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    For innovative automotive manufacturers, VR offers the perfect mix of total immersion and unparalleled customizability that only real-time technology can deliver. The exciting new potential it unlocks is spurring major automotive brands to adopt a fresh approach to how they engage customers through designing immersive real-time experiences.

    View the full content here

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    At first glance, the designs by concept artist "E wo kaku Peter" ("Peter who draws") appear to be merely fanciful, like these:

    Formula One tow car
    Ancient Egyptian hard drive
    Dracula extermination kit

    The first hint that Peter's got some underlying thoughts about a consumerist society appears with this drawing of a bland, joyless, generic, faceless toy.

    Toy

    And these needlessly overcomplicated product designs.

    Electric toothbrush that runs on power tool batteries
    Hi-tech train ticket puncher
    Hi-tech bread bag plastic tie
    Hi-tech needle threader
    Augmented cell phone

    He's got some thoughts on technology, infrastructure and public space, too.

    Public Twitter terminals
    Public smartphone
    Cyber (e-?)mailbox
    Takoyaki (octopus ball) maker built into a manhole

    As well as some commentary on the fetishization of military equipment.

    Militarized spray bottle
    The Kawaii ("cute") machine pistol
    The Kawaii ("cute") machine pistol
    Rental-umbrella-stand-based machine gun dispenser, 1
    Rental-umbrella-stand-based machine gun dispenser, 2

    He also gets some jabs in at what we spend our time doing and how we treat nature and the environment, including our own bodies.

    Mobile gaming rig
    A "Planter PC"
    Disposable lungs

    Perceived commentary aside, the bulk of the projects on Peter's website are of military vehicles and robots. He periodically releases new work on his Twitter account.

    On the latter he occasionally releases video of his drawing process.

    The man's got skills.


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    We’re looking for an exceptionally talented, smart, culturally-aware designer who is passionate about architecture and the designed world. You have a minimum of 5 years of experience, preferably with a focus on editorial design and branding. You understand the big picture and yet are very detail-oriented. You

    View the full design job here

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    When it's time to present something to the client, depending on certain factors some of you will reach for Prismacolors, others for the Wacom. Here industrial designer Eric Strebel runs down the difference between analog and digital, rendering up some glass bottles to make his points:


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    A VC-backed organization called Prota Institute bills themselves as "the world's first remote-learning vocational school that teaches students within active startups and charges tuition as a percentage of salary after landing a job." Among the programs they offer is, of great interest to us, the Industrial Design Entrepreneurship Track.

    This isn't for those fresh out of high school; Prota's site says "Industrial Design Entrepreneurship students should have a background in Industrial Design, Mechanical Engineering, and/or 3D CAD, with a portfolio or website to gage overall experience." It appears that admitted students are paired with startup companies independent of any brick-and-mortar Prota campus--that explains the "remote-learning" part--and will reportedly receive hands-on education in the following areas:

    - Value Proposition Design
    - Industrial Design
    - Prototyping
    - Manufacturing
    - Crowdfunding

    Here's a snippet from their site on the matter of tuition:

    Seriously, I only pay after I land a job?
    Yes. We believe our success as a school should be driven by your success as a professional in a career you love.... Contact us to learn more about the forthcoming details of the salary percentage/duration we charge after graduation and our minimum salary guarantee.

    It will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

    If any of you end up applying, please let us know how it goes.



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    Has anyone ever thought of the hospital or doctor's office experience as pleasant, easy and comprehensive? Probably not. Does your doctor's office or local hospital look anything like this?

    Or this?

    Or this?

    Probably not. 

    Let's face it—medical spaces need a facelift, from furnishings to digital screens to the entire patient experience. This past year, the Cactus team worked closely with Mount Sinai to develop Lab100, a new type of medical environment that focuses on the different ways in which developing technologies can improve how we understand and experience medical attention and healthcare. Through a thorough case study, excerpted below, the team runs through details of their research and design processes: 

    "In an era where machine learning, connected devices and AI will make as much of an impact in medical research as clinical trials or lab tests, what does the patient experience look and feel like? And if personal data is fuel for medical progress, how can we encourage thousands of patients to contribute theirs? We were tasked by a group of visionary doctors at New York's premier hospital to create an experience that was both medically effective and compelling enough to attract patients to participate in bringing this vision of the future to bear.

    Over the course of a year, Cactus' designers and engineers worked in close collaboration with Mount Sinai to design, develop and launch a new type of medical space from the ground up. The space, called Lab100, is a hybrid clinic and research lab leveraging data and technology to redesign the way health is measured and healthcare is delivered. Located at Mount Sinai in Manhattan, Lab100 empowers patients to track their health over time by providing the most comprehensive personal health assessment currently available. As a research center, Lab100 equips scientists with longitudinal multi-scale health data and a testbed environment to develop, validate and deploy new products and services. By closing the feedback loop between discovery science and care delivery, Lab100 creates a virtuous cycle of innovation that radically accelerates the pace at which promising ideas become clinical practice."

    If your doctor's office looked and felt anything like Lab100, would you be more excited to check up on your health? What about more willing to contribute personal data to be used for medical research?

    Read the full case study and take a closer look inside Lab100 here.

    Plan a visit to Lab100 here.


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    Since 1970, "book craftsman" Martin Frost has been practicing the forgotten art of fore-edge painting. This is a technique whereby a hardcover book is placed in a special vise/press, like so…

    …enabling Frost to work the spread edges of the pages like a canvas.

    Once returned to its normal disposition, the book then has the page edges gilded.

    That hides the image from all except those who know they exist, who can then bend the pages to make the image appear.

    Here are some examples of Frost's work:

    The technique was developed in the 1600s, and unsurprisingly few people practice it today. In addition to selling his work, Frost teaches fore-edge painting workshops in an effort to keep the art alive.

    I was particularly interested in the press he uses, and dismayed to see that locking it down makes a damned terrible racket:

    Surely we could design something easier on the ears, no?


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    When building a contraption or shop jig that incorporates a frequently-rotated part, it can be useful to integrate bearings. Those of you with access to 3D printers can readily whip up a gewgaw to do so…

    …but those without must rely on more brutish and unreliable methods, like a pressure fit.

    The pressure fit is of course contingent on you having a drill press (or dead-accurate hand drill skills), and a Forstner bit that happens to be just a smidge under the diameter of your bearing.

    But what if the difference between your bits and your bearings is, if you'll pardon the pun, intolerable? Tinkerer Mikkel Pedersen solves it this way:

    A bearable solution.


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    Vee International is a major brand and international manufacturer producing women’s personal care products such as vibrators and massagers. As a design centric company we are seeking a highly skilled and creative packaging / graphic design candidate to be a part of our Creative team.

    View the full design job here

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    In the 1920s, radiation was so poorly understood that shoe stores would X-ray customers' shod feet to check the fit.

    Lasers are decidedly less harmful than fluoroscopes, and now Innovation Lab ECCO is using the former not to check fit, but to create fit. A new pilot project launched at W-21, their concept store in Amsterdam, seeks to harness technology in order to provide walk-in customers with bespoke kicks within a matter of hours.

    Called QUANT-U, the process consists of first laser-scanning customers' feet. 

    Next the customer pulls on a pair of sensor-filled shoes and spends half a minute walking on a treadmill. This set-up harvests precise data about the customer's gait as well as how their body weight is distributed across their soles.

    Midsoles are then immediately designed to perfectly accommodate the customer's particulars, and the file is sent to an on-site 3D printer that spits it out in silicone. 

    The resultant midsoles are integrated into ECCO's Flexure shoes, which are essentially outsole platforms, and the customer has a perfect fit.

    Customers pay €100 (USD $120) extra for the QUANT-U process, which takes a couple of hours start-to-finish. This type of process, along with Adidas' trials of on-demand clothing, might be the thing that gives brick-and-mortar stores a fighting chance in a world dominated by online shopping.


