Posted by Kat Bauman
| 7 Mar 2014
Do you have what it takes to make your own wine? Most likely not. But with this fancy gadget and a lower-than-average amount of skepticism, you might. Drink like Jesus did with the Miracle Machine: just add water, grape concentrate, yeast and a vaguely described "finishing powder" to impart that truly barrel-aged flavor without true barrel-aging.
The modestly named Miracle Machine is a household appliance with the capability of fermenting and age-flavoring fine wine within three days, for as little as $2 per bottle in materials. It's got a fairly elegant exterior, plastic but something you wouldn't resent for taking up counter space. The accompanying app lets you choose the type of wine you want to make and provides status information so that those of us too impatient for bread-baking can hold out long enough to reap the alcoholic bounty. Check out the project video:
Posted by core jr
| 26 Feb 2014
What purpose does a library serve in a contemporary middle school? Beyond its broad definition as a place to read, relax, explore and discover, we also feel that educational spaces should be designed with the input and ideas from the users—the students themselves. Now, with the help of Studio H and Ms. Nini (Hallie Chen), a cohort of 108 eighth graders at Berkeley's REALM Charter School have done exactly that, and they need your help to make the library of their dreams into a reality.
Besides the bookmarks, stamps and bags, the students have also designed an X-shaped unit of modular shelving, STAX, which is made of low-cost plywood and fabricated with CNC technology, courtesy of Autodesk's Carl Bass. "You can do anything with STAX: you can make your new favorite shelf," reads the project page on Kickstarter. "You can make supports for a table or legs for a bench. You can make a mile long wall if you want. Whatever you do with them, they'll definitely be the coolest piece of furniture you own."
Posted by core jr
| 31 Jan 2014
User experience design has quickly become a critical skill in fields ranging from software development to industrial design, but how can a designer already enmeshed in their career make a pivot toward UX? While traditional design schools are beginning to incorporate this area of interest into their curricula, sometimes one class isn't enough.
The Unicorn Institute is a new initiative by Jared Spool, founder of pioneering user experience consulting firm User Interface Engineering, and Dr. Leslie Jensen-Inman, a Ph.D in Learning and Leadership, that aims to provide professional training for experience designers through classes tailored for the market's needs. And while there's value in studying design theory and methods, sometimes designers just want the practical experience that can get them to the next level in their career.
If their success on Kickstarter is any indication, Spool and Jensen-Inman have clearly struck a nerve: The Unicorn Institute has brought in over $70,000 so far, three and a half times its $20,000 goal. Most backers are content to put up a few bucks for "digital pixie dust"—a.k.a. wallpapers for a mobile, tablet and desktop—or "digital awesomeness," the $50 tier, which includes a series of books on experience design; higher reward levels include access to the classes as they become available.
[Editor's Note: This post has been edited to reflect a comment regarding the physical nature of nixie tubes.]
In this age of digital displays, it's hard not to appreciate the old-school aesthetic of a nixie tube. To individually bend ten different digits out of
cold cathode neon tubes the cathode, then stuff all of them together in a little glass dome—i.e. the tube itself—is perhaps needlessly labor-intensive but provides a clearly legible readout with an Edison-bulb vibe.
Sydney-based Duncan Hellmers is of the same mind. "[Nixie tubes] fit in well with today's aesthetic trends but still retain that sense of nostalgia and sentimentality," he writes. "I'd seen quite a few tube clock designs online, but couldn't find one whose character matched what I was after, so I decided to design my own."
Inspired by the hoverboard Michael J. Fox cruises around on in Back to the Future Part II, ex-IDEO'er Kyle Doerksen created the Onewheel. A self-balancing electric monowheel skateboard, the Onewheel seemingly replicates the feeling of riding around on a hoverboard (if not the form factor), and even a novice can purportedly pick up how to ride one in less than a minute; in addition to the self-balancing feature, riders can accelerate by leaning forward and slow down by leaning back, as with a Segway.
The 25-pound device will do 12 m.p.h., with a range of four to six miles. Charging the lithium battery takes from 20 minutes to two hours, depending on what type of charger you use. And the monowheel design means that maintenance is a lot simpler than it would be for a bicycle: "There's literally only one moving part—the wheel," writes Doerksen. "No gears, belts or chains to maintain."
