NASA is in on the concept vehicle game (as long as space suits count as body vehicles) and they want your input on which they should bring to life. One of three Z Series finalists on offer will really be built, put through rigorous pressure and fit tests and used to inform the future of suit development. Though the designs are a bit whimsical, the program exists to spur creative designs and learn where advancement is feasible in the heavily constrained field.
The previous Z-1 competition was started as an exercise in innovative suit design, with an emphasis on increased mobility and Extra-Vehicular Activity. The winner was a flexible-bodied suit above whose colors riff on a certain beloved character. This year's finalists are less famous but no less fun. Let's meet the contestants!
I have not had the pleasure of watching a movie in 4DX, but the thought of confining myself to a convulsing seat for three hours of scents, liquids and sounds in a pair of uncomfortable glasses doesn't quite sound like my idea of a good time. Thankfully, the whiz kids at MIT Media Lab have come up with a more refined '4D' pastime, at least for those of you who are bibliophiles. Developed for a class called "Science Fiction to Science Fabrication," "Sensory Fiction" is a digitally-augmented book that puts the reader in the protagonist's shoes through a wearable device, adding a touch of excitement to otherwise inert print media.
"Sensory Fiction's" cover consists of small LEDs that light up in different patterns of ambient illumination representing to the "book's mood." Meanwhile, the wearable device offers vibrations, pressures and temperatures, tracking the plot as it turns, page by page. According to the description, "Changes in the protagonist's emotional or physical state triggers discrete feedback in the wearable, whether by changing the heartbeat rate, creating constriction through air pressure bags, or causing localized temperature fluctuations."
Google's new diabetes-regulating contact lens has been making the rounds online, but somehow we're not surprised—its futuristic functionality is a hallmark of the Google X team. While the technology itself is intriguing and ground-breaking—let's face it, anything has got to be better than stabbing yourself with a needle multiples time a day—we'd like to take the opportunity to trace a brief (and by no means comprehensive) history of 'overlooked' eyewear options for addressing medical issues.
Let's hope that Google contact lenses may be the future for diabetes, but let's take a look at all of the other slightly sci-fi eyewear evolutions out there that get the job done:
Keeping eyes dry and tan lines awkward since the ice age
These Star Trek-esque frames were—and still are—worn by the Inuit people to prevent snow blindness (which is pretty much major sunburn to the cornea) in dangerous conditions. Traditionally, the eyewear was made from a piece of bone or ivory with slits for a small field of vision; modern versions are made of wood. While it's a little extreme for anywhere that isn't the Arctic, those of you in the Polar Vortexed Midwest—or soon-to-be whitewashed Eastern Seaboard—might've benefitted from the design a couple weeks back. Hey, instead of complaining, they should've just checked Etsy.
There's no shortage of rad watch designs—just have a look see at our features on Eone Time, Minus 8, Analog Watch Co., Mr Jones Watches and Ziiro (to name just a few). In the name of simplicity, watches have one job: to tell time. But what about when they don't do that? This is where Durr comes in.
Created by Theo Tveterås and Lars Marcus Vedeler—collectively named Skrekkøgle—the duo have come up with a concept watch manner that reminds us a bit of the Solar Light we covered from Jon Liow. By giving a quick shiver every five minutes, Durr is more about reminding the wearer to make the most of their daylight than being a timepiece. Check out this video to get a better idea of how it works:
For those visuals out there, Mr Jones Watches has a timepiece that not-so-subtly reminds you to make those most of your day. Every hour when the minute and second hands line up on the brand's Ambassador watch, the face's background image lines up to form a multi-colored skull. The idea in whole is a little eerie, but on the bright side it only takes a quick glance to get a general idea of what time it is.
Click the jump for a look at the painting that inspired the skull design and a video showing the watch in action:
Pocket watches are a timeless and come packed with tons of old man style cred (the good kind) to anyone who can pull it off. ZIIIRO is making "pulling it off" easier with their new stylized timeteller. The ZIIIRO Titan is a nod to the classic shape we know and love with all of the bells and whistles of modern times. Not only is it ultralight (and coincidentally can be worn around the neck, if you're into that look) thanks to an aluminum casting, it comes in five different colors—azure, chrome, purple, black and cherry.
It might look like a space-age tool, but reading it is surprisingly easy. There is an outer ring made up of 12 segments and an inner ring of 60 seconds. Watch time tick by as the borders darken as it gets later in the day.
