Animal Planet calls Anthony Archer-Willis "the best in the world for what he does—designing and delivering the ultimate swimming experience." That's why they gave Archer-Willis, a British landscape architect with a specialization in swimming pool and water garden design, his own show. In "The Poolmaster," he designs dream swimming pools for a handful of lucky clients.
While the TV show will reveal Archer-Willis' own creations, in the following video he shows you his appreciation for another pool designer's work. An unnamed family in Utah commissioned this absolutely insane, mammoth $2-million-dollar swimming pool, which was designed to look all-natural. With five waterfalls, a grotto, a waterslide, hidden passageways, an integrated indoor kitchen/bathroom/showering facility, a scuba diving practice area and more, this is not the average swimming pool that most of us Americans will be hitting up this holiday weekend. Watch and be amazed:(more...)
The book publishing industry may be shifting tectonically and perhaps irrevocably as we speak, but, as with vinyl, the cover endures as a canonical canvas for graphic design. The follow-worthy Casual Optimist recently brought a series of Gunter Rambow's amazing book-centric posters to our attention. Designed for the S. Fischer Verlag publishing house in the 70's, these graphics exemplify the light touch required to pull off visual self-reference. These book posters tread between clean forms and surrealist art, walking the delicate line of sight gags without crossing into the crap zone.
Magritte would be proud...
It should go without saying that Rambow created these works of art before the advent of Photoshop and its epiphenomenal 'bombardment,' though it's worth noting that the clever visual puns still hold up today.
...as would M.C. Escher.(more...)
If you've ever been in a long-distance relationship, you know firsthand the challenges of coordinating across time zones to connect with parents, friends and partners. Phone calls are painstakingly scheduled, then spent catching up with a myriad of questions about the day-to-day in an effort to feel closer. Recently, a group of designers proposed a novel way to facilitate that connection: through a set of Internet-connected lights that reflect the weather conditions of another's location.
Called Patch of Sky, the lighting collection was conceived and developed at Fabrica, a communication research center in Treviso, Italy, in a collaboration between six designers, strategists and developers: Leonardo Amico, Federico Floriani, Reda Jouahri, Alice Longo, Akshataa Vishwanath and Giorgia Zanellato.
"Fabrica hosts designers and artists from all over the world, thus distance and nostalgia are naturally recurring topics," explains Amico. "Drawing from these conversations, we had the idea for Patch of Sky, an object that would silently connect people over distance, just by letting them 'share the sky' under which they're living." With that inkling of an idea, Amico and Akshataa invited the other four to join the team; collectively, they brought the project from ideation to fruition over the course of a year, completing it in early 2014.
The lights are made of painted wood and one-way mirror glass, and they come in three versions, for mounting on a wall or placing on a desk. Housed inside each device is an Arduino Uno and custom electronics that control an RGB LED strip. The purchaser of a light must first log in to a website with his or her own Facebook account (sorry Facebook holdouts, you're out of luck), entering a key that will uniquely identify each Patch of Sky device. That device will then be associated with that Facebook user, displaying animations from the account's most recent location. While they have yet to iron out all of the kinks, the Patch of Sky team envisions most customers ordering the product as a gift for a loved one, linking it to Facebook before specifying the recipient's address.
The recipient of the light must connect a small device called the Berg Cloud Bridge to an Internet router. The Bridge will then facilitate a wireless Internet connection with the Patch of Sky—now able to continuously transmit data from the user's Facebook account, pulling his or her location and retrieving the local meteorological conditions from a weather web service. That information is then generalized to one of 11 predetermined weather options, each linked to a lighting animation.(more...)
The gag being a one-liner, I thought this video would be dumb from the description, but it's pretty funny. Carnegie Mellon grad Robb Godshaw is an artist-in-residence at Autodesk's Pier 9 workshop, a fabrication facility in San Francisco, and as such he's got access to some bad-ass machines like an industrial waterjet cutter. So what did he decide to do with it?
Create Alphaclamps, "an exploration of tools and their form. From the I-beam to the C-clamp, the latin letterforms seem to have a chicken-egg relationship with the letter-shaped tools that bear their name. Is the C the basis for design, or simply a descriptor of the form? Curious about how the other letters would work as tools, I set out to explore the mechanical utility of the forsaken letters of our alphabet."
Unbelievably, there are folks who did not realize this was a gag, judging by the comments on the Alphaclamp Instructable Godshaw posted. Oh, internet.
Left: Courtesy of Gary Cruce; Right: Drawing for patent D249,987
So it looks like the honor of Design Crossover Hit of the Week goes to Noonee's Chairless Chair, and while the mainstream media took to hailing it as a futuristic exoskeletal paramedical breakthrough, it so happens that the basic idea dates back to the late 70's. Upon seeing my post about it earlier this week, eagle-eyed reader Gary Cruce sent a note with a photo from an old exhibition catalog, indicating that the product may well have been invented several decades ago. "I doubt Noonee was aware of this earlier concept, but they may want to know of it as they work to take the product to market," Cruce writes. "The exhibit was at the Kohler Arts Center (yes the toilet company) in 1978, based in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. That show featured many studio furniture pieces including selections from Sam Maloof and Wendell Castle." Along with the image and anecdote, Cruce provided an all-important snapshot of the caption from the catalog; crediting the "Wearable Chair (1977)" to Darcy Robert Bonner Jr., it reads:The "Wearable Chair" consists of two identical "chairs," one strapped to each of the wearer's legs. Bonner states that "It is important for the 'Wearable Chair' to be adjusted to each user. Just like a piece of clothing, if the chair doesn't fit, it will not feel good. When adjusted correctly, you can comfortably relax with all your weight on the chair. "With the lower member of the chair strapped to the calf, a spring presses the upper member against the back of the thigh. As the user squats, the released compression bar pushes the leg of the chair to a locked position, thereby supporting the body. When the user rises, the lower member is unlocked and is retracted by a spring to its original position, where it will not interfere with the user's movements."
Curious to learn more, a de rigueur Google query revealed that Darcy Robert Bonner had actually filed a patent for his invention, which inspired this "more-than-you-cared-to-know" history of the wearable chair—a bit of rechairche du patents perdu, if you will—gleaned mostly via the USPTO (though tangential sleuthing reveals that one Darcy R. Bonner now heads up an eponymous architectural practice in Chicago).
Left: Uncredited composite image of Darcy Bonner's "Wearable Chair"; Right: Detail of drawing for patent D249,987
The original patent is simply entitled "Wearable Chair," which also happens to describe Noonee's product. Filed in 1977 and granted as D249,987 in October 1978, Bonner's initial design patent is described in Twitter-friendly terms as "the ornamental design for a wearable chair, as shown and described." Although this first iteration briefly resurfaced in the post-Google era in 2008, when the images above made blog rounds, it turns out that Bonner subsequently filed a second patent, US4138156 A, granted in Feburary 1979, which is far more detailed in tenor and scope. Where the former is classified as a "footed," "collapsible or folding" article of furniture, the latter is subject to an entirely different taxonomy of patent-worthiness. US4138156 A is a "device for supporting the weight of a person in a seated position including chairs, seats, and ancillary devices not elsewhere classifiable," specifically a "portable bottom with occupant attacher" (Subclass 4) with "occupant-arising assist" (Digest 10). (In the interest of due diligence, there are " target="_blank">148 patents in the former subclass and 353 in the latter; Noonee's Chairless Chair does not appear to be among them. Fun fact: "Digests" [denoted by DIG followed by a number] are considered secondary subclasses, which are used for indexing purposes only, i.e. as meta tags.)(more...)
West Elm is a dynamic, fast-paced brand with an exciting growth strategy. They value imagination, diversity and giving people the opportunity to explore, grow and shape their future. Right now, they are looking for innovative, smart, hard working individuals who enjoy creative thinking and ingenuity; specifically, a Furniture Engineer to join their corporate office located in the D.U.M.B.O district of Brooklyn, NY, right above their flagship store.