And yes, the Onewheel is real, not just a concept; Doerksen and his team have it up on Kickstarter, where it's already tripled its $100,000 goal. Check out the video:
Posted by Ray
| 9 Jan 2014
We were there for the launch of the instantly iconic torqued helix of the Plumen 001, the radical compact fluorescent lamp that elevated the lowly light bulb to eco-conscious design object status. Since its debut in 2010, the helical CFL has become an award-winning, museum-worthy icon, even as the Edison bulb has asserted itself into nouveau-rustic interiors over the past few years. I personally find the bright 2700K luminaire to be well-suited to most settings, but, as they note on their Kickstarter page, "it works for areas that need to be bright, but isn't always perfect for dimly lit ambient spaces, like bars, coffee shops or your living room. Places where warmer tones define a texture and softness in the atmosphere—that's where the 002 comes in."
As Roope noted regarding Plumen's recent collaboration with Middlesex University, they've been working with the 001 for some four years now, and the second product offers a noticeably different aesthetic, both in form factor and usage: If the Edison bulb is shorthand for steampunk-y vintage, the Plumen 002 vaguely evokes Art Deco, offering the brightness equivalence of a 30W incandescent "for the coziest of contexts." Viewed on-end, the hemispherical shape suggests a filament bulb, which belies both the axe-like profile and slim, bisected teardrop shape of the frontal view. It's both more and less like a traditional light bulb than the coils of the Plumen 001, referencing its silhouette but literally paring it down to a more modern form.
When USB flash drives first came out, they were useful, expensive and valued things. Nowadays they're still useful, but I've got a drawer full of them, as every press conference I attend passes them out like candy. Most are made of plastic, some of metal. As they continue to proliferate, oughtn't we make them out of recycled/recycleable materials?
BOLTgroup thinks so. The North-Carolina-based design firm is trying to Kickstart Gigs 2 Go, their project to release flash drives with bodies made from recycled paper pulp. The idea is that users buy them in credit-card-sized four-packs, and tear them off as needed for file sharing. Have a look:
The reason why I've got this in the "Yea or Nay" section is, do you think these will see uptake, given their cost? When it comes to bang for buck, careful shoppers can scoop up flash drives for roughly 50-cents-to-a-dollar per gigabyte; The Gigs 2 Go drives still available ring in at roughly two bucks per gig, with an early batch of $1/gig long gone. Do you think their uptake will be dependent on cost, or would you be willing to pay slightly more for a thumb drive you could recycle?
Posted by erika rae
| 20 Nov 2013
You never realize how hard it is to hang something until you actually have to do it. Getting your photo/art/mirror/whatever straight is tough enough, but finding a hanging system that doesn't take away from what you're trying to display is often a challenge in itself. Enter Dartstrip, a new product that epitomizes how the best design should be invisible.
And like most unseen designs, the system is deceptively simple: Dartstrip is nothing more than an eight-foot strip of steel with a restickable adhesive backing. The product is laser-scored with snap points at one-inch increments for easy customization depending on how large or wide your display space is. The strips are a clean white and can be painted over to match walls and other surfaces; magnetic 'pins' hold posters or photos in place. Check out the video below to see what Dartstrip is all about before we go into the details with co-founder Kermit Westergaard:
But the major innovation of Dartstrip comes in the form of none other than the packaging.
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 19 Nov 2013
Strong relationships are based on multiple areas of shared interest, broadening the platform for connection and common understanding. Some interests pair naturally: humor and creativity, travel and gourmet cooking, knowledge of 18th century French naval battles and a love of cheap American lager. In that vein, Know Your City (previously the "Dill Pickle Club") has brought Portland history, policy and brined comestibles to an amateur audience for over four years, and they're ready to take this relationship to the next level.
The non-profit group helps people creatively engage with the city's spaces and changing social landscape through history tours, public speakings and policy information. They highlight often-unheard stories and issues, and make dry info exciting and accessible. They also know a lot about pickling. Still office-less, their current Kickstarter campaign will fund the building of a kiosk to function as the on-the-ground hub for information and tour guiding. As required by common law in Portland, the kiosk will be bike-powered and locally made.
A look at the new Know Your City app
Recent Know Your City successes include the launch of a sweet social history app, and getting a double thumbs-up from the mayor—who you can win a chance to go sailing with if you contribute to the kiosk project. Big ups to folks making the past relevant and the future understandable.
Check out and contribute to Know Your City's Kickstarter campaign here.
