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Design news, culture, events and resources. A daily must-read for designers world wide.
Updated: 6 hours 20 min ago

More "Designer Trains" in Japan: Ken Okuyama's Forthcoming Cruise Train

Fri, 2014-07-11 21:30

Last year we looked at the unusual train designs of Eiji Mitooka, a Japanese industrial designer who specializes in railway carriages. Mitooka's awesomely retro Seven Stars luxury train was the coolest in his portfolio, and apparently the high-profile project has been a success, as Japan's JR East railway company has commissioned yet another luxury touring train: The Cruise Train, which forgoes the retro look of its predecessor and resembles an Italian boutique hotel on rails.

Designed by Ken Okuyama of Pininfarina fame, the Cruise Train is unabashedly modern where the Seven Stars is classic. The Cruise Train's dining room looks like something you'd see in Tokyo's ritzy Ginza neighborhood, while the observation deck resembles something out of Gattaca. And if the standard suites, which feature sofa-chairs that apparently fold out into beds, seem huge by train standards...

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Categories: Design

In the Details: Ian Stell's Pantograph-Inspired Pivoting Tables

Fri, 2014-07-11 20:00

As the line between fine art and design becomes increasingly blurred, Ian Stell stands somewhere in the middle, crafting furniture that is just as much a feat of engineering as it is a work of art. I first stumbled upon the Brooklyn-based Stell when he presented a few pieces from his Pantograph Series at the Sight Unseen Offsite show during New York Design Week, and was so enraptured that I decided to dig a bit deeper in this column.

The Pantograph Series takes its name from the drawing tool, a mechanical copying device developed in 1603 for the scaling and copying of text and pictures. (Fun fact: Thomas Jefferson was known for making copies of his letters via a type of pantograph called the polygraph, which copied but didn't enlarge the original.) Stell became interested in the device last year while completing his MFA thesis in furniture from the Rhode Island School of Design. "I found something really fascinating about it, in that the core mechanism is a hinged parallelogram that can transmit motion in a very controlled way," Stell says. "The possibilities of how that can be used are limitless."

Stell was curious if the horizontal movement of the hinged parallelogram could also be transmitted vertically—specifically, down the leg of a table. Taking a leap of faith, he began to test his theory by prototyping, and soon found himself drilling a multitude of holes into bits of wood and hinging them together with pins.

Stell's Big Pivot is one of three new tables that transform when pulled—in this case, from a desk or dining table (top image) to a console (above).

Big Pivot is made of more than 1,500 pieces of ebonized white oak.

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Categories: Design

Super-Releaser Makes Soft Robots Anyone Can Get In On

Fri, 2014-07-11 19:00

Open-source soft robot bodies! The Glaucus is an adorable ambling robotic quadruped with no rigid guts or internal framework. Like most soft robots, it is moved by alternating pressure within different chambers in the robot's body, flexing the soft material in specific areas and causing it to move in desired patterns. This little guy was named and loosely modeled after the Blue Sea Slug (Glaucus atlanticus), with a walking pattern much like a salamander. He's the product of several years of development by the Super-Releaser team, which has been investigating ways to create a seamless soft body with the desired interior chambers.

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Categories: Design

California Oil Spill Turns Out to Be a Freakishly Massive Amount of Fish

Fri, 2014-07-11 17:24

Earlier this week in La Jolla, California, what appeared to be a massive oil spill in the water began creeping towards the beach. However, closer inspection revealed that the inky cloud was not a batch of Exxon-Mobil's finest at all, but an enormous school of fish. Specifically, anchovies.

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Categories: Design

Play Communs: The Robotic 21st Century Take on the Paper Doll

Fri, 2014-07-11 15:00

I remember being introduced to the concept of robotics in a rousing late-night viewing of A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Understandably, that initial impression had me tensing up as I passed every blonde-haired, blue-eyed pre-teen. Luckily, I grew out of it, considering that robots are everywhere nowadays—running races with kids, swimming in our oceans and even creating data-fueled art. Now, French design duo Ultra Ordinaire have developed a toy that also fits the bill, a kind of three-dimensional coloring-book template with an element of littleBits-like interactivity.

