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    It's a tradition for incoming U.S. Presidents and their spouses to redecorate the White House upon moving in, and thanks to the GSA (General Services Administration), the public can see exactly what they spent. The Trump administration has spent $1.75 million to date, slightly above what the Obama administration spent ($1.5 million) over roughly the same time period. I've been going over the list of furniture vendors used to see what they make and what they charge.

    According to NBC, one of the White House's recent procurements was for a custom conference table commissioned from Kittinger Furniture Company, based in Buffalo, New York. Kittinger is a 150-year-old company that produces fine furniture with an emphasis on traditional craftsmanship; it's the same company that Richard Nixon commissioned to refurnish the West Wing in 1969. (Nixon, however, paid for the furniture out of his own pocket.)

    In any case, the cost of the new conference table was $12,800. And knowing what I know about high-end furniture design/build houses, that actually sounds kind of low to me. First off, here's the table Kittinger built for Nixon, which has remained in the White House as a gift after his departure:

    That table is a massive 24 feet long. 

    According to Newsweek, the Trump administration "purchased a custom conference table made for President Richard Nixon in 1969." The language is confusing, but that seems to indicate that a table of the same design was purchased. Indeed, the Daily Mail says that this is the newly-purchased table:

    So assuming the table we see in recent images of the Cabinet Room...

    …is a newer duplicate of the Nixon table, then $12,800 seems pretty reasonable to me--because we're talking about a 24-foot-long mahogany table with gold inlay produced by a company that employs master craftspeople. If you'd told me this table was $20,000, I wouldn't bat an eye, based on the expense of the raw material and more importantly, the labor that I know went into this thing. And look at the table's perimeter, where the grain is all radiating outwards; assuming that's not veneer, that's all got to be quartersawn material to prevent it from warping and cracking.

    So here's my question to you furniture designer/builders: If you were commissioned to create a piece for the White House, would you

    A) Charge less than normal, as it's an honor and/or you gain bragging rights, which will hopefully bring in more work

    B) Charge more than normal, because you feel you can probably get away with it

    C) Charge the same as you'd charge anyone else

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    Are you passionate about design and writing engaging editorial content? Consider joining our team as Core77 Winter/Spring 2018 Editorial Intern! 

    Our Editorial Internship offers a wealth of experience in editorial research, metric tracking, copywriting and editing (not to mention hanging with us in our Soho office!). We're looking for a passionate individual who's ready to embrace their inner design nerd, has a way with words and is itching to attend and cover design events in the New York City area. 

    The Editorial Intern will provide support for the editorial team's content efforts through research, social media production, article production and analytics reporting. The intern's responsibilities will include but are not limited to creating and sharing content on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Core77.com and the Core77 newsletter. 

    The Editorial Intern reports to our Editorial Assistant to deliver research and content on a consistent and timely manner. The Editorial Intern will assist in producing and identifying content for the various properties owned and operated by Core77—working with additional product management teams as necessary to support contesting, produce imagery and identify new platforms to amplify the Core77 brand.

    The intern's responsibilities will include but are not limited to —

    – Producing copy and content for Core77 social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram)

    – Producing promotional copy for social media and editorial project campaigns as necessary

    – Executing editorial assignments and posts

    – Daily searches for relevant social media content (videos, images, news, etc.)

    – Assisting in maintaining and updating our internal pitch document for potential article ideas

    – Attending and representing Core77 at industry related events in the New York City area (some photography skills are helpful for this!)

    We hope that you...

    – Display a passion for design in all of its manifestations

    – Have an innate understanding of social media

    – Have the ability to understand and adapt writing style to fit a brand voice

    – Have strong writing skills, from 140-character tweets to engaging blog posts

    – Are able to work between 4-6 hours each day for 3-4 days each week (in-office schedule flexible)

    – Are able to report to our offices in Manhattan

    – Video editing skills are a plus but not required

    By the way, we're offering a monthly stipend for all the hard work! And you'll never have to go on a single coffee run.