If you're the right person for this job, you'll be accountable for generating technical design specifications, procedures, practices, etc. for all new furniture products within the overall business targets of cost, schedule, performance and aesthetics. You'll need a minimum 5-7 years of product development experience and a minimum 4 years in furniture technical development and/or engineering with an emphasis on wood furniture products. Apply Now.
One way to use the walls is with a pegboard; Julia Child's kitchen pegboard, where she hung her copper pots, is a famous example. The pegboard above, from Human | Crafted, takes this old standard and makes it decorative as well as functional. The board is CNC machined from a solid block of walnut; the loops and hooks are 3D-printed nylon. It also comes with five feet of bungee cord, providing one more way to hold items in place.
Droog's Strap, designed by NL Architects, is another example of taking a familiar product—in this case, the straps used to hold luggage on the back of a bike—and doing something new with it. The straps are made from silicone rubber and can hold phones, keys, remotes, books, hand tools, etc. These would work great for end users who work best when everything is clearly visible. But for others, it will add visual clutter.
The naoLoop Loft, with its polyester latex bands, follows the same general approach as the Strap, but with the bands attached to a laser-cut stainless steel (or powder-coated steel) board. Besides transforming the look, the board protects the walls from anything that might get them dirty or cause other damage.
Photo: Michael Wilson
The Hanging Line from Kontextür, designed by Josh Owen, is a single silicone band. Items are stored by tossing them over the line, or hanging them from a hook. Although this was designed for bathroom use, end-users could certainly use it other places, too. It's somewhat limited in what it can hold, much more so than the Strap or the Loft—but it certainly provides more storage options than the standard towel rack.(more...)
My favorite carry-all for tools and materials is Festool's Open Top SYS-Toolbox. It's just a classic example of nuts-and-bolts ID: Simple, strong, reliable, and a perfect use of materials. The thick-walled ABS has a channel molded into the bottom, which forms the divider inside the box, and this channel allows the handle of a second box to perfectly nest within the first. Two latches at the side enable you to connect them quickly and securely. And they're compatible with Festool's full line of Systainers (manufactured by Tanos, as we looked at here), making them easy to roll around the shop or carry on-the-go in one piece.(more...)
–LCD Soundsystem, 'Losing My Edge'
Well this is weird and fun: The data wizards at IBM have partnered with the U.S. Open and James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem / DFA Records fame to create real-time musical interpretations of tennis matches throughout the tournament. The premise of the U.S. Open Sessions is simple: IBM processes millions of data points via cloud-based algorithms to generate synth tones that represent the gameplay, complemented by Platonic shapes in the browser window. Developer Patrick Gunderson of digital production companyTool does the heavy lifting while Murphy transposes the progress of the match from groundstrokes to keystrokes; from playing the baseline to, um, playing the bassline.(more...)
Outdoor goods company Snow Peak was started in Japan's Sanjo City, a place "known locally as a hardware town." So it's no surprise that their Stacking Shelf Container 50 has got that "tooled" look. What is surprising is how it can be locked in two different configurations and stacked in either one.
At first this had me scratching my head, but I realized that when you need access to stuff on different levels, the "butterfly" configuration makes sense. And it's kind of neat that the rubber feet at the corners remain the lowest point of contact no matter which configuration it's in.(more...)
I don't know what you thought of your local weather reporter when you were growing up, but for me, he played a bigger role walking in the city parade than as an accurate forecaster. I know it's not necessarily their fault—each meteorologist is at the mercy of a green screen and pre-determined satellite information. I guess we should all be happy that the digital push has literally put weather reporting in the hands of the people. Still, there are some days my pseudo-trusty weather app promises sunshine and cloudless skies and I'll get home drenched by an unexpected downpour, throwing me back to this 2-second Family Guy clip that I find myself going back to time and again:
We've got your back, Swedish-speaking readers
It sends me into giggles every time. But thanks to BloomSky—a crowdsourced weather information system that's looking to restore our trust in forecasting—I may not have to resort to silly YouTube clips to relieve my unexpected weather rage. The package comes with a outdoor module and an app, with the option to buy add-ons like a solar panel, extended battery life, an indoor module and mounting supplies. The personal weather station has all kinds of cool capabilities built in: a rain sensor that can tell when rain starts and stops, down to the minute; weather pattern push notifications; a wide-angle HD camera that turns on a dawn and off at dusk for capturing weather scenes; an automatically created timelapse video come each sunset; and the ability to subscribe to other BloomSky stations for weather updates around the world.
