As we mentioned earlier, Wacom is coming out with some exciting new products this fall. The global provider of creative tools knows that industrial designers make up a large part of their core audience, so they swung by the Core offices to give us a run-through of what will shortly be hitting store shelves. Here's Don Varga, Wacom's Creative Products Director, giving us an in-office demo of the forthcoming Cintiq Companion and the Cintiq Companion Hybrid:
Like what you see? The Cintiq Companion Hybrid is available now, and the Cintiq Companion is rolling out in early October.
Ron Paulk has already got his own following, independent of Core77; while we don't have the demographic breakdown, we assume they're mostly DIY'ers, builders, and fellow contractors. These video extras from our chat with Ron will be of interest to Ron's following, as we get into some topics that Ron hasn't covered on his own YouTube channel: The surprising story of how he decided to become a contractor in the first place, what it was that made him expand into design, and why YouTube is an invaluable learning tool.
The summer job that changed Ron's life, and made him realize that building stuff was better than grad school:
Why (and how) Ron expanded into design and doing his own CAD work:
Electrolux Design Lab, the annual design competition that asks design students to envision the future of product design, is coming into the home stretch for this year. Some 1700 entrants from around the world have been winnowed down into just eight finalists, through three rounds of judging, with the winner to be announced on October 16th.
This year's EDL was a little different in that the categories were opened up a bit, expanding beyond appliances into accessories, consumables or services. Still, two out of our three finalist faves still fall into the appliance category.
First up is the ballet-dancer-inspired 3F (for "Form Follows Function"), a shape-shifting vacuum cleaner by Germain Verbrackel, an ID student at France's Ecole de Design Nantes Atlantique:
It is designed to economise space in compact and urban apartments; thanks to its autonomous mobility and capacity for physical metamorphosis, -3F- is a living product, responsive to its consumer's needs.
"Hey, what happens if I press this button with the skull and crossbones on it?"
From an interface design standpoint, it's completely bewildering: Switches, levers, dials, buttons, toggles, and every type of physical interface known to man are crammed into the cockpit of a Boeing 737—not to mention all the gauges and screens. While you're back there in the cabin trying to find space in the overhead, the pilot and co-pilot are up front working this insanely complex console to complete their pre-flight setup and get the engine running.
Check out this clip, shot aboard a new Boeing 737, of actual "pre-flight setup and engine startup procedures." You won't mistake the five-minute video for a Michael Bay production, but it does give you a good look at the overall console:
If you live within striking distance of Rochester, in upstate New York, you can visit a design treasure. The incredibly prolific Lella and Massimo Vignelli donated their entire archive of design work, a collection spanning nearly half a century, to the Rochester Institute of Technology several years ago; the resultant Vignelli Center for Design Studies opened shortly thereafter.
For the rest of us, come October we'll be able to see Design is One, an upcoming documentary on the design duo by First Run Features. Peep the trailer:
Two of the world's most influential designers, Lella and Massimo Vignelli's work covers such a broad spectrum that one could say they are known by everyone, even by those who don't know their names. Adhering to self-proclaimed motto, "If you can't find it, design it," their achievements in industrial and product design, graphic and publication design, corporate identity, architectural graphics, and exhibition, interior, and furniture design have earned worldwide respect and numerous international awards for over 40 years.
After Massimo brought the Helvetica typeface to America in 1965, he and Lella moved on to a diverse array of projects, including New York's subway signage and maps; the interior of Saint Peter's Church at Citicorp Center; Venini lamps; Heller dinnerware; furniture for Poltrona Frau; and branding for Knoll International, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Ford and American Airlines.
...The film features extensive personal conversations with Lella and Massimo themselves, who reveal for the viewer their intensely collaborative creative process and the inner workings of their deceptively linear genius that has defined contemporary design as we have come to know it.
The film will have a theatrical release in "select cities", to be followed by a DVD release.
When we interviewed builder/designer Ron Paulk on his Mobile Woodshop and Paulk Workbench, there were some tangential things we discussed that we couldn't fit into the previous videos. We didn't want the footage to go to waste, as we thought some of you might be interested in hearing these side conversations; so we've cut them into short, one- and two-question videos.
