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Posted by core jr  |   1 Nov 2012  |  Comments (4)

DesignTideTokyo2012-DrillDesign-low.jpgText by Rachel Carvosso; photos by Junya Hirokawa

Through a solid three years of experimentation and tinkering, Yusuke Hayashi and Yoko Yasunishi of Drill Design have arrived at "Paper-Wood" which is now sold as a material used by a range of different designers and companies to make everyday objects (furniture, stationary, garden and kitchen utensils).

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According to Yoko, the initial combination they came up with used acrylic and wood but the latest series (four and five) use paper and basswood. Since the colors aren't painted on, the material always retains its bright colors, even when it wears down. When I asked what kind of paper they use, I was quietly told it's a 'company secret.'

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"...the first two years we experimented in workshops to find out what materials, colors and combinations worked best... we wanted to explore the concept of adding things to wood to make new kinds of 'layer cake' materials," explains Yoko. Look closely at a slice of Paper-Wood and you can clearly see the "layer cake" she's talking about—each layer alternates between, well, paper and wood.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   1 Nov 2012  |  Comments (2)

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Karim Rashid sez: "Human beings touch an average of 600 objects a day." I'm guessing that number drops, and becomes much more focused, during emergency situations. Here are the two things I touched most during the recent blackout.

Surprise winner: The iPod Nano I never ordinarily use.

The Nano's built-in radio tuner was my only link to mass media, and as I live in a city well-covered by broadcast towers the reception was crystal clear. The device is tiny and unobtrusive, easy to clip on the lapel of a shirt. It only had a sliver of battery life left, yet lasted hours longer than I thought it would, because after you turn the screen off it uses such little juice.

The Nano will now be a go-to piece of kit for me, as soon as I get around its only drawback (proprietary charging method) by acquiring a battery-powered iDevice charger. I'd recommend it for anyone not requiring a powerful antenna.

Expected winner: Surefire flashlight.

Undoubtedly the object I touched the most during the blackout whether cooking, trying to take a pee, or confronting someone I thought was breaking into the darkened diner downstairs (turned out to be the diner owner, who offered me free bagels in gratitude). I can't say the model I have, the E2L Outdoorsman, is any better or worse than competing ones, as the only thing I have to compare it to is the relatively wan Mag-Lites I grew up with. The ergonomics of tactical LED flashlights are obviously superior, requiring just one hand, and the beam is almost absurdly bright for something so small. The metal clip is sturdy and makes it easy to keep the thing at hand at all times.

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However, there are two central design flaws that I see with LED flashlights like this. 1) A lack of visual feedback on power levels, and 2) no well-designed way to attach extra batteries.

1) When this flashlight does run out on you, it's completely without warning. One second it's working, one second it's not. Old-school flashlights start to get dim, telling you it's time to switch batteries.

I realize this would add to the cost, but I'd consider it a perfect object if there was an indicator of exactly how much battery life was left. I'd settle for a sequence of LED dots, but I'd pay more for a counter that dumbed it down—the way new cars tell you you've got 72 miles left in the tank—by telling me how many more minutes I could leave the thing on for.

2) The CR2 batteries required by LED flashlights are not easy for me to find locally, so I stock up on Amazon. But I don't like that they sit in the back of some drawer. I wish the Surefire had some type of clip-on thing so I could always keep the extra batteries together with it, in case it runs out while I'm in the middle of doing something important. I'm guessing someone makes a holster that holds both the flashlights and extra batteries, but I'd prefer not to have a separate thing, I'd like to see it built into the flashlight itself.

Up Next: Your Suggestions for Disaster Prep Objects

* * *

See all of our Hurricane Sandy coverage

NYC on Hurricane Lockdown:
» First Impressions
» Taping Windows is Probably a Waste of Time. Now We Need a Video Demonstrating Why
» Three Types of Flood Barriers, from Sad to Serious

Hipstomp's Dispatches from the Dark:
» Good Objects, Bad Preparation
» Public Behavior, during the Blackout, in Traffic & Communications
» What Came in Handy During Sandy?
» What Are Your Go-To Disaster Prep Items

Plus:
» AT&T Sending Mobile Hotspot "Satellite COLT" Trucks into NYC
» Two Versions of the Manhattan Blackout
» Hurricane Sandy vs. NYC Cyclists

Last but not least, check out our list of ways to help

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  31 Oct 2012  |  Comments (6)

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The problem with most audio speakers is that they're not designed to irritate your neighbors to their full potential. Sure, you could point your speakers directly at a window or shared wall, or place it against a floor-mounted cast-iron radiator to send the sounds of Shakira directly into the apartment below yours, but doing either of those things can diminish your own listening experience.

Well, help is here in the form of wireless resonating speakers like the Mighty Dwarf, seen above, and the Mini Dwarf, seen in the video below. These diminutive devices sound like crap when played open-air, but attach it to virtually any surface--the floor, a window, or the sheetrock between apartments 2A and 2B--and you've got a party!

Check out the demo below by fast-forwarding to 3:10:

We know what you're thinking: Can I afford one of these? Folks, with buy-in starting at just 50 bucks, you can't afford not to get one of these. You may never find out exactly who is nicking your copies of the Times, or leaving the vestibule wide open despite your persistent and thoughtfully-worded Post-Its, but someone will be made to pay.

Posted by Perrin Drumm  |  31 Oct 2012  |  Comments (16)

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Add this new acronym to your phrase book: GIR, or Get It Right. For their very first product, the designers at GIR have cooked up what they're calling the Ultimate Spatula, a single piece of molded silicone that's easy to hold, easy to clean and can handle food temperatures up to 460 degrees. You'd think by now someone would have been able to nail spatula design, but most spatulas available to consumers have a number of flaws. For example, a spatula made from multiple parts, including a head, handle and grip, means there's at least three extra joints for food gunk to get stuck in. Metal handles get too hot; wooden handles have to be hand washed. The GIR spatula, however, is made from a single piece of silicone molded over a nylon reinforcement that runs through the entire body, ending just 5cm from the tip, lending the blade enough structure to mix heavy, wet ingredients while retaining the flexibility to run it flush against the inside of bowls, dishes and cookware.