The natural inclination to escape from the fast pace and constant visual stimulus that is city life is a pretty common response for any human (and particularly any New Yorker). When the skyscrapers and constant car horns get to be too much, why not steal away to a personal oasis? Better yet, carry that oasis with you at all times... in your own jacket. If you do happen to be seeking escape on a moment's notice, the recent design projects of Justin Gargasz will jettison you out into the wild—or at least the nearest park.
It appears we are destined to be a generation of new-age nomads as a result of technology, constant career changes and unprecedented mobility. Is a constant search for how best to return to nature an inevitable side effect of modern life? Maybe, maybe not... but enough people cringe at the idea of life in the big city that need to escape is a viable design problem.
When we first encountered Gargasz's wearable tent structures in 2009, it was an interesting concept placed somewhere between the blurred realms of fashion, furniture and architecture. At the time, he was fresh out of design school and we were impressed with the Boston-based designer's first 'modern cocoon,' named Vessel. Four years later, Gargasz has spun the project into a full-fledged line of nomadic structures that can just easily be warn on a chilly day in the city as a hiking trip out west. His designs are created not only to shelter the wearer physically but as a play on the need to escape psychologically from a world filled with distractions.
Fashion and music have always had a close ties when it comes to mutual influence (and often consumer), so it comes as no surprise that many of the smaller independent labels—which sign musical acts outside of what would be considered the typical consumer tastes—also operate merchandise stores that err on the design-y side.
Taking a leap from the sweaty house show merch tables in college, many of these online stores are pushing beyond promotional and branding and into the realm of artistic collaborations aided by the same technology that so influences the production of its musical artists. Most obvious Music meets Design collaboration is the label Ghostly International promoting designers such as Matthew Shlian and collaborating with to experiment in digital music delivery.
More recently, indie label Electric Deluxe out of the Rotterdam, commissioned designers behind Studio Hands in Arnhem to create merchandise as experimental as the music.
Thanks to some creative coding by Martijn Mellema, Studio Hands created an installation that would transmit sound between two computers in order to generate a unique T-shirt design. Mellema's application takes the respective designs (including the wire framed face of Speedy J), sonifies theml and plays the result through a speaker. The series of beats act as a Morse code that is reconstituted after being picked up by a secondary microphone and translated back into a 3D model. The resulting image appears with unpredictable glitches occurring in the unconventional transfer method.
As an individual with the good fortune of being born and raised in the United States of America, I can't say that I've ever witnessed a bombing or any other kind of terror-related attack, much less lived with the potential threat of such as a facet of day-to-day existence. Politics aside, many major conurbations in Israel are hotbeds of guerilla activity, and civilians are trained to heed air raid sirens with Pavlovian efficacy. Yet simply taking cover doesn't guarantee one's safety, an issue that designer Hila Raam tackled with her recent graduation project, the Rhinoskin.
Raam won the Best Final Project award for the backpack, which incorporates kevlar panels—discreetly integrated into an otherwise unassuming bag design—to protect one's head and torso in dangerous situations. Thus, it is an unobtrusive solution for residents of "countries or areas that are under daily attacks, protecting against debris and impact created from missile and rocket attacks."
For her Master's thesis in the Design Products program at the Royal College of Art, Jule Waibel cleverly employed the multiple meanings of her native language, German: Entfaltung may be translated as "unfold," "expand" or "develop," all of which describe the collection of three items that comprise the project. "Collapsible structures reflect how our world is constantly changing," she writes. "My response is to use folding as part of my design process."
A particular folding technique can transform simple sheet materials into three-dimensional objects, with the additional capability that they can expand and contract. [The] dress [that] changes its shape according to the movement of the body, an expandable bag and an umbrella are all made of Tyvek®, a lightweight water- and tear-proof synthetic paper.
And although the results express the simple metaphor with geometric elegance, Waibel cited a surprising—albeit equally fantastical—source of inspiration: Mary Poppins and her magical bag. Captivated by the way "everything seems to fit inside—a mirror, a hatstand, a plant..." she set out to design a bag that shows "the minimum and maximum possibilities." The umbrella embodies "the beauty and aesthetics of folding," while the dress illustrates transformation, motion and flexibility "in a playful way."
Far be it for us to conjecture what you did this past weekend, but if it's anywhere along the lines of rappelling down mountain faces, biking across the country or putting out forest fires, the newly released Jet sunglasses from Recon instruments might be for you. Erring on the side of extreme, Recon's answer to the Google Glass is a souped-up high-performance wearable computer masquerading as sunglasses. The Recon Jet heads-up display (HUD) is a flexible computing platform catering to endurance athletes. As a hybrid of microcomputer and polarized eyewear, the Jet is packed with more sensors and gadgets that you could ever really need... but hey, we know you're weary of skydiving in your Google Glass, so Recon is here to offer an alternative.
With a dual-core processer and serious firepower on the functionality front, we are interested to see how Jet stands up to its sleeker and more mass-market competitors. With a number of obvious similarities both Google glass and the Recon Jet, one major issue seems to be with safety in terms of populating your field of vision with displays and marketing the glasses as usable in extreme sports—generally a time to try and have as few visual distractions as possible. Both products opted for a right side HUD, however Recon dropped the display to the bottom of your field of vision stating:
First and foremost, we wanted to ensure the user's safety by making the display completely unobtrusive. When looking straight ahead, you will not even know it's there. To take in information, you simply glance down, like looking at a dashboard on a car.
Research has shown that looking down is an easier eye movement than looking up. Jet is also designed for outdoor use, where looking up could result in looking directly at the sun, something we want to avoid.
Although "design thinking" might be a term that has just about reached saturation point for most students and professionals, the recent influx of literal interest in brainwave and thought related design projects is undeniable. A few weeks ago we profiled the Melon Headband and app for tracking brain activity and focus and now we flip over to the other end of the spectrum with the Knitic NeuroKnitting machine.
Knitic is the collaborative project of artistic duo Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Canet, a pair who have existed in the fine line between art and tech since 2009. Their Arduino-hacked knitting machine records brain states via an EEG headset to be converted into a knitting pattern for a scarf. The wearer's activity measurements of level of relaxation, excitement and cognitive load while listening to Bach's "Goldberg Variations." The resulting data yields a stiching pattern, which—in addition to being a great garment for chillier climates—also captures visually the unique act of listening. The team chose to bypass the electronic control of the Brother brand 930 knitting machine models opting for real-time control and modification of patterns by putting in their own arduino control system.
So how did grandma's favorite pastime and a bunch of arduino geeks get together in the first place?
This past spring semester, Western Washington University's Industrial Design department teamed up with Anvil Studios, who were proud to sponsor a Senior I.D. studio, led by professor Dell King, focused on the intersection of health and mobile technology. We're pleased to present the results, courtesy of WWU ID and Anvil Studios.
Design Brief Overview for Medical/Biometric Device and/or System:
Personal health monitoring and tracking with body worn sensors is becoming a big business. Several companies are addressing a variety of focused health monitoring systems from simple pedometers and calorie counters to fatigue sensors and full biometric activity tracking.
There seem to two paths to creating smart (and thusly non-cringe-worthy) life-tracking device: either design something so seamless that you barely think about it, or design hardware with enough applications that the possibilities are worth the inconvenience. Enter Melon, a headband tricked out with three metal electrodes that run across the forehead monitoring your brain activity in the pre-frontal cortex. Essentially, the headband measures the electrical activity of constantly firing neurons in your brain and puts it into a sleek mobile app so you can track your level of focus and learn about your own behavior (a little something for the Nick Feltron in all of us.)
First thoughts are inevitably in the realm of "Nike Fuel Band for your head" or "what would implanted Cube Sensors be like?"—but hang on for a second. The idea that you can track focus if pretty appealing, and not for a single activity, but for whatever you actually happen to do in your daily routine. Likewise, because Melon acts as a tiny EEG monitors the possibilities for software that stretches even beyond the focus data. Shifting the conversation from 'quantified self' to 'understood self' is a good lesson for UX and product designers alike as there does exist a thin line between waking up in the morning, feeling like a bar graph and actually gaining insight into the way you live your life.
The 'clever material swap' gets to be a bit trendy in the industrial design game after awhile. We usually have trouble to finding projects that both employ a new material intelligently (and with good intent) but don't immediately fall into 'can't-believe-its-a-cement-lamp' category. Likewise, as far as bandwagons go, 3D printing doesn't seem to be slowing down in the slightest with projects like the 3Doodle pen and 3D photo booths. But while we all wait for either 3D printed houses or organs, we have to ask: when are all the innovative 3D printed consumer products going to catch up?