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    When you think of playing non-digital games with friends, you probably imagine a board game or one of those mystery rooms. But the folks behind HK Best Box offer an alternative: Interactive team-based games that very creatively require your physical exertion.

    Human Body Ping Pong incorporates a touch of soccer and relies on harnessing your lung power.

    Rain Biking is a cycle-based game where teams compete to douse each other in water. The more you pedal, the faster a water tank above the opposing team fills up, eventually discharging its contents.

    Korokoro Viking is a massive version of a tilt-maze game, where a singular team works cooperatively to navigate a clear path for a soccer ball.

    It looks pretty diverting:

    I'm thinking with the ping pong game, having bad breath would provide a competitive advantage.


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    A couple of years ago we looked at the work of Charlène Guillaume. While studying at France's ENSCI-Les Atelier (the National School for Industrial Design), Guillaume experimentally used discarded PET bottles as heat-shrink wrap to join wood:

    While not aesthetically attractive, we thought it a worthy experiment, precisely what design students should be undertaking before practical employment precludes it.

    Now I see that London-based designer Micaella Pedros has done something similar, some might say identical, to Guillaume's work, about a year after Guillaume released it:

    Pedros' Joining Bottles project page makes no mention of Guillaume, so it's possible Pedros was unaware of Guillaume's project and developed the idea independently. In any case, Pedros' work is more aesthetically attractive (in my opinion) to Guillaume's creations.

    I hope Pedros continues to push the work further. We'd be happy to see any use for discarded plastic that might keep it from making its way into the ocean and killing whales.



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    Last year a British retailer was selling a DJI Phantom 4 (photo below) with an umbrella attachment. The device was said to "automatically [follow] you via your smartphone's GPS." It's no longer offered on their website.

    Now a Japanese company, Asahi Power services, is trying their hand at a drone-brella called the Free Parasol. According to Gizmodo, their version "will use a camera and AI to register, track, and autonomously follow a user's head." Apparently they've got a ways to go before they get there--here's where they're at now:

    While the techno-blogs are excited at the prospect, I can't be the only one who thinks this is a terrible idea. Think about the UX:

    First off, the protection offered by an umbrella gets better the closer it is to your head. How close can something with spinning blades get?

    Secondly: How do you deploy the thing? Do you open and attach the umbrella each time? Do you carry this around in your car, and if so where, in the trunk? You pull up to your destination, it's pouring out, and then what: You go around to the trunk and pull this thing out and set it up in the rain?

    Thirdly: What do you do with this when you get to your destination? How does it land, how do you grab it? Are you meant to carry this around with you inside a store, on the subway, in a taxi?

    In its current form, I think the best application for this idea is to protect just the drone itself, if you're using it to shoot something on location.



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    SCAD seeks a multidisciplinary designer who understands the human user, business context and effective application of technology to be the associate chair of the industrial design and design for sustainability departments. These award-winning programs cultivate highly motivated, visionary students who consider business challenges while creating and communicating

    View the full design job here

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    I'll shortly be moving out of New York City, and one of the things I'll miss the most is Citibike. I love being able to run quick errands while getting a little exercise; at the supermarket I buy only a few things at a time and go several times a week, rather than stocking up once a week, so that I have more opportunities to burn calories. I'm on a Citibike at least every other day.

    I don't wear a helmet.

    I started out wearing a helmet. I'm someone who takes careful steps to avoid injury in most areas in life, whether in martial arts training or when working with tools. I'm super careful with ladders, kitchen knives and heavy objects. When I started cycling four years ago, every cyclist I knew told me that everyone on a bike eventually has an accident and that a helmet is a must, and I listened.

    But I quickly came to hate everything about the helmet. I hate wearing it, I hate having to carry it around, and now it's gathering dust on a peg.

    So when I came across this "Should you wear a bike helmet" video by the Guardian, I wondered if I might find some validation for not wearing a helmet:

    It hadn't occurred to me that doing away with helmet laws would encourage non-cyclists to cycle. One hundred on-bike deaths vs. 85,000 sitting-on-ass deaths is a pretty compelling comparison.

    As for me not wearing a helmet, the only solace I found in the video is the example of the Dutch. Like them I cycle in protected bike lanes, at least as much as I can; Manhattan ain't Amsterdam and there are stretches where I have to pedal into General Population, where I'm out in the yard with the animals.

    Should I wear a helmet? Yes. But the point is moot, as soon I'll be living in a rural area with zero cycling infrastructure, and any transportation I use will have four wheels.

    Cyclists among you, do you wear a helmet? If so, how do you deal with the hassle?

    If you don't wear a helmet, don't be afraid to speak up! The awesome thing about the internet is, commenters never judgmentally offer unsolicited safety advice.


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    Ankrom Moisan Architects is an award-winning client focused design practice with offices in Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco. We are an innovative and collaborative design studio with good benefits, flexible hours, and a great work culture.

    View the full design job here

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    This doesn't exactly look like a food-safe facility, but I guess the laws are a little more relaxed in whatever country this was shot in. Here's a 12-mold ice cream cone making machine in action:

    While wafer cones like those are molded, the production methods for waffle cones and sugar cones are a bit more involved:

    Interestingly, Japanese ice cream manufacturer Nissei Co. employs a fellow named Tsutomu Owada whose sole job is to design molds for ice cream cones.

    Owada designed this fancy Laurel Top cone:

    "Laurel Top," a Nissei spokesperson soberly told The Asahi Shimbun, "satisfied the needs of people who wanted more gorgeous cones."


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    It's easy to get turned around in Manhattan's sprawling Central Park, particularly at night or on a cloudy day when you can't see which direction the sun is in. If you get lost in the forested section, you're screwed; you should just lie down and wait to be murdered by muggers. But if you're near a lamppost, you can use the little 4-digit code on them to figure out where you are. Here's how:



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    The cover of National Geographic Magazine last month, and the multiple alarms that have been ringing over the past two decades, is testament to the fact that we have a huge plastic problem that needs to be fixed. Lucky for us, designers can actually help solve problems. Sustainable Design, design for impact, green design—whatever you call it—is an area of focus that has never been more relevant. Designers are the influencers, inventors, dreamers and hackers of everything that has been and can be. As a multidisciplinary designer and strategist, I've worked across three continents in multiple design sectors—from publishing to UI/UX, community engagement to corporate events—and I've realized that design for sustainability is not always pretty or immediate, two things our culture is addicted to. This is part of what makes it a challenging, yet vital, cog in the wheel towards a better future.

    My journey within design for sustainability started in Fall 2011 with a class called 'Plastic Bags and NYC' as part of Pratt Institute's Graduate Communication Design program, taught by Gala Narezo. The goal was to examine the lack of legislation on plastic bag waste in New York State and to come up with a proposal to address the issue. Working with Ms. Narezo and Chantal Fischzang, we launched the 'Plastic Bag Mandala' project as an alarm against single-use plastic bags. This long-running project speaks to the many nuances of designing for sustainability and social impact.

    To Solve Big Problems, Collaboration is Key

    Sustainability is never a one-person-show. It is a complex system that requires input and support from multiple stakeholders and supporters. For example, the 'Plastic Bags and NYC' class began with one partner - The Interdependence Project, a non-profit that addresses art, activism via Buddhist philosophy (IDProject) started to work around the subject of sustainability As our work progressed, the collaboration grew to include Bags For The People, GrowNYC, The Union Square Greenmarket and PS41. Additional partners joined as the project continued including 'what moves you?', Green School Alliance, The Surfrider Foundation, Open Seas Coalition, BagITNYC, and Jennie Romer, founder of Plastic Bag Laws. That's a bag full! But it wasn't a situation of too many chefs in the kitchen. It was more like a village of like-minded supporters who joined forces with us through educational outreach, school programs, public fairs and more.

    Understanding a Complex Problem Begins with Informed Dialogues

    Everyone has a reason for doing what they do, even if it's using a single-use plastic bag. To make a change, you have to be aware there is a problem and understand the reasons behind them. Realizing the importance of creating an informed and open dialogue with the New York community, we directed our efforts towards making information available to different community groups and listening to what they had to say. This would help prepare them for the transition away from plastic and create support around the initiative to eventually ban single-use plastic bags in New York. I strongly believe that when you lay out the facts, the impacts and the alternatives; people can find reasons to change their habits more easily than they can find excuses not to.

    Finding Your Angle to Address the Problem and Running with It

    With our mission set, the 'Plastic Bags and NYC' class created several strong proposals. What took hold was an interactive installation called 'Plastic Bag Mandala' and an educational activity book titled 'Plastic Bags: A 'Scrap It' Book'.

    The 'Plastic Bag Mandala' is an interactive community art installation and awareness campaign with a pledge to ditch single-use plastic bags. A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe. We chose this as a symbolic reminder that we are all connected, and have a stake in each others well-being.

    On its first appearance at the Union Square Farmers Market (Spring 2012), market goers were invited to bring their used plastic bags in exchange for a new reusable bag and make a vow to reduce single use. We made educational information about plastics and recycling available to help visitors better understand the issues. We invited visitors to weave their old plastic bags into the 8x8 foot burlap canvas with the mandala on it while pledging to use reusable bags instead of single-use plastic bags. The act of weaving their used plastic bag into the mandala required two people to complete and became an engaging physical expression of a binding promise.

    Along with the 'Plastic Bag Mandala' installation, I designed an activity book for primary school children about understanding the system of single-use plastic bags titled 'The Plastic Bag: A ?Scrap-It' Book'. The illustrated activity book aims to educate and empower young children to make their own informed decisions about single-use plastic bags in a fun and approachable manner. Other workshops based off the activities in the book were also conducted in private schools in New Jersey and in Muscat, Oman.

    At Ideas City in 2013, we set up a much fuller 'Plastic Bag Mandala' installation along with our sign up sheets and information. Here we added an activity and created 'TO-GO Bags,' inviting children to design their own reusable totes, to promote a reusable and environmentally conscious 'to-go' culture in NYC. This gave the public space to think about 'single-use' alternatives to other throw-away items like plastic bottles, straws, cutlery and cups.

    It Can Be Functional and Poetic, and Yet not Aesthetically 'Designed'

    The activity book educates and engages students in a way that can actually be implemented in a classroom. The 'TO-GO Bags' is a creative activity for kids to remind them to bring their reusable items. The 'Plastic Bag Mandala' continues to visit schools and events, growing in size as it travels with a mission to (re)start a dialogue and raise awareness on the subject. But it is also poetic. From the first bag tied into it in 2012 to the ones tied into it a year ago—they are all still there. As an artifact, it has become indicative of our society's persistent struggle with single-use plastic bags—both are a culmination of our combined actions, both are getting bigger and both are so much harder to store 'away'.

    It Takes a Few Brave Designers and a Lot of Time

    We need to remember that it has always been the few unique, creative visionaries that have changed our world. Those people also had grit, persistence and direction, because change takes time—so much time. Designing for sustainability and social impact is not a sprint or even a marathon—it's a Triple Deca Ultra-triathlon (yes that's a real thing!). Today single-use plastic bags are still a part of NYC. But we might be seeing the light at the end of this dark plastic tunnel very soon, and in the meantime we can wear a cheeky smile knowing that in the process, something was designed right.


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    Lignum Vitae, Latin for "Tree of Life," is the national tree of the Bahamas. It's also the world's densest wood, and has such unusual properties that the USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear-powered submarine, has its aft main shaft strut bearings made out of the stuff. In addition to being strong, hard, heavy, dense, water- and salt-water-resistant, Lignum Vitae contains natural oils that make the bearings self-lubricating.

    View the full content here

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