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To see if the GIR spatula really was "the best spatula you've ever used," we road-tested it in a variety of dishes and temperatures. At first we were skeptical that the blade wasn't thin enough at the tip to scrape the bowl clean, but after using it in dense, wet cookie dough, hot, sticky oatmeal and a greased frying pan for flipping our eggs over easy, we found the tip was able to run between the food and the cooking equipment seamlessly. We bent the blade back with the palm of our hands, used it in an impromptu kitchen sword fight and ran it through the dishwasher, where we were sure the heat would mangle its pristine silicone body, but it emerged from our endurance test without a scratch. Consider us convinced.

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GIR's Kickstarter goal has already been met two-and-a-half times over, but you can still donate $20 and preorder your Ultimate Spatula in one of ten colors.

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Posted by Ray  |  22 Oct 2012  |  Comments (1)

Sothing-XiangfeiRan-BambooChandelier.jpgBamboo chandelier

If you've never heard of Wenzhou before, consider yourself educated: Sothing, easily my personal favorite among the talents at the Interior Lifestyle China show last week, hails from the Southern Chinese city of three million residents. The design consultancy provides fully-integrated product design solutions for clients such as Intel, Lenovo and Philips, among others, as well as a collection of independently-produced design objects. Several of these items were on display at the Shanghai Exhibition Center, and each and every one stood out as a noteworthy product.

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The "Branches" lamp would tip over if not for the presence of the rock—any sufficiently heavy object will suffice—a simple metaphor for finding stability in everyday life. Meanwhile, the gold-peaked "Mountain" plate beneath it represents a perpetual sunrise.

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As with the plate, the teapot refers to the mountains around the Wenzhou region; less obvious is the fact that the cups are shaped like the region's bodies of water.

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Sothing Design Director Xiangfei Ran eagerly shared his insights and, with just a little prodding, some ideation sketches from his notebook.

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The "Chair" ring is based on a pun: in Chinese, to 'depend' (yikao) is closely homophonous with 'leaning on a chair.' The wearable miniature is something like an elegant upgrade from a friendship bracelet.

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Sothing's clear acrylic incense holders are treated with a carefully-applied pigment that deepens as smoke slowly escapes the enclosure.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  17 Oct 2012  |  Comments (3)

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Back when I was a bona fide CAD monkey, I had carpal tunnel like the rest of us. After successfully convincing my employer that they needed to ditch the mice and get Wacom tablets, the wrist pain went away.

For intensive work, the pen is such a superior form factor to the mouse that Swedish company Penclic melded the two to create a new type of input device. It looks a little strange—something like a pen sitting in an inkwell—but that hasn't stopped it from being nominated for "Best Work Environment Product" by the Swedish award of the same name. "The nomination...presents an excellent opportunity to increase awareness about our device's many advantages over the traditional mouse, both ergonomically and precision-wise," said Penclic CEO Stina Wahlqvist.

The Penclic mouse's ergonomic benefits are achieved by eliminating the need for the unnatural, twirling arm movements associated with traditional mice. The pen-shaped design extends the body's natural movements, allowing the user to work with the underarm kept linear, in a rested, flat position against the work surface.

But the advantages go beyond ergonomics. The device not only looks, feels and moves like a pen, but it also has a pen-like grip that provides a level of precision that makes it well-suited for demanding creative tasks such as photography, design and architecture. Advanced technology in combination with the ergonomic design delivers fast and precise cursor movements with minimal effort and hand motion.

The scroll wheel placement doesn't seem ideal—as you can see in the vid, when she uses the wheel, the base moves around a bit, which I can see causing havoc with fine-point navigation—but I'm still looking forward to trying one of these out.

Posted by Ray  |   1 Oct 2012  |  Comments (5)

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My other life as a recreational cyclist often influences the occasional product reviews that I write, whether the product is actually a bike accessory or not. Outdoor Technology's Turtle Shell is somewhere in between: the LA-based company offers an optional bike mount for the wireless speaker, which is designed expressly for outdoor and urban settings. Complementary usage scenarios notwithstanding, I found it more impressive as a portable speaker as opposed to a bike accessory, handsome and entirely practical in a variety of settings except when mounted to my handlebars.

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The thoughtfully designed packaging of the Turtle Shell promises premium product within: the acrylic box looks fit for an Apple store and is easily repurposed for all variety of knick-knack and tchotchke. As per the description on the Kickstarter page, it comes with a USB charging cable and a wall adapter, as well as a 3.5mm audio cable for non-Bluetooth audio sources, plus a carrying pouch that's perfect for the speaker but doesn't quite fit all of the accessories.

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It's not quite usable out-of-the-box: the quickstart guide advises a full charge prior to use. Charge time comes in at a completely reasonable 2.5–3 hours for up to eight hours of music playback; it's obviously too soon to tell how the battery life holds up over time, but I found that I was able to use the Turtle Shell on and off for a couple days at a time without recharging it. In fact, it never completely ran out of juice on my watch, and I assume that the indicator light, which blinks red when charging, does the same when the battery is low.

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The controls—three buttons and a backlit on/off switch—are located on the outer edge of the device, as are the USB and line-in ports (neatly concealed with a protective flap). I happen to like the old-fashioned jog dial myself, but it turns out that the buttons are multifunctional (especially in 'Talk' mode, below), allowing for both volume control and previous/next track function. The interface isn't quite intuitive—the red/blue indicator and loud-ish beep can be a bit arcane—but all that you really need to know is that holding down the center button activates 'pairing mode' for new devices.

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Posted by Ray  |  18 Sep 2012  |  Comments (1)

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Continuing with a theme, Orée is a new company offering a "range of lasting & customizable handcrafted tech objects made out of premium materials," the first of which is simply known as "Board." Of course, the premium peripheral has keys as any text input device, offering all of the functionality of a bluetooth keyboard in a handsome handcrafted maple or walnut package

The Orée Board is eco-designed: each unit is made from a single piece of wood which is cut into three "sheets" to preserve the wood grain across the shell and keys while also minimizing waste. We select wood varieties which are made to last, offer elegant aesthetics and that create a warm tactile experience for the user. We source them from sustainably managed forests to offer the most natural, durable and renewable material on Earth. In addition, the Orée Board is powered by a low power Bluetooth 3.0 chipset from Broadcom and a high quality key mechanism to offer extended durability.

