It's been over a year since we've seen interactive restaurant tables in the news, but here comes a new one from Pizza Hut. Yes, the American fast food joint is hoping that if their deep-dish pizzas aren't enough to get you inside, perhaps their fee-yancy touchscreen table will be. Have a look:
What's interesting about this, from a business perspective, is that Pizza Hut is owned by Yum! Brands, which also owns KFC and Taco Bell. While the last interactive restaurant table we looked at was integrated into a one-off restaurant, Yum! Brands (God I hate typing that stupid exclamation point in their name) has some 40,000 restaurants in over 125 countries.
As for the actual interface design (which was done by creative firm Chaotic Moon), it still seems a bit cutesy to me; I'm not confident that people will want to do a two-finger drag to choose a pie size, for instance—I suspect they'd rather just hit an S, M or L button. But the visual representation of how large something is will probably prove popular. And once the balance between what the technology can do and what people actually want has been worked out, if Y!B decides to move ahead with this concept, we could see mass uptake in a relatively short time period, on account of their size. Presumably they've got the juice to require individual franchisees to integrate these units, handily spreading the costs out.
We all take the floors we tread on for granted. Not only are they more reliable than a best friend when it comes to catching you after ill-fated falls, but they also introduce an entire expanse of possibilities in terms of data collection. If you've done your reading, you may remember a group at the Georgia Institute of Technology we covered that's working to harvest energy from footsteps through a collapsable, charged contraption located underneath the floor. This time we've got something a little different, but just as awesome.
German-based Future-Shape has introduced the 2mm thick SensFloor, a large textile underlay that fits underneath flexible floor coverings like tiles and parquet. The conductive mat can track the movement of several people moving on top of it at once, as well as those in wheelchairs.
Hooks are one of my favorite organizing products—and my clients love them, too. It's just easier to throw a coat over a hook than it is to put it on a hanger—and easy is good, since it increases the chance that the coat (or whatever) isn't going to just get tossed on the floor. So hooks are worth considering for your own work spaces, as well as for end-users who may find them handy.
When I say "hook," you may think of classic hook designs, such as this double hook and robe hook—which are both perfectly good and useful, but there's no need to stop there. The opportunities for innovation within this basic form are nearly endless.
Some hooks are designed for easy installation, without the need for sheetrock anchors, etc. (More on installation issues later.) Unihook from Pat Kim installs with a single nail—but due to its clever design, which spreads the load downwards along the wall from that one nail, it can hold an amazing 10 kilograms of weight (about 22 pounds).
That crusty industrial building may not look like much, but it's special for two reasons. One, it's located in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, a city with little history of industry, meaning buildings like that are not commonplace. And two, it's going to become a creative incubation hub to the tune of some CAD $30 million in funding.
The Bayview Yards Innovation Centre, as it's called, is nearly 46,000 square feet of raw space that will house a rentable digital media and animation lab, meeting and presentation spaces, design studios and a makerspace dedicated to "industrial design, prototyping, fabricating and additive and subtractive manufacturing."
The aforementioned $30 mil in funding, half of which is from the city and half from the province, isn't a mere gesture of largesse; the bread is intended to provide "a big boost to the creative sector that has been waiting to emerge in this city for decades." The local talent-drain problem is well known, with creative types easily lured to cities like Toronto or New York; by giving, say, the industrial design grads at Ottawa's Carleton University a cool place to make stuff, the government bodies reckon they can hang on to their citizens while creating jobs and wealth.
The design of the space is being undertaken by local design firm prototypeD. Says company founder and CEO Janak Alford,
Ottawa needs a space where our hidden talents can really be brought together and celebrated.... In the Bayview Yards, we all have an opportunity to experience a new kind of ecosystem, one of creativity and innovation, which is bustling and busy and exciting, and where the potential of this generation can find a foothold to move up professionally and make a big splash on our society.
...It really will be a dynamic, multi-faceted space. But the people will make this space really unique. It will be a hallmark creative space, outside of but compatible with the high calibre of thinking from our post-secondary institutions, and open to all.
