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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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    When decorating an interior, you have an endless amount of possibilities. As a result your environment is unique to you; a reflection of your personality and style. For the TV to truly to become a lifestyle product, we must first create choice. With this choice you can tailor your product to your lifestyle. Driven by this goal, we have created a modular design consisting of three simple parts; enabling the buyer freedom to configure their TV stand in a way which reflects their personality.

    View the full content here

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    In the last entry we looked at the Talon gesture control ring, whose public reception will, we feel, be hamstrung by poor presentation. In contrast we think another smart ring we saw at the World's Fair Nano in San Francisco, called the Motiv Ring, is going to do well for both the value it offers to end users and the clear way the company presents its product; the company's approach ought be studied by any designer hoping to debut a new product on the market.

    What is it?

    The titanium Motiv Ring is a fitness, heart rate and sleep tracker ideal for those who'd like to run/swim/spin/do yoga/work out without having to bring their phone along on an armband or wear a smartwatch. The Motiv contains both sensors and two days' worth of memory, allowing you to leave your device in the locker while you get your sweat on; once the Motiv is back in proximity with your phone, it automatically syncs the data it's stored via Bluetooth. It's also meant to be worn overnight as a sleep tracker.

    What does it do?

    Motiv's development team has also done a far better job than Talon's in presenting what the product does and how, precisely, it would fit into your life. In fact, this might be one of the best presentations of a new product we've ever seen. First off, the teaser video, so that potential customers can quickly decide whether they're even interested in the first place:

    How do I actually interact with it?

    The ring is presented in context along with some snippets of its attendant apps. If the viewer is interested enough to learn more, a better look at the app is presented in short, easy-to-digest snippets. This demonstrates the Activity Detail feature:

    Activity Detail from Motiv on Vimeo.

    That shows you precisely what data is captured and presented to you, and how you'd interact with it. The following vid shows the Sleep Detail feature:

    Sleep Detail from Motiv on Vimeo.

    How does it work?

    Here's an explanation of how the company tracks active minutes, as opposed to "empty steps:"

    Sizing

    Okay, so up to this point, everything looks fine and dandy; but how would you actually get started? First off it's a ring, and all of us have differently-sized fingers, so how does that work?

    The first thing the company does is send customers a sizing kit and have you try the following:

    Set-Up

    Once your appropriately-sized ring has been delivered, this is how you set the thing up--and note the very clever design of the charger:

    I say the design of the charger is clever because being gravity-based, there's no doubt as to whether your ring has formed a good connection. If the magnets were not engaged, the ring would fall off. Smart.

    The Design Approach

    That the company has taken all of these steps to present their information is a testament both to their thoroughness, and the fact that they "get it" when it comes to explaining a new and unfamiliar product. Unsurprisingly the design of the ring itself started with a user-focused approach, as explained here by Motiv co-founder Curt von Badinski; he points out that he started with the UX and forced the technology to fit it, rather than the other way around:

    The Customer Service

    And, if this video is any indication, the company's customer service appears to go above and beyond:

    Thank You Motiv! from Motiv on Vimeo.

    The Takeaway

    Motiv's approach really should serve as a lesson to designers seeking to launch a new product. It's not enough to just have a good idea and overcome the physical challenges of getting it manufactured; you need a team of people working together to think through every aspect of the user experience, from mulling over whether they want to buy it or not, to how they'll first engage with it, then how they'll interact with it on a daily basis. My hat's off to the guys and gals who made this product happen.


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    Amidst all the techy-tech at the World's Fair Nano in San Francisco was an unassuming display of an anachronistic, but popular, series of objects: Mechanical keyboards. At Kono Mechanical Keyboards' table two self-professed keyboard geeks, one of them Reddit Senior Designer Michael Farrell and the other Kono CEO Andrew Lekashman were, well, geeking out over the pressure, tactility, clicks and materials choices of a variety of keys.

    I followed their chat as best I could but it was all g(r)eek to me. However Kono's design branch, Input Club, has a website with helpful descriptions of the different key types they were raving about:

    Tactile Clicky Keyboard Switch

    Options: Light, Medium or Heavy Actuation Force

    The tactile clicky switch often referred to as the "blue" switch due to the color of the slider makes a click sound as the switch is pressed. Generally this switch has a pronounced tactile bump right before it clicks. Blue Switches have a two-part slider mechanism that produces the loud click.

    Tactile Keyboard Switch

    Options: Light, Medium or Heavy Actuation Force

    Legend has it that the Tactile Quiet or Brown Mechanical switch was developed as a quieter alternative to the Tactile Clicky Blue switch that could be used in corporate workspaces. The primary feature of the Tactile Quiet switch is its tactile bump, which provides this wonderful feeling when you have successfully pressed down a key. There is still a slight noise that is produced, so it is not entirely without audible feedback, but this switch is more about the feeling at your fingertips than anything else.

    Linear Keyboard Switch

    Options: Light, Medium or Heavy Actuation Force

    The linear keyboard switch has been around for a long time. It has no tactile or audible feedback for the user which means that the user has to either bottom the switch out every time to ensure they are past the actuation point or the user needs to learn where the actuation point is over time and become accustomed to it.

    Kono's programmable, customizable offerings--"you can set any key…to do anything you want," the company writes--include the minimalist Infinity Keyboard

    The WhiteFox Mechanical Keyboard, which can be had in DIY kit form;

    The K-Type Mechanical Keyboard, which features RGB backlighting; 

    And the Infinity ErgoDox Mechanical Keyboard, for those who desire a split unit.

    If you're interested in diving in, you can mess around with Kono's Keyboard Configurator.

    I was also impressed with the case each keyboard comes with; the fabric and the zipper pulls felt high-quality and the case was suitably sturdy.

    "I gotta warn you," Farrell said to me at Kono's table, "if you get into these things, it's a real rabbit-hole."

    When a guy who works for Reddit tells you something is a rabbit-hole, you know it's a rabbit-hole.


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    After reviewing a number of fantastic submissions from Core77 readers, we've finally chosen the designer who will be spending 3 months in the A/D/O space working on a number of their dream projects. 

    Without further ado, here's a short chat with our chosen resident Julia Liao, who will be working on creating various inclusive and accessible design solutions throughout her 3 month residency at A/D/O.

    Tell us more about what you're going to work on during your time at A/D/O.

    I will be working on a variety of projects that are centered towards creating inclusive and accessible design solutions during my residency at A/D/O. I have previously designed a MetroCard Swiper for OSL that assists a wonderful young woman who has paralysis in her arms to swipe a NYC MetroCard so that she is able to commute around the city independently. During the residency, I'd like to further develop the product with improvements so that it could potentially be produced and distributed to a wider population who have a similar disabilities, such as people diagnosed with ALS, Parkinson's Disease, Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

    I will also be working on developing clothing fasteners and hardware specifically for people with limited mobility and dexterity. Everybody has to put on and take off (the official terminology is donning and doffing) clothes everyday, and redesigning clothing hardware to accommodate a different range of motion can make this essential task easier. A person with a disability, injury or symptoms of aging might need better access and more frequent donning and doffing due to having urinary catheters, prosthetics, diapers or orthopedic casts attached to their bodies. Being able to dress yourself is not only about physical ability, but also about having control over your own privacy and independence. I hope that by easing the experience of dressing, I can also help improve the quality of life of people with disabilities on both physical and emotional levels.

    Can you tell us a little bit about your background in design?

    I am a recent graduate from Parsons School of Design and just starting out (and loving it!) as a Junior Industrial Designer at Leadoff Studio, a product design consultancy based in New York. In addition, I am very involved in supporting the R&D effort of Open Style Lab (OSL). OSL is an incubator and non-profit organization dedicated to creating stylish and functional clothing and accessories for people with disabilities. I love working on a diverse range of products and am passionate about creating insightful, tangible items that bring intuitive, joyful and meaningful experiences to people.

    What aspects of being in the space at A/D/O are you most excited about?

    I am most excited about having the facilities to develop my own prototypes as well as being part of a collective of like minded creatives. I am also excited about having the designated space to get work done (real estate is expensive here!) as well as for the invaluable events and exhibits.

    It's also exciting to be working in a designer's co-op, which is very unique to major cities like New York that have a prevalent design industry. I am originally from China where designated co-working spaces for designers don't exist yet.

    What are you hoping to get out of this experience?

    I feel super grateful to be given this opportunity to get to work on self-driven design projects with the resources and support from Core77 and A/D/O. I hope to use this opportunity to develop innovative products that can benefit people in need while improving and developing my own voice as a designer in the real world.

    Julia will be working within the A/D/O space through the spring and summer seasons. We'll be keeping up with her to learn more about the project she'll be working on as the months roll by—so stay tuned!

    And if you're interested in learning more about A/D/O and how you yourself could work in this design space, visit their website at a-d-o.com/workspace.


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    At the center of this month's Munich's Creative Business Week, Germany's largest design event offering 9 days of design discussions, exhibitions, and networking opportunities is the iF DESIGN AWARD 2018 celebration honoring 75 outstanding professional design projects of the past year. 

    The awards ceremony grand entrance
    The event took place in Munich's massive BMW Welt building
    A look into the awards ceremony

    The projects featured as winners in this year's iF DESIGN AWARD demonstrate not just the design work of value in the present, but how design work of today will transform our vision of the future. While in Munich celebrating the awards, we chose a few of our favorite 2018 winners we saw while we were there:

    Lumi Personal computer

    Bringing together the world of furniture and technology, the Lumi personal computer disguises itself as an elegant desk lamp while actually having the ability to a project an interactive computer screen onto your workspace or a large video projection on the wall or ceiling. 

    Pixel flexible furnishing system

    The Pixel modular furniture system by Bene opens up the possibility of your workspace turning from static workspace to dynamic creative studio capable of reconfiguration at the drop of a hat. 

    DPT-RP1 Digital paper

    Technology inspired by the analog, the DPT-RP1 was designed to mimic the feeling of putting pen to paper.

    Bosch Gluey Glue Gun

    Use a glue gun? Well, you've never seen one quite like this. The Gluey by Bosch not only is sleek and ergonomic in a way that allows for precision, it also accommodates a number of different color and glitter glues to bring your crafts project to a whole new level. 

    Loop Luminaire

    The Loop wall light shines thanks to its flexibility according to your task. Whether you use it to highlight a piece of art on the wall or next to your bed as a reading light, the lighting panel can rotate a full 360 degrees in on swift motion. 

    DreamWear Full Face Mask CPAP

    Clunky CPAP machines for those with sleep apnea are well overdue for a second look, which is why this DreamWear mask from Philips is a welcome redesign. The innovative element of this machine is its airflow that is reallocated to the top of the mask instead of the front, making for a less obtrusive build.

    BionicCobot Pneumatic robot

    As robots enter the mainstream, it's hard not to see them being a bit awkward and, sometimes, clumsy. This BionicCobot with its pneumatic arm that allows for the most delicate or forceful of handling proves this perception as being totally wrong. Designed by Festo AG & Co, this robot was specifically designed not to replace us, but as human support helping us perform tasks with a machine that might otherwise be impossible to perform by hand. 

    Mr. Pip Board Game packaging

    A past Core77 Design Awards winner, we love the clever configuration of Pip Tomkins studio's packaging for their Double Cross game redesign.

    VR. Ulm flying experience! 

    Imagine being able to fly! Thanks to the VR Ulm Experience designed by Demodern for Interactive Media Foundation, you don't have to. This interactive VR experience allows you to tour the city of Ulm, Germany is an entirely breathtaking new way.

    Gaggenau Restaurant 1683

    The Gaggenau restaurant pop-up restaurant, constructed in Manhattan and design by eins:33, is part-epicurean foray-part-epic storytelling experience. In a short press description, it explains what it felt like to dine in this fully immersive culinary environment: "The experience starts with a trip 333 years back...the guests step through a curtain to see a waterfall which encircles them as they pass through a corridor of mirrors. The guests find themselves midst of a Black Forest setting, with the sounds of water and chirping of birds." 

    DREAM Ring

    As designers continue to tackle the issue of women's health in developing countries, we are given a number of clever and innovative new technologies; this includes IDEAfree x Havas Korea DREAM Ring. The innovative factor of this menstrual cup is its construction made from silicone and disposable sugarcane vinyl, which not only makes it body-safe but also eco-friendly.

    Wearable Harness Two-Way Radio (71)

    This two-way harness radio by Motorola Solutions allows for workers in high-risk working conditions situations to communicate hands-free with ease, which is not only convenient but also in emergency situations can be life-saving.

    High-Risk Pregnancy Toolkit, Philips (72)

    This set of birthing product solutions for high-risk pregnancies by Philips Design are low cost and allow for participation from both the mother and the healthcare provider. The most interesting part of the kit is the redesigned, battery-less stethoscope allowing the mother to hear in while the healthcare worker checks the heartbeat. 

    WOODIEHamburg prefab student dormitory (75)

    This student dormitory uses the pre-fab model to construct a building consisting of 371 apartments. The individual wooden modules were designed so that they can be connected in all kinds of ways according to the most appropriate usage scenarios.

    Congratulations to all this year's winners!

    Learn more about the iF DESIGN AWARDS here and how you can apply for the 2018 awards cycle

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    Late last night in Tempe, Arizona, where Uber is running a trial of autonomous cars, one of their self-driving SUVs struck a woman who was crossing the street (apparently outside of the crosswalk, according to a police report quoted by Reuters). The victim, 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, apparently did not die at the scene, but was transported to a hospital before she died.

    Police report that there was actually a driver behind the wheel of the autonomous car at the time, but that the car was in autonomous mode.

    No other details of the crash were provided at press time, but Uber has reportedly suspended "its North American tests," the wording of which would seem to imply that any trials on other continents might be ongoing.

    This is thought to be the first human fatality caused by an autonomous car striking someone.



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    ABG is currently seeking a Graphic Designer to join our NYC office. Are you a passionate designer who is well versed in brand expression and can strategize, conceive, create, and present ideas? Are you a creative thinker who uses design to bring brand stories to life?

    View the full design job here

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    Upon walking into Pier 48 for the World's Fair Nano in San Francisco, the first thing you see are these dual spinning wheels:

    Called "Spokes," the mesmerizing display was created by artist and engineer Christopher Schardt, a longtime Burning Man contributor who has been creating sculptures since 2000. Schardt runs LED Labs, which creates commissioned displays in addition to his own projects; "Spokes" was his first LED display to incorporate physical motion.

    Each wheel is 88 inches in diameter and contains 3,132 LEDs. Here's what it first looked like when he began prototyping it in his shop last year:

    Seeing it in an illuminated space like Pier 48 does rob the piece of its full visual punch. Here's what it would look like in a properly darkened space:

    Want to go trippier?

    And here it is incorporating the human form:

    Schardt can program and control the displays from his smartphone or tablet using LED Lab, an app he created for the purpose. 

    In order to make it easier for others to create their own LED displays, Schardt has made the app free to download, and it's getting rave reviews.


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    In order to push forward in our careers, we often need to expose ourselves to the cold, hard truth and push past common excuses that do nothing but keep our development stagnant. Too often we settle for general career advice that beats around the bush because a) honest advice is often difficult to handle and b) no-BS advice on forming and maintaining a reputable design career isn't something many designers have access to.

    Announced this morning on Kickstarter, Brutally Honest: No Bullshit Business Strategies to Evolve Your Creative Business is a "tell it like it is" career advice book specifically catered to designers. Written by Emily Cohen, the book compiles honest business insights and strategies the seasoned design consultant has been preaching to design firms over the years.

    After previewing four or so chapters of Brutally Honest, we can confidently say the book serves as motivation to cut the crap and start taking positive steps towards a successful, well-organized design career. The book itself is tastefully colorful because let's face it: boring textbooks suck, and the chapters are brief and digestible, yet powerful. Cohen has generously shared an excerpt from Chapter 8: It Is Not Cold Calling with the Core77 community, which you can read below:

    *******

    Chapter 8: It Is Not Cold Calling

    It is relationship building. Which, when you think about it, is just about being friendly and likable. That's not too hard, is it? Yet, most of us avoid one-on-one relationships like the plague and settle into what's easy.

    I know that you are proud that most, or all, of your business comes from word-of-mouth referrals. That means your clients love you and they love to spread the love. Congratulations. Great job.

    Now, for the bad news: Relying on referrals alone for new business is a limiting and unsustainable strategy that does not support the long-term health and growth of your rm. Essentially, you are allowing your current clients and contacts to drive the direction of your rm. Referrals will only take your business so far by limiting your ability to expand your expertise and services. You will eventually lose control of your own business because these incoming business opportunities may not align with your own business goals.

    Ideally, the time you devote to new business should be spread out and allocated to four key focus areas:

    - Responding to incoming word-of-mouth referrals

    - Nurturing and building one-on-one relationships

    - Managing and responding to online search inquiries

    - Maintaining and expanding repeat business

    This chapter will focus on the most important area of new business development: relationship building.

    What do I mean by this? Essentially, it is time spent actively pursuing new business opportunities. It is not reactive, responsive, research, or referrals—it is actual hard work. But, it also can be fun and extremely rewarding.

    Your Website Is Not New Business Development—It Is a Marketing Tool

    The most common excuse designers give me is that their website is outdated, not maintained, or in development and that they first have to relaunch a more impactful and current site. When I ask them how long their site or various other marketing tools have been in development the consistent answer is: "On and off for the last two years." Sound familiar?

    Essentially, that is two years of valuable time wasted not actively pursuing new business. Waiting for your site to be completed is not a legitimate excuse!

    Let's face it, designers are rarely happy with the current state of their site or their positioning. A rm's positioning, work, services, staff, business, economic and competitive environments, industry trends, and even the tools and strategies used in our industry will always be evolving and changing. Just when a website is ready to launch, much of what it was based on has evolved and the process already has to begin anew!

    Your website, positioning, case studies, etc., are only tools in your marketing arsenal which support your new business efforts. The lack of, or dissatisfaction with, any one of these marketing tools shouldn't prevent rms from actively pursuing new business opportunities. They are not how you get new business.

    So, how do you move forward? First, you have to change your long-held negative impressions of what "new business development" means.

    Change Your Mindset

    Thinking about new business as "cold calling," "sales," "marketing" or even as a way to build a vast database of contacts, is a very limiting way to think. Rather, new business development is about building authentic one-to-one relationships. In reality, new business strategies are robust, multifaceted and, dare I say, even a fun and challenging aspect of any successful business. But they take time, focus, ongoing nurturing, and attention.

    Be Personally Committed

    New business will come, but only if you are committed and have the following traits:

    BE LOVABLE

    The primary reason most clients select a new design partner is based on overall likability and trust. Be authentic. Be warm. Be nice. Don't try too hard. Be your natural self and new clients will like you for who you are not who they want you to be. Clients will forgive mistakes, want to work with you, defend you internally and, more importantly, recommend you to others.

    LOVE WHAT YOU DO

    If you aren't proud of what you do, no one else will want to work with you. If you love what you do, this will shine through in all your interactions.

    DO GREAT WORK

    Your work should speak for itself. Not all your work will be great, but, make sure the high profile, portfolio-based work is at the highest level and truly demonstrates your expertise, talent, and insight (and general awesomeness).

    SOLVE CLIENT PROBLEMS

    If the solutions you develop for your clients have measurable, tangible results, shout this from the rooftops. Develop strong case studies that highlight your success metrics, and new clients will be attracted to you and convinced that working with you is a worthwhile, results-driven investment.

    HAVE PATIENCE

    New business opportunities grow and develop over time; they don't happen overnight. It can take up to two years for an initial connection to result in some sort of new business opportunity. It's about the long haul, not short-term wins.

    DEDICATE TIME

    New business is like breathing; it is something you have to do in order for your business to live and grow. Don't just do it when you are slow. My relationship curation strategy, described later in this chapter, is one way to make it a habit. However, if you choose to pursue new business opportunities, you need to dedicate some time to it, not just use all your time reacting to incoming referral-based business. I recommend spending at least 10 percent of your time to new business development. That's only 4 hours a week or half of one day!

    DO MORE, PLAN LESS

    Stop over-thinking everything and worry less. Smaller, focused efforts have more impact and are easier to manage than larger and broader efforts. Focus more on achieving s.m.a.r.t. goals. Just do it. Actions speak louder than words. It is about the quality of your relationships and not the quantity of names on your mailing list.

    MANAGING YOUR DATABASE

    Your partner in crime in new business development, so to speak, is an effective but simple customer relationship management (crm) tool that helps you manage, organize, and track your growing database of contacts. Ideally, you should have your list categorized in a variety of ways, including:

    - existing clients

    - past clients

    - potential clients

    - key connectors

    - by industry (to align with your areas of specialization)

    - media (bloggers, podcasters, editors, magazines, publishers)

    - vendors (printers, video production houses)

    - strategic partners/contractors/freelancers

    Remember, new business may take up to two years to build and this requires you staying in touch. Your crm tool helps you do this. It is also important
    to use the crm tool strategically: Again, it's about the quality of your relationships (knowing everyone on your mailing list) and not the quantity of names on your list.

    The goal is not to grow your list to a size that is unmanageable, so yearly or even quarterly editing is often required. Make sure all your contacts are still relevant and categorized. You may even delete contacts that you are no longer interested in or have been on your list for too long (typically after 3-5 years) and have had little to no progress building a relationship with.

    GO ON VACATION

    Louise Fili once told me her favorite strategy for developing new business: she plans a vacation. As soon as the universe knows she's unavailable, the work comes flooding in! Works every time.

    *******

    Brutally Honest: No Bullshit Business Strategies to Evolve Your Creative Business is now available on Kickstarter



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    Yesterday's news that an autonomous Uber killed a woman in Arizona has dealt a blow to the companies banking on autonomous cars. Details of the accident have yet to emerge, but Uber has pulled the plug on their North American testing for now, and the litigation that's sure to follow will presumably slow the roll of other companies involved with vehicular autonomy.

    However, one form of vehicular autonomy that will probably remain attractive can be seen in Colorado. Last year the Colorado Department of Transportation rolled out this monstrous vehicle:

    That's called the Autonomous Impact Protection Vehicle, and its sole purpose is to protect road workers by providing a moving barrier between them and bypassing traffic. While you've likely never heard these statistics compiled by the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administraion, every 5.4 minutes a driver crashes into a work zone. Here are some real examples of this captured on tape:

    This results in at least one injury per day and one fatality per week. It's not clear if the injuries/fatalities are suffered by the road workers or the car's occupants, but at least cars have some measure of crash protection, whereas the road worker isn't surrounded by airbags.

    Enter the Autonomous Impact Protection Vehicle. The massive truck lowers an impact-absorbing barrier behind it and is positioned between the workers and bypassing traffic. These types of trucks have been around for a while and are in fact what you saw in the video above, but always required a human driver to move the truck to follow the workers. For the driver assigned to that job, it's a shit detail--who wants to sit in something that's designed to be crashed into? Thus the Autonomous variant Colorado's DOT is testing is programmed to automatically trail a lead vehicle driven by a human, placing that driver out of harm's way.

    "CDOT conducted extensive testing of the AIPV's emergency stopping and obstacle detection systems," they wrote in a press release. "Testing also confirmed the vehicle's ability to stay in its lane and make tight turns."

    "We are extremely excited about this new technology," said Lee Rushbrooke, CEO of Colas, the British company that built the truck, "and are looking forward to giving this a global reach to save lives of road workers across the world."

    It's not the sexy vision of autonomous that starry-eyed automakers have, but if it saves human lives, it's likely to gain traction and government approval faster than robo-taxis.


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    For millennia, this is the method we used to get food out of trees:

    So let's say the crop in question was olives. How would you mechanize the process? You could surely rig up something to shake the tree, but what about picking each and every olive off of the ground?

    This was handled for nuts with the clever Multi-Headed Nut Wizard, but nuts are hard and olives are soft; the 'Wizard would crush the olives. So French agricultural machinery company Pellenc designed this rather brilliant system:

    Perhaps Scott Pruitt could adapt the design to handle tree-climbing environmental activists.



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    Embracing visual heaviness and experimenting with the unconventional material of recycled rubber crumb, Ammar Kalo designed a series of tables with bulbous rubber bodies that appear to have been sliced in half, revealing a solid white oak interior.

    View the full project here

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    Stewart & Associates, Inc., a 45 year old branding design consultancy, is seeking a graphic designer. Responsibilities: Develop concepts and follow thru from rough to finish. Work well in a design team approach Requirements: 4-year graphic design college program.

    View the full design job here

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    Now that an autonomous car has killed a pedestrian, interested parties are waiting to see what the legal ramifications will be. In the meantime, skittish lawmakers may start looking at safer alternatives to autonomous cars. One such system is by a company called Arrivo, and they're scheduled to complete construction on a test track in Commerce City, Colorado, this quarter.

    One of Arrivo's concepts, the City Zipper, is a crazy blend of Elon Musk's HyperLoop concept and autonomous cars, borrowing mag-lev and dedicated routes from the former and hands-free transportation from the latter. The idea is that ordinary cars would pull up to a sort of sled dispenser, then drive directly onto the sled and turn their car off. The mag-lev sled would then whisk them along a sort of super-express lane at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour:

    While it's not door-to-door autonomous, it certainly looks like it would cut down on highway travel times. It also operates within a pedestrian-free zone, eliminating the chance of hitting anyone. And the idea of experiencing high-speed-rail-like travel times, but getting to bring your car with you to your destination, may be appealing to motorists.

    The company further envisions their concept expanding to include cargo sleds, taxis and microbuses. 

    Here's their portrayal of how that would affect people's lives:

    By allowing them to build a test track, Colorado's Department of Transportation is willing to roll the dice on Arrivo. "Our transportation challenges are so big," CDOT Executive Director told Bloomberg, "that if anybody has something that will help, it's incumbent on us to work with them."


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    Of all the rousing successes we've seen on Kickstarter, and we've seen quite a few, this one has taken us most by surprise. It's no multi-tool, no techno-object, no magical transportation device; instead it's a striking and all-natural visual feast by Moreno Monti and Matteo Tranchellini, two photographers who hail from Italy.

    It's a coffee table book that consists entirely of photographs of extremely photogenic chickens.

    In 2013 Tranchellini, who has been entranced with birds since childhood, wanted to purchase a chicken as a pet to keep in the garden of his studio. A farmer subsequently invited him to an aviary exhibition, which then inspired the project.

    The CHICken series was photographed in Italy at the Milano aviary exhibition. Many of the breeders were worried that the birds were not posed according to the breed standard. Instead, what they didn't understand was just how well the birds had done their homework, they were natural born posers.
    All of the chickens and roosters in this book are exemplary show birds. The photographic collection consists of more than 200 photos of 100 diverse types of chickens.

    The photographers wanted to capture them in their natural state of being with all [their] elegance.

    At press time CHICKen, "The Most Stunning High Quality Chicken Book Photos Ever Made," had racked up $120,240 on a paltry (I almost went for it) $9,810 goal. And there were still 23 days left to pledge.


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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.

    As an active member in the world of interaction design, Joana Lehman, Executive Producer at the design firm Small Planet, sees on a daily basis the ins and outs of the world of UX while also participating regularly in active conversations about where groundbreaking interactive technologies have us headed. In a recent conversation with the 2018 Core77 Design Awards Interaction Jury Captain, she shared her thoughts on what innovations are really going to change the way we interact with products in the future and what makes something like an app a truly valuable addition to someone's life.

    Can you tell me more about your role as Executive Producer at Small Planet? 

    Small Planet is a digital product studio, and we primarily make mobile products for folks like Planned Parenthood, Aetna, Disney, NPD, and other prominent brands. We do everything from strategy and concepting, UX and design, and development and quality assurance. We're a little unusual in that we do design and development right here in Brooklyn, and our teams are fully integrated. Some places favor design or development, but we do both at such a high level and our sweet spot is right at the cusp of where those two particular services meet. As a Producer, my role is to help facilitate communication across the teams — internally and externally. Communication is absolutely paramount to a successful project, and we're a very opinionated crew with a lot to say. A Producer at Small Planet is a triple-threat: a blend of a project manager, account manager, and a product manager. We're also the team cheerleaders and, sometimes, team therapists when needed. As Executive Producer, my role leans more towards the account and product side, so I tend to focus more on strategy, but I still take on all those other aspects of producer-ness. 

    What are some of the projects you worked on this year that you were most excited about? 

    It was really interesting getting to work on an open-source blockchain project. It isn't just for cryptocurrency! I was also very excited to continue our work on Planned Parenthood's birth control and period tracking app, Spot On. It's very gratifying getting to improve and iterate on a product over time. 

    In what ways have you seen interaction design change and evolve over the past couple of years? 

    Cross-platform design has thrived, perhaps more out of necessity than anything. We have to account for scalability and acknowledge that users will be on their watches, phones, tablets, laptops, desktop, TVs, and wherever else there's a screen — and that those users expect a seamless interactive experience across all of those platforms. I'd also like to think we're getting better at accessible and inclusive design.

    Spot On, an app created for Planned Parenthood by Lehman's team at Small Planet
     

    What's kinds of projects or innovations within interaction design are you most excited about as of late? 

    Voice control is pretty exciting and weird. I personally don't love it, and find it so awkward to announce that I need a timer set, so I'm very curious to see how that will evolve over time. Will it get better, or will we just get used to it? 

    What do you see for the future of interaction design? 

    This past year has been a big one for establishing AR/VR into the mainstream—how do you predict we'll be interacting with technology in the future or what do you hope to see? VR is pretty interesting, but there are so many challenges to overcome still. How do you make sure someone doesn't feel like a disembodied floating head without giving them a bunch of other controllers to grip or gloves to wear? How do we make that experience safe without having to ask people to use a dedicated space, free from furniture to trip over? It's really exciting, but I still find VR headsets a bit offputting. I don't like that I'm effectively blindfolded. As for AR, I'm not entirely convinced that mobile is the best place for it. Holding up a phone to see a virtual shape in real space is like Alice trying to peer through the tiny door into Wonderland. The interfaces are too small to be useful viewing portals, and I think that's what's preventing people from finding really useful applications for AR for mobile. I think it'll make a lot of sense in car windshields for wayfinding (provided it can be done safely), and in glasses (which maybe gets into VR territory). Then it's more immersive and lives in the place a user actually wants to see it. Now that's exciting! What I really hope to see is user-driven ingenuity, that lays aside gimmicks and actually helps people get at what they want — be it a utility or a game. If a product gets out of my way and lets me do the thing I want, then I'm happy. 

    There's also a certain level of responsibility designers must take particularly in this age when it comes to tech addiction, creating products that aren't just addictive but also useful and helpful. What are your best words of advice for designing an interactive product that creates meaningful interactions? 

    Provide user value. If your user can't answer "What's in it for me?," you've made a nice advertisement but not a great product. We've seen businesses create products that ostensibly meet their marketing goals, but they veer away from creating something useful or meaningful for their users. Notifications that get users to come back to your product can be great for engagement, but the best way to keep people engaged is to give them something valuable to do in the first place. 

    What are you hoping to see in submissions this year? 

    We know what all the design conventions are these days, particularly for web and for mobile, so I'd love to see designers break with those conventions in an exciting but practical way … no pressure, right? Projects that challenge expectations, but are still very usable, will likely get the highest marks from our jury!

    The Core77 Design Awards Interaction Jury

    2018 Interaction Jury Captain Joana Lehman will be joined by these designers for the awards selection process:

    Leslie Dann, Associate Partner, C&G Partners
    Yumi Endo, Lead Designer, United Nations OCHA
    Brian Patrick Kelly, Director of Experience Design, Verizon
    Thinking of submitting to the Interaction category in the 2018 Core77 Design Awards? Submit today—Final Deadline is March 29th!

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    I know we're supposed to let go of the past and move into the future, but one thing I'll never be able to give up are manual transmissions. I learned to drive on a stick. I've owned three cars in my life and all were manuals. I no longer own a car due to my city-slicker lifestyle, but I fantasize about moving to a farm in Vermont and buying myself a zippy little AWD stickshift to drift through the snowdrifts on my way to the hardware store. In the fantasy it's usually an STI.

    Which is why it was so distressing to read this piece of news in the UK's AutoExpress. Writer Stuart Milne spoke with Chris Graham, the Managing Director of Subaru UK about their Eyesight camera-based system of safety features (automatic braking, smart cruise control, blah blah blah). Graham had this to say:

    "I'm not sure if [Eyesight is] compatible at all with a manual gearbox. There are certainly no rumours we've heard that manual will continue, or Eyesight will be [offered] with manual.
    "My gut tells me it will be Eyesight with Lineartronic ongoing and long term. [Subaru wants] to steal the mantle of the safest car in the world. I think if they do that, then they say 'here's a manual without Eyesight', they'll just ruin that [message]…. The safety message is the thing Subaru will want to take forward."

    Gulp. In other words, newfangled safety features can't be added to manuals, so Subaru's solution might be to jettison manuals altogether. Graham goes on to point out that BMW's current generation of M-series cars don't offer manuals either, which just makes me…sick.

    Folks, please tell me some of you out there still swear by manual transmissions. I know autonomous is supposed to take control away from us altogether, but can't we at least spend the final days of manually-operated cars by driving them in their ultimate configuration?



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    During a recent trip to Boston I didn't see any interesting furniture, it was just not that sort of trip. We saw friends, ate, walked around, entertained the kid, and ate some more. We did however, stop at Old South Church and got an eyeful of top class architectural woodworking from 1875 (The congregation began in the 17th century but the building is 19th century).

    The interior of the church is made almost entirely of wood, with wood beams supporting the roof. The carvings on the pews and paneling are pretty typical for church architecture of the time, but the wooden tower in the center of the church was a surprise. I assume it was built to give light and ventilation to the church. These days, freshly restored, the tower is something special. Aside from the general detailing of the wooden beams, clearly pegged together and in many cases detailed with elegant stop chamfers, the tower gives focus to the woodwork, and when you look directly up at it has a rather charming roof decorated in stars.

    Apologies for my low-res photos; below are some better images taken as screenshots from the following link. The church has a fantastic, high-resolution interactive 360 panorama you can play with here.

    ___________________

    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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    adidas recently unveiled a new silhouette called Deerupt, and if you ever had doubts social media could play a significant role in the design process, it's time to think again. 

    If you religiously follow the sneaker world on Instagram, you've probably noticed an overload of images that look almost exactly like this:

    It's easiest to think of toe-down sneaker photos as the the equivalent of the most flattering selfie angle for sneakers, the golden on-foot angle, if you will. adidas designers took this trend observation and used it to inspire a design detail on the Deerupt, a sneaker who's name is the marriage between "disrupt" and "erupt". Global Senior Design Director for adidas Originals, Oddbjorn Stavseng told Highsnobiety, “we increasingly see Instagram pictures where people shoot their sneakers with their foot planted down, making sure that the toe is pressed down. So when you see Deerupt, you’ll see this same “toe-down” effect which was a purposeful design choice.” Besides a more exaggerated toe-down angle, one of the most notable Deerupt details is the use of the mesh support originally seen on the adidas Marathon Trainer midsole to cover the entire shoe. 

    Marathon Trainer (via Highsnobiety)

    It turns out adidas could be onto something with their designed-for-Instagram approach along with picking and choosing more graphic details from past designs. While aimlessly scrolling through Instagram at 2am last night, I came across one of those frustrating Instagram Stories that update you on the platform's latest features: Think new features in Stories or Live mode. This time it was for an update that allows eight new countries to shop much more seamlessly straight through Instagram.

    This feature has been going through a test run in the US, but after overwhelming success, Instagram decided to expand. Basically, to shop an item you like from a post, you just tap your finger on the image to then click on virtual price tags that lead you to—very similar to Pinterest. If your Instagram obsession is already out of control, start preparing for it to affect you monetarily. 

    So, how does this relate to product design? We've already seen an uptick in companies pouring extra money into Instagram ads, especially when it comes to trendy product subscription services like Quip and Smile Direct Club. So in reality, the move to designing actual products to look good on social media is a natural progression—if not something that's already been happening subconsciously. 

    Whether good or bad for designers, Instagram's shopping feature rollout makes it clear there's no more excuses for companies to avoid social media. adidas' choice to dip their toes into introducing social media to the design process is actually forward-thinking and almost too timely, even if the Deerupt is a little... loud. The Deerupts are dropping online tomorrow, and I'm curious to see how often they end up on my Instagram feed.

    What're your thoughts on introducing social media into the product design process? Let us know in the comments.


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