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As with Michael Roopenian's "Engrain" keyboard, "Board" is intended to be a "lasting personalized object that [has] a soul and puts people in touch with the most natural material on earth."

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Of course, the French company is well beyond the prototype phase: tech entrepreneur Julien Salanave founded the company earlier this year in Languedoc in Southern France, and Tent London (which opens on Thursday) will see the launch of Orée with the "Board."

Orée is the result of a unique partnership between a technology entrepreneur, a product designer and a master woodcraftsman ("Compagnon"). Orée is about reconciling tradition & novelty to create exceptional objects through an exclusive combination of timeless woodworking techniques passed down through generations of French woodcrafters & cabinetmakers with cutting-edge milling technology.

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Posted by Core77 Design Awards  |   9 Sep 2012  |  Comments (0)

Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting award-winning projects and ideas from this year's Core77 Design Awards 2012! For full details on the project, jury commenting and more information about the awards program, go to Core77DesignAwards.com

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  • Communicaid
  • Designer: Jae Pyung Lee
  • Location: Academy of Art University
  • Category: Consumer Products
  • Award: Student Runner up

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The Communicaid is a system that can facilitate communication between deaf and hearing people. It's designed for the people who were born deaf and didn't acquire language early or that have lost it in early childhood. Communicaid Visual Sound Station and Glasses are portable devices for indoor/outdoor use. It catches important sounds from the environment and alerts them visually. The Mobile Communicator is a handheld device that communicates with hearing people more efficiently and conveniently.

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How did you learn that you had been recognized by the jury?
I was on my way to work when the judging came out. I couldn't watch the live stream on the bus so I was just checking my Facebook. A few minutes later, I noticed that my friend tagged me and posted "congratulations" on my wall. I was really surprised when I saw the Core77 Design Awards link. I arrived at work by that time and checked the website right away. I watched the video with my co-worker and after a while, they announced my name. I still remember that thrilling moment.

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What's the latest news or development with your project?
My project has been featured not only on Core77 but also a few famous design blogs. I was surprised that many people actually contacted me for further information about Communicaid and to purchase the products by email, Facebook and even by phone. Currently, I am working with one of my deaf contacts to develop new deaf-friendly prototypes and to locate additional investments for possible production.

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What is one quick anecdote about your project?
During the research phase, I was grocery shopping and I found a young man trying to help a customer who is hard-of-hearing. The young man kept asking him, "Is this the one? Or this one?" over and over again. A worker saw him but she just passed by. After trying but failing, he also left him behind. I couldn't just leave, so I approached him and tried to help. Finally, we found what he wanted, but it took a long time to communicate. That situation reminded me of my deaf cousin and I started to wonder, "Is there a more efficient way to communicate with hard of hearing people?"

Posted by core jr  |   6 Sep 2012  |  Comments (0)

6-2012-winner_miller.jpegIt's Miller Time! Miller Boombox by Manajans/JWT Istanbul, Beer Winner.

It's a par-tay! Pop a bottle and félicitations to this year's winners of The Dieline Awards...the award-winning package designs are coming to Paris. Join The Dieline's founder Andrew Gibbs, Diadeis package design agency and the Designpack Gallery on September 20th for the opening reception of The Dieline's Winners Exhibit.

The Dieline Awards 2012 Winners Exhibition
Allée du Recyclage Gallery
Galerie de Valois in Paris
(inside the metro stop: Palais Royal - Musée du Louvre)
Opening Reception September 20th
Exhibition Opening September 21st
RSVP here

2012's Dieline Awards recognized 38 winners across 12 different categories including editor's choice (below), food, drink, beauty and books. Check out the winners:

6-2012-winner_alternative-12.jpegAlternative Organic Wine by The Creative Method. Show Winner.

6-2012-winner_no13.jpegSpirit No. 13 by Stranger & Stranger. Editor's Choice.

6-2012-winner_nubone.jpegNuBone, by Jacky Kaho Ling & David Dong-Hee Suh. Home, Garden & Pets Winner (and Core77 Design Awards Packaging Winner!)

continued...

Posted by Sam Dunne  |   5 Sep 2012  |  Comments (9)

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Man and condom have been locked in a bitter struggle of begrudging codependency since the beginning of time (or sometime in the 1920's). Latex may have got tougher, lubricant may have got lubricantier, but we have seen surprisingly little noteworthy product or packaging innovation, short of the occasional rubbery ridge or a mildly disconcerting flavouring.

'The One Handed Condom Wrapper'—brainchild of London based designer Ben Pawle—could be the long awaited answer to fumbling lovers' cries across the globe, and is, perhaps, the biggest coup for seamless love making since the days of bra burning.

Taking aim at the impractical impenetrability of contemporary condom packaging, Ben's foil wrapper redesign imagines the contraceptive being applied with the use of a single hand—opened, quite literally, with a click of the fingers. (Check out his video after the jump)

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 Aug 2012  |  Comments (6)

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Ikea Communications runs the largest photo studio in northern Europe. Inside their 94,000-square-foot facility an army of carpenters, designers and shooters all plan, build and photograph the faux rooms you see in the Ikea catalog. Here's a brief look at their facility:

Fake rooms still require real skilled labor to produce. The walls need to be painted, the kitchens need to be tiled, the living rooms need to be styled. It's a lot of work, and when the catalog's finished, the rooms get torn down to make way for next year's.

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It's therefore no surprise that Ikea is using more and more digital images in their catalog, like the ones you see here. (That's right, none of these are real.) Yet when I first heard this fact during a presentation at Autodesk headquarters, where a company flack mentioned Ikea uses their software to create the images, all of us journalists in the room snatched up our phones to Tweet this.

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No one can tell the difference between the studio shots and the CG ones, so it makes sense to save on all of the building materials required for the former by shifting focus towards the latter. Currently just 12% of the Ikea catalog consists of digital images, though they're ramping that up to 25% for the next catalog.

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Posted by Perrin Drumm  |  28 Aug 2012  |  Comments (0)

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Though NYIGF has a rep for showcasing mass-produced commercial items, the kind you might find in a gift shop that sells candles and cards and tea towels—and certainly there is plenty of that—their 'Accent on Design' section lent visibility to some wonderfully original and talented young designers and design studios this year. We noticed a resurgence of bright and playful pattern work with heavy geometrical and botanical influences from the female designers at the show. Some of the best work came from Banquet Atelier & Workshop, a Vancouver-based studio run by founding partners Sarah Edmond and Tammy Lawrence.

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Edmond and Lawrence make beautiful hand painted illustrations for stationery sets and notebooks as well as hand lettered notecards in great contrasting color combinations like neon pink and orange printed on brown craft paper. Their real specialty, however, are their print editions, large and affordable posters influenced by historical natural history drawings. We love the Marine Animals Print ($60), a can-you-find-me-style silhouetted collage of sea animals of the Pacific Northwest with accompanying text like, "Did you know a group of jellyfish is called a smack? That sea cucumbers expel their internal organs when disturbed and re-grow them later? Or that the blackbelly eelpout is sometimes referred to as a fish doctor or lawyer? "

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Banquet also keeps a lovely blog that reads like a series of mood boards. If you flip back through it you can see the evolution of their design work, like their Paddle Cactus Print ($38), which began as a couple of snapshots Edmond and Lawrence took of various cactus plants they liked, then an old black and white photo of a bulging Saguaro followed by a few watercolor studies they made.

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Aside from cacti, Banquet says their current inspirations include "cherry blossoms, Sister Corita, mixed prints, big necklaces, a great sandwich, turquoise and dark green together, Lygia Clark, vintage quilts, model ship building, that certain lavender pink paint color, and freckles as constellations." See more of their work here.

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Posted by Ray  |  23 Aug 2012  |  Comments (0)

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Don't be fooled by their name (a reference to the country where they've been exhibiting since 2004): Tuttobene is actually a confederation of Dutch designers who pursue "the art of designing physical objects to comply with the principles of economic, social, and ecological sustainability." While they're an institution in Milan, the recent NY International Gift Fair hosted their first foray into the U.S., at once an exploratory mission and a chance for designers from the Netherlands to gain exposure beyond the sometimes-insular design world.

The participation of Tuttobene at the New York International Gift Fair is the U.S. debut for both Tuttobene and the design studios. Never before such a large group of Dutch designers gathered in the U.S. in a group presentation. The Boyscouts, Dutch Design Chair, De Dopper, Manon Garritsen, Royal Goedewaagen, Yvette Laduk, Jurianne Matter, Tweelink, Slim Ben Ameur, New Duivendrecht, Oooms, The Cottage Industry, Reineke Otten, Frederik Roijé, Roozenbottel, Soonsalon, Carina Riezebos and Carola Zee for Label Aleph will show their products.

NYIGF-Tuttobene-YvetteLaduk-WoodyWood.jpgYvette Laduk's "Woody Wood" anchored the booth... because bigger is definitely better here in 'Murica.

If a trip across the Atlantic isn't as far-flung as, say, Mars, many of the designers expressed a genuine curiosity about the differences between the furniture-centric Salone and the more retail-driven Gift Fair. Nevertheless, the 18 designers and companies made an impressive debut at the Javits Center, and Tuttobene was easily one of the strongest booths at this year's show.

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Although we'd seen Frederik Roijé's "Dish of Desire" and Slim Ben Ameur's "Continued Vase" at New Duivendrecht in Milan, the fact that the work looked great even in a markedly different context reaffirmed the strength of the work.

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Reineke Otten's "World Skin Colors" scarves were a definite standout: the silk scarves are digitally printed with sociological, economic and geographical data that's been abstracted to varying degrees into stylized infographic patterns and symbols. Each one measures 140cm2 (55in2), and she's produced a graphic for every country, over 200 in all, as part of her broader investigation into the topic.

The World Skin Colors scarves turn this (demographic) data into a visual language, and then into fashion. A program directed by Reineke Otten and applied by LUST designers translates these gathered statistics about migration, population density, temperature, UV radiation, GDP, and transport into a graphic code: the numerical grid of an Excel sheet becomes shape, color, and pattern in eight overlapping layers. Each layer represents a different factor influencing the composition of skin tones in a particular place.

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While Otten has presented the data in various formats for exhibitions the world over, the scarves represent a particularly accessible—and beautiful—product of the "World Skin Colors" project.

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Posted by Core77 Design Awards  |  23 Aug 2012  |  Comments (0)

Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting award-winning projects and ideas from this year's Core77 Design Awards 2012! For full details on the project, jury commenting and more information about the awards program, go to Core77DesignAwards.com

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  • T50elite Staple Gun
  • Designer: Michael Reedy & ManKi Yoo / Masco Design
  • Category: Consumer Products
  • Award: Professional Notable

The T50elite is a professional quality manual staple gun for both pro and DIY users. In addition to its sleek look and ergonomic feel, the T50elite is versatile with several innovative features. These include a patented drive technology which creates up to 60% more power while being easier to squeeze than the original Arrow T50. The additional power allows the tool to fire six sizes of T50 staples and brad nails up to 1" long. Other features include an integrated adjustable wire guide for safely installing low-voltage wiring and a high-low power setting.

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How did you learn that you had been recognized by the jury?
We had planned on watching the video, but had a meeting Monday morning. Before we could check Core77's website, we had received the official email and even a congratulatory email from a colleague who had been watching the feed.

What's the latest news or development with your project?
The T50elite has had strong sales at Lowe's and is starting to get broader distribution in North America and internationally. There is also a version called T50 R.E.D. which is sold at the Home Depot.

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What is one quick anecdote about your project?
During ethnographic interviews last fall, we had a production version of the T50elite we were getting feedback on. We were sitting around the participant's dining room table and when she discovered that the T50elite could fire a 1" brad nail she was so excited she immediately grabbed it and used it to secure a loose piece of chair molding. She exclaimed, "My husband is going be so impressed!" It was amazing how empowered the T50elite had made her.

What was an "a-ha" moment from this project?
As soon as we tried engineering a mechanical prototype we knew this tool was going to be a hit. However, the mechanism and industrial design have to be tightly integrated to be successful. We knew it was going to take a lot of close collaboration with engineering to keep the tool compact and reduce the grip span as much as possible. It was definitely worth the effort though!

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Posted by Perrin Drumm  |  23 Aug 2012  |  Comments (0)

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Though Artecnica was founded in 1986 to provide architectural and interior design services, the company has grown into an internationally recognized source for inventive design products from new and established designers, including Tord Boontje, Hella Jongerius and the Campana Brothers. They've pioneered modern classics, like Rich Brilliant Willing's Bright Side Lights, as well as iconic contemporary designs like Clara von Zweigbergk's Themis Mono Mobile.

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Ten years ago Artecnica founded Design With Conscience, "a program to manufacture and produce products in accordance with humanitarian and environmentally friendly principles." For the past decade they've paired designers with talented artisans in underdeveloped countries to develop a "competitive product that will encourage the survival of indigenous craft."

Past products include a bowl made from natural wicker and repurposed scooter tires, a line of organic, soy-based candles hand-poured into one-of-a-kind glass containers and tranSglass, a follow-up glass collection of vases that's now part of MoMA's permanent collection and one of the Artecnica's best-selling products.

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For this year's collaboration they worked with the graphic design firm Studio Lin (who did United Bamboo's cat calendar, the American Design Club's logo and the visual identity for Core77's 2011 Design Awards) and Homeboy Industries, the largest gang prevention program in the US, to produce a line of tote bags that Artecnica is calling their "most provocative Design With Conscience project to date." For the past 25 years Homeboy Industries has provided employment and rehabilitation services like counseling and tattoo removal to ex-gang members and at-risk youths (approximately 12,000 each year). The canvas totes are screenprinted by ex-gang members with their original calligraphy, featuring slogans like "Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job," "Hard Work Is Easier Than Hard Time" and "We're A Whole Lot More Than The Worst We've Ever Done."

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We know that with everyone from your corner grocer to your bank handing out free totes like it'll save the world, you might not be compelled to actually spend money on one, but if there are classes of tote bags these are top of the line. The canvas is thick and durable, the strap length is perfect and there's even a pocket on the inside. Plus, it supports a truly worthwhile project, and who can't get behind that?

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Posted by Perrin Drumm  |  22 Aug 2012  |  Comments (0)

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Earlier this summer lucky Los Angelinos welcomed Poketo's 4,000 square foot storefront to 3rd Street in Downtown—an airy sunlit space clad in raw plywood that owners Angie Myung and Ted Vadakan call the "actual realization of what you see online." While the shop carries a selection of items not available online, including some rarer products from Poketo's archives, the rest of the world can rest assured that the bulk of their goods are still available online, as well as in your nearest Target store soon (their second paper goods collaboration with Target was just announced).

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Before Poketo was around, you felt privileged if you happened to stumble upon the kind of simple, colorful, minimalist desk accessories and notebooks that they're best known for. But lest you think Poketo is just a cutesy stationery store, Myung and Vadakan rigorously curate their offerings and regularly work with artists and designers to develop new collections especially for their shop. Aside from their iconic striped backpacks, some of our favorite products include the Stand by Me spiral planner, made more perfect with the addition of a string closure manila envelope attached to the front cover, an improvement over the pocket in the back of Moleskine notebooks. The moment you use that pocket it becomes impossible to actually write on the pages, but by simply moving that feature to the front cover you make the same notebook vastly more useful.

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Posted by Core77 Design Awards  |  10 Aug 2012

Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting award-winning projects and ideas from this year's Core77 Design Awards 2012! For full details on the project, jury commenting and more information about the awards program, go to Core77DesignAwards.com

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  • zSpace
  • Designer: Whipsaw, Inc.
  • Location: Mountain View, CA
  • Category: Consumer Products
  • Award: Professional Notable

zSpace is a remarkable new 3D visualization tool that enables designers, engineers and film makers to build, manipulate and view objects in 3D. Unlike 3d TV, zSpace objects are created and displayed in 3D with CAD in real-time high-definition. Your creations float magically in front of you as you imagine, develop, change, spin around and fly through them. Using a proprietary stereoscopic LCD display, trackable eyewear and an interaction stylus, virtual objects appear "solid" in open space, with full color and high resolution.

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How did you learn that you had been recognized by the jury?
Email announcement.

What's the latest news or development with your project?
Since zSpace launched at Autodesk University in November, it has quickly gained notoriety. It's been featured on NPR's "All Things Considered"; NASA's "TechBriefs" newsletter, and Fast Company's CoDesign website; and it received a "Best of Show" award at the Computer Graphics World conference in March 2012.

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What is one quick anecdote about your project?
When we first saw this technology we were blown away. High-definition holographic objects floated in front of us and we could manipulate them completely. It was a designer's dream. CAD came alive and felt so immersive, no longer limited by a 2D interface on a flat screen. It's a rarity that a team of designers has an opportunity to design a product that refreshes the human-machine interface of a tool they use on a daily basis.

What was an "a-ha" moment from this project?

Initially, the virtual "zSpace" working area was only intended to occur "above" or "outside" of the display. While testing a number of ergonomic parameters, we tilted the prototype display to achieve more comfortable viewing angles. When the virtual CAD ground-plane was adjusted to fit these display angles, we discovered that an infinite amount of virtual working space had opened up "behind" the display glass. zSpace had become a virtual environment to design in, rather than just a virtual representation of a CAD object.

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Posted by Core77 Design Awards  |   9 Aug 2012  |  Comments (0)

Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting award-winning projects and ideas from this year's Core77 Design Awards 2012! For full details on the project, jury commenting and more information about the awards program, go to Core77DesignAwards.com

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  • Papernomad Sleeves
  • Designer: Christoph Rochna
  • Location: Vienna, Austria
  • Category: Consumer Products
  • Award: Professional Notable

Papernomad originated from the idea of designing and manufacturing environmentally friendly paperboard furniture as a promotional vehicle for open-air events: bio-degradable beanbags made of paper and filled with popcorn. With technical support from a leading Austrian company, we developed an organic paper composite, which is the basis of all our products. This tear and water resistant sandwich exhibited such great properties, that we did not want to confine its use to furniture. We set out on a quest for industrial niches where traditional materials could be replaced by our paper composite.

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How did you learn that you had been recognized by the jury?
I received your Email late on Monday, the worst day of the week. My current office is located in Germany, therefore I am eight hours ahead of C77 office hours. I was about to go home when I checked my emails one last time. Sometimes I regret that because of some last minute request that screws with my schedule and forces me to stay and work. That evening I received your email, left the office immediately and went home with a big smile in my face.

What's the latest news or development with your project?
Some of our customers told us that they can't hold a pencil or don't like to doodle on their sleeves. This is why we have been running a Talenthouse contest, asking young designers to submit artwork for a printed papernomad edition. From more than 400 submissions we will choose one to be produced and sold in selected retail locations around the globe.

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What is one quick anecdote about your project?
Assuming that Apple-Users are early-adopters, we decided early on to design our sleeves specifically for apple devices. That also reduced the spectrum of different models which we had to cater for. While discussing which color to choose for the wool felt inside the sleeves, we had a bowl of Granny Smith apples sitting on the table in front of us. With Apple users as our first customers, we took one of the apples to our supplier of wool felt and ordered the first lot of wool in 'Granny Smith.'

What was an "a-ha" moment from this project?
We discovered that people love stories. Everyone we told about our idea, cared about our story more than about the material composition of the product. Stories define our lives, our past and future; papernomads are much more than biodegradable cases for electronic devices. They are canvases for our thoughts and memories. Above a green conscience, the diary-like character of our products sets Papernomad sleeves apart from a mass of similar but soulless products.

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Posted by Core77 Design Awards  |   8 Aug 2012  |  Comments (0)

Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting award-winning projects and ideas from this year's Core77 Design Awards 2012! For full details on the project, jury commenting and more information about the awards program, go to Core77DesignAwards.com

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  • Nest Learning Thermostat
  • Designer: Nest Labs, Inc. Tony Fadell, Ben Filson, Bould Design, Fred Bould
  • Location: Palo Alto, CA
  • Category: Consumer Products
  • Award: Professional Runner up

The Nest Learning Thermostat frees you from the hassle of programming a thermostat while providing the conservation benefits of a programmed device. It learns about you and your home to develop a customized temperature schedule that will keep you comfortable while also conserving energy. It automatically shuts down when you are away and encourages energy conservation when you are home.

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How did you learn that you had been recognized by the jury?
I came into the the studio around 8:30 am PST and Kristen had watched the webcast from London and said that it had just been announced that we had placed in the consumer products category. Obviously, we were thrilled.

What's the latest news or development with your project?
In April 2012, just four months after Nest began shipping, new hardware was released to make installation even easier. Nest revamped the press connectors on the backplate, moving them to the outer edge so even those with the clumsiest of fingers can install Nest with ease. Nest also created custom screws that are engineered to work without wall anchors, saving people more time. Beyond that, Nest continues to make people happy by making them comfortable and saving them money.

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What is one quick anecdote about your project?
Well, it was kind of exciting when we all gathered to look at the first cosmetic models that we had made. They were still a long way off from the final design, but many of the basic design elements were in place. The excitement was tangible. We knew we had a ways to go but we felt we were onto something.

What was an "a-ha" moment from this project?
I'm not sure if it was an "a-ha" moment but we did a lot of exploration around so many facets of the design and time and again we would return to the most simple, straightforward embodiment of any single element. So, I guess the lesson is that in so many instances, simplicity really is what works.

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Posted by core jr  |   8 Aug 2012  |  Comments (0)

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Reporting and photographs by Abe Burmeister

Outdoor Retailer (or OR to most attendees) is one of my favorite tradeshows around, as close to an asshole-free zone as you'll ever find in a business environment. The exhibitors are essentially just a bunch of people who would rather be outdoors, but happen to make a living designing and selling some amazing gear. OR is also something I've always considered Outlier's secret weapon, a hidden world of fabrics most other clothing designers in NY are never to access, to which OR is the gateway.

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I spend most ORs behind the scenes in the back rooms of the show, knee-deep in fabric and fittings, but the bulk of the floor is occupied by outdoor vendors selling their latest finished products to their retail network. When Core77 invited us to write it up, I jumped at the chance to check out the fun side of the show. But take it as a caveat as well: this is far from comprehensive round-up, so apologies in advance to any amazing companies I may have overlooked.

Without a doubt, the standout product of the show was BioLite's CampStove backcountry generator. It has nothing to do with them being perhaps the only other Brooklyn-based brand in a backcountry-oriented show. Six years in the making, this combination of wood/scrap burning stove and electric generator is an incredibly thought through and rendered product that hints of even more from Alex Drummond, Jonathan Cedar and the Biolite team.

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The roots of the stove are in the developing world, where smoke inhalation from wood burning stoves is still a massive health issue. The Biolite CampStove is uses a well-calibrated fan to create a secondary ignition that burns away almost all the harmful emissions of the basic burning wood. In the process, it also generates enough heat to run a small electric generator which can be used to charge the ever-growing array of USB driven outdoor lights and devices.

Perhaps more important than the stove itself is Biolite's hybrid business model (highlighted by Core last year). The CampStove generates revenue from wealthier (on a global scale) consumers, which then can be used to develop less profitable but more impactful products like a larger HomeStove that can both reduce harmful emissions and bring electricity to off-the-grid communities.

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Of course, sometimes being in the backcountry means sometimes even a wood fire isn't possible. Utility Flame is a dead simple solution that the US Military has been using for the past decade and is just now being made for civilians like us. This gel ignites easily, creates a 10–15 minutes of a flame hot enough to boils water in 3.5 minutes. More impressively, it leaves nothing behind except a nontoxic mound of sand.

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One of the long simmering stories at OR has been nonwoven Dyneema (sometimes called Cuben fiber). This American made fabric is incredibly light, strong and waterproof. It floats on water yet is 15 times strong than steel. It's also expensive and a royal pain in the ass to deal with, meaning only the scrappiest and sharpest young companies have built products with it. This year however the big boys at Sierra Designs jumped into the mix throwing their Mojo UFO tent right in middle of the show floor with plans to release a very limited run next year. It's a big move but as the photos should show it may take a while before they master the particular aesthetics of this unique material.

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Meanwhile, the two pioneers in the space continue to move forward, each taking quite a different design philosophy in the process. Both built their own production facilities expressly to handle a material alien to most traditional factories. Currently based in Portland, OR (with roots in NYC and Turkey), Graham Williams of CiloGear is the godfather of Dyneema backpacks, building highly-engineered alpinist packs that often find their way to the world's highest peaks. Cilo packs are meticulously thought through for highly specialized tasks, every fabric panel and juncture has been considered and best material (in Graham's opinionated eye) is going to get used, costs be damned. Fittingly, Graham's latest designs—the ones he's willing to show publicly at least—are deeply customized for particular alpinists, something like the Saville Row of hardcore packs.

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Posted by Core77 Design Awards  |   7 Aug 2012  |  Comments (0)

Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting award-winning projects and ideas from this year's Core77 Design Awards 2012! For full details on the project, jury commenting and more information about the awards program, go to Core77DesignAwards.com

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  • MTN Approach backcountry accent ski
  • Designer: Cory Smith, John Kaiser, Bob Carrasca, and Tyler Swain, Pillar Product Design LLC
  • Location: Seattle, WA
  • Category: Consumer Products
  • Award: Professional Notable

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The MTN Approach system is the first ever hinged back country ski that allows you to fold and store into the space of a conventional backcountry day pack. The system is lighter, faster than conventional split board systems as well as other climber skis on the market. Our focus was the collapsible binding system design.

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What's the latest news or development with your project?
The MTN Approach Ski system had their initial production release in June 2011. The product was first introduced at SIA (Ski Industries of America) in Feb 2011. Since that time frame the MTN approach System has received numerous acknowledgments and awards from SIA, ISPO and multiple industry specific magazine ads. The latest news is the excitement and support of top pro snowboard athletes in the industry who are using this system. It is the greatest honor when pro snowboard athletes are on your product because they see the benefit and a tool that allows them to push their skills as well as access completely new terrain. It is a good feeling when pro athletes want to be on your product not because they are being paid but because they see the ultimate benefits of this innovative system. MTN Approach System has reached out to new countries from Norway to Argentina. It is really amazing how quickly this system is gaining momentum. See more on our blog.

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What is one quick anecdote about your project?
When developing the MTN Approach system with owner Cory Smith, we were constantly faced with budgetary and timing constraints. The typical issue of having very little money to get this product off the ground combined with even less time to bring it to market. I realized that Cory was in for the long haul and dedicated to making this idea a reality when he sold his 4WD Toyota truck that he used to commute to his day job at Smith Optics to pay for design and development work that Pillar Product Design had embarked on. So I don't know if Cory ended up taking the bus to work every day for a period of time, but it really showed all of us how important this ideas was to him and that we needed to do whatever it took to make sure we developed the best system we could no matter how long the hours and commitment level.

What was an "a-ha" moment from this project?
Many patents came out of the development of this product. The one a-ha moment that the Pillar Product Design team specifically came across was when we were working on the binding system and we developed a fold-down heel loop design. Many of the challenges with this product included: weight, strength and making the unit as compact as possible. We really started looking at unique folding mechanism from a multitude of in and out of the industry. As we evolved the heel loop system and explored new mechanisms, we were able to create a simple system that allowed for foldability, low-profile nesting and infinite size adjustability. This new mechanism allowed MTN Approach and Pillar Product Design to receive a joint utility patent.

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Posted by Core77 Design Awards  |   6 Aug 2012  |  Comments (0)

Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting award-winning projects and ideas from this year's Core77 Design Awards 2012! For full details on the project, jury commenting and more information about the awards program, go to Core77DesignAwards.com

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Lytro Light Field Camera

Designer: NewDealDesign

Location: San Francisco, CA

Category: Consumer Products

Award: Professional Winner



Straight out of Stanford's research labs, the Lytro Light Field Camera is the first consumer Light Field Imaging camera. It's an Icon for a new era, celebrating the most significant technology shift in photography in decades. Lytro captures dynamic vectors of light to create 'Living Images'; images that contain the color, intensity and direction of all light-rays in a scene. The results are photos that can be focused infinitely after they are taken. Derived from the gesture of viewing a kaleidoscope, the 'extruded-lens' form is supremely clean—shrinking what took an advanced imaging-lab into the palm of your hand. As Gad Amit explains in the Q+A of his winning entry:

Our team set out to match the innovative technology with an equally innovative approach to design by not taking anything for granted. Current camera devices are steeped in antiquated gestalt, born of reflex cameras with the need to house mirrors and film. Despite evolving to digital, the industry kept the slab with the pointy lens —we recognized Lytro as a chance to evolve this entrenched paradigm. We set the goal at creating the most iconic and pure design for this groundbreaking technology within the given timeframe, budget and hardware constraints. This notion was applied ground up and driven by the long cylindrical lens that was essential for the device's performance. We were approached to re-skin a component bundle, our answer was to tear it down and re-build it into an Iconic object that re-defines the camera as the world knows it.

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How did you learn that you had been recognized by the jury?

A Monday morning email as I arrived to the office and settled in. Great way to start the week.

What's the latest news or development with your project?

Lytro is doing wonderfully in the market. The camera and technology has received coverage and praise throughout the media and been raved about by users. Lytro rolled out support to Windows machines in the last week and is continually updating the software to make the camera more and more advanced. They have more exciting things in the works, stayed tuned..

What was an "a-ha" moment from this project?

Our "a-ha" moment came with a simple fingernail sketch showing board and lens layout. This encompassed the technology for us; used space in the most efficient way and created a simple, iconic and usable object. From this sketch we were able to develop an entire Product Architecture for Lytro, for product to interface—is it cliché to say it helped everything fall into place?

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Posted by Perrin Drumm  |  31 Jul 2012  |  Comments (0)

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In February this year Nike introduced the Flyknit, its running shoe for Olympic athletes. Weighing in at 5.6 ounces, it's a whopping 19% lighter than their shoe for last year's marathon runners in the men's 2011 World Championship. The virtually seamless, mesh-like body is the result of a radical new process that can create an entire shoe upper, including the tongue, from a single knit structure. When Tony Bignell, Nike's director of footwear innovation, asked athletes what they wanted in a shoe, their answer was: a sock. "A sock fits great, feels snug, goes unnoticed and you get no irritation," Bignell said. "So the idea was, how do you engineer a sock into a high-performance shoe?"

Bignell and a team of designers and engineers spent four years developing brand new software and machinery to answer that question. They tested out a wide array of materials, eventually choosing "a feather-light, high-quality polyester yarn of varying elasticity, durability, thickness and strength." Cables that expand and contract with the motion of the athlete's foot are woven into the shoe to give it structure, and a Lunarlon cushion sole provides support.

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This isn't the only technological breakthrough Nike has introduced to its Olympic line up, but it's design is strikingly similar to the eleventh-hour Adidas entry, the adiZero Primeknit. Adidas announced that they had been working on the shoe for the past three years but it was slipped into the Olympic lineup at the last possible moment—Thursday July 26th on the eve of the games. Its seamless, mesh structure is so close to Nike's design that Matt Powell, a footwear analyst with SportsOneSource, commented that "Adidas told me they were working on a similar technology to FlyKnit, but I had no idea it was this similar."

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Posted by Ray  |  20 Jul 2012  |  Comments (0)

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Always curious to give a new backpack a try in my quest to find the perfect bag, I didn't think twice about agreeing to review Booq's "Mamba Shift" when they reached out to us several months ago. Only afterward did it occur to me that there are actually two kinds of perfect bag: the go-to, everyday pack that becomes an extension of one's body, and those that fill—or rather, can be filled to serve—a specific need, patiently awaiting their intermittent calling, at which point they will humbly fulfill their duty (i.e. a frame pack). Read on to find out if the Mamba Shift proved itself worthy of that elusive upper echelon of faithful utility.

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My first impression of the Mamba Shift was that it looked pretty slick—judging a Booq by it's cover, perhaps—with its unconventional vertical detailing on the front, which is bisected by a seam that runs the length of the panel. A pop color peeks out from the top half of the split, concealing the functional pleat of the expandable front pocket. The pocket is big but the zipper is a little awkward, as it runs along one of the two slightly curved seams along either side of the centerline; it's also hard to see what's in there. (Similarly, diagonal stitching conceals a slash pocket on either side, their openings limned by red piping.) The general aesthetic is minimal but still a little overdesigned for my taste.

Booq-MambaShift-frontpocket.jpgThe front pocket is also lined with the pop color

Personal preferences aside, the materials and construction exude 'premium product': the 1680 denier nylon feels largely impervious to the elements and the Mamba Shift feels entirely sturdy, albeit a bit heavy at three pounds. The Mamba Shift boasts substantial padding throughout, and the Nylex-lined laptop pocket, in particular, accounts for some of the weight: it's incorporated between the main compartment and the back of the bag, like a giant laptop sleeve (indeed, a separate sleeve would be overkill). A foam pad between the laptop pocket and the breathable Airmesh padding adds a bit of structure to the backpack. No complaints here: it's easily accessible and feels safe, even cozy.

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The turtle shell-like exterior of the bag belies its highly partitioned interior: the main compartment is divided into no less than ten pockets, plus a removable nylon pouch. Lest it seem like that Booq design team has lined the inside of the Mamba Shift with as many pockets as they possibly could, each one is a slightly different size, material or dimension. While it's at the consumer's discretion as to what, if anything, goes in each one, the sheer number of permutations—nylon or mesh lining, velcro or elastic enclosure—seems a tad superfluous.

Booq-MambaShift-empty.jpgThe slash pockets are split into four, with the dedicated pen and business card slots at left; the opposite face of the compartment (bottom of the picture) has the other five pockets

The abundance of pockets certainly presents a variety comfortable homes for cords, tablets and other periperhals, but bulkier objects pose a problem: a DSLR fit best at the bottom of the main compartment, which can be difficult to reach when you've loaded up the upper pockets (I was also baffled by the decision to put dedicated business card and pen slots near the bottom). Nevertheless, the zipper runs along a full three-quarters of the Mamba Shift, enabling easy access when completely open—flaps of nylon prevent stuff from spilling out the sides—but the usable volume is limited by the stiff exterior panels, which offer extra protection at the expense of capacity.

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Posted by Perrin Drumm  |  17 Jul 2012  |  Comments (1)

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Even as TVs get flatter, thinner and lighter, Bang&Olufsen's new BeoPlay V1 TV is the most streamlined option on the market. With four innovative new mounting options—floor stand, upright table stand, wall bracket and ceiling bracket—it's designed to fit any lifestyle and any space. Designer Anders Hermansen was apparently inspired by origami to create a body for the TV made of only two sheets of powder coated steel, folded together like paper. The floor stand or wall and ceiling mountings are equally unobtrusive, as is the universal Beo4 remote, which can control DVD, Blu-ray players, Set-top boxes, NAS drivers and Apple TV, which mounts in the back.

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Samsung makes the screen panel (100 Hz on the 32” model and 120 Hz on the 40”) with full HD 1080p, Edge LED backlight and an automatic picture control sensor that "enables the screen to adapt to lighting conditions in the room to deliver optimal performance." As far as sound goes, B&O's proprietary ICEPower amplifier provides integrated 5.1 surround sound power enough to fill a room. The tech news site T3 reviewed the V1, using a live Adele concert to test out the sound.

"Unsurprisingly, the V1 sounds pretty amazing and definitely supports the claim that the speakers are powerful enough to fill a room...The ICEPower amplifier technology really comes to the fore in terms of loudness while backlighting technology and the anti-glare nature of the panel made for great viewing angles, but this was, of course, in optimal viewing conditions, which won't be the case for every living room."

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Though B&O is selling the V1 as its more affordable option, it's still pretty pricey. The 32” is about $3,170 and the 40” is $3,831 (converted prices). And in case you were thinking of buying one and using the tabletop stand to move it around to different rooms in your house, the unit weighs in at a hefty 57 pounds, though it's still a solid investment if you have the means (and/or if you have a Flat Boombox).