If all goes well and the space fills up, there are plans to add a tower that will bring a whopping 180,000 additional square feet. But that's a ways off yet; the Innovation Centre is scheduled to launch in 2016.
On Tuesday, you got to know a bit more about MIOS and what the designers behind the project have been up to since winning. Continuing the 2014 Design Awards spirit, we bring you an in-depth look at Liminal Spaces, a 2012 Interiors & Exhibitions Student winner. Entering and winning earned them the validation and confidence to keep moving forward with their work. If you'd like to earn the same, get busy and submit your entry, because there's only two weeks left to enter the 2014 program.
Core77: How has Liminal Spaces grown since winning a Core77 Design Award? How has your professional life advanced since winning?
Liminal Spaces: Since winning the award, the next major hurdle for the three of us was graduating from the Royal College of Art—which we all managed successfully! We haven't continued to develop Liminal Spaces, but the thinking behind the project has been extremely influential for all of us in shaping our work.
Professionally Alicja, amongst other things, has been working with Bare Conductive and developing her own work.
Hal and Ben, working with Textile designer Kirsty Emery, have set up their own research and development studio Searu which is focused on the potential of digitized manufacturing. They are proud to count Google Creative Lab amongst their clients and are currently developing their own novel manufacturing system they hope to launch by the end of the year—watch this space!
For those of us who were a bit groggy from that killer combination of jetlag and one nightcap too many, the first speaker on Day Two of the 2014 Design Indaba Conference was a trip, as though he'd clicked the metaphorical spurs of his boots to transport us not to Kansas but a nearby state. Indeed, DJ (née Doyle Jr.) Stout's talk was vaguely dream-like, featuring sobering statistics about the 2011 Texas wildfires, footage of a cattle drive, a Pecos League baseball team... and, of course, cowboy poetry. Somehow, it was the last bit that tied it all together—and to Stout's personal and professional history: A third-generation Texan, he made his name at Texas Monthly—you can see some of his work in their archive—and has been a partner at Pentagram since 2000. Stout has been based in Austin for most of the 30+ years that he's been working as a designer and he's met some interesting people along the way, including musician Graham Reynolds, who kept him company on stage, performing original piano compositions during the moving video interludes.
If Stout's presentation was as earnest as they come, the final speaker of the conference was rather more tongue-in-cheek with his delivery of what might be described as a well-practiced presentation to a full house last Friday. Stefan Sagmeister should need no introduction (at least not according to MC Michael Bierut) and—even if a refresher would have been nice—he did not provide one, instead commenting on an infinitesimally subtle heat pattern on the projector screen before launching into his popular 'Happy Talk.' Sagmeister has apparently been evangelizing (for lack of a better term) on the topic for at least a few years now, and I heard mixed feedback from conference-circuit veterans who knew better than to expect anything new. He acknowledged as much with a wink and a nod during the climactic sing-along portion of the talk, leading the audience in belting out the line "seen it all on TED.com."
In short, the presentations were polar opposites. Stout shared an honest exploration of heritage and the pride of place; Sagmeister's pseudo-science project is both the product of and the premise for his various modes of self-expression. Stout is certainly more worldly than he let on in his presentation—he lightened the mood with a few one-liners throughout—but the fact that he spoke in his natural voice, which lacks a discernible Texan accent, only underscored the candidness of his talk. Sagmeister, on the other hand, limited the scope of his presentation to the work in the Happy Show—clever, often quotable, and always beautiful, but somewhat lacking in substance: a dose of visual culture for the here and now.
OXX is an exciting new brand in the outdoor industry and they're pioneering a new category of consumer electronics for the outdoor market. The company was recently founded by an entrepreneur and is backed by venture capital, this Grand Rapids, MI company is preparing to launch the first of several new OXX product lines into the market this year. How would you like to join this brand new company as their Industrial Designer?
This isn't a corporate job with the corporate BS. This is an opportunity to develop great products, get them into the market and be part of building a great business. If you're a talented product designer who has the skills to develop world class products and the ambition to be part of a quickly growing business, Apply Right Now.
