Recreational furniture is one of the more unusual subsets of furniture design, but it's apparently one that people will pay good money for, judging by the plethora of flip-top gaming tables on the market. Up above you see Hammacher Schlemmer's Rotating Air Hockey to Billiards Table, a 350-pound behemoth with a built-in blower for the air hockey side. Flip the surface over and you're set up for pocket billiards (though at seven feet in length, you're not exactly in Minnesota Fats' playground).
This competing table at Hayneedle has HS beat by one game, as they've got table tennis (again, truncated at seven feet) on top of the first two games. Literally on top of them; what a difference a piece of MDF makes, huh?
That lousy giraffe that runs Toys R Us also sells a 3-in-1 gaming table, albeit a tiny one at just four feet in length.
Posted by Jeri Dansky
| 16 Oct 2014
Maybe you're designing a garage for end users who wants to actually put their cars in their garages, along with all the other stuff they're storing there. Or maybe you'd like to create a shop, but you also need storage space for non-shop items. One way to solve that problem is to create some overhead ceiling storage.
One obvious way to do that is to install some racks. The racks from Monkey Bars, hold either 500 or 750 pounds, depending on the model. The height is adjustable, so there's a lot of flexibility regarding what gets stored, and where. There's a 2-inch lip around the edge to help ensure things stay in place, without making it too difficult to lift a bin into place.
And as you can see with these racks from NewAge Products, users can add hooks (if vertical space allows) to create even more storage.
Not everyone is going to want to climb up on a ladder to get things down from a ceiling rack. Some people will have issues with balance; others may have heavy items which can be tricky to handle on a ladder. In such situations, a lift system might be a better approach. This is a general-purpose lift from Racor. The pulley systems lowers the rack eight feet from the ceiling; it can hold 250 pounds.
Designers have also create lifts to deal with specific items often stored in garages. For example, here's a bicycle lift. This one can be installed on ceilings as high as 14 feet. While end-users generally agree it's a good design, many of them have complained about the quality of the rope. It's a good reminder to properly consider the cost-vs-quality tradeoff for a product's components.
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 16 Oct 2014
Do you like feeling you're on the right side of history? Do you value the true craft of storytelling (not just designers and advertisers telling you their products tell stories)? Do you love unexpected views into the lives and histories and work of others? Shh. Just click here.
The Radiotopia network kicked off last November with a super successful KS campaign spearheaded by Roman Mars and Radio PRX, who proposed banding creative indie podcasts together in a "new kind of radio." Their early efforts have paid off, with more amazing work coming out all the time. The networked shows include (my unabashed favorite) 99% Invisible, Fugitive Waves, Love + Radio, Radio Diaries, Strangers, Theory of Everything, and The Truth. They're very different, but each features a well-developed voice, interesting subject matter, and interesting production. There's fiction, history, design, sound art... Tuning in feels like stumbling on that special driveway moment more times than not. They've all expanded a ton in the first year, now they're moving into a second year of programming with the aim of bolstering the original member shows and bringing more into the fold.
Unsurprisingly (the founding podcast is entirely about design) the campaign has some good looking perks to offer. There are the standard attractive shirts and mugs, but there are also interesting prints, beautiful headphones, a chance at guest producing episodes, storytelling workshops, and the chance to get a stranger as a pen pal, among several others. That's awesome.
If you ever find yourself enjoying (or craving more) podcasts as you stoop over your work for hours, do yourself a favor and give Radiotopia a little love.
We assume that gesture control will be the wave of the future, if you'll pardon the pun. And we also assumed it would be perfected by developers tweaking camera-based information. But now Elliptic Labs, a spinoff company from a research outfit at Norway's University of Oslo, has developed the technology to read gestures via sound. Specifically, ultrasound.
In a weird way this is somewhat tied to Norway's oil boom. In addition to the medical applications of ultrasound, Norwegian companies have been using ultrasound for seismic applications, like scouring the coastline for oil deposits. Elliptic Labs emerged from the Norwegian "ultrasonics cluster" that popped up to support industrial needs, and the eggheads at Elliptical subsequently figured out how to use echolocation on a micro scale to read your hand's position in space.
