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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  20 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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During the holiday season, there's something about being a creative industry professional that makes you a prime target for delegation of certain tasks requiring an appreciation for the visual and delicate hand-eye coordination. But every year it's the same humiliation, OCD irritability and disappointment of small children everywhere when we reach the annual realization that sick Adobe technique, awesome CAD modelling skills or even decades of workshop experience doesn't always translate to graceful arrangement of tinsel or prim and proper present wrapping.

Icing biscuits—of course a prime and reoccurring example of this phenomenon of holiday ham-fistedness (what is it about coloured liquid sugar that can look so appalling despite being spread with the upmost care!)—has fallen into the sights of home-making bloggers and entrepreneurs this year with (an industry already well into it's cycle) videos and new products aimed at the icing-incompetent.

In a lengthy video tutorial, Amber of SweetAmbs—YouTube cookie decoration sorceress—gives an highly informative if insanely detail breakdown of the process to iced cookie perfection. It seems we've been destined to failure with attempts to spread on the sugar coating—only a piping technique will suffice, not forgetting a dry time of 8 hours for the base layer. Jokes aside, you got to give her credit for her use of a scribe manipulating the sugar to form the delicate patterns.

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Posted by Jeri Dansky  |  20 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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As a professional organizer, I often recommend that gift-givers consider consumables—things that will get used up, and won't become clutter. There are many ways to design a normally mundane item so that it becomes an interesting gift (whether a stocking stuffer or more), and to design a commonly gifted item so it stands out in the crowd.

Idea #1: Take a common product and make it a work of art, such as this toothbrush from Bogobrush.

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Idea #2: Get creative with the holiday offerings. Many companies offer special products for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. But not many have an offering for Burns Day, as L. A. Burdick does with its limited edition Scotch whisky chocolates.

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Idea #3: Combine items in interesting ways. For example, Hen & Hammock sells seed combinations: four kinds of chills, four purple vegetables, four Christmas dinner vegetables, etc.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  20 Nov 2014  |  Comments (4)

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When children fall victim to a gunman, that generates press interest. But the media being what it is, eleven children dying because of a toy does not get much ink. Eleven is the number of children that died "toy-related deaths" in North America in 2012, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. That number may not sound high to you, but it's still eleven families having eleven funerals with eleven small coffins. The number ought to be zero. And the same year, by the way, there were an estimated 265,000 trips to the emergency room following toy-related injuries.

Choking, strangulation, electrocution, falling, slicing, piercing, these are all things that can happen to a child in the average home filled with average grown-up things. Toy design, at least, should avoid replicating these hazards, yet the field still occasionally falls short. In the past twelve months the CPSC has recalled some 17 toy designs totaling just under five million units. But "Recalls are reactive, not proactive," writes W.A.T.C.H. (World Against Toys Causing Harm), a watchdog organization dedicated to calling out dangerous toys.

"Safe design and manufacture," the organization reckons, is the "first line of defense."

Consumers have a right to expect the toys they select for their children are designed with safety as a priority. While proper labeling, regulations and recalls are important for toy safety, toy manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure safe products reach the marketplace.
Some toys that are in compliance with current industry or regulatory standards have proven to be hazardous, proving the inadequacy of existing standards. It is unbelievable that toys with parts that can detach and become lodged in a child's throat are often not considered "small parts" by the industry...

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

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

By Sohrab Vossoughi, President & Founder, Ziba

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

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

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

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

1. The product is rarely just physical anymore.

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

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  20 Nov 2014  |  Comments (4)

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There was no time to stop before the tall man slammed into me. I was slowly carrying two fifteen-pound, nine-foot-long tubes of photographic backdrops from the supply house to my studio (it looked like I had a huge double bazooka on my shoulder). The man came barreling around the corner, nose buried in the smartphone he was typing in, and slammed directly into the end of the rolls with his chest. To my surprise, he yelled at me.

After five blocks of hauling these rolls I was in no mood, and I yelled back that he should watch where the heck he's going instead of staring into his hecking phone (maybe I didn't use "heck"). He screamed "Well I'm WORKING!" and stormed off while rubbing his chest dramatically.