This year's Design Shanghai was absolutely packed with visitors, to say the least, as the mixed international and local Chinese audience managed to fill the vast Shanghai Exhibition Centre. Compared to many other design fairs and exhibitions, Design Shanghai was extremely well advertised to the Shanghai public—the lines for general entrance and the Collectibles were astronomically long, but this was quite a welcome sight, showing the general public's growing interest in design and design culture.
Design Shanghai featured exhibits featuring over 40,000 designers. Because the event is planned by predominantly foreign organizers, there were unfortunately not as many homegrown designers, but there were a couple of gems we still managed to pick out.
In terms of emerging designers, the CIID Awards were the highlight, recognizing 120 interior designers with the "Outstanding Young Interior Designers of China" Award based on several criteria: performance during 2011 and 2012 in terms of impact, design programs, work experience and participation in competitions. The organization did a fantastic job of identifying and curating a diverse range of interior designers, from those who sparkle a room with traditional elements to designers with who create with entire futuristic ensembles.
Powerhouse design duo Neri&Hu and rebel designer Naihan Li both had fantastic exhibits with their latest products. Naihan prominently featured her Skyscraper Candles, which has expanded in the number of countries and cities. Neri&Hu collaborated with Jaguar, the exhibition's key sponsor, and Wallpaper Magazine to re-engineer the distinctively British picnic basket with a Chinese perspective and carbon fiber.
Now that the digital era is upon us, the trope of mechanical reproduction has become a condition of contemporary culture, and machines in themselves are embedded at an even deeper level. Meanwhile, artists and designers increasingly incorporate maker/hacker/DIY approaches into their multi-disciplinary practice; together, these trends point to generative design as the logical progression of production. If digital fabrication offers a horizon of possiibilities beyond art-school experimentation—we've seen at least a couple of permutationalprojects of late—so too do everyday machines hold a kind of primitive potential of their own. From an alarm clock to a electric razor to a Walkman, Echo Yang's 2013 Thesis Project, "Autonomous Machines," at the Design Academy Eindhoven explored the creative capacity of commonplace household items.
When working with digital tools, the value of generative design is in its ability to deal with complexity; as with analog tools, the value will be in an object or a behavior possessing internal algorithm itself. It does not deal with complexity because its internal algorithm has already handled it.
I see the mechanical system inside the machines as a unique language. Machines are produced, as they are demanded and required in particular circumstance or era, they act as a witness to history. By making use of the specific mechanical movement of particular machine, I attempt to transform them into a drawing machines in the simplest way. Base on this process, only few machines can work really well and produce beautiful outcomes.
This design proposal is not meant for creating a new tool to achieve a particular purpose. Instead, by showing how machines speak in their own language, based on their internal logics, the proposal is about bringing more awareness to the algorithm inside the ordinary objects around us. It is an inspirational way that helps broaden the notion of information design.
In other words, even the simplest machine contains an internal logic that can be expressed visually, even if its signature is abstracted from its mechanism. It's something like a cross between Rickard Dahlstrand's 3D-printer tunes and Eske Rex's Drawingmachine: The process is systematic only to the degree that the motors generate cyclical movements, but the results vary greatly.
Over the last five years brain research has rapidly developed technologies for influencing and changing our thoughts, perceptions and feelings. The new field of optogenetics, for example, has proven that light delivered via fiber optics into the brain can change the behavior of individual neurons and may one day help those suffering from Parkinson's, depression or other brain disorders. And most recently, researchers have used brain stimulation to increase one's appreciation and enjoyment of art.
Neuroscientists at the University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy had subjects study and rate 70 abstract paintings and drawings, and 80 realistic paintings and photographs. Then they received transcranial direct-current stimulation to specific parts of their brain. This technique sends small electrical impulses to the brain via electrodes placed on top of the head (no drilling needed!) I know it sounds medieval but it's quite modern, non-invasive and delivers zero feeling, no pain, no tickle, nothing. In fact the subjects had no awareness of the electrical impulses. Scientists aimed the current at what is called the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a brain area responsible for emotional processing.