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- 11/02/17--15:19: _A Look at Pop-Up Ve...
- 11/02/17--15:19: _How to Make Your Ow...
- 11/02/17--15:19: _Dutch Design Week 2017
- 11/02/17--15:19: _A Personal Cloud St...
- 11/03/17--15:40: _Dutch Design Week 2...
- 11/03/17--15:40: _How a Stone Quarry ...
- 11/03/17--15:40: _Design Job: Have a ...
- 11/03/17--15:40: _A Great Animated Vi...
- 11/03/17--15:40: _7 Resin Casting Tip...
- 11/03/17--15:40: _The Future of Trans...
- 11/03/17--15:40: _Book Review: Crossi...
- 11/03/17--15:40: _Reader Submitted: P...
- 11/03/17--15:40: _Party Lighting Gone...
- 11/06/17--15:20: _Learning From Desig...
- 11/06/17--15:20: _Student Turned Entr...
- 11/06/17--15:20: _Laser Engraving Alt...
- 11/06/17--15:20: _Wintersmiths' ...
- 11/06/17--15:20: _Design Job: (Sun)Da...
- 11/06/17--15:20: _Reader Submitted: A...
- 11/07/17--15:23: _How the Pakt Team M...
- 11/02/17--15:19: How to Make Your Own Saw Blade Sharpening Jig
- 11/02/17--15:19: Dutch Design Week 2017
- 11/03/17--15:40: Dutch Design Week 2017: Hardcore
- 11/03/17--15:40: A Great Animated Visualization of the Honda Civic's Design Evolution
- 11/03/17--15:40: 7 Resin Casting Tips & Tricks
- 11/03/17--15:40: The Future of Transportation Looks Bright at Tokyo Motor Show 2017
- 11/03/17--15:40: Book Review: Crossing the Chasm
- 11/03/17--15:40: Reader Submitted: PUCKPUCK: A Truly Pocketable Home Brew System
- 11/06/17--15:20: Student Turned Entrepreneur Develops DIY Backyard Ice Rink System
- 11/06/17--15:20: Wintersmiths' Crystal Clear Sphere Ice Maker Is a Kickstarter Hit
The Hudson River Greenway, a two-lane bicycle and jogging path along Manhattan's West Side Highway, is one of the best places to cycle in the city, providing car-free cruising and a pleasant breeze off of the Hudson River. It's also the site where terrorist Sayfullo Saipov killed eight people and injured 13 on Tuesday afternoon, by driving a pickup truck onto the bike lane at high speed.
Following Tuesday's attack, community activists are calling for more bollards to be installed along the greenway, to make the bike lanes impenetrable to vehicles. While bollards and concrete K-rails block vehicular access to the bike lane at certain points, there are at least a dozen locations, at major intersections, that can be accessed by car. This is a boon to emergency services vehicles, who can go lights and sirens and clear the lane if needed. Permanent bollards would stop the bad guys, but they'd stop the good guys too.
One potential solution has been suggested by Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group for pedestrians and cyclists: Retractable bollards. British companies like Avon Barrier and Heald design a variety of these pop-up poles and other types of retractable vehicle barriers. Here's how they work, and how effective they are at stopping trucks traveling at 80 kilometers per hour:
Although the cabs of the trucks still manage to clear the barriers as they disconnect, the barriers are certainly effective at stopping the rest of the vehicle from penetrating. And incredibly, they continue to function after impact.
Unlike permanent barriers, these could be lowered to allow emergency vehicles access when needed. Britain has a system in place in cities like Manchester where buses are equipped with onboard transmitters that automatically lower the bollards as they approach, in effect keeping certain streets dedicated to bus use only.
And perhaps they could be placed around more than just bike lanes; earlier this year a crazed man named Richard Rojas drove his Honda onto a sidewalk on Seventh Avenue, killing a woman and mowing down 20 other people.
Of course, it can't only be New York that is looking at how to protect against vehicular mass assaults; in just the past year there have been attacks in Nice, Berlin, Stockholm, Barcelona, Edmonton, and multiple attacks in London. Like reinforced cockpit doors and surveillance cameras, retractable bollards are sure to become a common sight.
When the blades on your circular saw, table saw or miter saw go dull, the bulk of you probably fall into one of two camps: Go to the store and buy a new one, or send it out to a sharpening service. But I know there's a subset of you that would sharpen the blades yourself, if only there were an easy way to do it.
