Posted by core jr
| 22 Sep 2014
As part of the upcoming Design Week Portland, our friends at Ziba are hosting a heavy duty panel discussion, set to take place at their HQ on Friday, October 10, at 6:30pm. Taking the theme of "The Future of Product Design," panelists will address questions such as:
- What defines a product, today?
- How will customization and on-demand printing drive entrenched industries to change?
- How will crowdfunding impact the making or design of products?
- What's the difference between design and making?
- Does the discipline have a future, or could interaction design swallow us whole?
...as well as your questions, submitted via the comments section below!
To show us where we're going and how to think about it, the panel features a lineup of design industry veterans and visionaries from multiple disciplines. The panelists will be Allan Chochinov, Chair and Co-founder, SVA MFA Products of Design and Partner, Core77; John Jay, President and Executive Creative Director of GX (previously of Wieden+Kennedy, Bloomingdale's); Aura Oslapas the former SVP current Chief Design Officer at Best Buy; and Sohrab Vossoughi, Founder and President of Ziba Design.
The discussion will be filmed and released after the festival, and it will tangle with the issues of making of things in the era of apps, Kickstarter, 3D printing, and open source. If you will be attending Design Week Portland, you can buy panel tickets here.
What's missing? You tell us! Leave your questions for the panelists here, and stay tuned for our event recap along with the rest of our DWP coverage.
Posted by core jr
| 5 Sep 2014
Definitive Technology; from L to R: W Adapt, W9, W7, W Studio, W Amp
A veritable three-headed giant in consumer electronics, Sound United's aptly differentiated trio of brands is well-established across the category, offering products for users of all stripes, from hip millennials to discerning audiophiles. Today sees the launch of its first two wireless music systems, major releases for both the Polk Audio and Definitive Technology brands. Building on its long history as a leader in bringing top-notch audio engineering to music fans, the Polk Omni family comprises a suite of speaker options, plus a standalone amplifier and a wireless adaptor for your existing home audio system. Definitive Technology's W collection is billed as the "first audiophile-grade wireless music system," with higher-end versions of a congruent product range—two sizes of speaker, a soundbar/subwoofer combo, an amplifier and an adaptor.
DTS' Play-Fi allows for streaming via services such as Pandora and Spotify, as well as Internet radio and, of course, the user's personal music collection. Each of the systems is controlled by a dedicated app, compatible with Android and iOS and specifically designed to complement the respective hardware.
Polk Omni, from L to R: S2, S2 Rechargeable, SB1, A1, P1
We had the chance to talk to Michael DiTullo—a longtime friend and contributor to Core who also happens to be the Chief Design Officer of Sound United—about the thinking and process behind the two new collections.
Core77: Home audio, as a category, has a certain aesthetic; to what degree do you abide by these standards, and to what degree to do you try to break away?
Michael DiTullo: We try not to think of what is going on in the CE category and instead focus on what is important to our target persona and what other objects they surround themselves in. An audio product lives with a family, in their living room, in their kitchen, in their bedroom. It has to respond to these spaces to earn the right to be there. Our Polk collection uses warm metallic finishes, warm metallic off blacks, a mix of dark and light grilles and softer, mid-century modern inspired form language to respond to what is going on the space of the Polk listener and visually represent the sonic profile which is very warm.
The Definitive persona, who we call the aficionado, is more Modernist, clean, crisp, very precise. The design language reflects that with machined aluminum bases, machined cantilevered aluminum UI's, and very strong, minimal forms. Likewise, the sonic signature is very cold, precise, and forward, just like the design.
It sounds like you imagine these products in context, i.e. in and among the kinds of interiors, furniture and lifestyles of the end users.
Very much so. Before embarking on designing this collection, we conducted a series of ethnographic interviews with a range of listeners, including recent college grads moving into their first apartment, couples moving into their first home, young families with multiple children, and empty nesters who were downsizing. We studied the use cases of these individual groups, the unique pain points with trying to get an audio experience around their rooms, and were able to extrapolate the insights that went into the innovation and form factor of each product. By learning about what wasn't working for people, we could develop a collection and system that does work and is flexible enough to grow with them and continue to surprise and delight. We always start every project by answering two very simple questions: Who are we designing for, and what can our brand and expertise bring to them that makes their audio life better?
Polk Omni SB1 (wireless subwoofer & soundbar)
Definitive Technology W Amp
Polk Omni P1 adaptor (at center), pictured with RTiA1 speakers
Posted by core jr
| 22 May 2014
Jean Lin at center, with (from left): Kyle Garner, Sit and Read; Kellen Tucker, Sharktooth; Kai-wei Hsu, KWH Furniture; Pete Oyler, Assembly; Nora Mattingly, Assembly; Hiroko Takeda; Michael Maloney, Colony; Hillary Petrie, Egg Collective; Crystal Ellis, Egg Collective; Ryden Rizzo, Allied Maker; Will Kavesh, Token; and Emrys Berkower, Token
This article was originally published in the C77 Design Daily, Vol. 1, Issue 2, on May 17, 2014.
Launching in Manhattan next month, Jean Lin's new design showroom will bring together a dozen studios to share space and collectively raise awareness of independent American design.
By Mercedes Kraus
Jean Lin is taking a real estate gamble in Chinatown, and she's gathered a group of emerging designers to ante up with her. At 324 Canal Street, Lin has leased and rapidly renovated a 2,000-square-foot showroom that will soon be the headquarters of a new venture called Colony. Described by Lin as "a designer's cooperative," Colony will be something unique in New York's design landscape—not quite a gallery or store, and not exactly a co-op either, but an experiment in pooling resources to boost the profile of independent design.
The idea started to take shape last year, as Lin's conversations with designer friends revealed some common business struggles—especially the need for showroom space in Manhattan. Designers kept telling Lin that they lacked a central location to send potential clients to see their work in person, something that is especially crucial for doing business with the interior designers, architects and retailers who might order work in large quantities.
"Having a presence in Manhattan is huge," says Stephanie Beamer of Egg Collective, a Brooklyn-based furniture-design studio founded in 2011. "That's really where clients with purchasing power are. But for young designers, it's virtually impossible."
Egg Collective is one of 12 design businesses that have signed on for Colony's launch. The others are Allied Maker, Assembly, Meg Callahan, Flat Vernacular, KWH Furniture, Zoe Mowat, Sharktooth, Sit and Read, Hiroko Takeda, Token and UM Project. Nine of the 12 are based in New York City, with the others within a few hours by car or plane: Long Island (Allied Maker), Providence, Rhode Island (Meg Callahan), and Montreal (Zoe Mowat). Their businesses have been around for as little as two years and as long as a decade. Many of them focus on furniture, but there are also designers of lighting, textiles, wallpaper and household objects.
Starting in June, they will be using the second floor of 324 Canal Street as a joint showroom, occasional exhibition venue and community hub. But first, for Design Week, the space will play host to a pair of exhibitions—a salon-style teaser for Colony and the third edition of Reclaim NYC, an annual design exhibition and charity sale co-founded by Lin.
