L: The Fluidigm Juno, designed by fuseproject; R: Quirky+GE's "Tripper" sensor
As an editor at Core77, I often find myself attempting to explain what industrial design is, and I'm sure those of you who are actually practicing designers often find yourselves in find yourselves in the same position. It's regrettable that ID is a widely unsung (if not outright overlooked) force in the world, to the effect that it falls on a precious few star designers such as Karim Rashid and Jony Ive to speak for the profession. The latter made a rare public appearance at the Design Museum this week in a conversation with museum director Deyan Sudjic, making a strong case for design-led business model (perhaps RE: suggestions to the contrary), hands-on education, and maintained that failure is part of the design process.
If Apple represents the paragon of industrial design in the post-industrial age—hardware that is as much a vessel/vehicle for digital UX (i.e. a screen) as it is a beautiful artifact—so too are we always curious to see new developments in other the frontiers of design. A colleague mentioned offhand that insofar as space exploration is constrained by the logistics of astrophysics itself, there isn't exactly a 'design angle' to the Philae lander that, um, rocketed into headlines this week. (That said, we have reported on design at NASA, where problem-solving is paramount... whether you call it design thinking or not.)
Which brings us to fuseproject's recent work for fellow SFers Fluidigm, a B2B life sciences company that called on Yves Béhar—a star designer in his own right—for a complete design overhaul in a traditionally un-(or at least under-)designed category. From the now-dynamic logo to the genre-busting form factor, the entrepreneurial design firm has risen to the challenge of expressing the genuine technological innovation behind the Juno "single-cell genomic testing machine" with equally revolutionary design.
The shape is sculptural and practical; a delicate balance between a futuristic piece of machinery and something more familiar. The aluminum enclosure is machined at high speed and the rough cuts visible and used as finished surfaces, which is a cost saving. The resultant ridges run along the exterior in a fluid, yet pronounced way, and resemble the miniature functional traces on the cell sample cartridge that enable single cell manipulations.
Today, Londoners were treated to a dual celebration of the highest order: The historic Borough market on the south bank of the Thames marking its 1,000th year (nope, not an not an extra zero added in error) in business AND the observance of Apple Day (a technically international festivity marked mainly by Brits). Having clearly anticipated this momentous concurrence for some time, the market commissioned London based agencies TinMan and Teatime to create an installation befitting of such an occasion—and what better way to celebrate this humble fruit than pay homage to the brand that has usurped its image.
The installation parodying the tech giant's distinctive retail spaces—mildly amusing but also fairly brave considering Apple's recent nailing down of the rights to 'own' the design of their spaces—featured 1000 apples of all manner of varieties displayed en masse on walls and individually laid out on clear acrylic pedestals on counters with accompanying specs, of course.
Whilst of course mainly nonsense, it is a rare occasion that we're given such an education and moment of quiet contemplation of the incredible nutritious creations of mother Earth in all their fascinating sorts—I refer you to the charmingly named "Knobby Russett" below. Perhaps our relationship with fruits and vegetables would be very different if we gave them such forums more regularly, and afforded these wonders of the natural world the reverence we reserve for our electronics.
Winter is coming. Between blustery winds and slushy streets, sometimes it can be a challenge to decide whether you need an umbrella, an overcoat, a trash bag or all of the above. Enter the Häring Poncho, a lightweight, multifunctional solution from The Arrivals, a New York City-based clothing company focused specifically on American-made outerwear.
The Arrivals' creative team is made up of architects, designers and engineers, championed by creative director Jeff Johnson, who originally hails from San Diego, but spent time living in the Netherlands. "Living in Amsterdam, the weather is unpredictable, likely resulting in a soaking wet afternoon," Johnson says. "I wanted to design something light, packable and functional." Taking its name from the German architect Hugo Häring, known for his obsession with place and condition, the Häring Poncho is a "wearable, waterproof shelter" constructed of weatherproof poly-spandex and rubberized twill.
"Our fabrics for all of our garments are chosen for their performance properties," Johnson says. In the case of the Häring Poncho, that means an Italian twill undergoes a rubberizing process where an impermeable layer of matte rubberized film is laminated onto a portion of the material. This creates a double-face effect to the fabric, resulting in a water-resistant and windproof coating. For the body of the poncho, the designers fused a breathable yet water-repellent Korean Din-Tex micro-knit mesh to the rest of the shell.
