Posted by core jr
| 19 Mar 2012
It's been an exciting two months of head-to-head competition but our Braun & Core77 Design in the Wild photo challenge is drawing to a close. VOTE TODAY for your favorite example of beauty in every day design from our four categories: EAT, PLAY, WORK and RELAX. The photograph with the most votes will receive an industry leading tablet! Our distinguished jury team of Core77 partner Stuart Constantine and Braun section head/manager for Product Design Duy Phong Vu will also select a Grand Prize Winner that will receive an industry leading notebook computer and tablet.
With a global representation of every day design from Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the United States, we've been delighted by the incredible breadth of entries we received and learned a lot about designed objects from around the world.
And here are our eight finalists in alphabetical order. Vote for your favorite photograph today!
PLAY - 2,000 FILAMENTSThe Koosh ball has always been a favorite toy of mine. Colorful, soft, tossable, lively. It's a delightfully simple concept: a ball composed of 2,000 natural rubber filaments.
Jennifer DiMase, United States
Jennifer DiMase wrote this bio while baking biscotti and rendering bacon. She is a multi-tasker. A designer. A researcher. An organizer. A list writer. She is driven by curiosity about how things come to be, inspired by good design, and passionate about people. She has self-published a collection of comic strips from college and a glossary of food for children. Jennifer studied cognitive psychology—memory, attention, and perception—in college and grad school, and pursues opportunities to create with others' wellbeing in mind. The bacon...so good. Biscotti take a while.
EAT - CITRUS SQUEEZER
We didn't have these when I grew up in the Northeast. When I moved to the South, Texas specifically, there is much more citrus (limes are 12/$1) and the need to extract the juice from citrus increases dramatically. Margaritas are an every day type of drink here, not something fancy for Saturdays. Lime and lemon juice are used in all types of cuisine, especially as an element Mexican dishes. That being said, when I moved here, I knew exactly what this item did the first time I saw it. I purchased mine for $3 or $4 almost 10 years ago, it still looks and performs as new. Heavy duty aluminum parts, nice colorful thick coating, no plastic parts anywhere, no branding anywhere. A simple tool, easily overlooked. It squeezes every last drop out of the citrus, quickly, easily, efficiently. No mess and no acid in the eyes either. Squeeze, juice pours out, open it up, the citrus half pops out to be easily discarded. Perfect. Genius.
Taylor Welden, United States
Taylor Welden is an experienced and skilled Industrial Designer currently searching for challenging Freelance and Full-time opportunities. Born and raised in Hershey, PA, educated at the Savannah College of Art and Design (BFA of Industrial Design), Taylor now resides in Austin, TX, working as a Full-time Freelance Industrial Designer for numerous clients all over the world.
EAT - CUTLERY
Cutlery of the armed forces of Germany.
Felix Stark, Germany
Felix Stark was born 1976 in Bonn, Germany. After his university entrance diploma he completed an apprenticeship as cabinet maker and studied at the Ecosign Academy for Design. He graduated in industrial design and completed a practical training in Hong Kong. Back in Germany again he opened his own industrial design office "formstark" and started working as a freelance instructor at several higher education institutions such as Ecosign Academy for Design and the Bochum University of Applied Sciences. He has won numerous prizes, including a prestigious RedDot award.
RELAX - I PUT A RECORD ON
We find ourselves busier than ever in the digital age, and although we may have the means to relax in our back pockets or our handbags, sometimes we find joy in the trails of the past. Playing a record on my old Sony player brings an inner calm—no longer a nomad, I sit back and relax to the sound and its purity.
Nick Hayes, New Zealand
Nick Hayes is a 22-year-old Bachelor of Architectural Studies (University of Auckland) graduate and is currently completing an Honours in Product Design (Auckland University of Technology). Hayes has a real passion for design and music and a growing enthusiasm and passion for photography.
WORK - JUST A PENCIL?
When choosing the object for this challenge, I could think of numerous things which to describe and which are interesting for me, but I felt that that was not enough. After writing down many pages notes and ideas, I realised that all this time I was holding the greatest invention of anything made by man, a pencil. Could you imagine that pencils were used by world famous scientists, artists, musicians to complete their magnificent works and give inspiration to all of us? Cheap and erasable pencils were used by astronauts instead of expensive ink pressurised pens. With pencils only Roald Dahl wrote all his books. With a pencil one can draw a line up to 56 km and still write with it if it is not sharpened. Thomas Edison and Van Gogh used for their creations only specially made pencils. Annually, 1 million pencils are used on the New York Stock Exchange. I am a designer and I have to draw a lot. I have new markers, gel ink pens and permanent fine liners to make my work clean and understandable. But nothing makes it look more creative and impressive than a simple pencil drawing does.It is thrilling to acknowldge how such a small and insignificant thing has affected life of human kind and has shaped the way the world likes today.
Arina Fjodorova, Latvia
Arina Fjodorova was born in Riga, Latvia in 1992 and traveled to Florence to study Industrial design in 2010. After sucessfully completing one year course in Florence Design Academy, Fjodorova enrolled to study Product Design in Brunel University, London. Always obsessed with drawing, illustrations and graphic design, currently, she is trying to establish a Photo/Graphic Design society for design students who are not confident in their photography, sketching and photomontage skills and want to improve their portfolio.
PLAY - LET'S PLAY A TUNE
This is the Floyd-Rose style floating bridge on my Guitar. I love to play surf music and the floating bridge makes it a snap. Sometimes adjustments can be tricky but it is worth it in the end. The colored balls are the strings, each size string has a different color to help prevent them from getting mixed up during restring operations.
Paul Bennett, United States
Paul Bennett is a Fire Protection Engineer living on a beautiful lake in South Carolina, USA. He has always been interested in design and the way things look, function, and interact with people and surroundings. He considers himself a minimalist with regards to design and believe less is more. Bennett's philosophy on life is all about balance and includes the mental challenges of engineering problem-solving and the physical challenges of firefighting (formerly) and motorcycle riding.