In a world where things drone operators say in the moment of a crash go viral, the inner workings of robots remains relatively opaque to kids (and some of us adults too). According to designer Nathalie Bruyére, Play Communs is a kit that's more about "designing a simple interface to bring kids closer to the technologic [sic] world" than designing a robot. Along with her fellow designer Pierre Duffau, she "was inspired by very simple construction toys such as Kapla's or LEGOs, but also by Bruno Munari's drawings and books."

The kit consists of a clear Plexiglass body with two LED lights; a servo motor; an electric transformer; a pre-soldered, preset card; a cardboard model and the instructions for the assembly with tips on how to personalize the character. The motors animate the arms, body and head of the character. "People are often wary of robots as they don't get the way they are working," Bruyére says. "The robot is therefore transparent to make it understandable. Usually such toy systems are hidden in boxes, closed and opaque when in reality, they are very simple and easy to handle."

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Categories: Design

Bic Creating Globally Crowdsourced, Finger Written, Eventually Downloadable Font

Fri, 2014-07-11 13:00

If you're a manufacturer of writing utensils, but touchscreens are becoming all the rage, what do you design to avoid obsoletion? The obvious answer is a pen with capacitive ability, hence Bic released their Cristal Stylus last year, a regular ballpoint pen with an added nub on the butt end for working that iPad.

This year Bic is going a step further by designing not a device, but a font. Or more specifically, they're letting you all collectively design it. Bic's Universal Typeface Experiment asks users to hit up their website on your smartphone or tablet and draw letters in boxes, which they then average out to create something like a universal finger-written font.

What's interesting is that whether or not you participate, the site lets you look at the results, which you can sort by gender, age, country, handedness, and even industry. Unfortunately it doesn't drill down deep enough to specify industrial design, though their catch-all "Creative Industry" field had, at press time, some 183,089 characters contributed (second only to "Students," who've donated 296,884 of their hard-earned letters).

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Categories: Design

Garmin International Wants to Add a Passionate Junior Industrial Designer to Their Consumer ID Team

Fri, 2014-07-11 12:00

Garmin, the world leader in GPS technology, is looking for talented industrial designers to join their Consumer ID team. You will be part of a multi-disciplinary group of designers developing products for Garmin's outdoor, fitness, marine, and automotive markets-- products like action cameras, handheld navigation, marine radars, cycling computers, and wearable technologies.

This is an Junior level opportunity in Olathe, KS that requires digital proficiency in the use of tools such as SolidWorks, Keyshot, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, Adobe Creative Suite, and Sketchbook Pro. Excellent hand sketching skills, courage to explore new ideas and a bachelor's degree in Industrial Design, Product Design or equivalent in work experience are good to have too. Apply Now.

$(function() { $("#a20140711").jobWidget({ amount_of_jobs: 5, specialty: "industrial design, product design" }); }); (more...)
Categories: Design

How You Get To Thunderdome! The Apache Racer Is One Badass Custom Bicycle

Thu, 2014-07-10 22:00

Concept bikes come in a few flavors—go down that proverbial rabbit hole, if you dare—but the rarest one may be the Apocalyptic Battle Rat Rod. This fierce fixed-gear is made by Antoine Hotermans of McFly Customs in Belgium. Known as the Apache Racer, it's stripped down way past the normal hyper-simple classic profile to the point of architectural absurdity, with plenty of odd flair added back in. Hotermans' work shows plenty of love for traditional lines, like the direct nod to Café Racer motorcycles, and much of his work includes vintage parts and found frames. Meanwhile, the total design somehow turns out aggressively modern.

Citröen handle bar ends!

