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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  19 Jun 2014  |  Comments (5)

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Back in 2010 we showed you designer Jinsun Park's nifty Color Picker concept. The idea was that a magic marker would be loaded up with both a sensor and RGB ink cartridges, allowing you to instantly scan a color—and draw with it on paper. Here's one of her original renderings:

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Jinsun Park

Now a new company called Scribble may be bringing us what Park originally envisioned (though it's unclear if she's involved). Their soon-to-be-posted-on-Kickstarter Scribble Pen operates exactly like Park's concept proposal, though they've opted for CMYK rather than RGB. "This innovative pen can hold over 100,000 unique colors in its internal memory," the company writes, "and can reproduce over 16 million unique colors."

If Park is not involved, Scribble's choice of promotional imagery seems pretty coincidental. Below is Park's rendering from 2010, side by side with Scribble's rendering from their press release:

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Or maybe I'm just comparing apples to oranges.

In any case, the company plans to release two models: The Scribble Ink, described above, which can be used to draw on paper. They'll also have the Scribble Stylus, which has the scanner but no ink cartridges; the idea with the Stylus is that you scan colors to beam over to your smartphone or tablet via their mobile app. "Your colors become more useful when they are organized, tagged, searchable and converted to various color models," their thinking goes.

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The Kickstarter is slated for July, with the Ink going for $149.95 and the Stylus for $79.95. But they're offering a 20% off deal for those willing to sign up for pre-orders here.

Posted by Kat Bauman  |  18 Jun 2014  |  Comments (1)

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You may have seen Heimplanet inflatable tents bounce around the Internet before, and they're doing it again. These tubed geometric things are tents you don't have to pitch, held up (and possibly down) by air pressure alone. The German conceptual-outdoor company first debuted the Cave, a dome-like 3-person sleeper, then the smaller Wedge for the lone wolf. Now they're scaling up with the Mavericks—a tent so large and in charge they don't even give a suggested body maximum.

The tents rely on a series of tubes (don't we all?), which via an interlocking and overlapping geometric pattern provide stiffness and stability for the skin of the tent. The tubes themselves are a double-layered pneumatic situation, that can be patched like a bike tube. They're pumped up using a hand pump, and can be connected for quick inflation and then disconnected for safe independence. The pumping process does seem nice and quick, though the larger tents make the larger and heavier Heimplanet pump seem nigh on necessary for the speedy set-up they claim. I'm not really convinced that speed and ease are the selling points here, since a well-designed tent with poles goes up in less than a couple minutes.

The larger two tents don't even seem to use guy lines or stakes. As they put it, "The diamond. Its stability is based on its specific molecular and crystal structure." I have no idea how the molecular stability of a diamond in any way applies to the stability of their tents. But here their original "Cave" tent is put to a wind test, apparently without any kind of stakes:

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

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Saitama-based Masanori Oji's interests are as broad as his skillset. The handicrafts designer has experience in architecture and graphics as well as product, and after attending a workshop at a brass foundry to learn about the material, it wasn't long until he proposed a series of product designs to the company behind the foundry.

That company is Futagami, one of the oldest brass foundries in Japan, and one that's produced everything from ship fittings to Buddhist altar equipment. In collaboration with Oji they've released a beautiful line of housewares, like the dope bottle openers you see up top, and these gorgeous sets of chopstick rests below.

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They also produce rests for Western cutlery...

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...in addition to the cutlery itself, which is primarily brass, but silver-tipped at the business end.

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

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When George Lucas first spun his neo-mythical space yarn back in the '70s, he probably had no idea how deeply it would weave itself into the marketplace. It was of course the toy rights that made him a rich man, and since those first action figures hit store shelves in the '70s, a merchandising industry has sprung up around it to inject Star Wars into many facets of everyday life.

But not all facets. And here to stitch up one of the gaping holes in the market is Instructables user Lando Calrissian Random_Canadian, who has recognized that even Jedis and Siths occasionally like to take the edge off by knitting.

0lightsaberknittingneedl-002.jpgScarf Vader

Yes, by following along with the Instructable, you can now make your own lightsaber knitting needles. Expressing your alignment, whether you're on the Light or the Dark Side of the Force, is as simple as choosing either green or red LEDs. You'll have to cannibalize some LED flashlights and chop up a Lucite rod to make them, but it's a small price to pay to restore balance to the knitting galaxy.

