Today saw the unveiling of the collaborative bicycle designs that are going head to head in the third edition of the Oregon Manifest, in which five teams in as many cities set out to create and craft the best urban utility bike. As of this morning's launch, the public is invited to vote on their favorite one, which may well be produced by Fuji Bikes in the near future. We are pleased to present exclusive Q&As with each team so they have a chance to explain why their bicycle is the best before the voting period closes this Sunday, August 3.
Core77: Did you and Thomas know (or know of) each other before the collaboration? What was the matchmaking process like?
Mark Prommel (Pensa): We had seen Horse Cycles on various design and local maker blogs, and were already really into his work. When we were invited to participate as the NYC representative for The Bike Design Project, Thomas Callahan was definitely at the top of the list of bike craftsmen we were interested in talking to. After meeting a few builders, the choice was easy.
By its very nature, the design-fabrication relationship for this collaboration is far more intimate than your average designer's relationship with a contractor or manufacturer. To what degree did you educate each other on your respective areas of expertise? Has the collaboration yielded broader lessons?
One of the things that really made this relationship work well was the fact that Thomas is an established designer in his own right, and we at Pensa are also accomplished makers and fabricators. So it wasn't just a "we design it / you build it" relationship—it was a fully collaborative from the first day. All of our concepts were born out of our first few weeks of open collaboration workshops. Thomas was very open to our approach of establishing the big picture story of the bike first, ensuring it was unique, compelling, and based on real insight about the New York City urban rider. We had to make sure that we were looking at the full range of possibilities for the bike and that the foundation of our concept would have enough layers to make the end result truly special. In developing our early concepts together, Thomas lent a wealth of experience and expertise that prevented us from going down paths that would have been wrought with insurmountable challenges.
It's 1952 in Cambiago, Italy, and a young man makes a fateful decision not to go into the family farming business. Ernesto Colnago loves racing bicycles, knows how to fix them, and wants to make them rather than tilling the soil. His father responds by grabbing an axe—and cutting down the family's mulberry tree, to turn the lumber into a workbench for Ernesto.
Colnago started selling high-quality custom steel frames in 1954, and in the subsequent decades gained a reputation for designing and building winning racing bikes. By the '70s, Colnago was making super-light steel frames, and in the '80s, used a then-radical top tube with an oval cross-section in a quest for increased stiffness. Then came the materials experimentation: Aluminum, titanium, and finally carbon fiber in a fateful collaboration with Ferrari in the late '80s.
By 1987 they'd produced their first carbon fiber prototype—but it wasn't ready for prime time. "The first fruit of Colnago and Ferrari Engineering's cooperation [was] the Concept bicycle," the company writes, "with carbon fiber tubes, composite three-spoke wheels and a gear system enclosed in the chainrings. The unusual gears [made] it too heavy for production, but the ideas in its frame [informed] all subsequent Colnago carbon fiber bicycles."
They've spent the years since working it out, and just this month they've updated their flagship bike. The Colnago C60 is hand-manufactured with the same process of "lugged" construction as its predecessor C59. Under this technique, the tubes that Colnago has formed from Japanese-made carbon fiber can be cut to specific lengths and inserted into a range of different lugs, or hubs if you will. This allows relatively quick and easy customization. (The alternative is to mold the frame in one piece, which would require a new, expensive mold for each variation in geometry.)
Watching the bike come together, it almost resembles a plumber cleaning and pasting PVC pipes together:
If I had to guess, I'd say that a smooth surface is better than a rough one for cutting wind resistance. And I'd be wrong. There's a reason golf balls have dimples: The dimples decrease the drag caused by wind, by a significant amount. In the middle ages Dutch men used to hit spherical pebbles with a stick to play what became golf. Later in the 1600s they started using wooden balls. And it was in the late 1800s when players noticed that that beaten up balls went further than the smoother, newer versions.
Now researchers have created a material that—when triggered by wind—can automatically morph into a dimpled surface similar to that of a golf ball. It sort of also resembles pruning of finger tips after soaking in water (in fact, the inspiration for this new material came from dried prunes.) See the video below from the MIT team led by Pedro Reis, who developed the "Smorph" (Smart Morphable Surface).
The Smorph operates on fairly basic mechanics. In fact, the useful function comes from a common mechanical failure that most engineers need to prevent at all costs: Buckling. The prototype is a hollow silicon ball covered in a thin and stiff layer of polystyrene. When the pressure lowers within the hollow ball the exterior automatically shrinks, and this creates the dimples. The key thing is to have a pattern of dimples—and not something random.