As an industrial designer, which would you rather do: Design brand new objects and interfaces that have never existed before, or design improvements into existing objects? Both have their challenges, but I for one love seeing folks tweak longstanding, everyday designs to improve their functionality.
The latest Kickstarter smash success falls into this latter category. Portland-based Mike Whitehead is a product designer who loves to cook, but after years of using a common cast-iron skillet, he realized it was "long overdue" for a re-design.
First off, the handle of a cast-iron skillet is essentially a design fail that people are willing to live with. The standard handle is tiny and loop-like, the faster to dissipate heat, yet you still need an oven mitt to handle the thing, so you get the worst of both worlds: An uncomfortable, unergonomic handle that can burn you.
Secondly, the finish of a cast-iron skillet's cooking surface wears its production method on its sleeve: The rough texture screams sand casting. This makes it tough to clean.
Thirdly, a skillet's circular shape distributes heat evenly, but does not lend itself well to pouring out the sauces you've been simmering.
Let's take a look at how Whitehead, with the help of industrial designer David Lewin and 3D modeler Kip Buck, solved these problems with their Finex design:
At press time the Finex had blown way past its $25,000 target with over $150,000 in funding. There are still three days left to get in on it and the first units will ship on December 15th, just in time for the holidays.
By the bye, the Finex logo was designed by Aaron Draplin of Field Notes fame.
Hit the jump for some bonus manufacturing footage: How they prototyped the handle, and a look at the sweet 5-axis CNC mill cutting the mold.
Posted by Ray
| 12 Nov 2013
L: Original DIWire Bender process photos; R: Production version of the device
Update: Our own Don Lehman chatted with Marco Perry and Mark Prommel in today's episode of the Afterschool podcast.
If 2012 was a big year for Pensa, 2013 has been even bigger: Both Street Charge and the Core77 Design Awards Runner Up DIWire Bender, both of which they introduced about 18 months ago, have come to fruition this year. We would have been impressed if they'd brought just one of them to market, especially since the two projects could not be more different—besides, of course, the fact that they're both novel, useful products.
Which is a long way of saying that today sees the official Kickstarter launch of the consumer-ready DIWire Bender. Seeing as it's already at $40,000, we imagine they'd tipped off the interested parties who were duly impressed by the production version, which Pensa! has exhibited at Maker Faires in San Mateo and New York City and most recently at Engadget Expand over the weekend.
Clockwise from top left: One of their booths at World Maker Faire; rocking the glasses in San Mateo; and in NYC; a model of the Brooklyn Bridge
Besides the plug-and-play device itself—which has the matte black box aesthetic of MakerBot's Replicator 2—Pensa! has developed an ecosystem for hobbyist and practitioner alike: The custom software is intended to be straightforward enough for users of any skill level and they've even devised a system of plastic clips to facilitate assembly of multi-part projects. If one were inclined to make bad puns, one might say that the lowest radius of the DIWire Bender is its learning curve.
Test print by artist Davidope
I've never gone back and looked at a GIF I'd already seen; I see them as cute, fun and ultimately disposable. But a legion of artists, a pair of data visualiss and several hundred Kickstarter backers disagree with me. Thus Gifpop, a campaign to create physical GIFs that you can hold in your hand, reached and doubled its funding target in less than 24 hours. (Admittedly, keeping the target at a low $5,000 probably helped.)
By using lenticular film—that striated, prism-filled plastic that can show you different images as you tilt it—architect and data visualist Sha Hwang, and data visualist Rachel Binx, are seeking to print physical cards that display "animated" GIFs. "We think that gifs and lenticular printing are two simple, lo-fi technologies that were made for each other," the duo writes. And with a max capacity of ten frames per card, lenticular film is in fact a good GIF fit (even if it's not for Vine, although the pair have set that as a future goal).
There's still over three weeks left to pledge, and for a low $12 buy-in, you can have a GIF of your choice printed onto a 3x3 card and mailed to you. (Larger sizes available for more bread.) Here's Hwang and Binx's pitch video:
Posted by erika rae
| 17 Oct 2013
Homebrewing is a test. The reward: Beer whenever you want and your own unique recipe (plus beaucoup indie cred points). And this is no half-hearted attempt. Unlike pickling or infusions (other gastronomical pursuits du jour), homebrewing requires an investment of weeks, sometimes months, with a learning curve for each batch and style. But let's be real—no one wants to wait 4–6 weeks dreaming about how their beer is going to taste while it goes through some scientific fermentation process. Well, maybe you do. And that's ok, too.