    If you're interested in our Editorial Internship, please send your resume and cover letter to recruiting@core77.com

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    Sustainable Surf is a California-based nonprofit that seeks to use surf culture to get people interested in environmental issues concerning our oceans. When they recently teamed up with Mafia Bags, an upcycling bag manufacturing company, to create a useful backpack, they found the perfect designer for it: Yves Behar.

    As an avid surfer and swimmer, Behar has an interest in both ocean preservation and in developing a practical way to carry both a sopping wetsuit and his laptop in the same bag. The result of the three-way collaboration is the Deep Blue Bag, an upcycled backpack that's practical for urban dwellers whether you surf or not:

    I thought the water bottle trick, and the material used to secure it, was particularly nifty.

    I was also interested to learn that sails, each of which obviously contain a huge amount of material, are so readily discarded that they can make up a viable upcycling source. In this video with Adam Savage reviewing the bag, Mafia Bags co-founder Marcos Mafia explains how that happens, as well as his production process and some of the bag's finer details not covered in the video above:

    The campaign has already been successfully funded on Kickstarter, but there's still 48 days left in the campaign if you'd like to pick one up. Buy-in starts at $175, and all of the proceeds will go towards funding Sustainable Surf's mission.



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    Are rich people running out of things to spend their money on?

    Tiffany & Co.'s "Every Objects" series provides a stark reminder that some people have a lot of money to burn. Consider that the company is selling, and that presumably there's a demand for, a $1,000 tin can:

    Sorry, that's a Sterling silver can with a blue stripe on it.

    Description & Details
    The Everyday Objects collection transforms utilitarian items into handcrafted works of art. A classic tin can is upgraded in sterling silver and shining vermeil.

    - Sterling silver and vermeil with Tiffany Blue® enamel accent
    - 4.5" high
    - Instantly recognizable, the signature Tiffany Blue® hue of this design's enamel accent has been as iconic as the brand itself since its founding in 1837

    Other objects in this collection that fill me with disgust:

    A $350 "Chinese Food Pillbox," also in Sterling silver, and described in the product listing as being "the embodiment of wit and whimsy."

    A $950 "Paper Plate," also in Sterling silver, but this one only described as being "infused with modern wit."

    This $1,500 18-karat gold "Paper Clip Bookmark," listed as "the perfect whimsical desk accessory."

    These objects are neither "witty" nor "whimsical." They're just expensive. And they exist only for the sake of existing.


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    "I like the ideals this country was founded on, and I think its world leadership was great for years, but I'm no longer comfortable with the direction it's moving in." This political sentiment, which could describe the thoughts of people on both sides, is increasingly how I feel--if you replace "this country" with "Apple."

    I see people are once again lining up outside of the Apple store in SoHo in the mornings, hoping to score an iPhone X. I won't be one of them, although I'm a longtime Apple user and former advocate who is invested in their ecosystem.

    1. Cost

    The idea of having a phone with a smaller body and a bigger screen sounded appealing to me, but I am not paying $1,000 for a smartphone that is going to be obsolete in two years.

    2. Notch

    I find the notorious notch at the top of the screen a poor trade-off. I see this as a case of the designers inflicting their will on the consumer for no appreciable benefit.

    3. Home Button Removal

    I'm not sold on the removal of the home button, for the same reason as #2 above.

    4. Privacy

    I don't like the idea of facial recognition being required to unlock the phone. I think this was added out of technological fetishism disguised as end user convenience, and is a particularly tone-deaf addition at a time when people are (or should be) more concerned with privacy than ever. (If you want to read about the negative effects on society that can be engendered by the abuse of facial recognition technology, check out this Economist article.)

    5. Material

    I don't like that the thing is primarily made out of glass. I am a klutz who has had to wrap my current iPhone in the most hideous, bulky protective case available, because I drop it all the time. What is the point of designing an aesthetically-appealing object if its very appearance must be hidden within a protective case?

    On that latter note, what would happen if you dropped an iPhone X without a case? Well, this:

    Imagine that: You spend $1,000 on a phone, drop it, and now it no longer recognizes your face and you can't unlock it.

    And yet, people are still waiting in line outside of the store.



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    Although dominos are a great and engaging way to teach patience to children, one problem is that they are entirely too safe. You can spice things up in your house by introducing the elements of open flame and pyrotechnics, as YouTuber Kaplamino has done:

    If you recognize the name Kaplamino, they're the same person that did the amazing "Magnets and Marbles" Rube Goldberg machine last year.



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    If you've ever seen a piston fit drawer or interior tray in action, you know it's like watching magic. A piston fit sees one part sinking into another on a cushion of air, which requires what seems like an impossible amount of precision to get right. This isn't the kind of precision that comes from using CNC technology, but rather, human judgment, good preparation and knowing how, when and where to apply finesse.

    Professional furniture builder David Barron, who has mastered the technique, gamely shares every last secret of how this is done in the videos below. I found them hugely informative.

    In Part 1, Barron shows you the preparation required to make the tray, which he then assembles prior to fitting:

    In Part 2, he demonstrates how you actually get the thing to fit so perfectly, using a variety of techniques to detect where the problems are and eradicating them:

    I was surprised to see Barron provided the information for free; this is the kind of thing you'd typically pay hundreds of dollars for to take a class on. Thanks David!



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    I'm not ashamed to admit that I ordered some for myself before writing this entry.

    If you're looking for high-quality made-in-the-U.S.A. hardware, Brusso Hardware, out of New Jersey, is a go-to. The company manufactures precision-machined hinges, pulls, catches, latches, knobs, feet, lid stays, hooks and more. Their quality is vastly better that the cheap stuff made overseas and is, thus, more expensive.

    So when I just heard they were having a whopping 40% off sale on stop hinges (thanks WoodTalk podcast), starting yesterday and ending on November 14th, I ordered two pairs. Their stop hinges open to 95 degrees, allowing you to install them in a box and keep the lid open without having to install supports or stays.

    They're also having a clearance sale on sundry items, primarily knobs.


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    In this video, I show you how I quickly sketch a car using a very simple color technique. Using sky tones for all of the upward facing surfaces and warm tones for all of the ground facing surfaces, I quickly and effectively show off the surface changes in these two sketches. 

    As always, if you have any questions or comments on the techniques shown, leave them in the comments below. What other techniques would you like to see?


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    Years ago, I was stunned to learn that NYC schoolteachers, facing budget cuts, were purchasing art supplies for students out of their own already meager salaries. I myself would never have become involved with industrial design if my own public school education didn't involve art classes.

    Upon learning of the lack of art supplies provided to students, I began donating the unused ends of my photography studio's seamless paper to nearby P.S. 130. These are large 9-foot-wide, 10-foot-long rolls of paper, in a variety of colors, that the students then cut into manageable sizes and use for their projects. It doesn't cost me anything extra to donate these rather than recycle them, yet every time I drop them off, the art teacher thanks me like I'm bringing her some priceless gift.

    If teachers are purchasing supplies for students because public schools cannot provide them, they at least ought be able to deduct those expenses from their taxes. But under the revamped tax plan that's currently in the works, they won't be able to. Here are some ways in which the current proposal would affect not only those teachers, but you, versus a corporation that might employ you:

    Surely, folks, we can do better than this. Corporations are an important part of our economy and, incentivized properly, a potential engine for growth. But if individuals struggle financially to purchase their products and services, where will we be?

    Lastly, if you are lucky enough to work in a creative field that produces an abundance of leftover materials--fabric scraps, paper, foamcore, wood cut-offs, et cetera--please consider gathering these materials up and donating them to your local public school's art department. Chances are you'll find a grateful teacher who's all too happy to accept them.



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    Yesterday the City of Las Vegas launched ARMA, an autonomous shuttle that provides free rides to passengers along a short route. While the shuttle's circuit is barely over a mile, the vehicle is interacting with regular traffic, which it was hoped would provide public confidence in the viability of the vehicle.

    However, the vehicle was involved in a collision within its very first hour of service. By all accounts this was a minor fender-bender, initiated by the human driver of another vehicle, but it does highlight a glaring flaw (or a potential malfunction) in the technology of the vehicle, which is produced by French company Navya.

    Apparently a semi-truck was backing up, did not see the shuttle, and "grazed" it, producing no injuries. Here is how a passenger interviewed by Channel 3 News Las Vegas described it:

    "The shuttle just stayed still and we were like, 'Oh my gosh, it's gonna hit us, it's gonna hit us!' And then…it hit us! And the shuttle didn't have the ability to move back, either. Like, the shuttle just stayed still."

    A City of Las Vegas representative issued the following statement:

    "The autonomous shuttle was testing today when it was grazed by a delivery truck downtown. The shuttle did what it was supposed to do, in that it's [sic] sensors registered the truck and the shuttle stopped to avoid the accident. Unfortunately, the delivery truck did not stop and grazed the front fender of the shuttle. Had the truck had the same sensing equipment that the shuttle has the accident would have been avoided."

    The key problem, as I see it, is the assertion that "the shuttle stopped to avoid the accident." Yet it didn't avoid the accident. Ideally it would have taken some type of evasive action, although admittedly we do not have the details; was it already boxed in? But failing that, it ought be able to do what a human driver would do if penned in while a vehicle is about to back into it, which is to start frantically leaning on the klaxon.

    In any case, the accident was minor enough that the shuttle will continue its trial. "Testing of the shuttle," says the city representative, "will continue during the 12-month pilot in the downtown Innovation District."



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    When the design of a product, service or system is willfully changed or something new is introduced, it is typically for one of several reasons:

    1. Because it's better for the consumer.

    Example: The original iPod or iPhone. These objects provided a vastly improved user experience over what had come before.

    2. Because it's better for the company.

    Example: The way that Whole Foods constantly changes their stores' layouts, which I hate. I like knowing exactly where the thing I want to buy is. But by constantly changing the layout, the store forces you to wander in hopes that you will encounter something new, rather than shopping on autopilot, and buy it.

    3. Because it's better for both the consumer and the company.

    Example: YouTube or Amazon recommendations, when they are working properly. If I am watching an informational or how-to video on YouTube, other videos on that same topic are listed to the side. Amazon is a bit more your-mileage-may-vary, but occasionally I find they will recommend books or items that are helpfully relevant to my prior purchases.

    4. Because the designers are imposing their will on the consumer.

    Example: Think of any number of recent architectural monstrosities that do not work well, but which express and inflict the designer's ego upon the end users. On a smaller scale, see my recent gripes on the iPhone X.

    Obviously there are more reasons than this, but I'm boiling it down to generalities. What's more irksome, though, is when the reason for the change is neither of the obvious four above but is completely incomprehensible, as it is with the following example.

    Apple is a frequent target for me, because I'm entrenched in their ecosystem and spend more time using their products than any other brand. I'm typing this to you using a MacBook Pro and the Thunderbolt Display that I spend most of my days staring at. Each night I fall asleep reading a book on my iPad Mini. And from morning to night, the only object I own that is always with me is my iPhone.

    My current gripe is with the recent changes to the Podcasts app, which I use constantly. Podcasts are a wonderful invention that have improved the quality of my life; I can now use the time occupied by boring, tedious tasks--cooking, cleaning, hanging laundry, sanding, my weekly sharpening of tools in the shop, even showering--to learn something new and hear people's stories in the background.

    Previously the app had a simple, welcome feature: When you reached the end of an episode, the next one began to play. I never realized how important this feature was until Apple inexplicably removed it from the app last month. Since then I've discovered that podcast episodes have a way of coming to an end whenever I'm in the middle of a task, and my hands are too wet, dirty or otherwise occupied to pick the phone up and futz with it.

    This last happened yesterday when it was raining, and I was out walking my dogs. I have two dogs and cannot carry an umbrella while walking them so I bundle up in rainproof gear. An episode ended and the phone went silent. We were still 20 minutes from home so I unzipped, fished out the phone; my hands were wet so the Touch ID wasn't working; I punched in my six-digit code and tried to dry my hands off enough to get my taps to register so I could cue up the next episode, my phone getting wet in the process.

    And I'm thinking, there is no good reason for them to make this change. When I got home I searched for some button in the app that would turn auto-play back on, but there was none. A web search showed me others found the change similarly problematic. 

    "I am also completely frustrated with the new podcast app," wrote a commenter on Apple's discussion board. "I spoke with Apple this morning and they said in order to fix the problem, several hundred people must complain on the apple.com/feedback website under the app Podcast. So everyone go write a complaint to fix the problem."

    I did so, and I hope that you will too if the change bugs you.

    Another commenter provided this helpful temporary fix and explanatory screenshot:

    "The only workaround I have managed to find for this removed feature is to create a 'station' for the individual podcast in question. I had a couple of stations already setup when I updated to iOS 11 where I'd add podcasts of a similar theme, e.g. "Soccer" or "technology" and realised that the station settings allow you to choose the playing orders (see screenshot). You can then choose to play oldest to newest and they continue onto the next episode. This is a workaround and not a real fix but hope it helps."

    I tried this with one of my podcasts. Despite configuring the settings as demonstrated, for some reason the station remained "empty" (no episodes), which I couldn't figure out. Then, five to ten minutes later, the episodes inexplicably populated the station correctly and it worked.

    Now I just have to do this with each of the dozens of podcasts I listen to, which is needlessly time-consuming. I can't imagine what benefit Apple imagines is conferred to the end-user by removing the auto-play feature entirely, rather than at least making it an option one could toggle on or off. It speaks of a puzzling cluelessness, which I would not have imagined from a company that, previously, proved so good at predicting how to make things easy to use.


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    Fuyuu is a set of wireless speakers inspired by the Japanese concept of shibusa—a subdued experience of intrinsically fine quality, with economy of line and form. Currently, wireless speakers all skew toward soft, geometric shapes. Fuyuu purports a different design language, bringing a form factor with more permanence and more of a presence.

    Equipped with 4 tweeters, 5 midrange woofers, and 4 subwoofers, Fuyuu delivers high quality sound in an evocative form factor. With Bamboo veneer panels and Kvadrat fabric, both the audible and tangible aesthetics of Fuyuu resonate with thoughtfulness and considered design.

    Leveraging a hybrid-API approach, Fuyuu syncs with existing music streaming apps, allowing users to carry over their music and taste. At the same time, a "Fuyuu-specific" profile is generated on these apps, allowing playlists to be tailored to the specific settings in which users listen to Fuyuu speakers.

    View the full project here

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    In the early 1950's my parents bought a modern, Danish style set of table and chairs that fit quite well in the dining area of the tenement apartment where I grew up until age 11. This is when Danish furniture was something new and exciting and Ikea did not exist. The furniture my parents actually bought was Danish style  American made by Paul McCobb. The table is long gone, given away to a cousin, and eventually discarded. But the chairs I have always liked and over the past twenty years, all but one of the set of six have migrated to my apartment.

    The newsworthy bit of all of this is that after 60 years the glue that holds the legs on is starting to fail and several legs have collapsed, requiring a repair. The legs are threaded and screwed into threaded holes in the chair bottom. Wooden pads build up the thickness around the leg sockets. The pads were simply glued on with four small nails to keep them steady while the glue dried. Wood movement over the years has caused the pads to crack and the glue, which was originally poorly and spottily applied, has given way on many chairs, causing the leg to fail. 

    If the leg comes completely off, what I do is clean off the glue, and reglue the pad and leg on. This seems to work. But on some legs the pad has begun to give way but isn't exactly off, and the leg cannot be just unscrewed. My solution, which is really just a patch, is to force glue into the joint, apply a little pressure and then hope it all sticks. The glue being stronger than the wood.

    Many years ago I learned this trick from Maurice Fraser to force the glue deep into the joint (which is critical). Ideally you use a piece of cellophane wrapper from a pack of cigarettes (preferably Will's Gold Flake). It's thin and rigid. Sadly I don't smoke so I didn't have any cellophane but I did have a lot of plastic wrap. This didn't work as well but it worked pretty well. You have to be careful as the plastic wrap bunches up as you slide it in and out of the joint. What you do is apply a lot of glue on the outside of the joint and then try to slide a single layer of plastic in and out of the joint pushing and spreading the glue into the joint. Then clamp or squeeze shut the joint and let the glue dry. It works pretty well. Not as well as being able to take apart the joint and cleaning and preparing fresh surfaces, but it's better than nothing. This is a handy trick to use on any glue starved joint where fully dissembling the item is impractical.

    I used yellow glue, another option would be Old Brown Hide Glue, which now that i think of it might be stronger, and of course Old Brown is reversible.

    ___________________

    This "Tools & Craft" section is provided courtesy of Joel Moskowitz, founder of Tools for Working Wood, the Brooklyn-based catalog retailer of everything from hand tools to Festool; check out their online shop here. Joel also founded Gramercy Tools, the award-winning boutique manufacturer of hand tools made the old-fashioned way: Built to work and built to last.


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    Flying across America provides a bird's eye view of how we humans have decided to cut the land up. In regions where we've completely mastered the topography, you'll see completely unnatural-looking, perfect grids like this, punctuated with perfect circles:

    So what the heck are those, and how/why are they created? Here's the 30-second answer:

    That's a snippet from this five-minute-plus video on why certain parts of America look very different from the air, depending on which colonial master first took control of which region. It's worth a watch if you've got the time.



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    If you were shown a sketch of a design like this, to be made from solid wood, how would you make it?

    Consider that the radii of the slats are concentric, so that they cannot be separately laminated from a single mold. Well, the Croatia-based designer/builder (the chap behind the Lignum YouTube channel) has clearly thought this through carefully. Watch his efficient build process, which includes a glue-up process that makes you go "Ah, of course you'd do it that way:"



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    I use a small ultrasonic jewelry cleaner to wash old machine parts, and it's amazing watching decades of grease just mist away into liquid clouds. But the size of the machine's tub limits what I can put in there.

    The developers of Sonic Soak came up with a better idea: Isolate the ultrasound-providing element, placing it in a wand form factor. 

    Then the object can be dropped into any vessel, like a bowl or even a kitchen sink, and turn the entire thing into an ultrasonic bath:

    It's pretty brilliant, which is why it's become a crowdfunding smash: At press time the Sonic Soak had racked up $514,076 in pledges on a measly $10,000 goal. Buy-in starts at $230, and the developers estimate they'll have these ready to ship in December.



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    Does your curiosity inspire you to imagine tomorrow’s solutions to today’s problems? Do you ever wonder how collaborative creativity can enrich innovation and make progress possible? Or wonder if design can drive competitive advantage for business, while also having positive impact on the world? These are just a few of the questions we ask at 3M Design every day.

    View the full design job here

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    Bounceybox was born more than two years ago with the aim of joining music, design and vintage aesthetics.

    The concept is a tribute to the underground culture of the 80s, when wonderful and huge boomboxes were hanging around down the street. Bounceybox adds two differential notes to the boombox—vintage design and wireless connectivity, aiming to form a union in perfect harmony between past and future.

    View the full project here

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