LEDs are the wave of the future, but plenty of folks aren't ready to give up Edison-style filament bulbs for their classic aesthetic. What's a manufacturer to do? in the case of Australia-based Edison Light Globes, the answer is to make both.
For those that need to see a burning wire, they make classically-shaped bulbs like this E26/27 Edison:
If globes are more your thing, they've got you covered:
Not feeling the spiral? No problem, they've got tungsten "squirrel cage" filaments as well:
The success of the recently Kickstarted Wolffepack, a backpack that can rotate from the wearer's back to front, proves some consumers want a rotateable, wearable storage system. Along similar lines, firefighter and photographer Chris Landano realized that tradespeople could use a rotateable system for gear. But he didn't get the idea from seeing the Wolffepack—he got the idea after a near-death experience several years ago.
While working as a forensic photographer for the FDNY, Landano was trying to escape from a collapsed building when he became stuck in a narrow space. His photography belt had caught on a piece of debris, and Landano was only able to extricate himself by fiddling with his belt to undo it and squeezing through. He escaped and suffered little more than damaged gear, but you can imagine how disastrous the results would have been had their been, say, a beam about to fall on him while he was attempting to unbuckle the belt. "It was in that moment of panic," Landano writes, "that the idea for TrakBelt360 was born."
Landano has invented a clever belt system that can take any kind of pouch, holster or toolbag, have it clip on, and allow it to rotate completely around the user's waist. Aside from the safety benefits of someone stuck in the situation described above, it's likely to be a boon to contractors and repairfolk; while they need to wear bulky toolbelts, one job might see them lying on their side to repair an appliance, another might have them crawling under a house on their belly, a third might have them scaling a steep ladder. To be able to quickly get whatever's hanging off of the belt rotated out of the way is far more appealing than having to remove the entire thing (and not have the tools required at hand).
If you haven't yet heard of it, Hampton Creek is an awesome West Coast startup with a mission to redefine mass manufactured food, one product at a time. Having asked themselves what we could do differently if we reimagined food products from scratch, founders Joshua Tetrick and Josh Balk have already found a serious following—and indeed serious funding—in their attempt to make healthy food alternatives as affordable and tasty—as well as more sustainable—as their traditional counterparts. Just three years in, the brand's first product, 'Just Mayo'—an eggless sandwich-spread alternative, celebrated by loyal customers and celebrity chefs as being better than the real thing—has been flying off shelves from Whole Foods to Walmart.
Well, a dark shadow is looming over Hampton Creek this week as Big Food behemoth Unilever filed a lawsuit against the Just Mayo producers, claiming the plant-based product is deceptive to consumers because it doesn't contain any eggs, bemoaning that the product is already taking a nibble out of their billions of profits by outcompeting their Hellmann's brand. Clearly these food innovators have spooked the food industry.
This thing is making rounds and we'd normally be too embarrassed to post what by all means must be a hoax, but for the fact that this souped-up bike helmet is a compelling example of design fiction. As Bike Snob pointed out, Toby King's "Smart Hat" essentially turns a cyclist—specifically, a cyclist's head—into a car. It's a patently absurd concept that, as far as this bike nerd can tell, is intended to insinuate that cyclists and motorists are very different classes of road user indeed, and that urban planning and policy ought to reflect that simple fact.
As a professional organizer, I often work with clients to label their file folders and their storage bins so everything can be readily found. While I'm often using a basic label maker, there are plenty of other products to help with the labeling—many of them specifically designed to address specific labeling needs.
This limited edition Craftsman Dry Erase Tool Chest is no longer available, but it sure was a cool idea—coating the tool chest with dry erase paint, making it easy to indicate what's kept in each drawer, and change that as things get re-arranged.
Another way to label the tool chest would be the Z-CALZ labels, available as magnets or adhesive decals. With preprinted sets like this, there's always the concern that the labels provided won't match the items the end-user has. However, with a basic set of 70 labels, an advance set with 46 more labels, and a 22-piece socket set, the company has made a good attempt to provide for the most commonly owned items.
As someone whose eyesight is far from perfect, I think these socket labels are a wonderful idea.
It's far easier for a standup comic to do drama than it is for a dramatic actor to do standup comedy. Because nuanced comedy has drama within it, but the reverse is not true.
A question more relevant to this blog is, is it easier for an industrial designer to do architecture, or for an architect to do industrial design? Obviously this is a broad question, but which one do you think is "harder?" As ID'er Karim Rashid has shifted towards architecture—he's currently working on some 11 buildings around the world, from Russia to Latvia to Malaysia to Tennessee, and four in New York—he gave an interview to The New York Times where he discusses the crossover. The third paragraph below is the one that working industrial designers are likely to find gratifying:
There's a lot of press and remarks, "Oh, Karim is a designer, not an architect," which is strange because there are many architects who are very successful that were not necessarily educated. A lot of the design architects tend to use what they call an architect of record who tends to be doing the construction implementation.
I have a team of nine architects. And we work very closely with mechanical engineers and structural engineers and all that. There's no naïveté here.
I have to say, and I don't mean this in a pejorative way, that architecture, in a sense the more pedestrian architecture, is generally quite simple compared to industrial design. In other words, it's far more sophisticated to do something like a mobile phone than it is to do an average building.
Home-cooked food, hands-on learning, healthy living and modular design are all potent buzzwords. Through the Charlie Cart Project, they can be put to real social use. Both what we learn and what we eat as children affects how we develop, and our young habits can set us up for success or failure. To help build healthier skills around nutrition and inquiry, this project aims to take cooking directly into classrooms, bringing healthy food and tactile learning to kids in multiple cities. The project's current aim is to produce more of their modular "Charlie Cart" prototype and get them into use in public schools. The prototype, already tested in classrooms, incorporates space for food preparation and cooking into a single mobile unit, with storage, a full set of tools, a manual sink, counter area, oven and stove. The compact station would cut down on wasted resources and increase flexibility and expand cooking programs into multiple classes per school.
For every name-brand designer cranking out well-known, mass-produced products, there's an army of unknown designers quietly producing excellent work that most of us will never see. While not as sexy as a gadget that sells 50 million units, projects like visual identity and branding are often the bread-and-butter of many a designer and firm.
Like this beautiful laser-etched book enclosure. Designed by the UK's NB Studio, it's part of a branding campaign's assets for Park House, a fee-yancy mixed-use building in London.
Brookstone is one of the nation's most exciting specialty retailers, known for its high-quality, innovative products and gift ideas. They are committed to providing their customers with unique products that solve common problems in uncommon ways. And this philosophy translates into a corporate culture that's collaborative, creative and receptive to new ideas. How would you like to join the Brookstone team as an Industrial Designer and work in a dynamic and challenging environment where you'll have the opportunity to help shape a leading national brand?
If you're the right person for the job, you'll be responsible for the industrial design activities within the Brookstone Product Development Process for Brookstone Laboratory projects. You'll also be a team player with a strong work ethic who is willing to go above and beyond ("whatever it takes" attitude) to deliver time critical assignments without sacrificing design intent. Apply Now.
When you're mounting a workpiece to a CNC mill by screwing it into a spoilboard, that spoilboard of course becomes riddled with holes. If you keep hitting the same hole over and over again--by, say, continually mounting your piece so that its lower left corner corresponds with the lower left corner of the spoilboard—the screw no longer has enough material to bite into.
One solution is to keep mounting successive workpieces at different locations on the spoilboard, to find "fresh" MDF to screw into. But you then have to drive the spindle over to the lower left corner of your piece and indicate that as 0,0 in the X- and Y-axes, so that the machine knows where to start cutting.
A quicker solution is to simply draw a grid in your spoilboard. Now you can mount your workpiece wherever you'd like, and then use the grid to figure out where your workpiece is—for example, if you've placed it at x3, y4, then on your drawing you simply use guidelines to locate the piece at x3, y4.
Yesterday was Veteran's Day, the U.S. holiday where we Yanks honor the members of our military, past and present (and get our annual Band of Brothers fix on TV). The timing of the holiday is based on Armistice Day's 11-11-11—that's the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year, which in 1918 marked the official cessation of World War I hostilities.
At precisely 11:11 a.m., each year on 11-11, the sun aligns through the elliptical holes in each of the five marble pillars (each representing a branch of the the U.S. military) in order to perfectly illuminate a round mosaic inlaid into the bricks; that of the Great Seal of the United States. The symbolism of the five pillars standing in formation in order to protect the United States and to complete the solar illumination is representative of U.S. military personnel working together in all regards, in the security and defense of American citizens.
The project was designed by Palmer Jones, engineered by Jim Martin Oscar Oliden and Steve Rusch and constructed by the Haydon Building Corporation.
A standing desk is a bit of a commitment, and purchasing one of course requires you jettison your existing desk. But a company called Innovative Office Products is betting on the existence of a customer base that likes their current desk just fine, yet would still like the ergonomic benefits of being able to go up and down as needed.
This past Monday, they released a video of their new Winston Sit/Stand Workstation, a freestanding approach that can be plunked onto your legacy desk and confer 17 inches of adjustable travel height:
It's not often that an event brings government officials, public servants, visual and industrial designers together in the same room... but when it does, you can expect a truly forward-looking conversation. At least that's what organizers Dave Seliger and Ariel Kennan had in mind when they decided to bring Civic Design Camp to the East Coast: With the goal of creating "better citizen experiences" across the board, the 70 attendees spent last Saturday rethinking government programs and initiatives.
This past weekend marked the event's first eastern offshoot, following the first Civic Design Camp at Code for America (CfA) in San Francisco back in April. After attending the inaugural event, Kennan, a former CfA fellow herself and co-founder of Designing Government, wanted to bring the event to the other coast, enlisting Seliger to help her bring it to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Hosted by the beautiful Makeshift Society, the NYC edition of Civic Design Camp was a day-long, self-described "un-conference" that tasked attendees with the responsibility of providing content. The close-knit community came prepared with thumb drives of work and presentations for a series of impromptu talks over the course of the day.
Photos by Tim Gigbson unless otherwise noted
The event kicked off with a keynote from Chelsea Mauldin, Executive Director at Public Policy Lab, who warned the audience to be aware of taboos and different cultures, elements that can cloud judgements and negatively effect the design process. "There is no way to design services for others without properly integrating into their lives," she shared with the audience. Mauldin advocated for radical transparency, suggesting that a blog is perhaps the most viable solution to share progress and work with the general public while designing for them.
Mauldin's early message reverberated throughout the day as a motif emerged: Research early, and often. Sarah Lidgus, previously of IDEO and now a founder of her own startup, Small City, queried the audience about when they thought research should occur during the design process. "Always," she answered. "Research is a journey and you shouldn't end up where you started." The recent founder also spoke to the balancing of profit and non-profit work in her own business; Lidgus tries to spend two days a week working on pro bono projects, financed by three days of for-profit work.
Photos courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (via Hyperallergic)
As a website and resource for industrial designers, we're always curious to learn about new materials and methods that may be of interest to our audience; it so happens that a lot of those same techniques can be applied to art conservation as well.
Sculpted by Tullio Lombardo in 1490–5 as a canonical classical nude, a life-size sculpture of Adam spent the subsequent four and a half centuries in Venice before it was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1936. Immortalized in marble, the biblical progenitor stoically occupied the Velez Blanco Patio for decades before a tragic turn of events following a 2000 renovation of the space, when its pedestal was replaced. Just two years later, the 770-pound, 6’3” Adam shattered upon falling from his four-foot-high, medium-density plywood pedestal—reportedly constructed in layers but hollow—when it gave way on the evening of October 6, 2002.
The allegorical irony of Adam's precipitous descent is duly noted, though the proverbial rib was not among the 28 large fragments as the torso remained largely intact. The damage, of course, was done, and after nearly twelve years, the conservation team at the Met has successfully restored the masterpiece and (better yet) documented the entire process:
Maybe you think a child's first experience with architecture comes via building blocks or Lego. But we experienced designers know those tykes are just monkeying around with scale models, absent any real-world practicality; they'd never stand up to even a first-year architecture school class crit. A child doesn't truly cross the threshold into intelligently designing habitable structures until they step up to Pillow Forts.
Thus experienced architect Ben Pell, who's based right around the corner from Core77 HQ at PellOverton, has codified the art and science of constructing pillow forts for dad-centric website Fatherly. We've digested his teachings and here's our takeaway of things your child should be considering:
Current projects: We recently launched a contract seating collection with the American brand Stylex, which was the start of a very heavy shift into the contract furniture market for us. We are working on some exciting new contract furniture projects with a couple of Scandinavian brands, one of which is a reinvention of traditional airport/lobby seating. We're developing large outdoor furniture collections with a couple of American hospitality and residential brands, and a new seating and occasional table collection for a very large, prominent North American contract furniture brand. Lastly, we're doing a lot of experimentation with, and helping bring to market, an amazing new boutique 3D-printing company managed by Curtis Schmitt called Art In The Age Of, which you'll be hearing a lot more of in the future.
Mission: To build off every success and to learn from every mistake no matter what point I'm at in my career.
Vessels by Ascalon for Art In the Age Of, a new boutique 3D-printing company. Top image: portrait by Steve Belkowitz
From the Caslon contract sofa collection for Mitab
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? I was born into a family of artists and designers. So, early on, I had the bug for creating. But it wasn't until after working in both advertising and the music industry that I decided that creating was what I needed out of life. My past life in other industries helped me to create a well-rounded approach that balances the business and the creativity of design.
Education: First I did a Bachelor of Science in communication from Rutgers, with a minor in music. Then, later, I received a master's in industrial design from Pratt Institute.
First design job: I had a handful of freelance gigs as I was wrapping up with graduate school, but my first real job in design came with the launch of my studio in 2006. After working for other people for a number of years in the corporate world during my pre-design days, I knew I had to work for myself as a designer right out of grad school. That was what the investment in a master's degree was all about.
Who is your design hero? I have two . . . well, three. First, Russel Wright. I believe he was one of the most influential designers in modern history. Whether people realize it or not, he brought the notion of "less is more" to the masses in America, and I think he helped pave the way for my own reductive approach to design. The others are Charles and Ray Eames. Everything they created was impossibly perfect, and their concern for the quality of their furniture and the attention to every last detail is something by which we should all be motivated.
From left: Nestle contract seating for Stylex; the Atlas Glass occasional table for Design Within Reach; the Peasant Wood table for Juniper
On Thursday, November 6, the Society for Experiential Graphic Designers (SEGD) held its annual Xlab conference at the SVA Theatre in New York City. The one-day event brought together a healthy mix of designers, students and vendors to discuss the shifting role of digital technology in spatial experiences.
Thanks to Justin Molloy of SEGD, the event ran like clockwork, packing 12 speakers into four one-hour sessions that were each followed by a moderated panel discussion. Aside from the obligatory messages from the sponsors, the presentations were top-notch, highlighting inspiring projects and offering predictions and insights into a changing industry. Speakers included (to name a few): Jake Barton, founder of Local Projects, whose recent portfolio includes the digital platform for the 9/11 Memorial Museum; Christian Marc Schmidt from Schema; and Paul McConnell from Control Group, the firm responsible for the digital interface of the new wayfinding stations deployed in the NYC subway.
From left: Jake Barton, Tateo Nakajima, David Schwartz and Justin Molloy
Image courtesy of Local Projects
"We are in the memory business"
Jake Barton shared Gallery One, the interactive platform that Local Projects developed for the Cleveland Museum of Art. In addition to numerous interactive touch screens it includes a 40-foot multi touch wall that displays over 4,100 works of art at a time and allows visitors to interact with the museum's collection in a new way. Barton recalls entering the project at a time when the curators were considering placing iPads alongside every work in the museum. Intuitively, he knew that this would not fly and advocated the implementation of touch screens in select locations to supplement existing content without distracting from the main attraction—the art.
Barton also shared his work on the interactive pen that will be handed out to visitors of the soon-to-reopen Cooper Hewitt Museum [Editor's Note: The date is set for December 12; stay tuned for more soon...]. The pen can be used to explore the lesser-known works of the collection, to create and share patterns, and to model simple forms in 3D. It remains to be seen whether or not this pen will contribute to the museum experience in a meaningful way, however with everyone from Diller, Scofidio + Renfro to GE having pitched in on the project, expectations are high.
Image courtesy of BlueCadet
From left: Stacey Martens, Dina Townsend, Roshan Prakash and Jason Helton
Stacey Martens of Bluecadet Interactive shared her team's work on the digital displays for Pope Jean Paul II's National Shrine in Washington, DC. Martens thoughtfully punctuated her presentation with three of Bluecadet's process tips:
1. Bring the team together early
2. Test in a realistic environment
3. Encourage impromptu check-ins
Like Barton's projects, the Papal Shrine incorporates two large format multi touch displays that were so large they actually had to knock out a wall in their studio to test them. What was originally conceptualized as a map showing Jean Paul's extensive travel, developed into a thematic timeline that allows visitors to observe how the pope's mission changed over the years. Between Bluecadet & Local Projects, the trend for exhibition design seems clear: make it big but don't let it get in the way of the content.