RELAX - SURROUNDED BY LOVE
A Korean couple is enjoying their leisure time together, while being surrounded by thousands of padlocks at the N Seoul Tower, South Korea. The padlocks are not used for their original function, but symbolise the lovers promise that they will never separate. The "Locks of Love" are a clear example of a products symbolic performance; they show the value of symbolism in the relation between product, owner and society.
Kevin Smeeing, Netherlands
Kevin Smeeing recently graduated as Industrial Design in the Netherlands. His passion for design lies in creating experiences, in translating thoughts into things but in the same time he tries to be responsible and works on projects with meaning in different areas of design. To get a grip on what inspires him, Kevin uses photography as a tool. After a minor at Aalto University of Art and Design he travelled for design related projects to Hong Kong, China, Finland, South Korea and Brazil, carrying his camera with him. A selection of his photos can be found under INSPIRATION on his website.
WORK - SYSTEM VS CHAOS
We all have a system for the way we work. "Organization" is a very relative term; what might make total sense to you will look like complete chaos to the casual observer. Ultimately, you design the way you design.
Nour Malaeb, United States
Nour left his home country of Lebanon to explore the fascinating and foreign world of industrial design. He fell in love with the process of understanding people and providing them with tools and services to make their lives better, or simply more enjoyable. Since 2009, he has been working at RKS Design in southern California on projects such as high-performance audio equipment, design language for biotech lab equipment, and smartphones for the blind. Nour reads too much internet, eats too much Korean food and talks about design too much.
Design in the Wild is presented with the support of BraunPrize 2012. Established in 1968, the international BraunPrize competition is a triennial design competition aimed at promoting the work of young designers, highlighting the importance of industrial design and increasing the profile of innovative product ideas globally. This year's theme, "Genius design for a better everyday," emphasizes the importance of well-designed products that enhance the everyday lives of consumers around the world.
Visit the BraunPrize 2012.
Posted by An Xiao Mina
| 14 Mar 2012
While China's art scene continues to make record sales, and big names like Ai Weiwei, Cai Guoqiang and Yue Mingfen are starting to roll easily off Westerners' tongues, Chinese design remains comparatively in the shadows. At best, it's regarded as a culturally-distinct (but not quite mature) creative discipline; at worst, it's a punchline about cheap knockoffs. Still, Chinese design is gaining traction: a couple weeks ago, the 2012 Pritzker Prize award went to Hanghzou-based architect and green design advocate Wang Shu, a major milestone towards introducing Chinese creativity to the outside world, beyond the usual art practices.
One of the primary obstacles is that Chinese design can often be difficult to locate. Take a stroll through the French Quarter in Shanghai, or the peek through some of the design studios in Beijing's hutongs, and you'll locate a few here and there. Aside from organized events like Beijing Design Week, it can be difficult to get a broader sense of trends in the Chinese design sphere. Indeed, a furniture designer friend of mine has a studio in a village on the outskirts of Beijing.
Which is why, when living in Beijing, I was thrilled to hear about Design China, a new web site and blog that actively tracks trends and issues in contemporary Chinese design. Spearheaded by Zara Arshad, a British designer currently based in Beijing, Design China aims to provide a rare, organized look at China's contemporary design scene.
Ms. Arshad provides a unique overview through her own design practice. Critically, she served on the Organising Committee for the popular Beijing Design Week 2011, a landmark event that currently provides the best look into Chinese design trends. Further, she's contributed to a number of exciting projects in China, including Teach For China, The Library Project, Greening the Beige and, most recently, Beijing's first dedicated design space, Liang Dian Design Center.
Fashion designs by Dooling Jiang. All images courtesy Design China.
It's through this broad work experience that Ms. Arhad has witnessed Chinese design. While I've discussed these issues many times with her over drinks in Beijing, I finally had a chance to sit down with her (on Skype) recently to talk through them more formally.
Core77: Where did the idea for Design China come from?
Zara Arshad: I had been discussing something like this for a really long time. The first time was whilst I was working on the Organizing Committee for Xin: Icograda World Design Congress 2009. This was in the latter half of my first year in Beijing, and I was frustrated at not being able to access design information in one place. It was mostly through colleagues (who were heavily involved at Central Academy of Fine Arts) that would inform me about events and exhibitions. It was all mostly via word of mouth.
Core77: I definitely felt that when I first moved to Beijing in early 2011. The art scene was quite well organized, but it was still difficult to find unified information about design. What spurred you to actually make the site?
The impetus came last year when I was taking care of the Beijing Design Week international media group. We were discussing Chinese designers and the BJDW program at the time, and some of the journalists highlighted their interest in seeing work specifically from Chinese designers. However, much of our 2011 program was a mix of both international and Chinese design. The former was, perhaps, slightly more prominent.
During an informal chat with some of the international media group, one journalist commented, "I don't know if there are any good Chinese graphic designers." I just happened to mention a few of my friends that fit the slot, to which he replied: "You have all this information in your head. You need to put it somewhere so that we can go and find out all these things." Sitting in a room with people who were experts in their field, and who were telling me there was finally a demand for something like this, caused me to conceive Design China.
I'm surprised there are so few blogs dedicated to contemporary Chinese design. I have actually found a couple of design blogs since, such as CreativeHunt and EightSix. They are both good websites, but I feel that I just have different experiences and information to offer. For example, I'm not just reporting about individuals groups and projects but also about events and observations. I'm trying to really expand on the design debate and look at how design can facilitate positive change within the community and how that's happening in China.
The interior at Liang Dian Design Center, Beijing's first space dedicated solely to contemporary design.
Posted by An Xiao Mina
| 29 Feb 2012
Guactruck is Manila's first designer food truck.
They're a staple in New York City, Portland and much of California, turning up in urban centers across North America by the day (at least come summer time): colorful, designer food trucks hawking delicious street food from around the world, from Korean tacos to crispy falafel. Multiple trucks park outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Wilshire Boulevard, and near the startup hub of San Francisco's Mission Street.
Now, the designer food truck phenomenon has spread its wings to the busy streets of Manila, Philippines. Started by Michealle Lee and Natassha Chan, Guactruck opened business recently as the country's first designer food truck. It wasn't easy, they tell me.
"In the first month, most of our customers were foreigners," said Ms. Lee, who hatched the idea after a stint living in Los Angeles to study business. "The Pinoys [Filipinos] were intimidated, even with free samples."
In the spirit of LA's many fusion restaurants, Guactruck provides Mexican-style Filipino dishes. Taking a page from Chipotle's playbook, they offer a build-your-meal plan along a buffet-style assembly line, with everything from soft tacos to burrito bowls stuffed with you choice of delicious Filipino dishes like pork adobo, chicken tocino and garlic rice. The tasty, unexpected blend partly reflects Guactruck's roots in Southern California, which has a rich Filipino and Mexican community.
Guactruck's food is all sourced from local businesses, thus substantially reducing the company's carbon footprint in an island nation.
"It's hard to find Mexican ingredients," Ms. Chan noted. "We made sure the food is more Filipino, prepared in a Mexican style."
This practical business decision—to use authentic, accessible ingredients—dovetails with their abiding interest in sustainability. All of the food is locally sourced, which drastically reduces their footprint in an island nation where much of the food is shipped in from overseas.
Beyond cuisine, Ms. Lee and Ms. Chan aim to innovate with sustainable business initiatives. The truck, a retrofitted Mitsubishi L300, is almost entirely self-contained and comes with LED and energy-saving lighting. They paid meticulous attention to the interior design to ensure all available space was maximized; only a generator sits outside to help power the truck during hours of operation.
The interior is as thoughtfully-designed as the exterior
Posted by core jr
| 1 Feb 2012
Product Revue - A Special Advertising Section for Core77.
Over the past couple weeks I've spent some time digging into Keyshot 3, the latest release from Luxion. I was optimistic when Bunkspeed and Luxion parted ways, splitting the excellent HyperShot into two separate software packages, Bunkspeed Shot and Luxion KeyShot. [ED. NOTE: Hypershot 1.9 was technically replaced by KeyShot and not SHOT. The rendering technology that was used in Hypershot was improved and updates with the release of KeyShot. When Bunkspeed failed to pay licensing for the rendering technology, they integrated the iray render tech from mental images and rebranded it as SHOT.] If you don't remember, the core of HyperShot more or less became Keyshot. The computer I used to review is a MacBook Pro, with Windows 7 (via Bootcamp).
My CAD tool of choice is Solidworks complimented by PhotoView 360 for creating renderings. I've tried a number of other tools, such as Maxwell, but I kept coming back to PhotoView. It is integrated into Solidworks, scenes are easy to setup, there are enough options (but not an overwhelming amount) to dial it in. Renders don't need to bake forever to look decent and the results are "good enough."
A New Version
KeyShot 3 has arrived with a large number of enhancements and new features. The most notable being the integrated animation tools. Out of the box this feature is fully functional, and small preview movies can be saved. An add-on purchase is required to unlock exporting full resolution animations. In addition, from the render queue to the material editor, everything is cleaner, more intuitive and redesigned.
Installing and licensing KeyShot 3 was simple. A free demo version is available from Luxion's website along with a handful of plugins for popular CAD packages. As a designer who is primarily Mac based, I was pleasantly surprised to see Windows and OSX versions.
For this review, I sought a realistic scenario where I'd need software like KeyShot 3. High end design renderings are often used to evaluate the appearance of products that are difficult to prototype and as virtual photography for marketing and promotion. Complex & translucent objects are usually a good test for rendering software in regard to realism and speed. I decided to design a glass bottle for a fictional, high-end liquor brand: Hylian Mead. The "client" is the Hylian Meadery, located in the kingdom of Hyrule (the setting for Nintendo's Legend of Zelda video games) After a few thumbnail sketches, I settled on a design.
Posted by Robert Blinn
| 23 Jan 2012
Image from the Mayan ruin site Palenque: Templo de la Calavera ( Temple of the skull ), by Peter Andersen
Every couple of years a crackpot comes along and prophesizes the end of the world. Fortunately for us, the outcome of the Mayan calendar looks a lot more favorable than reviews for Roland Emmerich's film, 2012. So far, no end of the world cult has gotten it right and as a populace, we remain unsurprised. At the same time, on a very different calendar, an entirely different set of crackpots make promises on a much shorter timeline. This group tends to achieve their predictions, at least in the short term, but their shortsightedness might be just as dangerous as the Mayan's prophecy from so long ago.
Unfortunately, the second group has far more sway on the global economy. Each quarter CEOs give "guidance" to stock market analysts, which is basically a prediction of the earnings that they expect to achieve in the next quarter. Using an enormous bag of accounting tricks and choosing when to buy or sell assets, they often get their earnings per share estimates correct. When they exceed those estimates, they are rewarded by seeing their share price jump or punished when they miss it. For investors, that "pop" is a nice thing to see in their personal account, but the suits that own their stock aren't necessarily their customers.
Peter Drucker observed in 1973 that the only valid purpose of a firm is to create a customer, and the recently eulogized Steve Jobs fully understood that insight. Because Apple made an effort to focus on user experience rather than shareholder wealth, the people who invested in Apple shared in the same customer driven joy when it made its way to their pockets in earnings. Jobs, however, retook control of the reins of Apple in 1997 and the full extent of his influence is still being felt today. Jobs was CEO for around 60 quarters, while a design engagement usually takes less than a year. Apple succeeded in part because he understood that business is an ongoing design engagement, not an exercise in hitting quarterly earnings.
Steven Jennings wrote a thoughtful review of Roger Martin's new book Fixing the Game in Forbes called The Dumbest Idea in the World: Maximizing Shareholder VALUE. Maximizing shareholder value isn't necessarily the dumbest idea in the world if we view companies as players in a short-term betting game. For product designers, employees and customers, however, product development and corporate survival is not a short-term game of beating expectations, but instead represents creating actual value in the real world.
Posted by core jr
| 20 Jan 2012
This post is part of our year-long series, Apocalypse 2012, where our favorite futurists, resiliency and disaster experts examine the role of design to help you prepare for...the end?
If you asked me what the two most important design tasks at hand for humanity is right now it would be:
1. Preserving human habitat
2. Creating new habitats for humans
The response I often get to these mandates is that the two are mutually exclusive; that if we preserve our habitat, planet Earth, we don't need to find a new planet. Some might argue that searching for new planets advances unsustainable technologies while simultaneously promoting fatalism with regards to our environment. In other words, the first proposal is proper tree-hugging and the second is dirty, quasi-steampunk.
I believe nothing could be further from the truth. It is an astronomical fact that planet Earth, in the long run, is doomed regardless of how well we handle the present greenhouse effect and related environmental challenges. Secondly, finding alternative habitats will not be feasible if we don't overcome present environmental challenges. Thirdly, the knowledge needed to terraform planets and to geo-engineer earth is the same.
I do think that we need to take our environment in general—our water and energy supply and global warming specifically—far more seriously than we do. I also don't think that spacefaring plans should diminish our current obligations to the Earth's environment. Within design and innovation we are already exploring the next frontier: innovation that breaks away from resource-dependence, where growth is uncoupled from consumption and product life cycles are prolonged.
Spacefaring is tougher to deal with because it seems remote; both physically and in terms of relevance and time. So the stickiest criticism is: "Why invest is space migration now?"
A student recently asked me how I got my first professional job as a designer. It reminded me of a particularly difficult journey I hadn't thought of in years. Looking at my resume my path seems almost predestined. It was easy for me to almost forget how difficult it was to transition from student to professional. It almost didn't happen at all.
My last year in design school, I was doing sponsored projects for both Nike and Nissan. The Nike project was going extremely well and resulted in Nike flying me out to their headquarters outside of Portland, Oregon a couple of times to meet with the team and David Schenone, then the head of footwear design. A few months out from graduation, Dave made me an offer to come out to Nike full-time. Arrogantly, I asked if I could defer my decision until after graduation so I could weigh all of my options. I wanted to finish up my project for Nissan and I was hoping it also might turn into an offer.
Little did I know that many companies were having a difficult year. In fact it was one of the worst sales quarters Nike had ever seen. I wrapped up the program with Nissan and they expressed interest in me coming there, but they wanted me to get a couple years of experience first. Nike informed me that I was at the top of their list, but they had a 6-12 month hiring freeze. Interest from other companies like Seadoo and Bombardier also cooled when they readjusted their budgets.
This left me with one full-time offer to work on the design staff for a small company that manufactured electric assisted chairs for seniors. While this was a great opportunity, it just didn't feel like the right fit for the 21 year old me. To the surprise of my friends and family, I turned the offer down, ate a healthy serving of humble pie and moved back in with my parents that June.
Above: Sketch from the basement studio days. Hydrogen fuel cell steam train. Charcoal, prisma pencil, and marker on large format newsprint.
Posted by core jr
| 28 Dec 2011
In case you missed it, we've been looking back at 2011 this week in our Core77 Year in Review series. Besides our coverage of this year's news and milestones, we also looked at the cycling movement and visual communication with more trend watching to come. Today, our look back focuses on the best of Core77 features and resources from 2011.
Our top 10! Drumroll please...
CORE77 TOP 10
10. Moto Undone, a stripped down motorcycle concept.
9. Quadror, a new structural joint supporting everything from furniture to housing by Dror Benshetrit.
8. UPenn Engineering Students Present "Alpha": Possibly the Most High-Tech Bicycle Ever, featuring a switchable integrated free-fixed transmission.
7. Rapid Prototyped Dicemaster, intricately RP'ed dice for the Dungeons & Dragons set.
6. Bertelli's Biciclette, beautifully built using a mix of found and new parts.
5. I Have Seen the Future, and I Am Opposed, Don Norman reflects on the future of our technologies and warns about propriety controls.
4. Jeff Tideken's Gravity Bike Gets Up to 60 miles per hour.
3. Light Light's Sublime Levitating Lamps, skeuomorphic LED lamps.
2. CoreToon: Sixteen Ways to Use Your Wrist now that Watches are Obsolete.
1. A Mindbender for Craftsmen, who knew a piece of wood and a nail would be our top post of 2011?
Click to see if you can figure out how the nail got here?
Since our storied beginnings 16 years ago, the heart of Core77 has always been learning and making. 2011 has been no different. From Paul Backett's series on rethinking design education, Craighton Berman's introduction to the art of Sketchnotes to our Sustainability in 7 video series with Designers Accord, taught us that whether you are still in design school or have been designing for 40 years, it's always exciting to learn something new.
From Sketchnotes 101, by Craighton Berman
In 2011 we learned about the full lifecycle and applications of cork—from harvest to industry—while being mesmerized by the alchemic art of peinture decorative to transform one material into another. Our favorite case studies from 2011—whether it was frog's work on new electric vehicle ecosystems, Continuum's Leveraged Freedom Chair for mobility in developing countries or Ziba's work on creating a digital identity for TDK Life on Record—were also a testament to the transformative nature of design. Our Core77 sponsored competitions also yielded incredible case studies. Aava Mobile saw two distinctly different prototypes in Thomas Valcke's Blackbox and Alberto Villareal's Twist. And who could forget our Autism Connects winner (and student winner for the Core77 Design Award in Design for Social Impact), GoBug, an interactive toy for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Blink, a new line of electric vehicle chargers for ECOtality
And as we celebrated the history of industrial objects through the design history of icons (like the American fire helmet) and even stamps, we also spent time this year exploring the changing terrain of making. Willem Van Lancker challenged the idea of making physical things in a digital object culture in "O Pioneers." The persistence of the Open Design movement is becoming more evident as it becomes embraced by a wider audience of designers and consumers. Hand-in-hand with the rise of Open Source design, we saw 3D printing reaching past prototyping into the world of direct consumption with affordable 3D printers, multiple materials and made to order businesses.