With Elliptic Labs' gesture recognition technology the entire zone above and around a mobile device becomes interactive and responsive to the smallest gesture. The active area is 180 degrees around the device, and up to 50 cm with precise distance measurements made possible by ultrasound... The interaction space can also be customized by device manufacturers or software developers according to user requirements.
Using a small ultrasound speaker, a trio of microphones and clever software, a smartphone (or anything larger) can be programmed to detect your hand's location in 3D space with a higher "resolution" (read: accuracy) than cameras, while using only a miniscule amount of power. And "Most manufacturers only need to install the ultrasound speaker and the software in their smartphones," reckons the company, "since most devices already have at least 3 microphones."
The demo of the technology, which they're calling Multi Layer Interaction, looks pretty darn cool:
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 16 Oct 2014
Ziba turns 30 this year, and the renowned design company is understandably proud. To celebrate the diverse and lasting work of founder Sohrab Vossoughi, he and other design veterans discussed the future of product design. On the panel were Vossoughi, Allan Chochinov of SVA and Core77, John Jay of Wieden+Kennedy, and Aura Oslapas, previously Chief Design Officer for Best Buy, with questions and moderation by Carl Alviani. These folks had strong opinions, punchy advice, and more personality than your average lineup of industry heads. Here's our synopsis of the key questions and insights.
The definition of "product" has shifted over time. What does it mean now and why?
Oslapas started off clarifying that a product has come to describe services and software, in addition to hardware. Vossoughi agreed, but pointed out that even as design becomes more integrated with business the consumer still thinks of "product" in physical terms. Jay, as a communications and advertising pro, disagreed, pointing out that in his field of design creating an emotional response and relationship to another product is itself a product. Chochinov jumped on this, noting that Product Design has never been a particularly clarifying term, and now the growth of interaction design has made things even more complicated: "I can never hope to have a career moniker that makes sense. If it weren't so funny it would be cruel." Referencing the recent Facebook/Ello debate, he pointed out that point of view is everything, since from one angle Facebook is the product, but in reality it's us the users who are the profitable product. Oslapas countered that consumers still call the product by what it is, unless there's an issue—"product" is just a business term for the thing that we sell, rather than name or noun used by the user. In Allen's words: a product is something that needs to be fixed.
What are new impacts on the field and practice of design?
Social media was the first, albeit obvious, theme. In Jay's estimation, user engagement is empowering enough that it's changing everything. Ideas necessarily have to come from different places, and the production process is no longer a Push theory from the producer's end. Oslapas credited design methodologies and tools that cross disciplines. Prototyping tools and new work models are both rapidly shifting expectations towards greater collaboration.
User-centeredness, as Chochinov put it, is design's current but deeply problematic frame. "Users are part of the problem! Earth-centric design won't fly with consumers, but it's essential that we use the privilege of the design community towards making something of use at all." This shifted into a scathing critique of what he sees as the main goals in design, namely providing convenience, beauty, pleasure to anyone with the disposable income to afford it.
From left: Allan Chochinov, Aura Oslapas, Carl Alviani, John Jay & Sohrab Vossoughi
Posted by Coroflot
| 16 Oct 2014
Nest is growing and there's a lot to do. You've never had this much fun working this hard. Nest is passionate about reinventing unloved but important home products by redefining human interaction and its aesthetic quality with strong attention to detail. This Palo Alto, CA team is looking for talented Industrial Designer who will collaborate closely with Engineering, Operations and the User Experience group to fulfill the complex demands of modern industrial production.
This role requires a holistic and user oriented approach to create delightful products that are simple and easy to use as well as having a good quality build. The Designers accompany and influence the product development process from concept till ramp. Being a great team player doesn't hurt either, so Apply Now.
If you had to pick: What's the ugliest product design you unwillingly own, the most unsightly object cluttering your home? One object, above all others, that has simply not kept pace with the times? I'm willing to bet it's the power strip under your desk. Maxed out and spewing a half-dozen differently-colored cables and ill-fitting adapters, the modern-day power strip looks like a product design that's been turned inside out.
"It's time to add design to those boring old power strips," proclaims the development team behind Boxtap, which aims to turn the power strip outside-in.
Prior to learning how to use a desktop CNC mill, I was very curious as to how to set the machine up, and I figured I couldn't be alone--if you're thinking about getting one for your own shop, you're probably wondering what kind of downtime it would create. But at the time I was doing my research, I couldn't find a concise video showing the process. So we've made one for you, below, showing you exactly what you need to do once you get it out of the crate.
The ShopBot Desktop we're using comes pre-assembled, so setting it up was a lot easier than I thought it'd be. Now remember that this thing is essentially a router on steroids, and like any router you'll need a method to contain the dust. Hooking up a shop vacuum is pretty straightforward, but here I'll show you a crucial mistake I made, and how you can easily avoid it.
» Introducing the Core77 ShopBot Series
» An Overview of the ShopBot Desktop
Posted by Hand-Eye Supply
| 15 Oct 2014
Since Hand-Eye Supply opened we've highlighted the most practical, attractive workwear we could find. We pride ourselves on seeking out great construction, flattering fits, ethical sourcing, and high quality material. Now we're thrilled to meet our own high standards with the exclusive Hand-Eye x L.C. King Work Jeans. They're lean, mean, American-made, and tailored perfectly to the modern worker.
These jeans are made from beautiful raw selvedge denim and tough cotton duck, and they're built to look good. We couldn't have worked with a better collaborator than the L.C. King Manufacturing Company, makers of Pointer Brand and other durable, high-quality workwear since 1913. The 12.5 oz. selvedge comes from Greensboro, North Carolina, and each piece is still hand-sewn in Bristol, Tennessee.
Traditional materials meet a modern slim fit, and the result is solid: classic, dependable jeans that look effortless and can hold up to real use, at the right price. Check them out!
Posted by Ray
| 15 Oct 2014
First-world problems: As a frequent air traveler, I was confident that I had my pack-and-go routine dialed in, and it was only by the time that I was halfway to JFK—40 minutes behind schedule, due to e-mail exigencies—that I realized that I'd forgotten the power supply for my MacBook Pro. It wasn't so much the prospect of not having juice on the 13-hour flight but the fact that I was so hasty as to overlook the essential technological tether, at once a fuel supply and a fetter, and that I'd have a narrow window to get ahold of one in Beijing. I made it to the gate with time to spare; once I'd determined that none of the shops in Terminal 1 sold the 60W MagSafe Power Adapter (or a third-party surrogate), I looked up the closest pingguo store to the airport and planned to head straight there from PEK. CA982 was due to land at 6:20pm local time, which would give me about 3.5 hours to make it to the wraparound glass emporium that evening.
16 hours later, I was carefully unboxing a white plastic briquette at a nearby restaurant (with wattage taken care of, I sought food and wi-fi); chagrined that I had to buy one at all, I had it in mind to use it for that week and return it on the way home—my way of leaving no trace. Alas, it was all for nought: I only made it a few days before I ended up peeling off the last bits of protective plastic from the immaculate shell. Overpriced though it may have been, I figured that it never hurts to have a spare, and, insofar as my trip was predicated on being able to use my laptop, it was a justifiable acquisition.
An insipid anecdote, perhaps, about an unremarkable object—which is precisely why it may well represent the final frontier of third-party accessorization. As MeezyCube notes in their Kickstarter pitch video, there are cases galore for the iPhone, iPad and MacBook... so why not the MagSafe adapter as well?
A joke about the "Meh-zyCube" would be too... meezy.
If I didn't know any better, I'd think that this is an outright parody of case creep: It's a grating conceit beyond the fact that I suspect that a sizable proportion of Macbook owners don't bother with the fold-out 'wings' for wrapping the cable; even the dubious durability of the cord can be solved with Sugru. What disturbs me about the MeezyCube is that it's yet another gyre-worthy plastic thing that no one really needs.
First-world problems indeed.
Posted by Mason Currey
| 15 Oct 2014
Last month we asked the chairs of 11 leading industrial-design programs to talk to us about the evolution of ID education for our D-School Futures interview series. Since then we've received word of two new master's programs in design that seemed worthy of additional comment. In New York, Parsons is launching an MFA in industrial design—and we'll have an interview with Rama Chorpash about that program in the coming days.
