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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   2 Jan 2015  |  Comments (0)

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Core77 2014 Year in Review: Top 15 Posts · Year in Photos · Drones · Transportation Design · Food & Drink · Wearable Technology · Power Tools and Hand Tools · Tool Storage · Organizational Solutions · Material News · Design Thinking · Architecture and Design GIFs

Our top-rated tool-related story of the year didn't involve a particular tool, but rather, the space where one stores and uses them. The story of a "Largely Intact Woodworking Shop from the 1700s Discovered, Being Used as a Storage Shed Behind a School" blew our minds and, judging by the numbers, yours.

03jeffklee-002.jpgPhoto by Jeffrey E. Klee, Architectural Historian of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

After seeing the tool storage system from PraXsys, pictured below, we determined "What Our First Industrial Design School Assignment Should Have Been: Self-Made Carrying Cases." Before learning to design for others, oughtn't we learn to design things to carry our own gear?

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In "A Slick Hinge from Germany, and Some Awesome Toolbox Designs from Brazil," woodworking madman Matthias Wandel uncovered an unusual toolbox in the shop of cabinetmaker Gregor Bruhn. Wandel then created a mock-up to show us how the slick hinge mechanism works, and we also got to see some clever takes on the design from a pair of young Brazilian craftsmen. Check out videos for both at the link above.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   2 Jan 2015  |  Comments (0)

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Core77 2014 Year in Review: Top 15 Posts · Year in Photos · Drones · Transportation Design · Food & Drink · Wearable Technology · Power Tools and Hand Tools · Tool Storage · Organizational Solutions · Material News · Design Thinking · Architecture and Design GIFs

Whether hand or power, where would we be without our tools? Some of you earn your living with them, others among you retreat to personal workshops after hours, shaking off your CAD jockey status by working physical materials.

In 2014 we were lucky enough to witness an avalanche of innovative implements from around the world. Some you can buy around the corner, others would require you take out a massive loan to afford and have shipped from overseas. But all of them inspire the industrial designer in us to go out and make things.

First off we traveled to Germany for Holz-Handwerk, the European Trade Fair for Woodworking & Wood Processing. We saw everything from Mobile Furniture-Building Workstations to the awesome Logosol, which enables a single person to turn a felled tree into boards all by themselves.

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We also checked out the JLC Live show in Providence this year, where we watched a demo of Festool's Amazing Dust-Free TSC-55 Cordless Track Saw. The thing blew our minds--no power cord and practically no dust.

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One of the crazier things we saw this year was an Articulated Bandsaw. Manufacturer MD Dario flips the script on moving material through a blade; with their contraption, you can move the machine around a stationary 16-foot beam and still get impressively intricate cuts.

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Posted by core jr  |   1 Jan 2015  |  Comments (0)

C77YiR_2014.gifGin or Vodka? Don't remember? Fosta argues for redistillation in the Industrial Design process

Core77 2014 Year in Review: Top 15 Posts · Year in Photos · Drones · Transportation Design · Food & Drink · Wearable Technology · Power Tools and Hand Tools · Tool Storage · Organizational Solutions · Material News · Design Thinking · Architecture and Design GIFs

It's the first day of a new year and what better way to start than with some food for thought. We've rounded up our favorite design thinking pieces from 2014 on a range of topics from design education to tips for getting hired at a design firm, thoughts on social design to questioning the term industrial design itself. Sit back, dive in, and get ready for another year.

But first, if you're still feeling a bit hazy from last night's celebrations, how about some hair of the dog...

Redistillation in the Industrial Design Process, or Why Gin is Better than Vodka, by Fosta
"...By simply following a path of endless reduction we distill out every impurity, we filter every trace of individuality, every element that deviates from the drive towards that (false) grail: a simple singular expression of form and interaction. Whilst the technical prowess needed to achieve such simplicity is significant and admirable, I am often struck by just how dull the results can be."


Designing with Energy, by Richard Gilbert from The Agency of Design
"...Unlike electricity consumption, where you need to go to great lengths to record and visualize energy, this data told you that the lump of material you're holding took 10 megajoules of energy to go from earthbound ore to product in hand. I could now define my whole material world in terms of energy—and that's exactly what I started doing, carrying a screwdriver and a set of scales I started disassembling and weighing products to try and calculate their embodied energy. This quickly escalated to doing an embodied energy calculation for everything I owned."

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Posted by Mason Currey  |  31 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Core77 2014 Year in Review: Top 15 Posts · Year in Photos · Drones · Transportation Design · Food & Drink · Wearable Technology · Power Tools and Hand Tools · Tool Storage · Organizational Solutions · Material News · Design Thinking · Architecture and Design GIFs

In 2014, the animated GIF continued to prove itself a remarkably durable vehicle for capturing the full range of human experience, from the triumph against adversity to the realization of the ephemerality of existence. Even the relatively niche world of architecture and design saw a number of stellar examples. Here are our 14 favorites.