0lightsaberknittingneedl-003.jpgThese aren't the crochets you're looking for

Posted by Kat Bauman  |  13 Jun 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Quick and easy molecular analysis is, by most accounts, still a long way off. Many a project claiming the ability to scan an object and report its make-up have been scoffed at for idealistic and impractical leaps in logic. With that in mind, the guys behind the Vessyl are confident enough in their liquid-identifying smart cup's skills to start taking preorders. The project is headed by Mark One, and has been in development for seven years. Given its 2015 ship date and the fact that I ain't no scientist, it's tough to evaluate the veracity of their claims... but that's never stopped us before.

They promise the sleek Bluetooth equipped mug can identify the volume and type of beverage, down to the specific brand, and break out the according caloric value, alcohol content, caffeine content, and so on, in a tasteful display on the side of the cup. Additionally, the cup will weigh this information against your daily intake to help you make good choices about your hydration and diet based on projected goals or needs.

It can do yogurt, it can do coffee, and beer and god knows what else. You can tell it to tell you to cut down or ramp up, and it'll network with your workout devices of choice. It can tell how quickly you're drinking, and will judge you accordingly. Charge it wirelessly on a cool looking contact base every few days. All of the is managed via your handy app.

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The Yves Béhar-designed form seems pretty dialed, and on-screen appears lightweight enough for practical use, though I might not personally stroll along the wharf with my pricey gadget-mug (preorder for $99, later $199). The outside of the mug is smooth, except for a lightly faceted section used for the display, giving you an easy tactile and visual cues for where to look. Activate the display by tipping the cup slightly.

The company is predictably tightlipped about their methods and tech. All we know is that the interior has a glass coating, and it looks nice. For the details that do exist check out their FAQ. Canned answers not enough? Perhaps you'd be better swayed by some high profile butt-kissing:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  12 Jun 2014  |  Comments (1)

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There's a building around the corner from me that I always notice, because they've got these sexy little floating numbers on the front of it. They're a bit more work to install than hanging a placard, but they sure look a damn sight better.

Although 185 there is the only guy in the neighborhood rocking these, I started poking around and found that floating house numbers are more common than I thought. Both Home Depot and Amazon sells this Hillman Group variant pretty inexpensively at six bucks per digit.

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On the more expensive (and garish) side, Luxello LED sells a back-lit variant that's aluminum up front, acrylic in the back, for $57 per digit. And I imagine these are a pain in the ass as you've got to wire each numeral separately.

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

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The World Cup is nearly here, with seemingly every bar in NYC hanging international flags out front and advertising Watch the matches here! Footie fever finally seems to have spread to America, as it's been reported that 111 million Yanks tuned in to the 2010 matches, and that Americans bought the most tickets to this year's event second only to the Brazilians. For the next month or so, the melting pot that is NYC will be filled with multilingual shouts of joy and agony echoing from bars across the city.

But it is, as always, a German company that will be at the center of every match, and this time with Pakistani fingerprints involved. Adidas' new FIFA World Cup Official Match Ball, the Brazuca, is manufactured in Pakistan using a variety of high-tech machines and manual handwork. Have a look:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  10 Jun 2014  |  Comments (1)

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I occasionally see a septic collection truck in my neighborhood with a big motto painted on the side: "We're Number One at Picking Up Number Two." That's a pretty good one. Artist David Rees' motto is somewhat similar, as he terms himself "The number one #2 pencil sharpener in the world."

In this hilarious and spot-on video, Rees calls out the nonsense of faux hipster craftsmanship by revealing his Artisanal Pencil Sharpening trade (which clueless YouTube commenters apparently think is real!). What do old rap group T-shirts, a leather strop mined from your grandfather's tomb and the criticism of luthiers have to do with sharpening $40 pencils by hand? You'll see:

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   9 Jun 2014  |  Comments (0)

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As an industrial designer, I love what our profession has accomplished. Every time I hold a perfectly balanced drill—go pick up a Festool TI 15, or even my crappy ten-year-old Makita—I see the weeks of work put into each compound radius, I envision the endless clay models and hand studies that resulted in the weight sitting perfectly in the crook between your thumb and forefinger, and how the trigger has been placed in the perfect location and has just the right amount of pull on it. We made these things fit us perfectly, even though our hands were originally designed to grab tree branches, not power drills.