Today, we're checking in on a master's program with a broader, more interdisciplinary focus. The University of Michigan's Stamps School of Art & Design is currently accepting applications for a Master of Design in Integrative Design. It's a two-year program with an interesting approach—the idea is that students with a variety of design backgrounds will work together in teams to invent solutions for a wicked problem that will rotate every few years. The inaugural problem is "wicked healthcare," and Stamps has lined up medical companies, biomedical engineers, surgeons and others to participate in the curriculum.
Recently, we talked to Bruce M. Tharp—a long-time Core77 contributor and a new addition to the Stamps faculty—about the MDes program. The following is an edited and condensed version of our conversation.
Core77: Who is this program for?
Bruce Tharp: We imagine that our ideal candidates are probably industrial designers, interaction designers, graphic designers, interior designers/architects—people in that design space. But we're excited about the possibility of students with other skills sets and proficiencies who also have experienced design in some professional setting. Of course, the program itself is highly cross-disciplinary. There is tremendous integration of non-design information and experts—for the current "wicked healthcare" theme, we have on board medical companies, a children's hospital, biomedical engineers, surgeons, technologists, entrepreneurial faculty and many more who will be integrated into the curriculum.
This idea of designers working to solve big societal problems—is that a career or a profession that exists now, or is it one that you're trying to help create?
The program is what we think is a 21st-century program for 21st-century design. The idea is that these are big, complex problems that are tackled in cross-disciplinary teams, collaboratively, with more of a systems approach. This is the way a lot of designers are now working, and that I would say design is increasingly being asked to work. So this is partly a response to the world and it's also partly a call to the world as well, about what design can do and its potential.
Now, that doesn't mean that there isn't a role in the world for what we would call 20th-century design or design education. In graduate education, that really comes from the MFA model, where you're working independently on a thesis project of your choosing, and it's something that you can generally handle in a year. That's a completely valid way of working and there are lots of applications for that kind of work, but increasingly designers are being asked to do more.
Design has a lot of visibility now, and other disciplines are saying, "Wow, what if we could use design in this way?" So the program is inviting design into more complex arenas. I think designers are really uniquely positioned to work on these wicked problems, but it demands that we be educated in a different way.
Posted by Coroflot
| 15 Oct 2014
Driven by the continual feedback and input from dedicated test pilots and passionate customers, KLIM has one mission - to improve your riding experience without compromise. From snowmobiling to motorcycle riding, KLIM utilizes the world's highest technologies in waterproof, breathable, durable and comfortable materials. Does designing these products sound like a dream job to you? If so, you might be the Technical Designer their Rigby, ID team is looking for.
With a strong knowledge of apparel and computer skills, you adhere to deadlines like white on rice. You have advanced knowledge of fit/construction and costing, plus you're more than ready to be responsible for the development of product, from design to final prototype. Go for it - Apply Now.
"Everything can be a lamp with LumiLor," writes Darskide Scientific, the company that developed it. LumiLor is a patented coating that glows when a current is applied to it. (And yes, it's safe to touch, as it's sealed and insulated.) The brilliance of the system is that since it's water-based, you can load it up into any paintspraying system or airbrush and you're off to the races. Here's how the process is applied:
Industrial design student Quentin Debaene's Dyson-Powered Invisible Umbrella concept generated strong interest when we showed it to you last year. Created as submission for the James Dyson Award, Debaene estimated that his fabric-less umbrella design, which would blow air so forcefully that falling water would be repelled, could be built in the year 2050. Now, however, a self-described research team in China is claiming they can produce an air-blowing, no-fabric umbrella by next year.
As of yesterday, the anonymous development team has successfully Kickstarted their Air Umbrella project (with a shockingly low US $10,000 target).
But before you get too excited, a couple of caveats. One is that the development team's identity and credentials are murky. While they say "We are a R&D team from China. Most of our members hold Ph.D/Master degree of Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics or Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics," the only person listed by name on the campaign, a Chuan Wang, has a Facebook profile that does not list a college degree, indicating only that s/he "studied at" Southeast University in Nanjing.