The crowdsourcing weather station recently saw crowdfunded success (see what I did there?) on Kickstarter, surpassing its $75,000 initial goal and reaching its stretch goal of $100,000. Here's a video highlighting all of its bells and whistles:(more...)
When it comes to recycling, pee and poo oughtn't mix. We think of them as the same thing—human waste—but in fact they are not mixed within the body and shouldn't be mixed afterwards, though we often do so out of convenience and the design of modern toilets.
The reason they shouldn't mix is because urine is rich in nitrogen and phosphorous while feces are carbonaceous. Separated, these can be valuable resources, but combined they become a useless sludge that needs to undergo laborious and energy-intensive processing before anything can be reclaimed. And we are literally flushing resources down the toilet. As an article in the farmer's information website A Growing Culture points out, it would be better if we could easily extract nitrogen and phosphorous from separated urine rather than taking it out of the Earth:Modern agriculture gets the nitrogen it needs from ammonia-producing plants that utilize fossil fuels such as natural gas, LPG or petroleum naphtha as a source of hydrogen. This energy-intensive process dumps carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, it consumes a finite hydrocarbon resource, and it is not sustainable. Modern agriculture gets the phosphorous it needs from phosphorous-bearing rocks. But these reserves are rapidly dwindling and increasingly contaminated with pollutants such as cadmium. In as little as 25 years apatite reserves may no longer be economically exploitable and massive world-wide starvation is predicted to follow. If we are serious about achieving sustainability in this regard, our first, and perhaps most important duty, lies in not mixing urine with feces.
Enter the NoMix toilet, developed in Sweden in the 1990s.
The NoMix's bowl is designed in such a way that the urine is collected in the front, the feces in the back, and both are whisked away through separate plumbing, with the latter being disposed of in the conventional manner and the former recycled. While that raises new infrastructural challenges, the concept was interesting enough for EAWAG, a Swiss aquatic research institute, to intensively explore the NoMix's feasibility in research trials. Running from 2000 to 2006, that project was called Novaquatis, and during their seven years of testing, Eawag shrewdly realized that "An innovation for private bathrooms can only be widely implemented if it is accepted by the public":For this reason, all Swiss NoMix pilot projects were accompanied by sociological studies. 1750 people were surveyed - and their attitudes towards urine source separation are highly favourable. Despite a number of deficiencies, the NoMix toilet is well accepted, especially in public buildings.
Things looked even better by 2010, when CNET reported that "Of the 2,700 people surveyed in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark, 80 percent say they support the idea behind the technology, and between 75 and 85 percent report that the design, hygiene, smell, and seat comfort of the NoMix toilets equal that of conventional ones."(more...)
LG Electronics is looking for talented Senior Industrial Designers to join their award winning North American Design Studio team located in Edgewater, NJ. You'll be part of a multi-disciplinary group of designers developing products for Mobile, Home Appliance, Display, and Energy Solutions-- products like mobile phones, kitchen appliances, laundry, television, home entertainment, and OEM.
If you land this job, you'll be leading the aesthetic and ergonomic development of consumer products collaborating with Engineering, Marketing, and Management teams to explore, innovate, and execute world-class designs, as well as inspiring with preliminary prototypes and innovative functional concepts. At LG, you'll be encouraged to take a creative and individual approach to challenges with strong emphasis placed on performance and skill--and equal, merit-based opportunities across the board. Don't wait - Apply Now.
Last year we posted about 4Moms, a Pittsburgh-based company that makes unique baby products. The cake-taker is probably their power-folding Origami stroller. Look at the following video they produced for it, which is slick and professional:
So here's the thing: That video was first posted in January of 2012, and at press time it had just under 1.4 million views. Not bad. But last weekend, a New-Zealand-based magazine called OHbaby! posted a low-res ten-second clip of the product in action, shot at a baby products show:(more...)