14. (Tie) Pasta-Making Machine / Paper Clip Manufacturing
Two of our top picks from the always hypnotic things-being-manufactured genre. (Honorable mention: Pop-Tarts assembly line)

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13. Relics of Technology by Jim Golden
From a collection of beautiful animations of obsolete tech by the Portland-based photographer

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12. Household Objects vs. Block of Ice
No additional explanation required

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11. Bendgate
The news that the iPhone 6 is bendable set off a firestorm of Internet commentary (and GIF spoofery)—but ultimately didn't seem to hurt sales of the new smartphone.

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10. Nike Power Laces
This Back to the Future II clip dates back to 1989, but it gained new relevancy this year when Nike designer Tinker Hatfield said at an industry event that power laces are coming in 2015.

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  30 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Core77 2014 Year in Review: Top 15 Posts · Year in Photos · Drones · Transportation Design · Food & Drink · Wearable Technology · Power Tools and Hand Tools · Tool Storage · Organizational Solutions · Material News · Design Thinking · Architecture and Design GIFs

Oh what a year for wearables. Like every coming year until we run our civilization into the ground, 2014 saw a lot of growth in the tech-on-your-body department. From breakthroughs in affordably monitoring health to deeply aggravating displays of wealth, there was something for everyone. There was also a lot of bluetooth bluster and bad ideas. Here are our widgety favorites from across this year's wearable spectrum.

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It was a good year for Google Glass, it was a bad year for Google Glass. Basically, Google Goddamn Glass came out and it was exactly whatever you decided to feel about it beforehand. To mask our mixed feelings of annoyance and intrigue we defaulted to Casey Neistat's use/review video.


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Rain's excited pre-review of the Apple Watch captured why so many people wanted one so badly: good design means a product feels like Yours. While secretly an excuse to plug his adorable dogs and photo studio, he tapped into the watch's features that make it feel so personally tailored. Less fussily, Android Wear has rolled out its own simple, easy options. Personally, I'm leaning back from the increasingly networked and data-filled accessories, but there are plenty of options for that.

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  29 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Core77 2014 Year in Review: Top 15 Posts · Year in Photos · Drones · Transportation Design · Food & Drink · Wearable Technology · Power Tools and Hand Tools · Tool Storage · Organizational Solutions · Material News · Design Thinking · Architecture and Design GIFs

2014 began with a bang for all things food and drink as London based food (mad)scientists Bompas and Parr saw in the New Year with Charlie and the Chocolate factory-esque edible fireworks raining down on thousands of revelers in central London. Since then we've seen a vast array of awesome new tools and gadgets and any number of culinary curiosities at the intersection between food and object culture.

Global Food Feast

As ever, 2014 has been quite the education in global cuisine and food culture. In Milan back in April, we were treated to a remarkable 12 Course Tasting Menu of Polish Design alongside accompanying new furniture and objects on display. When the Core77 Design Awards rolled by again in August we fell in love with Hargreaves and Levin's 'Food Maps' (above), explorations of national and continental food identities with things-organized-neatly visualisations of local staples (hello, United States of Corn). Hell, we even learned how to read a cheese wheel.

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New Tools

It never ceases to amaze us how every year we see a new onslaught of inventions and innovation in kitchenware—have we not run out of juice yet? Alas, some of the new releases this year sill managed to deliver that oh so bitter-sweet I-should've-thought-of-that sensation, with this year's most infuriatingly simple innovations including the brilliant 'Butter Up' butter knife redesign (above left) and ingenious Food Huggers (above bottom right) solving the age old problem (or perhaps, very contemporary symptom of increasing single living?) of keeping half a avocado/tomato/onion fresh. Cooking pans were given a long overdue dose of rocket scientist attention, the outcome being the new thermodynamic Flare Pans (above top right) designed to save up to 40% of energy with increased distribution—and hey, they looked pretty cool too. Whilst the market was rewarding such clever little innovations, our very own Core77 Design Awards Food Category showered praise on designers tackling food challenges of the future such as how to scan your food for radiation safety (a brave attempt to save local food production in Fukoshima) and how to breed insects at home in a future where protein supply may be scarce.

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Posted by core jr  |  24 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Core77 2014 Year in Review: Top 15 Posts · Year in Photos · Drones · Transportation Design · Food & Drink · Wearable Technology · Power Tools and Hand Tools · Tool Storage · Organizational Solutions · Material News · Design Thinking · Architecture and Design GIFs

In 2014 the Core77 team reported from the best design festivals, exhibitions, conferences, design studios and manufacturers around the globe bringing you a firsthand look at the designs and processes that made us look twice. Our photographers, many who are practicing designers, captured the beauty and the spectacle of the landscape of contemporary design.

From Swiss skis to party cups, precision vehicles to kinetic sculptures in the desert, here's a look back on some of our favorite photo galleries and photo essays from the last year.

Click on each image to see the full galleries / photo essays!


NAIAS
This year's North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) didn't disappoint, with a solid lineup of production cars including the Ford Mustang, Ford F-150 pick up, Lexus RC, Cadillac ATS Coupe, BMW M4 Coupe, Corvette Z06 and Audi RS7. As the car reveals get more and more sensational sophisticated with massive choreographed video projections, music and live stage antics, it's fair to say Ford won most ambitious booth design with nearly 38-ton section of assembly line on their stand to demonstrate the robotic production process of the F-150.

One of the biggest trends was the resurgence in performance cars, possibly to attract the Millennial market who's lack of interest in car ownership has been widely reported. Or more simply, the industry has grown stagnant and senses it's time to inject some new excitement to appease the car enthusiasts like Toyota's FT-1 and Kia's GT4 Stinger concept cars.
> >View Gallery


New York Design Week: The Best of ICFF
Has the ICFF has found it's mojo again? This year saw a number of new designers exhibiting for the first time, delivering a higher standard of work from both established manufacturers and emerging design studios.

Bernhardt design, who have helped launch numerous emerging designers with their ICFF Studio partnership, celebrated their 125th anniversary this year and to mark the occasion, designer Frederick McSwain created a series of family tree wall sculptures inspired by the growth rings found in the cross section of a tree trunk. Chicago-based designer Felicia Ferrone launched her debut furniture collection bravely opting for white carpet in the booth, London-based Cycloc returned after a brief hiatus with some brand new wall mounting fixtures and accessories for bicycles, and Artek picked up an ICFF Editors Award with their multifunctional task chair 'Rival' designed by Konstantin Grcic.
> >View Gallery

A Brave New Modernism: Dubai, by Shaun Fynn
Dubai symbolizes the megacity with the megaprojects like no other. Rarely have our talents as builders been so effectively combined with our talents as storytellers. Dubai tells the story of unprecedented and rapid economic expansion spurred by oil wealth and the city's desire to be the hub of commerce for the region. The enactment of carefully crafted policies has created an international center for finance, tourism, trade and manufacture.

The fictional nature of Dubai has been the subject of much debate but interpreting the elements that contribute to the increasingly blurred lines between fact and fiction, myth and realty are a challenge for our era. Our abilities as architects and designers to understand the power of a brand now bridges every aspect of what we create. From handbags to high-rises, the entire built world becomes ever more sophisticated as we evolve our practices to better cater for the motivations and desires of both business and the individual.
> >View Photo Essay

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  24 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Core77 2014 Year in Review: Top 15 Posts · Year in Photos · Drones · Transportation Design · Food & Drink · Wearable Technology · Power Tools and Hand Tools · Tool Storage · Organizational Solutions · Material News · Design Thinking · Architecture and Design GIFs

Understanding how materials work, and how they can be worked, is part and parcel of being an industrial designer. Whether it's old materials being worked in old ways, old materials worked in new ways or new materials worked in new ways, we need all of that stuff rattling around in our heads to inform our decisions. So here's a recap of our most popular materials stories from 2014.

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The first one actually comes from...the 13th Century! In our "A Brief History of Unusual Objects Designed to Kill People From Far Away" series, we saw how the Mongols used horn, wood, bamboo, animal glue and waterproof lacquer to create "the carbon fiber of that era." This early example of materials mastery yielded a militarily devastating weapon, enabling them to conquer the largest contiguous land empire in all of human history.

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Another old material that drew eyeballs this year was stone. Once subjected to the tender ministrations of a CNC wire machine, the most ancient of all building materials can be transformed into some decidedly newfangled shapes.

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  23 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Core77 2014 Year in Review: Top 15 Posts · Year in Photos · Drones · Transportation Design · Food & Drink · Wearable Technology · Power Tools and Hand Tools · Tool Storage · Organizational Solutions · Material News · Design Thinking · Architecture and Design GIFs

Like most years, 2014 brought both rad and bad new offerings in the transportation world. Hoverboards saw weirdly practical strides forward, self-driving cars are no longer just in comic books and secret Google labs, steam punkish bikes clung on, and Harley Davidson went... electric? We had our favorites among the mess of concept projects and bike porn, and to pilot us into a new year here are some key highlights and oh-no-lights from our 2014 transportation coverage.


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Philippe Starck's work with Giro Helmets explored some unusual territory, attempted to update a fairly staid part of the biking experience, and reminded us of the dual values of exploring challenging new forms... and thoroughly researching your concept project materials.

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Posted by core jr  |  22 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

C77YiR_2014.gifFish or foul? Check out #14 from our Top Design Stories of 2014.

