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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  29 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

The book publishing industry may be shifting tectonically and perhaps irrevocably as we speak, but, as with vinyl, the cover endures as a canonical canvas for graphic design. The follow-worthy Casual Optimist recently brought a series of Gunter Rambow's amazing book-centric posters to our attention. Designed for the S. Fischer Verlag publishing house in the 70's, these graphics exemplify the light touch required to pull off visual self-reference. These book posters tread between clean forms and surrealist art, walking the delicate line of sight gags without crossing into the crap zone.

Magritte would be proud...

It should go without saying that Rambow created these works of art before the advent of Photoshop and its epiphenomenal 'bombardment,' though it's worth noting that the clever visual puns still hold up today.

Rambow4.jpg...as would M.C. Escher.

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Posted by Carly Ayres  |  29 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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If you've ever been in a long-distance relationship, you know firsthand the challenges of coordinating across time zones to connect with parents, friends and partners. Phone calls are painstakingly scheduled, then spent catching up with a myriad of questions about the day-to-day in an effort to feel closer. Recently, a group of designers proposed a novel way to facilitate that connection: through a set of Internet-connected lights that reflect the weather conditions of another's location.

Called Patch of Sky, the lighting collection was conceived and developed at Fabrica, a communication research center in Treviso, Italy, in a collaboration between six designers, strategists and developers: Leonardo Amico, Federico Floriani, Reda Jouahri, Alice Longo, Akshataa Vishwanath and Giorgia Zanellato.

"Fabrica hosts designers and artists from all over the world, thus distance and nostalgia are naturally recurring topics," explains Amico. "Drawing from these conversations, we had the idea for Patch of Sky, an object that would silently connect people over distance, just by letting them 'share the sky' under which they're living." With that inkling of an idea, Amico and Akshataa invited the other four to join the team; collectively, they brought the project from ideation to fruition over the course of a year, completing it in early 2014.

The lights are made of painted wood and one-way mirror glass, and they come in three versions, for mounting on a wall or placing on a desk. Housed inside each device is an Arduino Uno and custom electronics that control an RGB LED strip. The purchaser of a light must first log in to a website with his or her own Facebook account (sorry Facebook holdouts, you're out of luck), entering a key that will uniquely identify each Patch of Sky device. That device will then be associated with that Facebook user, displaying animations from the account's most recent location. While they have yet to iron out all of the kinks, the Patch of Sky team envisions most customers ordering the product as a gift for a loved one, linking it to Facebook before specifying the recipient's address.

The recipient of the light must connect a small device called the Berg Cloud Bridge to an Internet router. The Bridge will then facilitate a wireless Internet connection with the Patch of Sky—now able to continuously transmit data from the user's Facebook account, pulling his or her location and retrieving the local meteorological conditions from a weather web service. That information is then generalized to one of 11 predetermined weather options, each linked to a lighting animation.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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The gag being a one-liner, I thought this video would be dumb from the description, but it's pretty funny. Carnegie Mellon grad Robb Godshaw is an artist-in-residence at Autodesk's Pier 9 workshop, a fabrication facility in San Francisco, and as such he's got access to some bad-ass machines like an industrial waterjet cutter. So what did he decide to do with it?

Create Alphaclamps, "an exploration of tools and their form. From the I-beam to the C-clamp, the latin letterforms seem to have a chicken-egg relationship with the letter-shaped tools that bear their name. Is the C the basis for design, or simply a descriptor of the form? Curious about how the other letters would work as tools, I set out to explore the mechanical utility of the forsaken letters of our alphabet."

Unbelievably, there are folks who did not realize this was a gag, judging by the comments on the Alphaclamp Instructable Godshaw posted. Oh, internet.