First up, Ron discusses how he avoids the "overdesign" problem:
Ron tells us what the hardest part is about designing a large storage system, explains his design process, and tells us where he looks when he's seeking answers to problems:
Like many of us I've got a soft spot for vintage objects that actually do something, and I don't mind being advertised to when the delivery vehicle is as cool as this. Levis' "Make Our Mark" campaign involves four objects from the 20th Century, repurposed for our modern times with a little connective technology.
They've hacked a 1956 Gibson ES-125 guitar with an uplink to online audio distribution platform Soundcloud:
A 1939 Graflex Speed Graphic camera that uploads still shots to Instagram:
In Kentucky, a revolution is brewing—literally. "Craft beer is encroaching on bourbon territory," says Louisville local news station WDRB, "and a two-week festival in Louisville is out to prove it." This week Craft Beer Week kicks off in Kentucky's largest city, which produces one third of the world's bourbon supply. But until the festival runs its course, the American whiskey variant will be taking a back seat to beer, as 70 different events are attended by dozens of local craft breweries—and at least one talented glassware designer.
Louisville-based Matthew Cummings runs The Pretentious Beer Glass Company, and his handcrafted creations are as different from steins, tumblers and growlers as it gets. Cummings' Dual Beer Glass is the one that most caught our eye, designed for you Half and Half or Black and Tan drinkers.
It's not Robocop on a Unicorn, but it may as well be: Detroit's long-awaited statue of the fictional law-enforcement officer has proved just as elusive. While the project reached its $50,000 funding target in just six days, that was way back in February of 2011, and Detroit still remains woefully un-Robo-policed.
So why is it taking so long? The narrative in this video, which shows the unboxing of the model-to-be-cast, provides some insight. First off, Hollywood-based Fred Barton, whose eponymous company is "the Savile Row of robotic manufacturing," had been restoring the original armor from the 1987 film for five years prior to the Kickstarter campaign; he then produced a 1:1 replica that was 3D-scanned in two locations across North America; the file size was then pumped up to the ten-foot final height and CNC-milled out of foam; and what we are seeing here are the foam pieces from which the bronze final will be cast.
There's still plenty of work to do, so RoboCop won't be holding down the corner in the recently bankrupted Detroit anytime soon; they are still searching for a final site in which to mount him.
This will either creep you out, fascinate you, or frighten you. The mechanical gear that propelled the Industrial Revolution and, indirectly, our very profession of industrial design, is one of mankind's more profoundly impactful inventions. But two biologists from the University of Cambridge have just discovered that the mechanical gear exists in nature.
Scientists Malcolm Burrows and Gregory Sutton discovered tiny, toothed, interlocking gears atop the hind legs of a three-millimeter-long bug known as Issus coleoptratus. Colloquially known as a "planthopper," the jumping, flea-like bug cocks its hind legs into a "loaded" position; as it "unloads," the legs swiftly rotate backwards, enabling the bug to get some NBA-like air. The gears connecting the top of the legs—which even have filleted teeth—ensure perfect synchronicity of the leg extensions, enabling accurate and predictable jumping.
As industrial designers, a lot of us dream of having product design hits, where we design something so popular that those royalty checks start piling up. But the obstacles are manifold. To sell units in the thousands you've got to find a deep-pocketed manufacturer to sign on, unless you're able to front the tooling costs yourself, you've got to hope that the raw materials supply, marketing and distribution all work out, and of course you've got to design something that thousands of people really want or need in the first place.
Ron Paulk not only has a bona fide design hit on his hands with the Paulk Workbench, but has also neatly sidestepped all of those obstacles we just mentioned. The factory is actually the end-user, and by all accounts they're happy to build the product themselves. Perhaps the most amazing part is that the marketing of it has all happened completely by accident. It is an absolute best-case product design scenario: Ron designed and built the workbench for his own personal use, then discovered there was demand—mass demand—for his design, and figured out a way to distribute it. Ron tells us the story below.
As he mentions towards the end of the video, in addition to selling plans for the Paulk Workbench, Ron is also selling plans for his Miter Stand (a standalone item) and his Cross-Cut Jig (which attaches to the Paulk Workbench).
