Posted by Don Lehman
| 20 Mar 2013
Crowd Supply is Kickstarter for product designers. That's an overly simplistic description and a disservice to what Crowd Supply has accomplished at launch, but it's the best way to explain what it is. When you dig past the surface, into what a crowdfunding site developed specifically for product designers could mean, the differences become exciting.
The site launched this morning with nine projects and three read-to-ship products, ranging the gamut from an iPhone case with a built-in hand crank charger to a cyclocross bike to a dog collar with a built-in leash that I am admittedly thinking of Backing for my own dog.
About two weeks ago, I spoke via Skype with Crowd Supply's CEO, Lou Doctor. He was coming from Crowd Supply's headquarters in Portland and had the familiar look of someone under the gun getting ready to launch a product—happy and sleep deprived. Doctor, like the five other employees at Crowd Supply , comes with a background in engineering that has veered into business, entrepreneurship and running project teams.
I came away from our discussion thinking that Doctor and his team have smartly thought through the experience of running a crowdfunded product design project while simultaneously creating a better experience for Backers.
Let's start with how Crowd Supply is the same as Kickstarter. All of the big design issues that Kickstarter solved are kept in place. Projects are pitched by Creators. They have funding goals and deadlines. If they meet or exceed their goal by the deadline, they get funded. If they miss their goal, they don't get funded. Project pages mimic Kickstarter's familiar layout: Video and funding goal at the top, description and backing tiers below. Creators retain all ownership of their projects and give Crowd Supply 5% of their fundraising total.
Beyond these fundamentals, Crowd Supply has built a platform specifically tailored for product design and manufacturing. They've done a bunch of little things right, but I want to focus on three key areas that I think makes them meaningfully different from Kickstarter.
This has the potential to be a real game changer: Crowd Supply is staffed by product development veterans who will advise Creators throughout the course of their projects.
When Creators send their projects to be reviewed, Crowd Supply's team vets them, looking for potential pitfalls in their plans. The feedback could come in the form of, "This will be more expensive that you are thinking, you need to raise your funding goal," or "Have you thought of adding an engineer to your team? Here is someone that could help," or "Have you thought through your production plan yet?" If proposals aren't up to snuff, Creators are given feedback on how to improve their project or rejected.
This is such a great feature, not only for Creators but for Backers too. For any Creator manufacturing solo for the first, or even the second or third time, asking questions like these before launch can be the difference between success and failure. Backers can feel assured that someone with expertise has vetted the project and deemed the Creator worthy of launching a project.
Once Creators are allowed through that gate, Crowd Supply's staff offers support for the duration of the project, offering advice and even providing their own fulfillment services.
I love this approach to helping Creators, because it solves a major issue of not only crowdfunding but launching products in general. The team shares their learnings of fundamental knowledge of what it takes to launch something. We're not talking about IP issues, it's basic stuff like finding a factory or figuring out how to do fulfillment. It's one of those things you can only really learn by doing, but man wouldn't it be nice to have an Obi-Wan there to show you the ways of the force.
Traditionally, one of the challenges faced by creative communities in a Toronto or a Cincinnati has been brain drain: Talented designers are lured away by bigger cities like New York and San Francisco, leaving their hometowns in the dust. While that's been good for the big cities, it's lousy for the small cities in that the local citizens are deprived of a potentially helpful exposure to design.
Nowadays that's starting to change. Cincinnati native John Dixon received his degree in Industrial Design at the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, then picked up stakes and headed to Brooklyn for a furniture design internship. While he was there he learned a ton, and rather than stick around like most starry-eyed NYC newcomers, he decided to bring what he'd learned back to Ohio with him.
He wasn't alone. While schools like DAAP do a good job of deploying students around the globe for internships, a bunch of them found themselves back in Cincinnati. As fellow ID grad Mike Nauman told a local paper, "We all saw what was going on in the world," Nauman said. "We all fell out of love with industrial design."
