Posted by erika rae
| 24 Apr 2014
I grew up treasuring the days my dad would head out to refill the propane tank for the cumbersome grill we bought him for some birthday or Father's Day long past. The ghastly Wisconsin winters we continuously weathered were met with late-April BBQ celebrations out on the deck in shorts. And while that unsightly grill—complete with its fire-singed hood and well-worn trays—holds a soft spot in my heart, there's no denying that there are better designed options out there. Enter the Grillo Portable by formAxiom.
Grillo was designed with mobility in mind—and certainly won't send you out on any propane tank trips. The grill can be set up with a single handle (much like and umbrella) and doesn't require any extra accessories or "frippery," in the designer's words.
It was just a few years ago that Lytro released their Light Field Camera, meant to usher in an era of "computational photography." Users capture the ambient light field rather than a bunch of static pixels, and this radical technological approach allows one to re-focus shots after the fact.
But the LFC never really took off, whether because of its alien, boxy form factor or the educational hurdle the company faces in explaining this new generation of product. So now Lytro is releasing a new model, the Illum, featuring both improved internals and an entirely new form factor. What most caught our eye is that it echoes an SLR in shape, but is clearly an entirely new class of object—not an easy design line to tread.
And now for a bit of local news. Pearl Paint, NYC's famed art supply superstore and one of the original supply sources on Core77 version 1.0, has closed after more than 80 years in business.
This signifies the demise, for industrial design students at Pratt Institute in particular, of Canal Street as a destination for supplies; in the '90s we'd travel to Industrial Plastics on Canal & Greene, Space Surplus Metals around the corner on Church, and cap it off with a trip to Pearl for everything the prior two stores didn't have. Now all three outfits are gone.
Posted by erika rae
| 22 Apr 2014
All photos by Omar Nadalini
Nurturing a houseplant isn't exactly a well-designed process for casual growers. You plant the seeds, water the sprouts once in a while and hope that something nice-looking makes an appearance after a while. Most of the time, it's hard to tell what's going on between the act of planting and the end goal of appreciating a full-grown arrangement. The Phytophiler Flower Pot System by Dossofiorito has something to say about that. The System (which was presented at this year's Salone Satellite) includes your everyday terracotta flower pots with a few add-ons—magnifying glasses, rotating bases, mirrors, etc.—to enhance the growing process.
The Phytophiler becomes a centerpiece of a different caliber once it's all set up. The add-ons can be rearranged, added and removed depending on what parts the grower wants to focus on. When assembled, it throws off an Inspector Gadget vibe—but in a homey, non-catastrophic kind of way.
Yes, this thing is every bit as crazy as it sounds. Matthias Wandel, the man behind Woodgears, recently built a tall wooden scaffold to be able to change the lightbulbs in his secondary hangar-like shop. But to climb up, change a bulb, climb down, move the scaffold to the next bulb, climb back up, etc. would be a slow process, so Wandel decided he'd motorize the entire contraption. As if that weren't daunting enough, he designed it to be driven and controlled from up top--using a simple drill and some woodworking ingenuity.
As for how he did it, and how this thing works, you simply have to see it to believe it:
We thought the PermaFLOW transparent sink trap was a pretty brilliant innovation, allowing you to see and clear those pesky under-basin clogs. But from Philippe Starck by way of Hansgrohe comes the Axor Starck V, which brings transparency up where we can see it. Starck calls it "a mixer that represents the absolute minimum: totally transparent, almost invisible, and enclosing a miracle that is the vortex."
While the impetus for the design—reportedly five years in the making—is poetic...
With the beauty and dynamism of its vortex, the mixer bridges the gap between the functional and emotional aspects of water at the washbasin, transforming it from a basic commodity to a valuable resource.
...Besides serving the technical function of making water visible, transparency aesthetically fuses the mixer body with its surroundings, thus, in essence de- materializing it. The openly designed spout contributes to the natural water experience: before the eyes of the user, the upward, swirling motion of water through the mixer's body and its "free-fall" into the washbasin trigger a feeling of joy and happiness.
Winter might be coming to Westeros, but here in NYC it's the impending arrival of summer that has me worried. Your correspondent has relocated to new, poorly-insulated digs with a bank of drafty south-facing windows, and I can't afford the BTUs it'll take to keep this place cool.