Selling blueprints to a DIY project is nothing new; hobbyist magazines have had little ads in the back of them for decades. But with YouTube taking care of the marketing, the internet taking care of the distribution, the end-users themselves taking care of the materials supply and fabrication, and with Ron himself handling the most important element, the clever design, Paulk has pointed the way towards a potential product design future—one that's much more hands-on than 3D printing—that I could not have imagined when I was back in design school.
More Ron Paulk coverage:
» Interview on the Mobile Woodshop, Part 1
» Interview on the Mobile Woodshop, Part 2
» Interview on the Paulk Workbench
» Ron Discovers the Workbench is a Design Hit
Until iRobot invents a grass-cutting drone, there's this guy. An anonymous Brit has hacked up, using nothing more than a rope, a pole and of course his lawnmower, a semi-autonomous way to cut his lawn (at least, a large circular portion of it):
The genius of it is that the rope of course shortens slightly with each circumnavigation of the pole, bringing the lawnmower slightly closer to the center with each pass. "The perimeter of the pole is 8 inches or roughly 1/3rd the mower blade width," writes the mystery inventor. "It does three passes per patch of grass."
By "perimeter," do you reckon he means circumference? In any case, commenter response has been mostly positive, and some have pointed out that a pole with a larger diameter would cause the mower to spiral in quicker, reducing the overall time; another pointing out that using two poles could also be used to reduce the mowing overlap, though I think that would present its own set of challenges; at least one reader dubbed the inventor a "genius," but our favorite comment has got to be: "Nice to know England has redneck engineers too."
While the tech geeks endlessly dissect the new technological advances in the just-announced iPhone 5C and 5S, it is the new design elements—some subtle, some not—that have our attention. There are a few we think are telling of Apple's philosophy and direction (and just one design holdover that leaves us cause to gripe).
First off, what we like:
Embracing the Material
In the video (embedded at bottom) for the iPhone 5C, Apple's lower-cost model, Jonathan Ive describes it as being "beautifully, unapologetically plastic." And the end result reveals Apple's laser focus on manufacturing techniques and on what a material is capable of being. Plastic products can often look like crap because of how manufacturers view plastic's utility: You set up a mold, maybe you cam some parts that interfere with the draft angle, then they start flying off of the production line. Most manufacturers are willing to live with sprue marks, nit lines and mold seams; and the generation of consumers raised on those "manufacturing tells" have come to associate plastic with them.
In contrast, Apple cuts no such corners. The ports are CNC-machined into the case, for chrissakes, rather than being molded in. The interior undercut appears to be machined out, though I can't say for certain. What is certain is that there are no seams, no manufacturing tells. If we didn't see the production method shots in the video it would not be immediately obvious to us how it was made.
When we looked at Dyson's UK research facility earlier, there were two things we weren't shown: One was the new product they've been developing for two years (above), and the second is the army of scientists, engineers and designers required to make it happen (below).
The new Dyson Hard, which hit store shelves this week, attacks hard surface cleaning by introducing a new element: Wetness. To replace the traditional act of first vacuuming, then mopping a hard floor, the new device incorporates disposable wet wipes to take care of the grime as the machine vacuums (cordlessly, no less). "One machine, two jobs—one action," says Sir James.
As someone who detests mopping as a wasteful (all that water), laborious (requires a clean bucket and a squeeze bucket) and inefficient (moving dirty water around) act, I am dying to get my hands on one of these things to see if it really works.
Cynics will claim that the company is seeking extra profit by now selling the disposable wipes that the Dyson Hard requires. Handily disarming that argument, however, is the fact that the Hard was also designed to be compatible with existing, standard wet wipes produced by other manufacturers.
Re-branded as NY NOW, the biannual trade show formally known as the New York International Gift Fair was back this August with all of the usual suspects presenting their wares. Viewing this show through a designers' lens can be a little overwhelming—there's just so much stuff!—but as veteran attendees we stuck to the small but well curated flagship section of the fair, "Accent on Design."
There was not much in the way of new product at the show this year, with most companies opting to refresh their collections with new colors and invest in more sophisticated branded booths—always a good thing, as it elevated the overall experience of walking the floor. One of our favorite booths, pictured above, was Danish vendor Menu who consistently present a strong product line-up, their no-frills gallery like presentation a testament to the strength of the products.