But for those of you who would rather have your brew quicker, Kickstarter has an option for you. Microsoft developer Bill Mitchell teamed up with his brother Jim and friend Avi Geiger to launch an PicoBrew Zymatic.
At a glance, it seems like the contraption has basically cut out any risk of user error... but don't hold us to that.
At press time, PicoBrew's is nearing three times their funding goal of $150,000. Co-founder Avi Geiger gave us some insight into the creativity and process behind the project:
Co-founder Avi Geiger
Core77: How did you come up with the technology behind this and why do you think it hasn't been done before?
Avi Geiger: It comes down to having the right mix of people and the right mix of frustrations with the world. Usually when people try to automate brewing, they build complicated systems with multiple tanks, valves, little cranes and robotic arms to add hops. There are literally hundreds of homebuilt "automated" brewing systems—each one is different, most of them are very expensive. If one of these was the right answer for more people, then you would be able to buy it somewhere by now. Bill and Jim came at it from the product development and process side and developed a new system that allows for preloaded ingredients and automated fluid distribution without any valves. I came at it from the engineering side and collectively we worked together to get this into a compact and reliable package that takes this method and lets us brew beers to the quality standards of a professional brewer with the ease of use of a kitchen appliance.
Another reason it hasn't been done before is that it's just a ton of work to get all the details right and bring it to market. We've been working on this full time for over two years now. And there was a year of concept work before that. We've done hundreds of test batches to optimize the process. There are an incredible number of variables in beer production and picking the right set to work across was a pretty big step in itself.
Posted by Ray
| 15 Oct 2013
We're always happy to hear from Lisa Smith and Caroline Linder, founders of Chicago-based design concern Object Design League, a platform championing 'small batch' design products. Their latest project is a collaboration with Brooklyn-based illustrator Jingyao Guo: "Marketplace Posters" depict colorful scenes from open air marketplaces from around the world.
We love open air marketplaces because they mix economic and social transactions between people with a variety of purposes: business, leisure, tourism, and daily shopping. At the heart of every market is the energy of entrepreneurship. Vendors use makeshift tools and ingenious techniques to move their goods efficiently, while customers haggle with expert price negotiators to determine true market price. Many of these markets have been in operation for decades and directly reflect the cultural spirit of their locale.
As designers, we are interested in the way that all the minute details of an environment add up to create a rich and lively atmosphere. We wanted to produce a series of drawings that would represent this, and invite others in as observers.
The series is launching on Kickstarter with three markets in Asia-Pacific region: Raohe Night Market in Taipei, Muara Kuin Floating Market in Indonesia, and Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market (if the campaign is a success, they'll expand to other continents). Given their axonometric perspective and infinitesimal level of detail, I couldn't help but think of Li Han and Hu Yan's equally beautiful A Little Bit of Beijing, though the latter work is more expressly concerned with inhabited architecture. The "Marketplace Posters" take a more anthropological perspective, portraying various individuals interacting with each other and their surroundings.
We had the chance to chat with Smith about the captivating artwork and how the project came about.
Core77: What was the inspiration for these posters?
Lisa Smith: Caroline and I traveled to Taiwan together in 2010, where we spent a lot of time at the night markets. The kernel for this idea developed then—we often reminisce about the special atmosphere of the night markets, and have always wanted to formulate a project based on our experiences.
The project started off with kids in mind. We like the "Where's Waldo" feel of each scene, and wanted to encourage kids to appreciate observation as a way of "reading" an environment. As the drawings evolved, however, it was clear that they appealed to all age groups, so we aren't being specific about who or where its for, and let the viewers decide.
Posted by erika rae
| 15 Oct 2013
Last year, we wrote about an ambitious design student with a dream to create flexible wooden watches to replace the clunky link versions we see in too many designs. Since then, Lorenzo Buffa—the man behind the great idea—has found a manufacturer and has launched a Kickstarter campaign for The Carpenter Collection from Analog Watch Co.
At press time, the campaign goal of $10,000 had been surpassed. We took some time to catch up with the young designer and learn about what's been going on with the project the past year and what he plans to do with the funds:
Lorenzo Buffa, founder of Analog Watch Co. and designer
Core77: What's happened with the concept since we last spoke to you a year ago?
