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.
Carlos Tomas dropped his Mazda 6 off for a detailing appointment at a shop in Toronto. When he returned to pick it up, he noticed some cosmetic damage to the front of the car that he swore wasn't there before. But the body shop denied responsibility. A suspicious Tomas brought another car to the shop the following week, a sportier RX-8, and this time he secretly photographed the odometer before handing over the keys.
When Tomas picked the RX-8 up five days later, he noticed an extra 449 kilometers had been racked up on it. And amazingly, he received a CAD $45.60 bill in the mail from the local automatic toll collection agency.
We're guessing the designers and engineers over at Chevy have heard stories like this once too often, as they've actually cooked up a feature to solve this with their 2015 Corvette:
What's interesting is that the technology already existed as part of the Corvette's Performance Data Recorder package, which uses a small camera to shoot HD footage from the driver's POV, while a mic records the in-cabin audio and a computer records the vehicle data and telemetric info. The PDR was originally designed for track-heads who wanted to improve their lap times, but "We soon realized the system could have many more applications," Corvette product manager Harlan Charles said in a press release issued yesterday, "such as recording a scenic drive up Highway 101, or recording when the Valet Mode is activated."
The info and video can be viewed in-car immediately after recording, and it's also downloaded onto an SD card if you want to take the proof to the cops or just upload it onto YouTube. "Think of it," says Charles, "as a baby monitor for your car."
Visual communication is perhaps the most accessible design discipline, both for its sheer ubiquity and its broad mandate to convey an idea as clearly and memorably as possible. It could be a poster, billboard, pamphlet or even a simple design element like a calendar on the wall that initially pulls us into the work of the designers and firms around us. The 2014 Core77 Design Awards honorees in the Visual Communication category turned out to be the second largest group of honorees. From fictitious brand identities to an anthology of infographics to a good ol'-fashioned student-produced zine, there's enough work in here to keep you browsing for a couple of hours.
The jury team—led by designer, typographer, writer and illustrator Marian Bantjes—shared the 18 projects that they thought best showed the spirit of visual communications. Read on to learn more about the honored work:
Professional Winner: The Infographic History of the World, by Valentina D'Efilippo
As its title suggests, "The Infographic History of the World" is a veritable trove of graphic design gems. Valentina D'Efilippo's compilation of infographics follows everything from galactic families to the evolution of man—in short, you're getting nearly 14 billion years of information in one volume. "This is a conflation everything the world needs right now: a rediscovery of the joys of reading and the printed page; seductive and clever graphic representations of historical data and a joyful immersion in learning," says juror Mark Mushet. "The seamless video helped this one past any hurdles. Bonus points for being an attractive product that will appeal to absolutely anyone!"
» Learn more about The Infographic History of the World
Student Winner: LAXART Museum, by Young JooTak
Art Center College of Design student Young JooTak rebranded the LAXART Museum's identity down to its very last design element. The project included a new website design, interactive communication, print campaigns, media art, 3D graphics, product packaging, book and magazine layouts, virtual environments and creation of graphic identities and branded experiences. "I was really surprised this was a student project. It looked so real: completely plausible, with many levels of engagement worked out," says Bantjes. "I like the mark a lot: a very high-tech-looking X with all sorts of spin-off possibilities. It successfully combined the clean/modern thing with a really recognizable identity."
» Learn more about Laxart Museum
Professional Runner Up: Bezos Center for Innovation, by Studio Matthews with Olson Kundig Architects
The 5,000 sq. ft. space that Studio Matthews and Olson Kundig Architects designed pulls its inspiration from a well-known design buzzword: innovation. The goal of the exhibition is to inspire and help visitors learn about Seattle's creative history, as well as it's reputation for standout global companies. "You would expect that a healthy budget for design would guarantee success, but this is certainly not always the case," says juror Paul Roelofs. "In this instance, that budget was used to create an incredibly fresh package of interactive displays to describe the complex concept of innovation. The multitude of approaches designed to tell that story are themselves seamless with the content. It is a brilliant and engaging execution."
» Learn more about Bezos Center for Innovation
Professional Runner Up: Herman Miller Collection, by Hello Design
Herman Miller is by no means a new name to anyone with a bit of interest in design, and the Herman Miller Collection—designed by Hello Design—highlights precisely the allure we've come to expect from the storied brand. The collection was designed to be photographed in the Eames Case Study House. The design team also launched a video showcasing the ins and outs of the line's production."Sexy, sexy," says juror Shelley Gruendler. "We oohed and aaahed over the imagery, and despite the clichÃ© of awarding a prize to such an obvious project, we really were seduced by the interface, the navigation and the wealth of information."
» Learn more about Herman Miller Collection
Student Runner Up512Stew, by 512stew
512Stew is a one-off zine that covers Austin culture through photography, illustrations and text. 18 University of Texas at Austin design students put the 300-page book together and ran an Indiegogo campaign to raise the funds for printing, limited-edition dust jackets, bookmarks and the ever-important launch party. "As an educator I can really appreciate the benefit of this project for students," says Gruendler. "Many students come out of school with too much concept and not enough execution, but this project, to teach people to actually get a publication done from start to finish including costing and printing and launching is just a really great experience and a wonderful result.
» Learn more about 512Stew
Posted by Moa Dickmark
| 19 Aug 2014
Cansu Akarsu is one of those people who you can't help but notice when she enters a room: Her bubbly and positive energy more than makes up for her small stature. I met her during the INDEX: Design Awards a few years back, and have had the great pleasure of seeing her grow as a designer with her many socially conscious projects. Her résumé includes projects such as Happy Baby Carrier, Pad Back and Soap Shish. She moved from Copenhagen to Stavanger, Norway, this year and is now working at Laerdal Global Health.
Tell us a bit about your background?
Cansu Akarsu: I was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. I studied at an American high school called Robert College in Turkey, followed by studies at Istanbul Technical University (ITU),
which lead to an exchange semester at TUDelft, Netherlands, and a year as an exchange student at Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Tech.
What led you to study design?
At the international school, I had a chance to chose courses more focused on my various interests, which gave me a chance to study and experiment with web design and graphic design. I was very lucky, my school was very good in this way. They also conduct various personality test as to help you understand where you fit on the job market, and how you can direct your studies in that direction.
If you think about your closest family and friends, have they influenced you in any way?
If you ask my mom, my 'design genes' came from my father's side :). They fell in love at the university as my dad helped my mom with her technical drawing courses. So far, I am the only industrial designer in my family of engineers. What fascinates me most about design is the human aspect—that we focus more on the everyday behaviors of people than technical solutions to products.
For the last few years, you have been working with socially conscious design. How did you get started with that?
There were many small events to lead to this decision. One of them being a trip to the eastern part of Turkey that I took with my class at ITU. I had traveled a lot to different countries, but i had never visited cities outside of Istanbul, and I thought that they were going to be more or less on the same level when it came to the standards that I knew growing up. I was surprised and shocked to see the lack of resources that existed in my own country. This inspired me to see what sort of impact that I, as designer, could have on peoples' everyday lives. I understood that I could do something to help the development of my country and the world as a whole and that was really exciting for me. This is one of the reasons why I decided to participate in OpenIDEO. Here I attended the design challenges, and it was one of the places where I found that design skills could be used to address worlds' biggest problems.