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 6 May 2014
Like many innovative products, FINEX is a new-old idea. Take something beloved, assumed to be a terminal stage of evolution, and find the threads of dissatisfaction and tinker until it's the product of your dreams. Sounds easy, but it also takes passion and dedication and quirky obsession to pull off. Flash back to when the company debuted on Kickstarter and you might recall their clear passion for cast iron, their pragmatism, and their attractive design work. Their American-made ergonomic octagon proved compelling, even for the non-gourmand. After being 844% funded, FINEX hit the ground running. Since then they've been knocking out their Kickstarter orders and as of now the general public can get in on the well-seared action too.
To see how their company functions and celebrate Hand-Eye Supply becoming the first vendor, I visited their historic Portland factory and interviewed founder Mike Whitehead. Mike is an obsessive cast iron collector and passionate about the process. Between checking out cool vintage waffle maker handles and jumping into his own machinery, he gave me the rundown on how these updated old-school skillets get made.
We're partnering with Western Foundries for our casting. We make the patterns here [in Portland] at Willamette Pattern. Everything they make is normally the size of this room. They do like, nuclear reactor coolers, massive casting the size of cars—so this is like a dinky little thing for them. Then they go up to [be cast in] Spokane. Then they go to heat-treat in Clackamas. They're heated to 1,100 degrees for at least an hour, with a slow cool-down, which releases the inherent stresses in the sand-casting process. If we didn't do that, when we machine these we might get some warpage because there's a lot of stress in casting.
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 23 Apr 2014
This is the last in a three-part series featuring the Mikes of Ultralight—lightweight hiking packs and the designers who love them. We previously interviewed Mike St. Pierre of Hyperlite Mountain Gear and Mike Pfotenhauer of Osprey Packs.
Granite Gear is an outdoor gear company started by outdooring obsessives back in 1986. Like many successful names in the outdoor game, their focus has been balanced between innovation and pragmatism. As co-founder Dan Cruikshank puts it, "If someone else is already doing a great job with a certain product, we say good for them, but if we can take it to the next level and improve, we will." As a result, Granite Gear is well known for making sturdy and attractive ultralight packs, (and plenty of other accessories) with a sharp focus on adaptability for personalized fit. I spoke with Michael Meyer, Granite Gear's Director of Design and Development, to dig into how they make their ultralight gear work right.
Core77: Tell me about your design background.
Michael Meyer: My first real job was designing backpacks and luggage for High Sierra, where I worked for four and a half years and learned a lot about backpacks and luggage. From there I went on to Under Armour where I was the senior product designer for bags—duffel bags, sport bags. They were bringing it in-house after have been licensing it, so we built the program from the ground up and lead it into what it is today. I was there a hair over three years. From there, I came to Granite Gear, where I have been as the director of design and development the last year. Granite Gear has always been a tried-and-true hardcore outdoor company, and we're looking to grow and move into new product categories. We're already deep into the outdoor hiking and climbing packs, and the company wanted to get more into the day-to-day backpack, campus bag, the back-to-school market, as well as adventure travel gear, which is essentially luggage.
What's your outdooring background like?
The outdoor industry is a great fit for me. I always loved to spend as much time as possible outdoors. I got into cross country running, I'd do day hikes and trips, kinda weekend warrior hiking trips. And did cross country all the way through highschool and college, so I'd spent a lot of time outdoors, which is what sparked me to start designing gear for the outdoors. It's what pushed me into my first real job at High Sierra.
Describe the Granite Gear design team.
A couple new faces and a couple of old faces: Dan is one of the founders of the company—which is 28 years old now—and he's not a classically trained designer; he's experience-based, and self-taught. Dan is involved in the design process as much as possible, as well as skilled design engineers Scott Anderson and Wade Niemi. The three of them have been the leads on the ultralight side of pack design for the last eight years. Our current design team consists of myself, Dan, Scott, Wade, Associate Product Designer Ben Landry, and a design intern, David. That's us in a nutshell right now. In the near future we're hoping to hire our intern as an associate product designer, and hire another senior level graphic designer, and we're always going to do the intern program every summer.
Walk me through your design process.
We've been very fortunate to work with a number of athletes who we sponsor. A key guy is Justin Lichter, whose trail name is Trauma. He's authored a number of books on it, the latest is the The Ultralight Survival Kit. He's a younger guy and he's worked with us from soup to nuts, with what to do to make things lighter.
As with all our gear, they're very, very, very function driven, even more so with ultralight packs. These guys will go out on day hikes, week hikes, sometimes even longer, and they really like to tailor their packs to do what they need them to do. So we wouldn't design a pack and say "Trauma, here's our ultralight pack and it has a maple core frame sheet"—we do have a pack with an actual maple-ply frame sheet, which is super innovative. It's lightweight but it's not ultralight. These guys are going out there with effectively no frame, or very little stability in their back. If something's going to be ultralight, we'll use the lightest fabrics, whether it be silicone, nylon, or cuben fiber. Cuben fiber is non-woven dyneema that's layered into what could be called a textile. It's super light and strong.
We always use the smallest possible width of webbing, the actual difference in the webbing doesn't make much difference in weight savings between 5mm and 10mm, but what it does do is when you use 5mm webbing you can use 5mm hardware. All the buckles or ladder locks—that's where the weight begins to accumulate. If you can use 5mm hardware instead of 10, you're going to save an ounce across the bag since you'll have six buckles and eight ladderlocks. Every little area helps to add up to the whole project.
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 22 Apr 2014
This is the second of a mini series on lightweight backpacking and the designers who love it. We previously spoke with Mike St. Pierre of Hyperlite Mountain Gear.
Whether you think ultralight backpacking sounds like hell or vacation, it provides a special dilemma for design minds. Ultralight gear has to be minimal, ergonomic, versatile and very very light. To get a higher-level industry take on the lightweight challenge I spoke with Mike Pfotenhauer, founder, owner and and chief designer of Osprey Packs. Osprey is over four decades old and renowned for innovative, ergonomic and, yes, lightweight pack design. Still independently owned and operated, they're a leading name in multiple fields of backpacking. When I caught up with Mike he had just gotten back from Southern California—a region he's required as a Northerner to speak poorly of—where he'd had a nice time hiking around Big Sur. (Don't tell him I told you.)
You guys have been doing pack design for a very long time. What sparks new ideas now?
For us a new design is often a compilation of older ideas that finally make sense. We build many iterations when developing a new product. Often it requires a minimum of 15 or 20 different versions before we can finalize a new product. All of this experimentation is never wasted. Our prototype archives are loaded with innovative concepts that are just waiting for the right opportunity. We have a lot of ideas stored. In fact, I just told everybody we have to dig out today! We have so many prototypes we're tripping over them! It's insane, we're drowning, we could get lost in them!
Do you still have a hand in the design process?
