Yesterday Elon Musk's Boring Company held a publicly-streamed informational session where they revealed details of their plans to create a traffic-beating tunnel network beneath Los Angeles. Whereas the plan had previously envisioned automated sleds that would whisk passenger cars through the network, it has now evolved into the idea of
My value of what I'd later learn was called "industrial design" was formed early on. At 14 I started working in a restaurant owned by a hands-on penny pincher, and letting a single molecule of a condiment go to waste was a fire-able infraction. So we were taught to "marry"
On a commercially volatile strip of Lafayette Street, another store has gone out of business, probably pushed out by rising rents. I've noticed that within days of a store closing down, kids will come through at night and tag the place up, including on the glass. But right next
Yesterday at my photo studio, the photographer showed up with an ankle injury and on crutches. This being a product shoot requiring precise placement of the lights, it took him at least twice as long to get the set-up he desired, as he had to clutch the crutches with his
At a Dunkin' Donuts in Gowanus. Having worked in restaurants for years, it always captures my attention that you can fit 100 new, folded napkins within a certain volume, but crumple them up and you can only fit 10 in the same space. Ditto with coffee cups. This garbage
Every morning I get an ice coffee to go at the diner downstairs. The counterwoman pours ice, milk and coffee into a cup, lids it and hands it to me. I have given up on asking her, for the sake of even mixing, to pour the milk in last (milk
Someone is moving house, and this moving truck is parked at a skewed angle to the curb. The movers I observed were rolling a series of boxes and items up this ramp with a dolly. It's obviously made easier if they don't need to deal with the curb. But
In a bid to improve the horrible air quality in their cities, the Chinese government has been adding electric buses at the staggering pace of 9,500 new ones every five weeks. That breaks down to roughly 271 new electric buses every day, or one bus every 5.3 minutes, spread out
These protective bollards have done their job of protecting the building. Two of them have taken direct hits. The height of the dent suggests a large truck. The two "arms" welded to the plate that's then bolted into the wall, look brutish. The plate was presumably placed at that height
On Elizabeth Street I passed these two bicycles and one moped shackled to a bike rack. The silver bike has had its seat stolen. The rust on the chain suggests the owner subsequently declined to retrieve his or her bike. The bike lock drew my eye. Why would someone do
In front of store on Spring Street in lower Manhattan, we see this object. A hole has been bored into the side of it to admit a chain. The chain is attached to the bracket holding the on/off lock for the roll-down gate. The top of this object has been
I understand that you don't want your smoothie messing up your moustache, but plastic drinking straws are stupid. They're not recyclable, and it's absurd to use something once that then gets thrown away. Drinking straws are easily carried off of garbage piles by the wind, so it's no surprise that
We're back from the Hollywood Hills, which is a topographically crazy place to build houses. Each one sits on a precious lot that has been carved into a slope. L.A. being a city of cars, parking is obviously at a premium here. These two parking spaces, hemmed in by unattractive
Most people think of Honda as a car and motorcycle company, but they view themselves as a mobility company. That's why, nearly 20 years ago, an internal team of engineers was formed to help a subset of people who are functionally immobile: Stroke victims. By adapting the technology from their
We had the pleasure of catching up with Phil Balagtas, brainchild behind the first-of-its-kind PRIMER conference and the international Speculative Futures meetup group. He shares insight about starting PRIMER and where it is going.
On my recent trip to L.A. I crashed with a friend in the Hollywood Hills. It is an incredibly unlikely place to site so many houses. It makes San Francisco look flat. I asked my friend what the story was with this place. She explained that this used to be
Access+Ability is an exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum on view now through Sept. 3, 2018. It features products, projects and services developed by and with people with disabilities—physical, cognitive and sensory—in an effort to improve their ability to lead independent lives and engage with the world.
The hills in this godforsaken city are insane. I'm used to walking long distances in Manhattan, but the constant up-and-down in Bernal Heights is nutty. I saw this one-person bench outside of a residence. It appears to be DIY rather than city-sanctioned. I tried to shoot the photo to give
I stayed in the Bernal Heights area and didn't have much time to explore, but observed what I could. I was surprised to see that the municipal government goes to the added expense of having the street names etched into the sidewalk at the intersections. I don't keep my
This past Wednesday night kicked off Water Futures, a first-of-its-kind research program hosted by A/D/O in collaboration with Jane Withers. The year long program of events and workshops will focus on water in the urban environment, from the tensions around how we manage water in large cities to the push
Once a month the Con Edison man comes to my building, buzzes every apartment, and enters each in turn to read the gas meters. It's a pain in the neck because I have to leash my intruder-unfriendly dogs and hold them at bay while he enters. In the San Francisco
I'm from New York, so everything in San Francisco looks bizarre to me: The hills, the architecture, the parking meters, the street furniture. A good case in point is this public trash can, spotted on Cortland Street in the Bernal Heights area:
With the world's plastics problem spiraling hopelessly out of control, the least we can do is find ways to re-use disposable plastic items before they go into that landfill forever. It's particularly galling to see all of the plastic in the ocean where it causes harm to aquatic creatures that
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.
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