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Launched in 1995, Core77 serves a devoted global audience of design professionals, corporations, students, enthusiasts and fans.

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    Years ago I had this crazy idea: A sculptor is given a block of stone to work on in his studio. Somewhere on another continent, an identical block of stone is placed in some (probably rich) person's house. The sculptor starts shaping the stone on his/her own schedule, a few minutes here, a few hours there. The sculptor's motions are tracked and duplicated by robotic arms working on the second stone. So periodically, the rich patron gets to see the sculptor's work unfold at random times, and at the end is left with an identical sculpture.

    I was reminded of it by watching musician Nigel Stanford's "Automatica" music video, which incorporates Kuka Robotics arms:

    Despite the fact that the video ends exactly the way a robophobe like me thought it would, my question to you is: Let's say the robot arms could be programmed to precisely duplicate a track recorded by your favorite musician. Not just playing the same notes, but in the same style, the exact same expression of the notes. So here are my questions:

    1. Would you pay to see a live concert of your favorite musician, but with the lights out, so that no one could actually see said musician?

    2. Would you pay to see a live concert of the robot arms playing, while the actual musician was in a studio miles away having his/her movements duplicated?

    3. Assuming the robot arms could be programmed to duplicate performances based on audio recordings, would you pay to see a live concert of the robots playing, say, Prince? Or any deceased artist?

    Most of us consume most of our music in the absence of the actual artist. The live experience is sonically very different, and then there is the thrill of being in the same space as the actual artist creating the music in real time. I'm wondering how far people will be willing to deviate from the real experience in the future.

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    In 2013 a tornado ripped through the town of Moore, Oklahoma, leveling the Plaza Towers Elementary School. Seven children were killed in the destruction. Looking at both that incident and the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, where 20 children and six adults were slaughtered with Bushmaster's version of the AR-15, a Utah-based company called Shelter in Place was formed to design and install aftermarket safe rooms.

    Following the recent spate of mass shootings, Shelter in Place's products are being touted for their bullet resistance--"Each shelter is built with multi-layered, hardened ballistic steel that has been tested with every gun that has been used in a school shooting, and then some," the company writes--and we're seeing videos like these pop up:

    This one focuses a bit more on the natural disaster protection:

    The rooms are not cheap, coming in at a total of $400,000 for the six rooms installed at Healdton. That will place them out of the reach of schools with lower budgets.

    These shelters would have saved lives during the Moore tornado incident, as the kids there had no place to hide. They also would have saved lives at Sandy Hook, where the shooter was entering classroom after classroom and firing. But they would not have been as effective during the Parkland massacre, as the shooter pulled the fire alarm in order to draw students into the hallway; there are also ugly, debated reports from at least one student that a teacher knowingly locked students out of a classroom in order to keep himself safe.

    With the gun control "debate" effectively stalled, more solutions are going to be needed in order to protect children. It looks like it is going to be up to entrepreneurs, and not our political leaders, to devise them.

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    Kikkerland is the world's leading gift brand. With renowned designer collaborations and a strong in house design team, Kikkerland creates a wide range products that make life more enjoyable. We're looking for a talented product designer to join our team.

    View the full design job here

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    Print and design company MOO recently surveyed 1,300 of their US-based users on the following two questions:

    What is currently your go-to font?

    What font do you think will be the next big thing?

    This survey was pretty brief and only covers a small amount of people in the US, but it's still interesting to see the results (listed in order):




    Avant Garde

    Proxima Nova


    Garamond Pro

    Brandon Grotesque

    Gill Sans

    Sackers Gothic


    Next Big Thing:

    Basic Commercial


    Saturday Script

    Basis Grotesque

    Freight Sans






    We're interested to see how our readers would respond to this same survey. So, what are your go-to fonts? What fonts do you think will be the next big thing? Let us know in the comments.

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    Marvel Studios reached out to me with interest in my designs for the Black Panther film. They were searching for contemporary future-tech style furniture that would embody the theme of the "Vibranium Tech Lab Set" that they were still constructing and soon to film.

    View the full project here

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    For this year's Core77 Design Awards, we're conducting in-depth interviews with each of our jury captains to get in a glimpse into their creative minds and hear more about what they'll be looking for in this year's awards submissions.

    Last year was a grueling one for many, but imagine being an integral part of Hillary Clinton's campaign team last November. As Design Director of the 2016 Hillary for America campaign, this scenario was all too real for Jennifer Kinon. The 2018 Core77 Design Awards Visual Communication Jury Captain says what she learned from her experience working on the campaign has changed not only how she sees her responsibility as a leader, but also how graphic design can be effective beyond just spreading a message with excellent typography. In this recent interview, Kinon discusses these topics, the Core77 Design Awards and more.

    Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and the work you've been engaged with over the years?

    I'm co-founder of OCD, the Original Champions of Design. Bobby Martin and I have been running the agency together for eight years now. We are a branding agency that provides research, strategy, design and implementation. We're industry agnostic. And we focus on brands with lots to lose.

    So you work specifically on rebranding whole companies?

    Whole companies. Discrete products. Publications. People. Events. Nonprofits. Anything that needs a graphic system.

    And how do you go about choosing which ones you want to work with? I'm sure that you get a lot of proposals for different organizations you can work with.

    We love to hear from new industries. We'll do everything we can to win the business, if it's something we've never done before. We're just really dorky designers who enjoy research. We also prioritize businesses that have sympathetic values. Progressive values. And we like working at scale, businesses with a broad reach, so we're able to deliver solutions to the broadest range of people possible. That's what feels meaningful to us.

    [Running the Hillary for America design campaign in 2016] was arguably the busiest time of your life, but I'm just curious to hear about what you've been up to this year, and what you're particularly proud of having done in 2017.

    In 2017, we launched several projects in fast succession. First, our work with MTV VMAs went live. We collaborated with Thomas Berger and his in-house creative team to develop a sustainable mark for the VMAs. They had a longstanding practice of redesigning the logo every year and they wanted to stop doing that and pull the brand back to its MTV roots.

    OCD's graphic vision for the 2017 VMAs

    Next was an NBA project. We've been working with them since about 2011 which has amounted to a nearly six-year analysis of their brand architecture. In 2017, we brought a new typeface into the mix and that affected the mark itself. They say it is the first adjustment to the mark in 48 years. It set the brand up for a strategic visual consolidation.  They have so many properties in so many different countries. The consolidation allows the brand to deliver more of a firsthand NBA experience to people around the globe.

    After that, our work with Ad Age went live. It was a broad implementation challenge. We looked at the identity system, the magazine, the visual design of the website, the social media program and the email sequence. Everyone in the studio was working on Ad Age at one point or another, each in their area of specialty.

    Then Dartmouth launched just last week.

    It was a good year. A busy year. And a year of re-acclimation for me.

    Right. And you're a small team, right?

    We have eight people in New York City.

    Wow, amazing. So it seems like over the past two years, and we've talked about this before, things have pretty drastically changed for you, and I think you talked to me a little bit about how your philosophy and priorities have changed since you worked on Hillary for America. How would you say things have changed in terms of your practices and priorities as a graphic designer since then?

    Election Day was wrenching. I need more time to understand what happened and what design's role was in it all. But, as a small business owner, I have some clarity. We overhauled our employee agreement when I came back to OCD. We reviewed all of our policies and all of our operations to better align them with the policy learning I did at the campaign. At this moment in time, we can't rely on the government to deliver the services that people need, but as business owners, we can deliver the services ourselves.

    "I'm With Her", Hillary for America's most famous slogan, was imagined and designed by Kinon and her design team. 

    So, what does that mean for you and OCD?

    Specifically, we codified parental leave, we examined and expanded our vacation and holiday policy, and we expanded healthcare, among a few other tweaks to language including time off to vote.

    Right. It's important for designers to be cared for, and sometimes they can also be exploited for their creativity and so that's good that you're paying attention to those things.

    At the campaign, we supported some of the greatest minds in policymaking. Now I'm more deliberate about policy-related decisions and I will work to stay better informed going forward.

    Absolutely. So for the 2018 Core77 Design Award, we'll be getting lots of submissions from people where the type of visual communication or design will really run the gamut. 

    I'm a fan of Core77 and how platform agnostic you are, so I needed a stacked jury for this awards program. Osi Imeokparia will keep us in check on tech. Louise Fili is the authority on craft. And Min Lew knows business and strategy. They all have impeccable taste. We will develop our guiding principles together.

    And what are some new elements popping up, maybe from this year recently, within the field of graphic design that you're seeing popping up that you're excited about? Or maybe projects in particular as well?

    I'm excited about organizing. It's a field I'm just learning about that has a lot in common with design. The "Time's Up" movement is a good example. I remember seeing the "Time's Up" social graphics spread across my feed when it launched on January 1, then the pins appeared at the Golden Globes on January 7. So many powerful movements have launched in the last year-and-a-half, I'm obsessively tracking as many as I can, this one was uniquely unified in its visual language.

    I feel like graphic designers, and especially after what's happened in 2017, politically and whatnot, people feel a new type of responsibility. There's also the technological aspect of it as well. There's just a lot of different ways to look at it, I think.

    On one hand, people feel a new level of responsibility, but on the other hand there's an opportunism that muddies the waters. It's a question of what are you accomplishing versus how are you just adding to the din, maybe even drowning out more important voices. It's easy to be loud when a lot of people are yelling, the question is how are you actually driving a specific outcome?

    How can graphic design in these cases go beyond just the message?

    Graphic design can do the hard and unglamorous work of turning the message into practice, into policy, into action. During the last week of the campaign, my team left headquarters to work in field offices. They were there to be helpful hands, but found design needs everywhere. Something as small as shifting the input fields on a form makes data entry more efficient and canvassing more effective.

    I'm curious as to how you find inspiration for your own work, and if you have any advice for others on how to stay inspired within visual communication?

    Hire for it. Or job search for it. Find people who are different from you and work with them every day. Make room for their voices to be heard and to show up in the work that you do.

    And do you guys, I'm just curious, do you guys have lots of conversations in the studio, and then that just affects the direction of different projects? How does it go in your studio, from inspiration to actualization?

    We could just sit and click all day, so we schedule time to talk and we have a predictable, not particularly revolutionary, process. It's just four steps: research, strategy, design, implementation. We are wholly dedicated to seeing it through with every project. The learning is important to the designing. It kills assumptions and achieves the most meaningful results.

    Right. No brainer.

    I'm a big fan of systems. That's where no-brainers come from.

    Okay, so the last question I really have is, if you were to give any advice to designers who are hoping to submit to the visual communication category, what would you give to them in order ... What's a way for them to stand out, and what should be embedded in their work that you think will make it stand out?

    Clarity of purpose is what graphic design is all about, and what branding is all about, and what communication is all about. What are you saying ? What do you want me to do? Why does this look like this? If an entry comes in with a clear purpose, it will be smart and it will be exciting. That allows for any kind of craft, any kind of style, any kind of application, any kind of implementation to blow the doors off.

    Right. And that's the fun part about this category, too. It probably should be conveyed within a few seconds, the value of it.

    Mm-hmm. Purpose and intent.


    The Core77 Design Awards Visual Communication Jury

    2018 Visual Communication Jury Captain Jennifer Kinon will be joined by these designers for the awards selection process:

    Osi Imeokparia, Director of Product, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
    Min Lew, Partner, Base Design
    Louise Fili, Director, Louise Fili Ltd.
    Thinking of submitting to the Visual Communication category in the 2018 Core77 Design Awards? Submit today—Regular Deadline ends March 8th!

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    In the city you've seen these convenient two-headed pieces of street furniture sticking out of buildings or the sidewalk, and perhaps even sat on them from time to time:

    So what exactly are they? It depends, at least in New York City, on what color they're painted. You'll see them in red, yellow or green here, they only exist in front of buildings that are taller than 75 feet/six stories, and all of them feature Y-shaped "Siamese" connections.

    The red one connects to the building's standpipe system. A standpipe is that red vertical pipe that you'll often see left exposed in the stairwell of a building, and it supplies water to hose connections on each floor.

    When firefighters arrive on scene, they'll plug a hose from the pumper truck into the standpipe connection. They can either pump water directly from the truck's 500-gallon tank, or connect a second hose from the truck to a hydrant; either way it goes through the pumper truck so that firefighters can modulate the pressure with the truck's on-board controls.

    The green one connects to the building's sprinkler system.

    And finally, the yellow ones are for buildings that have the standpipe and sprinkler systems connected.

    All of the connections are Siamese, i.e. doubled, in case more water/pressure is required. Having two connections also serves as insurance; if the threads are damaged on one connection, the hose can be attached to the other.

    So now you know.

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    Core77's sister-site Coroflot is a go-to destination for design employment, hosting thousands of designers' portfolios, hundreds of design jobs and a giant guide to design salaries. Now all these pieces are getting tied closer together, connected via a brand new messaging platform. Coroflot's promise of connecting designers with opportunities is further realized with the amazing features of the communication tool. 

    For creative talent, whether you're chatting, making co-working plans, arranging a local designer meetup, or looking to stay connected with colleagues and friends, the new Coroflot messenger enhances the way you network.

    For companies the tool is just as convenient and free to use. Wether you are seeking to contact a large group of candidates, or are searching for specific freelance assistance the Coroflot Messenger makes outreach easy and trackable. Join or sign-in today and start connecting with design.

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    Alpine a licensed and state-compliant producer of premium cannabis concentrates, and one of the fastest growing and most respected cannabis brands in the nation. Beautiful and radical design is at the heart of the brand, and we're looking for an experienced designer who can help us take it to the next level.

    View the full design job here

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    Of all the Oscar winners, we're naturally most interested in the one with the background in design. Canadian production designer Paul Austerberry, who holds a degree in architecture from Carleton University, took home Best Production Design for his work on Guillermo del Toro's "The Shape of Water." Austerberry was joined on stage to accept the trophy with his collaborators, set decorators Jeffrey A. Melvin and Shane Vieau.

    Del Toro's vision called for a dilapidated, formerly grand apartment over an old movie theater to be shared by protagonist Elisa and floormate Giles. With the story set in 1962, decades past the movie theater's heyday, the apartment above has been split into two spaces, with the dividing line bisecting the large arched window. Del Toro envisioned the space in "pre-pre-production" and Tweeted these sketches of it done by illustrator Guy Davis.

    Austerberry was tasked with realizing the space. Here we see Elisa's half of the floor, which has an elaborate backstory left unmentioned in the film but which echoes the theme of water: The apartment was, at one point, damaged by fire. You can see the effect the water used to put it out has left on the wall at right.

    Del Toro and Austerberry also reasoned that the fire damaged the flooring, which was stripped away to reveal the subflooring beneath. The less-precise requirements of subflooring mean that gaps are permissible between the planks, which is why you see light from the movie theater below filtering through the cracks.

    Tasked by del Toro with creating a blue wall for Elisa's apartment, Austerberry came up with an interesting idea: It would have an aquatic-themed mural on it…

    …the famous "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" woodblock print done by Japanese artist Hokusai in the 19th Century.

    To avoid hitting viewers over the head with it, the painting was gradually distressed…

    …until it became practically invisible. "[The mural] faded back into the wall," Austerberry told the L.A. Times. "You have to look for it to find it."

    Guy Davis also did the concept sketches for the lab in which the film's creature is contained.

    Here's some snippets, frustratingly truncated, from Insight Editions' "Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water: Creating a Fairy Tale for Troubled Times" book, which describes what Austerberry was going for as he realized the space.

    Here's a quick behind-the-scenes look at some of the sets:

    For those of you interested in how one becomes a production designer, here's Austerberry talking about his early architecture career, why he shifted into film work and what the challenges are:

    In this longer interview with BAFTA, Austerberry describes in greater detail what a production designer does:

    If you readers are interested in learning more about production design, we have an opportunity to interview a longtime set designer/digital set designer who works in Hollywood. It's not traditional ID, but could be interesting--should we do it?

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    Naia™ yarns have a soft, silky feel that lends itself to use in clothes that come into contact with the skin. (Photo courtesy of Eastman Chemical Co.)

    "Everything old is new again," or so goes the idiom. The folks at Eastman Chemical Co. apparently agree, as they have dipped back into the firm's 80-year-old portfolio of cellulose ester materials technology to come up with a "new" fiber that's now finding use in a range of intimate apparel and other trendy clothing.

    The Kingsport, Tenn.-based specialty chemicals company has been supplying filament yarns to the textile industry since the 1930s, but officially launched its newly reformulated Naia™-brand cellulosic yarn in January 2017.

    Made from wood pulp derived exclusively from sustainably managed and certified forests, Eastman Naia™ cellulosic yarn is positioned to benefit from consumers' increased environmental concerns and interest in renewable sourcing. But the yarn must deliver on performance and desirable properties, or no amount of enviro-speak will make the resulting fabrics a commercial success.

    Made from cellulose esters of renewable wood pulp, Naia™ yarn can be knitted or woven into various types of fabrics. Haeser calls this "Crafted Stripes." (Photo courtesy of Ellen Haeser)

    To further its efforts, the firm has engaged with a couple of the world's leading fabric designers and trend-spotters who have lent expertise and credibility to the roll-out of Naia™ -brand fabrics. The company has partnered with both Jos Berry, Paris-based founder and CEO of Concepts Paris and the creative force behind the intimate-apparel fair Interfilière General Forum, and Dutch designer Ellen Haeser, founder of Studio Haeser.

    Eastman, for its part, calls Naia™ "a new reflection of a long-standing fiber that enables luxurious, comfortable and easy-to-care-for fabrics and garments."

    Ellen Haeser

    Haeser concurs. In a telephone interview, she describes Naia™ -based fabrics as feeling "very, very soft, and empathetic and cozy. You have all kinds of ways to knit and weave it. But, if it's done right, you can really come to a very silky, smooth, soft, gentle [feel]. It's also lightweight," she said. A further, big plus for Naia™ , she noted, is that it is washable.

    Eastman closely surveyed the fabrics sector a couple years ago and set about looking for gaps in the market they could exploit. "We set up testing protocols and created fabrics from our materials," explained Glenda Eilo, Eastman's director of strategic marketing and innovation, "so we could compare and contrast with other, competitive materials in the market space. What we found is that our materials were quite advantaged over the traditional materials …"

    She said that, as a result, Eastman understands its own material—as well as market needs—much better, as this allows the firm to verify performance claims for fabrics containing its yarns.

    "We are committed to working both with mills to manufacture fabrics, and also pulling through the brands to have our materials in their new collections," she said, calling it a push-pull market activation strategy.

    To get lighter-weight, breathable fabrics, you need higher-filament-count, lower-denier yarn, Eilo noted. So, in the past year Eastman has introduced and commercialized four new yarns that it says have enabled an even broader diversity of fabrics to be manufactured.

    Naia™ can be knit or woven and, to tailor specific performance properties, can be blended with polyester, viscose, nylon, with elastane or Spandex to get a stretchy fabric. "You can dye our materials to get really deep, rich fabrics," Eilo said, "or you can get really light fabrics—both in color and composition. And then you also can print it digitally, or rotary or via sublimation printing."

    This fabric pattern by Ellen Haeser, dubbed "Wonder Woman," demonstrates the intricate patterns and colors possible with Naia™. (Photo courtesy of Ellen Haeser)

    Heather Quigley, a Ph.D. chemical engineer who is an advanced scientist in Eastman's Fibers Technology Division, said the company tested Naia™ extensively for properties related to luxury, comfort, and ease of care. This encompassed performance factors in such areas as liquid moisture management, moving air dry time, breathability, and cool to touch.

    The biggest surprise, Quigley said, was that "We thought we would have a good dry rate, but we didn't realize it would be so much faster than the other fibers." Naia™ also exhibited better-than-expected soil release properties compared to other fibers, she said.

    "In 2018 in the intimate apparel market," Eilo predicted, "prints are going to be very big. So, at Interfilière Paris last July, we worked with Ellen Haeser to develop 14 prints, in two themes (garden theme and nomadic theme), for fall/winter 2018 intimate apparel. We used multiple kinds of printing." The garments that Eastman had constructed out of those Naia™ fabrics showed the yarn's versatility, she said.

    Naia™ 's soft, silky properties make it ideal for intimate wear.

    Another major trend in intimate apparel, according to Eilo, is toward so-called "athleisure" clothing ­– with casualwear/nightwear/loungewear moving into streetwear.

    Again, Haeser agreed, noting how consumers define their own needs and preferences. For years, Haeser said, there was much interest in such apparel as push-up bras, which Victoria's Secret and other such retailers exploited. "But now," she said, "today's women are very busy, and they want an outfit that is from desk to dinner"—able to be easily converted from workwear to eveningwear. This blurring of styles is creating the need for diverse fabrics, as well as different tops, shapes, colors, etc., that blend better with their outerwear.

    Haeser calls this print simply "Embroidered Flower." (Photo courtesy of Ellen Haeser)

    Noting that big-brand fashion retailers often are slow to react to such trends, Haeser credited the sports-apparel giant Nike with helping to drive this change. Nike in 2015 opened a new style of showroom and fitness studio in New York City's SoHo district, in a discreet location that was formerly a metalworking shop. Called 45 Grand (for its street address), the venue "looks like a cool bar, but it's an exercise facility and store," Haeser said—"a totally different environment."

    "With Naia™ ," said Eilo, "we started with intimate apparel, but we'll be moving into men's and women's casual and business wear."

    Eastman, meanwhile, in 2017 began commercial-scale production of Naia™ -brand cellulose yarn at its Kingsport headquarters, and is selling it to fabric mills that knit or weave it. The firm has at least 10 varieties and grades of the product available, but those materials differ in how they're manufactured, have different entanglements, or denier-filament counts, etc., Eilo explained.

    The partnership between the Rotterdam-based Haeser and Eastman continues, with the designer creating more prints for her client to showcase at the 2018 Interfilière Paris show in mid-January. Eastman and its partners continue to work on improving aspects of Naia™ , including its color fastness, Haeser noted. But she says that when she first encountered fabrics made from the yarn, "it looked almost silky, and it feels very soft. I immediately felt the potential."

    "We bring very different properties to the table that you can't get with existing materials," Eilo claims. "With existing materials, you typically can get two of the three main benefits—luxury, ease of care, and comfort. Naia™ can deliver on all three of those value buckets without having to make a trade-off."


    Learn more about Naia™ and the ways that #MaterialsMatter at innovationlab.eastman.com.

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    Star Darts is a soft-tip Shuriken (aka Ninja Star) for having fun practicing your accuracy on electronic dartboards.

    View the full project here

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    I try to be a conscientious consumer, but one single-use item that I go through a lot of is paper towels. I find them indispensable for cleaning up my kitchen, shop and photography studio, I order them in bulk from Staples, and it depresses me how many of them I throw away.

    Is there an alternative? I'm wondering if these cleanable, re-usable paper towels made from bamboo would cut it:

    Recognize the high-energy pitch man? That's the inventor, Noam Krasniansky, who appeared on "Shark Tank" with wife, Irene, who prompted him to invent them:

    A couple of considerations not mentioned in the videos:

    The UX

    These Bambooee sheets come on a roll--which is only convenient the first time you use them. After you tear them off and wash them, you've now got loose sheets. You'd need some designated place to stack these, given that each sheet can be re-washed, according to the company, 100 times.

    These are machine-washable and need to be line-dried. It's a bit more work, but I think I'd be willing to put it in.

    The Environment

    The sheets are "rayon made from an organic bamboo source." While the bamboo it's made from is organically grown in China, the company admits that the sheets are not biodegradable. They are, they say, currently working on a compostable version that "should be available soon."

    So the question is, does the energy/water spent in washing them and the fact that they're not biodegradable offset the benefit of not throwing them out as often as paper towels? The answer is not clear and would require some calculations. Further complication the answer is the fact that the company plants trees, reportedly at a rate of one per roll sold.


    They're selling a 20-sheet roll plus eight Swiffer-compatible sheets for $16. I think I might roll the dice on these out of sheer curiosity.

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    In the last post we looked at the accidental street furniture that Siamese connections make. Buildings that have them are required to provide signage labeling them. These signs are usually simple and workmanlike.

    But the designer of this ground-floor business somehow convinced the client to go for more, and spend on individual letters that would be adhered to the surface of the building, adding that little bit of visual punch.

    It probably looked fantastic in the rendering. Then you get up close…

    …and see the installer did a shit job. I'd argue the exposed adhesive makes this look worse than the standard signs.

    Also, look at how dirty the white lettering has become. Did the designer think someone would come out and wipe these off each day, really going the extra mile to get into those angles?

    Who would you say is to blame here? The designer, who I'm guessing had no idea how these letters would actually be attached, or the installer, who either takes no pride in their work or did not receive the proper training?

    I definitely blame the designer for spec'ing out white letters that would perfectly catch and trap grime and dust. As for the installation, I suppose there is a third alternative, which is that the designer recommended it be installed by a competent subcontractor, but that the client figured they could save a few bucks by having a handyman friend tackle the job.

    In any case, this is a prime example of someone envisioning something cool, without considering the real-world factors that would get it all the way there.

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    I generally keep my phone within a 15ft radius of my body at all times, and I don't think I'm the only one. When you think about it, though, smartphone mounts haven't exactly been updated to consider the wide variety of tasks we now rely on our phones for. The most basic example: When we have a daily Skype meeting here in the office, people using their phones create makeshift props so we can see eye-to-eye instead of eye-to-nostril. Maybe that's just the designer in all of us coming out, but it would be so much easier to have a built-in stand already attached to our phones. A quick fix would be buying one of those flexible phone mounts, but they're awkward to carry, and the clip never fits the one surface you need it to. 

    HaloEffect is a product ecosystem that may be the answer to these particular frustrations. The team behind HaloEffect realized there was no single product structure able to accommodate mounting phones in the places we use them most—in the car, during exercise and at the office. They decided to redesign the idea most have of phone mounts, which is typically purchasing a separate mount for each activity. With HaloEffect, one clever phone attachment has the ability to directly attach the the rest of the mounts in the system, creating a more seamless experience.

    HaloEffect from TM on Vimeo.
    Play + Perform
    Play + Perform
    Play + Perform

    The Play + Perform mount clips directly onto your phone and allows you to attach your phone to the rest of the mounts in the system. Flipping the handle out gives you a few other options as well, including a table-top stand and a more chill version of selfie stick (it frees up your thumb when using the front-facing camera). The space between the Play + Perform mount can hold things like metro cards, photo IDs and credit cards. If the Play + Perform mount had no other purpose than to attach to other mounts, I'd lose interest. However, since it doubles as a stand and card holder, I could see this being a useful tool on its own.

    Drive + Direct

    The same handle/stand that lets you take better selfies acts as the connecting piece to the rest of the mounts. For in-vehicle use, the Drive + Direct mount allows you to easily have hands-free conversations. Since the Play + Perform mount is already attached to your phone, the time it takes to fumble around making sure your phone is snapped in properly is eliminated. To use it, simply pull out the Play + Perform mount's handle and pop it into the Drive + Direct mount on your car's vent. 

    Run + Ride

    The Run + Ride mount is for people whose arms and anxiety levels don't mesh well with other arm mounts on the market. This one offers the option to swivel your phone for different views (great to check Google Maps mid-run), and instead of sliding your phone into one of those risky clear sleeves, you snap it into place with the Play + Perform Mount and push a button to remove it when you're done. 

    Finally, the Share + Stream mount allows you to stick your phone onto almost any vertical surface, be it the wall you stare at during work all day or in your bathroom to watch TV when you, um, you know. All it takes is a Command Strip and some creativity.

    Below is a list of phones HaloEffect can work with, and it's pretty long:

    And a quick look at the kit's unboxing:

    Overall, this is probably the best stab at streamlining the hands-free lifestyle I've seen yet. As long as the arm band stays secure during my clumsy runs, I'm in.

    HaloEffect is now available on Indiegogo at an Early Bird price of $39.

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    Smartphone manufacturer Vivo has unveiled the Apex, a functioning concept smartphone that introduces some new features to the category. Check out the demo video first, then we'll get into it:

    The Bezel

    Smartphone manufacturers all seem to be racing towards a bezel-less screen. (Confused about the difference between bevels and bezels? Read this.) To me this confers no useful function and is purely aesthetic. I'd not pay more for a phone with no bezel, but apparently the tech fanboy market considers this a desirable feature.

    Also consider that by making the phone's face all screen, they've created an object without any orienting cues for the user. I.e. when the screen is off and you pick it up, you have no way of knowing which way is up, unless you feel for the buttons on the side. In my opinion this is a major UX flaw.

    The Pop-Up vs. Fixed Camera

    I think the pop-up camera is a very neat idea that handily addresses privacy concerns. While the skeptical part of me fears that moving parts are just another thing that can break, I can't deny that there'd be zero fear your camera was on if the thing is completely retracted.

    The feature only applies to the user-facing camera, of course. The rear camera is conventionally fixed.

    The On-Screen Fingerprint Recognition

    I like this feature a lot better than having to scan your face. And I think Vivo's enlargement of the fingerprint-reading area is a great UX improvement.

    The Dual Fingerprint Recognition

    I'm not so impressed by the supposed extra security of requiring both of your thumbprints to unlock the phone; if someone can force you to put one thumb on the screen, they can force you to put both thumbs on it.

    However, this does raise the intriguing possibility of requiring two different people's thumbs to unlock certain aspects of the phone, like military weapons that require two sets of keys. I myself have no need of this feature, but I'm sure a married couple might think of a useful application.

    The Glass Back

    I'm disappointed that Vivo went with the glass back. I'll never understand why smartphone manufacturers persist in building inherently slippery, slim objects out of a material that can shatter. If the entire indoor and outdoor world were carpeted this would make more sense to me.

    Also take a look at those fingerprints; this thing is like a forensic analyst's dream come true. Banks that are prone to being robbed should make their countertops out of smartphones.

    The Headphone Jack

    I never thought I'd be thankful for the inclusion of a legacy feature, but I'm glad they've included both the standard headphone jack and the USB-C. A constant point of annoyance with my iPhone is the dongle adapter required to use it with conventional headphones.


    As mentioned in the video it doesn't appear the company will be producing this exact phone, but is using it to garner feedback. Speaking of which, what are your thoughts on the design features? And if you're one of those no-bezel people, can you explain why it's so desirable?

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    We are expanding our Toy Design team at TOMY International and are seeking an exceptional designer to work at our office in Oak Brook, IL. This is a role for a new to mid-level designer that is inspired by making the best toys in the world. You will

    View the full design job here

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    In anticipation of the era when flexible display technology becomes viable, the UK-based digital art/design collective known as Universal Everything has envisioned a series of different display types. They've got one supercut that shows all 27 concepts which I'll place down at the bottom; I found the majority of them to be more on the art side than the design side.

    While the fanciful, artsy concepts are important for sparking people's imaginations, I wanted to isolate the ones that I thought seemed most practical, or would perhaps be produced before the others, first.

    Prototype 11 (Ring)

    I suppose having a ring that told you the outside temperature would be helpful, but I'd also appreciate using this for short-term reminders: To take something out of the oven, unload the laundry, mail that letter, et cetera. As a naturally forgetful person, I can't tell you how many times I've gone out to run an errand, while forgetting to bring something crucial to a nearby second errand. In a perfect world, as I approached my front door to leave for the supermarket, the ring would blink and read "MAIL RENT," reminding me to grab the envelope before I left.

    Prototype 9 (Holograph?)

    It's unclear if this is meant to be holographic or actually shape-shifting, as one of their other concepts is. While I have no need to see my friends' disembodied faces, this type of display would be tremendously useful if interacting with, say, McMaster-Carr's website: Imagine trying to find a specific type of fastener, not knowing what it's called, and being able to flip through 3D representations of them to find precisely what you need.

    Prototype 8 (Bicycle)

    Screens of the Future - Prototype 8 from Universal Everything on Vimeo.

    Bicycle wheel LED displays already exist, but extending the display throughout the entire bicycle couldn't hurt for those biking at night who want to ensure that cars can see them.

    I'd also love to see this attached to some kind of anti-theft system, so that the next time some jerk tries to boost your seat the entire bike starts flashing.

    Prototype 6 (Flatware)

    Screens of the Future - Prototype 6 from Universal Everything on Vimeo.

    Perhaps this plate could be programmed to warn if the food touching it contained some type of allergen, E. coli or parasites. Alternatively, fitness nuts might like to know how much protein/carbs/etc. a particular meal contained.

    Prototype 2 (Machine Housing)

    This is a real stretch, but seeing this one made me think of a clothes dryer, and how it might turn red if, say, something inside was getting scorched. Then I started thinking of a jet turbine, or any type of enclosed machinery that undergoes routine maintenance, and how it would be helpful for the housing to display information relevant to its internal performance.

    Prototype 4 (Shape-Shifting)

    This concept appears to actually shape-shift and its utility seems obvious. The way it flips itself over to announce a message is nifty, if a bit unnerving.

    The Supercut of All 27 Concepts

    Can you think of additional applications for any of these?

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    Bet you didn't know this: Firefighters in the U.S. are trained to approach certain types of burning cars from a 45-degree angle, rather than head-on or straight from the rear, because non-crushable-type bumpers--which are designed to absorb shock and thus are effectively pressurized--can turn into projectiles as they heat up. Here's a crazy story from firefighter Greg Jakubowski in Fire Rescue Magazine:

    "In 1995, my department responded to a fire in a barn that was used to store several classic cars, and by the time we arrived, the 30 x 70 building was well involved. While the engine company was positioned at an adjoining pool to draft, the gas strut bumper on a 1987 Porsche 944, which was stored in the barn, exploded without warning.
    "The strut rocketed through the weakened wall of the barn, traveled across the pool and struck a ground ladder on the side of the engine that was staged about 75 feet away. The rungs on the ladder were dented from the force of the impact.
    "At least one firefighter had been standing in the immediate area of the impact site, but fortunately, he moved just before the strut exploded."

    Firefighters receive special training in vehicle fire protocols, because something as sophisticated as an automobile burns very differently than a mattress being slept on by a careless smoker. Fuel tanks, rubber tires, and increasingly more hotter-burning plastic components all present unique hazards. Not to mention you've got no idea what's in the trunk; was the driver hauling fertilizer, propane tanks, ammunition?

    "Remember to open the trunk of the vehicle at some point to check for extension and possible dangerous cargo," reads another FRM article. "You'd be surprised how many dead people are found in abandoned cars."

    Also, as Jakubowski writes, "The hazards [presented by vehicle fires] get more and more exotic with each new model year."

    Electric cars present a particular problem. Although they don't have those pesky tanks filled with gasoline, they do sport high-voltage lithium-ion batteries that can, even after being extinguished, continue to re-ignite. (Remember that hoverboard that would not stop exploding?)

    Thus Tesla actually designed two "first responder cut loops" into their cars--one in the front trunk, one in the back--and each year releases Emergency Response Guides for first responders instructing them on how to fight a Tesla fire.

    Cutting either of the loops "shuts down the high voltage system outside of the high voltage battery and disables the SRS and airbag components," reducing the risk of explosion.

    They also have to show firefighters where not to cut during rescue/firefighting efforts.

    Additionally, information is included in Tesla's guide warning of the toxic vapors released by a burning battery. A woman crashed her Tesla in Austria and managed to escape unharmed, and the resultant fire was captured on video.

    As the firefighting unit--which thankfully had the training--reported (translated by Jalopnik):

    The fire fighting - which could only be carried out under severe respiratory protection - was difficult because the vehicle was repeatedly on fire. It was only after cutting the power supply from the high-performance batteries that it was possible to finally fight the fire. Since lithium batteries are used, the manufacturer recommends that the vehicle be parked under "quarantine" for 48 hours, so that no new fire can break out.

    At the end of that video, what you're seeing is the firefighters using a powered saw to cut their way towards the rear shut-off loop.

    I should point out that Teslas are statistically less likely to catch on fire than other cars. It's just that if yours catches on fire, yeah, maybe you call the fire department rather than going at it with an extinguisher.

    In any case, I already had the utmost respect for firefighters; now that I know they have to bone up on new car technologies too, my estimation only grows.

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    Most senior designers I know insist that doing preliminary sketches on paper is far faster, and allows for far more creativity than using even the most sophisticated CAD software. The reason given is that even a good CAD program is still an additional layer between you and the manifestation of an idea.

    Even if you know how to draw, graph paper makes it easy to keep things in proportion. Isometric or 3D graph paper helps with proportion at the same time it helps you draw in 3D. To that end we are posting for free download some isometric graph paper. Feel free to download and print as many copies of our isometric paper as you want for your personal use. We have both portrait and landscape.

    In this drawing Tim did of a table he made, you can see how the sketch progressed from a few rough lines to a distinct object in 3D. Hidden lines were removed and shading and lines added to suggest wood grain, surface texture, and the visible parts of the joinery. You can't tell from the sketch but in the final table the centerpiece is a metal bowl, hammered, and installed flush to the table top. What you can tell from the sketch is the idea of a bowl-like recess developing as an idea - which is the whole point of sketching things out.


    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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