Well, there is, if you've got an angle grinder and some plywood. While there are a bunch of DIY sawblade-sharpening jigs on YouTube, I was impressed at the simplicity of this unnamed Japanese craftsperson's design--and the fact that he also made provisions for sharpening blades that have alternatingly angled bevels on the teeth:
Now in its 16th edition, Dutch Design Week has established itself as perhaps the most trendsetting festival of its kind, thanks to a combination of government funding, marketing, and of course interesting projects and exhibitions. The family-friendly event can be both overwhelming and uneven in its effort to offer something for everyone, but it also rewards a bit of exploring beyond the overcrowded main venues. Besides Hardcore, highlights range from Fundamentals by Dutch Invertuals to the intimate Young Collectors exhibition.
Apollo Cloud 2 Duo is a powerful personal cloud storage device giving you access to all of your content from anywhere using the Apollo Cloud App. Unlike most NAS devices that look cold and require complicated settings, Apollo provides a friendly interface for intuitive operation. Its elegant and streamlined shape can easily fit in your office and living spaces. The vertical design takes advantage of natural air convection to enhance heat dissipation. The upper lid also allows for quick access to the components which helps with future upgrading and maintenance. The LED ring can show activities and alerts using different colors.View the full content here
Who would've thought? One of the highlights of this year's Dutch Design Week took place in a parking garage. Not an abandoned or converted one, but a busy underground garage in the center of Eindhoven.
It was the perfect venue for Hardcore, a group exhibition with the theme of "elemental aesthetics," and "materials that create a world that is more lasting." Even though the geometric forms may look simple and the use of metal might come across as cold, the 15 pieces were well-executed and fun.
Overall, Hardcore was greater than the sum of its parts, thanks largely to the unusual exhibition space. As the story goes, Core Studio struggled to find an exhibition space until they realized the prime location of the QPark. It turns out that reserving a cluster of parking spaces was far less expensive than any other option, a clever solution for temporary real estate.
The exhibition was a follow-up to last year's Popcore exhibition, which was the beginning of Core Studio. The "trend forecasting" agency was founded by Tijs Gilde, Emma Wessel, Fabian Briels, and Hans van Sinderen, and will continue to organize exhibitions during Dutch Design Week. We look forward to the next "core," whatever it may be.
As industrial designers, most of us are keenly aware of how plastic, metal, wood and glass are manipulated into objects. But stone is a lesser-used and more mysterious material; how exactly does a quarry turn what's in the earth into a slab, and turn that slab into rectangular blocks?
In this video shot at a stone quarry in Malta, we see that it requires first surfacing the top of the slab and then performing a series of "rip cuts" (we don't get to see these two steps), then setting up a dolly track perpendicular to the initial cuts, something like the track of a tracksaw. Then a ride-able machine goes along the track making two cuts at once, while a trailing splitter separates the blocks and helps a second worker set them vertically:
More Examples of How to Work Stone:
The School of Design within the College of Visual and Performing Arts is home to programs that offer BFAs in Fashion, Environmental + Interior and Communications Design, a BID in Industrial + Interactive Design as well as an MA in Museum Studies and an MFA in Design. In 2015 the School of Design introduced a dedicated first year experience that has proved to be extremely effective in providing students with a strong multidisciplinary foundation in the fundamental elements of design.View the full design job here
It was fascinating to see the styling similarities between the original Honda Civic and the company's newly-unveiled Urban EV concept car. Now the folks at Donut Media have helpfully illustrated how the Civic's design has evolved in the nearly 50 years between those two models:
It's probably just nostalgia on my part, but I'm struck by how pleasing-to-the-eye the forms of the late '80s and early '90s Civics and CRXs still look. The current versions of the car are a little too busy for my tastes; all of the extraneous curves, bulges and surface changes scream "Hey look what we can do now that we have CAD" to me. I understand that they must create something visually flashy enough to catch potential buyers' eyes, but from a design perspective, the current forms speak to me of a lack of restraint.
Another great video from industrial designer Eric Strebel. Here he reveals his experience-borne tips for efficiently casting resin, including how to quickly clear a syringe, what types of re-usable mixing cups are best, two clever ideas for creating something useful out of the leftover mix, how to neatly fill surface voids and more:
This year's edition of the Tokyo Motor Show was all about the concept vehicle. Placing emphasis on what's to come next in the transportation industry, each exhibiting company flaunted their vision of the future vehicle on dramatic rotating stages under massive spotlights. With crowds fighting to photograph the exciting concepts even during press day (elbows were thrown), it's safe to say this year wowed everyone, from car buffs to design enthusiasts like us.
"Motor" is a term used very lightly at the Tokyo Motor Show, as the exhibition wasn't strictly comprised of cars—instead it encompassed everything the transportation industry is currently working on, from cars to jet-skis to full on city busses and beyond. The wonderful part about that is, of course, the endless transportation options to feast your eyes on. However, the impossibility to physically see everything in one day, leaving with fear you've missed out on a new self-driving ambulance or something, is quite unsettling.
What you see here is an overview of the most boundary-pushing vehicles we saw during the show, from big names to lesser-known gems we were enthused to discover along the way.
You might consider each year's raft of new social impact design startups to be what Samuel Johnson called "the triumph of hope over experience." Unfortunately, many social impact organizations and for that matter many startups follow a similar and discouraging trajectory:
- bootstrapped "beautiful baby" prototype attracts design awards and newspaper articles
- PR leads to initial wave of seed funding
- funding allows a pilot of dozens or even hundreds of units
- product enters awkward adolescent phase: the innovation is no longer news; despite the initial hype and promise, "reality remains complex" and social impact results are difficult to measure
- major donors lose interest and move on to the next new thing
- with no marketing and sales capacity, and a dependence on a small number of large donors, the organization begins to starve for funding
- the organization collapses or enters the twilight of the living dead
The first few pages of Geoff Moore's Crossing the Chasmwere sufficient to blow my mind. I immediately saw his explanation of the chasm between early adopters and the early majority as an explanation for this unhappy social innovation life cycle. What follows is a quick summary of my favorite ideas. Fantastic book, check it out! And if you buy the book through the links in this email, Amazon will send part of the proceeds to DtM! [Crossing the Chasm]
THE BELL CURVE
Moore's customer taxonomy for technology consumers applies just as well to the philanthropic community. This suggests that the $330B total US philanthropic "market" can probably also be grouped according to same standard deviations of the normal probability distribution.
- Innovators: these donors pursue new innovations aggressively, and are willing to invest in social enterprises before there's even a business plan. This includes student program grants, early-stage fellowships and maverick individual donors who enjoy discovering new talent. In probability terms, Moore estimates that this group is half the 3-sigma standard deviation or 0.15% of all donors, suggesting they control $525M of the $330B total US philanthropic "market".
- Early Adopters: these donors buy into early-stage concepts. Consider mezzanine fellowships like Draper Richards Kaplan and Ashoka. This group is half the 2-sigma standard deviation (minus the tiny sliver of Innovators) or 2.3% of all donors, suggesting they control $8.7B of the $330B total philanthropic market.
- Early Majority: these donors "share some of the early adopter's ability to relate to technology, but ultimately they are driven by a strong sense of practicality. They know that many of these newfangled inventions end up as passing fads, so they are content to wait and see how other people are making out before they buy in themselves. They want to see well-established references before investing substantially." This would be large institutional donors like the Gates Foundation. This group is half the 1-sigma standard deviation or 34% of all donors, suggesting they control $119B of the $330B total philanthropic market.
- Late Majority: these donors "share all the concerns of the early majority, plus one major additional one: Whereas people in the early majority are comfortable with their ability to handle a technology product, should they finally decide to purchase it, members of the late majority are not. As a result, they wait until something has become an established standard, and even then they want to see lots of support and tend to buy, therefore, from large, well-established companies." These are the sorts of donors you see lending their names to museums, hospital wings and university buildings and many forms of corporate philanthropy. This group is the other half of the 1-sigma standard deviation, or 34% of all donors.
- Laggards: these donors "simply don't want anything to do with [entrepreneurial ideas], for any of a variety of reasons, some personal and some economic. The only time they ever [invest in entrepreneurship] is when it is buried deep inside another product—the way, say, that a microprocessor is designed into the braking system of a new car—such that they don't even know it is there." This group is the other half of the 2-sigma standard deviation, or 2.5% of all donors.
Few social impact designs are able to "cross the chasm" from early adopters to engaging the early majority, which is why they eventually starve and fail. To avoiding financial starvation and to reach that early majority, Moore summarizes the goal as follows:
The key to getting beyond the enthusiasts and winning over a visionary is to show that the new technology enables some strategic leap forward, something never before possible, which has an intrinsic value and appeal to the nontechnologist. This benefit is typically symbolized by a single, compelling flagship application, something that showcases the power and value of the new product. If the marketing effort is unable to find that compelling application, then market development stalls with the innovators, and the future of the product falls through this first crack in the bell curve. [Geoff Moore, Crossing the Chasm, p.20]
Moore goes on to recommend a number of specific strategies to help new technologies cross the chasm to reach the early majority.
MARKETING THE WHOLE PRODUCT
One of Moore's big ideas is the observation that the cultivation activities and funding pitches that work for "early adopter" innovation enthusiasts are useless in cultivating and pitching the more conservative "early majority". Moore's "early majority" are pragmatists, indifferent to fancy new gadgets (Moore's "generic product") but deeply concerned about the entire system (Moore's "whole product").
The [whole product] concept is very straightforward: There is a gap between the marketing promise made to the customer—the compelling value proposition—and the ability of the shipped product to fulfill that promise. For that gap to be overcome, the product must be augmented by a variety of services and ancillary products to become the whole product. [...]
In the simplified model there are only two categories: 1) what we ship and 2) whatever else the customers need in order to achieve their compelling reason to buy. The latter is the marketing promise made to win the sale. The contract does not require the company to deliver on this promise, but the customer relationship does. Failure to meet this promise in a business-to-business market has extremely serious consequences. [Geoffrey Moore, Crossing the Chasm, p.110]
Moore sees a hierarchy of products:
- Generic product: This is what is shipped in the box and what is covered by the purchasing contract.
- Expected product: This is the product that the consumer thought she was buying when she bought the generic product. It is the minimum configuration of products and services necessary to have any chance of achieving the buying objective. For example, when you buy a tablet, you need to have either a Wi-Fi network at home or a cellular connection for it to work, but either one is likely to have to be purchased separately.
- Augmented product: This is the product fleshed out to provide the maximum chance of achieving the buying objective. In the case of a tablet, this would include email, a browser, a calendar, a personal directory, a search engine, and an app store, for example.
- Potential product: This represents the product's room for growth as more and more ancillary products come on the market and as customer-specific enhancements to the system are made. The fact that for the Apple iPad there are, at the time of this writing, some 374,090 apps on its App Store that I can buy to extend its reach and value is one of its key selling points.
Moore argues that pragmatic early majority types are more likely to go for the incumbent's "brain-dead, ineffective Band-Aid approach to solving what has become a broken, mission-critical process" because they're worried about the system that provides the outcome. For a medical device, a "whole product" might include clinical trial data in the medical literature, regulatory approval, quality assurance practices, distribution channels (including the ability to negotiate customs), user-training materials, service manuals, supply chains for consumables and spare parts.
This isn't conjecture. PATH released a report called Innovation Countdown 2030 that details thirty global health innovations technologies that they consider particularly promising. Acting as an agent for the early majority, PATH clearly placed less value on pure innovation than on an organization's ability to manage the unglamorous tasks of product financing, manufacturing, marketing and distribution at high volumes. Similarly, value-engineered products like GE's Lullaby line may not be driven by the best principles in social impact design, but pragmatic consumers know that GE products come with regulatory approval and "GE Mark" quality control, comprehensive product documentation and a spares supply chain (even if that supply chain doesn't necessarily reach poor countries).
DONOR MARKET SEGMENTATION
Moore explains that the other challenge with market segmentation is that only groups who reference and reinforce each other can be thought of as a proper market.
The notion that part of what defines a high-tech market is the tendency of its members to reference each other when making buying decisions—is absolutely key to successful high-tech marketing. [...] If two people buy the same product for the same reason but have no way they could reference each other, they are not part of the same market. That is, if I sell an oscilloscope for monitoring heartbeats to a doctor in Boston and the identical product for the same purpose to a doctor in Zaire, and these two doctors have no reasonable basis for communicating with each other, then I am dealing in two different markets.
Marketing professionals insist on market segmentation because they know that no meaningful marketing program can be implemented across a set of customers who do not reference each other. [Geoffrey Moore, Crossing the Chasm, p.30]
Word of mouth is ultimately a labor-saving phenomenon. It means that every single donor in a given market can serve as a trusted referral, cultivating potential new supporters on an organization's behalf. These network effects don't happen automatically.
For word of mouth to develop in any particular marketplace, there must be a critical mass of informed individuals who meet from time to time and, in exchanging views, reinforce the product's or the company's positioning. [Geoffrey Moore, Crossing the Chasm, p.68]
Who do you consider your most likely allies in supporting your organization? Are there any natural networks among them?
In his bell-curve taxonomy, Moore classifies "innovators" and "early adopters" as willing to make bets on disruptive innovations, even if the innovation hasn't yet assembled a credible business plan or the necessary partnerships. According to Moore's "technology position compass", these early adopter donors are specialists who are excited to hear stories about the product: benchmarks, design awards, user-endorsements.
Early majority donors could not care less about how many followers an organization has on Twitter, or how many people saw the founder's TED talk. They're more impressed with academic citations, clinical studies, regulatory approval and strong peer references.
To market to pragmatists [in the early majority], you must be patient. You need to be conversant with the issues that dominate their particular business. You need to show up at the industry-specific conferences and trade shows they attend. You need to be mentioned in articles that run in the newsletters and blogs they read. You need to be installed in other companies in their industry. [Geoffrey Moore, Crossing the Chasm, p.49]
Who do you consider as your early majority supporters? Where do they congregate? What results do they value? There's a whole class of business literature where title alone spares you the necessity of reading the book: one of these is What Got You Here Won't Get You There. In other words, the results and stories that impressed your early adopters won't impress the early majority--they may even find them repellent. In a sense, you have to learn a whole new way of talking about your mission and your results.
CREATING A VALUE PROPOSITION
This is the key to messaging the early majority. Moore lays out his framework in Chapter 6:
- For (target customers—beachhead segment only)
- who are dissatisfied with (the current market alternative)
- our product is a (product category)
- that provides (compelling reason to buy).
- Unlike (the product alternative),
- we have assembled (key whole product features for your specific application).
I love Moore's rationale for the exercise:
The fundamental rule of engagement is that any force can defeat any other force—if it can define the battle. If we get to set the turf, if we get to set the competitive criteria for winning, why would we ever lose? [Geoff Moore, Crossing the Chasm]
Applying this value proposition framework to our Otter Newborn Warmer, we get:
For global health NGOs focused on infant health who want to treat patients at the point of diagnosis rather than risk transporting them to crowded central facilities, Otter is a newborn conductive warmer designed specifically to allow rural hospitals with limited resources and inexperienced staff to successfully treat premature newborns who are especially vulnerable to hypothermia.
Unlike the high-end incubators a rural hospital might receive as donations or the inexpensive radiant warmers they might receive through a government purchase, the Otter Warmer provides effective newborn warming that is "easy to use right and hard to use wrong"--in other words the device eliminates the most common sources of product failure.
Remember when writing your value proposition that there's little to gain from bashing your competition. Rather, the goal should be to explain how your product occupies a niche that the competition cannot address. In other words, you don't need to make any claims about the quality of your competitor's products because you're certain that they're intended for a different context.
Note that value propositions are closely related to another marvelous startup tool: the elevator pitch. It's just you and Bill Gates: how do you explain your great new idea before you reach the lobby? Consider these seven different frameworks for variations on the theme.
This "Design Experience that Matters" series is provided courtesy of Timothy Prestero and the team at Design that Matters (DtM). As a nonprofit, DtM collaborates with leading social entrepreneurs and hundreds of volunteers to design new medical technologies for the poor in developing countries. DtM's Firefly infant phototherapy device is treating thousands of newborns in 21 counties from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. In 2012, DtM was named the winner of the National Design Award.
The PUCKPUCK is a simple pocketable attachment for the Aeropress coffee maker, allowing you to produce high quality cold brew coffee at the fraction of the price of existing systems.
The Core77 team spends time combing through the news so you don't have to. Here's a weekly roundup of our favorite finds from the World Wide Web:
"Granted, Tyson didn't just enroll at SCAD to fish. She also spends plenty of time taking classes, and now that she's a sophomore, she's beginning to delve into her Industrial Design major." Varsity Fishing Team? All right Pratt ID, down to the Gowanus!
Fire the lighting contractor: Partygoers sustain UV damage from intense lighting.
"A good friend of mine knew about the little inventions I would make around the house, saw the video and thought 'hey this might be a good fit for you.'" It feels like most IDers have "getting woke to design" stories.
What it's like living in WeWork's dorm for grown-ups.
"Physical IoT products have also begun to shed the "clutter" that some older products have. Now the buttons and functions can move into the app, rather than showing on the actual product. This minimalistic, less is more, idea has begun to dominate the IoT product world."
British YouTube channel TechMoan has an interesting beat: The host takes an in-depth look at unusual, vintage tech gadgets that did not survive evolution. It's fascinating for multiple reasons: One is to see what physical interfaces the designers came up with to handle previously unimaginable functions; two is to deduce why these objects failed, i.e. did they demand too much of the user or provide a service that no one asked for? Three is to revel in the vintage aesthetics; and four is to try to imagine what the designers were trying to achieve in the first place.
This first one is a Japanese gadget from the 1970s that you've never heard of, and which clearly bears the influence of Braun's 1960s and '70s design language. I won't spoil the surprise of what the thing actually does, but I will say that the designers were trying to provide users with a new sort of experience--and that the experience itself actually has persisted to the present day, only nowadays we typically gather within dedicated facilities, and get drunk together, to engage in it:
This second one is from 1967, a time when long-distance phone calls were far more expensive than local calls. This pair of gadgets sought to allow patient folks to communicate with each other while skirting the cost:
This third one, a 1972 desktop "iPod," as they're referring to it, presciently tried to bring the idea of playlists into the home:
One thing I appreciate about all of these gadgets is the tactility, the need to manipulate physical metallic buttons and switches in order to get the objects to operate.
TechMoan has covered tons more of these gadgets, some of which you've heard of, many of which you haven't. Check 'em out here.
As a high school student, Dylan Gastel started a company that built backyard ice rinks in Rhode Island. Unlike building, say, a basketball court, an ice rink is a relatively easy affair that doesn't require pouring asphalt; with construction lumber and a waterproof membrane, you can build a structure, fill it with water and let Mother Nature do the rest.
Yet Gastel saw an opportunity to make the process even simpler. "We spent weekend after weekend fabricating each component of our rinks from plywood and two-by-fours," Gastel says. "It was during those long hours sawing, drilling and hammering that we envisioned the day we could provide our high quality backyard rinks more effortlessly across North America and beyond." Thus after entering Yale University to study mechanical engineering, he developed the EZ-ICE, a backyard rink that can reportedly be assembled in 60 minutes:
It's a pretty clever bit of engineering. Your typical DIY rink requires stakes to be nailed into the ground for stability's sake--meaning such rinks must be planned and installed before the ground freezes. Gastel's design, in constrast, uses straps/tension and the weight of the ice itself to keep the walls in place, and can be installed when the weather's already freezing.
Secondly, for kids playing hockey, pucks slamming into the typical DIY plywood walls don't rebound the same as they do in a rink; but according to a customer testimonial, "The puck plays off the [EZ-ICE] boards much better than it does with wood. The action is closer to what you get on a real rink."
Man. This is Gastel's second company and the kid hasn't even graduated yet!
There's an alternative to laser engraving that you may not have heard of: Pneumatically-powered dot peen marking machines. These produce the engravings mechanically via micropercussion, and it's pleasing to watch in action:
If you don't like the dot-matrix aesthetic, they can also produce much finer engravings:
They also make nifty handheld versions:
This is one of those machines where if I owned one, everything in my house would be marked up.
For many, an ice cube is simply a tool to help keep your drinks cool, but to professional and passionate home mixologists it can be a creative opportunity. This is one of the reasons why four years ago, brothers Chris & Pat Little started prototyping models for the perfect ice mold that not only would create a perfectly spherical ice ball, but also one that was entirely transparent.
What started as a fun science experiment between two brothers quickly turned into a commercially viable business called Wintersmiths, a company dedicated to engineering the perfect ice forms for drink enthusiasts and experts alike. After initially developing a singular ice baller and then a vessel that can freeze up to 4 ice balls at a time, Wintersmiths recently launched a new Kickstarter campaign for a product high in demand by their fans—The Phantom Ice Maker, a double-wall, vacuum insulated, stainless steel container that can make up to 7 crystal clear ice balls, 6 ice cubes, 8 Collins spheres, or 16 standard cubes.
A product able to make artisanal ice forms like this one appeals to both enthusiasts and, ever more increasingly, to those in the restaurant business, says co-founder Chris Little: "We're starting to see more bars and restaurants buying into this concept because they're getting asked to do it. They're finding they have to buy ice directly from distributors in their area, so some of them actually buy pre-made blocks and things, and they might pay tens of thousands of dollars for that ice. So if they can bring that in-house, that's certainly going to help their margin."
And while many may appreciate the beauty of a clear and spherical ice ball, what some may not realize is they also hold quite functional value in the bartending world. Different ice cubes should be used for different beverage options, as indicated by Wintersmiths. An ice ball's surface area to volume ratio allows it to melt at a slower rate than an ice cube of a similar size, making it the perfect ice form for a high-quality beverage you'd rather not dilute, while smaller cubes and ice shapes should be used for strong drinks you'd prefer to dilute more quickly. The beauty of the Phantom Ice tray is its ability to conform to different cocktail options.
The other interesting aspect of Wintersmiths' ice—its crystal clear quality—is more for stylistic purposes, but equally interesting science. When trying to understanding how the container makes perfectly transparent ice, Little says to imagine what happens when a pond naturally freezes:
"The ground is insulating the water from all sides and the bottom, so the result is clear ice on the top and air-filled ice or unfrozen water below. This is due to a concept widely referred to as "directional freezing" where you can control how the water freezes with insulation. By insulating all sides and leaving the top open, the cold air is coming into contact with the water only from the very top and thus the water freezes layer by layer from the top-down. Our design features exit holes in all of our molds, so the air bubbles never get trapped inside of the ice and leave you with crystal clear shapes. On the contrary, an ordinary ice tray leaves the air bubbles with nowhere to go and they become trapped and frozen in the center of the cube—that is why those ice cubes are opaque or cloudy."
The co-founders of the company, one of which studied aeronautical engineering, developed this patent-pending design technology after a number of experiments and prototypes, which they now say after doing several different product iterations they have a solid hold on. Material selection has always been an ongoing journey as well. "Finding the right material with ice is tricker than anything else. It's not easy to prototype these kinds of things," notes Little, but after plenty of iterations, they finally discovered that a combination of stainless steel, silicone, and plastic ultimately makes for the most quick-freezing, easy release tray possible.
And while the guys at Wintersmith acknowledge their products are a bit of a cheat when it comes to the art of ice carving, they hope their product preserves the notion and function of a practice like this in the bartending world. "There's always going to be the showmanship part of [the traditional ice shaping process] that makes for a unique experience, and our products do that too in some ways," says Little, "I think everybody's just really surprised when they see a large format piece of ice that's completely clear."
AMC Networks is looking for a Junior/Mid-Level Graphic Designer inside its New Digital Business Group. This dynamic group is focused on new streaming content businesses and currently operates the high-growth subscription streaming video services: Shudder, dedicated to horror, suspense and thrilling entertainment, and Sundance Now, focused on creative and high-quality films, documentaries and TV series.View the full design job here
The industrial designer finds himself in the middle between mass production and man—they are situated between production and consumerism. While they have to be creative, the person who produces products has to follow an almost mechanical action. This project critically examines the role of the designer, offering another way to look at an icon—the task lamp that has grown tired of its own duplication.
The much anticipated Pakt One travel bag's story is one of trial and error and successful multi-layer collaboration. Launched this morning on Indiegogo, the bag's story is filled with interesting advice for designers thinking about putting a professional crowdfunding campaign together—for a market overcrowded with product and made up of people who truly don't want to buy anything.
After working as a design consultant for many years, Malcolm Fontier became frustrated by profit-driven creation—designing products he felt were unnecessary to bring into the world, besides for the purpose of making money. This experience sparked his decision to start producing his own line of wallets and bags with his wife in 2007. The couple's goal was to design objects that actually added value to people's lives through function and environmental responsibility, which eventually led to the production of their minimalist travel bag, the Getaway, in 2011.
Fontier's bags were aesthetically defined by their functionality and distinct color palette, but when looked into more closely, they carried an environmentally friendly backstory with them—modestly hidden beneath the surface as an additional design decision instead of a main selling point. Unfortunately, after just a few years, Fontier's company dwindled away simply due to a lack of sales.
Fast forward to 2016: All of a sudden Malcolm's inbox was flooded with requests to purchase the Getaway Bag in particular. Little did Fontier know, the bag had gained many fans throughout its existence, most notably including vloggers Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists. The Minimalists had purchased the Getaway bag back in 2013 but eventually used it in their 2016 Netflix documentary, Minimalism, which as you can guess focused on their minimalist lifestyles. The duo's many fans took note, leading to a outburst in demand for the Getaway.
Malcolm kept turning the requests away until he eventually realized the Getaway's high demand meant a relaunch shouldn't be out of the question. But Fontier knew he needed to approach this relaunch in a different way than he approached his initial business venture—one that would ensure stability for a small company in today's fast-paced, overcrowded market.
This realization brought about an epiphany that perhaps marketing was where he fell short the first time around. "The fact that we didn't sell enough at the time yet a couple years later thousands of people are inquiring about it makes it clear that the original bag was a design success but a marketing fail. It also highlights how important marketing is even when you have a strong design, which is pitfall I think a lot of designers have fallen into."
Lucky for Fontier, celebrity endorsement and branding strategy were just a few clicks away. After many back and forth conversations with the Minimalists, it was decided that the dream team would assemble to successfully market the well-loved bag under a new identity: The Pakt One. On the branding side, Fontier reached out to longtime friend and Sprout CEO/Principal Jordan Nollman, who eagerly joined the team as a Design Partner.
"As a person who's spent a lot of time on the road and in the air, I designed the bag I always wanted, and the fact that The Minimalists agree speaks volumes. I'm excited to bring back an even more useful, durable, and beautiful version with their help." —Malcolm Fontier
As Creative Director, Malcolm worked closely with Sprout to finalize the bag's design. To solidify the supply chain, Sprout worked with a Hong Kong-based firm to procure samples and coordinate production. Then, a promotional video was created that features the Minimalists as celebrity spokespeople.
Wait: doesn't designing products in general go against the basic principals of minimalism?
It's true: designing products for minimalists is a contradiction in and of itself. When addressing this contradiction, Frontier expressed the importance of experience. "Even minimalists need experiences, and if you leave your house, you need a bag," he stated. In other words, just because someone is living a minimalist lifestyle doesn't mean they're holed up in their home all of the time—they still need to have life experiences that require ownership of a core set of products.
"It may seem counterintuitive for a minimalist to introduce a product, but some consumption is inevitable—the key is to be intentional. This bag has added immense value to my life, so I'm pleased we're able to share it with the world." —Joshua Fields Millburn of The Minimalists
As designers, we especially understand the clear difference between minimalism as an aesthetic and minimalism as a lifestyle. We all have that friend who collects minimally designed objects for their home and isn't afraid to admit they're just "going for the minimalist look." But there are people out there actually wanting to lead a minimalist lifestyle through making a conscious effort to declutter and own as little objects as possible.
Instead of shunning people who aren't ready to dip their toes into the true minimalist lifestyle, Fontier and his team chose to focus on those that are ready, which in turn appeals to both categories of consumers. According to Fontier, designing for people who actually want to lead a minimalist lifestyle is all about material and design quality. He recalled a moment in the Minamalists' documentary that particularly stood out to him in this regard:
"[The minimalists] interviewed Juliet Schor and she said, 'We are too materialistic in the everyday sense of the word, and we are not at all materialistic enough in the true sense of the word.' This statement grabbed me when I heard it, and it captures the way all of us think about this project. There are way too many throw-away products in the world, and the last thing we want to do is create another." If minimalists need to limit themselves to one product in each major category, Fontier's goal is to provide the best minimalist bag option for them.
But there are so many minimal bags on the market. Why exactly is this bag so special compared to the rest?
In part, yes, it's the strong branding and marketing strategy Fontier has created through the power of collaboration. But let's not forget the bag is actually a high quality design—and as with any quality design, it's all in the details.
Fontier's limited edition Getaway bag originally gained popularity because of its innovative dual compartment, zip around body style. Designed to provide easy access to belongings on the go, the updated version, Pakt One, adds thoughtful features to help save time and hassle while in transit. The most notable design details include:
– A first-of-its-kind TSA pocket to quickly stash items that have to be removed at security
– An internal laptop pocket accessible from the top of the bag that uses packed clothing for extra cushioning
– Accessory loops that allow you to clip items like a water bottle or sunglasses on the outside where they're easy to find and won't spill or get crushed
– No logos or branding on the outside of the bag
– Available in three colors and constructed with durable, technical and animal-friendly materials
The Pakt team has also partnered with another project Fontier is working on called Seahive, which focuses on using design to fight the problem of plastic waste in our oceans. The Pakt One will be used as an initial case study, as it will be a product brought to market with zero plastic packaging. Malcom says Pakt will, "pave the way for Seahive to consult other brands on reducing or eliminating plastic packaging from their own product lines."
What's next for the Pakt One team?
After going live at 5am this morning, the Pakt One has already reached its $50,000 goal by around 400%—by over 760 backers! If the journey Fontier has been through and the learning lessons he's experienced prior to this campaign were any indicator, we could have seen that one coming.