Last year we looked at the unusual train designs of Eiji Mitooka, a Japanese industrial designer who specializes in railway carriages. Mitooka's awesomely retro Seven Stars luxury train was the coolest in his portfolio, and apparently the high-profile project has been a success, as Japan's JR East railway company has commissioned yet another luxury touring train: The Cruise Train, which forgoes the retro look of its predecessor and resembles an Italian boutique hotel on rails.
Designed by Ken Okuyama of Pininfarina fame, the Cruise Train is unabashedly modern where the Seven Stars is classic. The Cruise Train's dining room looks like something you'd see in Tokyo's ritzy Ginza neighborhood, while the observation deck resembles something out of Gattaca. And if the standard suites, which feature sofa-chairs that apparently fold out into beds, seem huge by train standards...
Concept bikes come in a few flavors—godownthatproverbialrabbithole, ifyoudare—but the rarest one may be the Apocalyptic Battle Rat Rod. This fierce fixed-gear is made by Antoine Hotermans of McFly Customs in Belgium. Known as the Apache Racer, it's stripped down way past the normal hyper-simple classic profile to the point of architectural absurdity, with plenty of odd flair added back in. Hotermans' work shows plenty of love for traditional lines, like the direct nod to Café Racer motorcycles, and much of his work includes vintage parts and found frames. Meanwhile, the total design somehow turns out aggressively modern.
Well, you could always take a cue from our favorite IKEA hack of all time and use them to fuel a fire... but not only does burning pallets lack the elegance of the ad hoc bow drill (in the above hack), there are any number of reasons not to scrap them for firewood.*
We've seen from at least a few pallet-based design projects, including upcycled chairs and a full-fledged office, not to mention our own pop-upexhibition design. Among the pallet facts that we picked up along the way—some 700 million pallets are manufactured each year; North American standard pallets measure in at 48” × 40”—we were interested to learn that the EPAL-spec'd EUR-pallet comes in at different dimensions and standards.
It so happens that the 1200×800mm2 Europallet, as it is colloquially known, is suitably sized to span the (active) tram tracks that criss-cross certain cities around the world. Whereas several stateside and Italian streetcar systems run on 'broad gauge' tracks—wider than the 1435mm standard gauge that also turns up in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Germany, etc.—the taxonomy also includes narrow gauge tracks, including a one-meter width in cities such as Antwerp, Basel, Belgrade, Bern, Frankfurt, Geneva, Ghent, Helsinki, Zürich to name a few. (Different widths are named after different locales, including Russian, Irish, Iberian and Indian, all of which are broad gauge; see the full list here.)
And while trams are certainly a practical mode of transportation, the tracks can be a hazard to certain smaller-wheeled vehicles such as bicycles or skateboards. Which brings us to Tomas Moravec's pallet hack:
While the Slovakian artist has created many performative works of sculpture, installation and video art since he made the Duchamp-meets-Alÿs piece in 2008, the video went up just a few months ago. The brief description notes that Bratislavan trams run on felicitously narrow 1000mm-wide tracks: "A new transport vehicle brings change into the spatial perspective of a passenger in motion and generally changes the life of the city, through which the pallet can run, guided by a map of the city lines." (We have to assume that it would technically work in any of the cities listed above as well.)
As of just a couple weeks ago, it looks like electric motorcycles are going big time... or, specifically, like Harley-Davidson is making a move into the future of transportation with the recently unveiled LiveWire prototype. Indeed, its styling is closer to a streetbike than Harley's iconic Super Glide or Softail, but beyond the fact that its jet-engine screech sounds more like a sounds like a podracer than a V-Twin, we'll leave it to the hardcore bike guys to provide feedback, as some of them have in the forum thread.
Although Harley has sent the prototype on national tour for test rides and feedback from the H-D community, the Milwaukee stalwarts are careful to note (in the unembeddable introduction video, linked above) that there is no production timetable at this early stage. Nevertheless, it's worth mentioning that cult favs Mission reportedly consulted on this moonshot (as they say) for the 111-year-old brand, and we'll certainly be looking forward to new developments for the LiveWire.
The automobile industry may be on the cusp of a radical shift as a generation of would-be car owners opt for the comfort and convenience of car- and bike-share-enabled cities, but motorsport remains a source of inspiration and delight. Artist and designer Gerry Judah may well have one of the sweetest gigs in the industry—besides, of course, designing performance vehicles themselves—the Calcutta-born, London-based artist and designer has created bespoke large-scale installations for the Goodwood Festival of Speed for the past decade and a half.
Founded in 1993, the FOS is an annual three-day festival that focuses on a hill climb on the grounds of the Goodwood House in West Sussex, England. The 2014 event took place this past weekend, from June 26–29, when the historic estate once again hosted a sold-out crowd of 150,000 attendees; Judah's monuments, which showcase racecars of a selected automaker, have been a veritable centerpiece of the Festival of Speed since 1997. According to Judah:
Way back in the eighties, in order to supplement my sculptures, I used to build sets for many photographers. One of them was Charles Settrington who later became the Earl of March [who resides in Goodwood andd founded the event]. Many years later in 1997, he approached me to build a triumphal arch to suspend a Ferrari F1 car as a central display at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. From then on, we established a good working relationship based on challenge and trust which has led to where we are now.
Mercedes-Benz is the featured marque this time around, joining Porsche, Audi, Jaguar and Renault as two-time honorees; previous editions have also featured the likes of Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, Alfa Romeo, etc. The arch traces the paths of two speedsters—a and the late-model F1 W04—as they travel in opposite directions, the late-model F1 W04 ascending from front lawn as a 1934 Mercedes-Benz W25 begins its descent from the apex of a stylized contrail rising from behind the house. Engineered by Capita and fabricated by Littlehampton Welding, the 90-meter-long,160-ton parabola is an extruded triangular volume that neatly tapers at the ends. Here's the making-of video, as well as a few glamour shots of past installations:
They say, not unfairly, that the only upper body workout cyclists get is having to pump up their tires. That's certainly one reason fixing flat tires is such a bummer. To give your feeble T-Rex arms a break, and to save you mysophobes from a day of despair, check out the skepticism-inducing-yet-promising tool from PatchNRide.
The PatchNRide system is a little oblique, modeled largely by CAD drawings and a distractingly good-looking actor. From what we can gather, it works like this: you locate the source of your flat, remove offending debris, push the pointed business end of this tool into the hole, depress a needle into that hole, inject a rubber sealant into the inner tube, remove the tool, and refill the tire with air. In less than 60 seconds your ride has gone from bummertown to back in action. No tire removal and minimal grumbling at the side of the road.
You probably have that one project. It's a little stupid, a little outlandish. It wouldn't fit into your real work, unless... you changed your work. Bill Webb is a partner at Huge Design, and he rides motorcycles. With a tech-heavy background in product design, Bill had always thought of designing a custom motorcycle but never had an excuse to try. It took some bad luck and a deep appreciation for bike design to make it happen.
After selling off all his motorcycle gear to start Huge four years ago, a friend gifted him a tired old Kawasaki zx7 Ninja. Despite its slightly regrettable "purple David Bowie" graphics, he rode the bike daily... until it was stolen. They recovered it from a San Francisco tow yard, parted out and bedraggled, and began thinking about what to do with it. Two years later, the bike has a completely different—and very distinct—personality, reinvented by its industrial designer owner. The resulting design is a stylistic blend of two very different aesthetic schools, pulling elements from both café racers and streetfighters together in a slick, stripped down package. To unpack the complex project Bill walked us through his inspiration, design and build process.
Words and images courtesy of Bill Webb
To combine elements from two very different styles of custom bikes (café racer and streetfighter) and create the "café fighter." Café racers have been the hottest trend in the custom motorcycle scene for the last few years. The café racer usually starts with a Japanese street bike from the mid-70's. Unnecessary parts are stripped off and usually the seat/subframe area is heavily modified into a very minimal, flat single seat. Because the bikes are 30+ years old, there is very little technology to deal with and the bikes pretty much design themselves once all the factory parts are removed. The CB750 is probably the most used-donor bike to create this look. This style is pretty popular with hipsters and city riders who value the raw urban vibe of these bikes.
Street fighters by contrast are usually modern sport bikes that have been spun into aggressive-styled mean machines with wild graphics, neon lights and loud colors. Usually the streetfighter starts with a modern sport bike that has been stripped of its racing plastics. Without the plastics, these bikes can look a bit raw with random bits of electronics and plumbing exposed that were never intended to be seen. These bikes celebrate the ugliness and own it as an aggressive, mean aesthetic that the owners take pride in.
Our goal was simple: apply the honesty and proportional beauty of the café racer with the raw aggression and performance stance of a modern sportbike/streetfighter... and call it a café fighter.
