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Object Culture

The Core77 Design Blog

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  16 Dec 2014  |  Comments (2)

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In only the most recent food fad to hit the streets of London and national headlines, bearded twin brothers Gary and Alan Keery reportedly had the epiphany to open up a cereal cafe one hungover morning whilst craving a mouth-clearing and stomach settling bowl of their favorite sugar-infused processed carbohydrate with lashings of the chilled excretions of cows' udders.

Following a failed attempt to crowdsource £60,000 on Indiegogo, the duo have been riding a wave of media attention after successfully securing a business loan for the venture. Upon opening the shop in an old video rental store on London's famous Brick Lane, press coverage has reached something of a frenzy, with some actual consumers also managing to squeeze in on the fray.

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With press from far and wide initially spellbound by the novelty of an establishment offering over 100 different varieties of global cereal brands, 12 kinds of milk and 20 toppings (only a small number taking aim at the sugar content and nutritional value of the so called "cereal cocktails" on offer) things turned a little sour towards the end of the week when a news reporter from UK TV's Channel 4 got up from a table with camera in tow to launch awkward questions at one of the twins about their £3.20 ($5) price tag for a bowl of cereal in an area of the city where many residents live in deprivation.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  11 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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I have to be honest—I wasn't going to say anything to you, but now I feel I must. It's not that your gift-giving skills are bad—I know that you've faithfully perused both our 2014 Gift Guide and the offerings at Hand-Eye Supply—it's that your gift-wrapping skills suck.

That's why everyone looks disappointed when you bring them a gift; the way you've wrapped it is so conventional, so pedestrian, so blah, and you use too much tape. So here I'm going to show you how they do it in Japanese department stores. They rig up little slots at the corners so the gift-opener can get some purchase with a fingernail, and they only use a single piece of tape on the entire package. Sure they might offset the tape savings by wasting a little more paper, but this is the holidays, buddy, not a goddamn Greenpeace mission.

Now step up your game. You can thank me later.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   5 Dec 2014  |  Comments (3)

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I just spotted these two unusual objects from Levenger, a Florida-based company that designs and sells their own desktop items for folks who still use actual paper. The first is this nifty, dimunitive single-sheet paper cutter:

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While I smiled at how quaint the intended usage of this object is, I really do like the design. The tiny ceramic blade is just deep enough to slice through one sheet of a newspaper, for the old-school conspiracy theorist that still slices articles out of print rags, or perhaps for the physical coupon cutter. I also like the little striated disc that provides grip.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   4 Dec 2014  |  Comments (6)

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In my early ID days, I rendered a hell of a lot of toothbrush designs while working for an oralcare company. Some of them played with the angle of the head, the neck and the bristles, but one thing we never thought to do was rotate the entire head 90 degrees. Now a company called More-T is doing just that.

The company claims that "the traditional straight-end toothbrush...was designed to resemble the straight-edge razor. In fact, the straight-end toothbrush has not changed its design since its invention in 1498," which I found somewhat strange, as I could've swore that straight-edge razors with handles came about later than that, during the Industrial Revolution, and had never heard that toothbrushes were meant to mimic razor forms. I also thought the form factor of a toothbrush, including the alignment of the head, was pretty form-follows-function.

More-T, however, say that their orientation and the soft bristles they use "[provide] for deep cleaning" with less effort. They also cite that their product "promotes up & down brushing" and is "better at cleaning [the] tongue," and I can't argue the latter point.

My previous oralcare experience makes me biased, and I want to hear what you think: Do you see the benefits of this new design, or do you think it's an "if it ain't broke..." type of situation?

Posted by Sam Dunne  |   4 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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It's unlikely that 2014 will be fondly recalled as the year that saw the experience of buffering truly enter popular culture consciousness—but perhaps it should? In April, we saw Swedish broadband provider Ume.net hack an Oculus Rift headset to show what life would be like if we lived with the lag we experience online in our offline lives (with quite entertaining results). Over here in the UK, actor Kevin Bacon advertises network provider EE's 'superfast' 4G with spots warning of the perils of 'buffer-face'.

Now Brooklyn-based THINGMADE are paying tribute to the gods of digital loading sequences with this mesmerizing neon light sculpture in the image of the on-screen icon—as the website explains taking this "symbol of anticipation, frustration and promise and [extending] it indefinitely."

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   4 Dec 2014  |  Comments (1)

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German design firm Take2 Designagentur produces that brilliant breed of unapologetically over-designed solutions for common problems that I'm most accustomed to seeing come out of Japan. First off, if frustrated modernists crack their nuts using these, then Take2's Naomi nutcracker is what a physics geek would use:

I love that the spring more or less contains the shattered nutshells.

Have you ever corked a bottle of wine at a party while trying to open it, drawing the disdain of a nearby oenophile? Well, if you're willing to carry this John Wine piece of stainless steel in your pocket, problem solved:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   2 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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In his quest to "break through the limits of RC drifting techniques," Japan-based RC expert Drift44 was searching for a new challenge. He found it not in winning races, but in a more pedestrian event: Parking. (Warning, turn your volume down.)

That's not the strangest thing you'll find RC enthusiasts doing online. The YouTube channel RC Live Action stages accidents, disasters and vehicular trouble; they have a video of a truck stuck in mud that has 25 million views. In this one below, they take the trouble to send a tanker filled with flammable liquid over the side of a bridge, causing it to burst into flames. Why? So they can drive RC fire trucks with working hoses over there to put it out. (Be warned that this is worth a scan, not a full watch.)

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   2 Dec 2014  |  Comments (1)

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If you're a modernist that eats walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts, what to do? You don't want the standard nutcracking tool we all know, with its I-wear-my-function-on-my-sleeve serrated jaws, ergonomically knurled handles for grip and exposed pivot, do you?

No, you don't. What you want is to step up to the Nusskubus, a hammer-and-anvil-type nutcracking solution made of two beech cubes. Semi-spherical hollows of three different sizes populate different faces of the anvil half, each sized to accept one of the aforementioned nut types.

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You pick up the "hammer" cube—okay, so it doesn't fit in your hand perfectly, stop whining—and bring it down onto the nut cradled into the other cube with a therapeutic smash. It is a metaphor for life: You want to join these two cubes together perfectly, but while you may come close you cannot, because there is a nut in the way.

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The Nusskubus was designed by Berlin-based Adam + Harbroth Design as part of their Siebensachen line, which roughly translates to "belongings" or "paraphernalia," and will set you back 25 Euros.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   1 Dec 2014  |  Comments (7)

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These aren't the designers you're looking for

You would think the Jedi Order would hire a top-shelf ID firm to design their chief sidearm. Instead, Core77 has learned, Jedi individuals brazenly make them themselves, despite having no design or engineering training whatsoever. According to the Star Wars Wiki, lightsabers are "borne of the Force-user who created it and using whatever materials were at hand; typically... created over a span of months. [The creators] go into deep Meditation, poring over each individual component to be added and thus forging a connection with it through the Force."

The clear limitations of this designer-free approach are obvious to anyone who's viewed the Star Wars documentaries. First off, here's the lightsaber from Episode 4:

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It's a pretty simple, single-bladed design. But take a look at Darth Maul's double-bladed lightsaber from Episode 1:

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The double-bladed design predates the single, and yet we do not see any examples of a double-bladed model throughout Episodes 4, 5 or 6. It seems obvious the design was discontinued for safety reasons, presumably after a Jedi or Sith accidentally turned it on while holding it in front of them and stabbed themself in the stomach with the lower blade. This would never have happened had a proper design firm been consulted; while such a design was still in the blue-foam phase, even a model-shop intern would have spotted the ergonomic flaw.

The forthcoming Episode 7, meanwhile, shows another lightsaber design "evolution":

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   1 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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This holiday season, buy the forgotten dreams of the young man in 22-D

More people than ever are flying these days. Which means more people than ever are forgetting stuff on airplanes and/or experiencing lost baggage. Did you ever wonder what happens to all of those belongings that go unclaimed?

Chances are it winds up on the shelves of a store in northern Alabama, perhaps the most unique retail outfit an American shopper could visit on this Black Friday. Unclaimed Baggage, as it's called, receives a staggering 7,000 items a day that never made it to their intended destination. The family-owned company then re-sells the best of the best, drawing a million shoppers a year to their sleepy town (population 15,000) out of a facility that "covers more than a city block."

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Before you think it's all junk like unwanted scarves, forgotten earbuds and cheap sunglasses, think again: They do a brisk business in laptops, cell phones and iPads. "We've become quite the Apple Store in our own way," Barbara Cantrell, the store's Brand Ambassador, told The New York Times. Other big-ticket items are designer-label clothing, jewelry and high-end watches, like a $60,000 Rolex. Then there's the weird stuff they've come across, like a batch of 50 vacuum-packed frogs, a 19th-Century replica suit of armor, a diamond hidden in a sock, a 4,000-year-old Egyptican burial mask, a live rattlesnake, and a freaking U.S. Air Force missile guidance system (which they returned to the government).

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |   1 Dec 2014  |  Comments (1)

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On first glimpse of the HashKey—perhaps as a result of Kickstarter overexposure—my heart sank under the weight of my tumbling faith in humanity and fear for its future. Fortunately, on closer inspection, I found sweet salvation in the realization this was, of course, a product conceived with an eyebrow raised and a tongue in cheek (see also).

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Whilst, of course, nobody in their right mind is going to dedicate one of their ever decreasing number of USB ports to such a device, the HashKey makes an amusing observation of the low prioritization of the hashtag key on traditional Qwerty keyboards, especially in contrast to their mobile equivalents—I dread to think of the number of fledgling Twitter adopters copying and pasting the symbol. Whether the (overhyped?) hashtag will ever be promoted to a higher prominence in keyboard culture is yet to be seen, but I can already hear the cogs in the brains of Microsoft's and Samsung's innovation teams turning.

Posted by Sam Dunne  |  28 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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To Brits, the frenzied shop-fest of Black Friday (a phenomenon slowly spreading to our shore) seems like an odd tradition to follow on from a day of giving thanks—a sentiment shared by counter movements such as Buy Nothing Day and, I dare say, by a number of our American readers. The absurdity of the custom is illustrated eloquently by British comedian turned political activist Russell Brand in a video lampooning Fox News coverage of the "pilgrimage of capitalism that has found its way to the forefront of American cultural life" in the light of planned Black Friday strike action of Walmart staff for the third year in a row.

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If scenes of consumers and striking shop assistants staking out retail centers in the early hours of a winter morning wasn't distressing enough, a Brazilian clothing brand has taken it upon themselves to envisage a future where Black Friday deals are inescapable. The video campaign by Brazilian creative director Antonio Correa for Colombo expounds the problem of high flying executives simply too busy to step out of the office to take advantage of Black Friday savings (ah, Capitalism eh?). The solution to this troubling situation? Fill the skies of Sao Paola's Business District with the apocalyptic sight of headless, poorly articulating human figures hanging limp from whirring drones, of course—completing the picture with price tags on their clothing for our deprived protagonists to glimpse through the windows of their corporate prisons.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  27 Nov 2014  |  Comments (3)

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One could argue that luggage design hasn't kept pace with modern-day travel needs. Thus entrepreneurs Gaston Blanchet and Jesse Potash, both of whom travel a lot and were dissatisfied with current luggage offerings, set out to produce a contemporary, aluminum-and-polycarbonate carry-on and full-sized suitcase called the Trunkster line. Here's how they approached it:

Problem: Your phone battery's dying, leading you on one of those where's-a-free-power-outlet search across the airport.
Solution: On-board battery with enough juice to charge your phone nine times over.

Problem: You packed too much weight and got hit with overage fees by the airline.
Solution: Digital scale (both Imperial and Metric) embedded in the handle. Pick it up and the readout tells you the exact weight.

Problem: The airline lost your bag. They're not sure where it is.
Solution: Built-in GPS means you can see whether your bag is somewhere in the terminal and worth waiting for, or if it's back at Dallas-Fort-Worth and you should just expect it later.

Problem: Unzipping both sides of the front flap on the typical carry-on, then swinging the flap open, can be an awkward operation in tight spaces.
Solution: The Trunkster has a roll-top front that opens like a secretary desk.

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I'm not totally sold on that last one, as the flap on a carry-on provides me with useful storage space, both on the inside and out of it. The outside pockets on the flap are where I dump the contents of my pockets during the TSA screening, and the inside pockets are where I sort my toiletries.

Another Trunkster feature I'm not 100% on is that they've moved the handle supports to the side of the suitcase, citing the following:

We can think of few worse elements of luggage than flimsy telescopic handles. They break, get in the way of packing, and are nearly useless when moving heavy bags. Trunkster features a robust, side-to-side handle that gives you absolute control and enhanced balance through many grip positions. Plus, the handle's special design allows for an uninterrupted cargo space for optimum packing capacity.

In my eyes, the channel for the handle supports take up the same amount of interior volume on the sides as they do on the rear.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  25 Nov 2014  |  Comments (6)

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When shotguns fire "shot"—a multitude of small pellets as opposed to a singular slug—the wielder gets "a good spread" with a single pull of the trigger. Depending on what your priorities are, this may or may not make it a good weapon for home defense; in the words of comedian Bill Burr, "I don't want to have to do a bunch of drywall work [after repelling an invader]."

But that "spread" is what a particular type of shotgun—originally called a "fowling piece"—was designed to produce, and specifically for hunting birds. Beretta's updated 486 shotgun, designed by Marc Newson, pays homage to this with artsy patterns on the laser-engraved receiver.

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The engraving is a clear homage to Asia as the homeland of the pheasant. This unique design is made possible by the high-tech laser technology used in the manufacturing process. This ensures the best texture wrap over the entire surface of the receiver and also allows for a deep contrast and sharp resolution in all the details of the engraving.

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The receiver is edgeless, following the current trend in "round body" shotgun designs enabled by precision machinery. But in terms of original flair, the sexy opening lever is pretty Newsonesque:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  21 Nov 2014  |  Comments (3)

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I'm cheap, so I save all hardware and fasteners that aren't bent out of shape or stripped. As I disassemble one DIY project and prepare to move on to the next, all of the old screws and such go into the sad "system" you see below, a collection of plastic containers. When they're full I dump them out onto a tray and sort more precisely.

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It's a lame system, I know. And I became aware of just how lame when I saw this killer idea from "Wulf" over on the Craftster community:

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At the shop where I work we just toss loose screws, bolts, nails and other bits and pieces of hardware from the workbenches and the floor into a bucket and, every couple of years when the bucket gets too full, somebody has to dump the whole mess out and sort everything back to where it belongs. When that job fell to me this Spring, I decided there had to be a better solution. So I designed a bin that would help to at least divide things by type to make the final sorting easier. Though built for an industrial situation, it would work equally well in the home craft room for jewellery findings, sewing notions, etc.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  20 Nov 2014  |  Comments (4)

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There was no time to stop before the tall man slammed into me. I was slowly carrying two fifteen-pound, nine-foot-long tubes of photographic backdrops from the supply house to my studio (it looked like I had a huge double bazooka on my shoulder). The man came barreling around the corner, nose buried in the smartphone he was typing in, and slammed directly into the end of the rolls with his chest. To my surprise, he yelled at me.

After five blocks of hauling these rolls I was in no mood, and I yelled back that he should watch where the heck he's going instead of staring into his hecking phone (maybe I didn't use "heck"). He screamed "Well I'm WORKING!" and stormed off while rubbing his chest dramatically.

So yeah, walking and texting can be hazardous to your health on the sidewalks of Manhattan. And now The Atlantic reports that Dr. Kenneth K. Hansraj, the Chief of Spine Surgery at the New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine facility, finds that just standing and texting is bad for you, too. "Billions of people are using cell phone devices on the planet, essentially in poor posture," he writes in a paper called "Assessment of Stresses in the Cervical Spine Caused by Posture and Position of the Head," presented in Surgical Technology International [PDF]. Surprisingly Dr. Hansraj's research, which is intended to inform cervical spine surgeons of proper neck position during cervical reconstructions, discovered that one can increase the load weight of one's head on the spine by a factor of six, simply by tilting it down to text.

The weight seen by the spine dramatically increases when flexing the head forward at varying degrees. An adult head weighs 10 to 12 pounds in the neutral position. As the head tilts forward the forces seen by the neck surges to 27 pounds at 15 degrees, 40 pounds at 30 degrees, 49 pounds at 45 degrees and 60 pounds at 60 degrees.

So what does this mean to the user? There are two areas of effect related to posture. For the first area, a fascinating combination of biochemical and emotional results, Dr. Hansraj cites a study performed by body language researcher Amy J.C. Cuddy (more on her below):

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  18 Nov 2014  |  Comments (6)

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You can show up at your gym drinkless and buy overpriced beverages there, or you can save a few bucks (and the environment) and carry your own refillable bottle. As someone in the latter camp, I haven't been able to find a bottle I can easily clean the inside of, and nothing is more gross than the little black specks that eventually form inside on the radii, completely impervious to the bristles of a bottle brush.

Hence the brilliant Alex bottle design. The stainless steel vessel unscrews at its equator, so you can actually get a sponge down into the thing and scrape the corners as clean as you like:

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  17 Nov 2014  |  Comments (1)

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For anyone who knows the serenity of woodworking, this video hailing from northern Japan of mastercraftsman Yasuo Ozakazaki at work in his shop, could be the most relaxing thing you're likely to see today.

Kokeshi dolls are a traditional of Japanese handcraft—a simple limbless doll made from two pieces of wood, and apparently the inspiration behind the design of 'Mii' characters for the Nintendo Wii. (The figures have also risen to prominence in the global design world in recent weeks with the news that the Boureullec brothers have reinterpreted the doll's design as part of an initiative to get local craftspeople back on their feet, following the devastation caused by the Fukushima disaster.)

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  14 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Today, Londoners were treated to a dual celebration of the highest order: The historic Borough market on the south bank of the Thames marking its 1,000th year (nope, not an not an extra zero added in error) in business AND the observance of Apple Day (a technically international festivity marked mainly by Brits). Having clearly anticipated this momentous concurrence for some time, the market commissioned London based agencies TinMan and Teatime to create an installation befitting of such an occasion—and what better way to celebrate this humble fruit than pay homage to the brand that has usurped its image.

The installation parodying the tech giant's distinctive retail spaces—mildly amusing but also fairly brave considering Apple's recent nailing down of the rights to 'own' the design of their spaces—featured 1000 apples of all manner of varieties displayed en masse on walls and individually laid out on clear acrylic pedestals on counters with accompanying specs, of course.

Whilst of course mainly nonsense, it is a rare occasion that we're given such an education and moment of quiet contemplation of the incredible nutritious creations of mother Earth in all their fascinating sorts—I refer you to the charmingly named "Knobby Russett" below. Perhaps our relationship with fruits and vegetables would be very different if we gave them such forums more regularly, and afforded these wonders of the natural world the reverence we reserve for our electronics.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  13 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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For every name-brand designer cranking out well-known, mass-produced products, there's an army of unknown designers quietly producing excellent work that most of us will never see. While not as sexy as a gadget that sells 50 million units, projects like visual identity and branding are often the bread-and-butter of many a designer and firm.

Like this beautiful laser-etched book enclosure. Designed by the UK's NB Studio, it's part of a branding campaign's assets for Park House, a fee-yancy mixed-use building in London.

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  11 Nov 2014  |  Comments (1)

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The modern world is pretty hell-bent on eradicating even the slightest hints of inconvenience from our lowly existence. At the slightest sign of consumer discomfort or "user friction," any number of production lines or Kickstarter campaigns can be fired up or launched to conquer the nuisances of the everyday. If there's not an app for that, then there's a product.

With a critical eye on this branch of object culture, designer Ernesto Morales and filmakers Chris Maggio and John Wilson have been exploring the phenomenon that they dub "Object Solutions," with a number of speculative designs tackling as yet unsolved problems. Simultaneously both attractive and absurd, the critical product propositions questions the consumer culture that "encourages us to match our set of everyday concerns with an equally sized set of external problem-solving tools." Instead of being given time and space to adapt to the inevitable irritations of life or tackling more serious frustrations at the source, we're offered an ever-growing array of experiential band-aids, which indeed go some way in legitimizing a broken status quo.

Interestingly, the first two Chindogu-esque concepts emerging from the Object Solutions project focus on the topic of hygiene and cleanliness in urban life—the trio presumedly finding inspiration in society's irrational preoccupation with sterilization and disinfection. The Magnifying Spoon for example is a neurotic, untrusting device used to scan for unwanted debris in food consumed out of the home—the convenience of such outsourcing of food preparation being unavoidably laced with the uncertainty of what went on in the kitchen.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  10 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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It created much blog buzz, back in 2008, when news outlets discovered New York City had been dumping its old subway cars into the Atlantic Ocean to serve as artificial reefs. The thinking was that the heavy structures of the retired subway cars would provide an attractive collection point for algae, barnacles, coral and oysters, setting up a lower link on the food chain that would gradually spawn higher ones.

There was some environmental concern about potentially toxic materials, and the source article linked above pointed out that "Tim Dillingham, the executive director of the American Littoral Society, a coastal conservation group based in Sandy Hook, N.J., said natural rock and concrete balls were far safer and more durable materials for artificial reefs."

Sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor took a different tack on this. The Canary-Islands-based artist created a 60-ton, 18-foot-tall statue and had it sunk off the coast of the Bahamas.

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Dubbed "Ocean Atlas," the statue takes the form of a crouching girl carrying the ocean on her shoulders, providing a Caribbean twist on Greek mythology's Earth-carrying (presumably white male) Atlas; Taylor modeled his on a local Bahamian girl named Camilla.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   7 Nov 2014  |  Comments (4)

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These are interesting days for product design, as companies are experimentally combining different technologies in an effort to create new classes of objects. Yesterday Amazon unexpectedly announced their Echo product design, a cylindrical domestic object that revealed the company is better at keeping things under wraps than Apple.

So what is Echo? The best way I can describe it is Siri in a can, or an iPad for your ears. Apple's tablet enabled us to view the internet without being tethered to a computer, and Echo aims to aurally provide us with information from the internet, with queries made via voice. Have a look at how Amazon imagines the device would fit into our lives:

Like Apple's iDevices before it, Echo consists of already-existing technologies that the designers are hoping will create a desireable functionality by being combined. But I'm not convinced it will succeed. In today's crowded product landscape, new objects succeed by fulfilling an unmet need, and/or possessing such a strong design-based sex appeal that consumers cannot resist buying it.

I'm not sure the Echo has either. The appeal of hands-free is that it lets you achieve something you'd ordinarily do with your hands, when your hands are already occupied; like the example in the video where the housemum is prepping food and asks for a measurement ratio rather than physically looking it up. That example is certainly valid, but it's a question of how often that need truly occurs.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   5 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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In my shop I've got so many different types of tape—duct, gaffer's, masking, painter's, packaging, paper, conductive, electrical, et cetera—in so many different colors that I don't have the space to put them all in dispensers. Hence they all sit in a large drawer waiting to be pulled out. Which means anytime I'm using one for a project I'm constantly re-scrutinizing the roll to find out where the end of it is, or dragging my fingernail around the perimeter in low light, usually going in the wrong direction so I can't detect the lip. It's a minor annoyance, but a recurring one. (And I don't like doing the folded triangle thing because it's wasteful.)

Which is why I think these The End is in Sight electrical tape rolls from American Science & Surplus are so brilliant. A simple gray double line spirals around the entire roll, letting you see where the edge is instantly. At $3.75 for three they won't break the bank, but unfortunatly they only come in black, and only electrical tape.

Via Werd

Posted by Ray  |   5 Nov 2014  |  Comments (7)

Factory.jpgFactory in China, via Wikimedia Commons

In fairness to the much-derided MeezyCube—a case for the MagSafe Power Adapter, a.k.a. The Apple Accessory We Never Saw Coming—I should note that I haven't personally put a MagSafe through the paces; 99% of the time, it's just sitting on my desk. If the laptop charger's egregiously poor rating on the Apple store is any indication, they're rather more fragile than they should be, and, like iPhones and MacBooks, even the lowly power supply may be worth encasing after all. (To commenters who denounced my plan to return the charger after a week, I can only respond that pride had clouded my judgment but I eventually came 'round; the extra charger now sits in my desk drawer.)

In any case (no pun intended), there is still much more at stake—namely, that the unprecedented availability of tools, resources and means of production is but one factor behind the rampant proliferation of dubiously useful products such as snap-together plastic doodads—which is why I was interested to see a closely related topic crop up over in our discussion boards. Beijing-based forumite laowai hyperbolically asks "Are We Ruining the World?":

As industrial designers, we have a large footprint with regard to our contributions to manufacturing. Shouldn't we hold ourselves more accountable towards cleaner manufacturing and power? This seems like a no-brainer and as a global community of designers, surely we have some leverage, right?

The first few replies unanimously shift the responsibility to the consumer, and the fact that I consider myself to be a conscientious one is probably why I felt ambivalent about something as mundane—yet essential—as a laptop charger (this will make more sense if you read the previous post, trust me). That said, I do indulge in retail therapy on occasion, when I succumb to my weakness for printed matter and bicycles; in keeping with Lmo's advice to "buy pre-owned products whenever possible," tracking down deals on secondhand parts is part of the appeal when it comes to the latter. In fact, I very nearly posted another rant when I saw this bike, not for its asymmetric frame but rather its purported mission, to disrupt the bicycle manufacturing industry. Here's a disruptive idea: buy a used bike.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  27 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Google Glass: Some people love it, some hate it, and this guy became addicted to it. But overall they haven't gained much traction among the masses, presumably because there's no overarching unmet need they're fulfilling.

However, if there's one guy who can utilize them, it's filmmaker Casey Neistat; having a camera permanently hanging on the front of your face is a good fit for a guy who always seems to be recording everything around him. Check out Neistat's Google Glass review, and dig the clever, low-tech way he came up with for addressing the audience: