to invest in the company, giving them access to the light tiles for their presumed inclusion in future product designs. "The tiles are unique as they are extremely thin, flexible and low cost and can be seamlessly joined together in exciting new designs," IKEA said in a statement. "The partnership is a clear strategic fit for IKEA and our goal to make living sustainably affordable and attractive for millions of people."

While you can still buy halogens and CFLs at IKEA today, by the way, the company is reportedly planning to switch exclusively to LEDs by September of 2015.

Anyone want to take a guess at what they'll be designing with these? Kitchen wall cabinets with these tiles on the undersides seem like the obvious choice, but those would be flat; I'm most curious to see how they'd exploit the curvability of the technology.