From "Q+A with Thomas Lommée and the Open Structures Project"
Looking towards 2012, we'll continue with our Apocalypse series, kicked off by Jon Kolko's appeal for sensemaking and the humanizing power of design in an uncertain and disjointed world. The urgency of these current times was also addressed in Michael Sammet's "Building Adaptive Capacity: Towards a Design for Sustainability 3.0", Dave Seliger's Redesigning International Disaster Response and Panthea Lee's ongoing series, The Messy Art of Saving the World, a look at the role of design in international development.
A perennial favorite, Coretoons are the incredible work of lunchbreath and fueledbycoffee, our Core77 artists-in-residence. Besides our 2nd most popular post of the year, here are three of our favorites from 2011:
Posted by core jr
| 23 Dec 2011
ShelterBox, disaster relief in a box, from Michael Sammet's "Building Adaptive Capacity: Towards a Sustainability 3.0"
2011 has been a year marked by the extreme winds of mother nature, political upheaval and economic uncertainty. But in this time of unpredictability, design has emerged as a voice of reason, offering elegant solutions for inelegant problems and championing the sheer magic of human resiliency.
March 25th, 3:40PM EST, from Haiyan Zhang's Geiger Maps
In March, the world was gripped by the tragedy of the Tokhoku earthquake and designers responded immediately with fundraising efforts, disaster relief assistance and information systems to show support unbound by geography. The ebullience of the Arab Spring was tempered by reality as newly liberated countrymen and women looked towards building a brighter future together with designers on the ground, lending a helping hand. Closer to home, designers helped write a new chapter in the lives of disabled American veterans returning home from war.
From Panthea Lee's series on the role of design in international development, "The Messy Art of Saving the World: After the Egyptian Revolution"
Designers changed the world. 2011 welcomed the world's seven billionth person—designer's prepared for this milestone with innovative and empathetic solutions for managing our growing global community. Cooper Hewitt's Design with the Other 90% exhibition is the most comprehensive and wonderful example of some of these solutions—a computer station made out of an oil drum, bicycle phone chargers and sandbag architecture, just to name a few. In other design exhibition news, The Museum of Modern Art took a look at the communication between people and objects in their phenomenal crowd-sourced exhibition, Talk to Me, sparking what we hope will be an ongoing public discussion about interaction design.
PHOTO GALLERY: Talk to Me exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art
Designers made this year fun. This year, we painted with light, made rainbows with circuits, watched a man fly and saw a new world of possibilities in the best art project ever. We made printing exciting again—whether it was printing solar cells, making mini letterpress printers, 3D Printing Stephen Colbert's head, printing food or printing your digital feed.
Big Idea, Little Printer: Exclusive Q+A with Matt Webb of Berg
Jeb Corliss, wingsuit flyer
At Core77, 2011 marked our 16th year as an online resource for the design community. And what better way to celebrate than to reward our collaborators, old and new, with a trophy. The Core77 Design Awards trophy, to be precise. We kicked off the Core77 Design Awards program with 15 categories of design excellence judged by a distributed jury representing 8 countries. In our inaugural year, we had over 600 entries (including 250 video testimonials). And did we mention the live broadcasts? Another first for the Core77 family is our recently released Hand-Eye Supply catalog, our first printed catalog and the Hand-Eye Supply x Vanport American Craftsman apron, our very first Hand-Eye Supply product collaboration.
Hand-Eye Supply x Vanport Outfitters American Craftsman Apron
Core77 Design Awards 2011
Posted by Jon Kolko
| 8 Nov 2011
This is the first post in a year-long series, Apocalypse 2012, where our favorite futurists, resiliency and disaster experts examine the role of design to help you prepare for...the end?
It's a pretty fascinating time to witness the demise of the most powerful and rich nation in the history of the world. All doom and gloom aside, for those of us who fancy ourselves drive-by-ethnographers, it's good people watching. What's more, it's predictable and rhythmic, as events occur and pundits pundit and protesters protest, all to the steady beat of mass production. There's no need for unnecessary anticipation, as we can easily guess when the next occupier will be tear-gassed, or when the next presidential hopeful will make an audacious and racist remark; we're pretty much guaranteed a rhetorical and canned response from our administration, followed by news of a pop star acting drunk and disorderly. It repeats so frequently, and with such a blanded regularity, that nothing is unbelievable, nothing too grotesque. An electric fence to keep the immigrants out? Of course that's what a presidential candidate would propose. New functionality to see what pornographic videos your friends are watching, right now? Of course that's what Facebook is building. This is the tongue-in-cheek fallout the feeds the Daily Show, only it isn't really very funny, because it's real, and you can't turn it off.
It's perhaps obvious to point out that the world we live in is interconnected, yet the simple statement is at the crux of our downward digression: our political system is intertwined with economics, intellectual property is connected to technology, design is at the heart of consumption and marketing feeds the beast. It's a system, and so our critique of it should be systemic, and so too should be our strategies for change. But most of us can't think of systems, because they are too big of which to think. We witness items, or people, or unique instances, and we critique and celebrate those, because they are tractable. To denounce Michele Bachmann as insane is misleadingly simple, but to rationalize her rise to power is harder, because it requires empathizing with her supporters, understanding her world view, acknowledging the role she's played in a political machine, examining her relationship-through-policy with large companies, teasing out the relationship between these companies and religious entities, and holding all of that in your head while asking yourself, "Did she really just say that 'there isn't even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas'?" Seven plus or minus two, and our brain quite literally can't make sense of the world around us.
To maintain any resemblance of happiness, the skill most of us will require in the post-apocalyptic, post-United States industrial block is sensemaking, the ability to synthesize large quantities of often incomplete or conflicting information—and we must direct that skill squarely at the humanization of technology. In the history of economic prosperity and advancement, there have been only a select few armed this magic ability: us. The "creative class", those with—god help us—"creative quotient", have learned this skill largely through on-the-job training. And then, we've focused our efforts on producing things no one needs and marketing these things to people who literally aren't equipped with the education, the confidence or the discerning ability to judge.
Wealth inequality, from my perspective, is not the point of clash between the 1% and the other 99% (although, like in any system, money is intertwined in just about everything). The clash is about the ability to understand systems—to make sense of complexity—and then, when possible, to wield or manage these systems to our collective advantage. The political process is not separate from banking, lobbying, manufacturing, educating, importing, exporting, fighting or praying—and neither is the process of design. To say "we're part of a global economy" is to trivialize the complexities of the man-made world. We're part of a global technological system, and everything —including, thanks to companies like Monsanto, nature—is now a part of it. The power currency of the next era is sensemaking through systems thinking, and the occupiers are starting to realize that they don't have any money to spend in this new economy.
Posted by Michael DiTullo
| 13 Oct 2011
About four years ago I had the rare opportunity to start collaborating with Jonathan Ward, founder of Icon. Jonathan and his team hand build limited edition vehicles in California. Calling them vehicles is almost an insult—they are rolling testaments to what happens when you go the extra mile on every single detail. The vehicles don't have headlights, they have LED assemblies made by the same people who made the lights for the Mars rover. They don't have paint jobs, they have electrostatically applied powder coated finishes. The emblems are hand cast by a jeweler. The upholstery is made by Chilewich. When people say things like "They don't build them like they used to," tell them to look up Jonathan.
This is not the kind of object you use and toss. Its very existence nurtures its owner's desire to keep it, to take care of it and be proud of it. Working with Jonathan reminds me a bit of something that frog's founder, Hartmut Esslinger, once wrote:
"If you build in emotional value, people will keep products longer and take more care of it; this of course saves energy and materials. It is the difference between selling an ordinary hi-fi and selling amazing sound."
Hellman-Chang is a New-York-based furniture line that makes their pieces the old-fashioned way: By hand. Tour their 8,000-square-foot facility in Brooklyn and you'll see mortise-and-tenons, glue-ups and lots of hand-planing. In an era when manufacturing is done overseas, the thought that you can have a not only workable, but highly successful furniture firm based in the city and using local craftsmen seems unlikely.
Even more unlikely is that founders and designers Dan Hellman and Eric Chang never went to design school. The duo seemed to come out of nowhere. When Eric stepped on stage at the Guggenheim to receive Hellman-Chang's first design award back in 2006, Interior Design Editor in Chief Cindy Allen shook his hand for the cameras, then whispered in his ear "Who the hell are you?"
Following that first Best of Year Award, Hellman-Chang carefully built a line that would eventually populate private residences, rooms at the Ritz Carlton, the offices of Sotheby's, the Presidential Suite of the Four Seasons. Building a successful business from the ground up takes talent, hard work, luck, and above all, tons of shrewd decision-making. In this business, as with many others, make the right call and you advance to the next level. Make the wrong call and you're finished. Dan and Eric's uncanny ability to consistently make those right calls is something many a start-up designer could learn from, and Dan and Eric have agreed to tell their full story in this exclusive, multi-part Core77 "origin story" interview.
To answer Cindy Allen's question, Who the hell are these guys? We'll start off by telling you who they were. Daniel Hellman and Eric Chang were two childhood friends from Maryland who wanted to pimp out a fish tank before they went off to separate colleges, where they'd pursue non-design-related fields. Here's Part 1 of their story.
* * *
Core77: First, the cocktail-party question: What is Hellman-Chang?
Eric: We're a furniture line out of Brooklyn, based on a passion for designing and building furniture by hand. Stylistically we're into bold, modern, unique designs, but rooted in solid woods and traditional craftsmanship; we're known for unique surface treatments and a sort of sleekness. And there's that strong Brooklyn vibe. We fabricate in Brooklyn and find that's a major pull factor in our brand. It's a big reason why a lot of our clients are drawn to our projects.
Posted by Ray
| 13 Sep 2011
Not to scale
We've already had a look or two at Incase's brand new line of headphones, including last week's interview with Chief Design Officer Joe Tan and VP of Design Markus Diebel in anticipation of this week's official retail launch. They're available for presale on the Incase website as of today, and Incase Audio was kind enough to provide a full lineup of headphones for an in-depth review to mark the release.
That full lineup includes:
- "Capsule" earbuds ($49.95)
- "Pivot" headphones ($59.95)
- "Reflex" headphones ($79.95)
- "Sonic" headphones ($199.95)
L to R: "Capsule," "Sonic," "Reflex" and "Pivot"
There's no denying that Incase has designed a good-looking bunch of products with their audio debut. The forms are simple to the point of looking like foam prototypes (in the best way possible): the "Pivot" and "Reflex" are reduced to two circles, while the 'phones of the "Sonic" are slightly oblong and more ear-shaped. The ultra-minimal aesthetic belies details such as hidden adjustment features (more on this below) and excellent material selection.
Each of the three over-the-ear models features waxy-smooth cans, coated with Incase's "signature soft-touch" finish, while coated canvas or microsuede covers the rest of the hardware. It's also worth noting that the finish is resistant to scuffing—these may not age with a steampunk patina, but that (obviously) isn't what Incase is going for.
The mostly grayscale palette echoes the pared-down design philosophy, though each colorway has just a touch of day-glo detailing, tucked away in the fabric speaker covers. It's the equivalent of wearing neon underwear under (as Jay-Z would say) all black everything, and I can't say that it makes any sort of difference to me.
The one noteworthy problem is that it can be hard to see the "R" and "L" labels on the headband. This is less of an issue with the "Sonic" and the "Reflex," which have a single cord running from the left phone (is this convention?), but is definitely a problem with the "Capsule," where an minuscule letter is molded into the stem of each bud. A raised bump on one of the two buds (along with the letter) would go a long way here: once a user knows that bump means "right," he or she can simply figure out which one is which by touch. (I've color-coded the rubber tips on my other set of earbuds, a solution that would also work for the "Capsule.")
My colleague says the "Pivot" is a perfect fit!
Posted by Helen Walters
| 11 Jul 2011
This year's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for corporate and institutional achievement was given to furniture design company, Knoll. The award is a timely vindication for the design-focused company, which continued to invest in design even as the economy tanked (Knoll stock price in the first quarter of 2009 sank to just over $5; shares are now over $20.)
Andrew Cogan, left, has been CEO of the East Greenville, Pennsylvania-based company since 2001. I talked with him about the company's ongoing commitment to innovation, and he described how Knoll has learned to evolve and adapt along with the market even as it continues to emphasize the importance of design to the bottom line ("Workspaces," top, are a new introduction designed by famed New York-based company, Antenna.) An edited transcript of our conversation follows.
Helen Walters: Can you describe the research process at Knoll?
Andrew Cogan: Florence Knoll started the Knoll Planning Unit in 1946. She was well-known for trying to understand the problem clients were trying to solve for, particularly as they were moving into the modern workplace. She spent time studying what was going on in an office, how people interface with each other and equipment and tools. And we continue to do that to this day. We're very client-driven. We engage with a range of individual clients, looking at all the problems they're solving and we think about how furniture can play a role in that. We also do research on a broader level, so we think about a topic such as office seating and spend hundreds of hours filming people in office chairs to see how they sit and move, and that gives insight into designing products. Then we also do third party trend research looking at trends in the workplace. We bring all those insights together into our product design process.
Can you give an example of a client-based project?
We recently did a major program with eBay. They were trying to go to a more collaborative environment, with a lower height horizon, so we looked at how our products could facilitate that. It evolved into a very particular solution of a collection of products that met their needs, both in how they're working today and how they want to work down the road.
What does "lower height horizon" mean, and what are some of the other office space trends you're watching right now?
The lowering of the horizon is driven by social issues, of people wanting to collaborate and see what's going on more. It's also driven by environmental issues. LEED certification calls for more natural light to reach the core of a space and high panels interfere with the penetration of light, so we go lower. That trend is coupled with miniaturization and the mobility of tech. People are spending more time online and doing email and less time on the telephone, so you can create a smaller, more efficient environment. People don't want to feel like they're at some big dining table getting work done, so within a space you have different levels of privacy, adjustability and enclosure.
We've seen a multitude of bicycle concepts here on Core77, but perhaps none as fully worked out for manufacturing as designer Evan Solida's "Rael." The amount of thoughtfulness put into this bike is unparalleled, as can only be done by someone with as much riding experience and design experience as Evan.
Rael is Evan's second startup rooted in cycling. We reported in 2009 that he founded Cerevellum to produce cycling accessories like the HindSight 35, a cyclometer with an integrated blindspot camera. Check out the full details on the Rael bike over at RaelBicycles.com
Evan has been developing the concept publicly over on the core77 discussion forums under the avatar of 6ix, check out his full process HERE. It is always exciting to see our 14,000+ member community engaged in giving feedback and input into projects!
Posted by core jr
| 29 Jun 2011
This is the second post in a series that shares design learnings from an expedition I took to Antarctica. The first post was a reflection of my initial thoughts upon arriving to the edge of a known world to embark towards the "new world" of Antarctica. The first lesson of the journey was to "Let Go." In this post, I focus on the challenges of starting with a clean slate.
In my short 28 years, I have observed that designers, by nature, explore new ways of thinking and offer solutions to human interactions. It is an iterative process and highly collaborative.
During three days of orientation for the 2011 Inspire Antarctica Expedition in Ushuaia, Argentina, I was able to grasp new team dynamics and how relationships were forged in a very short span of time. The distance between the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula and the tip of the American Continent, known as the Drake Passage, is roughly 600 miles. While it may seem quite large, it is a very tiny space for the entire Pacific and Atlantic Ocean to meet. The seas are very rough here and conditions change by the hour.
Going through the Drake Passage was similar to how I was taught to approach projects: come in with a fresh eye but bring your experience along. This is quite tricky to manage in real life. Approaching the expedition with a designer's mind of collaboration was challenging: In Antarctica my new best friends—and teammates for 14 days—were people who, 48 hours earlier, I didn't know.
Posted by core jr
| 27 Jun 2011
From the Core77 Discussion Boards: Check out Florida-based blaster701's (aka Jeff Smith) awesome Sketch Demos for the students at Virginia Tech's ID department. Smith is a principal/Design Director at Reflex Design and has been involved with design education for years. Recently Smith has been traveling to host workshops at Virginia Tech and RIT and is now sharing his sketch work on video. Check the jump for some nice sharpie sketches on letter sized paper: hair dryers, blender and small electronic device. See more of Smith's work over at the forums, join in on the discussion and post your own!
Posted by Michael DiTullo
| 20 Jun 2011
A little Monday morning distraction for you all; back in February I started a post in the discussion forums entitled "Vehicles Spotted in Your Neighborhood". Over the past six months forum members from London to Montreal have posted twenty two pages (22!) of the most interesting assortment of vehicles, from super cars to jalopies, all of which are infinitely interesting. Check them out HERE and add some of the local flavor from your hood!
Posted by Michael DiTullo
| 14 Jun 2011
40% of the world's population relies on fish as their main source of food. At present, unsustainable fishing practices mean that we are in danger of depleting our fish supplies and trawling species such as cod into extinction. Check out this great project by RCA student Dan Watson that addresses the functional problems of sorting and catching fish in a sustainable way.
Dan created this project for the Victorinox Time to Care Competition. You can vote on the entries HERE.
Posted by Michael DiTullo
| 12 Jun 2011
Design Droplets and Interphase Design present Industrial Design: In the future, where to from here?, an interactive panel led discussion to celebrate World Industrial Design Day 2011 and explore the future of the Industrial Design & Product Development professions in Australia that will be held in Melbourne on July 1st.
The design industry in Australia is an ever changing and fluid entity, full of challenges that we don't always fully comprehend. From government policy to changes in consumer behaviour and the emergence of new technolgies, with new challenge appearing everyday there are a vast array of changes that all have far reaching impacts on our profession and our ability to successfully innovate and stay competitive in a global marketplace.
Panelists will include Colin Redmond (Interphase Design), Andrew Fallshaw (Bellroy), Nicolas Hogios (Toyota Style Australia), Fiona K Boyd (RushCrowds & Arts Hub), Antony DiMase (DiMase Architects) and Alister Montgomery (KPMG).
If you are in that part of the world, learn more and register >>> HERE <<<
Posted by Michael DiTullo
| 11 Jun 2011
What is Graypants? from Zeek Earl on Vimeo.
Core77 has been following Graypants since the '09 ICF that debuted their recycled cardboard lamps. Graypants is located in Seattle and was started by two architect, Seth Grizzle and Jonathan Junker. I recently stumbled upon this little video in which Seth and Jonathan walk us through a little of their inspiration behind the firm. Check it out, it is a fun vid.
Thanks to MrTwills in the discussion forums for the tip!
Posted by Michael DiTullo
| 10 Jun 2011
We've gotten an awesome response from all of you on or first frog "Future or Fiction" project on wind turbines. Today is the last day to vote before frog's engineering team begin further work on the concept that wins. Check out the full list of concepts HERE and vote for the one you think is the most feasible.
Pssst, my favorite is the Tribeca, designed by frog's Hudson St studio in NYC under the direction of Creative Director Jonas Damon. What's yours?
Posted by core jr
| 9 Jun 2011
By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin S. O'Brien [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Last week I had the privilege of speaking at my alma mater before the graduating seniors at commencement and my mind has been filled for days with thoughts about the journey on which they now embark, full of both challenges and tremendous opportunity. News media report a modestly improved domestic environment for the 2011 crop amid headlines of Spain's 'Young & the Restless,' Les Miserables and GDP growth rather anemic here at home. While I'm not sure all grads are well-prepared for the market realities, I have tremendous excitement for today's young crop of designers. It seems to me that for young minds trained well in the design field, the prospects for meaningful contributions and careers could hardly be more promising.
A veteran of the industrial design profession, I've been witness to amazing changes over the past 30 years. The days of being brought in at the tail end of enterprise initiatives for aesthetic treatments have become the exception rather than the rule. There has been an increased desire for designers to collaborate earlier and at a more strategic level for development of products and services, in large part for purposes of risk mitigation, marketability and adoptability. This has also developed into a powerful integration of engineering and traditional design skills/professionals with the human insights and knowledge of social science (psychology, sociology, ethnography) and market knowledge from business professionals. This integration now has researchers and strategists working in tandem with product and service developers, and the relationship with clients is now being better managed and informed by MBAs. It is an exciting time where the skills of a designer, and more specifically the perspective they bring to the table, are more valued by everyone—business, non-profits and government agencies alike—especially for the ability to address many challenges proactively and strategically.
Design graduates have been taught for decades how to integrate beauty with functionality, complimenting the skills of today's product and brand managers. Increasingly graduates are better trained to integrate social sciences and bring wonderful consumer-centered and ethnographically-centered solutions to the table, while more fully understanding the realities of manufacturability, implementation and commercialization. This wonderful marriage of skill and perspective with experience tackling both global problems and commercial applications seems to me a foundation that destines most for tremendous success; provided they approach it like any other design project—with a little creativity and persistence.
Posted by core jr
| 8 Jun 2011
Sunrise in Ushuaia, Argentina
Today, June 8, is World Oceans Day. Around the world there are events happening in classrooms, businesses, parks and beach fronts to create awareness of the role oceans play in our daily lives.
To mark the occasion, I'm not inviting you to participate in an event for just a day. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing a series of experiences from my time living in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica last March.
Our role as designers, the ultimate storytellers, in saving Antarctica is paramount. Piles of plastic would not be floating in the Ocean if such products had been designed in a closed loop. Aerosols wouldn't have opened up a hole in the atmosphere if manufacturing processes were designed more responsibly. Business propositions to exploit the natural resources in the poles would not exist if energy efficiency and better sources of energy were more broadly used.
Designers have a time and a place to engage: The time is now and the place is your own community. You don't need to live in Antarctica to contribute.
Departing the Port of Ushuaia aboard the MV Sea Spirit.
The ultimate goal for this series, Becoming an Antarctican, will be to share with you the idea that Antarctica IS part of the 'real world.' The continent belongs to no one; at the same time the shape of humanity itself would be different without Antarctica.
There lies the lesson, and the warning flag.
sketchnotes by Craighton Berman, click for full-sized images!
This post is the first in a new "sketchnotes channel" on Core77 (www.core77.com/sketchnotes) that will explore the application of visual thinking tools in the worlds of design and creative thinking.
The recent rise of the "visual thinking" movement in business borrows from the natural ways designers work—using sketches to explore and express ideas, manipulating complex systems of thoughts on sticky notes, and using rough visuals to make sense of the world. Humans are, of course, wired to be visual thinkers from birth, so it's only natural that people are attracted to these tools, and the power they have to help solve problems and explore opportunities.
In the long list of tools one could use for visual thinking, sketchnotes are one of the most exciting. Simply put, sketchnotes are visual notes that are drawn in real time. Through the use of images, text, and diagrams, these notes take advantage of the "visual thinker" mind's penchant for make sense of—and understanding—information with pictures. Often these notes come out of lectures or conferences, and have gained a lot of attention and interest in the past few years when people post scans of their sketchbooks from events like SXSW or various design conferences for the whole internet to see.
Sketchnotes by Eva-Lotta Lamm
This kind of note taking has an obvious appeal for both the coverage of the event as well as the aesthetic quality of getting a peek inside someone's sketchbook—but good sketchnotes are actually much more than a set of beautiful doodles.
Sketchnoters aren't reporters, information designers, or illustrators. They're actually all three at once. This form of rapid visualization forces you to listen to the lecture, synthesize what's being expressed, and visualize a composition that captures the idea—all in real time. A musicians' "circular breathing" for the Moleskine crowd.