While seeking inexpensive desk fans I came across this USB LED Fan Clock. Yes, I know most everything that plugs into USB that isn't a thumb drive is total junk, but it caught my eye because it actually delivers two useful functions, even if the time delivery is a bit garish.
Here's a welcome bit of attention for our field: Next week Samsung Electronics is launching Design.Samsung.Com, an "online platform presenting influential design stories and solutions to be shared around the world." The site's inaugural theme is "Make it Meaningful," presumably based on this video from last year, where the Galaxy S4 design team discussed their mandate of closely matching their smartphones' functionality with people's everyday lives.
But rather than trumpet their past accomplishments, the site is expected to provided glimpses at future technologies as well, if the teaser video is anything to go by:
The website will launch on March 27th.
How can something that beautiful (above) be captured with something this ugly (below)? Those unbelievably detailed macro photographs of snowflakes captured by Alexey Kljatov were shot with this monstrosity:
A conventional lens set-up to achieve shots like Kljatov's could run you in the thousands, but the clever Moscow-based shooter hacked this together on the cheap, all from obsolete equipment. He took a common, unremarkable Helios 44M-5 lens (a Soviet-era Carl Zeiss derivative that can be had for less than US $30 on eBay!) and somehow figured out that if you flip it around backwards, then place it against the lens of a common Canon Powershot A650 in Macro mode, you get some pretty awesome zoom. (The A650, a camera whose heyday was the year 2007, goes for less than US $200 on eBay.)
Kljatov then mounted his Canon to a wooden slat by drilling a single hole and driving a screw into the tripod mount. The Helios was then attached to the board with strapping tape, with the makeshift connection then "protected" from light leaks and weather using a cut-up garbage bag.
Still not impressed? Of his two shooting surfaces, one is an upside-down stool and a piece of glass, and the other is what looks like an old wool sweater. (And his lighting source, not pictured, is a freaking flashlight.)
Yet from these most ghetto-tastic of set-ups, Kljatov can start with these...
Image via Seadraggin
Love it or hate it, the U.S. Mint's forthcoming 3D coin seems to be capturing people's imaginations. And while we previously looked at the cool production methods behind making coins here and here, reader Dan pointed out that we were remiss in not mentioning Don Everhart, the U.S. Mint Sculptor responsible for turning Cassie McDonald's baseball design into reality:
Images via Coin News
Numismatic website Coin News has a feature up on Everhart, where you can see shots of him sculpting as well as the CNC mill they use to cut the steel blanks.
As for the rest of us who don't have access to such technology, there are DIY ways to make domed coins: Hobbyists and tinkerers use something called a doming block to hammer coins into sweet bowl shapes. Check out how the woman behind the Epbot "Geekery, Girliness, & Goofing Off" blog turned these pennies into buttons:
Images via Epbot
Later this month the U.S. Mint is rolling out three new collector's coins, designed to honor the American national pastime. And unlike previous coin designs, the Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coins will feature a twist, or should we say a curve:
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 14 Mar 2014
Making a concept car is a little like building a toy—a huge, expensive toy for the finicky giant-baby that is the international car market. Like toys, concept cars are often more fantastic than feasible, but some do hit the sweet spot between production and wild projection. Ford unveiled its new Edge Concept last year and it is positioned uniquely to blend pragmatic new technologies and fun design. It combines the core of the existing Edge, but reaches out to touch on sweet new car tech (remote parking! Glowing armrests!?) and the obsessive tech-savviness of People These Days. We talked with Kevin George, Design Manager at Ford Motor Co., about what it's like working on a not-quite-production car like the Edge Concept.
C77: Walk me through the process of conceiving and building the Edge Concept.
Kevin George: The beginning of the process for us was looking at how the target customer was evolving. One of the main purposes of Edge Concept was to confirm a hypothesis we had about how the design should move based on that. The idea was that the customer had evolved into somebody who was more socially nimble. They make plans with their friends on the fly, maybe through social media connections, so how should the imagery of the car evolve to meet that need? The other concern we had was how are gas prices going to be in a few years, and what would that do to the customer's idea of the efficiency of the machine. So we wanted to test out something that looked a little more nimble. So the customer is more socially agile and the vehicle needed to look a little more agile so it would convey the right message about the car's efficiency.
We looked at Edge in the market: it's leading its category at least here in North America, we don't want to just start over. We don't want to throw out the earlier work of other great designers, but we wanted to leverage their work in a way that would fit this predicted image. In the past you may have seen Ford do some wild, out-there concept cars, and one issue with those is that if they never come to fruition then the customer is frustrated. One of the ways we really connect with customers is to build these concept vehicles that relate to the production.
Edge today is very modern, very monolithic, but not very agile. So the slab sides you see on Edge are gone on Edge Concept. So we started sketching Edge Concept to be more athletic in an agile way. Evolving it from sporty like a heavyweight boxer to sporty like an Olympic sprinter. And to bring it into the new Ford DNA, because Edge was originally developed during the last incarnation of the brand DNA and it needed to catch up to be more like the Fiesta or Focus. Those surface languages were influential to the designers as well.
"For a smooth, cohesive look, sculptors sand away the paint of hte liftgate on Ford Edge Concept to create a concave, angular form to the valance. The body shell arrives at the studio as a complete form, but requires serious hands-on attention before it becomes a vehicle designed by Ford."
That the business card is dead, or at least dying, is no secret. At any trade fair I've been to in the past few years, exhibitors would rather scan your badge than stuff their pockets with more paper, and I myself use my smartphone to snap others' contact info and leave their cards behind.
Still, Portland-based technical designer Kevin Bates reckons he's got a business card you'll want to hang onto. Because you can use the darn thing to play Tetris. Observe:
Billed as being "perfect for boats, parties and restaurants," Edmund Scientifics' The Incredible Spill Not is simply a 13-buck gizmo that combines a flexible strap with a rigid arm and base. While at first it may seem somewhat silly...
...you can't deny that this thing would be useful on a boat:
Can something go viral when you intend it to go viral? Apparently so, particularly as we become more gullible as a society. While Jimmy Kimmel's twerking fire and hotel wolf videos at least had an element of believability to them, this latest makes me despair for people's reality filter: Since its launch yesterday, Facebookers have been eagerly promoting this video purporting that Back to the Future 2's hoverboards now exist.
Sweden-based Erik Åberg has created a rather crazy system of hinging cubes together. Even more interesting is his background: Åberg is a professional juggler.
There's a subset of juggling done with not balls, but boxes: "Cigar box manipulation," as it's called, dates all the way back to the days of vaudeville, and we surmise it has led Åberg to his creation. Before we get there, we'll show you what cigar box juggling looks like. The following video is of juggling legend Kris Kremo, and scanning through the video should give you the idea. (Don't miss what he starts doing at 2:34!)
I love Japanese over-design. As an industrial designer, are you not awed by their willingness to fire up a whole new tooling line to create some product to tackle even the most minute, mundane problem? Case in point: Check out Mitsubishi subsidiary Uni's Promark View highlighter, which pushes the tip out to the end of a clear piece of plastic, so you can see precisely where you're highlighting. The only visual obstruction is the thin straw feeding the water-based ink out to the felt.
The Promark's chunky body will take up an undue amount of space in your pencil jar or pocket, but perhaps it's not designed to be stored in either: As this Japanese pen reviewer has noted, the wide, flat cap means it can stand up on your desk.
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 28 Feb 2014
In a good, pixelated way. LEBLOX was created by Mathieu Lecoupeur and Soy Phompraseuth and it's coming your way... someday. Combining the worldwide love of 8-bit anything and our irrational desire to reproduce our own faces and images ad nauseum, LEBLOX lets you turn anything into a low-res 3D object. The French design team hopes to support an interactive community, sharing designs, advice and art. Towards that they've built what looks like a simple, user-friendly app to design and test prints you'd like to make right on your phone. The app is due to be released "soon" according to their exceptionally uninformative website. I suppose their work speaks for itself.
One of our first assignments as industrial design students should have been to design and build our own carrying cases. But no, we students were too busy being taught crap like theory, so we all coughed up twenty bucks for a plastic ArtBin. Which is a shame. A simple modular toolbox would have been relatively straightforward to design and build, while providing us with the perfect, individualized product to field test and tweak the design of over the course of a semester.
From Germany comes what they're calling the Toptainer, seen here. Once loaded up with tools, it's meant to fit into an older plastic Systainer design.
Ever since spotting that unique, hinged toolbox that Matthias Wandel did a video of, we've been wondering where it came from. The German marque Würth can clearly be seen on Bruhn's box. The Würth Group is a Germany-based global wholesaler of tools and hardware, but it does not appear that they designed the box; a German manufacturer of cabinetmaker's tools callled E.C. Emmerich sells an identical box, as does hardware manufacturer Häfele.