So three years ago a core of them formed a Cincinnati-based industrial design collective, Losantiville LTD., to fall back in love with design. And this time it would be on their own terms.
At Losantiville, they would pool their resources and rent a storefront. They would share a space and tools. They would build what they wanted and how they wanted. They would succeed or fail on their own merits. They hung a sign in the front that says proudly: "We made all of this right here."
...It works because industrial designers do not need a lot of individual space, but they do occasionally need expensive tools. "This works for a person only if you are actually making things," Nauman said. "Only if you are making dust."
Each member pays $175 per month, which covers rent and utilities and dumpster pick ups -- this is a group that makes a lot of garbage. Each month, the left over money is saved for large group purchases.
The biggest one so far: a laser cutter called a CNC machine, which stands for "computer numerical control" and cost $10,000. The machine is quite useful, but it also had symbolic significance. The ability to buy a machine like this, meant they had made it. They were serious.
Sounds awesome, no? I don't know what the rent looks like in Cincinnati, but it's gotta be a damn sight better than what you pay in NYC or SF.
As it stands, Losantiville consists of nine designers spread over six brands, all DAAP ID grads, and currently all dudes. They've got a shop, they've got a storefront, and you can peruse their wares here.
Here's a vid showing what they do:
» E13 Workshop
» 2nd Shift Studio
This is both a cautionary and inspirational tale of realizing a good idea for a product.
Patrick and Dallas are two Miami-based videogame developers that ship their own products. That being the case, the duo are well-acquainted with packing peanuts, which as every eBay shipper knows, can quickly messy without a good dispensing system in place.
Existing industrial-sized packing peanut hoppers (pictured up top) are too bulky for the pair's business, so they set out to design their own solution. Their resultant PeanutBuddy device is a clear design improvement over the hoppers (though industrial-design-minded nitpickers will take potshots). Presumably excited about their creation, the duo contacted shipping giant Uline to see if they had any interest.
Well, Uline called back, and they were interested. Just one problem: Patrick & Dallas weren't actually ready to produce the thing. (We jaded Kickstarter-watchers know fulfillment is everything, but these guys' expertise is videogames and not industrial design, so we ought cut 'em a little slack.) Newly motivated, the pair are now turning to Indiegogo in hopes of funding the tooling for a production run.
You can see how the device works, and hear their story, in the pitch vid:
Posted by Perrin Drumm
| 19 Jul 2012
Icelandic product designer Thorunn Arnadottir must have made a pit stop in Africa on her way to London, where she received her MA in Design Products from the Royal College of Art last year. Africa's influence can be seen even in her most minimal and characteristically Icelandic pieces. The strongest of these is the Sasa Clock, which "aims to bring the benefits of ancient African concepts of time to our modern lives." In African Kiswahili culture, Sasa means What is now.
The Sasa Clock asks the user to relax and slow down, to become the master of your own time lest time become the master of you. The clock actually forces you to slow your pace as there is no quick way to read it. The long beaded cord revolves around a rotating mirror face, dropping beads along the cord at five minute intervals. Orange beads are for hours and gold and silver beads signify noon and midnight. To tell the time, find the gold or silver beads, count the orange hour bead and then the minute beads hanging on the cord. You can always stop time completely by lifting the cord off the clock "and wear it proudly as a statement that you are in control of your own minutes."
At the time Arnadottir released the Sasa Clock it was one of very few conceptual time-keeping products - not that the market for telling time in slow motion has exactly taken off, but in the last few months it's been eclipsed by Scott Thrift's magnificent annual clock, The Present. With a face that reads like a 360-degree rainbow, Scott's clock, like Arnadottir's, asks us to slow down, but unlike the Sasa Clock you couldn't tell time with The Present even if you were willing to count it out on beads - and that's the whole point.
In late 2011, Scott raised over $100,000 on Kickstarter for The Present. Since then he's been working with manufacturers to perfect the annual clock mechanism and the rainbow paint job, which, as you might guess, is extremely difficult to do. They should be ready any day now, and if you haven't ordered one yet get moving - or don't. Take your time and think it over. Meanwhile, watch this video that explains why Scott wants us all to be Present.