Posted by Ray  |  29 Aug 2014  |  Comments (1)

Bonner-WearableChair-1-viaGaryCruce-USPTO.jpgLeft: Courtesy of Gary Cruce; Right: Drawing for patent D249,987

So it looks like the honor of Design Crossover Hit of the Week goes to Noonee's Chairless Chair, and while the mainstream media took to hailing it as a futuristic exoskeletal paramedical breakthrough, it so happens that the basic idea dates back to the late 70's. Upon seeing my post about it earlier this week, eagle-eyed reader Gary Cruce sent a note with a photo from an old exhibition catalog, indicating that the product may well have been invented several decades ago. "I doubt Noonee was aware of this earlier concept, but they may want to know of it as they work to take the product to market," Cruce writes. "The exhibit was at the Kohler Arts Center (yes the toilet company) in 1978, based in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. That show featured many studio furniture pieces including selections from Sam Maloof and Wendell Castle." Along with the image and anecdote, Cruce provided an all-important snapshot of the caption from the catalog; crediting the "Wearable Chair (1977)" to Darcy Robert Bonner Jr., it reads:

The "Wearable Chair" consists of two identical "chairs," one strapped to each of the wearer's legs. Bonner states that "It is important for the 'Wearable Chair' to be adjusted to each user. Just like a piece of clothing, if the chair doesn't fit, it will not feel good. When adjusted correctly, you can comfortably relax with all your weight on the chair.
"With the lower member of the chair strapped to the calf, a spring presses the upper member against the back of the thigh. As the user squats, the released compression bar pushes the leg of the chair to a locked position, thereby supporting the body. When the user rises, the lower member is unlocked and is retracted by a spring to its original position, where it will not interfere with the user's movements."

Curious to learn more, a de rigueur Google query revealed that Darcy Robert Bonner had actually filed a patent for his invention, which inspired this "more-than-you-cared-to-know" history of the wearable chair—a bit of rechairche du patents perdu, if you will—gleaned mostly via the USPTO (though tangential sleuthing reveals that one Darcy R. Bonner now heads up an eponymous architectural practice in Chicago).

Bonner-WearableChair-2.jpgLeft: Uncredited composite image of Darcy Bonner's "Wearable Chair"; Right: Detail of drawing for patent D249,987

The original patent is simply entitled "Wearable Chair," which also happens to describe Noonee's product. Filed in 1977 and granted as D249,987 in October 1978, Bonner's initial design patent is described in Twitter-friendly terms as "the ornamental design for a wearable chair, as shown and described." Although this first iteration briefly resurfaced in the post-Google era in 2008, when the images above made blog rounds, it turns out that Bonner subsequently filed a second patent, US4138156 A, granted in Feburary 1979, which is far more detailed in tenor and scope. Where the former is classified as a "footed," "collapsible or folding" article of furniture, the latter is subject to an entirely different taxonomy of patent-worthiness. US4138156 A is a "device for supporting the weight of a person in a seated position including chairs, seats, and ancillary devices not elsewhere classifiable," specifically a "portable bottom with occupant attacher" (Subclass 4) with "occupant-arising assist" (Digest 10). (In the interest of due diligence, there are 148 patents in the former subclass and 353 in the latter; Noonee's Chairless Chair does not appear to be among them. Fun fact: "Digests" [denoted by DIG followed by a number] are considered secondary subclasses, which are used for indexing purposes only, i.e. as meta tags.)

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Posted by Coroflot  |  29 Aug 2014

Work for West Elm!

West Elm is a dynamic, fast-paced brand with an exciting growth strategy. They value imagination, diversity and giving people the opportunity to explore, grow and shape their future. Right now, they are looking for innovative, smart, hard working individuals who enjoy creative thinking and ingenuity; specifically, a Furniture Engineer to join their corporate office located in the D.U.M.B.O district of Brooklyn, NY, right above their flagship store.

If you're the right person for this job, you'll be accountable for generating technical design specifications, procedures, practices, etc. for all new furniture products within the overall business targets of cost, schedule, performance and aesthetics. You'll need a minimum 5-7 years of product development experience and a minimum 4 years in furniture technical development and/or engineering with an emphasis on wood furniture products. Apply Now.

Posted by Jeri Dansky  |  28 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

Human-Crafted-peg-board.JPG

We've talked about using the walls to keep papers close at hand, and to store knives—but walls can be used to store all sorts of odds and ends.

One way to use the walls is with a pegboard; Julia Child's kitchen pegboard, where she hung her copper pots, is a famous example. The pegboard above, from Human | Crafted, takes this old standard and makes it decorative as well as functional. The board is CNC machined from a solid block of walnut; the loops and hooks are 3D-printed nylon. It also comes with five feet of bungee cord, providing one more way to hold items in place.