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Categories: Design

Designing for Disposal, Part 2: Lidded Trash Cans

Thu, 2014-07-10 20:10

Open wastebaskets are the easiest to drop things into, but sometimes end-users will want a lidded trash can—for appearances, for odor control, or for keeping children and pets out of the garbage. The Frisbee trash bin, designed by Frédéric Perigot, has a removable liner bin with a handle. That's a design that will appeal to some, but others will find it hard to manipulate. The lid, shaped like a Frisbee, is "ultra-flat"—pet owners will note that this provides yet another space for their cats to curl up.

Bendan Ravenhill's previously-seen Dustbin uses a detachable dust pan as the lid; a long-handled brush attaches to the side with rare earth magnets. This design would work well for end-users who never know where to store the dust pan.

Patent Ochsner has bins with two interesting options. The first is a dust pan which slides into place on the lid—another way to keep the dust pan close at hand. The second option is a wood seat, with a cushion as an additional option, making this a dual-purpose product especially good for those with limited space. But an end user whose trash can regularly holds smelly items might find this a poor choice.

The Eva Solo Waste Bin, designed by Claus Jensen and Henrik Holbæk of Tools Design, gets clever with the lid. The lid can be opened from any direction, and it can also be removed and used to carry waste to the bin. The bin was also designed to make it easy to replace a liner, and keep it firmly in place; it has a rubberized metal ring which the liner folds around.

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Categories: Design

Call for Foam? The Foam Agency Seeking Offcuts & Scraps for 'Insulation Installation' at Makeshift Society

Thu, 2014-07-10 19:00

Foaming at the mouth? Got infoamation on the whereabouts of the blue stuff? Hoarding scraps and offcuts with nary a purpose? Don't wait—donate! The Foam Agency, a new initiative by Elisa Werbler and Lucy Knops, is currently accepting contributions of rigid insulation foam for an installation at the Brooklyn outpost of the Makeshift Society, where the two SVA Products of Design students are artists-in-residence this summer (a first for both the designers and the co-working space). As their very first project, "The Insulation Installation" is intended to showcase—or show-wall, as it were (wall-case?)—the unsung material that is familiar to artists, architects and designers for its unique utilitarian properties.

Traditionally, insulation foam has worked hard to prevent drafts and keep moisture out of walls. Artists and designers have adopted the material as a tool for expressing ideas because of its low cost and high flexibility. From beautifully articulated handcrafted models to full-scale architectural mockups, rigid foam has become an integral part of the making process. The installation at Makeshift Society celebrates all of the wonderful properties of rigid insulation foam. Housed in a transparent wall, at Makeshift Society Brooklyn, TFA's reclaimed foam will showcase the many talents and ambitions of the design community, while continuing to do its job as an insulator. Why hide the most dynamic of materials? TFA is looking to showcase foam that has already lived an exciting life, foam that has been sawn into pieces, shaped with hot-wire cutters, hacked away with a rasp or sanded down with 600-grit sandpaper.

As with, say, reclaimed wood, the provenance of the foam is paramount: The Foam Agency will catalog the story of the secondhand materials. They're currently accepting contributions in-person and online—if you're in NYC, they'll "dispatch their agents" to pick it up—fill out the submission foam here.

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Categories: Design

Instagram Page Reveals TSA's Everyday Smuggles

Thu, 2014-07-10 17:00

A harpoon gun, hand grenades, Bat-a-rangs (twice!), a "morning star" spiked flail, a 60mm mortar round, and of course handguns: These are all things you can't carry onto an airplane. Ditto with these weird circular multi-bladed things, labeled "Fantasy throwing stars:"

But that doesn't stop the millions of folks going through airport checkpoints each year from trying to smuggle these things through—often in carry-on luggage. With firearms alone, there were 1,477 discovered instances in 2013 alone, which is about four per day.

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Categories: Design

Watch the RKS Sessions Presentation with Javier Verdura of Tesla Motors

Thu, 2014-07-10 15:00

Last week, in Santa Monica, the design consultancy RKS hosted a presentation by Tesla Motors' Javier Verdura on "Designing Disruptive Innovations." Verdura is Tesla's Director of Product Design, a post he's held for the last two years, so he was well-qualified to talk about the making of the Model S and the upcoming Model X—including the thinking behind the sci-fi "Falcon Wings" Tesla will be using as rear doors on the latter SUV model, which is slated for release early next year.