Lorenzo Buffa: A year ago, the project was a design thesis project. I wanted to combine my interests in materials and woodworking to prototype a product and a brand. Within the year, I've been working with manufacturers to understand how the industry works—things like supply chains, lead times, tooling, SKU numbers, etc. I took part in an entrepreneurship bootcamp, was awarded a fellowship and a $6,000 grant from The Corzo Center for the Creative Economy and most recently have been a part of GoodCompany Ventures 2013 accelerator.
How did you manage to find a manufacturer?
We were really fortunate to have manufacturers contact us, but they only know of the collection because of the publicity from the first Core77 article. The press from that posting brought multiple manufacturers to the table—after a few months of relationship building, we dropped some and went ahead with others.
Posted by core jr
| 14 Oct 2013
Reporting by Kat Baumann
It's no secret or mystery that designers love to reengineer bicycle stuff. Bikes are fun and ubiquitous, simple yet challenging. What may be less clear to the untrained eye is that most creative bike designs are impractical and embarrassing in action.
What does it take to make waves in an industry whose key technology is a motorless wheel? I'd argue for three things: novelty, practicality and sweet, sweet engineering. Touch on only one of those and any bike snob worth their salt will roll their eyes, sigh into their latte (for actual mechanics, substitute cold coffee or warm beer), and try to forget. Don't fret, I offer here a quick case study in how to make people love your wonky bike idea: Kinn Bikes, makers of the Cascade Flyer commuter-cargo bike.
Attractive Yet Burly
1.) The Cascade Flyer is a midtail city bike, a designation that Kinn helped to pioneer, and one that no one else is making. The Kinn creation myth starts with founder Alistair Williamson's desire to comfortably pack grandkids onto a tough sporty bike, a desire he was unable to meet without making his own. Williamson has a keen eye for design details, having previously worked as an engineer and designer at Tektronix and his own high-tech startup, but he's not alone his needs. Since the debut of extra-freaking-long "longtail" cargo bicycles, many a rider and mechanic has grumbled about the lack of this just-right, in-betweeny style. It's got built-in bells and whistles all over, and for the knockout, it's made in the U.S. Novelty: achieved.
2. This thing can haul hundreds of pounds on the back, but it still feels like a snazzily built city bike. Looks like one too. Unloaded, it's got quick handling without being twitchy, great balance, solid frame construction without feeling bloated, and carefully chosen parts that won't irritate the life out of you once you've used them for a season. The spec'd parts illustrate parental knowledge and general thoughtfulness: that double kickstand isn't a luxury if your cargo squirms, disc brakes are the most sane option for encumbered commuting, and the front wheel "lock" gets the long frame onto a bus rack and saved me at least one black eye. Plus, it's got accessory eyelets as far as the eye can see.
"Are we there yet?"
Sloshily loaded to the child seat's maximum weight, I got through the standard two second take-off wobble and then actually forgot my awkward waterbaby was with me. While top-heavy loads are inherently unwieldy, I could still accelerate nicely and without the skeevy wheelie feelings that often come with a heavy back-end. Even for this remarkably short and remarkably cranky ex-mechanic, the whole bike was liftable, fittable and comfortable. With some tweaks to bar height, it would feel uncannily like my own city bikes. I put a grown ass co-worker on the back to check for rack stiffness and front end flex. I got nothing but bell ringing and motorcycle noises from behind. Pragmatism: activated!
3. The designers and engineers tinkering with this bad jamma have logged years working on bikes, riding bikes, crashing bikes, welding bikes, and trying to stick kids to bikes. They have (or have at least talked to people who have) firsthand experience with the system requirements for making this brain baby work. The prototype frames were made by a local bike-building guru and a fabrication company whose welders and engineers work specifically on bikes. No blissful ignorance here. The construction strikes a balance between functionality, geometry and industry standards, which makes this weird thing totally kick ass when it could so easily have been a Charlie Brown football kick on wheels. Engineering: nailed it.
On a visit to the Kinn workshop, I talked with Operations Manager Max Miller, a lifelong bike mechanic, fabricator, ex-sushi chef and Yamaguchi-certified builder, about the oddities and prospects of their new line of bikes.
What is a Kinn bike, and how does a midtail differ from a standard bike?
Max Miller: The only bike we make right now is the Cascade Flyer. It's our "midtail" city bike, a transport bike for families. Midtail is a classification that Joseph Ahearne coined. It's not a longtail like an Xtracycle, but it's longer than normal bikes... which aren't called shorttails. Bobtail maybe?