The hands of Lego figurines were also not designed to hold power drills. But the clever folks over at Sugru have discovered that they're perfectly sized to hold something else—USB and accessory cables.

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |   6 Jun 2014  |  Comments (0)

StarWarsRender.jpgYeah, that's not foamcore

Few endeavors in the history of cinema have been as divisive as the Star Wars prequels. Or rather, I can't think of another trilogy that so many people delight in hating. While I dig an epic space opera as much as the next guy, I'm clearly not a Lucas devotee. However, as an OG movie effects lover, I must say the exponentially increasing CG distracted from the plot (arguably a mercy) and clogged the movies with bewildering, fake-feeling detail. Beautiful as hi-res screenshots, sure, but difficult to take in. Imagine my surprise when I learned that each of the prequels used more physical models than the last!

Not to oversell it (Lucas did a good enough job himself), according to the SlashFilm story, physical miniatures bore a decent amount of weight in scene setting during several crucial moments. Using state of the art materials like clay and painted Q-Tips, the team of set builders and model makers created backdrops and objects in the film's most epic shots. Seen as a cost-effective and high quality method for delivering believability, miniatures were used in scenes as wide ranging as the pod racing arena and the Ultimate Showdown on Super-Lava Island, respectively depicted by a room-sized clay model full of cotton swab spectators, and a 20×50ft slanted miniature set that they poured under-lit ooze through.

Setting aside any lingering resentment (or love—what man is without folly), take a look at these ironically grainy behind the scenes shots of impressive models that made the madness possible.

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

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What an era we live in, where both advertising agencies and regular consumers are able to program the television that is YouTube. It's a far cry from Don Draper's day, where information on products came primarily from those trying to sell them to you.

Here's a good example of the modern-day situation. First up we have a cheery ad spot for Coke by Ogilvy & Mather China, which starts off with the nice thought "What if empty Coke bottles were never thrown away?" To that end, the campaign imagines sixteen different plastic widgets that can be screwed onto empty bottles, theoretically prolonging their lives by turning them into everything from squirtguns to pencil sharpeners:

On the other side of the market coin, we've got the much-beloved YouTuber CrazyRussianHacker, whose endearingly thick accent and wacky experiments have garned 1.8 million subscribers. In his latest video—which had 4.6 million hits at press time and counting—he asks "What will happen if you boil Coke?" The labels on the bottles are removed, so arguably this could be any cola, but Jeez Louise is this disturbing:

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Posted by Moa Dickmark  |   4 Jun 2014  |  Comments (0)

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About one year ago, I was giving a talk to students who were about to graduate from the various design schools in Copenhagen. After I finished, I leaned back in a chair located rather close to the door (and close to the drinks and snack section...) when I caught myself staring at a bag. It captivated me to the extent that everything around me disappeared, and the only thing left was the bag and me. Once I snapped out of it, I went up to the person holding the bag as to ask him where he had bought it. To my great despair, it turned out he had made it himself, and he was holding the only sample. The Man with The Bag turned out not just to have a great eye for design, but to also have a great and intricate mind, and his name is Brian Frandsen.

Core77: Tell us a bit about your background. How did you end up in the field of design?

Brian Frandsen: I was not supposed to study design to begin with, I never thought I would do anything like this. It sort of just happened. I've always been a bit of a book nerd— I live very much in my head. I've always loved school, mathematics and humanistic studies, so I thought I was going to study Danish, rhetoric, philosophy, political science or something along those lines.

After high school, I was lucky enough to get a job in quality control for a Danish mainstream clothing brand at their office in Hong Kong. I spent half a year there, with my partner at that time, and while I was there it hit me how disgusting the fashion industry really was.

My boss would find something she liked, draw it in Illustrator and send it off to the factory in China. After we got the sample and established the price of the product, they took away a few details to make it cheaper to produce and sent it back to the factory. The entire fashion and design mechanism was without feeling, without heart. I felt offended by the way it worked, yet at the same time it fascinated me.

I lived in Hong Kong for a while—just as with the fashion industry, I had contradicting feelings for the city itself. I loved it and hated it at the very same time. It's the most constructed place I have ever been. It feels like nothing in Hong Kong is natural, everything is man-made, everything has its place, and all of the buildings are built in a specific way. But at the same time, when you walk around and truly look you can see how the traditional Chinese culture is creating its own space in the cracks of the perfect façade. It grows like weed out of the asphalt. These perfect glass buildings and the uncontrollable growth that is happening in between theses buildings ignited something within me that changed me on a fundamental level.

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After I got back, I still thought I was going to go to Copenhagen to study and get a serious degree in one of the rather academic fields. I don't know if they have it in other countries as well but in Denmark, universities have something they called Open House where you can visit the uni's and check out all of the courses available. I visited all of the ones I could think of, but in the evening, only Copenhagen design school was open so I went there just to see what they had to offer, and I was hooked. There was something about it, the same thing that had fascinated me with China, that was man-made and then the other side, the one that you could not control. That you should put yourself in the space between what the logic tells you and what your intuition tells you. That's where I wanted to be.

Another important factor in my decision to go to design school was a reform that resulted in a more theory-driven education. After that I went home, did some research and found out that there is only two design schools in Denmark: The Design School of Copenhagen and Design School Kolding. I visited Kolding and realized it was time for me to choose between a life (in Copenhagen) or a superior (to me, at least) education (in Kolding). I went for the latter. I applied the same year, and I actually didn't expect to get in that same year, but to my great surprise I did. So that was how I got into design.

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

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A dishwashing machine is a luxury this blogger can't afford, but I've used these miracle machines at friends' houses. They are amazing and I've always wondered exactly what was going on inside after you close that door and hit "Start."

Well, thanks to GoPro and YouTube, now there's video:

YouTube user Bito wasn't the first to stick a GoPro inside a dishwasher, but he was the first to do it while lighting the interior properly for visual clarity. My first thought was, holy cow, how much water does this thing use? Washing dishes by hand has to consume less water, no?

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   2 Jun 2014  |  Comments (15)

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None of you clicked onto Core77 today to read about impacted fecal matter, but design touches all aspects of our lives, including the gross ones. Don't worry, and don't put that sandwich down yet; I'm not going to dwell on the scatological. I am writing this entry out of amazement that some people do not understand the ingenious design of plungers and how they are meant to be used.

It's bad enough that this lack of understanding exists among consumers, but I find it unforgivable for product designers. When designers fail to understand the very devices they're designing for, it becomes what we call Epic Fail. First off, look at this design and see if you understand why it is flawed:

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You either know right away why the design is fundamentally incorrect, or you don't. Read on.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  30 May 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Beer was reportedly invented sometime around 5,000 B.C. So it's shocking to think that refrigeration wasn't invented until the 19th Century. Because that means that the majority of man drank warm beer for nearly 7,000 years. Which is kind of gross.

Nowadays we can all enjoy a cold beer whenever we want, and your correspondent might even be enjoying one right now, depending on whether or not your correspondent's bosses are reading this. But we rely on electricity and refrigeration to keep our brews frosty. Four fellows in Denmark, however, have figured out how to keep beer cold, outside, without using any power.

Their invention is called the eCool, and it delivers "year-round cool beers" without being plugged into anything except the earth. To install the roughly four-foot-long device, you bore a hole into the ground using a garden drill, though they advise that "[the eCool] can be installed with a shovel as well, if you're a real man." Once you've got the hole dug, you insert the cylindrical device into the ground, then load it with up to 24 cans of quaff.

The earth then keeps the beer cool, and when you're ready to have one, you turn a handcrank attached to a vertical conveyor that serves you up a fresh can. "Do something great for yourself and the environment," the eCool guys write. "It's easy to install in the garden or terrace, and uses no electricity. With the eCool you can always drink a cold beer with good conscience."

What we'd like to see next: A bottle version, please!

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

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While Naoto Fukasawa designed the Tang Prize's pretty medal, Dave Millican has also been producing gold-colored metallic items worn by champions. And he turns out some 60 to 70 per year. But these aren't neck-worn medals: Tennessee-based Dave Millican Belts produces championship belts for the WWF, UFC, UWF and a host of other fighting leagues.

"I really got into it when I was around 12 years old," Millican writes, "making them out of cardboard & anything else I could find around the house." But after meeting former pro wrestler turned championship belt-maker Reggie Parks, the Arizona-based "King of Belts," Millican learned to kick his production skills up to pro level. Having now been in business for over 20 years, Millican has produced belts worn by The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Triple H and more.

Check out this video of Millican in action:

Via Gizmodo

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  23 May 2014  |  Comments (0)

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The GIF you see above isn't CGI, it's a Lamborghini wrapped in holographic vinyl film. Not many of us can relate to the problem of our Gallardo not being flashy enough, but then most of us don't earn our livings on the wrong side of the law in Tokyo.

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The GIF (kindly extracted by this gent) is from the following video, shot in Tokyo by L.A.-based Japanophile and car lover "Steve." Fluent in Japanese, he seeks a second meeting with one of Tokyo's underworld figures that has a passion for blinged-out Lambos:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  22 May 2014  |  Comments (2)

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When he was introducing the iPhone 5C, Jonathan Ive referred to it as "beautifully, unapologetically plastic." The subtext being that plastic, these days, is a material whose use ordinarily warrants an apology. But if we go back in time, it is interesting to see how some of the earliest industrial designers to work the material first wrangled its newness into a form consumers could appreciate.

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Even for those of you designers who took History of Industrial Design as students, there may be a gap in your design timeline knowledge. In design school many of us were taught that Massimo Vignelli's plastic tableware for Heller, circa 1964, was the first such mass-market design success; but in fact we have to go back a bit further in time, and move north from Italy to Finland, to find an earlier example of a plastic diningware design sensation.

By 1961 Fiskars had already been in the metals business for over 300 years, starting off as an ironworks and gradually transitioning to the refining of steel. But when the then-futuristic material known as plastic came around, the company saw opportunity. The question was, What to do with the stuff? They certainly didn't have the expertise in it that they did with metal, but they did have a talented industrial designer named Olof Bäckström.

Bäckström was tasked with creating tableware from plastics, specifically melamine. But he wouldn't do it alone. As we saw in our History of Braun Design, Dieter Rams worked alongside new hires plucked from the Ulm School of Design. Fiskars, too, availed themselves of locally-available, young design talent: Bäckström had encountered two gifted designers, one from each gender, at the Helsinki School of Art and Design in Mattias Ingman and Gittan Landström. After helping them secure jobs at Fiskars, he now had his design team in place.

The result of their collaboration was Fiskamin, a line of over 130 pieces of tableware including virtually everything you could possibly put onto a dining table: Plates, bowls, cups, mugs, saucers, serving platters, marmalade jars, egg cups, ashtrays, et cetera.

0fiskamin-003.jpgFiskamin collector and author Mikko Aalto, photographed by Lauri Rotko

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  21 May 2014  |  Comments (0)

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This month Core77 was invited to a Fiskars press event on the occasion of their recent anniversary—their 365th, to be precise. We say no to many such opportunities but the company's long history and iconic designs spurred us to take up their offer to fly us out. The following series of articles is a result of the trip.

To cut things you need metal, and to design cutting tools you need a deep understanding of metal. So it's fitting that Fiskars, a company specialized in designing cutting tools, actually began as an ironworks—way back in 1649. That means the company has turned an astonishing 365 years old this year, having weathered everything from economic storms, material shortages, changing technologies, and classic game-enders like war and famine. By our reckoning that makes them one of the oldest companies in the world that designs and manufactures such a broad range of consumer products and tools (which now extends well beyond cutting implements).

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The company has managed to survive for this long by continually evolving while correcting previous missteps—an impressive act to sustain for more than three and a half centuries, from Fiskars founder Peter Thorwoste up to the current CEO Kari Kauniskangas. "And with a heritage that long, no one," Kauniskangas points out, "wants to be the CEO that was at the helm when the company went astray."

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With that in mind, since 2008 Kauniskangas has been wrangling the sprawling Fiskars empire into a multifaceted entity whose individual parts have at least one goal in common: To be recognized for their design prowess. Different design-driven brands have been acquired both before and after Kauniskangas took the wheel, and under his guidance these disparate elements are being forged into "a focused and efficient branded consumer goods company" with an easy-to-grasp mission statement:

Our mission is to enrich lives with lasting products that increase enjoyment and solve everyday tasks through their functionality, innovation and design.

With a mission statement like that, the company is not limited to cutting tools. They see themselves as problem solvers, ones particularly interested in solving "the unmet needs of the consumer," as Chief Strategy Officer Max Alfthan puts it, and they are not afraid to forge into new territory. The design teams are tasked with both improving old tools and creating entirely new ones, an approach that has yielded an impressive breadth of product: The Fiskars brand alone makes everything from axes--arguably one of the first human tools ever invented—all the way up to the Indoor Garden, a portable, countertop greenhouse that grows fresh herbs via an LED light that can be adjusted to game the growth speeds. The two objects have seemingly no connection until you re-read the mission statement (and spot the little herb snips included with the Garden).

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  20 May 2014  |  Comments (3)

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This month Core77 was invited to a Fiskars press event on the occasion of their recent anniversary—their 365th, to be precise. We say no to many such opportunities but the company's long history and iconic designs spurred us to take up their offer to fly us out. The following series of articles is a result of the trip.

From the get-go, we humans have mastered our environment by cutting things. Upwardly mobile cavemen devised tools to cut trees down to size, enabling them to build their own shelters. Fast-forward a couple hundred thousand years, and our modern-day lives are filled with things that were cut or need to be cut: The hairs on our head, the packages in our mailbox, the grass on the front lawn, the expired credit cards going into the trash. We wear clothes made from fabric that has been cut while we cut open packages in the kitchen and cut vegetables on the cutting board. We cut our food while cooking it and we cut it again while eating it.

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To do all this we own a range of knives, shears and scissors in drawers scattered around the house—and we own more of these tools than we think. "If you ask most people how many scissors they own," says Fiskars product designer and engineer Heikki Savolainen, "they'll tell you one or two pairs. But if you press them to really look around their house you'll find they own four, five, six."

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Savolainen should know: He's a product manager for Fiskars, a company that made their name—at least here in the U.S.—with an iconic pair of scissors. But in their native Finland, in Scandinavia, in Europe, and increasingly in the Asia-Pacific region, the company is known for making tools that cut, well, just about everything. Their factories crank out implements ranging from a few inches in length to several feet long. Beyond their comprehensive line of scissors they make kitchen knives, gardening snips and shears, tree pruners, saws, hedge-clippers, hatchets, wood-splitting axes, garden weeders, reel mowers, loppers, hole-boring devices, shovels—we'd run out of room before we could run down the literally thousands of items they design and manufacture.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  20 May 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Around five years ago, Iceland-based designer Sruli Recht started suffering from neck cramps and migraines. After tracing the problem back to his posture in front of his laptop, he set about designing a simple stand that would elevate the screen to a more ergonomically-proper height. To keep his shoulders and arms at the correct level, he started using an external keyboard. And while we've seen laptop stands and folding laptop stands before, Recht wanted his to be as lightweight and portable as possible. After doing some materials research and experimentation, he came up with the Pillar, whose form was inspired by Iceland's coastal basalt columns:

This being Sruli Recht—the cerebral, oddball designer we had the pleasure of meeting and covering once before—we know it gave him that OCD satisfaction of designing the Pillar to be cut from a single piece of material that is then cleverly folded and bonded into shape.

The 5.25-ounce object is currently up on Kickstarter with design consultancy Foald. Buy-in starts at $18, and you've got just under a month to get in on it.

Posted by erika rae  |  15 May 2014  |  Comments (0)

WeightBank-ProductShot.jpgPhotos by Véronique Huygue

There's always a certain excitement that comes with bringing an uncounted heft of change to the bank. Unfortunately, that excitement is more often than not followed by a jag of disappointment once you find out that your bag of coins is hardly worth the magical number you had envisioned. This is where Selma Durand's work comes into play. Her design, whose name—"Piggy bank"—is just as minimal as its aesthetic, looks to helps spenders re-interpret the impact of their pocket change.

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This isn't for those looking to fund a large trip or buy—think of it more as a reality check. Durand's design focuses on smaller purchases, like a baguette or a cup of coffee. The bank has a weight system—when it's empty, the inner brass container sits above the lip of the ceramic dish. As more money is added, the brass bowl dips lower and you'll know you've got the equivalent of a euro when it lines up with the ceramic edge. While the design is ideal for our European readers, with some quick weight conversions this money-saving method could be translated to American coinage—though it won't render quite as well, considering the weight of a euro is equivalent to three pennies.

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Check out these videos to see the inner and outer workings of the bank:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  15 May 2014  |  Comments (0)

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If Google Glass is anything to judge by, when it comes to physical product, Apple and Google have pretty opposite development methods. Apple waits until it's got the device as perfect as it can get it, and it goes on sale when it's ready. But Google decided to rely on a select portion of the public for their Glass beta testing, while tacking on a surcharge in the form of a $1,500 price tag.

Why the steep cost? "We want people who are going to be passionate about it," Project Glass Manager Ed Sanders told Forbes. "We wanted people who really wanted it." Apple does too, of course, but they don't charge you for it until they feel it's ready to go. Google, on the other hand, felt that end-users would provide valuable feedback that they would not have been able to anticipate on their own, a valid approach commonly taught in design schools today.

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  12 May 2014  |  Comments (8)

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Have you seen the Sada folding bike yet? Nearing the size of an umbrella when folded, this concept bike combines an intriguing and slightly mysterious mechanism with a couple design features that would give a mechanic an automatic migraine. The look is Erector Set meets Bianchi Pista, very distinctive and a little like other angular ideas we've covered. The Sada incorporates full-sized road wheels rather than the fidgety-feeling little ones usually found on folding bikes. It also avoids many of the moving parts needed when trying to fold a drivetrain. The fold is remarkably small, though the "umbrella-size" claim is a little unfair. Most comparative photos have the handlebars removed, which most riders probably won't do every time they stop for coffee.

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Perhaps most noteworthy is the use of removable hubless wheels. The frame shape is dramatically influenced by reducing the wheels to little more than rims and having them pop off (that process isn't pictured so who knows how much work it takes). The fold owes its cylindrical tightness to that feature, but it opens a lot of questions too. As with most hubless designs, its durability and usability aren't easy to predict. Normally, if by eliminating the hub you are adding friction or resistance, complex proprietary parts, great expense or weight... you're probably not striking gold. Without the distributed load allowed by spokes, you're either dealing with a rigid mag-wheel (yeah, remember those? Comfy, huh?) or, as in the case of the Sada, a super vulnerable rubberized metal hoop. Hit a pothole with your proprietary rim and then come tell me about its efficiency. In this case, hublessness directly benefits the main selling point of the frame design—its compact fold—and might warrant playing fast and loose with practicality. For more views check out their minimally informative video:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   9 May 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Auto designers and Milan-friendly furniture folks are the rockstars of industrial design, but designers who work on camping cookware deserve more credit than they get. To take cookware, a line of objects with clearly-defined form factors, and completely re-think them to make them compact, minimalist and lightweight is a challenge many of us would (and did) fail at in design school; but look at some of the leading camping goods companies and you'll see all manner of clever design solutions and a real understanding of materials.

Sometimes the innovations are small, as with GSI Outdoors' Halulite Pot. For example, a built-in strainer is something you've seen in conventional cookware, as with these:

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But the moderate design flaw with those designs is that they require hand protection from the heat of the lid. GSI's designers got around this with two simple pieces of silicone to protect your mitts while you pour and hold the lid in place.

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

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Since Amazon made their name selling books, it made perfect sense when they came out with their own physical object for reading, the Kindle. It enabled them to get a piece of the e-book action. And now that they sell everything else, they've come out with another proprietary physical device related to selling, this one a sort of handheld ordering machine. Whether this object makes any sense, however, remains to be seen.

On the one hand, its utility is clear. The Amazon Dash, as it's called, is a handheld "magic wand" (the company's words) with just two buttons on it. One activates a barcode scanner in the tip, which you run over any item in your house with a UPC code; that object is now added via WiFi to your Amazon shopping list. The second activates a microphone that understands what you say, so you can re-order those pesky items (apples, toilet paper, etc.) that don't have barcodes on them. The catch is that the Dash currently works only with AmazonFresh, their grocery delivery service that only serves a handful of west coast cities, but if this Beta testing period works out, they'll presumably roll it out coast-to-coast.

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