Core77 2014 Year in Review: Top 15 Posts · Year in Photos · Drones · Transportation Design · Food & Drink · Wearable Technology · Power Tools and Hand Tools · Tool Storage · Organizational Solutions · Material News · Design Thinking · Architecture and Design GIFs

As we wind down the year and settle into the holiday cheer of family gatherings, movie marathons and an unending parade of sweets, here's a look back on 2014 from your friends at Core77. Over the next two weeks we'll be rounding up our favorite stories from the past year and revisiting the ideas and innovations that have captured our imagination.

It's been an exciting year of the big and small—from the publication of our first book, Designing Here/Now to the publication of our first newspaper, the Design Daily for New York Design Week. And who could forget the Core77 Conference? With speakers like Carla Diana, Michael DiTullo, Casey Neistat and Jordan Brandt, (watch their presentations here!) 2014's Object Culture conference provided a snapshot of the changing shape of product design and an opportunity to connect with familiar faces and meet new friends.

We've had a tremendous year at Core77 and can't wait to share another year with you. But before we get too ahead of ourselves, here's some required reading—a roundup of our top 15 stories to read before 2015.

* * *

15. Dungeons, Dragons & Design: Geek Chic's Gorgeous Gaming Tables

14. California Oil Spill Turns out to be A Massive Amount of Fish

13. Knee Defender: Industrial Design Gone Awry? [Editorial Note: Although this post was originally published in 2013, the product became a news story in 2014 when a plane was grounded due to an altercation involving the Knee Defender]

12. Getting Hired: How to Score a Job at Google X

11. How Adding Bike Lanes Actually Improve the Flow of Car Traffic

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Posted by Ray  |  15 Sep 2014  |  Comments (1)

IndustrialFacility-HermanMiller-Locale-1.jpgLocale for Herman Miller (2013). Images courtesy of Industrial Facility unless otherwise noted

Given the current vogue for local, handwrought, artisanal or otherwise bespoke goods, the tide has effectively turned against mass production as millennials forgo the efficiencies of economies of scale in favor of purportedly more meaningful modes. The appeal of these objets is ostensibly the deeper level of personal connection—the prospect of shaking the very hand that made your wallet or dress or dining table is simultaneously atavistic and avant-garde—that justifies the cost of championing local production in the face of, um, faceless overseas manufacturing. This resurgence finds its most fundamental expression not in made-to-order heirlooms but in locavorism: Food products are literally rooted in a place, yet the fact that they are perishable precludes preciousness.

It's ironic, then, that "America has this great tradition of keeping kitchen appliances on the countertop." Kim Colin, co-founder and partner of design firm Industrial Facility, brings it up in the context of the broad shift away from the materialistic mentality of yore, rattling off a few generations' worth of examples. "Mr. Coffee's been there, the Kitchenaid's been there, George Foreman's grill was there for a while, the soda machine might be there now..." That these appliances have a shelf life (with the exception, perhaps, of the stand mixer) is a testament to the consummation of a consumer culture that revels in excess, the food itself being incidental. Whether or not we use them frequently enough to justify the countertop real estate, our society has long kept these objects on display, not only as status symbols in themselves but also because we have the luxury of space.

Or at least we did, before the world's metropolises drew in the majority of its 7.2 billion people and twentysomethings found themselves with less space and fewer things anyway. More kale, perhaps, but less of the other stuff.

IndustrialFacility-Mattiazzi-BrancaStool.jpgThe Branca Stool for Mattiazzi (2014)

"We don't go out and find work, people find us."

Industrial Facility is arguably the best-kept secret in certain circles that extend far beyond its geographic locale of London. In contrast to the likes of Philippe Starck (with whom IF collaborated on TOG) or, say, friend-of-Apple Marc Newson, Kim Colin and her partner Sam Hecht opt for fly-by-night anonymity, much like one of their longtime clients. "[Muji is] not using design as a personality... if there is a personality, it would be Muji." Like kindred spirit Naoto Fukasawa, Industrial Facility's work dissolves into the client's brand—assuming, of course, that the client shares their refined, purposeful design philosophy.

When Colin notes that "there's a kind of strange public awareness about us—we have what I would characterize as a cult following," she's referring to clients—Established & Sons, LaCie and Issey Miyake, to name a few—but the statement is true of consumers as well. It's not so much a signature style (again, they're designing for the likes of non-brand Muji) but a perspective that guides with their sub rosa appeal. "We're very interested in the actual ways we're living and the ways that's changing," Colin says. "We study it through the different kinds of clients we have... we learn how they're seeing the world, and we often have a very different point of view." She continues: "Those companies then realize that we have more to offer than a specific project on its own, and that we might have something to say about their business, or growth, or direction." Naturally, these deeper relationships tend to be self-selecting, and it's telling that Industrial Facility works closely with companies like Muji and Herman Miller in a design advisory role. "Our clients are unafraid of our level of questioning."

Hence, Colin draws the distinction between their design practice and that of the 21st-Century artisan. "I think there are a lot of people working in design that are doing local products. Those are small batch, limited production or production-on-demand," she matter-of-factly declares. "Our scale is mass production, really, and that's why we named our studio Industrial Facility and not Sam Hecht and Kim Colin Studio. We want big companies not to be afraid to use design."

IndustrialFacility-HermanMiller-Formwork.jpgFormwork for Herman Miller (2014)

IndustrialFacility-HermanMiller-Formwork-prototypes.jpgPrototypes of Formwork

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Posted by core jr  |   5 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

Definitive-WCollection.jpgDefinitive 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-OmniCollection.jpgPolk 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-SB1.jpgPolk Omni SB1 (wireless subwoofer & soundbar)

Definitive-WAmp.jpgDefinitive Technology W Amp

Polk-P1.jpgPolk Omni P1 adaptor (at center), pictured with RTiA1 speakers

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Posted by Ray  |  29 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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I'd heard that cycling had caught on in London, but somehow I wasn't expecting the shoals of A.M. bike commuters at every intersection in the city center as I was shuttled across town, groggy from the red-eye but alert to my new surroundings. Given the preponderance of helmets, high-viz gear (highlighter-yellow backpacks and shells are the order of the day) and mudguards (I noticed that one fellow had two rear fenders), these folks struck me as rather more like diehard Portlanders than the fair weather pedalers we have here in NYC. I also witnessed a couple of subtler behavioral cues as to the growing presence of the cyclists in London: 1.) an irritated cyclist slapped the side of a car that blocked the bike lane in an ill-advised three point, and 2.) a jaywalker actually checked for cyclists before stepping into a (non-bike) lane.

All of this, duly noted in a single journey from Heathrow Airport to trendy Shoreditch (the adjective is obligatory at this point), where I had the chance to meet pro cyclist Mark Cavendish on the occasion of a product launch for Specialized. And even though only a fraction of the riders traversing London on any given morning would be considered to be the target market for the new CVNDSH collection, he (and Specialized) hope to get ahead of the curve. "Bikes are fashionable now; cycling is becoming popular," Cavendish quipped, even as he acknowledged that it "is still quite niche—[after all,] you've got to shave your legs and wear lycra."

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Still, I couldn't quite gauge his renown amongst Londoners—Cavendish is widely regarded as the fastest road cyclist in the world, with a World Championship and 25 stage wins at the Tour de France to his name, among other achievements—though this certainly might have had to do with the very limited sample of non-sportsfans that I'd consulted. In any case, the man known as the Manx Missile is rather unassuming in person, and he struck me as chatty and approachable despite his reputation as a fierce and an at-times outspoken competitor.

He had every reason to be in a good mood: Speaking with the slight lilt that I'd heard in post-race interviews (he hails from the Isle of Man), Cavendish introduced the new road cycling apparel line that he had designed and developed with Specialized: jersey, bib shorts, helmet, gloves and shoes, as well as a saddle. (If it seems unusual that the Morgan Hill, Calif.-based company would hold the launch event in London, Cavendish explained that he was traveling to the Tour of Turkey the following day; if you must know, he'd won the first two stages as of press time.)

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  21 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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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.

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Posted by core jr  |  28 Jan 2014  |  Comments (0)

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As a graphic designer and writer (and sometime contributor to Core77), San Francisco-based Christina Beard is in a unique position to investigate the conventions and tropes of design practice and discourse. For her first book, Critiqued: Inside the Minds of 23 Leaders in Design, she subjected her work—a poster advocating hygiene—to the discerning eye of nearly two dozen leaders in the field.

Every designer at some point faces positive and negative criticism.

Most designers have experienced a crushing critique that makes you question your choice to even be a designer. Conversely, many have had a positive critique that left them feeling elated and excited to keep going!

Design is subjective.

I set out to investigate this further, and designed an experiment that took me all over the world to meet with leaders in design. I designed a poster, took it to a designer for a critique and based on that feedback I redesigned the poster, and took the new poster to the next designer—a process similar to the children's game Telephone.

Each designer shared with me what was working, what wasn't working and how they would approach their own redesign. The feedback ranged from "you should just start over" to "this is great, I think you're done!"

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L: The poster with Alice Twemlow's feedback; R: The following iteration, which incorporated those comments

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Posted by core jr  |  27 Jan 2014  |  Comments (0)

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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!

AIGA-Adler_ClearRx.jpgDeborah 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).

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Posted by core jr  |  21 Jan 2014  |  Comments (0)

Left: A community map with measured dimensions. Right: Iso-metric illustrated version of the community based on reference photos. This was developed to make the map more engaging and fun. Righthand illustration by Boyeon Choi.

In the field of design and technology today, deeply understanding users in their local context is an essential part to the design process. A holistic understanding of users generates empathy and a specificity of experience that enables designers to create valuable solutions for markets, communities and individuals.

In our field work in Uganda's rural north and Kampala, its capital and largest city, we took the unique opportunity to conduct research, as designers, into informal technology usage from a more complex and discovery-based perspective. Jeff focused on informal electricity bypassing in an urban community in Kampala, and An looked at how youth transfer media files via Bluetooth in northern Uganda. These are the stories that emerged after a hybrid approach of design, ethnography and other research methods to understand the systems and structures in place and build relationships with individuals working and living in these contexts.

In an increasingly globalized world, local contexts matter more than ever before. Rich, deep ethnographic stories can communicate the complex conditions under which communities and individuals make decisions regarding technology use in their everyday lives. These stories in turn inform design decisions around technology development and practical use. As Jessica Weber and John Cheng recently argued in UX Magazine, "Ethnography reveals how digital and physical processes work together to help businesses address gaps and focus on the entire customer experience."

We present two examples of user stories from our research into informal systems, as well as the visual forms we developed to communicate it. It was essential to use visualization to engage the designers and researchers in a developed, U.S. context to translate the unique characteristics of the informal systems for those who couldn't experience them firsthand. Visualizing the conditions and the systematic influences at work through user-generated drawings, maps, videos and photographic documentation placed them in context, helping to reframe these stories in a manner that permitted audiences in the United States to make judgments based on local values and their emergent informal usage of technology.

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Posted by Mason Currey  |   6 Jan 2014  |  Comments (1)

GoogleX-Smith-Heinrich-2.jpgPhotos 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.

GoogleX-campus.jpgThe Googleplex in early December

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Posted by core jr  |  26 Dec 2013  |  Comments (0)

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Core77 2013 Year in Review: Top Ten Posts · Furniture, Pt. 1 · Furniture, Pt. 2
Digital Fabrication, Pt. 1 · Digital Fabrication, Pt. 2 · Digital Fabrication, Pt. 3 · Digital Fabrication, Pt. 4
Insights from the Core77 Questionnaire · Maker Culture: The Good, the Bad and the Future · Food & Drink
Materials, Pt. 1: Wood · Materials, Pt. 2: Creative Repurposing · Materials, Pt. 3: The New Stuff
True I.D. Stories · High-Tech Headlines · The Year in Photos

These last week of the year is always kind of a weird duration, one that typically feels slow and fast at the same time, a stretch of five or six days that is invariably removed from the epicyclic progress of the rest of the year, demarcated by a pair of holidays. Work and school are generally put on hold in favor of family-related obligations, yet there's inevitably some project to catch up on—even it's just sleep—and before you know you it, you're back at your desk... like you never left.

Meanwhile, the beginning of the new year is both the end of a specific timeframe and an opportunity for a fresh start. Thus, we'd like to take a moment to reflect on what we've seen in the past 360-ish days or so in order to draw insight into what might be on the horizon in 2014.

We'll start with a seemingly straightforward cross-section of our content mix: the top ten most popular posts this year. Insofar as their viral appeal is predicated on broadly interesting subject matter, many of these stories are not explicitly related to industrial design per se; rather, they illustrate how the natural and manmade world has the power to surprise and delight us.

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10.) How a Doctor's Five-Minute, $15 iPhone Hack Could Affect 600 Million Lives

9.) Owning Two of a Certain Object Indicates Your Kids Will Do Well in School. Can You Guess What It Is?

8.) Underwater Archaeologist Franck Goddio Finds 1,600-Year-Old City that Vanished 1,200 Years Ago

7.) A Drinking Glass That Can Prevent Sexual Assault

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Posted by Ray  |  19 Nov 2013  |  Comments (0)

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In the early chapters of The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance, Henry Petroski speculates about the uncertain origin of a certain species of writing implement, proceeding to chronicle a fascinating (albeit at-times long-winded) account of its eponymous subject matter. A civil engineer by training and professor by trade, the author takes the pencil as a vehicle for tracing a loose history of his chosen profession over the course of some 300-pages.

As in Petroski's account, FiftyThree's latest product represents far more than the everyday object that sits on or in our desk. Its name and form factor transcend mere etymology and superficial skeuomorphism: "Pencil" captures the very essence of its namesake—typically the first tool that we use in earnest as a means of recording words and drawings—a stylus that significantly expands the power of their breakthrough app, Paper. But beyond a tightly integrated hardware-software ecosystem, Pencil marks a first step towards smarter accessories in general.

FiftyThree-Pencil_Walnut-HERO.jpg"We really want the materials to be authentic—it's a big part of our brand, craftsmanship and authenticity." -Jon Harris

Pixels, in some ways, represent a digital equivalent of graphite—discrete pigment deposited on a virtual surface, which can be restored to its original state by erasing these particles. If the physical evidence of a Dixon Ticonderoga consists of an infinitesimal amount of matter transferred from one object to another, then the digital traces of, say, the brush tool (in your sketching software of choice) are even less tangible. With their first product, Paper, a versatile drawing app, FiftyThree harnessed this unseen magic to reveal the potential of the iPad as a mobile creation device.

But the artifact itself endures, and that much was clear at FiftyThree's New York HQ last week, where co-founders Georg Petschnigg and Andrew Allen offered us a hands-on demo of the production version of Pencil, which launches this very morning; Director of Hardware John Ikeda and Design Co-Founder Jon Harris were also on the line via videochat from Seattle. The handsome Bluetooth-enabled stylus comes in sustainably-sourced walnut and black brushed aluminum variations, and it's hard to decide which one is superior. Ikeda clearly prefers the former: "We try not to coat or treat the wood too heavily—just enough to protect it from humidity and those kinds of thing—but what's really nice about them is that after a handling them for a while, they take on their own character."

FiftyThree-Pencil_Walnut-material.jpgLike many of his colleagues at FiftyThree, including the three co-founders, Ikeda previously worked at Microsoft: "We always wanted to build a product that we could describe with the word 'patina!'"

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Posted by An Xiao Mina  |  12 Nov 2013  |  Comments (0)

Boardroom.JPGPhotos 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.

squarestand.JPGJesse 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

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Posted by core jr  |  15 Oct 2013  |  Comments (2)

AudiFactory-EnthusiasticallyPosedTour.jpgA very close approximation of my factory tour experience

Reporting by Kat Bauman

If anyone ever asks if you'd like to visit the Audi factory, do the right thing. Located in Ingolstadt, at the center of the Free Republic of Bavaria, it's a hearty drive from most things and soundly worth it. For those of you too physically or mentally removed from Germany, here's an overview of the delights on offer.

The Ingolstadt factory employs 35,000 people, a substantial chunk of the cobbled city's 160,000 total population, and winding your way across the complex you start to believe it. The campus covers two million square feet, with facilities running six days a week on three shifts per day. Red bicycles are neatly docked inside and in front of every building for speedier intracampus transit, and despite construction and everpresent cars, the in-between scenery was green and inviting. Almost every single A3, A4, A5 and Q5 is produced at the Ingolstadt factory. The tour was led by smiling, beautifully fluent guides and punctuated with disorienting chauffeured trips across the giant campus. Do not attempt to photograph anything if you value your camera or your hosts' good graces.

Although I had a chance to see virtually the entire manufacturing process, the true starting point, forging and stamping, remained unseen! I gather they do this on-site, but away from prying eyes. (My guides cited dangerous work conditions, which I resented at the time but now strikes me as only slightly regrettable, considering I nearly walked under forklifts and cargo robots repeatedly throughout the day.) Audi's base frames are made from either forged steel or aluminum, and every other piece of the car body is made of galvanized sheet steel or a new aluminum alloy. Galvanizing prevents corrosion, while aluminum alloys save weight and sound futuristic. As it was, we joined the cycle after the components were formed.

AudiFactory-TonsofTonelessTTs.jpgTT Time

As soon as we entered the factory floor we were surrounded on all sides by tightly organized production lines. The main factory is heavily mechanized, but robot upkeep and morale takes a good deal of staffing, and the building buzzed with both mechanical and human activity. Down each side of the access corridors were large "rooms" walled by clear plastic, where teams of robots plucked stamped parts from overhead conveyor belts or forklifted stacks and began to fit them together as teams. Parts zoomed overhead, welding crackled, and the sweet, guilty smell of glue drifted freely.

Due to the almost innumerable variants available on the non-American market, Audi has found it most efficient to run cars through production as they're ordered (essentially one-off) rather than in batches. Despite their different body styles and models, most A3s, A4s and A5s are built on similar base frames, so having a responsive assembly line is still feasible. In practice, this means that each assembly station gets its marching orders via a black box attached to the base frame, and rearranges its clamping and adhering positions for every assembly.

Just about every component is epoxied in place by surprisingly accurate tube-wielding robot arms, squeezed into place by robotic vices, and spot welded by copper-tipped robot fingers. The hyper-jointed arms of the welders and gluers are fantastically flexible and accurate—necessary when working on a variety of parts—reminiscent of many an anime film. The speed of each operation was noteworthy, usually taking far under a minute for setup, attachment and removal. Nearby you could see bins of spent copper welding tips, which are chucked for recycling after around 30,000 welds. The desire to stuff my pockets with blacked copper was only offset by my guide's friendliness and enthusiasm for rule-following.

AudiFactory-AssemblersErgonomicSeatThingy.jpgErgonomic Seat Thing

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Posted by Ray  |   7 Aug 2013  |  Comments (1)

EzraCaldwell.jpgPhotos courtesy of Ezra Caldwell

We've devoted a fair number of pages and pixels to that singular design object known as the bicycle, and whether you're a leisure rider or all-weather commuter, weekend warrior or retrogrouch, there's no denying the functional elegance of the human-powered conveyance. Thus, when Harry Schwartzman reached out to us about lending our support to the inaugural Bike Cult Show, a celebration of the beautiful machine and a local-ish community of individuals dedicated to building them, we were happy to support the cause.

Bike Cult Show: Save the Date · Ezra Caldwell · Johnny Coast · Thomas Callahan · Rick Jones · Jamie Swan


"I think the bike is inherently the most perfect thing that people have ever designed."

So says Ezra Caldwell, who isn't exactly known to exaggerate, a framebuilder who holds a unique place among their ranks, not least for his unusual background. At least a couple of clichés—Jack-of-All-Trades and Renaissance Man—come to mind, yet his story is anything but: the son of a woodworker, he enrolled at the University of Arts as an industrial design major, only to discover that he disliked the curriculum and "ended up in the dance department somehow and got stuck dancing for 15 years." Despite the fact that Caldwell was talented enough to land a cushy part-time teaching gig after a decade in the dance world, he eventually found himself back in the shop; by 2007, he decided he liked bicycles (and had grown disenchanted with the performing arts) enough to dedicate his life to building custom bicycle frames.

Fast Boy Cycles was barely a year old when Caldwell received a devastating diagnosis of colorectal cancer; up until that point, about five years ago, he "really did get everywhere on a bike." I first learned Caldwell's story via this beautifully executed short film in the documentary series "Made by Hand":

If the short doc successfully transcends the tragic trope of a gifted artist stricken with a terminal illness—a trait that threatens to consume the victim's identity even as he accepts his fate—it's a bit surreal to see him in the flesh, and in high spirits no less, when I visit him in his basement workshop in an unassuming brownstone in Harlem. "It may not seem possible to believe, but I am so happy right now," he declares. "There are parts of it that really bum me out, but on balance, I would say I'm the happiest I've ever been."

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Posted by core jr  |   8 Jul 2013  |  Comments (0)

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How To (How To): The AIGA Research Project by Ziba
Part 1 · Part 2 · Part 3 · Part 4 · Part 5 · Part 6

For everyone returning, welcome back to Project Medusa. You're (still) invited to this party! Every AIGA member who wanted to participate was invited to this party, in fact, which ensured a great cross-section of designers. Intrigued? (If none of this makes any sense to you, click here.) Ziba produced this research effort to look into AIGA's future, and learn directly from its members—working in Reno, Providence and everywhere in between—what the future of the organization should look like. This meant, implicitly, that younger members' voices were key, and that drove decisions about many of the elements we're going to look at in Part 2. The key to designing your own research project is know your audience... you can't expect much success hunting for a totally unfamiliar animal.

We'll start with some overarching considerations, and then get into the nitty-gritty, with a checklist for conducting rich, relevant research.

1.) Preparation is key.
If you take only one thing away from this series, it should be the importance of being prepared. Without proper planning, you can only try and catch up after the fact: too little, too late. This flows directly out of advice from Part 1 of the Project Medusa How-To series. We can't emphasize enough that you need to do your research before you start the research. What do you want to know? It's difficult find anything of meaning unless you know (at the very least) where to start looking, even with highly sophisticated design research methods. With your goals identified, think back to your audience: if you don't ask the right people, it won't matter how good the question is. Rubbish in means rubbish out, no matter how you slice it. (More on this in Part 3, still to come.)

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2.) Everything is intentional... and should be directed.
Project Medusa took the form of an interactive film with coordinating activities, to guide individual AIGA chapters to host their own informational workshops and sketch a new vision for the entire organization. This allowed Ziba to control the overall look and feel, in keeping with a designed research outreach, while still allowing us to leverage the personal knowledge and connections that each local moderator brought to the table.

Even if your research effort will be a simple web survey, consider how your presentation might affect your results. Be intentional with whatever tools you've got: slips of paper, a series of roundtable discussions, or formal focus groups. Consider your biases—what you think you know starting out, and any other assumptions surrounding the inquiry—and do what you can to make these supposed liabilities into assets, too.

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Posted by core jr  |  19 Mar 2012  |  Comments (0)

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 FILAMENTS2000filaments.jpgThe 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
citrussqueezer.jpgWe 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.jpgCutlery 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
iputarecordon.jpgWe 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?
justapencil.jpgWhen 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
letsplayatune.jpgThis 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
surroundedbylove.jpgA 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
systemvschaos.jpgWe 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.

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Posted by An Xiao Mina  |  14 Mar 2012  |  Comments (0)

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.

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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.

dooling.pngFashion 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.

lddc1.pngThe interior at Liang Dian Design Center, Beijing's first space dedicated solely to contemporary design.

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