Upon perusing our sister portfolio site Coroflot, we came across the portfolio of Marc Levinson, the chief executive officer of Protos Eyewear. Protos boasts that their line of 3D printed eyewear is both consumer grade and yields "striking designs that are impossible to make through standard manufacturing methods."
Levinson deals with some pretty solid applications for 3D printing market-ready products. Originally considered to be a technique primarily for prototyping, many companies are looking to 3D print directly to market. Levinson's 3D printed frames for San Francisco-based Protos Eyewear are a great example of manufacturing process informing aesthetics. We're particularly fond of the Hal Pixel frames, perhaps a not-so-subtle nod to the digital age.
The hybrid fashion label/experimental design lab, Continuum Fashion, was first on our radar for their 3D printed bikini manufactured with Shapeways in 2011. Since the initial buzz, the design duo Jenna Fizel and Mary Huang have expanded into software, giving design power directly to the user to create their own garment.
With projects like the Diatom's SketchChair floating around, made-to-order furniture and fashion seem to be carving out their own unique—and maybe even affordable—place in the design world. Continuum's CONSTRVCT and D.dress software gives pretty much anyone a creative platform and foolproof software to act as their own fashion designer with no assembly (or drawing skills) required.
The fashion industry, like ID, is no stranger to digital fabrication—particularly with the rising fame of Iris van Herpen, the 3D printing hype is flowing directly onto the runway. With the D.Dress software, the guesswork is taken out of the avant-garde dress making completely. The CAD-savvy might recognize the D.dress's triangulated surface structure as a consideration more for ease of outputting quick .stl files than either aesthetics or sewing. To Continuum's credit,however, they make a good case that "the triangulation also ensures that almost any drawing will produce an interesting form, and in fact produces good meshes from mere scribbles."
Dana Ramler is a Vancouver-based designer with a knack for unconventional design combinations. Speaking the language of industrial, fashion, interactive and media design simultaneously; her projects and collaborations hit that sweet spot between thought-provoking conceptual design and the intelligent products for market.
Bio Circuit is a vest that provides a form of bio feedback using data from the wearer's heart rate to determine what "sounds" they hear through the speaker embedded in the collar of the garment. The wearer places the heart rate monitor around the ribcage, resting against the skin and close to the heart. An MP3 audio player embedded in the vest plays the audio track related to that specific heart rate. The audio tracks are soundscapes mixed from a range of ambient sounds.
Bio Circuit was created at Emily Carr University by Industrial Design student Dana Ramler, and MAA student Holly Schmidt.
While the Biocircuit probably won't be hitting the market anytime soon, Ramler's work in technical running accessories for lulumon athletica definitely deserves a look as well. They almost make running in sub-zero temperatures sound appealing... almost.
Well folks, looks like 2013 is shaping up to be the year gesture control finally becomes available to the masses.
First up, the Leap motion controller that caused such a blog stir (we covered it here and here) will start shipping on May 13th, just about a year after they began taking pre-orders.
Hot on their heels—or forearms, I should say—is the Myo controller pictured above, an arm bracelet that you wear well above your wrist but below the elbow. Why the weird position? The Myo actually reads the electrical activity in your muscles, rather than relying on a camera.
This seems like a pretty smart approach, as the Myo can decipher complex finger gestures, flicks and rotations without requiring line-of-sight. That suddenly opens up a new world of interactivity that doesn't require the user be sitting in front of a camera-equipped computer, or dancing around in front of a Kinect. Peep this:
Looks amazing, no? If it works as advertised, it will have a much broader range of applications than the stationary Leap, and the Myo's price reflects that: The Leap's going for $80, while the Myo will run you $150. It's up for pre-order now and they're claiming it will ship later this year.
Sputnik Zurich isn't your average a mobile repurposed apparel and accessories outfit: much as Joshua Zisson did with his retroreflective bicycle, they've developed a stylish visibility solution for urban environments; however, Sputnik Zurich has a decidedly more DIY, scalable approach to elevating safety into an aesthetic. From simply sewing vests into totes to actually retailoring the source materials into articles of clothing, founders Stefanie Sixt and Chelsea Rose Morrissey "[draw] from the city's urban development for its inspiration, material and production."
I was curious to learn that the "design and production of the products take place in containers at construction sites throughout the city, [which are] open to the public for new ideas." In other words, the designs are implemented and "produced at the building sites where they originated." Thus, the small-scale operation has 'exported' the concept from their headquarters in Zurich to satellite sites throughout the Europe and the States, with workshops as far-flung as Buenos Aires and Tokyo.