Caveat number two is that the error-riddled presentation is a bit underwhelming. But we'll let you be the judge:
Posted by Ray
| 14 Oct 2014
Basic though their purpose may be, water towers have long been a fixture of inhabited areas far and wide, from the brobdingnagian barrels atop NYC edifices (per 19th century ordinance for buildings taller than six stories) to sci-fi-worthy monoliths that rise from landscapes like alien flora. At best, they are as beautiful as they are iconic, abiding in the gestalt of the built environment as monuments to our collective engineering prowess, humble sentinels of our hydration needs.
On the other hand, those of you who see them as eyesores might change your minds when you see Maud van Deursen's "Chateau d'Eau" series of glass decanters. Inspired to highlight the quality of Dutch tap water, the Design Academy grad has created several tabletop water towers that serve as functional sculptures. "The quality of Dutch tap water is exceptional—regulations for tap water are stricter than those for bottled water. Yet bottled water is a thousand times more expensive, plus, it has a negative effect on the environment."
Posted by Moa Dickmark
| 14 Oct 2014
When I write about projects and people that I find interesting, I often wonder "Why the heck don't more people know about these projects/people?" You can say that I see it as my duty to spread the word, to inform people about the things going on out there, and make sure that you don't miss out on all the awesomeness that is to be found in various places, and within people... which is a long way of introducing Communitere.
When disaster hit Haiti back in 2010, Sam Bloch was working on a custom-made lighting system for a weekend cabin up in the mountains. He had finished work for the day and was sitting in a bar, drinking a well-deserved beer, when he saw the news about the earthquake. Right then and there (because it sounds more dramatic that way), he decided that he needed to be there. He packed his big backpack with as few private things as possible and filled the rest up with tools. About a week later, he was standing in the middle of the disaster area with the feeling that he had made the right choice and was in the exact place that he needed to be. And although that moment marked the beginning of Communitere, Sam had already been working in disaster relief for about six years.
The name itself, Communitere—which I first thought was French—stands for Communities United In Response, Relief & Renewal.
What works, and what doesn't
With quite a few years within the field, Sam had gathered a fair share of insight into what worked and what didn't work. One of the problems he had identified was the lack of innovation within the global aid industry. Where there's no margin to fail, there's no margin for innovation, at the same time as it's easy to argue that this lack of innovation is failure in itself.
This lack of innovation is the problem that Communitere took to heart and decided to make into its main focus. By creating Resource Centers, spaces that also know as "Spaces of Safe Failure," they have established big workshops where the locals inhabitants can learn how to build their own homes; use the tools provided in the workshops; use the space to work on new ideas; and collaborae with visitors on prototypes and projects to solve a specific problem.
As Bloch says, "You can't empower people, the only thing you can do is give them the tools to empower themselves."
"Focus on solving the problems that others are not"
It's one thing to think that you know what the people you want to help want, but actually knowing what they want may be a whole 'nother thing. There's also a difference between knowing what they want and what they truly need. Needs can be tricky in the sense that sometimes what you need the most is something that you didn't even know existed—a problem that might be so ingrained in your day-to-day life to that you don't even see it as a problem, but rather you take it for granted.
One of the problems you encounter in the world of aid is oftentimes many organizations focusing on solving the same problem without communicating with one another what they are up to, at what time, where, and so on and so forth. This results in redundant efforts, resources going to waste, as well as other areas being neglected when it comes to support, products or medicine.
If we look past the media hype behind Lenovo's Yoga Tablet 2 supposedly being "engineered" by Ashton Kutcher, what we have appears to be a very interesting device. As with Samsung's experimental interface designs, I'm happy to see Lenovo challenge the incumbent device—Apple's iPad, obviously—by differentiating themselves through some unique design efforts. By building in a kickstand, adding something like real speakers, dropping in a pico projector and using a cylinder to break the "glass rectangle" form factor while providing some much-needed ergonomics, Lenovo has demonstrated they're willing to take risks and break with convention.
It is of course ironic that Kutcher played the famously focus-group-averse Steve Jobs in Jobs and is now conducting focus groups for an Apple competitor, but if this video is uncooked, it seems they actually got some useful feedback that directly informed the Yoga Tablet 2's design:
So, anti-celebrity snickering aside, what do you all actually think of the design? Pluses and minuses of the bulge? If the projector eventually becomes up-to-snuff (I'm cynically imagining the first-gen will be too dim), do you think that'll become a feature on all tablets? And why don't other tablet manufacturers—or for that matter, phablet and smartphone designers—seem to consider that we humans actually have to hold the things?
Posted by core jr
| 14 Oct 2014
By Robert Grace
Business executives, designers and Chinese government officials alike received a hefty dose of knowledge and insight this past weekend about the value and importance of design not only to products and environments but also to the human condition.
A diverse mix of more than 700 attendees—of whom roughly half were non-designer, C-level business officials—attended the inaugural Design Success Summit at the Portman Ritz-Carlton Shanghai on Oct. 11 to listen, learn and debate the role that design can play in enhancing business and improving lives. Held in the midst of Shanghai Design Week, the day-long conference was capped by presentation of about 180 awards to the winners of the ninth annual Successful Design Awards competition.
An underlying yet high-minded theme that emerged at the DSS event, in addition to its stated goal of "amplifying the value of design," was the role that designers can and should play in the betterment of society.
In the highlight of the event, Don Norman, former Apple VP and co-founder/principal of the Fremont, Calif.-based Nielsen Norman Group (and sometime Core77 columnist), tag-teamed with Prof. Patrick Whitney, dean of the Illinois Institute of Technology's Institute of Design, on a 90-minute discussion, during which the pair challenged the aspiring designers in the audience.
Referring to design as "the intermediary between technology and people," Norman urged young designers to become generalists, not specialists. He suggested that students not major in design, but rather focus on gaining an understanding in history, literature, politics, and other such broad-based topics, because designers need to be able "to look at the entire issue." The key, he suggested, is not just solving the immediate problems that present themselves, but rather analyzing the entire situation. "Design is not about giving you answers," he said, "it's a process to determine what the real problem is."
Posted by Coroflot
| 14 Oct 2014
'Progressive modular' is the Hazard 4 motto. Their products are designed to be at the forefront of innovation and technology. From functionality, materials selection, manufacturing techniques, through testing, quality-control and packaging, their customers can expect Hazard 4 products to be the most modern and cutting-edge available. If you are an entry to mid-level industrial designer with a knack for strong visualization, this job with the Hazard 4 team in Long Beach, CA might be perfect for you.
They're looking for someone who finds creative, relevant, functional, and aesthetically sound design solutions to complex design problems and challenges. The right person also creates high quality design packages to clearly communicate a product concept to an overseas vendor for accurate translation into a prototype. Step up to this opportunity to continue the strong tradition of building reliable products and Apply Now.
For most of us consumers, beer is something we buy in bottles and cans, its creation process something of a mystery; we have a vague notion of grains and a fermentation process being involved. Home brewers more firmly understand the science, but much of their alchemy happens inside opaque stainless steel containers, with your average home brewing set-up hewing to the Walter White Meth Lab school of design. So for his final-year design project Freddie Paul, a Product Design student at London's South Bank University, decided to make the home brewing process more transparent. Literally.
Beer Tree is a gravity fed home brewing kit for brewing craft ales. It concentrates on the brewing process as something to be enjoyed and celebrated. The process can be completely visualised from start to finish, involving the user more than traditional kits to create a strong sense of satisfaction and pride over the final product.
The video gives you a better sense of what the Beer Tree looks like in action:
We're digging Paul's use of laser-etched graphics on the control panel, his use of materials and the overall form. One commenter on the video is more critical: "It looks impossible to clean and sanitize, your mash tun will lose so much heat, it looks like you can't vorlauf" and more brewerspeak. Another commenter is more upbeat: "My close friends and I have all agreed. We would pay good money to own one of these. Seriously consider making a Kickstarter for manufacturing of this product. I would sign up to back you TODAY."
Paul, if you're reading this: Given that you've graduated and we don't see a current employer on your Coroflot profile, perhaps the crowdsourcing is worth a go?
Check out Paul's shots of the development process after the jump.