So yeah, walking and texting can be hazardous to your health on the sidewalks of Manhattan. And now The Atlantic reports that Dr. Kenneth K. Hansraj, the Chief of Spine Surgery at the New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine facility, finds that just standing and texting is bad for you, too. "Billions of people are using cell phone devices on the planet, essentially in poor posture," he writes in a paper called "Assessment of Stresses in the Cervical Spine Caused by Posture and Position of the Head," presented in Surgical Technology International [PDF]. Surprisingly Dr. Hansraj's research, which is intended to inform cervical spine surgeons of proper neck position during cervical reconstructions, discovered that one can increase the load weight of one's head on the spine by a factor of six, simply by tilting it down to text.

The weight seen by the spine dramatically increases when flexing the head forward at varying degrees. An adult head weighs 10 to 12 pounds in the neutral position. As the head tilts forward the forces seen by the neck surges to 27 pounds at 15 degrees, 40 pounds at 30 degrees, 49 pounds at 45 degrees and 60 pounds at 60 degrees.

So what does this mean to the user? There are two areas of effect related to posture. For the first area, a fascinating combination of biochemical and emotional results, Dr. Hansraj cites a study performed by body language researcher Amy J.C. Cuddy (more on her below):

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  19 Nov 2014  |  Comments (1)

StudioMobile-JFB_HERO.jpgPhotos by Matteo de Mayda

Architects Antonio Girardi and Cristiana Favretto of StudioMobile in Treviso, Italy, have created what has been dubbed a "floating agricultural greenhouse" that produces food, almost miraculously, without consuming land, fresh water or energy.

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Built with simple technologies and with low cost and recycled materials, the "Jellyfish Barge" has been conceived for communities vulnerable to water and food scarcity. The structure reportedly harvests up to 150 liters of fresh water per day from the seven solar stills arranged along its edge, the design employs a technologically simple hydroponics system—which can also draw 15% of its needs from sea water to ensure greater water efficiency.

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Posted by Ray  |  19 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Well, here's a rather fun self-proclaimed "stupid pet project"—a literal brief if there ever was one—by SVA IXD student Max Kessler. As a kind of analog random number generator, "Coin Flip" is rather more purposeful than this brilliant gizmo, and the drinking-bird-meets-desktop-trebuchet invariably offers a more delightful user experience than, say, a web app. "The programming and robotics were build with an Arduino One, photocell, and Jameco 12V DC Motor," Kessler writes. "All the prototyping was built with MDF."

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Meanwhile, as a tangible example of interaction design, the project is about as straightforward as it gets when it comes to learning by doing:

In my project, a few challenges I faced were the physics of the spring vs. motor strength and the material strength in relation to that determined motor power. A personal success in the project was my commitment and effort in prototyping and iteration.

Sure, it's a lot of custom-cut acrylic for an admittedly frivolous diversion, but what else were you going to use it for?

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  19 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Rounding edges over is a common part of many a woodworking project. But the bearing-guided roundover bits you'd use in a router are not suited to a CNC mill. Instead you'll want to use what's called a point cutting roundover bit, which we'll show you in the video below.

And in addition to the edge-rounding functionality, with a point cutting roundover bit in the ShopBot, you can achieve some cool effects with lettering, like this:

0pointcuttingroundover-002.jpgImage courtesy of Joe Crumley / Norman Sign Co.

Here's a quick look at the bit and where you can get some:

We'll show you the bit in action shortly.

Previously: Episode 06 - Desktop CNC Milling Productivity Tip: Cut a Grid Into Your Spoilboard // All Core77 ShopBot Series posts →

Posted by Tobias Berblinger  |  19 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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This is the second part of a two-part recap of the 2014 Good Design Awards; see Part 1 here.

While the historic design exhibition represented a museum-worthy look at decades worth of design, this year also saw the debut of the Good Design Japanese Furniture Selection. In the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, there has been a renewed conscientiousness about considering the value and infrastructure of day to day life and quality of living. The curation of the Japanese Furniture Selection was specifically oriented towards these considerations, and a "wish to convey values through designs that have a fundamental purpose through meaning beyond direction." Many of the designs had been made utilizing traditional craftsmanship such as Japanese woodworking as well as new technologies.

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The Kisaragi armchair was a candidate for the Grand Award. Japan has an abundance of cedar, which until now was too soft for furniture applications. The Hida Sangyo Co. developed an innovative technique for compressing cedar to render it strong enough to bear weight, and created this beautifully sculpted chair made from locally sourced and readily available materials.