I loves me some patent artwork, and so does a company called PatentWear. The California-based company, which has quietly been around for nearly 20 years but has just started selling online, takes some of history's more interesting product design patent drawings—bike derailleurs, climbing gear, firearms, tools, toys, musical instruments, you name it—and prints them up on T-shirts.
Each of our designs takes as many as forty hours to produce, from initial research through the design and art production phases, and finally, to printing. We use an eco-friendly water-based ink process that is long-wearing and, with a with a slightly muted tone, it perfectly captures the essence of our vintage patent art designs—some of which are based on patents that date as far back as the early 1800s.
As you can see the linework has been gussied up with color to give it some pop, and the results are pretty catchy. Funny to think that at one point in the products' development process these drawings were jealously guarded secrets, and now you can parade around with them plastered all over your torso for 22 bucks.
Woke up this morning and this video had a million more hits than it did yesterday, so I had to find out more. Just a few days ago, a gent from Brisbane named Ray Liehm posted this:
Liehm was a bystander at Australia's Supanova Pop Culture Expo, and the brilliant costume above delighted YouTube viewers and used car salesmen alike, to the tune of three million plus at press time.
So what's the story behind it? Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tubeman, as he's officially known, is actually one half of a couple; together with his blue companion, they are the official mascots of the Gold Coast Roller Derby League, a bunch of bad-ass broads with names like Nikki Nitro who "hit hard, skate harder, turn left & do it again" at tracks in the Queensland area.
I thought for sure this was a joke, but it appears to be real: A company called UD Replicas is selling a protective motorcycle suit modeled after a Star Wars Stormtrooper's armor. Made from leather molded in forms and some type of unspecified protective plating, "each rounded segment, every chiselled and bevelled edge perfectly replicates the look of the on-screen armor," the company claims.
Folks, I don't doubt that there's some overlap between the motorcycle-riding and Star-Wars-watching subcultures, but isn't this kind of asking for an ass-kicking? Maybe I've been watching too much Sons of Anarchy, but would you not be worried about a gang of thugs pushing each other out of the way in their haste to get to you, eager to win first boasting rights of "I beat the crap out of a Stormtrooper?"
The real rub is that the helmet isn't an actual motorcycle safety helmet. But I can't say what would be more dangerous—riding around with no helmet, or wearing this get-up to Sturgis.
Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting award-winning projects and ideas from this year's Core77 Design Awards 2012! For full details on the project, jury commenting and more information about the awards program, go to Core77DesignAwards.com
Designer: Maxime Dubreucq
School: Umeå Institute of Design
Award: Student Winner
EG is the first helmet truly dedicated to mining. This will bring a new standard to head protection and comfort for miners. The ergonomic layered architecture and enhanced weight distribution reduces stress, load and fatigue for users carrying the helmet. This design solution will prevent work-related injuries and irreversible damages. As the jury team notes:
It's quite an innovation in the mining helmet industry with a breakthrough in ergonomics and material application. It shows another way to fix a current problem.
How did you learn that you had been recognized by the jury?
Social networking is one of the best way's to discover that you have been granted a prize. I was in France, back from Sweden and ready to fly to San Francisco. Meanwhile, friends of mine where flooding Facebook and Twitter with the great news. Their congratulatory messages were my first indication that my project had been selected amongst the other strong entries.
What's the latest news or development with your project?
Trying to increase safety and ergonomic for miners was not a simple task. When it comes to extreme environments, every single aspect of the project has to be taken seriously. EG shows another way to fix current problems. Like human skin, EG is a bio-inspired concept, taking its reference in nature's protection. It take into consideration miners' safety, ergonomics, image and hygiene by exploring new material combinations, function, architecture, comfort and style based on research on miners.
What is one quick anecdote about your project?
Sometimes ethics and economics don't really match... Since mining companies aim to dig faster and lead to irreversible damages to our ecosystem, I was frustrated to work for such an organization. Nevertheless, as a student and future designer, I had to fulfill our client wishes. I decided to tackle the project through my point of view: Solve a problem that miners directly encounter without influencing the mining activity. In this project, I have learned to satisfy both, clients and personal values. It was a rich experience to work with and for miners.
What was an "a-ha" moment from this project?