I'm definitely still involved in the design process. We have a design office in Mill Valley, and up until two years ago I did almost all of it. Now I have two design assistants and a production manager, and the design team in Vietnam, who turn the designs into prototypes and so on. We get a lot of input from distributors and vendors too. We travel to Vietnam where we have 35 people in the development office. With web conferencing we keep the product on a 24-hour development path. They build samples and ship them here or we go over them online, and go over them again and again and again... until the curtain. It's been worked to death by then. So that's three designers—two less than half my age, which is interesting. Young minds to keep me thinking young.
You guys just put out a new Exos. What's your take on going ultralight from a design perspective?
I really appreciate limitations. With any lightweight gear you have that rule—you want to keep it simple. It's also nice from a sustainability angle. Less process, less material. I do gravitate towards lightweight, towards minimalism. I like the challenge to strip things away. We're pretty known for that—gear that's lighter but durable. Not too light, though. We have an extensive warranty program and we don't want stuff coming back. Or getting thrown away!
How do you determine desired weight and work towards it?
Comfort, efficiency and load transfer are the concerns at the top of our list. Once we've accomplished those we do what we can to strip weight where it won't be detrimental. Because we develop our prototypes entirely in-house we know the product intimately and every gram that's not pulling its weight is discarded. With the Exos we knew that a highly tensioned back panel would be far lighter and more comfortable and ventilated than one with plastic or foam. We stripped dense foams out of the hipbelt and shoulder straps and created more ventilation by using layers of 3D mesh.
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 21 Apr 2014
This is the first of a multi-part look at lightweight backpacking and the designers who love it.
Ultralight is a challenging niche within both the outdoor community and the outdoor industry. Ultralight users are often out on the trail or mountain for weeks on end, and ultralight designers have to get them there and back. To learn about the passions and problem-solving involved, I spoke with Mike St. Pierre, founder of Hyperlite Mountain Gear, makers of award-winning ultralight packs and tents.
C77: What inspires you to create new designs?
Mike: Honestly? My own personal interest level in an outdoor activity. I started out making packs for backpacking and through-hiking because I was doing a lot of that, then I got into climbing, so I made packs for climbers. Then I got into backcountry skiing—so that's probably one of the next products. New designs come from personal interest and from customers requesting products for niches where they want to go lighter.
How do you determine desired weight and work towards it?
We don't set out with that goal in mind. Weight is important, but I've never been looking to be the lightest guy out there. The weight is a byproduct of the design philosophy: strip away and provide the basics of what you need. A lot of companies build bags that have a multitude of attachment points, bags for doing all kind things—one bag fits all. We don't look at it that way, it's good to be specific. Rock climbing? Climbing bag. Ice hiking? Ice hiking pack.
How do developments in high-tech materials impact your line of products and new designs?
When I found out about cuben fiber it was a no brainer. It's truly waterproof, the strongest material in the world, it's non woven. All the other fabrics out there are coated fabrics. Instead you've got something that won't leak, weighs less... It's the best. So we're always searching for the newest modern materials. More minimalist designs mean more high tech materials. Marrying the two is how we reduce the weight. Stick with what works, but sometimes you find something exciting that can spark a whole new line.
I had a heavy hand in the development of a lot of fabrics that we use. We're doing our own production here in Maine—when we started no one was willing or had knowledge of the adhesives and bonding techniques involved. I shopped it around, and decided there was no way to do it unless we build out manufacturing ourselves. Our cuben fiber with laminated woven fabrics, those are products fabrics I had my two cents in with our developers. I constantly find things I like somewhere, and find a way to get it laminated or incorporated in the manufacture of the cuben.
Posted by Ray
| 31 Mar 2014
There's a good chance that even those of you who aren't runners are familiar with Nike Free footwear, whether you wear them for other sports or training or as a go-to sneaker for your day-to-day activities. While Tobie Hatfield (Tinker's brother, for the uninitiated) had originally designed the articulated midsole based on the biomechanics of barefoot running, the shoes have been adapted for (and adopted by) anyone who spends time on their feet—in keeping with the Nike credo "if you have a body, then you're an athlete"—which is to say, everyone.
Of course, the concept of Natural Motion is a natural extension (so to speak) of Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman's seminal insight into performance footwear: that it should "provide protection and traction but minimal weight and zero distraction." Like most any design challenge, it's easier said than done: For more on the history and background of the Free—now in its tenth year, Nike recently unveiled the 2014 Collection—we had the chance to chat with Hatfield, Director of Athlete Innovations, on his personal journey, the inspiration behind the Free and what the future holds for Nike.
Core77: Let's start with a bit of your background—tell me a little bit about yourself and how you ended up at Nike.
Tobie Hatfield: Sure—I was a track athlete, grew up in the state of Oregon and knew Coach Bill Bowerman (I didn't know Phil Knight when he was an athlete). When I was a senior in high school, he actually made me my first pair of custom-made track spikes. At first, he X-rayed my feet to actually find out where my bony prominences are, underneath my foot, so he could re-drill the holes and put the spikes in the proper places just for my foot. Little did I know, at that time, he was already starting to teach me about innovation—about working with an athlete, listening to an athlete...
It's something that I look back on, even today, 23+ years later at Nike... but I didn't know I was going to be a footwear engineer, footwear designer, I really wanted to be a track coach—my dad was a track coach for 40+ years. After high school, I went to college, and then I [continued] pole-vaulting for a couple more years. I got into coaching, and I coached at the collegiate level.
During that time, Nike was recruiting me because I spoke Mandarin, because I was married at the time, and my wife is from Taiwan. They were always trying to get people to go overseas, to work with the factories, and knowing that I already spoke one of the languages would make it a bit easier.
But I denied that for a while until my dad came down with cancer—I'd been away from Oregon for about ten years at that time and felt like things were pulling me back to the state... like, well, if I'm going to go back, I might as well go ahead and see what Nike has to offer, so I accepted their offer to have some interviews. At the end of a week of many days of interviews, I was actually offered two jobs, and I took the one where I actually started learning about materials, which is perfect because [at the time] I didn't know much about shoes at all, let alone the ingredients of them.
A brief history of Nike Innovation: Cortez (1972), Nike Sock Racer (1985), Air Huarache (1991), Air Rift (1995), Air Presto (2000)
Posted by core jr
| 28 Mar 2014
Photos by Isaac Schell unless otherwise noted
On the occasion of the Red Hook Criterium this weekend, the Rapha Cycle Club here in Lower Manhattan is pleased to present Gangs of New York, an exhibition of exquisitely preserved vintage bicycles from the collection of Edward Albert. If Jamie Swan is a "Keeper of the Flame," so too is Albert a dedicated chronicler/collector amongst the current generation of cycling enthusiasts in the Tri-state Area.
What do these bicycles, mostly from the interwar period, have to do with an unsanctioned nighttime race in a Brooklyn shipping terminal? As Albert notes in this brief history of his personal story and the bicycles currently on view at the Cycle Club, all bicycles in New York were fixed-gears until the middle of the last century, when derailleurs finally caught on in the States. So while we look forward to footage of this year's race—Red Bull will be capturing it this year—we are very pleased to have a folk historian share a bit of context for NYC cycling culture.