This may be the craziest vehicle I've ever seen. A South-Carolina-based company called Cool Amphibious Manufacturers International produces the Terra Wind, a luxury RV that is freaking amphibious. It's not driving through deep water in that photo above, it is floating and powering through a lake via a separate marine transmission driving a pair of 19-inch bronze propellors. You have to see this thing in action to believe it:
Even crazier is the Terra Wind's origin story, as reported by Car and Driver. It was designed and built by CAMI founder John Giljam, who grew up on a farm in upstate New York, never attended college and never took a single engineering class!
When the Mexican national railway system privatized in 1995, passenger lines were decommissioned on the grounds of low profits. Despite their viability, almost 6,000 miles of physically intact track were abandoned. Artist brothers Ivan Puig and Andres Padilla Domene are Los Ferronautas, intrepid explorers of dead railway lines and co-pilots of SEFT-1. The SEFT-1 is an outer space-inspired craft for discovering the inner space of the country. Short for Sonda de Exploracion Ferroviaria Tripulada, or Manned Railway Exploration Probe, the SEFT-1 is an aluminum-bodied, data-gathering, manned vehicle that takes to the tracks, or takes off from them when need be.
Between 2010 and 2012, the two artists steered their retrofuturist creation through miles and miles of track, eating and sleeping in the trundling pod. Like any well-developed mission, they observed, documented and collected. Video, photos, objects and stories that they gathered provided supportive material that clarified how the rail system once functioned and illustrated contemporary life at its dead ends. How the network connected and then disconnected communities, and what the country looked like, 15 years after economic politics stopped the trains.
In badass science news, they've built an aquatic gundam and they're going to use it to search for a 2,000 year old computer that even Jacques Cousteau couldn't find.
Filling the gap between a submarine and scuba gear, the Exosuit is an articulated rigid suit worn by a diver. It's loaded with cool capabilities [PDF], including intercom, video and data communication links, a rad carbon dioxide scrubbing system, a whopping 50 hour emergency support system and intense pincer-grabber hands. However the primary feature is its ability to maintain surface pressure for up to 1,000 feet below—depths where an unprotected diver would almost certainly suffer decompression sickness. Powered by vertical and horizontal thrusters that are engaged by moving the diver's feet, an umbilical link to a parent ship powers its movement, and voice, video and data links.
The Exosuit was designed by Nuytco Research, a marine robotic firm with a website worth poking around in. Priginally built for diving in "the bowels" of New York City's water treatment plants (good one, New Scientist), the suit recently got a saltwater test at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to further explore its capabilities. By removing the possibility of the Bends, the Exosuit could radically change manned underwater exploration, making deep-sea sites accessible in entirely new ways.
Rigorous sea testing of the suit's flexibility and durability is vital because it is slated for use on one of the world's most exciting shipwrecks as soon as September. Known as the Antikythera Wreck, the site was discovered by sponge divers off the coast of Greek island of Antikythera in 1900. The site is 120m deep and at the time of its discovery, divers could spend a dangerous maximum of five minutes on the floor. Even then, several of the original divers suffered paralysis and one died of complications from decompression. But the discoveries on the ancient Greek wreck might have been worth it. In addition to statues, amphora and precious booty of all varieties, the ship offered up a very odd piece of machinery that went under the radar until the 1950s.
Yes, "All Our Patent Are Belong To You" is the actual title of a Tesla press release, which went live yesterday and is causing a tremendous media stir. "Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters," Elon Musk himself wrote. "That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology."
In a nutshell, he's announcing that anyone who wants to get into the electric car game can, and in fact should, start knocking off Tesla's technologies, and they won't unleash the lawyers. We suggest you read the entire press release, but here are the relevant points:
- ...I [once] thought patents were a good thing and worked hard to obtain them. And maybe they were good long ago, but too often these days they serve merely to stifle progress, entrench the positions of giant corporations and enrich those in the legal profession, rather than the actual inventors.
- ...Electric car programs...at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.
- ...It is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis.
- We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.
It's pretty fascinating to see altruism, business self-interest and environmentalism all intersect in this way. Now the question is, who will pick up the gauntlet? Are the big automakers really in bed with the petroleum companies, and is it just a lack of access to technology that's prevented them from investing big in electric?
Sometimes a manufacturer pulls the sheets off of a hotly-anticipated concept car, like Volkswagen did with their GTI Roadster Vision, and the crowd gasps. Other times, they yank the sheets off and you hear silence. Dead silence. Then mournful, declining trumpet notes.