Sasa Clock is available from Spark Design Space for $430.
Over in the Core77 Discussion Forums Matthew Proulx asked if a career in design was right for him? With no way to really answer that accurately I developed a check list:
1) You buy something just to take it apart.
2) You spend hours aimlessly wondering around hardware stores just looking at fasteners.
3) The first thing you do when you pick up something you like is say a way it could be better.
4) You compulsively draw things from you imagination to the point where others think it might be a problem.
5) You just know how to fix stuff, hack stuff, and jerry rig things.
6) You can quote just about any line from Star Wars Episodes IV - VI.
7) You know what "Ironman CAD" is.
8) You know at least 3 of the following people or companies: Jonathan Ive, James Dyson, Muji, Raymond Loewy, DWR, Herman Miller, Eames, MacGyver.
9) You own old things that don't work just because you like them.
10) A conversation with your friends sounds like a Top Gear episode.
Add you own over in the forum!
Posted by Ray
| 28 Oct 2011
With a name as idealistic and tenacious as ideacious, it better be good: besides containing every vowel, "ideacious" is a new crowdfunding platform that sounds something like Kickstarter meets Quirky. They've added a handful of mechanics to the age-old equation of 'inventor + buyer(s) = product,' offering a more structured e-commerce ecosystem than, say, Kickstarter by focusing on products instead of projects. And like Quirky, ideacious came about in response to the traditional product design and development process:
The founder of ideacious, Joshua Brassé, is a professional product designer. For him, it was never an issue to find new ideas; ideas are everywhere. The issue was trying to bring the idea to fruition. Too many times he went up against the same obstacles: funding, sourcing, protection, legal and safety considerations, plus a number of other hurdles. Often these issues were too large and the idea was thrown into the black void of 'later.'
... so he came up with was a community-based venue that determines demand before supply—an option for anyone with an idea. And he called it ideacious.
Just as the arithmetic of the transaction is intended to create value for both parties, the Toronto-based company caters to two distinct audiences:
As a buyer you can shop like you would at any other store, or you can buy products before they're made. When you do that you not only do your part to bring awesome products into being, you could also make some coin along the way.
As a creator you've got a full-service network at your fingertips to help get your idea to market. Plus, you'll pre-sell all your products before you manufacture the whole lot.
We're particularly curious about ideacious's offerings to the latter half: fees for development, consulting and use of their platform&mdash a "network," as they call it—start at $100. "You don't have to be a designer, a patent lawyer, or have any special connections to have the chance to bring an idea to market; whatever your skill set, our service network will pick up where you leave off."
The creator retains creative control and the rights to his or her work.
Jet Set Prototype by Rob Southcott
Alternately, ideacious introduces a product to target audience—insofar as the site attracts a self-selecting group of forward-looking buyers—a step or two before actual production, where would-be customers actually become investors.
[When you preorder a product,] you'll also get a percentage of future sales, as specified by the seller, on every production run after the initial one for the next 10 years. And all you had to do was flex your shopping muscle.
The first person to preorder a product will get the highest percentage of future sales. The second person will get the second most, and so on down the line...
Putting $5 down saves you a spot in line. Once that product has enough buyers to go forward with manufacturing, you will confirm your order and pay the remaining balance. If you change your mind you can transfer your full $5 to another product. If you back out completely and don't want to transfer your money, you will be charged a $1 processing fee and get $4 back.
The added incentive of equity raises interesting questions about the economics of crowdfunding as a DIY, especially during lean times. As for the answers, only time will tell: Ideacious is still in Beta, so its potential still remains to be seen...
Throne by Jacob Brassé
Posted by Tiffany Chu
| 25 Feb 2011
For those of you with both creative feet and creative fingers, here's a new toy to tickle your fancy. A fascinating mashup of two worlds, Stance is a project by Delroy Dennisur that brings together the DIY designer toy community with the sneaker culture.
"There's an incredible passion within the sneaker culture," says Delroy, an industrial designer who spent a lot of his childhood in Florida doodling shoes in the margins of his notebooks. "You start your life wanting to be that cool kid with the kicks," he mused, and now he's channeled that spirit into creativity that straddles into the world's fascination with customizable toys. The production piece will be vinyl plastic, the same material as the Dunny, so you can either leave it as a blank collector's item, or use pencil, pens, markers, and paint. He's starting off with the iconic basketball shoe, but hopes to further the concept and branch out to other shoes and ideas.
Part of what makes DIY toys like Stance so compelling is their ambiguity and ability to strike a perfect balance of abstraction and recognition, allowing people to extrapolate with their own imaginations. It seems reminiscent of a 3D version of the oh-so-seductive napkin sketch -- a basic concept and framework is there, but beyond that, anyone can envision anything they want from it and infuse it with their own individuality.
For the next two weeks, you can help Delroy launch the project on Kickstarter.
Posted by core jr
| 14 Feb 2011
Don Lehman just launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce an ingenious idea -- a Stylus Cap that turns a standard pen or marker into a touchscreen stylus. The MORE/REAL Stylus Cap turns a Sharpie, a Bic, or a Pilot Fineliner into a touchscreen stylus that works with any capacitive touch screen. You get all the benefits of an marker that can write on paper with a stylus that gives you superior control to sketch and take notes on touchscreens such as the iPad. Read more about his project after the jump and donate here!
Posted by Lisa Smith
| 28 Oct 2010
Starting Out is a series about designers who have recently struck out on their own. More than a string of studio visits, the articles profile talented, risk-taking professionals all around the world. We hope their anecdotes will inspire your own entrepreneurial spirit.
In our third installment, we visit Alice Wang in Taipei, Taiwan. We met her first at the world famous dumpling house Din Tai Fung, and then at her studio, where after only one year, she has a large team of employees under her wing and a brand new magazine to boot.
Top: Alice Wang and her studio bunch, wearing a set of laser cut glasses made to surprise Alice on her birthday. Bottom: An image of Controlled Experiments, a series of design projects in the spirit of science fairs.
Core77: Alice, tell us about your studio practice.
Alice Wang:: I have a background in product design and interaction design and a childhood dream to become an artist, so as a result, I think what I'm doing now is a mixture of all three.
Instead of designing products that solves problem, I use design as a language to illustrate stories, social trends, common issues seen among us; to observe and remind people about issues left hidden or forgotten; use parody and irony to ask people to laugh and self-reflect.
Alice takes us on a tour of her impressive studio, just a year old.
C77: How and why did you first start out?
AW: I started out by accident. I had to ship my project to Milan for Salone Satellite and it was too heavy to ship it as an individual, so I registered my company asap just so I can get those boxes to Europe.
C77: Your practice is very diverse. Tell us about all its different facets.
AW: My company is loosely divided into 5 parts:
Research & Collectables: On the side, we work on a wide range of self-initiated research projects, and sometimes, the outcome turns into a design collectable or an installation for gallery and museums.
The Binder: A new magazine we started on April Fool's Day this year, it mainly focuses on art, design, fashion, psychology, social trend analysis. The magazine has three holes and comes with a binder hoping to encourage readers to tear out pages and reorganize them when archiving them into the Binder.
Controlled Experiments: With this series, we're aiming to merge the process of scientific experiments into the design process. Each project starts off with a hypothesis and goes through data collection and observation before it researches the analysis and conclusion procedure. We're not sure what the outcome of each product will be as it may be influenced by the participants and the data collected.
Posted by Lisa Smith
| 6 Aug 2010
Starting Out is a series about designers who have recently struck out on their own. More than a string of studio visits, the series profiles talented, risk-taking professionals all around the world. We hope their anecdotes will inspire your own entrepreneurial spirit.
In our second installment, we talk with Nelly Ben Hayoun, a London-based experience designer who mixes science with theatre, fact with fantasy and is no stranger to the pages of Core77. We visited her at the Sunbury Workshops in Shoreditch (not 5 minutes from Jasper Morrison's), met some of her studiomates (we'll be hearing from them later), and got caught up on what she's all about.
Top: Nelly in her workspace. Bottom: Airspace Activism, a project that helps citizens regain control of the military airspace above their heads.
Core77: Nelly, in a few words, how would you describe what you do?
Nelly Ben Hayoun: I am interested in how we can use design in our everyday lives to make them more thrilling, creative and passionate. I design experiences.
C77: How did you first start out?
NBH: Starting out on my own is closely linked to my life as part of the studio. Olivia Decaris who I knew from the Royal College of Art , approached me about sharing a studio with 4 other ex-RCA graduates around October 2009. I remember it very well; at that time I was organizing the Super K Sonic BOOOOum show at Shunt under London Bridge. She made me visit it and I was very charmed by its location - central London and very close to so many workshops. So, literally 4 months after graduation at the RCA.
Before sharing the studio and during the interim period of finishing study, you kind of wander around looking for new challenges and places to exhibit your work. I did one more show with my RCA Design Interactions colleagues under the label Disruptive Thinking at 100% Design with Designers block during the London Design festival.
Nelly and other Sudbury Workshop designers with the broken down car of a friend.
Posted by Lisa Smith
| 16 Jul 2010
Starting Out is a new series by Core77 about designers who have recently struck out on their own. More than a string of studio visits, the series profiles talented, risk-taking professionals all around the world. We hope their anecdotes will inspire your own entrepreneurial spirit.
First up is Stewart Smith of Stewdio, a designer, artist, programmer and American transplant in London. We visited him in his shared studio space in Dalston. Read the interview below, or click through the jump to see some of his projects.
Top: Stewart Smith. Bottom: Browser Pong is a traditional Pong game played not *in* a browser window, but *with* browser windows. Play here.
Core77: What do you do exactly?
Stewart Smith: I'm a graphic designer, programmer, and artist. At the beginning of the year I relocated from New York to London. I run my own little shop called Stewdio and share work space with architect James Payne and fellow designer / coder / artist Jürg Lehni.
C77: What are you working on right now?
SS: I've got three kettles on the stove. The first is a low-fi, computer-generated music video for Tomas Halberstad, a musician in Gothenburg, Sweden. The second is a data visualization piece for SFMoMA's upcoming exhibition "How Wine Became Modern" that opens in November. Finally—and a bit further down the road—is a data viz piece for an exhibition titled "Global Art and the Museum" that will open at ZKM in Germany next summer. The latter two are collaborations with musician / engineer / architect Robert Gerard Pietrusko. Meanwhile I've also become very excited about Jürg's "Scriptographer" tool for Illustrator. He and I have just been talking about how we might channel that enthusiasm.
Top: Stewart shows us some data visualization sketches in Processing. Bottom: Exit (Terre Natale) is a 45-minute immersive visualization of human migration data in six narratives.
C77: Describe your toolset.
SS: I'm handcuffed to my MacBook Pro. From the moment I wake up to lights-out I've got it open, grinding away on something. Email and video chat take up an appalling slice of my day—coordinating projects and syncing up with collaborators in various locations. Although I'm up early I usually arrive at the studio late because by morning coffee I'm already hooked into solving some aspect of a project. Sometimes it's difficult to push things aside long enough to put myself together and walk over to the studio space.
Right now my one-two software combination is TextMate plus Terminal. Recently I tried to answer this question about what tools I use but found myself failing miserably. I code quite a bit, but I'm increasingly interested in writing. There's an oft neglected connection between the two. Writing good source code is like writing poetry. One wants to be concise but also expressive. (Did I mention I'm a rather big fan of Ruby?)