Far as we can tell, it's a German company called Domini Design that actually designed the thing. They call it the Mobilo Box, and it comes in a variety of sizes. The Mobilo Box 43 is the smallest version, "suitable for managers," as Domini says (read: people who don't really need to get their hands dirty):
If you want to spread design in an evangelical way, what do you need? A showroom filled with objects? A distribution company to get them from the factory to the end user? A collective of artisans and designers? Workshops to educate consumers about design? In the case of Diego Paccagnella's company Design-Apart, an organization "committed to design as a living process," all four of these things.
Our team brings the process and products of Italian design out of the atelier (art catalog, industrial village, hi-tech laboratory) and directly to customers around the world online and in living showrooms. Advances in technology and methods of production allow us to offer even the most arcane and specialized craftwork at competitive prices. Bespoke, for us, goes beyond handmade and custom. It's a dynamic product of relationships between people, materials and ideas in space.
Check out their sweet video of things being made in Italy:
Posted by Ray
| 24 Feb 2014
It's not a perfect hybrid of these fluorescent felines and trophy handlebars, but close enough. The Finnish Reindeer Herder's Association is reportedly testing a special spraypaint to increase the nighttime visibility of the 200,000 caribou in their custody. Per AP:
Anne Ollila of the Finnish Reindeer Herder's Association says the antlers of 20 reindeer have been painted with various fluorescent dyes to see how the animals react and whether the paints are resistant to the harsh Arctic climate.
If successful, animals with glittering antlers will be free to roam Lapland—a vast, deserted area in northern Finland where herders tend to some 200,000 reindeer.
Ollila says reflectors and reflective tape have proven unsuccessful as reindeer have torn them off—and road signs warning drivers of roaming reindeer often are stolen by tourists as souvenirs.
"Don't patronus me." (And don't pretend you get the HP reference)
Made by Swedish company Albedo 100, I assume it's a bio-friendly retroreflective paint; here's a demo video of presumably the same paint on a dog and a horse:
It's hard to believe that Fujifilm and Kodak were once competitors. Whereas Kodak declared bankruptcy in 2012, following one business failure after another, Fujifilm should be a business school case study on how to deal with tough economic times and a signature product that the world is telling you is obsolete. How does a company that made their name in film stay relevant in the age of digital photography?
We industrial designers can of course appreciate Fujifilm's retro-designed cameras, but there's more to the company's success than that: They've survived and thrived by focusing on the user experience. While they address the physical design of the cameras, they then look beyond it to ask themselves: What role does photography, and photographs themselves, play in people's lives?
There's only a slight satisfaction that comes from snapping your smartphone into its case. As designers we know that the case was injection-molded specifically for that phone, with a 0.005" tolerance and some draft angle; in other words, the damn thing is supposed to fit perfectly. Similarly, a diner will enjoy the concept of a turducken more than the chef who put in the elbow grease to cram all of those meats in there.
However, there's a huge amount of satisfaction that comes from slipping one object inside of a second, unrelated object and finding out they fit together perfectly by pure accident. It pushes our OCD buttons and our brain's pleasure centers light up on the MRI. I have no idea why this is, only that it is, and now there's a Tumblr I can't stop looking at called Things Fitting Perfectly Into Other Things.
Sure, it's just a coffee mug with an extra piece of ceramic stuck to it, and two squiggly lines representing a stern mouth. But with a catchphrase like "DEAD OR ALIVE, YOU'RE DRINKING A TEA," the RoboCup aims to win over those of us raised in the '80s with its persuasive copy:
- Generously sized crime-fighting vessel—half man, half mug
- Drink away those haunting submerged memories
- Made from a superhuman hybrid of flesh, steel and ceramics
- Produced by OmniCup
- I'd buy that for a dollar! But for you, a mere £12.99
That's US $21.59, which we recognize is kinda steep (no pun intended) for a mug, and twice the price of a ticket to see the new Joel Kinnaman version. But unlike that 49%-on-Rotten-Tomatoes reboot, this mug will actually hold water (pun intended). It's for sale on Firebox.
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 17 Feb 2014
Everyone gets a bit stir crazy during the winter, but the least we can do is use it to our advantage. Some of us make elaborate travel plans for warmer days, some compulsively reorganize our possessions and workspaces, most of us spend a lot of time researching large quantities of alcohol. And then there are people like Baku Maeda, an artist whose frustration with the cold leaves ours in the slush.