We think of factories producing iPhones, IKEA flatpacks and Infinitis, and as ID'ers we have an idea of what those production lines look like. But chances are you've never been inside a factory that makes cakes and desserts. Unifiller Systems, Inc. is a company that creates cake-decorating machines and food processing equipment, and their "sizzle reel" is pretty fascinating:
Once you've seen those machines above in action, it makes sense that circular cakes would be filled and iced on a turntable. But how do they get the filling into rectangular cakes, which don't have rotational symmetry? Surprisingly, for sheet cakes they use a "split and fill" technology that slices the cake horizontally while simultaneously injecting the filling (see it in action around 0:28):
Posted by erika rae
| 20 Aug 2014
When it comes to shared spaces, amenities such as public charging stations aren't necessarily a priority when there's tax money to be spent. So, like any designer looking to contribute to the greater good, Paris-based industrial designers Sylvain Chasseriaux, Léa Bardin and Raphaël Pluvinage chose to solve the problem an innovative way. Their solution: Taking on these moments of inconvenience with a guerrilla campaign of boldly painted, machine-made items aimed at providing life-hacks that are quite literally hidden in plain sight.
Their series, Fabrique-Hacktion, ranges from tiny tabletops for folding chairs, hand-crank phone chargers, discarded newspaper stations and a tool for easier change-grabbing from vending machines, among other tools.
Aside from providing an unexpected convenience for passersby, Chasseriaux hopes to create "an involvement of people in their public and collective space through installing 'grafts'—complementary objects—which support a usage and practice while improving or questioning current urban systems and furnitures." Check out the video below to get a glimpse into the entire series of gadgets:
Each one of the items comes with instructions for making your own. (You can check out the how-tos on the project's website.) The team also put together a map, tracking where the objects are placed.
A couple of the apparatuses caught my eye in particular. Check out the making/function of these fantastic four:
One of the stranger (and little known) facts of nature is that our living cells are electric, or can carry electricity. Every thought, feeling and movement we have comes from an electric spark. And we find this in complicated beings like us, as well as in the most basic forms of bacteria. But there is something that bacteria can do that no other living thing on Earth can: Consume pure electricity for their own energy. Sounds Frankensteinian but it's real.
Scientists have been luring all sorts of bacteria deep in rocks and mud with electric juice. And they've found that these creatures are eating and then excreting electrons. Now this isn't all that crazy, considering that, as I mentioned, we are made of electric pulses. And this process is fueled by food (specifically ATP, the molecule that provides storage for energy.) Electrons can and are taken from every food we eat, and they are carried by molecules throughout our bodies—this is a necessary process for life.
The difference and extraordinary thing about bacteria is that they don't need the "food" middleman. They consume pure electricity! Just like our (non-living) laptop plugged into the wall. (Think of this next time we consider how far removed we think we are from robotic devices.)
But what are the practical implications for innovative designers? Scientists have been able to grow all kinds of what they are calling "electricity breathers" in areas where you might not find other life forms. Researchers are saying this opens up a previously unknown biosphere. A biosphere of very useful, self-powered helpers.
A bunch of industrial designers sitting around a table and poring over research can come up with some awesome stuff, but I also love seeing that breed of object designed by insightful end-users. Those items that a person is subconsciously designing in their head, out in the field, while performing a task over and over again with its predecessor and thinking: Wouldn't it be cool if this object had X right here, wouldn't this work better if this part was shaped like Y, et cetera.
Enter Andy Tran, a cinematographer who makes his living shooting outdoor and sports footage. When he's not on the clock, Tran is out in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, shooting educational wilderness videos for his InnerBark YouTube channel. Informative and (naturally) well-shot, Tran's videos aim to teach you how to get by "If hiking, camping, hunting and fishing were a day job," and among the product reviews and tutorials, his latest videos feature a well-thought-out knife of his own design.
As an avid outdoorsman who was taught outdoor living skills by his father, Tran has had a knife strapped to his hip since the age of 7, so the design of his Tahoma Field Knife must've been brewing a long time indeed. Check out the features and functionality of the design, produced by Rocky-Mountains-based TOPS Knives:
Posted by core jr
| 20 Aug 2014
Yesterday, our friends at PSFK released a report on a movement that is within our purview much as it is in theirs: The first edition of the "Maker's Manual" "provides insights into how people can learn, program, prototype and even sell their projects." Available for free download, it goes beyond your average trend report to offer "a wealth of tools, support and services available for every project size—from the hobbyist's tinkering to the entrepreneur's hack."