Verdura also touched on Tesla's recent release of its patents—"We want to make sure that everybody wants to make electric cars"--and described in depth the organization of his Los Angeles-based design team. Watch the video of his talk to find out what it's like to work with Elon Musk ("You really can't say no to anything; you just have to figure it out") and how Tesla's engineers make cars that are "just scarily built."

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Categories: Design

Apple Patents Glass Fusing and Machining Technology

Thu, 2014-07-10 13:00

Never mind Google Glass, let's talk Apple glass. While Apple files manufacturing patents all of the time, the one that fansite Apple Insider discovered was filed on Monday just caught our eye: U.S. Patent No. 8,773,848, which covers "Fused glass device housings."

The patent describes a manufacturing process whereby glass pieces can be fused together and subsequently machined. This isn't solely to create seamless monolithic objects, as the company envisions creating raised glass protrusions to break up the surface at points. In addition, they're even talking about adding internal support ribs, taking a page from plastics' book. Here are some of the relevant points:

A rounded edge feature may be formed by machining the thickened edge.

Raised fused glass features may surround openings in the planar glass member.(more...)
Categories: Design

Are You Passionate About Building the Perfect Bike? Join the Santa Cruz Team

Thu, 2014-07-10 12:00

This is your opportunity to work with a group of bike enthusiasts who are committed and impassioned to try and build the perfect bike. Santa Cruz Bicycles is looking for someone with good engineering instinct and a mature aesthetic sense to head up new frame and product design projects. This is your chance to have complete project ownership of product designs. Want in?

This job involves everything from initial suspension analysis and geometry development through to ID concepting and the development of final tooled surfaces. You'll need 5+ years working as an engineer or industrial designer, extensive experience creating complex surfaces using 3D modeling software and the ability to travel to Taiwan and China four weeks per year. Apply Now.

$(function() { $("#a20140710").jobWidget({ amount_of_jobs: 5, specialty: "industrial design, 3d modeling" }); }); (more...)
Categories: Design

Making a Murano Glass Horse in Minutes with a Fiery Finish

Wed, 2014-07-09 22:20

Photo by Saffron Blaze via Wikimedia Commons

Anyone who has witnessed a glassmaking demonstration can surely appreciate the skill that goes into a craft that dates back to 2,000 BC. Named after the island from which it originates, Murano glass has been among the very best since the Renaissance, though the market has declined precipitously over the past few decades: according to The Guardian, the number of Murano sculptors has melted from "6,000 in 1990 to less than 1,000 [in 2012]."

Even so, it's hard not to be impressed by the practiced hands that churn out the souvenirs, kitschy though they may be, and at least one maestro has added a little flourish to the predictably well-documented process of sculpting a glass horse. This one is well worth watching in full:

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Categories: Design

Poison, Dragon's Blood and Mummies: How Artists Created Colors Prior to Pantone

Wed, 2014-07-09 20:00

What's the most expensive color?

Prior to the 19th Century, Lapis Lazuli blue was a very rare color in the art world. And still today it's not used often—instead modern painters might use an ultramarine—because Lapis Lazuli was (and still is) considered to be the most expensive pigment ever made. It's made from grinding up Lapis Lazuli semi-precious stones. Today you might be able to grab five grams for about $360 in Manhattan. But, during the Renaissance the wealthy art patrons wanted the rich almost neon-like blue in religious paintings. See the "Virgin in Prayer" (1640) above.

The history of color in art is often overlooked in the typical audio tours of art exhibits, but at the National Gallery in London a new show, Making Colour, focuses on the chemistry and color in art.

Some colors were quite dangerous, in fact poisonous. In order to make one flower brilliant orange in the painting "Still Life with Bouquet of Flowers and Plums" below, Rachel Ruysch used realgar, aka ruby sulfur. But realgar is an arsenic sulfide, and when made into a powder it's quite toxic.

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Categories: Design

Grippine Case for a Silicone Solution to Slippery Pedals

Wed, 2014-07-09 18:00

Sometimes, as you squint at a product concept, you can consciously feel the stirrings of an internal battle. Is this thing stupid, or a stupidly obvious solution? Is it ugly, or innovative? Are you cringing because it's naïve and tacky, or because you didn't think of it? Honestly, it's usually a savory blend, but sometimes you have to sit down with something for a while before you know where you stand. Today's case: silicone jackets for your bike pedals.

Grippine were developed by Milan's Sovrappensiero Design to combat the slippery, low-traction nature of most city bike pedals.Slightly irritating and downright dangerous in the rain, flat pedals can leave a lot to be desired. They originally set out to reinvent the pedal, but, after comparing most pedals in use, they changed tack. While there are many bike shoe-specific clipless pedal options and toe cages work fine for some, you have to get into relatively specialized BMX or MTB zones before finding really grippy flat pedals. Yes, they're out there. But no, most commuters aren't going to go find them, if only because they look weird slapped onto a stately cruiser. So the Grippine project set out to make a pedal modifier that would add traction to most flat pedals you're likely to already own, and would work with virtually any shoes.

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Categories: Design

Preppin' Weapons: Sweet Solutions For Sanding

Wed, 2014-07-09 17:00

Make room on your bench for the Preppin' Weapon. These colorful tools are well thought out weapons against grumpy sanding experiences. Way more ergonomic than a block of wood with a nail in it, and arguably better looking, their key charm is the ability to clamp down on your sandpaper in a simple comfortable package. They feature a high-impact ABS plastic body, a tough padded bottom for extra traction, and locking grippers on either end to keep your sandpaper exactly where you want it. Despite (or possibly because of) their jovial name, these things beat the tar out of other sanding options we've used.

Fits a quarter sheet of paper perfectly, and the stainless clamping levers are easy to operate even with tired hands. For those who do auto stuff or work with wet sanding, the body floats so you can dunk it without having to fish for it later. The body is also tapered to get at tighter spots. You can even layer several sheets deep and tear off the outer layer as it gets tired.

Bonus round: they are made in the USA, come in four cheerful colors (pick a color for each grit you use), and have been called the "Cadillac of sanding blocks." Really. Don't you deserve the best? Available now at Hand-Eye Supply.

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Categories: Design

Trippy Time-Lapses of Wood and Other Objects Undergoing Faux Tomographic Deconstruction

Wed, 2014-07-09 15:00

With his short entitled "Waves of Grain," video designer Keith Skretch gives us an unusual, tomographic look at wood. Skretch took a chunk of what looks like Doug Fir, repeatedly ran it through a planer (you can see chatter and snipe marks) and snapped photos between each cycle, looping them together into this trippy stop-motion:

Waves of Grain from Keith Skretch on Vimeo.

Skretch's wicked flick isn't the only one in this genre. Several years ago Michael Turri, as a student in the Stanford Design Program, did something similar with more precious woods than Doug Fir: Bocote, and what appears to be mahogany.

BOCOTE from Michael Turri on Vimeo.

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Categories: Design

Combining Detective Work, CAD, and 3D Printing to Recreate Duchamp's Lost Chess Set from 1918

Wed, 2014-07-09 13:00

In 1918 Marcel Duchamp, an avid chess player, designed a one-off set and had it hand-carved in Buenos Aires. Depending on whom you listen to, that set has either been lost or is sitting in someone's private collection; either way you're not getting your grubby little mitts on it.

But now, thanks to artists and makers Scott Kildall and Bryan Cera, anyone with a 3D printer can crank out something very close. That's because Kildall, on a mission to recreate lost objects, tracked down some archival photos and contacted Cera, who then took the few images of Duchamp's set and painstakingly CAD'ded over the pieces one by one.


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Categories: Design