Here's a holiday project for those of us DIY-inclined and prone to self-supergluing/mixing up the salt with the sugar. These iconic ornaments, Legoized by Chris McVeigh, are available in build-it-yourself kits. If your house is already replete with plastic stackables, his site offers tons of free downloadable "recipes," too.(more...)
Flotspotting: Susan Qiu's Foam Furniture and Mountain-Inspired Chair Adds Some Fun to Minimalist Design
Michigan-based designer Susan (Yating) Qiu is exploring the frontier of minimal furniture design with work that features unexpected materials and natural inspirations. They may not catch your eye for being the most practical pieces, but they sure are fun.
Her first series, "Adret & Ubac" may come off as a defective rug (which is partly true, according to the designer), but it's actually a snooze-worthy seating option for those looking to catch-up with a friend or on their sleep.It's essentially a rug on the floor that elevates at the center to function as a backrest. The form defines dual spaces for both conversation and self retreat. Different tones used on two sides of the ridge signify the adret and ubac of the mountain, the binary nature of the piece, as active catalyst for social interaction as well as for passive repose.
In a world of open office layouts and temporary workspaces, this would fit in perfectly at one of those progressive nap-friendly employers.(more...)
If your holiday shopping list includes any serious home cooks, there is probably nothing you can get them that will be as useful, or as appreciated, as a high-quality knife. But buying chef's knives is hardly a straightforward matter—indeed, the world of knife-making is its own complicated and fascinating design niche.
Recently, I set out to learn more about the design of Japanese knives, which have become increasingly widely available in the United States through brands like Shun and Global. [Editor's Note: Our own Hand-Eye Supply offers a few options from the more obscure Midori Hamano.] Not surprisingly, Japanese knife manufacturers take their craft very seriously. Shun, for instance, describes its blade as "a way of life"—and the name Shun (rhymes with "moon") is derived from a Japanese word that refers to the moment when a piece of fruit is at its sweetest, the peak of perfection.
This perfectionist approach trickles down to every aspect of the Japanese knife manufacturing process, which traces its roots back to the blade-making tradition of ancient samurai swords. Companies like Shun and Global pride themselves in the fact that none of their knives leave the factory untouched by human hands, as the final balancing process requires a myriad of hand-working techniques by skilled craftsmen to achieve the ideal weight.
Weight is one of the key areas where Eastern- and Western-styles knives differ. Eastern knives tend to be balanced with the weight in the blade, allowing for quick and easy chopping with no additional pressure. The Chinese cleaver is an excellent example of this, having a rectangular blade and a slight curve for easily mincing and dicing food using only a slight rocking motion. Western knives, more often, are neutral-balanced, meaning that the center of gravity exists at the "pinch point," or where the blade meets the bolster. This allows the chef to pinch the knife between the blade and the handle.
"Think of how a sushi chef works," says Tommie Lucas, the product development manager in the housewares division of Kai USA Ltd., the Stateside division of Kai Group, which manufacturers Shun cutlery. "They swiftly chop tons of fish and vegetables into clean, tiny pieces. That cut needs to be as seamless as possible and, since it's so repetitive, the motion needs to be easy and effortless."(more...)
The first result of a Google Image Search for "Technique"
"Is technique an example of overcoming 'bad' design, or is technique itself a form of design?"
So begins Sanjy009's inquiry into "Technique vs. Design," proceeding to illustrate the topic with a couple of examples, which have driven much of the discussion thus far. He starts with an anecdote about driver's ed in Scandinavia: "Sweden teaches drivers to open their car doors with the opposite arm, so their bodies are facing backwards and the driver is better able to check their blindspot before opening the door" (it turns out it might be Amsterdam; no confirmation as of press time), followed by a discussion of the ergonomics on musical instruments.
The latter serves as the primary talking point; to Michael DiTullo's point that "we are due for something new, but even most of the purely digital tools mimic analog inputs," I would note that:
1.) I think the Ondes Martenot is a good example of how an avant-garde instrument still requires an intuitive UI: It's essentially a theremin (i.e. a sine-wave generator) that has a graphic interface, as seen in this video overview (it starts a little slow, but gets pretty cool at 3:55; by the end, the interviewer notes that "It's definitely the most 'alive'-sounding electronic instrument... It has a very human quality to it.") Radiohead fans might recognize the coveted synthesizer, which multi-instrumentalist Jonny Greenwood has played on every one of their albums since Kid A; it also features heavily in his solo side projects.