Thomas Degn is the Director of the Advanced Product Design program, at Umea Institute of Design (Sweden). He introduced my class to this project, our client Boliden AB and our collaborator, Atlas Copco AB. Thomas followed us until the end of the project and gave us an external point of view. I asked him to answer this last question.
Here is his response:
The biggest "a-ha" moment in this and other design projects that has a user-centered design approach in combination with on-site participatory ethnography research, is the insight that many of the everyday problems have not been solved yet. This, together with genuine empathy from the designer and his or her vision that it is possible to make something better than what already exists, gives the potential for us designers to creative new and innovative solutions and products. The work of Maxime and his classmates at the APD programme is to me a clear example of this.
--Thomas Degn, Programme Director, APD programme
From my point of view, the project was on a good track when I realized that miners could wear a part of their underground life outside. Showcasing their dangerous work through the soft part of the helmet and increase their image, which was till now, victim of a bad reputation. It is for me one of my first project that goes beyond simple problem solving.
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.
How are technological advancements shaping or informing the design of Soft Goods? Michael DiTullo, our Jury Captain for this field and Creative Director at frog in San Francisco, shares his observations and predictions on the paths that soft goods designers and manufacturers are taking plus tells us why he picked his jury.
Core77: Tell us a bit about your jury and why you chose these individuals.
Michael DiTullo: All four of us, Greg McNamara, M. Coleman Horn, Chris Gadway and myself, are very experienced in bringing a variety of soft goods, footwear and accessories to production for large corporate brands as well as start-up lifestyle brands. I looked for partners on my jury who are excellent designers, have a firm understanding of brand, a deep passion for craft and experience in factory development.
What qualities will you be considering when evaluating each entry?
We will be looking for products that really represent the full package. Winning entries will have a desirable and unique brand position. They will be meticulously crafted and executed. They will be striking and iconic in their own right. On top of all of that, they will have brought an innovative twist to the industry. One of the amazing things about working in soft goods is that you are building on literally centuries of craft. To be able to pioneer a new technique or put a twist on an old one is an achievement. We are going to be looking for that twist.
What are you most excited about discovering while judging the entries?
There are a couple of global trends occurring right now in soft goods, which, on their surface, seem very disparate. The first is a return to old world craft. We are seeing products made again in the old world traditions with painstakingly hand tanned and tooled leathers, cut and stitched by hand. In some cases, these products are being made in places like the United States. It is exciting to see a broader acceptance of this type of work again!
On the flip side, we continue to see the mass implementation of high tech innovations like laser cutting, stitch less seam welding, and the integration of molded hard and semi-rigid components within soft goods. It is exciting that both of these trends exist at the same time, and are both at their core rooted in craftsmanship. I'm looking forward to see where the bulk of this year's entries land, and if a few of them even blend those trends.
Where do you see the future of the Soft Goods field heading?
An exciting future lies ahead. Some of the most exciting possible innovations have to do with advances outside of the soft good industry. Just-in-time manufacturing technologies and order management are leading to more and more factory side customization that is initiated and determined by the end user. The ever-cheapening and dispersal of processing power is leading to digital components integrating into soft-goods. A digital component in a shoe was almost unimaginable a decade ago, and now every Nike running shoe is compatible with Nike+. The opportunity to integrate technologies that relate to quantifying our actions the way the Philips fitBit does or acting like an input to our other devices, such as some of the Burton coats that have stitched in smartphone controls is amazing.
The challenge for designers in this category will be coming up to speed with all of these new technologies while remaining versed in the techniques of the industry to create soft goods that are innovative and desirable.
Learn more about the Soft Goods category and jury. The deadline for entries is Tuesday April 10.
Hopson Kinetic Jewelry founders, husband and wife team Ben and Emma Hopson, have unveiled their first collection of their kinetic accessories. Aptly called "Scissor," the pieces are as riveting to watch as to wear. Composed of tiny moving parts that glide together in effortless unison, HKJ's collection of rings, necklaces and bracelets are as remarkable as the delicate innards of an antique clock.
Thin silver bands expand and collapse, held together by tiny golden rivets, changing shape dependent on the mood and styling of the wearer. Situated on narrow chains, the jewelry is the perfect marriage of form and function: utterly delicate and mechanically impeccable. The same, of course, could be said of industrial designer Ben Hopson and his photographer and jewelry aficionado wife, Emma. While Ben's design and mechanical know-how inspired kinetics it was Emma's appreciation for bling that provided the pair with their medium. See their stop-motion demonstration of the "Scissor" earrings!