Overall, it felt like most companies exhibition spaces had a smaller footprint. it was inspiring to see some of the independent designers like Fort Standard and Chen Chen & Kai Williams who got their start with the AmDC graduate to getting their own booths, and Japan's presence was undeniable with both their minimal approach to display and product selection offering a welcome visual break.
Here's a quick round-up of stuff that caught our eye!
Desktructure by Hector Serrano
There are so many human foibles that English lacks words to explain, so we English-speakers have to steal them from other languages and italicize them to get by. L'esprit de l'escalier, "the wit of the staircase," is my favorite from the French: That's when you're at a party, someone hits you with a zinger that you have no comeback for, and you don't think of the perfect rejoinder until you're walking down the stairs and leaving at the end of the night.
What you see here is several more of these foreign words from Maptia, a website dedicated to sharing global stories. They've commissioned an illustrator to explain "11 Untranslatable Words From Other Cultures" that you're bound to get a kick out of.
I have been struggling with some way to tie this video into industrial design, modelmaking/propmaking, or creative pursuits in general, just so I'd have an excuse to post it. But you know what, it's a Friday and we Americans are on the verge of a holiday, so I'm going to see if I can sneak this one in while my bosses are hopefully loading their cars up with fishing gear. This is from a TV variety show in Japan, where a non-litigious society combined with focused creativity has turned pranking into an art form.
Probably staged, but does it matter? And how awesome is that costume, human legs aside?
For many of us, keyboards are the most important input device we own. Bloggers, journalist and coders can't get by with touchscreens. But one programmer, California-based Jeff Atwood, found himself continually dissatisfied with the physical design of every keyboard he used. So he teamed up with WASD Keyboards, a California-based producer of specialty keyboards, to design his own. And it appears to be pretty damned awesome.
Atwood might be a software developer, but he's got the attention to fine detail of a great industrial designer. His CODE Keyboard addresses every one of his woes with materials, intelligent design and careful thought.
Haptics. Atwood doesn't like the spongy feel of pressing a plastic key attached to a rubber bubble. Heck, I don't think any of us do, but he and Kwong actually did something about it. The CODE features mechanical keyswitches with a "solid actuation force."
Materials. The keyswitches are mounted to a steel backplate "for a rock solid feel." The keyboard weighs nearly 2.5 pounds.
User Experience. The steel backplate is painted white and the markings on each key are precisely placed to provide completely even LED backlighting. You can choose from seven different backlighting levels or turn it off completely, and the keyboard will remember your preference.
Homebuilder and self-taught designer Ron Paulk had a problem: He needed a large-surface workbench--which is generally no problem for those of you with geographically-fixed workspaces--but he needed it to be portable, so that he could tote it to jobsites in his Mobile Woodshop. He also needed it to be incredibly sturdy. Dissatisfied with the design shortcomings of commercially-available workbenches, Ron analyzed exactly what his specific needs were, then set about designing his own.
Currently in its second generation, plans for the Paulk Workbench are available for sale online for a reasonable ten bucks; I myself purchased a set as soon as I saw the demonstration video, which we'll embed down below.
The demo video will show you the various features of the bench design, but before we get to that, we scored an interview with Ron on how and why he designed the bench the way he did:
Below is the aforementioned demo video:
That's industrial designer Mugi Yamamoto's compact inkjet printer concept, Stack. Placed atop a pile of paper, the printer works its way down, sheet by sheet. In addition to providing a wonderful visual cue of whether or not the printer needs to be restocked—or is that re-stacked—there is a practical inspiration behind the design: To get rid of the paper tray, "the bulkiest element in common printers."
Yamamoto, a freshly-minted ID grad from the Ecole Cantonale d'Art de Lausanne, has generated a good bit of blogosphere buzz for Stack. But the rest of his book is worth a gander as well, demonstrating some brilliant materials experimentation. Check out his Inversilight, which takes advantage of silicone's flexibility to create a lampshade that the user can "pop" into one of two positions, focusing or scattering the light as needed:
Seoul-based Kim Seongjin was studying Chemical Engineering at Chonnam National University, but dropped out to complete South Korea's mandatory military service. After two years in the Marines, he went back to school, this time for Industrial Design. We're glad he made the career switch; we've just stumbled across some of the freshly-minted B.I.D.'s concept work, and it shows a promising grasp of the not-always-intersecting areas of graphics, functionality, style and re-use.
Graphics - His Data Pouch was a school project, done in conjunction with LG, to envision portable hard drives from the year 2018. We dig the simple touch of having the drive's current capacity demonstrated via nature-based images, and the pouring metaphor for transferring data.
Speaking of keys, you needn't look further than modern-day car key fobs to see what's coming. But until that day arrives, here's an odd interstitial technology hovering between the incumbency of metal keys and the inevitable adoption of wireless unlocking devices.
KeyMe is a smartphone app that allows users to "store, share, and duplicate their physical keys using a digital scan that is securely stored in the cloud." By using the camera on your phone, you can scan your keys. Should you need to make copies of them, the app translates your keys' dimensions into something a keymaker can reproduce.
It seems so hopelessly primitive to me that we all carry a pocketful of little pieces of metal to gain entry to our homes and workplaces. Side gigs that I've had required me to carry as many as fifteen keys including my own, and I hate the pocket bulk. So I'll happily embrace smartphone-based digital locks when they become widespread (and when my landlord allows them).
In the meantime, one of the most often-used and well-worn objects I own is the multi-keyholder you see above. I purchased it in 1998 in Japan for 2,000 yen (something like twenty bucks back then), and the manufacturer's mark says "Lexon."
Design & Operation
The design is brilliant. With your thumb you slide the little nub on the exterior, which is attached to a small spring bolt. That allows the spherical part of the little barbell attached to the individual key rings to slide out of the slit in the perimeter.
While releasing the bolt is easy when you want to do it, in 15 years of daily carrying it's never once accidentally opened.
Posted by Teshia Treuhaft
| 26 Aug 2013
The natural inclination to escape from the fast pace and constant visual stimulus that is city life is a pretty common response for any human (and particularly any New Yorker). When the skyscrapers and constant car horns get to be too much, why not steal away to a personal oasis? Better yet, carry that oasis with you at all times... in your own jacket. If you do happen to be seeking escape on a moment's notice, the recent design projects of Justin Gargasz will jettison you out into the wild—or at least the nearest park.
It appears we are destined to be a generation of new-age nomads as a result of technology, constant career changes and unprecedented mobility. Is a constant search for how best to return to nature an inevitable side effect of modern life? Maybe, maybe not... but enough people cringe at the idea of life in the big city that need to escape is a viable design problem.
When we first encountered Gargasz's wearable tent structures in 2009, it was an interesting concept placed somewhere between the blurred realms of fashion, furniture and architecture. At the time, he was fresh out of design school and we were impressed with the Boston-based designer's first 'modern cocoon,' named Vessel. Four years later, Gargasz has spun the project into a full-fledged line of nomadic structures that can just easily be warn on a chilly day in the city as a hiking trip out west. His designs are created not only to shelter the wearer physically but as a play on the need to escape psychologically from a world filled with distractions.
Posted by Ray
| 23 Aug 2013
We've seen some of Jeffrey Stephenson's sculptural computer creations before—including a questions and answers to his queries about a PC tower project—but he might just have outdone himself with his latest project. Made from 167 pieces of handcut veneer, "Flightline is made from quilted maple, maple burl, mahogany, lacewood and aircraft grade birch plywood."
Looks like the folks at Wacom's skunkworks have been busy. This week they've announced not one, but three new products coming out this fall, targeted at three very different types of users.
First up is the toteable Cintiq Companion, a "professional creative tablet" that runs Windows 8. The standalone machine boasts a 1920×1080, 13.3” display, the 2,048 levels of pen pressure you've come to expect from Wacom, both front and rear cameras, and a 256 or 512 GB hard drive. This is aimed at the user looking for the all-in-one solution.
The Cintiq Companion Hybrid, meanwhile, is targeted at the user who works primarily off of a desktop machine. The Hybrid has the same screen size (and a seemingly identical form factor) to the Companion, as well as the same dual cameras, but runs Android rather than Windows and features a smaller (16 or 32 GB) hard drive. This is essentially meant to be the tablet you use for your desktop machine, but it can be detached and carried around for light sketching duty.