We will leave it up to you to decide which category the following falls in.
British air carrier Monarch Airlines is kitting out their planes with seats fit for a king. Which is to say, the seats have something in common with thrones: They don't recline. Additionally, these new "ergonomic" seats also feature a nice, gaping cavity for you to stare at in place of in-flight entertainment. "The airline's new seat design also includes an innovative tablet holder for the technology savvy holidaymaker, an aviation first," the company enthuses. "[This] enables our customers to create their own personal in-flight entertainment system."
Admittedly they are not pioneers in this area, as Ryanair has been making people less comfortable since the early 2000s. And the motivation behind the non-reclining seats is, sadly, quite logical. Some 60% of flight attendants reportedly favor non-reclining seats, saving them from takeoff and landing nagging duty. Passengers hate when others recline into their own personal space. But primarily, of course, it's about money: Less hardware makes the seats lighter, which saves on fuel.
Assuming the airline industry continues to march in this budgetary direction, here are our predictions for:
Top Ten Airline Cost-Cutting Measures Coming Your Way
10. "In the event of a cabin depressurization, please place the drop-down orange mask over your face. Note that the plastic bag will not inflate, because, frankly, it isn't hooked up to anything."
9. "For our First and Business Class customers, today's in-flight meal service will consist of sandwiches made and brought from home by the passengers in Economy Class. We ask our Economy Class passengers to please start passing those sandwiches forward at this time."
8. "For today's in-flight entertainment, we invite the passengers seated in rows 35 through 45 to collaborate on a Talent Show to put on for the rest of the passengers. And by 'invite' we mean it's mandatory...Yes, that means you, grandma with the bum leg, and you, 'guy who doesn't speak English....'"
7. "To save on costly standardized uniforms, today our flight attendants are wearing outfits purchased from a costume business closeout. Today's flight attendants are Miranda, the one dressed like a giant squirrel; Marcus, who is dressed like the Statue of Liberty; Chelsea, in the 'Sexy Nurse' costume; and Bryan, who is inexplicably dressed like Batman but wearing Superman's red cape and Hello Kitty's head...Bryan, please do take that giant head off, you're frightening the children in Coach—I mean, Economy."
6. "This plane is not equipped with bathrooms, but there is a complimentary bedpan underneath your seat, which doubles as a flotation device. Unless you've filled it, in which case it will not float. And you will drown."
The world's freshest space taxi has been unveiled! ...And it looks like a Japanese cartoon mascot. Last week, SpaceX live streamed the curtain drop, and space dorks (including yours truly) around the world got a first look at Dragon V2, the company's first manned craft. Introduced by everyone's favorite terminally positive visionary billionaire-owner Elon Musk, the media ceremony was punctuated with colorful laser lighting and a tastefully deployed fog machine. Designed as a major step after their successful robotically operated resupply craft the Dragon (whose singed hulk hung overhead), the Dragon V2 makes some massive changes that even the smoke machine can't oversell.
Currently, passage to the International Space Station relies on use of the Russian Soyuz, which costs over $70 million per person, round trip. In light of the increasingly tense Russo-American alliance, developing a domestic commercial option for passage to the ISS is both economically and politically reasonable... though Soyuz does mean "Union" it's wise to have a backup. The V2 seats a whopping seven space-bound humans, doubling the slots available on the Soyuz. It also features larger windows, an attractive flat screen display (with hardware panel for the most vital procedures), and futuristic carbon and leather seats for a truly luxurious trip.
After enjoying a short vacation, I finally read Google's post unveiling their brand new self-driving car prototype. I was surprised by just how disappointingly adorable the transformative car was. Their release, "Just Press Go: Designing a Self-Driving Vehicle," didn't mention why their exciting vehicle had such a kawaii face-like appearance, but our Core77 readers knew why: people are never comfortable with radical shifts. What we don't understand, we fear, and driving is dangerous enough already, thank you very much.
Forumite c4b7 believes that the launch video and surprising design is a "way to make a drastic societal change simple and intuitive." Another user, Cyberdemon elaborates, "Given the amount of scary lasers, cameras and sensors, if it looked like an F117 Stealth Fighter it may be cooler, but probably scare the crap out of people." I completely agree.
We needed the awkward and hybrid Prius before an extremely cool, sleek, and fast Tesla could take hold in the market. This type of transitioning of new technology into public acceptability is usually mitigated by distance and the price tag. Usually nobody but a few wealthy organizations can afford to experiment with new technologies at first. We only catch glimpses of the latest robots from DARPA through YouTube where we can safely watch them at a distance. If they were being tested first on our streets we'd freak out.
The problem (and the excitement) with Google is that their product is only really impressive if it can share the same roads as everyone else. To do that, Google has to get us comfortable with that idea first, even if the technology works perfectly well. This is a similar problem Google faced with Glass, and it seems like they're learning from their missteps.
A couple of weeks ago this video made the rounds, showing two young VW designers enjoying some Gran Turismo before their boss walks in on them:
It was subsequently announced that next month, all of you will be able to drive this GTI Roadster Vision... in Gran Turismo 6, scheduled to be released in June.
We figured that would be the extent of this project, but just yesterday Volkswagen released another video, this one shot IRL. They went to the trouble of creating a full-sized model, and it is gorgeous:
They could have done worse: as of yesterday afternoon, the Google Self-Driving Car Project has made a concerted push into the public eye with the unveiling of a pod-like prototype vehicle and a few new videos about what they've been up to lately. It's a stripped-down electric two-seater—no steering wheel or pedals to speak of—that tops out at 25mph and is strictly intended for demonstration and pilot purposes, as seen in the video below:
This is not by any means a production vehicle—they're making "about a hundred" of them for now—so I'll leave it to our dear readers to provide feedback on the styling (it's on our discussion boards as of 8:26am this morning). All I can say is, open those doors up and I dare you not to picture a cutesy cartoon koala.
An early rendering of the prototype
Some talking points, regarding how they are presenting the self-driving car and what they've disclosed about the project in the videos they've released thus far (embedded below):
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.
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:
The map atop this entry reminded us of that. Any guesses as to what it is? It clearly seems to indicate a cross-country and coastal travel pattern, except for the isolated island chain of dots centered in Texas. And you've undoubtedly noticed each red dot appears to have some sort of visual perimeter around it.
Still no guesses? Here's another hint: The map up top is what exists right now, but later this year it will look like this:
And by the end of 2014, it'll grow into this:
Finally, by the end of 2015, whatever these red dots are will have achieved U.S. dominance, except for a little sliver of Montana:
Okay, maybe it's unreasonable for us to expect you to be able to guess what these represent:
There are all kinds of ways to take in the colorful history of American car culture: museums, photo series, coffee table books, a tour through a decrepit GM factory, the list goes on. Diehard automobile enthusiasts are likely already familiar with the motor vehicle memorabilia known as fordite imagery, a rock-hard material that's made from years' worth of automobile paint that dripped onto racks in the oven of the paint shop. Because of the oven's extremely high temperatures, the layers of paint were baked time and time again (sometimes over the course of up to 100 trips, according to Fordite.com), hardening into rock-like formations. The fordite growths were only removed once they became a nuisance to production.
Uncut fordite (left) and a group of polished specimens (right)
Today, the paint is applied with an electrostatic process in which the color is magnetized to the car bodies, making fordite—also called motor agate—a waste product of the past.
Yesterday morning, design-loving New Yorkers were shaking off hangovers from Saturday night's NYCxDesign festivities. But 7,500 feet above lower Manhattan, five maniacs were wide awake as they jumped out of a plane wearing wingsuits.
The Red Bull Air Force, as they're called, were promoting a non-design-related event, net weekend's Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach. To that end they rocketed across NYC airspace at speeds of up to 120 mph, before steering over to the Hudson, where they deployed chutes and landed on a barge. Total airtime was around two minutes.
Red Bull has yet to release the attendant video, but the A/P managed to snag an unnarrated raw copy of the footage:
Next year we gotta hire these guys to drop the Core77 Design Daily over the city like leaflets.
When forging into new design territory, one of the biggest challenges a designer or engineer can face is ridding their mind of the incumbent form factor. For instance, the earliest sewing machine prototypes attempted to mechanically replicate human hands, to pierce and pluck the needle through the fabric. Those all failed, and it was subsequent inventors who created wholly mechanical, inhuman-looking solutions more in line with what a machine could do.
Similarly, creating a humanoid-shaped robot that can run on legs is difficult and awkward. DARPA and Boston Dynamics have shown that it can be done, but the results are often terrifying and do not look mechanically harmonious.
But if the goal is to create a robot that can run on legs, form should be allowed to follow function. And the robot eggheads over at Florida-based Robotics Unlimited have gotten it right. Check out their amazing and elegant OutRunner: