Fire and heavy electronic beats may not be the first things you'd associate with a children's classroom lesson. The team at science/tech blog Veritasium met with a group of "physics and chemistry demonstrators" that combined all three in an audio visualizer they tour around to help demonstrate the shape and intensity of various sound waves. Turns out it's just as cool for adults as it is for the kiddos.
By creating a pyro board of Ruben's Tubes—essentially rows of Bunsen burners (see above)—that moonlights as a sound board, it's easy to see the flames jump as the different soundwaves pass over it.
In Veritasium's video, the first half address how the entire thing works and the second half consists of music and lots of fire (if you're just in it for the flames, make sure to stick around past the first half). Check it out:(more...)
You don't think of big-name designers doing furniture for schools, but Danish furniture brand Hay scored Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec to do their line for the University of Copenhagen. The resultant Copenhague line is a handsome blend of wooden desks, tables, chairs, and stools, some stackable. And in a nod to modern needs, the tables and desks featuring bent plywood provide a slot where the dual surfaces meet, intended for power cables to be routed through.(more...)
Editor: After going Hollywood in Part 5, here in Part 6 Accidental Designer finds a casual suggestion from his wife is about to change their lives. As one door closes, another door (this one on a shipping container) opens....
I was down in my basement workshop, failing.
I had been trying to produce a lightweight and affordable bamboo folding chair for Hollywood sets. After hundreds of hours and countless prototypes, this problem just had me beat—and I knew it. I mopped my brow and called up the stairs to ask my wife if we had any sandwiches left.
My wife is a mean cook and she goes through cutting boards like nobody's business. It doesn't matter what they're made of, she just plain wears them out. "I need a new cutting board, this one's through," she called down the stairs. "Can you scrape up some of that bamboo and make me one?"
I looked around at all of the bamboo scrap I had and thought, well, here's a problem I can solve. I glued up a bunch of scrap pieces, more than I needed just for the sake of doing something, and by the next day I'd made her a cutting board and a few back-ups.
Following that, to clean up my shop area, use up a bunch of scrap and exercise my brain, I threw myself into gluing up cut-offs and began experimenting with different styles of cutting boards. After failing with chair prototype after prototype, it felt good to successfully make something—anything.
I had consistently-shaped scraps in several different sizes, and so I designed the cutting boards around the shape of the scraps. By the end of my clean-up project I had several dozen good-looking cutting boards. I felt like my table saw and router respected me again.
I didn't think much of this until a few weeks later, when I was loading up my truck to hit a craft show in Arizona. I was bringing the $2,000 bamboo chair even though I knew it wouldn't sell, and also bringing some consumer-grade chairs I knew I could sell, just because I needed the cash. The extra bamboo cutting boards I'd made were sitting in the corner. I figured they'd be Christmas presents for relatives, which would save my wife and I some cash since we were getting close to broke.
Still, I grabbed a bunch of the cutting boards and threw them in the truck. I didn't think I'd sell any, but figured I'd use them to gauge interest.
Maybe you can guess what happened next.(more...)
This signifies the demise, for industrial design students at Pratt Institute in particular, of Canal Street as a destination for supplies; in the '90s we'd travel to Industrial Plastics on Canal & Greene, Space Surplus Metals around the corner on Church, and cap it off with a trip to Pearl for everything the prior two stores didn't have. Now all three outfits are gone.(more...)
All photos by Omar Nadalini
Nurturing a houseplant isn't exactly a well-designed process for casual growers. You plant the seeds, water the sprouts once in a while and hope that something nice-looking makes an appearance after a while. Most of the time, it's hard to tell what's going on between the act of planting and the end goal of appreciating a full-grown arrangement. The Phytophiler Flower Pot System by Dossofiorito has something to say about that. The System (which was presented at this year's Salone Satellite) includes your everyday terracotta flower pots with a few add-ons—magnifying glasses, rotating bases, mirrors, etc.—to enhance the growing process.
The Phytophiler becomes a centerpiece of a different caliber once it's all set up. The add-ons can be rearranged, added and removed depending on what parts the grower wants to focus on. When assembled, it throws off an Inspector Gadget vibe—but in a homey, non-catastrophic kind of way.(more...)
Whether you think ultralight backpacking sounds like hell or vacation, it provides a special dilemma for design minds. Ultralight gear has to be minimal, ergonomic, versatile and very very light. To get a higher-level industry take on the lightweight challenge I spoke with Mike Pfotenhauer, founder, owner and and chief designer of Osprey Packs. Osprey is over four decades old and renowned for innovative, ergonomic and, yes, lightweight pack design. Still independently owned and operated, they're a leading name in multiple fields of backpacking. When I caught up with Mike he had just gotten back from Southern California—a region he's required as a Northerner to speak poorly of—where he'd had a nice time hiking around Big Sur. (Don't tell him I told you.)
You guys have been doing pack design for a very long time. What sparks new ideas now?
For us a new design is often a compilation of older ideas that finally make sense. We build many iterations when developing a new product. Often it requires a minimum of 15 or 20 different versions before we can finalize a new product. All of this experimentation is never wasted. Our prototype archives are loaded with innovative concepts that are just waiting for the right opportunity. We have a lot of ideas stored. In fact, I just told everybody we have to dig out today! We have so many prototypes we're tripping over them! It's insane, we're drowning, we could get lost in them!
Do you still have a hand in the design process?
I'm definitely still involved in the design process. We have a design office in Mill Valley, and up until two years ago I did almost all of it. Now I have two design assistants and a production manager, and the design team in Vietnam, who turn the designs into prototypes and so on. We get a lot of input from distributors and vendors too. We travel to Vietnam where we have 35 people in the development office. With web conferencing we keep the product on a 24-hour development path. They build samples and ship them here or we go over them online, and go over them again and again and again... until the curtain. It's been worked to death by then. So that's three designers—two less than half my age, which is interesting. Young minds to keep me thinking young.
You guys just put out a new Exos. What's your take on going ultralight from a design perspective?
I really appreciate limitations. With any lightweight gear you have that rule—you want to keep it simple. It's also nice from a sustainability angle. Less process, less material. I do gravitate towards lightweight, towards minimalism. I like the challenge to strip things away. We're pretty known for that—gear that's lighter but durable. Not too light, though. We have an extensive warranty program and we don't want stuff coming back. Or getting thrown away!
How do you determine desired weight and work towards it?
Comfort, efficiency and load transfer are the concerns at the top of our list. Once we've accomplished those we do what we can to strip weight where it won't be detrimental. Because we develop our prototypes entirely in-house we know the product intimately and every gram that's not pulling its weight is discarded. With the Exos we knew that a highly tensioned back panel would be far lighter and more comfortable and ventilated than one with plastic or foam. We stripped dense foams out of the hipbelt and shoulder straps and created more ventilation by using layers of 3D mesh.(more...)
Spazio Rossana Orlandi is perenially among the must-see exhibitions during the Salone, and its namesake design patron is perhaps the definition of a doyenne. This year, her multi-chambered, multi-level space hosted an eclectic mix of students, small studios and well-established designers, several of whom happened to be exhibiting kitchenwares and other vessels.
Konstfack's "Talking Table" was a showcase of experimental tablewares that explore the nuances, dynamics and social norms of dining. Students from the Industrial Design and Jewelry & Corpus programs (some of whom we'd met at ICFF last year) presented consistently thoughtful and well-crafted design objects, from the 'ghost' place setting (smartphone not included) to the napkin for two, a comment on Eastern vs. Western dining traditions.(more...)
Yes, this thing is every bit as crazy as it sounds. Matthias Wandel, the man behind Woodgears, recently built a tall wooden scaffold to be able to change the lightbulbs in his secondary hangar-like shop. But to climb up, change a bulb, climb down, move the scaffold to the next bulb, climb back up, etc. would be a slow process, so Wandel decided he'd motorize the entire contraption. As if that weren't daunting enough, he designed it to be driven and controlled from up top--using a simple drill and some woodworking ingenuity.
As for how he did it, and how this thing works, you simply have to see it to believe it:
In the late 1950's, a swiveling star was born—or rather, designed. Furniture designer and architect Gianfranco Frattini created a revolving bookcase that not only gave books a home, but was fit for displaying other decorative belongings, as well. Now Poltrona Frau has taken Frattini's lead and recreated the much-loved bookcase with few modifications—hey, timeless design is considered such for a reason—naming it "Albero," which means "tree" in Italian. After discovering the ROOM Collection last week, all kinds of customizable furniture systems have been catching my eye—this one included.
Frau's reintroduction of the design is a reminder that vintage furniture doesn't have to be overused (or used at all), kitschy or "retro." The bookcase's customization and easy use that made it so popular in the first place continues to ring true in today's world where tiny urban apartments and homes are far too common.(more...)
For the third interview of Creative Minds, I would like to introduce Giorgio Giussani. I've been following him and his love for analog photography for quite a few years. His way of experimenting with analog cameras and traditional films is refreshing in these days of photoshop and Instagram. Born and raised in Italy, Giorgio lived and studied in London for ten years, traveled the world and is now based in the tropical island of La Reunion.
Core77: You have been in the creative field for a long time, what was it that first awoke your interest?
Giorgio Giussani: I believe people are born creative. Personally, I have always loved "making" things from when I was a kid. I grew interested in graphic design and photography later on, probably around when I was a teenager. I still remember having an old Kodak compact film camera that I loved using. Somewhere along the way, I abandoned the use of film cameras, until nine years ago, when I stumbled upon a bright red Holga camera in a market in Stockholm. I've been using film ever since—I believe that it was that Holga camera that more awoke my interest for analog photography.
You say you used to make things when you were young, can you give us some examples?
A little bit of everything. I remember taking kids magazines and drawing a copy of the cover on a piece of paper. This was definitely one of the things I loved the most. Sometimes I was simply tracing over the magazine to copy a character or a picture; other times I was just trying to make my own characters... Not always successfully, but remember that it definitely was fun!
I've always loved bright colours and today you can see how this translates into my photography... I experimented with paint and colored pencils but never took this any further. You can definitely say that making things with my hands has been a constant pattern ever since I was young.
Does this streak of creativity run in your family?
I am the only creative one in my immediate family, at least when it comes to a 9-to-5 job. I believe that each individual is creative, but some show it and nurture it, others do not. Some members of my family can be creative on some tasks—my mom when she is cooking, for example—but they don't make creativity their way of life. Perhaps some people have a need to always be creative, to experiment with their creativity, while others can be creative on occasional tasks but without having this constant urge to create.(more...)
When it comes to biomimetic design, one trend is for researchers to borrow ideas from bugs and animals to apply to locomotion. This has yielded some truly freaky free-roaming robots, based on everything from fleas to snakes to centaurs. But industrial automation company Festo is applying one animal's qualities to a robot that will stay right where I want it: Bolted to the floor of a factory.
For two years, Festo's Bionic Learning Network team has been studying the kangaroo, and specifically the way it jumps, in an effort to understand energy recovery. A kangaroo is able to hop across large swaths of the Australian outback at 15 miles per hour in an energy-efficient way, storing energy on the landing that it can re-release for the next jump. The thinking is that if an industrial robot could similarly store and release energy with each stroke, as it swings back and forth on a production line, a significant energy savings could be achieved.
This month the researchers have unveiled their BionicKangaroo as a proof-of-concept. Interestingly enough, it involves what amounts to large rubber bands that are loaded on each stroke by motors in the hips, and the powered tail itself serves as an additional limb by providing both tripod-like support and balance during jumps:(more...)
This is the first of a multi-part look at lightweight backpacking and the designers who love it.
Ultralight is a challenging niche within both the outdoor community and the outdoor industry. Ultralight users are often out on the trail or mountain for weeks on end, and ultralight designers have to get them there and back. To learn about the passions and problem-solving involved, I spoke with Mike St. Pierre, founder of Hyperlite Mountain Gear, makers of award-winning ultralight packs and tents.
C77: What inspires you to create new designs?
Mike: Honestly? My own personal interest level in an outdoor activity. I started out making packs for backpacking and through-hiking because I was doing a lot of that, then I got into climbing, so I made packs for climbers. Then I got into backcountry skiing—so that's probably one of the next products. New designs come from personal interest and from customers requesting products for niches where they want to go lighter.
How do you determine desired weight and work towards it?
We don't set out with that goal in mind. Weight is important, but I've never been looking to be the lightest guy out there. The weight is a byproduct of the design philosophy: strip away and provide the basics of what you need. A lot of companies build bags that have a multitude of attachment points, bags for doing all kind things—one bag fits all. We don't look at it that way, it's good to be specific. Rock climbing? Climbing bag. Ice hiking? Ice hiking pack.
How do developments in high-tech materials impact your line of products and new designs?
When I found out about cuben fiber it was a no brainer. It's truly waterproof, the strongest material in the world, it's non woven. All the other fabrics out there are coated fabrics. Instead you've got something that won't leak, weighs less... It's the best. So we're always searching for the newest modern materials. More minimalist designs mean more high tech materials. Marrying the two is how we reduce the weight. Stick with what works, but sometimes you find something exciting that can spark a whole new line.
I had a heavy hand in the development of a lot of fabrics that we use. We're doing our own production here in Maine—when we started no one was willing or had knowledge of the adhesives and bonding techniques involved. I shopped it around, and decided there was no way to do it unless we build out manufacturing ourselves. Our cuben fiber with laminated woven fabrics, those are products fabrics I had my two cents in with our developers. I constantly find things I like somewhere, and find a way to get it laminated or incorporated in the manufacture of the cuben.(more...)
Given that most of you love oddly specific minimalism, you should be familiar with "Ultralight" backpacking. If not, start here. Regardless of your fitness level, the appeal of ultralight is undeniable—it speaks to the core of good design: make it simpler, keep it functional. UL definitions vary in pound-maximums and philosophies, but for most it boils down to the fact that the lighter your gear, the more you are free to do. For the hardcore aficionados, UL is literally a lifestyle, where the weight of everything is known in grams and ounces and enthusiastically hacked away at. For the general practitioner, the aim is to carry as little as possible outdoors without sacrificing safety. General guidelines often suggest that a full pack should weigh less than 10lbs to qualify as UL, and under 25 to make it into the lightweight bracket. (When in doubt, call things "lightweight" rather than UL if you want to avoid the semantic title-mongering of true believers.)
While all detail-oriented hobbies attract a certain percentage of wonks, UL is a growing trend for a reason. Efficiency out on the trail/mountain/river/etc. is a big part of the draw, along with the basic body-mechanical fact that lowering pack weight reduces strain and increases comfort... Comfort you are free to negate by doing something painful like a through hike. How many of us have tried "backpacking" only to find it a gigantic heavy drag? It may seem obvious from a designer's armchair, but simplifying the systems frees the user to focus on other things, like the beauty of the trail. And counter-intuitive though it may be, removing the load bearing structure and cushy padding and webbing and pockets and D-rings on a backpack can actually make it more comfortable. Rather than trying to be every bag for everyman, Ultralight gear is task-specific, minimal, and as a result ergonomically approachable.(more...)
This dating site is looking to hook someone up as a designer for their mobile interface, which introduces millions of users to new people. OkCupid—which is located in New York, New York— is the fastest-growing online dating site. This team member will lead the design of mobile features from concept to release; design visual interfaces, user flows, and compelling interactions; translate complex ideas into elegant, intuitive designs; work closely with front-end developers, software engineers, and other designers; and explore and experiment with the future of the OkCupid interface.
To land the job, you'll need one or more years of professional mobile app experience (with high user volume, preferably); a swoon-worthy portfolio of interface designs; proven understanding of interaction design concepts; and an excellent sense of typography, layout, and mobile design principles. If this sounds like the job for you, Apply Now.
Along with the nearby ECAL exhibition, Studio Formafantasma's "De Natura Fossilium" at Palazzo Clerici was one of the most buzzed-about projects in the Brera District this year—after all, Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin consistently present excellent work during at the Fuorisalone, and this year was no exception. The Eindhoven-based pair often look to their Italian heritage for inspiration; this time around, they took inspiration from the November 2013 eruption of Mount Etna, creating a beautiful collection of tablewares, textiles and small furniture items from the byproducts of volcanic activity.
The project page for "De Natura Fossilium" does a far better job of explaining the work than I ever could, including striking photos by Luisa Zanzani; the "Process" section in particular illustrates the depth of Formafantasma's practice.Volcanic glass, procured by remelting Etna's rocks, has been mouth-blown into unique vessels or cast into box-like structures that purposefully allude to the illegal dwellings and assorted buildings that have developed at the foot of the volcano. Drawing on their own vocabulary, these solitary glass boxes and mysterious black buildings have been finished with such archetypal Formafantasma detailing as cotton ribbons and Murano glass plaques. In homage to Ettore Sottsass, the great maestro of Italian design and an avid frequenter of the volcanic Aeolian islands, this new body of work takes on a linear, even brutalist form. Geometric volumes have been carved from basalt and combined with fissure-like structural brass elements to produce stools, coffee tables and a clock."(more...)
With Easter right around the corner, it's the perfect time to introduce a quirky gadget made just for eggs. With a name like Golden Goose, you would expect to find it among the pages of a children's fable or scenes of "Game of Thrones" (and really, it is pretty magical), but this appliance is destined for the kitchen.
The Golden Goose, created by Chicago firm Y Line Product Design, is a surprisingly low tech method to making your own Golden Eggs—which are 1.) actual things, and 2.) scrambled eggs that are made in-shell. Golden Eggs are considered delicacies due to a gap in the "in-shell scrambled egg" appliance market, according to the gadget's Kickstarter campaign.
By using centrifugal force and a carefully designed egg chamber, the Golden Goose shakes everything up without breaking the egg's shell. After your egg has been sufficiently rattled, you're free to eat them any way you'd like—soft boiled, fried, hard boiled, deviled, pickled; wherever your taste buds take you.
Check out the campaign video to see how it works:(more...)
3D-print-happy designer Michiel Cornelissen is at it again. To create his clever ZooM lampshade, Cornelissen has adopted the trick we first saw Sklyar Tibbits messing around with, where you print something small and made out of interlocking pieces that can then be stretched out to occupy a greater volume. In this case, gravity does the work for you.Created as a programmable object in generative design software, ZooM has a structure created from hundreds of repeating elements that together form a series of interlocking spirals. 3-d printing allows this pentagonal lampshade to be manufactured flat and completely assembled; folded out, it's flexible like a textile, while maintaining its form like a rigid product. The semi-transparent structure shields the bulb's glare, while transmitting light efficiently.
Cornelissen is selling them in two sizes, a 20-cm and 28-cm version. And as cool as it looks in blue, at press time it was only available in black or white.(more...)
While the Layers Cloud Chair might feel (and look) like you're sitting on a cloud, the bulbous lounge is anything but weightless. It's made from 550 pounds of solid wool—and its construction was a woolly beast of its own. Designed by Richard Hutten, the chair made its debut in Milan last week as part of an exhibit by the Danish textile manufacturer Kvadrat, which enlisted 22 international designers to explore the diverse capabilities of its Divina fabric.
"For me, designing is in the first place a thinking and research process," the Rotterdam-based Hutten says. "So I looked into the material. What makes it special? How does it look, feel, smell? How can I use it in an exceptional way?" Divina is a durable wool blend, and Hutten chose to focus on what he considered the main qualities of the material—its soft tactility and its availability in a range of vibrant hues.
As an added challenge, the designer resolved to use Divina as the structure for the object itself. "I wanted to use the Divina material as the sole material for the piece, not only as a cover, which is the normal way it's being used," he says. "These I called 'the rules of the game.' From there, the playing started."(more...)
We thought the PermaFLOW transparent sink trap was a pretty brilliant innovation, allowing you to see and clear those pesky under-basin clogs. But from Philippe Starck by way of Hansgrohe comes the Axor Starck V, which brings transparency up where we can see it. Starck calls it "a mixer that represents the absolute minimum: totally transparent, almost invisible, and enclosing a miracle that is the vortex."
While the impetus for the design—reportedly five years in the making—is poetic...With the beauty and dynamism of its vortex, the mixer bridges the gap between the functional and emotional aspects of water at the washbasin, transforming it from a basic commodity to a valuable resource. ...Besides serving the technical function of making water visible, transparency aesthetically fuses the mixer body with its surroundings, thus, in essence de- materializing it. The openly designed spout contributes to the natural water experience: before the eyes of the user, the upward, swirling motion of water through the mixer's body and its "free-fall" into the washbasin trigger a feeling of joy and happiness. (more...)
Although NYCxDesign is still three weeks away, we've been lining up some of the content for the C77 Design Daily—after all, it's our very first effort at publishing our content in print and it's not going to write itself.
In the interest of verisimilitude, the Daily will feature an advice column from renowned designer Ayse Birsel. With some twenty years of experience working with leading brands and Fortune 500 companies, Ayse is the co-founder of Birsel + Seck, a New York City-based design studio, and the creator of the acclaimed Design the Life You Love workshop series.
Please submit your questions to mail[at]core77.com with the subject line "Ask Ayse" by Thursday, April 24, for a chance to have Ayse answer your questions in print when we publish the Core77 Design Daily from May 16–19.
And don't forget to submit your events ASAP to ensure that they make it into our event guide!(more...)