Editor's Note: A commenter referred me to Darcy Bonner's wearable chair, which inspired a brief history of this typology via the USPTO.
As anyone who has worked a job that requires long bouts of standing in one place knows, remaining upright for an extended amount of time takes a heavy toll on your legs and back, yet the best solution that we've come up with is the uninspired standing mat... until now. Some are calling it an invisible chair, while others are going with bionic pants—a matter of semantics, perhaps, but considering that the chair is a canonical example of industrial design, it's worth examining where exactly Noonee's "Chairless Chair" fits in the grand scheme of things.
"Based on robotic principles of Bio-Inspired Legged Locomotion and Actuation," the exoskeletal assistive device consists of a pair of mechatronic struts that run the length of the user's leg, with attachment points across the thighs and at the heels of the user's shoes. Hinged at the knee to allow for normal movement—viz. walking and running—its core innovation is the battery-powered variable damper system that can be engaged to direct body weight from the legs to the heels of one's feet.
Of course, the Chairless Chair is intended not for us deskbound office peons but for environments in which workers must stand in one place for long periods, if not entire 8-hour shifts. As the story goes, 29-year-old Keith Gunura was inspired by his experience working in a packaging factory in the U.K.; now, a decade later, he is the CEO and founder of Zurich-based Noonee. CNN, which duly notes the precedent of the one-legged Swiss milking stool, sums up these workplace health concerns (as does the Noonee website):Physical strain, repetitive movements and poor posture can lead to conditions called Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which are now one of the leading causes of lost workday injury and illness. In 2011, MSDs accounted for 33 percent of all worker injuries and illnesses in the U.S. with over 378,000 cases, according to data from the United States Department of Labor. In Europe, over 40 million workers are affected by MSDs attributable to their job, according to a study entitled Fit For Work Europe and conducted across 23 European countries.
Gunura demo'ing the Chairless Chair(more...)
Wind energy is gaining support in the U.S., both on ground and in the ocean. And the design specs for wind turbines are getting pretty sophisticated as they require exact performance requirements, including super lightweight material and a potential to operate for decades without maintenance. Meanwhile, the turbines are becoming longer, measuring as much as 75 meters, close to the wingspan of an Airbus jet. Most of the turbines in North America and Europe are made of balsa wood: It's durable, dense and yet lightweight... but it's expensive. So there is a new solution coming from materials scientists at Harvard.
Balsa's cellular structure has high strength per volume of space, as its cell walls carry the weight, but it has a lot of empty space which makes it extraordinarily lightweight. This new material is engineered with the same design (see photo above), so it can mimic the best qualities of balsa. But it is made from epoxy-based thermosetting resins and it's fabricated with 3D printers, which provide unprecedented precision.
Check out how they did it in the video here:
Typically 3D printing uses thermoplastics and resins, but these are not usually used in any sort of engineering solutions. This new material—based in epoxies—opens up another channel for 3D printing that has structural applications.(more...)
Chiaki Arai, Kadare Cultural Center, 2012 // Photo: Taisuke Ogawa, courtesy of Chiaki Arai Office
By Marc Hohmann, Design Partner, Lippincott"I would sum up my fear about the future in one word: boring. Everything has happened; nothing exciting or new or interesting is ever going to happen again... The future is just going to be a vast, conforming suburb of the soul."
It's a striking quote by the prophetic British writer. The technological quest to make things easier and more convenient may be endless, but at what point do we become apathetic, numbed out, uninspired; in a word, bored? As the world gets smaller, so do our dreams—they're becoming easier to reach everyday. Two decades ago, we would have been happy to have a stereo that could access every song recorded in the last 100 years. Are we happier? What kind of inventions are we dreaming of now? What still excites us?
Supposedly, Big Data is the latest thing. This means that airlines know what kind of movies I like when I book a flight. I should be excited about it.. but I'm not. I feel that research has gone from a treasure hunt to a commodity. As a result, any form of personal preference has lost its exclusivity. Still, statistics show that our level of happiness has not changed at all in the last 100 year—it's stagnant, even as we busy ourselves with ever-evolving hype. We're bored without knowing it. It seems that we're in the suburbs of the soul already.
Now I dream of a future where there's privacy, discretion and contemplation, and where we have accomplished ultra high efficiency and productivity in order to enable ourselves to work at a personal, healthy pace. A natural state of being, that aims for timelessness and long-term perspectives. In a word, I dream of quality.
To me, the essential goal in designing quality for tomorrow's world is lightness, rather than its prevalent antithesis, which is not only heavy, dramatic, loud, insensitive; the un- or over-refined. A light solution always aims to leave room for interpretation. It should be graceful and natural and should solve a fundamental need, without imposing weight or an aggressive point of view. Even aggressive lightness still has an aura of positivity. Lightness cannot become boring because it remains an ongoing challenge: elusive, agile and unpredictable. Most importantly it stands for freedom of the soul, contra the complacent definition of disposable happiness (as in Ballard's suburbia).
Jasper Morrison, The Crate Series, 2007 // Photo: Gavin Proud(more...)
The Outdoor Retailer Summer Market Tradeshow in Salt Lake City, Utah, is known for featuring the latest and greatest in outdoor sports gear and apparel. To put it shortly, it's very much an industry show. We sent photographer Mark LeBeau to check it out and take some shots of the gadgets we should keep an eye out for. He noted the proliferation of electronics, chargers and smart devices, as well as the throwback to the much-loved "mom and pop" general-store aesthetic. A practicing designer himself, LeBeau—also shot the event for us in 2013.
LeBeau's favorite design? A magnetized climber's grip by Garret Finny.(more...)
Don't let the bland name of Scottish start-up Design LED Products fool you. At last year's Lux Live 2013 lighting exhibition, DLP showed off the flexible resin-based LED tile you see above, considered to be a potential game-changer in lighting design. The tiles are flexible, modular, inexpensive, highly efficient (roughly 90%), can emit light on one or both sides, and "can be produced in any shape or size up to 1m, offering up to 20,000 lumen per square meter," according to the press release. They also do not require external "thermal management," i.e. bulky heat sinks.
Well, someone noticed, and that someone was IKEA. Today it was reported that Ikea's GreenTech venture capital division plunked down an undisclosed sum to invest in the company, giving them access to the light tiles for their presumed inclusion in future product designs. "The tiles are unique as they are extremely thin, flexible and low cost and can be seamlessly joined together in exciting new designs," IKEA said in a statement. "The partnership is a clear strategic fit for IKEA and our goal to make living sustainably affordable and attractive for millions of people."
While you can still buy halogens and CFLs at IKEA today, by the way, the company is reportedly planning to switch exclusively to LEDs by September of 2015.
Anyone want to take a guess at what they'll be designing with these? Kitchen wall cabinets with these tiles on the undersides seem like the obvious choice, but those would be flat; I'm most curious to see how they'd exploit the curvability of the technology.(more...)
I know, I know—another backpack. But not just another backpack. Unlike the brightly colored or patterned varieties that are all the rage these days, this one differentiates itself through its functionality, employing powerful magnets for its modular capabilities. This isn't one of those packs you'll find on the racks of big-box retailers around the nation, prepping for the boom of back-to-school sales. In fact, you can't even get your hands on the Anti-Gravity Pack just yet. Tessel Supply launched their Kickstarter campaign earlier this month, and while they've already surpassed their $20,000 goal, delivery dates are six months out.
As its name suggests, the Anti-Gravity pack was inspired by space travel, comprising several components that can be added and taken away for a personalized system set-up. Sound familiar? Sure, we've seen a few modular pack systems before, but it so happens that Tessel Supply's previous space-themed backpack, the Jet Pack was met with a similar enthusiasm that resulted in a haul of more than three times what they were asking for on Kickstarter.
Check out this video on the inspiration for Anti-Gravity—complete with slo-mo running scenes and mountain sunsets:
As you can see, it looks good. It's surprisingly sleek for a bag with so many compartment options. Here's another video highlighting the various components of the backpack:(more...)