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The Great Earthquake has negatively impacted the fishing and agricultural industries in the Tohoku region, which took the brunt of the damage and radioactive fallout. In order to support local farmers and fishermen, Tohoku Kaikon created the Tohoku Edible Journal, a publication that connects them with consumers. Alongside editorial articles and photography celebrating the subjects, subscribers receive actual food product from the Tohoku region with recipes and comprehensive information. The magazine has been a resounding success, garnering fans for the producers who interact with subscribers via the publication's Facebook page. The fans often visit the businesses and become long lasting supporters. There is hope for the magazine to expand to other regions.

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Posted by Tobias Berblinger  |  19 Nov 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Since 1957, the Good Design Award has taken place in Japan to evaluate, encourage and promote design in industry. The products and services awarded receive a "G-Mark," a note of distinction that apparently has high recognition among the Japanese public: the Japanese Institute of Design promotion states that 86% of the population is familiar and aware of the mark. Applying the G-Mark to products and services is a boon to smaller manufacturers to elevate their presence in the marketplace and serves to promote the work of industrial and product designers in Japan.

Despite its prominence in Japan, the G-Mark is not as well known internationally, particularly outside of Asia. This year the Japanese Institute of Design promotion made a concerted effort to invite international design press with representatives from publications like Design Bureau, Taiwan's uDesign, Yanko Design and of course Core77 among others. We were given access to the exhibit as well as interviews with jury members and the chairman of the 2014 Good Design Award, renowned industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa.

The scope and scale of the Good Design Exhibition itself is quite immense, with 1,258 winners, covering fields including Furniture Design, Architecture, Automotive, Service Design and Design for Industrial Manufacturing. In addition to the G Mark Winners, the Good Design Exhibition includes G Mark co-sponsored awards programs from Thailand, India, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, which not only showcased the contemporary design scenes of the regions but emphasized the materials and techniques of small manufacturers that have been losing economic traction and international awareness due to large-scale mass production spurred on by cheap labor.

copperbike.jpgAbove and below: recipients of Thailand's Design Excellence Award.

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Tokyo Midtown, an immense mixed-use development space in Roppongi, was the main hub of this year's exhibition, with satellite exhibitions in Shibuya and Ginza.

Beyond the stringent criteria in the screening process, this year's annual theme was Kokochi (心地) which roughly translates to a "Quality of Comfort." Naoto Fukasawa describes Kokochi as a satisfying quality of interaction that is essential for design. According to Fukasawa, successful Kokochi in design builds a harmonious interaction between the users and technology. For him, Kokochi is an essential aspect of design that contemporary designers must strive for, in order to create relevant products and services. Additionally, Jury Member Gen Suzuki describes this sensation as a result of achieving a harmony or balance between all the facets of a design. Designs that best exemplified the theme were chosen for the Good Design Best 100 Special Exhibition.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  19 Nov 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Earlier this year, Norway's Norges Bank held a design competition for the country's future currency. Entrants were asked to stick with the theme "The Sea," but other than that, were given free reign.

Eight designers and firms made it to the final round, and submissions from two different design firms were chosen for further development. As seen below, the "Norwegian Living Space" concept by The Metric System was chosen for the face of the 100 Kroner note, and the abstract, designey "Beauty of Boundaries" concept by Snøhetta Design chosen for the back:

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As we've previously reported, it was interesting that Norges Bank decided to split the victory (overruling the jury in the process), choosing one more traditional design and one very modern design to share the same note. But even more fascinatingly, there was a designer in the competition who also had the idea to sharply contrast the fronts and backs (or obverse and reverse, in monetary parlance). Designer and illustrator Aslak Gurholt Rønsen, co-founder of design collective Yokoland, had this novel idea (loosely translated from Norwegian):

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  18 Nov 2014  |  Comments (6)

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You can show up at your gym drinkless and buy overpriced beverages there, or you can save a few bucks (and the environment) and carry your own refillable bottle. As someone in the latter camp, I haven't been able to find a bottle I can easily clean the inside of, and nothing is more gross than the little black specks that eventually form inside on the radii, completely impervious to the bristles of a bottle brush.

Hence the brilliant Alex bottle design. The stainless steel vessel unscrews at its equator, so you can actually get a sponge down into the thing and scrape the corners as clean as you like:

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Posted by Ray  |  18 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Last time we checked in with Case Studyo, the Belgian limited-edition art purveyor, we took note of Grotesk's "6FT - 6IN" lamp. Now, just in time for the holidays, sometime Core-llaborator Andy Rementer is pleased to present "People Blocks 2," his second artist sculpture series comprising four winsome characters. From cyclopic Jaques (cardsharks might pick up on the pun) to bow-legged beagle Pierre, there's no denying that these modular sculptures have a broad appeal amongst art and design collectors alike.

The limited series features four new wooden characters entirely made and painted by hand. The individual pieces are interchangeable, allowing them to be re-assembled and stacked to create custom characters or abstract sculptures.
This new series continues in the spirit of the first edition with bold new shapes, colors and striking patterns. While their feet are planted firmly on the ground, the cast of characters also share a share a sense of unease and mystery, distinguishing features of Rementer's work.

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Posted by Hand-Eye Supply  |  18 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Tonight at Hand-Eye Supply we'll learn about the history and future of stenography. Don't know anything about stenography? That's fine but it won't last. Joshua Lifton will put you right with his talk "The Open Steno Project and Stenosaurus: Evolving an anachronism to replace keyboards."

6 pm PST at the new Hand-Eye Supply, or streaming online on the Curiosity Club homepage.
427 NW Broadway
Portland, OR 97209

Stenography is the fastest and most accurate text entry method currently available, and more ergonomic than standard computer keyboards, yet almost nobody uses it, and for good reason—the necessary equipment has traditionally been incredibly expensive and difficult to learn to use. The Stenosaurus is the latest effort by the Open Steno Project to change that. Come hear about the confluence of reviving a 100-year-old+ technology, open source hardware and software, crowdfunding, and what could replace the dominant human-computer interface.

Josh is a founding member of the Open Steno Project, the original author of the world's first open source stenography software (Plover), creator of the Stenosaurus. He co-founded Crowd Supply, a Portland-based crowdfunding platform for hardware and manufactured products, in order to bring projects like the Stenosaurus to light.

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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  |  18 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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There's no affordable space left in New York, which is why we're never getting a big-ass communal makerspace like a TechShop. The reportedly substandard 3rd Ward closed last year and no would-be makerspace launcher has since stepped up.

But there's plenty of room in cities like Columbus, Ohio. Which is how it came to be that an old, empty, 65,000-square-foot shoe factory in the Franklinton neighborhood was recently being used by a local motorcyle dealer as a storage area. Today, however, the space is occupied by something to make an ID'er drool: The Columbus Idea Foundry, fully stocked with woodworking machinery, metalworking equipment, welding rigs, CNC routers, laser cutters, 3D printers, glassworking facilities, photography studios and even an area for metal casting and blacksmithing. There's an area to learn coding, an Arduino room, a youth incubator, a leather stitchery, and equipment for making soap, for chrissakes.

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It is reckoned to be the largest makerspace in the world, which makes the monthly membership cost all the more shocking to this New Yorker: A mere $35 a month, which is literally less than two cocktails here in Gotham. The thought that one could have access to all of that machinery instead of quaffing two Dark & Stormies is enough to cause a round of sullen reflection at the bar.

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Posted by Coroflot  |  18 Nov 2014

Work for Water Technology Inc!

WTI's global experience, accompanied by its partner firms, has taken indoor and outdoor water park development to new heights by integrating the latest technology in design, engineering and construction. When it comes to making water parks that are environmentally friendly, sterilized using the latest practices and technologically advanced centers of entertainment, WTI is a leader in the field. If you possess architectural, 3D modeling and presentation skills better than most and want to work in Brandon, WI, this is the perfect job for you.

Just make sure your resume and portfolio demonstrate your ability to masterplan both indoor and outdoor water parks, create architectural renderings, diagrams and imagery by hand or digital means and create water park theming sketches, renderings & 3D models. Apply Now.

Posted by Sam Dunne  |  17 Nov 2014  |  Comments (1)

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For anyone who knows the serenity of woodworking, this video hailing from northern Japan of mastercraftsman Yasuo Ozakazaki at work in his shop, could be the most relaxing thing you're likely to see today.

Kokeshi dolls are a traditional of Japanese handcraft—a simple limbless doll made from two pieces of wood, and apparently the inspiration behind the design of 'Mii' characters for the Nintendo Wii. (The figures have also risen to prominence in the global design world in recent weeks with the news that the Boureullec brothers have reinterpreted the doll's design as part of an initiative to get local craftspeople back on their feet, following the devastation caused by the Fukushima disaster.)

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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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