The "Maker's Manual" a fluent top-level survey of the technologies, services and communities that are out there today, online and off, and while the the report is not by any means comprehensive, it's certainly an excellent place to start if you're looking for, say, a Maker Shop or Collaboration Hub. There are nods to the usual suspects—Inventables, Makerbot, IFTTT, Techshop, etc.—but also more obscure or otherwise emerging projects and companies such as
GaussBricks and Craftsman Ave. Sure, there's a good chance that some of these resources may be too experimental or as-yet-inchoate to have a long-term impact, but this is precisely why the "Maker's Manual" serves as a kind of State of the Union. Indeed, the introduction includes a pithy Obama quote, from the recent White House Maker Faire: "Today's D.I.Y. is tomorrow's 'Made in America.'"
And although some of the headings and copy might read as hype, the "Maker's Manual" does well to addresses pragmatic issues such as fundraising and IP. All told, the 33 pages are chock full of solid information, presented in an appropriately skimmable format, one that invites readers to further investigate the companies and services that strike their fancy.
Unfortunately, the PDF is encoded in a way such that the text isn't searchable; not only does this mean that there's no quick way to find a keyword but also none of the links are clickable—not even the one for Intel, which underwrote the whole thing—which, considering the inclusion of bit.ly links, seems like an egregious oversight. After all, the availability of new tools and resources is a cardinal tenet of its subject matter, and the utility of the "Maker's Manual" as a reference guide is rather diminished by the lack of search- and clickability.
Posted by core jr
| 20 Aug 2014
Content sponsored by the Ford Motor Company
On Saturday, August 16, Ford and IDSA brought us the third panel discussion in a series on 'Designing Innovation.' We've been following along as the two organizations have brought together some of the biggest names in the design world to discuss and hash out real-life design topics onstage. While this panel's theme loosely focused around designing customer experiences, the four designers onstage took us into the inner workings of their own designing processes and shared the ways they incorporate their customers into the creation of their future products. Read on to see what Modern Edge CEO Austen Angell, Dell VP of Experience Design Ed Boyd and Ford Motor Company Exterior Design Manager Kevin George had to say on involving the consumer in today's design feats.
The Challenges of Customer-Led Innovation
The conversation began with a backgrounder on the panelists' respective companies and how each one approach predicting the future of design and technology. Seeing that all of the products have some sort of production timeframe, it's important for the design teams to nail down an idea and time it out to fit the needs of a group of consumers. Boyd shared some insight on the timeframe his team considers: "We look about three generations out and think about where technology will be and how will we solve these problems. You're looking at anywhere from six to ten years out." Ford's Kevin George discussed the practice of using consumer's own descriptions for the cars to lead future automotive design projects. When working on Ford's newest release, the Edge, two words stood out and informed the design direction of the recently launched car. "We take the words that they use to describe the car—some said dominating, some some accommodating. Very different. So we said, why don't we blend them?"
Finding the sweet spot in terms of a timeframe or design skeleton is one thing, but the real challenge comes with translating consumer insights into something innovative that the designers can stand behind. Angell had some words on designers' intuition that stuck with me for the duration of the panel discussion:
You need the rigor of academia, the rigor to have the proper amount of skepticism about your own assumptions, but we also recognize that there's part of the investigation that needs to take some risks. Designers have this intuition. It's marrying those two that we think produces some tangible results with the right amount of credibility that people can act on.
As exciting as it may seem, the toughest critics might be within company itself. "As a large company, if you talk about blowing things up, it's pretty challenging," says Boyd. "At Sony, we were holding on to legacy business, but I think today you need to be willing to blow that up in a really objective way. Every new idea that's very disruptive and different starts with a lot of anti-bodies before it's adopted."
Posted by Coroflot
| 20 Aug 2014
Dolmen is made up of designers, strategists and they are very good at answering the questions their clients haven't even asked yet. Their clients range from entrepreneurs to multinationals and for 21 years, they've been developing award-winning new products and experiences for a diverse range of industries. As part of their ongoing growth strategy, Dolmen is looking for a sharp industrial designer with 2 to 5 years experience to join their team in Dublin, Ireland. Perhaps you'd like to jump on board?
You'd be joining a fast paced but fun environment where you'll work with the senior creative team to interpret client requirements while developing innovative new product propositions using a range of ideation techniques. In exchange, you'll get a competitive salary and an opportunity to contribute to the continuing development of exciting new products. Hint: loving good coffee, bad music, surfing and frisbee is not required, but are helpful to have. Apply Now.