Albert will be present at the opening reception of Gangs of New York, tomorrow afternoon from 2–4pm at the Rapha Cycle Club at 64 Gansevoort Street, New York, NY 10014 (the Red Hook Criterium will take place later that evening).
As a Ph.D. in Sociology, I taught for 25 years at Hofstra university and retired in 2005 as an Emeritus Professor of Sociology. Many of those years were spent studying the sport of bicycle racing, about which I have published quite a bit in professional journals and edited collections.
I have always been interested in bikes—like most people, I've been riding since I was a kid. But the 60s being what they were, even though I wanted to race, smoking etc. got in the way. In 1974, I was in Toronto working on my doctorate and got involved with a local bike store and club. By the following year, at the age of 26, I was all in. Bike racing became the most important thing in my life. I quit smoking and started racing seriously as I worked on my dissertation. I moved up relatively quickly (to Cat. 2) and continued to race until around 2000. Sometimes I think I stayed in academia because it allowed me the time to train and race—I became a cyclist and continue to define myself as such.1
I started collecting when I stopped racing. Before I stopped, all I wanted was a bike that would help me do well in races. After collecting for a bit, I got talked into bringing two bikes to the Cirque du Ciclisme vintage bike show in Greensboro, NC. They were a restored pair of Dick Power bikes I had gotten from a guy who knew him, whom I had met while out training. The bikes—one track and one road—won Best in Show. I was hooked. That also started me on the path of not only looking at the bikes but (as a sociologist and social historian) looking at the stories behind them. That ended up with me interviewing countless riders from the day and my as-yet-unpublished book A Dark Day in Sunnyside about the builder and coach Dick Power.
Images courtesy of Edward Albert
I have about 38 bikes, give or take a few, at the moment. Many of the New York track bikes and memorabilia came from the people I interviewed. After interviewing a good ex-rider and member of the German Club, Eddie Troll, I asked if he had any stuff left he would be willing to sell. He took me into the garage and showed me his bike, lots of parts, etc. He said sure, my kids are just going to throw this stuff in the dumpster. This was not an uncommon theme—I got the Drysdale that is in the show (more on that below) from a nonagenarian who had retired to Las Vegas. Same sentiment.
Posted by core jr
| 27 Jan 2014
Core77 is very pleased to be a media partner for an event that happens literally once every hundred years: 2014 marks the centennial of the AIGA. Since its founding in 1914, the New York-based professional association has expanded to 67 chapters nationwide, boasting some 25,000 members across various design disciplines.
In keeping with their mission to recognize and advocate for design, the AIGA will be celebrating this momentous occasion with several events this spring, as well as the just-launched 100 Years of Design website. Although it is ostensibly a look back at the past hundred years of design, the online gallery also serves as an extensive standalone survey of design history since 1914. Indeed, the AIGA worked closely with Second Story, a part of SapientNitro, to develop "a dynamic online platform documenting significant design works from the last century that have impacted our collective visual experience."
Viewers are encouraged to add their own favorite examples of design history to the initial selection of works, which are drawn primarily from the AIGA Design Archives and woven together with commentary from leading designers. Driven by participation from designers, students and design enthusiasts, the site invites conversation about design's rich legacy and expanding impact.
We had a chance to speak to AIGA Executive Director Richard Grefé about the centennial festivities and the story behind the impressive "100 Years of Design" website.
Core77: First of all, congratulations on 100 years! How does it feel to be spearheading the festivities for this momentous occasion?
Richard Grefé: The centennial is a tremendous affirmation of creative professionals—the value of their coming together as a community is to inspire each other, to seek ever-expanding opportunities for the design mind to thrill others with stunning and evocative work, and to enhance the human experience. A century marks a hundred years of growth, change, creativity and achievement, and the beginning of an era with even greater possibility. The festivities celebrate the breadth, depth and diversity of the fellowship of designers who come together as AIGA in order to advance the profession. Pretty exciting!
Deborah Adler - ClearRx (2005)
Regarding CelebrateDesign.org, how did you arrive at the five categories? And did you have trouble classifying any of the artifacts, quotes or clips? I imagine there was quite a bit of overlap...
Organizing the story of design over the past century was no easy task. We wanted to move beyond a linear chronology. Ultimately, we decided the purpose of the site should be to begin the conversation, not end it, so we selected five broad categories that most would agree should be among any list of intents for great design. We then invited viewers to consider other impacts by including an open-ended prompt: "Celebrating 100 years of design that..."
Because any work of design can of course have multiple impacts depending on context and the viewer, it was at first daunting to assign works within the structure. Impact is subjective and a work being featured in a certain narrative for this project does not circumscribe its larger meaning. However, key works started falling into place as particularly representative of one impact or another, and then supporting pieces began to make sense in that context.
We pulled quotes from primary sources and books—such as Graphic Design in America, Looking Closer, Design Culture, Nine Pioneers in American Graphic Design, and Design Discourse—that spoke directly to the impacts chosen. For example, Samina Quareshi on the need for design to connect a community; the designers behind the First Things First 2000 manifesto on designers' imperative to assist in addressing environmental, social, and cultural crises; Paul Rand's defense of humor to delight through visual communication; Robert Fabricant on designers exerting influence through every decision they make. The final pieces were the voices of design legends, which help hold groups of work together. Each "impact" such as Delight or Inform contains three themes, and these voices complemented what we called the "narrative glue" that described each theme (for example, here and here in the Connect section).
Posted by Mason Currey
| 6 Jan 2014
Photos by Talia Herman
If you're an industrial designer looking to work in the tech sector, Google is probably pretty low on your list of prospective employers—if it's on there at all. The company employs plenty of UX designers, interaction designers, motion designers, and others who shape how Google users interface with its many digital tools. But Google doesn't really make stuff, and ambitious designer-makers are much more likely to set their sights on Apple, IDEO, frog, or any number of other high-profile companies that do.
That may be about to change. Recently, Google invited Core77 to visit its Mountain View, California, campus and meet some of the design talent behind Google X, the semi-secret "moonshot factory" that has in recent years been designing quite a bit of actual stuff, some of which you've no doubt heard about by now. X was founded in January 2010 to continue work on Google's self-driving car initiative, and to start developing other similarly futuristic projects. The next to be unveiled was Google Glass, the much-publicized wearable computer that is expected to reach consumers sometime this year. After that, X launched (quite literally) Project Loon, an attempt to provide Internet service to rural and remote areas via balloons floating in the stratosphere; it conducted a pilot test in New Zealand last June. X also recently acquired Makani Power, which develops airborne wind turbines that could be used to harvest high-altitude wind energy, bringing its total number of public projects to four.
But what's interesting for the design community is not just that Google X is doing some traditional industrial design in the service of realizing outrageously big ideas, but that it's integrating I.D. with a variety of other disciplines in a particularly rigorous fashion, creating an ideal-sounding nexus of design thinking, user research and fabrication. And it is actively seeking new talent who can help flesh out its multidisciplinary approach.
"We're looking for unicorns," says Mitchell Heinrich, one of the four X-ers I met in Mountain View about a month ago. Heinrich founded and runs his own group within X called the Design Kitchen, which acts as X's in-house fabrication department but is also deeply involved in generating (and killing) new ideas. And what he means by "unicorns" is designers who have the rare ability to excel in both of those roles—as he puts it, "people who have the ability to have the inspiration, the thought, the design, and then are able to carry that out to something that actually works and looks like what they want it to look like."
That may not sound like such a fantastically rare combination of skills, but Heinrich insists that finding people who can do this kind of soup-to-nuts design—come up with brilliant ideas and then actually make them, while also working extremely fast—has been difficult. In other words, the Kitchen has high standards. "I like to think of it as more like a Chez Panisse than an Applebee's," he says.
The Googleplex in early December
Posted by core jr
| 16 Dec 2013
Today is going to be a great day for designers who still can't take their eyes (and hands) off of the Trace app from Morpholio Projects—they've added a few exciting features to the already stellar tool. Since its launch in September 2012, the app has caused quite a buzz within the digital design world with its ever-evolving toolkit. Mere months after the initial launch, the group added templates to the design, making niche design accessible even to those just looking to dabble in a new niche. Aside from being a go-to tool for getting designs down on "paper," Trace has become a platform for constructive criticism and idea sharing, thanks to another round of additions—this time incorporating production and presentation software—before the app reached its first birthday.
Tomorrow, the app will officially introduce a few new tools that will aid in the design process, but you can experience all of them a day early. In its first stages, its main functions were to recreate the physical tracing paper we all hate toting around in a digital interface. This time around, you can expect new colors, filters and more layer editing capacities. Check out this video for a better look at Trace 2.0.
Posted by core jr
| 21 Nov 2013
Well, here's an unexpected scoop from our own Don Lehman, who just documented what is likely the most surreal scene we'll see this month: Jony Ive, Marc Newson and Bono piling into a custom Fiat Jolly—designed by the two industrial design megastars for their muscian friend's charity event—for a photo opp with Lot 43 of the upcoming (RED) Auction.
Don stopped by the exhibition, which is open to the public at Sothebys' New York City HQ at 71st and York, this afternoon, hoping to catch a glimpse of the one-of-a-kind desk and Leica camera, also designed by the dynamic duo, along with some 40+ other art and design objects, only to find the room closed off for a private gathering. It turns out that the triumvirate were inspecting the goods—Don reports that he also overheard Bono's fingers dancing on the custom Steinway—in anticipation of Jony and Marc's (RED) Auction this Saturday.
Here are a couple of videos of Jony, Marc and Bono having their way with the Fiat:
Posted by core jr
| 21 Nov 2013
Photos by Sarah Rottenberg, Yilin Lu, Yoshi Araki and Anna Couturier
By Mathieu Turpault, Director of Design, Bresslergroup
Last summer, we got to live vicariously through a group of Integrated Product Design students at the University of Pennsylvania who traveled to Ghana.
They were conducting ethnographic research at the Yonso Project, a Ghanaian rural organization that provides educational and economic resources to help people in the region break the cycle of poverty. In 2009, Yonso added a bamboo bicycle workshop to their roster of empowerment programs. The workshop builds skills by training locals to make beautiful bamboo bike frames that are sold internationally. It creates jobs, leverages local production from the bamboo plantation, and helps fund Yonso's educational initiatives.
Strategy and Research
While the folks at Yonso are incredibly knowledgeable about their core initiatives, they're not as experienced in product development. They approached UPenn for help in 2012 when they wanted to expand their bamboo product line. In turn, Sarah Rottenberg, Associate Director at the Integrated Product Design program, asked Bresslergroup to help mentor the students who were going.
Sarah and the team of IPD students, Yoshi Araki, Yilin Lu and Anna Couturier, visited our offices last spring for a couple of strategy and ideation sessions with our designers and engineers. We guided them through brainstorming and ideation exercises, talked about how we prepare for conducting ethnographic research and brand language development, and suggested strategies for narrowing and choosing product categories that could be pursued most successfully. We've gone through this process many times before, for many different types of products, so we've run into walls and we know how to avoid pitfalls.
Read more in our blog post about brainstorming about how we structure this phase of the design process.
Posted by An Xiao Mina
| 12 Nov 2013
Photos courtesy of Square
The first time it happened, I took time to notice the experience. A food truck vendor handed me his phone, which had a little white square sticking out of the headphone jack. "What is this?" I asked, wondering which one of us was the crazy one. "Square," he replied. "You can make payments on your phone." I swiped my card on the strange device and then I signed my name with my finger. The receipt went straight to my inbox, and the deed was done: A delicious meal was mine to enjoy, all with a few taps and a swipe.
What was once a revolutionary gesture—a vendor hands me his or her smartphone, and I swipe and pay—has now become second nature. Countless friends and I have used Square to pay for coffee in chic cafes, fruits and vegetables in a hectic farmer's market food stall, and small works from independent artists, yet we rarely think about it. And that, I've learned, is by design. Whereas most design objects draw attention to themselves, the Square Reader and the accompanying software help you get the job done quickly and then quietly fade into the background.
Jesse Dorogusker demos the packaging for the Square Stand.
Anyone who's spent time haggling in a street market knows that payment is not just about money changing hands but about a conversation. Hardware Lead Jesse Dorogusker took the time to demo Stand, Square's newest product, a point-of-sale system designed to sit on vendors' countertops and operate with an iPad. In the spirit of conversation, the stand rotates, allowing the vendor to type in the total and then have the iPad face the customer as he or she signs it.
"The merchant will very quickly understand that there are things that I do, and there are things that I want my customer to do. And we're going to have a conversation, and this is going to facilitate that conversation," noted Dorogusker, who has previously worked at Apple, in an interview with Core77. After the sale is complete, the Stand can be rotated back in place with a satisfying click.
Image courtesy of Square
After spending several years in the habitation department at NASA, developing living spaces for the International Space Station as well as multiple off earth exploration vehicles, designer Garrett Finney left in 2009 to launch his dream recreational vehicle, the Cricket trailer. At the recent Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City, Finney introduced a prototype of the FireFly, an even more compact and utilitarian next-gen trailer, designed to fit in the back of a pickup truck or be towed by a small car.
The FireFly's interior is minimal, lined with folding bench tops for the sleeping/living surface with room for storage underneath. Although he initially hopes to attract the eco-campers who require the robustness of a trailer and the serious off-roader, Finney also envisions industrial or disaster-relief applications, such as deploying temporary base camps in remote and disaster stricken areas. Working with the small team of Evan Twyford (recruited from NASA in 2012) and Cricket Lead Designer Brian Black, the FireFly was designed in a three-week blitz after several months of sketching, mockups and CAD modelling.
"We worked with one of our local metal vendors to cut and fabricate the majority of the exo-skeleton," Black says of the development process. "Most of these skeletal components were laser cut and bent sheet aluminum which, when fastened together, create rigid structures."
Combined with the welded square tube sections, this created a rugged yet light weight architecture. We borrowed many construction methods and materials from our NASA/aerospace design experience as well as our experience designing and manufacturing with the Cricket such as the use of light weight yet highly insulative composite panels. These panels are high R-value, inch thick architectural siding with .04inch aluminum skin and an eps foam core. This use of aluminum and composites allowed us to create the rugged volume seen with this prototype while keeping it weight at just over 600lbs.
Evan Twyford sketching
Vehicle profile iterations balance ergonomic sizing and human factors concerns, such as bunk width and ceiling height, with technical sizing constraints such as truck bed dimensions and under-bench stowage.
Early concept sketching depicts multi-mode use on trailers, in a truck bed, and on a notional lander-leg package. Sketches also outline separate habitation module and frame/decking components with modular stowage/water tank compartments.
Firefly with deployable lander leg package. Concept sketch by Evan Twyford.
Westergasfabriek - The administration of the Western Gas Factory in front of the newly constructed main gas container building, 1903
Interaction14, the next highly acclaimed interaction design conference, is 100 days away. Moreover, the event, which is organized by the Interaction Design Association (IxDA), will take place in the lovely city of Amsterdam.
We asked the two conference chairs, Alok Nandi and Yohan Creemers, to tell us more about what has been planned.
Core77: Interaction14 will be in Amsterdam in a few months. What will be different from the previous editions?
Alok Nandi & Yohan Creemers: This will be the 7th edition of the annual conference and the second time it takes place outside North America (in 2012 the conference was held in Dublin). The upcoming edition will definitely be the most international yet, as it is the first time the conference will be held in a non-English speaking city.
Our vision is to make sure that there are dimensions specific to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Europe. Otherwise, why travel and come here?
So the first answer to your question is the city, the location. It will be different, but we are hard at work to make the attendees feel they are at home, in a creative city, and that they have the space to experience Amsterdam for its own sake.
The second answer is that there will be more non-Americans, both in terms of speakers, and most probably also in terms of attendees. The upcoming Interaction14 conference showcases in other words how global IxDA has become.
In terms of content and experience, our team wants to make sure to cater to different types of attendees, from the ones looking for inspiration to those wishing to connect and be part of the community, and from the newcomers to the regulars. Very early on, we actually created five personas to bring the typical attendees to life, and they have guided all our planning.
Finally, this year we also want to find ways to better engage the 50,000+ members of IxDA members worldwide. The 4-day experience of the 850 conference attendees and the knowledge that is generated should ripple back to this community.
You have recently announced all six keynote speakers: Peter Greenaway, Irene Au, Daniel Rosenberg, Saskia Sassen, Scott McCloud and Gillian Crampton Smith. What was your logic in selecting them?
The guiding 'theme' we gave to the conference is "Languages of Interaction Design." We want to see the theme in a very large, inspirational sense. Clearly, it is not about linguistics, but about exploring the diversity and hybridity of our practice(s) and craft(s) while getting inspired by other disciplines. So, if we think of terms like conceiving, connecting, engaging, empowering, optimizing, disrupting and expressing—which, by the way, are the six IxDA Awards categories—how can the attendees benefit from two types of content: those provided by keynote speakers and those by our community based on a call for speakers?
In the end, we wanted to shortlist different types of topics and points of view. Initially our list of potential speakers was very long, but the conference theme and the overall motto of IxDA—"Interaction Designers create compelling relationships between people and the interactive systems they use, from computers to mobile devices to appliances; Interaction Designers lay the groundwork for intangible experiences"—allowed us to narrow it down.
Storytelling, urban design, education and enterprise were some keywords we had included explicitly in our roadmap, and these topics were brought to life through the five personas that I mentioned earlier.
We think these six speakers offer a balance between different points of view, inspiration sources, expertise and experience in various fields connected to interaction design. The keynote speeches will of course be taking place in a context of talks provided by 50+ speakers.
Posted by core jr
| 21 Oct 2013
Last week, we took a look at the story behind the bespoke baton that Glasgow's 4c Design, Ltd., created for the XX Commonwealth Games in 2014. The baton was unveiled at a special ceremony on October 9, the occasion for remarks from Prince Imran of Malaysia (President of the CGF), Lord Smith of Kelvin (Chair of the 2014 Games) and of course Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II herself.
The BBC's Mark Beaumont filed his latest report, from Sri Lanka, yesterday afternoon; the Baton is about halfway through it's tour of Southeast Asia and will be in Australia by Halloween (view the full 70-country, 288-day route here).
We're pleased to present a series of exclusive photos documenting the making-of the baton, courtesy of 4c Design.
Testing ithe durability of the handle.
The "Birdmouthing" join comes from 1,000+ years of shipbuilding tradition
The form was 3D-printed with Direct Metal Laser Sintering, but the rough titanium requires quite a bit of manual polishing...
Posted by core jr
| 16 Oct 2013
Shane Kohatsu's Vapor Laser Talon for Nike / Frank Stella - 'K.162' (2011) sculpture
In what will certainly be a must-see exhibition this holiday season, New York City's Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) is pleased to present Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital, which opens today and runs through July 6, 2014. Billed as "the first in-depth survey of digital fabrication in contemporary art, architecture, and design," the exhibition includes a catholic selection of "more than 120 works of sculpture, jewelry, fashion, and furniture by 85 artists, architects, and designers from 20 countries." Curated by Ronald T. Labaco, Out of Hand explores various approaches to and modes of computer-assisted production through works—"including commissions created especially for Out of Hand and objects never presented before in the U.S."—by the likes of Ron Arad, Barry X Ball, Zaha Hadid, Anish Kapoor, Maya Lin, Greg Lynn, Mark Newson, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and many more.
Seeing as the works date from 2005 to present, MAD is clearly planting a stake in the ground with this first look at what will eventually be considered 'early' examples of art and design in the digital era. It's too soon to tell whether some of the work on view will be canonized or it will be forgotten, but the fact that these technologies will likely evolve over the course of the nine-month run of the show is precisely the point: Out of Hand is a timely snapshot of the intersection of art and technology at this moment in time.
Dror Benshetrit - Volume.MGX Lamp (2009)
Richard Dupont - Untitled #5 (2008) / Michael Schmidt with Francis Bitonti - Articulated 3D-printed gown (2013)
We had the chance to speak to Labaco in anticipation of the opening.
Core77: How did this exhibition come about? Is there a serendipitous origin story, or has it been in the works for some time now?
Ron Labaco: The concept for the exhibition came out of a meeting with the director and chief curator about two years ago. We were tossing around ideas for exhibition topics and the subject of 3D printing came up. If you think back to then, which wasn't so long ago, 3D printing was not as familiar a term with the general public as it is today. You could count the number of articles about it in popular magazines and newspapers on one hand.
But rather than simply focus on 3D printing, I suggested a more inclusive exhibition on digital fabrication—including CNC machining and digital knitting/weaving—to provide a broader look at how computer-assisted manufacture has changed our physical world. By doing so, I was able to develop a more complex story about how these methods of fabrication were being utilized in individual artistic practice across different disciplines. I opened up an interesting dialogue between practitioners who approached the same technologies from different perspectives with differing goals. At first I had also planned on examining developments in the medical sciences, but with the wealth of material that I was finding, I had to limit the scope to design, art and architecture.
Lucas Maassen & Unfold - Brain Wave Sofa (2010)
Posted by Deena DeNaro
| 16 Oct 2013
Most Americans are slightly awed by the British ability to reinvent, update and have fun with their own customs and heritage whilst staying true to the roots that give those traditions magic and meaning in the first place. This was plainly evident at Buckingham Palace last Wednesday, October 9, at the launch of the Queen's Baton Relay. The empty baton was escorted to the palace by pipers of the Scottish Guard and presented to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, by Britain's most successful track cyclist Sir Chris Hoy. As she has done every four years since 1958, the Queen placed the message she will read out at the opening ceremony of next year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow into a custom-designed baton and sent it on a 288-day tour around the 70 nations of the Commonwealth. Both the design and fabrication of the baton tell a powerful story that embodies not just Scotland's culture but also the Scottish tradition of design and engineering excellence.
The phrase "one must learn to take the rough with the smooth" is quite popular in the UK, and no one does this better than Glaswegians... or the rest of the Scots for that matter. The aesthetic features of the baton are equally influenced by the rich tradition of Scottish pageantry (and all its associated regalia) and the natural, rough-hewn craft work found in the castles, crofts, weathered landscapes and pastimes like boating and curling found throughout the land. Furthermore, the fabrication technologies reflect the duality of Scotland's unique cultural heritage by joining the cutting-edge innovation of Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) with woodworking practices from a 1,000-year-old tradition of boat building.
Combining leading-edge technology with artisan skills, the design is literally centered on The Queen's Message and the tradition of the baton as the symbolic invitation to Commonwealth nations and territories to attend the Games. At the heart of the baton is The Queen's Message, inscribed on a sheet of parchment handmade in Glasgow using linen and plant fiber. The message will be scrolled and held in a transparent cylinder within a pure titanium latticework frame. For the first time, the message forms the visual core of the baton design—illuminated from within by LED lights, yet unreadable until the Opening Ceremony.
According to Will Mitchell, Design Director of 4c Design, Ltd., the studio behind the baton:
The Baton has several features to enable the Queen's Baton Relay team to monitor its overall health on the journey. The batteries have been selected to ensure that the light will run for a minimum of eight hours straight. There is also an LDR sensor on the outside to compensate for brightness.
Although the battery power is more than enough, should there be any doubt the unit has been fitted with a piece of monitoring software which can be read via Bluetooth and a phone App to show what percentage of charge is left. The App updates the team on the electronics operating temperature and will also allow the operator to turn the unit on and off, which was demonstrated at the Baton launch, when the Queen held the Baton after the message was inserted.
Posted by core jr
| 15 Oct 2013
Images courtesy of IDEO
If a recent segment on 60 Minutes is any indication, IDEO's David Kelley is among the design superstars who have crossed over into mainstream recognition. David and his brother Tom, also a partner at the leading innovation consultancy, are pleased to present a new book, Creative Confidence, to prove that deep down (or perhaps not so deep) inside, "each and every one of us is creative." We had a chance to catch up with the Kelley Bros. to chat about their latest page-turner and how each of us can tap into our own creative potential.
Earlier this year, Bruce Nussbaum published a book called Creative Intelligence. To what degree is this premise—that anyone can be creative—a new trend, and why do you think that is? Or alternately, if the idea has been in the ether for some time, why now?
While creativity is timeless, trends like Maker culture open up new opportunities to unleash creativity. Our great friend and IDEO cofounder Bill Moggridge strongly believed that most people were vastly more creative and capable than they knew. We agree, and we're glad more people around the world are starting to agree, too.
We define creative confidence as the natural human ability to come up with breakthrough ideas and the courage to act on them. Since everyone was creative at some point in their lives (consider kindergarten), the challenge for us is more about unlocking creative potential than generating it from scratch.
Both in David's work at the d.school and in IDEO's collaborative work with client teams, we've witnessed many personal transformations when people who do not self-identify as "creative" get exposed to design thinking methods—and then surprise themselves with just how creative they really are. We've seen over and over that when people experience a series of small successes, they gradually gain confidence in their own ability to generate creative ideas and act on them. Creative confidence, what eminent psychologist Albert Bandura would call "self-efficacy," comes down to a belief system about your own ability to have positive impact in the world.
Creative confidence is like a muscle—it can be strengthened and nurtured through effort and practice. In our experience, the best way to do that is through action, one step at a time.
The anecdote about Akshay and Ankit [engineers who end up in a d.school class] definitely rings true: We often hear from engineers who realize they'd rather be designers but don't know where to start. Do you have any advice for them?
If you're an engineer, then you're a problem solver. The way to move in the design direction is to move from pure problem-solving to need-finding. That's the empathy part of it. So instead of just doing your normal job, look for ways to reframe the problem that you're working on, ways it might be solved in a different or a better way. Complete the task you were asked to do and then do it again in a more creative way using design thinking tools. Present both directions to the boss.
What you need is a bias toward action, to jump out into the world. Engineers tend to shy away from the messiness of the human part. So if you're working on a new cell phone, instead of just considering the circuits or the software, go out and watch people use cell phones. Watch people use cell phones in extreme situations. Watch unusual phone use, and watch regular phone use. Ask people questions about it. Ask people to draw their cell phones. Do whatever it takes to get deep into understanding what's meaningful to people about cell phones, rather than just working on the technology.
Posted by core jr
| 5 Sep 2013
Core77 has had the pleasure of chronicling New Skins, a workshop led by designer Francis Bitonti, which took place from July 22 to August 8 at Pratt's Digital Arts and Humanities Research Center in Brooklyn, NY. As a pioneer in the digital fashion design space, Bitonti's practice is primarily concerned with the wearable applications of computationally-based design methodologies and cutting-edge manufacturing technologies. His efforts in the classroom are an extension of his work in the studio, a fast-paced, process-centric approach to new and emerging technologies and their potential to yield never-before-scene results.
We've previously published coverage of weeks one and two of the summer intensive, which was sponsored by the Pratt DAHRC, Makerbot and 3D NYC Lab. In addition to the report on the third week and final project, Bitonti has graciously allowed us to present the video documentation of the course as it unfolded this past summer.
By Francis Bitonti Studio
The third week of Francis Bitonti's New Skins: Computional Design for Fashion Workshop at Pratt Institute's Digital Arts and Humanities Research Center brought the students together in the creation of their final garment: the Verlan Dress. All twelve of the students worked together throughout the final week to realize a new design, which integrated different components of the two garments previously selected by the jury at the end of the second week—designer Vito Acconci, fashion designer Jona from INAISCE, and representatives from MakerBot—as chronicled in our Week Two recap.