Droog-strap.jpg

Droog's Strap, designed by NL Architects, is another example of taking a familiar product—in this case, the straps used to hold luggage on the back of a bike—and doing something new with it. The straps are made from silicone rubber and can hold phones, keys, remotes, books, hand tools, etc. These would work great for end users who work best when everything is clearly visible. But for others, it will add visual clutter.

Naolab-naoLoop-Loft-green.jpg

The naoLoop Loft, with its polyester latex bands, follows the same general approach as the Strap, but with the bands attached to a laser-cut stainless steel (or powder-coated steel) board. Besides transforming the look, the board protects the walls from anything that might get them dirty or cause other damage.

kontextur-hanging-line.jpgPhoto: Michael Wilson

The Hanging Line from Kontextür, designed by Josh Owen, is a single silicone band. Items are stored by tossing them over the line, or hanging them from a hook. Although this was designed for bathroom use, end-users could certainly use it other places, too. It's somewhat limited in what it can hold, much more so than the Strap or the Loft—but it certainly provides more storage options than the standard towel rack.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  28 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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My favorite carry-all for tools and materials is Festool's Open Top SYS-Toolbox. It's just a classic example of nuts-and-bolts ID: Simple, strong, reliable, and a perfect use of materials. The thick-walled ABS has a channel molded into the bottom, which forms the divider inside the box, and this channel allows the handle of a second box to perfectly nest within the first. Two latches at the side enable you to connect them quickly and securely. And they're compatible with Festool's full line of Systainers (manufactured by Tanos, as we looked at here), making them easy to roll around the shop or carry on-the-go in one piece.

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Posted by Ray  |  28 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

USOpenSessions-IBM-James_Murphy.jpg

"I hear you're buying a synthesizer and an arpeggiator and are throwing your computer out the window because you want to make something real."

–LCD Soundsystem, 'Losing My Edge'

Well this is weird and fun: The data wizards at IBM have partnered with the U.S. Open and James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem / DFA Records fame to create real-time musical interpretations of tennis matches throughout the tournament. The premise of the U.S. Open Sessions is simple: IBM processes millions of data points via cloud-based algorithms to generate synth tones that represent the gameplay, complemented by Platonic shapes in the browser window. Developer Patrick Gunderson of digital production companyTool does the heavy lifting while Murphy transposes the progress of the match from groundstrokes to keystrokes; from playing the baseline to, um, playing the bassline.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  28 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Outdoor goods company Snow Peak was started in Japan's Sanjo City, a place "known locally as a hardware town." So it's no surprise that their Stacking Shelf Container 50 has got that "tooled" look. What is surprising is how it can be locked in two different configurations and stacked in either one.

0snowpeakssc50-002.jpg

At first this had me scratching my head, but I realized that when you need access to stuff on different levels, the "butterfly" configuration makes sense. And it's kind of neat that the rubber feet at the corners remain the lowest point of contact no matter which configuration it's in.

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Posted by erika rae  |  28 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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I don't know what you thought of your local weather reporter when you were growing up, but for me, he played a bigger role walking in the city parade than as an accurate forecaster. I know it's not necessarily their fault—each meteorologist is at the mercy of a green screen and pre-determined satellite information. I guess we should all be happy that the digital push has literally put weather reporting in the hands of the people. Still, there are some days my pseudo-trusty weather app promises sunshine and cloudless skies and I'll get home drenched by an unexpected downpour, throwing me back to this 2-second Family Guy clip that I find myself going back to time and again:

We've got your back, Swedish-speaking readers

It sends me into giggles every time. But thanks to BloomSky—a crowdsourced weather information system that's looking to restore our trust in forecasting—I may not have to resort to silly YouTube clips to relieve my unexpected weather rage. The package comes with a outdoor module and an app, with the option to buy add-ons like a solar panel, extended battery life, an indoor module and mounting supplies. The personal weather station has all kinds of cool capabilities built in: a rain sensor that can tell when rain starts and stops, down to the minute; weather pattern push notifications; a wide-angle HD camera that turns on a dawn and off at dusk for capturing weather scenes; an automatically created timelapse video come each sunset; and the ability to subscribe to other BloomSky stations for weather updates around the world.

BloomSky-Detail.gif

BloomSky-App.jpg

The crowdsourcing weather station recently saw crowdfunded success (see what I did there?) on Kickstarter, surpassing its $75,000 initial goal and reaching its stretch goal of $100,000. Here's a video highlighting all of its bells and whistles:

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