Posted by Ray
| 19 Aug 2014
Nike has recently launched its "Genealogy of Innovation" campaign, and the promo video by Golden Wolf is an impressive piece of footwear-centric eye candy, featuring some 200 shoes in all, including signature styles by the Hatfield brothers, Hiroshi Fujiwara, Mark Parker et al. Check it out:
Editor: Designer and entrepreneur Pat Calello explains that in order to grow your business, you've got to start relying on other people. But what happens when those people let you down?
(If you missed Part One, where Calello first conceives of Automoblox, catch up on it here.)
As an entrepreneur, your roles expand exponentially and change by the moment. Sure, you're the President and CEO, but pursuing your own gig means you're also a Marketing Project Manager, Product Development Manager, Supply Chain Manager, Design Director, Public Relations Manager, Business Development Manager, Director of Customer Service, Mechanical Engineer, and a Lawyer... among other things. You won't have the competence needed in these areas, so you'd better have access to people who do. I have been blessed with a network of professional colleagues that were vital to this project, and my wife, Susan, can step into many roles when she's not changing diapers and chasing our two-year-old.
A good friend, Brett Marshall, called to tell me about a book he had just finished called The Mouse Driver Chronicles. He said that while reading the book, he was constantly reminded of me and my toy car project. I immediately went out and picked up a copy. It was written by John Lusk and Kyle Harrison, two Wharton MBAs who, upon graduation in 1999, took a pass on high-paying dot-com jobs and instead decided to manufacture and market a product (a computer mouse designed to look like a golf-club head) they dreamed up during their entrepreneurship class. With some seed money from their professor and tons of their own, they set up shop and were quickly in business. Their success was modest by their own account, but they did develop an impressive following. An e-mail update to some friends turned into a web journal that eventually became course material for entrepreneurship clases around the country, and, before long, guest lecture gigs turned into a book deal.
At the conclusion of the book, Lusk and Harrison welcomed people with new product ideas to contact them for advice. Not shy and always willing to take advantage of an intriguing offer, I promptly contacted them. At this point in the evolution of Automoblox, I was still at Colgate, and I had yet to select a supplier for the line. The three initial Automoblox products required quite a bit of tooling, which meant that a significant capital expenditure was needed to get started. Lusk and Harrison had positive experiences with their supplier, and suggested I contact the company for a quote.
Within a few days, I was on the phone with the Hong Kong trading company, Swift Tread*. (*Denotes that I've changed this name to protect the guilty.) Vinnie Meola* was a 30-something American who had been in Hong Kong for over 10 years getting his former employer's sourcing business off the ground. The company eventually folded, but Vinnie stayed and started his own trading company. His partner, Lenny Chang*, a Hong Kong native in his 50s who pretends to understand enough English to inspire a certain amount of confidence, is the actual liaison between the factory and the customer.
Doing business with an overseas supplier created some anxiety, but since Vinnie is an English-speaking American, I felt confident in Swift Tread. The fact that Vinnie and I are both Jersey boys further helped me to sleep at night—at least for awhile. Swift Tread submitted the low bid on the tooling and per-piece price, and came highly recommended by my entrepreneurs-turned-book-writers friends. It seemed that the stars—at least in the Far East—were lining up for me and my new toy company.
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 19 Aug 2014
Second verse, better than the first. Alex Szabo-Haslam made delicate waves last year with elegant printed visualizations of his favorite electronic songs, and he's back at it with an even wider range of artists. The project was born when Szabo-Haslam, a designer with a background in music promotion, had the urge to turn the Aphex Twin song Windowlicker into something more physically tangible. Using waveform visualizations of frequencies in iconic songs, he bent and paired the resulting forms with bold colors and called it good. So did everybody who managed to grab one of those early editions. The first series of bold prints was a quick hit, and now he's widened the scope and deepened the beautiful options. Where last year there were 12 prints on offer with one special edition, this time around there are 28 limited edition options and a special edition—this time the gorgeous gold on bronze print for the LFO track We Are Back seen above.
While still heavy on the deep dance tracks, the breadth is awesome. He's featured Donna Summer to Daft Punk, Left Field to Jeff Mills, Cabaret Voltaire to Surgeon... And the stylized graphics, while conceptually limited, manage to stand out beautifully with the interesting waveforms and colors chosen. The silkscreened prints come on heavy paper from GF Smith, including some beautiful metallics and cool pebbled textures. I may be impressionable but each color does seem to fit its track. I'm also no dance music historian, so I'm particularly amused by the grouped sets of prints, stuck trying to decide exactly what makes each mini collection internally distinct. The project is just a couple days in and already funded, so get in quick if you want one of these sweet limited edition prints for music dorks. If nothing else, it's a great excuse to re-listen to some key classics.