Brooks Stevens was a Raymond-Loewy-level industrial designer, and in fact, formed the IDSA in conjunction with Loewy and a group of other ID'ers. And while his name never seemed to achieve the recognition of Loewy's, he had a career every bit as colorful and influential. Upon his death in 1995, The New York Times called him a "giant in industrial design" and revealed that back in the 1940s, he nailed a certain appliance's form factor that still exists today:
One of his early successes was with a prototype clothes dryer, which had been developed by Hamilton Industries in Two Rivers, Wis. At the time, the only way to dry clothes was to hang them on a line.
Hamilton's engineers had developed a metal box with an electrically powered rotating drum inside and equipment for gas heating. The device was featureless except for an on/off switch.
"You can't sell this thing," Mr. Stevens recalled telling the developers. "It's just a sheet metal box." Mr. Stevens suggested putting a glass panel in the front and loading it with the most brightly colored boxer shorts the manufacturer could find for demonstrations in department stores. That is what happened, and modern clothes dryers still follow the same basic layout.
As another example of design longevity, Stevens designed the 1949 Harley-Davidson Hydra Glide. Harley-Davidson's 2014 Heritage Softail Classic has essentially retained the same front fender and tank-mounted speedometer.
A year earlier Stevens had designed a very different vehicle: These sweet Skytop Lounge passenger railcars produced by Pullman-Standard in 1948, and used to run the route from Chicago to the Twin Cities. The Skytop Lounges remained in service until 1970.
As Louis C.K. sits in a coffee shop, a millennial staring into a smartphone bumps into him. Instead of looking up or apologizing, the kid keeps his eyes glued to the phone and bumps into him repeatedly, like a fly at a window. In the background we see the place is filled with young phone-gazers bouncing off of each other like billiard balls.
While the scene was just a gag for C.K.'s show Louie, a stroll down any New York sidewalk shows you it isn't much of an exaggeration. And it's not just New Yorkers and Americans, of course; as the UK designer Kenneth Grange told Dezeen, "I see people in the street walking around like zombies unaware that there's a person two feet from them, all glued to this bloody screen." And in China, if this Xinhua News Agency report is to be believed, the city of Chongqing has rolled out a bike-lane-like "phone sidewalk."
The topmost photo of this entry seems Photoshopped—something about the intensity of the arrows and the lack of shadows around the people—but it's possible that it's real, or at the very least not difficult to imagine.
So, file this one under Unintended Consequences of Technology. Who could have foreseen that creating tools that improved long-range communication would cause pedestrians to completely ignore their immediate environments?
Also, etiquette question: Do you guys walk around staring into your phones? As a New Yorker who well remembers the high-crime days of yore, if there are other people near me on the sidewalk I get out of the way and put my back to a wall, facing outwards, before checking something on my phone. It is inconceivable to me that a person would walk the length of a crowded block with their head down, completely oblivious to their surroundings. NYC's rash of phone-snatchings—some quite violent—is, I think, something like nature's cycle of predators and easy prey. Staring into your phone and forcing others to walk around you isn't just rude—it can get expensive, and dangerous.
Editor's note: Sadly this has been debunked as of this afternoon, but the implications are still valid.
Posted by core jr
| 15 Sep 2014
Content sponsored by Autodesk
Autodesk had a big presence at the inaugural Core77 Conference, "Object Culture." Not only was technology futurist Jordan Brandt one of the morning's most energetic presenters, but attendees also had the chance to view a number of innovations from the company in the foyer area of 501 Union, where the Autodesk Fusion 360 team was stationed.
If you didn't get the chance to make it to Brooklyn to see the work in person, here's a look at a few that were on display (you can also check out our recap on the entire one-day event here):
Adam Mugavero Eyeware
It started as an unfortunate accident when Adam Mugavero broke his glasses at a concert. He had been working on a wooden sculpture project and decided to use the remnant wood to fix them. The idea became a much more than a one-time fix and he began hand-sculpting couture eyewear. As his client base expanded and his creative interest in new materials—such as diamond wood, composite wood products, 3D printing and electroplating—grew, he decided it was time to make his eyewear more accessible through manufacturing. He starts by sculpting glasses by hand for a specific person then he reverse engineers the design in Fusion 360 to prep them for manufacturing.
Posted by Ray
| 15 Sep 2014
Locale for Herman Miller (2013). Images courtesy of Industrial Facility unless otherwise noted
Given the current vogue for local, handwrought, artisanal or otherwise bespoke goods, the tide has effectively turned against mass production as millennials forgo the efficiencies of economies of scale in favor of purportedly more meaningful modes. The appeal of these objets is ostensibly the deeper level of personal connection—the prospect of shaking the very hand that made your wallet or dress or dining table is simultaneously atavistic and avant-garde—that justifies the cost of championing local production in the face of, um, faceless overseas manufacturing. This resurgence finds its most fundamental expression not in made-to-order heirlooms but in locavorism: Food products are literally rooted in a place, yet the fact that they are perishable precludes preciousness.
It's ironic, then, that "America has this great tradition of keeping kitchen appliances on the countertop." Kim Colin, co-founder and partner of design firm Industrial Facility, brings it up in the context of the broad shift away from the materialistic mentality of yore, rattling off a few generations' worth of examples. "Mr. Coffee's been there, the Kitchenaid's been there, George Foreman's grill was there for a while, the soda machine might be there now..." That these appliances have a shelf life (with the exception, perhaps, of the stand mixer) is a testament to the consummation of a consumer culture that revels in excess, the food itself being incidental. Whether or not we use them frequently enough to justify the countertop real estate, our society has long kept these objects on display, not only as status symbols in themselves but also because we have the luxury of space.
Or at least we did, before the world's metropolises drew in the majority of its 7.2 billion people and twentysomethings found themselves with less space and fewer things anyway. More kale, perhaps, but less of the other stuff.
The Branca Stool for Mattiazzi (2014)
We don't go out and find work, people find us.
Industrial Facility is arguably the best-kept secret in certain circles that extend far beyond its geographic locale of London. In contrast to the likes of Philippe Starck (with whom IF collaborated on TOG) or, say, friend-of-Apple Marc Newson, Kim Colin and her partner Sam Hecht opt for fly-by-night anonymity, much like one of their longtime clients. "[Muji is] not using design as a personality... if there is a personality, it would be Muji." Like kindred spirit Naoto Fukasawa, Industrial Facility's work dissolves into the client's brand—assuming, of course, that the client shares their refiend, purposeful design philosophy.
When Colin notes that "there's a kind of strange public awareness about us—we have what I would characterize as a cult following," she's referring to clients—Established & Sons, LaCie and Issey Miyake, to name a few—but the statement is true of consumers as well. It's not so much a signature style (again, they're designing for the likes of non-brand Muji) but a perspective that guides with their sub rosa appeal. "We're very interested in the actual ways we're living and the ways that's changing," Colin says. "We study it through the different kinds of clients we have... we learn how they're seeing the world, and we often have a very different point of view." She continues: "Those companies then realize that we have more to offer than a specific project on its own, and that we might have something to say about their business, or growth, or direction." Naturally, these deeper relationships tend to be self-selecting, and it's telling that Industrial Facility works closely with companies like Muji and Herman Miller in a design advisory role. "Our clients are unafraid of our questioning and our level of questioning."
Hence, Colin draws the distinction between their design practice and that of the 21st-Century artisan. "I think there are a lot of people working in design that are doing local products. Those are small batch, limited production or production-on-demand," she matter-of-factly declares. "Our scale is mass production, really, and that's why we named our studio Industrial Facility and not Sam Hecht and Kim Colin Studio. We want big companies not to be afraid to use design."
Formwork for Herman Miller (2014)
Prototypes of Formwork
Posted by core jr
| 15 Sep 2014
Vehicle design by Brett Stoltz, exhibited at DAAPworks 2014
This is the latest installment of D-School Futures, our interview series on the evolution of industrial design education. Today we have answers from Craig Vogel, associate dean of the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP), and a professor in the School of Design with an appointment in Industrial Design.
How different is industrial design education today than it was ten years ago? Will it look very different ten years from now?
ID has continued to evolve since it came of age in the 1930s. The last decade has witnessed several key changes. Design process has continued to decrease in time from concept to market. Globalization in development and distribution has continued, and new markets continue to grow as emerging economies have developed a middle class hungry for products and services. Major markets have shifted from the U.S. and Europe to Asia, South America and countries in Africa. Companies are realizing that green design is not only responsible but profitable as well. Baby boomers in the U.S. and their peers in global markets are creating new market demands in inclusive design, and women dictate much of the consumer spending for domestic products.
Perhaps the biggest change, however, is the shift in emphasis from standalone products and interfaces to interconnected products integrated into the growing service economy. MAYA's concept of trillions provides a clear insight into this factor, and products like Nest demonstrate the need for designers to think of products embedded in systems.
Sports and performance products will continue to be a major area for design, as humans around the world seek to be more active and healthy. The concept of soft products overlapping with fashion has continued to complement traditional "hard" product categories. Shoe design is the new car design. Medical design continues to grow and expand with the emphasis on empathic centered healthcare, the percentage growth of individuals over 75, and the decentralization of healthcare. More patients are healing at home or choosing to age in place. Interest in opportunities for socially responsible design is also growing. Companies and individual designers are seeking to serve the needs of a global community at the base of the pyramid, who lack the resources to pay for design but are desperately in need of design services.
The role of design continues to expand horizontally and vertically as design processes and ways of thinking are seen as valid for strategic planning as well as product implementation. Finally, entrepreneurial opportunities are increasing and will continue to grow in the next decade as the cost of product development and introduction into small and medium markets allow young designers to start their own companies. Many students come to college today seeking to launch their own companies rather than looking for consultant or corporate opportunities. Students are combining social responsibility with new funding options, and they can compete in local markets and global markets with new ways to develop and distribute products. Cincinnati is one of many cities creating the new economy of young entrepreneurs networking locally and globally. Design Impact is a small Cincinnati-based company focused on local and global design for social change. Design also exists at various levels of scale; LPK and Spicefire are two examples of global consultancies based in the city. P&G continues to maintain its commitment to design integration across their business units and in R&D. Clay Street is a novel design-innovation function within the company, and Shane Meeker is the only industrial designer running one of the largest company archives in the world.
Left: Craig Vogel. Right: Scooter by Miranda Steinhauser and wheelchair concept by Sandra Lin, both exhibited at DAAPworks 2014
Shoe design by Jon Kosenick
Posted by core jr
| 15 Sep 2014
All photos by Deena Denaro
With the vote on Scottish independence just a few short days away, the United Kingdom may soon undergo a major geopolitical transformation that nevertheless feels like it's a world away from North American shores. Far be it for us to predict the results, but the forthcoming vote marks an apt occasion to share a photo essay from Glasgow, comprising photos from the XX Commonwealth Games and beyond.
The Games inherently have a political element—participating countries are former members of the British Empire—but more broadly speaking the international event was a singular opportunity for the host city to showcase the best that the country has to offer at this critical juncture in the nation's history. Whether or not the nation of 5.3 million chooses independence, it is certainly home to a rich design culture, from its long heritage in textiles to its contemporary makerspaces. Shot by Deena Denaro, these photos duly capture the spirit of the games and the pride of place in Glasgow itself.
At top: The Parade of Nations at the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, featuring motion graphics by ISO Design.
People Make Glasgow, the city's spot-on tourism campaign, launches our quest for pin badges, the unofficial currency of the Commonwealth Games. Each country, organization venue and/or sport mints it's own pin badge which are exchanged by athletes and delegates as a symbol of friendship.
The "Big G" was the cynosure of George's Square (recognizable as the backdrop for the opening of World War Z). The concept behind the logo is derived from time, data and measurement, with four distinctive parts. The red outer ring symbolises the fact that it is the 20th Commonwealth Games; the yellow ring (which is 17/20 of the size of the outer ring) symbolizes the 17 sports on the program; the blue ring (11/20 of the size of the circle; appears vertical in image) represents the 11 days of the event; and the 'G' in the center represents Glasgow, the color reflecting the Gaelic meaning of the city's name, "Dear Green Place." View the "Making Of" video here.
The venues featured two-dimensional incarnations of the logo, designed by Glasgow's own Tangent.
The view from the sky box at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome during the men's 40km points race.
Scotland's tandem cyclists whizzing by as they take the gold.
Ants like to move things, presumably to carry them back to their nests. Which doesn't make much sense when ant hill entrances are tiny and you see them hauling back things like this relatively huge Dorito chip:
But who knows, maybe it's just about the accomplishment of dragging it back to the nest. And maybe they build dioramas and put the objects on display. Because there's also footage of these herpetology-minded ants transporting a lizard skull (and a second crew bringing back the spine):
So far nothing special, these guys move items the same way you, me and a few buddies would move a couch, by getting individual bodies around it. But someone in Southeast Asia recently posted this video, where a species of Leptogenys ants have apparently learned to form a daisy chain in order to haul this big-ass millipede:
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 12 Sep 2014
What we have here is a sleek and squint-worthy concept project. Award-winning Artist-slash-Industrial Designer Philippe Starck recently partnered with the bike company Moustache to design a series of electric bikes. Not content to stop after attaching fur to a battery-powered snow bike, Starck struck out to reimagine the humble helmet too. Teaming up with bike accessory giant Giro, who have been in the game for a few decades, the result is the elegantly named "The Giro by S+ARCKBIKE Helmet Concept." It's an intentionally layered, architectural-feeling take on one of the least sexy parts of riding a bike.
The helmet was designed with the positive social and environmental impacts of cycling in mind. Its features include a thin aluminum outer skin, a cork body, aluminum and leather harness system. The materials chosen reflect Starck's interest in both "new ergonomics" and renewable resources. They tout the unusual use of "sophisticated, unconventional" cork as a good choice for its anti-microbial and water-resistant properties (properties not shared by the leather components), and the fact that it's a green resource. (For a peek into the [relatively] green production of cork check out our photo gallery or this video on Portuguese production.) Also, cork theoretically has good "impact energy management"—y'know, the entire point of wearing a helmet.
Posted by Carly Ayres
| 12 Sep 2014
Last February, Kai Lin was watching YouTube videos of mountain goats jumping up a vertical mountain side when he was struck with an idea. Lin, now a senior at Pratt Institute, was enrolled in a prosthetic-design class at the time, and he wondered if the same anatomy that allowed the goats to so swiftly and accurately scale the vertical surface could be applied to humans.
This was the beginning of KLIPPA—the name is Swedish for "cliff"—a prosthetic leg designed specifically for amputee rock climbers. With the seedling of the idea in mind, Lin dug deeper into the anatomy of mountain goats, learning that their hooves have small cupped surfaces that create suction, coupled with a hard outer shell that allows the goats to stabilize their bodies on even the steepest surfaces. Looking for design opportunities, the student stumbled upon the documentary High Ground, which tells the story of 11 veterans who heal mental and emotional trauma during a 20,000-foot Himalayan ascent. Lin also discovered that rock climbing was the first choice of physically demanding sports for veteran amputees looking to maintain an active lifestyle after returning from Afghanistan or Iraq. "I realized from the demographic of amputee patients that quite a few of them are wounded soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, and many of them suffer from physical and psychological trauma," Lin says. "That just gave me more reason to design something meaningful—not only for day-to-day patients but for someone who might use my rock-climbing prosthetic legs to help with their recovery process."
Further research took the product design student to Brooklyn Boulders, a local climbing gym, where he interviewed experienced climbers about their technique, ankle articulation and muscle use. Lin took to the wall to give it a shot himself, attaching blue foam stilts to his feet to understand what it was like to climb without sensory feedback. Creating a series of blue foam stilts varying in surface size, Lin tested the ideal size for a prosthetic. "What I found was that when a [foot] surface is too big, it blocks you from seeing what is underneath and it becomes hard to step," Lin explains. "But when the contact surface is too small, you lose your balance." He created three main sizes of stilts in proportion to a human foot—full, half and quarter—discovering that the ideal solution was somewhere between a half-size and quarter-size foot, which limited the contact surface while still maintaing balance.
Lin synthesized this knowledge in a series of (really awesome) sketches, working to incorporate his research along with other identified problems amputee climbers face like strength loss, passive articulation, and a lack of sensory feedback and grip. The first iteration of sketches for KLIPPA was a direct biomimetic approach pulling inspiration from mountain goats, while his second series echoed a more human feel. From these sketches, Lin made five prototypes from blue foam and 3D-printed features like textured heels, hoof-like feet and rubber shoe encasings. His final design took the best pieces from each of these prototypes, resulting in a progression of human to goat anatomy moving down to the foot.
Posted by erika rae
| 12 Sep 2014
We're pretty big on process here at Core77—where other publications usually stick to pristine product shots, we like to show what goes on behind the scenes, not least because
you, faithful readers, are often the ones behind those scenes. And with the advent of inexpensive digital photography and videography tools—namely smartphones—it's easier than ever to document your process. Case in point, architect-turned-master-woodworker Frank Howarth demonstrates both his woodshop chops and his cinematography skills in his stop-motion videos.
The Portland, OR-based craftsman has been posting making-of videos YouTube channel for years, and they go beyond a superficial treatment to actually illustrate each step of the process—some of these mini films push ten minutes (and some are even longer). Most of them include Howarth walking you through each design decision. But my favorite one takes an anthropomorphic tack. It doesn't have a voiceover or even human presence at all—rather, each element and tool becomes a character in a production of sorts. Check it out: