Design requires, by necessity, a lot of iterations of an object before you get it "right." What do you do with the eleven 3D-printed models you cranked out before settling on design #12? A company called ReDeTec (which stands for Renewable Design Technology), was in attendance at the World's Fair
In the last post we looked at the accidental street furniture that Siamese connections make. Buildings that have them are required to provide signage labeling them. These signs are usually simple and workmanlike. But the designer of this ground-floor business somehow convinced the client to go for more, and spend
In the city you've seen these convenient two-headed pieces of street furniture sticking out of buildings or the sidewalk, and perhaps even sat on them from time to time: So what exactly are they? It depends, at least in New York City, on what color they're painted. You'll see them
I hate taking the subway and I generally Citi Bike everywhere, including over one of the bridges if I have to go to Brooklyn. But the other night I had to go to Gravesend/Sheepshead Bay, which is out of Citi Bike's docking network. One of the reasons I hate
The Global Futures Lab is a series of international workshops that aims to counteract the bias and stereotypes of so-called "Western futures" and foster different futures linked to specific geo-cultural locations.
These are the signs that road crews use in NYC. You don't want a texting driver slamming into a bunch of repairmen, and the bright orange color of these, topped with flags and fronted with cones that have reflective tape on them, fulfill their function of being highly visible. These
We think of sidewalks as level, until the first time you drop something round or cylindrical and watch it roll towards the curb. Sidewalks are of course graded to send rainwater into the gutters. Just how sharply they are graded can be seen anywhere there is scaffolding. Look at the
Cyrill Gutsch talks about plastic use the way doctors talk about drug addiction. In a way, he's not far off. Although wildly harmful to the environment, plastic has become engrained into the worlds of design and manufacturing as a go-to material that simply gets the job done. Cyrill Gutsch and his company Parley are on a multi-faceted mission to end this mentality by ridding the world of plastic—entirely.
This laundromat in Chinatown/Little Italy offers free entertainment to waiting customers. When it's warm enough out they'll sit in one of two chairs provided outside the facility. Against the window on the left is a free library of books. They look to be Chinese versions of steamy Harlequin romance novels.
Ant farms are lame because the ants don't really do much, other than walk around showing off how much weight they can carry. Wouldn't you rather have an indoor beehive, where you can see the little buggers making honey? "I sure would," you say, "but I don't want to get
You reckon someone came home, and found their things by the curb after their live-in partner discovered infidelity? Or maybe someone just threw a bunch of stuff out and someone wrote on it after the fact, I don't know. By the looks of it, this stuff has been here a
I typically take my dogs out for their first walk well before most people wake up. So we pass a lot of shuttered storefronts. Although NYC's crime rates have dropped precipitously in the past several decades, rolling security shutters are a must for storefronts; when the Michael Kors store was
The clichéd gifts for Valentine's Day are always flowers and chocolates, but things have been changing in this holiday business for a while now (Galentine's Day, for example). This year, enter Racket—a grassroots organization aimed at de-shaming menstruation and providing hygiene products to women in need, have written, produced, and
Remember those police barricades I wrote about earlier? The Parks & Recreation employees who maintain this park on the Lower East Side's Chrystie Street have snagged a few. Someone has removed the gates that seal off this fenced-in soccer field, which are usually locked at night. With the gates gone,
Your dog shits free energy. As do mine. And every day I pick it up with a plastic bag and throw it in the garbage, where it does no good. British inventor Brian Harper is doing something about this. Harper lives in Worcestershire's Malvern Hills, designated an Area of Outstanding
Last week, the head of BlackRock, one of the biggest investment companies in the world, sent a letter to the CEOs of each of the companies in which his own $6 trillion company invests: "Consider the social implications of your business," he said. From now on, BlackRock will be evaluating
These are my coffee mugs. Some I got at colleges when I was on the lecture circuit. One I stole during the dotcom boom, others I got as gifts from clients when I was doing freelance industrial design. I've had these for years and none of them have much meaning
When Erik Ahlström moved from Åre, a ski resort town in central Sweden to Stockholm, he had a strong first impression of the capital: "Det ser ju ut som en soptipp," which translates as "It looks like a dump." Ahlström, an environmentalist, was put off by the amount of litter
Bit of a mystery on yesterday morning's dog walk. On the east side of Columbus Park I spotted these. I wouldn't touch these any more than I'd grab and shake a ticking backpack with wires sticking out of it. But I was curious, as these were purposefully placed where they
Pesticides are bad for humans, and they've been linked to everything from birth defects to cancer. They're not much better for the environment: In "Sustaining the Earth," textbook author G. Tyler Miller--the man who literally wrote the book on environmental science--points out that over 95% and 98% of sprayed herbicides
This is one of the homeless gentlemen that resides in my neighborhood. All of his life's belongings are loaded onto three carts he's acquired. I've had ample opportunity to observe this man, who migrates around daily but always travels back to the same scaffolding to sleep under. He is
Where I live in Manhattan, there are several Chinese supermarkets located near me. These are crowded but incredibly efficient operations that move a lot of product in the form of fruits, vegetables and meats, and I admire the unseen logisticians behind it all. At one of them, the guy who
We're happy to share the winners of the sixth iteration of the Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge, presented by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute in collaboration with Autodesk and Arconic Foundation. The series of six global challenges invited designers, sustainability professionals and students to redesign products for
If you walk up Elizabeth Street early in the morning, you'll pass this tidy but odd-looking area along a blank stretch of wall beneath an awning. It's decorated with what looks to be children's artwork from the local Chinese school. What are these pieces of street furniture? You can see,
Sometimes in New York City you'll see apartment building hacks. In this case, at a building in Little Italy, a dedicated entrance was added to a basement apartment. This was clearly not part of the original architecture. Here's a well-known problem: If you have stairs descending from the sidewalk, it
This cabinet of metal drawers lives in my shop. I found it on the street and use it to hold the random things that don't live on my tool wall. As you can see by this label that I never removed, it was once used by a police department. I
The "cast iron district" that is SoHo in Manhattan still has some sidewalks and stoops that look like this one, on Wooster Street between Grand and Broome Streets: Note the raised nubs at the interstices between the glass, which provide traction in rain. The stairs are cast iron, and you
At a distance it appears this lamppost has gained a parasite. In fact it's a bike lock. The bike it was once safeguarding has long since been stolen. Maybe the maintenance crew responsible for the upkeep of the pole did not have a saw. Or maybe they did and didn't
To say that the air quality in Chinese cities is bad is an understatement, as you can see below. Statistics and image via Air Quality Index China To tackle this, the municipal government of the city of Xian (population 8.7 million), the capital of Shaanxi province, has constructed what is
One of those hip little boutique hotels opened up a few years ago on the Bowery. Here it is in Google Street View. They have a lounge downstairs that is open to the elements. These are the tables the lounge is populated with. As you can see they are custom-made.
This bicycle shackled to a signpost on Crosby Street seems to be owned by a creative cyclist. It has been brutally cold lately here in NYC, and the rider has fashioned insulated hand-shields for the handlebars. It's not uncommon to see local delivery people hack something like this up, but
When you picture New York City you probably don't envision greenery, but in fact the city has some 5.2 million trees in parks, lining streets and in people's yards in the outerboroughs. Each year, as in nature, a number of them become damaged by storms or age and must be
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