Our bikes are 6” longer than an equivalently-sized commuter bike, with a built-in rack that is part of the frame and designed to carry both heavy cargo and passengers safely. It's specifically designed around the idea of being able to carry a kid on the back of the bike, plus groceries or kid-related stuff. But it's not exclusively for people with children, it's really for anyone who wants to conveniently carry more than moderately sized loads. It can carry more than you can manage on a normal bike or even a touring bike, but for people who don't need a full on cargo-specific bike.
Posted by Ray
| 8 Oct 2013
I've been curious about sousveillance ever since I Wiki-walked into the neologistic concept, which is broadly defined as "the recording of an activity by a participant in the activity." A simple example might be the Russian dashboard cameras that have yielded a fair share of viral footage, but the term is broad enough to include the now-ubiquitous cameraphone, an ever-ready recording device in situations of crisis, civil unrest and a laundry list of otherwise unusual situations (see also: Google Glass).
Of course, the former example is the inspiration for a new project on Kickstarter by Los Angeles-based mechanical engineer Cedric Bosch. Like a helmet, the Rideye is a safety device that a savvy cyclist might use in hope of never needing to do so. But in the event of a crash, the handlebar-mounted HD camera is expressly designed to capture footage of the incident in order to present an objective account of what happened.
Guest appearance by Iggy Pop aside, the ABC Los Angeles news segment covers several valid points regarding the black box camera concept (Slowtwitch has a more in-depth look at the product itself). If the Rideye catches on, it's a perfect example of how monitoring could make the streets safer for everyone: As with red light cameras, the possibility that one might be caught in the act serves as negative reinforcement in order to discourage reckless driving. The mere suggestion of sous/surveillance exploits the Hawthorne effect to prevent—or at least document and punish—illicit behavior.1
I don't know what excites me more: A pen with unlimited practical uses beyond being a pen (like grabbing change from your jeans' pocket) or a pen has raised more than half a million dollars in funding on Kickstarter. The Polar Pen created by industrial designer Andrew Gardner has now made more than $530,000 and counting. That's about 38 times the original goal of $14,000.
What makes it so special?
It comes in silver or 24K gold and it provides endless fun because it combines two things people love to play with: Pens and magnets. The pen contains no springs, threads or pins. It comes apart and snaps back together with that satisfying pull only a magnet can provide. It can be stored on any metal surface (of course), it can be rearranged into a spinning top (aka The Revolver), a drafting compass, a card holder, and probably a whole lot of other stuff yet to be discovered. It's modular so you can change the size, add new tips and new cartridges. You can also swap in a thin rubber tip that acts as a stylus for tablets.
Even though Gardner doesn't think of his pen as a toy, there's no doubt that the first thing most of us will do is take the thing apart and start doing tricks with the magnets. Just try watching this video below and not wanting one:
Posted by core jr
| 23 Sep 2013
Advertorial content sponsored by NYFU
Most people living in metropolitan areas can identify with cramped apartments. People move to the city to live on their own in their own space—only to find that they usually don't have much of it.
NYFU sees this problem and has created the perfect solution: transformable, functional furniture! NYFU, or New York FUnctional FUrniture, is a team of talented designers who have come together to make city-living seamless with their trendy, innovative products. Made with high-quality European materials and offered at affordable prices, their functional furniture is the perfect addition to any metropolitan home.
To get their furniture into your home, NYFU started a Kickstarter campaign demonstrating the benefits of its products. Such products include but are not limited to:
TriBeCa Nesting Tables - Because everyone always need more room.
NY+U Storage Desk - Where you can hide all of the money it's saving you.
As industrial designers inspecting existing products, we can tell the difference between stainless steel and aluminum; we can see that a piece of furniture a non-designer friend thinks is oak is actually veneer-covered particle board; squeezing a bottle, we can distinguish between PET and polycarbonate; and with columns like Rob Wilkey's series on wood, even a noob can learn to identify various species by grain. Being able to quickly identify materials we've worked with becomes second nature.
What is the equivalent in graphic or interior design? We suppose it would be the ability to identify precise color tones like, say, by looking at the seats on the F-train and nailing the Pantone number of that particular orange. Well, with a hopefully forthcoming device called the Nix Color Sensor, that may soon be possible for all of us.
The small, handheld device is basically a real-world scanner that you place against an object, and the Nix then transmits the exact RGB values to your smartphone. There are existing smartphone apps that do this via the phone's camera, but the Nix is calibrated to be precisely accurate. This stems from one of the product's motivating influences: A friend of the developers' creates custom concealing makeup for burn victims, and needed an accurate, inexpensive way to scan the undamabed portions of her customers' skin.
After securing a grant that enabled them to complete the necessary scientific research, the Nix team is now seeking Kickstarter funding for the second half of development: Paying for the molds, sourcing the components and finishing the app.
We dig that the developers really thought the app through, particularly for interior designers: After you scan a color, the app helps you find a matching paint manufacturer and directs you via map to where you can actually buy the stuff. Check it out:
At press time the Nix had CND $19,000 pledged towards a $35,000 target with 28 days left.
Posted by core jr
| 15 Aug 2013
Text & photos by Lance Gordon Rake / Semester
For the last two years, I've been working with John Bielenberg and HERObike, an initiative in Greensboro, Alabama, that is creating economic opportunity in the heart of the rural South by harvesting local bamboo to manufacture bicycles.
John was the reason I came to Greensboro in the first place: He had been helping HERObike produce a bamboo bicycle, taking advantage of an incredible local resource. They started making bamboo bikes using pans and jigs from the Bamboo Bike Studio. They still offer workshops where people can come to Greensboro and build their own bamboo bike in a weekend. It's a great service, but John and I were both convinced that we could design a better bamboo bike. The resulting Semester bike is unique and represents a leap forward in bamboo and bicycle frame design.
As you can see, this is not your typical "Gilligan's Island" bamboo bike! The design instead takes inspiration from the bamboo fly rod, using hexagonal composite bamboo and carbon fiber tubes along with steel lugs and stays. The resulting bike gains lateral stiffness from the steel rear triangle, but vertical vibration dampening from the composite tubes. The resulting ride is relaxed yet responsive—perfect for the city and makes a great everyday bike.
Posted by Ray
| 14 Aug 2013
We've seen plenty of examples of feature creep over the years—an inevitable consequence, perhaps, of an increasingly saturated marketplace and a broad lack of differentiation between the majority of options in any given consumer product category. However, a new bag concept might be a rare exception: although EVENaBAG is described as "chameleon on your back," the tried-and-true Swiss Army Knife metaphor is perhaps more appropriate: several auxiliary functions are concealed in the panels of what looks like a run-of-the-mill messenger bag.
Inspired by a work hard/play hard mentality, EVENaBAG is designed to bring simplicity to your unpredictable schedule. How often have you & your friends met up after work for a concert or picnic in the park, an afternoon on the beach or an evening ballgame? What if your bag unfolded into a comfortable chair or a padded mat? How many times have you found yourself sitting on the floor by the only electrical outlet in the airport or train station wishing for some back support? What happens if there is a cancellation and you are stranded for the night? EVENaBAG has you covered as a sleeping mat.
The packable camping chair has been around for a while now, but designers Rocco Kruse and Adam Bauerband (of Berlin and Chicago, respectively) had the insight to integrate the packable fabric seating solution into a messenger bag. The mat is essentially an extension of the chair—something like a more versatile version of the previously-seen Whaletale—while it also serves as a light-duty hanging 'closet.'
Wouldn't a world where we could retrofit everything be amazing? Maybe... maybe not. When it comes to adding a souped up engine to just about any transportation device, contraptions like this come to mind. Likewise, when it comes to added utility there's often the notion that we should just throw it out and upgrade for 'fully integrated' design. The Rubbee however, is a neat little gadget for the casual bike enthusiast looking to add some juice to their ride. At roughly the size of a loaf of bread, the device allows you to give your bike all of the perks of being electric with only about a minute of installation.
The Lithuanian company behind Rubbee set out to fill a gap in the market for an easily installed and flexible electric conversion kit for bikes. As some of you may know, converting your tried and true two-wheeler into a super-charged electric ride requires users to switch out a tire and hook up a battery cable—not an entirely quick fix for the casual cyclist looking to bounce between the traditional and electric. The Rubbee requires only that you clamp the box on the seat post, remove the fixation pin to enable suppression system, connect the throttle and turn the system on. You can also ride with without the drive engaged and pedal normally by replacing the fixation pin. On the whole, it seems like a pretty simple bike hack... though many normal conversion kits only take about four minutes more to install and offer double the speed.
Installing the Rubbee
Posted by Teshia Treuhaft
| 29 Jul 2013
One of the greatest phenomena that every design student witnesses in the midst of their education (particularly if they go to school on the east coast) is the mass migration to New York City—or any major metropolis—around May for summer internship season. The flurry of applications and interviews for summer temp positions is a race with which most are all too familiar. As me and my design school cohorts approach the midway point in our respective internship positions—it's just the right time to question the value and implications of unpaid and paid temporary employment.
In the last few years, a serious debate has emerged over the state of creative internships. Everything from lawsuits to public pouting has fueled a conversation as to whether creative internships are in fact a strength or detriment to our industry as a whole. Since we've already done away with old-fashioned design apprenticeships, a young designer can't help but ask: where the heck are we supposed to get real world experience?
Enter Intern magazine: a UK-based magazine, currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, looks to break open the often overlooked discussion about creative internships. With the tag line "Intern Magazine: Meet the Talent, Join the Debate," we can only expect that they will be adding some much needed perspective to a conversation that has, to date, been lacking a voice for its most affected demographic: the recent and current creative interns.
As a self-identifying creative internship expert (and current Core77 Editorial Intern), I spoke with the Editor in Chief of Intern Magazine Alec Dudson about their Edition Zero and plans for the future via Kickstarter.
Core77: So what does the path to publishing a magazine look like? Where did the inspiration come from?
Alec Dudson: I guess the path to launching a print magazine began in January 2011. I had spent two months traveling and photographing the USA after completing my Masters degree in Sociology and upon returning, got approached by a friend to join him in starting a website with a couple of other guys. Initially, I figured it would just be a means of disseminating my photographs and maybe having a go at writing some photo essays, it turned out though, that I had stumbled across a passion. As the year progressed, more and more of my free time outside my bar job was becoming dedicated to the site and I was taking far more of an editorial role, using it as a showcase for others rather than myself. After the friend who invited me to the project began working some pretty awesome internships, I too decided to try and turn this 'hobby' into a career.
Why a print magazine and not a blog or different journalistic endeavor?
Having released one print edition of the website, my appetite was very much whet for print media—online stuff is fine but I love the tactile nature of magazines, the texture, the inks even the smell. That was reflected in the places I interned (Domus & Boat) who both have a strong on-line presence but whose jewel in the crown is their beautiful print editions. That side of it really drew me in to the creative industries as well, and as I spent time around designers and photographers, it struck me that a print project was always going to resonate more with this community due to its qualities as an artifact.
Sous-vide, or "under vacuum," is a cooking method whereby food is sealed in an airtight bag. The bag is then submersed in water and slow-cooked, and this vacuum system ensures the food is cooked evenly, both inside and out. As you can imagine, it requires a fair degree of precision to get it right, which in turn requires buying a pricey appliance with the requisite built-in precision.
Design to the rescue. London-based Grace Lee, who ditched a career in finance to become a chef, and Xi-Yen Tan, a manufacturing engineer by training, wondered if they could achieve sous-vide cooking with cheap, commonplace appliances. So they built a device that could precisely sense and control the temperature of a common rice cooker or slow cooker. "We hacked a prototype together and tried our first sous-vide chicken breast," writes Lee, "and [were] mindblown at how juicy and moist it could be!"
Knowing they had a hit on their hands, Lee and Tan put together a team of industrial designers and electronic engineers, and lined up manufacturing partners, to refine the design and go into production via Kickstarter. Their resultant device, the Codlo, is something like a Nest thermostat for cooking:
Posted by Ray
| 10 Jul 2013
In the (soon-to-be) grand tradition of digi-fab sculptor Joshua Harker, namisu's Octavio Asensio has turned to Kickstarter to produce a new 3D-printed work of art. Where Harker's skulls harken (sorry, couldn't resist) back to the dead as a totemic memento mori, the 3D-REX brings natural history from the museum to your living room. (Two, it seems, is a trend, as Philippe Pasqua's chrome T-Rex skeleton has also been making blog rounds this week.)
We came up with the concept of a wireframe fossil, a complex geometric mesh representing one of the most ancient and iconic creatures: the Tyrannosaurus Rex! The concept really appealed to us because it represents a contrast between old and new, mixing nature's own amazing creations with technological advances of today. Though it looked good as a CAD model, the 3D-Printed result blew us away; the way the organic wireframe flows and plays off the light is really quite a sight.