2.) The Tenori-On also comes to mind—the short write-up on MoMA's Inside/Out blog (they've acquired it in their permanent collection) offers a nice summary of how the 16×16 grid actually works.(more...)
Due out in January, the Mimo Baby Monitor shows the softer side of technology trickle-down. The key object is a baby onesie or "kimono" (kidmono! oh ho ho) employing Bluetooth Low Energy, wearable-washable sensors, and turtles. Once you've suited up your progeny in this thing, you'll received real-time information on your babe's position, breathing, temperature, sleep status, and future SAT scores on your phone.
Although it has one proverbial foot on either side of the precious/practical divide, there definitely seems to be a trend towards wi-fying babies. Mimo is just one product in a small herd of baby-applied tech devices poised to crowd the digital shelves.
Never mind tracking your runs and heart rate. You're a new parent now; no time for running, and your heart rate is likely to be higher than healthy at all times. Get used to it, get the app, and get some rest.(more...)
The Malinalco Project: A Cross-Cultural Collaboration between Masters Students from Brooklyn & Master Craftspeople in Mexico
In May of this year, 12 Master of Industrial Design (MID) candidates from the Pratt Institute led by Professor Rebecca Welz, had the opportunity to spend two weeks in the town of Malinalco, Mexico, where they collaborated with 13 local artisans to design and fabricate their projects. Each artisan/student pair spent full working days brainstorming, conceptualizing, designing, sourcing and finally fabricating a variety of products, from tabletop to furniture pieces.
Challenging in many ways, it became an incredibly enriching and educational experience for everyone involved. It was a simultaneous exchange of thoughts, knowledge and interests and a walk through the creative process, with two points of view, hand in hand. It was a human experience, which situates the designer in a very humbling and real place—one that is long way, both geographically and figuratively, from a Brooklyn classroom.
Malinalco is a small town located two hours southwest of Mexico City. It is a charming tourist destination, which features the only monolithic Pre-Columbian structure in Central America, the Cuauhtinchan sanctuary complex. As you enter the archaeological site on a typical bustling weekend (weekdays are incredibly quiet in this town), you will run into dozens of little stands selling local crafts. This is how the artisans make a living: Selling leather bracelets, small woodcarvings of mushrooms and humming birds, and handmade books, among various other things. Many of the artisans also join the annual local wood carving competition, where they make larger scale sculptures and sculpted traditional musical instruments. They are incredibly talented and love their craft, even if it often means barely making a living.
Most of the artisans who participated in the Malinalco Project are master woodcarvers, but the locals also included carpenters, weavers and jewelers. The wealth of knowledge and respect towards their craft, marked with a deep sense of humility, was evident from the very moment we met. The particular wisdom and sensibility, a rich inheritance from their Aztec traditions, was also present in their interests and thought process. Through their work, the artisans represent and interpret the natural world surrounding them, with layers of meanings and a system of symbols that has been passed down through generations. As we, designers and artisans, brainstormed on product ideas, we looked for new applications, in form and function, of each artisan's craft. Our path involved working with both abstraction and representation, with surface treatments and variation in scale, as well as new uses of materials and techniques.(more...)
Improve Lives and Create Business Advantages as an Industrial Designer for Design + Innovation in Melbourne, Australia
Design + Industry is growing and they're looking for passionate, enthusiastic industrial designers to join their creative team. Design + Industry is a leading product design and engineering consultancy that has been at the forefront of design and innovation for over 25 years.
As part of their team, you will apply your design thinking skills on a diverse range of medical, business and consumer products for world markets. Their approach to design will see you involved in the early stages of research and strategy through to concept generation. You must have a minimum of 6 years' experience in product design, as well as experience in project and client management to excel in this role.(more...)
We're always interested to see how technology increasingly enables new combinations of mediums for artwork, such as a recent work of performance art that stars a carefully choreographed set of 60 lamps—exposed tungsten bulbs on an arcing wood frame—along with the performers themselves, all set to an electronic score. "A Man Named Zero" is as much a work of performance art as an example of lighting design at its best. London-based lighting experts Nocte created the concept behind this performance piece—a show put on at the London Total Refreshment Centre that's meant to "tell the story of one man's rite of passage as he breaks out of his mental and physical hibernation into discovering himself and his own mind," according to the brand's website.
Performance art definitely isn't for everyone—the slightest detail can spoil the suspension of disbelief that is a prerequisite for an aesthetic experience. But if the photos and video (below) are any indication, "A Man Named Zero" was quite the spectacle.(more...)
Sipho Mabona does beautiful things with paper. Not only does he have an awesome job title—Professional Origami Artist—he also has big plans for his hobby-turned-profession. Using a 2,500 sq. ft. sheet of paper, Mabona is looking to create a life-size origami pachyderm, cleverly known as the "White Elephant."
And he'll even record himself doing it, for those of you video-or-it-didn't-happen skeptics—two cameras will be streaming a live feed of the project in progress. The entire project will be completed in a room at the Art Museum in Beromünster, Switzerland with help from three assistants. The team will take on treacherous creases and potential for some major paper cuts to craft an elephant that stands over ten feet tall (with the help of a support structure and white acrylic sealant). Mabona explains:(more...)
We're a fan of fire, especially when it comes to DIY projects like a sun-powered grill, an incendiary bicycle, or what is still probably the best IKEA hack ever. But besides its culinary or propulsive properties, fire is really just a source of light, and we also love it when designers come up with new ways to provide this basic necessity.
San Francisco-based designer Hoang M Nguyen has created a lamp design that certainly holds a flame to other lighting designs we've featured. The fixture, LampFire, is a fun play off of a traditional camping silhouette. The design, which is inspired by the act of gathering around a fire to bond with friends, features a bare hanging bulb staged to set the scene of a single source campfire.(more...)
Another piece of software we got a good look at at this year's Autodesk University is Autodesk 360. The company has created a Facebook-like interface for projects and design teams; collaborators log on to a cleanly-designed dashboard page containing "all of the data, projects, people, tasks, discussions, activities, issues and alerts that are associated with design or architecture projects that they are working on."
Clicking on a project, for instance, is like clicking on someone's Facebook wall; you get a linear view of all developments concerning that project, with your fellow collaborators' updates taking the place of comments. People can upload relevant files as updates, and anyone with access can view any file, regardless of whether it's an Autodesk format or not. (This includes non-design data, like spreadsheets and such.) And yes, Autodesk 360 can also be used from your phone or tablet, just as with Facebook.
While we were treated to an on-stage, well-explained visual presentation of how it all works, we realize text is not the best way to drive home how this software would impact your workflow. Thankfully, Autodesk has made available the videos they used for their presentation. These are hot off the presses so they haven't added the voiceover yet, but we'll provide the relevant text:
Projects at the Center
In Autodesk 360 users can see all the projects they are working on in one place. Because customers work on lots of projects, they can pin or unpin them, to indicate which ones are most important.(more...)
NPR's Globetrotting T-Shirt Tale: A Journey from Cotton to Consumer, from Crowdfunding Campaign to Multimedia Journalism
Earlier this week, we were wowed by an elaborate parody of a certain purveyor of anachronistic Americana: Remade Co. cleaved its supposedly superlative subject like an axe splitting a cord of firewood. Today, we'd like to share another brilliantly conceived and produced multimedia project from NPR, one that expresses the opposite sentiment, supplanting the thickly-laid irony with earnest, beautiful reporting from Mississippi, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Colombia. Planet Money Makes a T-Shirt was originally Kickstarted six months ago, bringing in over ten times its $50,000 goal, and the meta-level T-shirt reward tier (the only one available) was both the means to support and the premise of the investigative journalism project.
That $590K most certainly paid off: A custom web experience drives the compelling narrative, which presents an incredible amount of quantitative and qualitative information in an easily digestible format: tightly-edited video complemented by just the right amount of text, stills and archival photography.
NPR has been supporting the self-contained website with additional content & broadcasts this week; here's a brief synopsis (spoiler alert?) and the introduction below, but you should really just check it out for yourself...(more...)
Anyone who has ever visited the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, would probably agree that it is one of the most fascinating buildings that he or she has ever been in the presence of. Even in pictures, one can sense the almost magical aura of this massive marble memorial, which appears as though it is floating. If it has a breathtaking effect from afar, it becomes truly mind-blowing when having a closer look—when one can see that all the delicate patterns that cover the huge marble blocks are actually stone inlays.
On a recent trip to India, I had the chance to learn how these stone inlays are made. They are in fact still done in exactly the same way that they used to be done in 1633, when the 17 year construction Taj Mahal began—except that the craft is applied to souvenirs rather than mausoleums these days.
The Taj Mahal was built by the great Mughul emperor Shajahan, in memory of his wife Mumtaz, who died giving birth to her 14th child. To create it, the most skilled architects, inlay craftsmen, calligraphers, stone-carvers and masons were called from all across India and lands as distant as Persia and Turkey. It is said that the most skilled individuals who had worked on the Taj Mahal had one hand cut off after it was finished so they could never duplicate this work again.
Fortunately, the artisans were still able to pass on their skills to future generations (although only to the men and only within the family), and, 14 generations down the line, I had the pleasure to meet some of their descendants, who demonstrated how these stone inlays—pietra dura or parchin kari—are made. The artisans work together as a cooperative, meaning each of them remains an individual artist with complete creative freedom, but all profits are shared equally.
The starting point are thin sheets of various (semiprecious) stone, from which the artisan creates delicate shapes, some only a few millimetres in size, like the little dot in the picture above. Only a (human-powered) grindstone is used, and the craftman will inevitably also abrade the skin on his fingers during this process.
Each shape is ground individually and must fit precisely without any gaps. Once a perfect fit has been achieved, the marble plate, into which the ornamental pattern will be integrated, is covered with a layer of henna paint.
The single pieces that make the inlay pattern are laid out on the marble plate and their outlines scratched into the surface. The orange color serves as an orientation when carving out the individual grooves, into which the semiprecious stone pieces will be glued.(more...)
littleBits Electronics is looking for an excellent Mechanical Engineer / Product Developer to join the core team. What's littleBits, you ask? It's an open source library of electronic modules that snap together with tiny magnets for prototyping, learning, and fun so you can light it, push it, turn it, twist it, bend it, buzz it, blink it, shake it...
To land this wonderfully creative opportunity, you must have great technical expertise in mechanical engineering and production processes, a track record of creating and manufacturing products and an understanding of Design for Manufacture. Apply Now for this fun, full time position in their Greenwich Village office.
Photos by Tom Oxley Photography
Duffy London is really good at giving everyday furniture essentials fun, design-savvy flair. Most recently, we saw their swinging table at this year's London Design Festival. The brand's versatility fits any home—if you're looking for a contemporary simple statement piece, you're covered. Bend a few joints, twist a few knobs or fold over a table leaf and you've got a totally different (and more complex) piece of furniture.
Believe it or not, this is the same table.
This is the case with their new series of folding tables. What may come off as an angular space-saving coffee table is actually also an expansive dining room table. In two simple movements, the hidden legs and leaves that make up the coffee table pull out to become a 4.5' x 2.5' dining area. The MK1 Mini Transforming Table may come in at a steep price (about $1,080), but really it's like buying two tables in one, so you can't feel that guilty about it. For small spaces, this may be the table we've all been wishing for.(more...)
Food Artists Caitlin Levin and Henry Hargreaves Recreate Stunning 'Gingerbread House' Versions of Famous Art Museums
'Tis the season to do all kind of holiday things. Amongst the multitudes of baked cookies and gift wrap, some of you may make it a tradition to make your own gingerbread houses—sometimes half-heartedly and half-eaten, depending on your tastes. No matter the level of strategy and effort you put into your sugary construction, I'm willing to bet that none of your attempts will ever turn out as appetizing and lifelike as the buildings food stylist Caitlin Levin and photographer Henry Hargreaves have put together.
With world-famous silhouettes to guide them, they've created a set of candy architecture that we'd all think twice about eating. The buildings are so lifelike that I had to keep reminding myself that every surface on all of the houses is edible. The series features several well-known art museums: Guggenheim, Louvre and the Tate Modern, to name a few. The duo wanted to show candy in a more serious light, one that isn't focused on the vivid colors and sweetness we're so used to associating with sugary treats.
Click the jump for more photos of the sugary architecture.
London's Tate Modern(more...)
There's a lot of hope for displays made from organic light-emitting diodes, a.k.a. OLEDs. They provide better color, higher contrast and are more energy-efficient than the LCDs that currently provide displays for pretty much every television and computer. Many think OLED displays could supplant LCDs within the next five years. But there's a problem: OLEDs are challenging to make, so mass production has been a distant dream.
...until now. The engineers at the equipment company Kateeva have recently launched with what they think is the solution to significantly push OLEDs ahead. And they are doing it with an old technology: ink-jet printers.(more...)
So you've designed your product, run simulations on the model, figured out the PLM and rendered countless iterations. Now it's time to actually machine the thing. Autodesk is now addressing this final step, taking advantage of Autodesk University's packed attendance (10,000-plus people this year!) to announce their new CAM 360 software, which they're billing as the world's first cloud-based CAM solution.
CAM 360 is seen as the final puzzle piece in their cloud-based digital manufacturing software suite, following on the heels of PLM 360 (product lifecycle management), Sim 360 (analysis) and Fusion 360 (design). By finally integrating the thing that actually generates the toolpaths for CNC, the company reckons manufacturers will enjoy a huge time savings. And the cloud-based approach confers three distinct benefits: 1) Customers no longer need worry which version of the software they and their collaborators are on; 2) Files can be accessed anywhere, anytime; and 3) they've got virtually limitless cloud-based computing power available to quickly crunch those monster files.
The CAM 360 release date is pegged for next year.(more...)
Blurring the Lines between Pattern, Material and Form: In Conversation with Marc Thorpe and Patrizia Moroso
When it comes down to it, good design is often more a matter of execution as opposed to the idea itself: Speculate as we might, a product must actually be in production in order for the world to appreciate its merits. And while few among us have the luxury of not having to compromise (Apple, for one, if Leander Kahney's biography of Jony Ive is any indication), these are precisely the instances in which the vision must remain coherent if the concept is to be realized in full.
Count Moroso among the vanguard of design-led brands. The Udine-based furniture company celebrated its 60th Anniversary last year, but as Creative Director Patrizia Moroso notes, they took the opportunity not to look back but to look forward. She personally toured their factories, "looking for the prototypes an the pieces that never went into production," for an exhibition in Milan last year. "All the things that go before the 'birth' [of a project]"—samples, prototypes, early experiments (some of which were aborted)—"it was very emotional, because I remember when the designer came and changed this detail, maybe he [or she] changed a lot..."
But she doesn't dwell on that which could have been: When we caught up with her at Moroso's New York showroom in October, Patrizia was in a buoyant mood (thanks, perhaps, to a few espressos following a flight from Italy), as was Marc Thorpe, whose recent collection for the brand is currently on view at the space at 146 Greene St. Indeed, she was in town on the occasion of the opening of "Blurred Limits," featuring the young New York-based designer's "Blur" collection, along with the one-off "Ratio" table and a first look at "Morning Glory," which will officially debut at the Salone in 2014. We had the chance to speak to the two of them about their ongoing collaboration, which dates back to the "Mark" table from 2010.
"I actually met Patrizia and in Italy in 2009, in the Fiera, but it was very brief," relates Marc, when asked about how they first met. "And then a year or so later, we were here [in New York] at an event, so I asked very humbly if I could show some of my work to her, and she said, 'Oh yeah, come have lunch...'" He recalls showing her a handful of renderings and prototypes, but one piece stood out: "That was the 'Mark' table, which was produced for a bar/lounge called the Mark." ("Easy to remember," Moroso notes.) "So she took everything to Italy and that's where it sort of began.
"A year or two later, we had the first conversations about the 'Blur' collection."(more...)
The legendary Boston Whaler brand began in 1958 when founder, Richard Fisher, crafted the first unsinkable 13 foot Whaler and they've been manufacturing quality unsinkable boats from 11 to 37 feet ever since. They'd like you to join the team and build upon existing Brunswick Boat Group products as well as innovative new offerings.
As part of the design team you will have the opportunity to generate and develop concepts and designs for Brunswick Boat Group products and maintain a wide range of responsibilities. If you are currently pursuing your degree or are within a semester of receiving your degree, Apply Now.