The students created the geometry for the dress using 3D anatomical models of the human body, then abstracted hidden lines and vectors of the human body (muscles, veins and arteries) into curves that could be manipulated in a 3D modeling environment. The inspiration for turning the body inside out, projecting the interior to the exterior of the body, creating a second skin from what lies underneath led to the name Verlan dress; the French slang word refers to reversing the first and last syllables, turning the word inside out.
Throughout the design process, the students focused on developing a unique formal language that would conform to the body through a procedural algorithm; finding a voice through a new emerging manufacturing paradigm. "We do not want to be teaching technology for the sake of technology," explains Bitonti. "This isn't about training technicians or draftsmen. We are trying to teach students to think through the computer as a medium and develop sensibilities for these new virtual materials."
Posted by core jr
| 30 Aug 2013
My grandfather, Alfred Easton Poor, was a New York City architect with many major projects to his credit, including the Jacob Javits Federal Building in Manhattan and the restoration and extension of the US Capitol Building's East Front in Washington, DC. The Wright Brothers Memorial was his earliest major design win, and perhaps his most visible. One of my treasured possessions is a letter from Orville Wright to my grandfather, thanking him for a print of a photograph he had taken of the memorial.
It was a fitting project, as he was an early aviator himself. He learned to fly when in high school, but was too young to enter combat when the World War broke out. Instead, he went down to the Florida Keys where he taught pilots to fly floatplanes. For World War II, he was too old to fight, and spent at least part of the war overseeing aircraft production in Ohio.
Posted by core jr
| 5 Aug 2013
Reporting by Kat Bauman
In its first iteration, the Leatherman multi-tool was a Double-Oh-Seven-worthy gadget idea, born out of a traveler's frustration and initially snubbed by major tool companies. These days, Leatherman is a synonym for any dozen-in-one dream tool you can fit in a pocket. The idea came to Tim Leatherman back in the 1970s, when the recent mechanical engineering grad and his wife Chau decided touring Europe in a questionable Fiat would be a good use of a year. Leatherman found himself regularly eyeballing the guts of the car, wishing for one tool he didn't have in his Swiss Army Knife: pliers.
Back in Oregon, he spent the next several years developing a design for the tool he had craved, patiently supported by Chau. After partnering with a friend with a machine shop, he pitched the first Leatherman multi-tool to knife and tool companies to resounding disinterest... until Cabela's unexpectedly ordered 200 for their mail-order catalog. They featured it on their back cover and ordered 500 more before the first order was filled. With that, the Leatherman snowball was off and rolling.
30 years later, the Leatherman Tool Company is still growing. Every Leatherman tool is made in Portland, OR, where the company employs 525 people full time, and runs 24-hour production at three locations. The smallest space is the site of the original machine shop, and the largest is the 90,000 sq. ft. factory, which I recently got to tour because I am an important regional figure.
Video Production by Outlier Solutions
After chatting with ID honcho Blair Barnes, I left the aggressively air-conditioned design and business offices and entered the stream of activity on the factory floor. Like most factories, this one is laid out for efficiency. Production flows from one side of the building to the other, starting with the lifeblood of the factory: a custom die shop. The die shop (curtained off to outsiders) houses what I imagine to be wizardly figures, conceiving, crafting and repairing the dies used in each machine. Having the designers and machinists in close proximity with production makes it quicker to design new dies and fix broken ones than sending things out of house.
Posted by core jr
| 24 Jul 2013
Text & photos by Robert Bye
I first envisioned initial concept for Hangen 18 months ago, and since being featured on Core77 in February 2012, it has since gone through four major re-designs with over 100 development iterations, bringing the clotheshanger from concept to prototyping. I'm pleased to announce that it is now ready for manufacture.
Initially, Hangen was a simple problem-solving product created as part of design internship competition where I was asked to design an innovative hanger. During the lecture in which we received this brief, I immediately began sketching out quick ideas and within a few moments had a simple line drawing that I could see had potential. Taking this idea to an initial product render only took a few hours, and even though there were still many flaws in the design, the idea and function was clearly there.
At this point, I was lucky enough to have this design featured on Core77—since I was just a second year Bachelor's student at the time, this gave me a huge boost in confidence and made me want to commit to working on the project further. However, due to time constraints and an extremely busy study schedule, I only managed to find time for to return the project six months later. Even so, this happened to be enough time for me to develop a love for the design aesthetic of Naoto Fukasawa, Yves Béhar, Sam Hecht and Kim Colin, and I wanted to try my hand at creating a product in a similar style. Taking the initial functionality and transforming it into a completely new design was a worthwhile experience, involving many sketches and quick computer illustrations to see what it would look like.
I uploaded this version to a number of design networks and after being the most viewed and liked design for a number of weeks—getting over 6000 views, receiving many comments and even having people contact me directly asking where to buy it—I realized that it might have some commercial potential. So the next step was to adapt the design for manufacture, which entailed countless CAD iterations: adding draft angles, changing injection points and developing the shape to suit the injection moulding process. Using the software Solidworks and Moldflow Synergy made the process easier, but it was still a time-consuming process. This was quite a learning process for me, as design students are generally encouraged to focus more on the idea than the nitty-gritty of manufacturing. Thankfully, since the shape of the hanger is quite simple, I only needed to make a few changes, and I encountered very few problems.
Posted by core jr
| 23 Jul 2013
Everything in the built world has been designed and crafted by someone. This is not news to most of us, but I'm amazed that even as engineering and design have taken more visible roles in shaping how we experience the world, there are still so many who see themselves as consumers, not makers.
We Are Makers is a new short film that explores the workshops and institutions shaping a new generation of makers and designers. It's the first documentary on the Maker Movement—a global cultural shift aimed at empowering more people to create. Most of the film was shot on location in New York last spring in places like the School of Visual Arts, NYC Resistor and the New York Hall of Science. But it wasn't at all clear from the beginning that the film would take the shape it eventually did.
I work with a team of media producers and storytellers at Abilene Christian University, and when we were approached to produce a film on making in education, the goal was purely local, something focused on our immediate community. Faculty and staff at ACU were planning a large digital fabrication space to support engineers, designers and makers on campus, and the film we produced would essentially make the case for this new idea. Over the course of several interviews in just a couple of weeks, we realized we were tapping into a broader story about the full spectrum of makers in museums, hacker clubs, design schools, creative businesses and communities everywhere.
It's clear today there's a growing emphasis on craftsmanship and a return to making with the hand, that we can and should reclaim this somehow-forgotten part of our human identity. But I've noticed there's a certain complexity to this new movement that distinguishes it from past eras of DIY and craft. This is an open movement. It blurs the lines between disciplines, it encourages the generalist, and it seeks to bring together makers of all kinds. Today, the focus is on increasing access. It's about fostering a universal sense of creativity, and it's about making sure the tools are within reach for everyone.
In our visits with Dale Dougherty of Make Magazine, Allan Chochinov of SVA and Core77, Liz Arum of MakerBot and the others we've captured in the film, it quickly became clear this was not really a story about tools or places; the human element took center stage. It's not hard to imagine how this struck us. As makers ourselves, immersed daily in the creative process, this project felt deeply personal and intimate in an uncanny way: this was also a story about us.