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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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    Industrial designer Andrey Avgust hails from Belarus, a country whose currency I admit I've never seen. But he's seen our yankee dollars and recognizes that their design kind of stinks.

    For fun Avgust gave U.S. bills a redesign, starting with the material: Polymer.

    Then he took the design iconography of current American cash and reimagined it within a new window, flipping the orientation from landscape to portrait (except for one shot of the stubbornly horizontal White House):

    He had a bit of fun with the anti-counterfeiting measures too, imagining what metameric (optically variable) inks would look like under a black light:

    Of course, money this gorgeous would never work in America. If I owned something that pretty I'd want to keep it. The powers that be would prefer we spend.

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    Swiss-born Amaury Guichon was just 14 years old when he moved to France to pursue culinary training. Six years later he had five apprentices of his own at Cannes' high-end Lenotre restaurant, and the following year he became Executive Chef of Paris' Hugo & Victor patisseries.

    Now 'Stateside, Guichon teaches pastry masterclasses and has gained a gigantic social media following. It's no surprise why--watch his incredibly artful construction of this gramophone, where he employs woodworking, metalworking and plasticworking techniques on the raw material of chocolate:

    Want to see more? Check out Guichon's Instagram.

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    Visual Director Residential Interior Furnishings company seeks a Visual Director to create visual properties consistent with the company brand. Candidate needs to possess a high degree of “visual acumen”, with the ability understand and design around different looks. Responsible for coordinating

    View the full design job here

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    In Part 1 of Brace Tips, I explained how to make your brace work for big holes. Now we look at the other extreme. Unfortunately the solution for small bits isn't as easy to do. For holes from 1/4" through 2" in diameter a brace was the hand tool of choice (although Jennings augur bits were made as small as 1/8"). For smaller sizes under a 1/4", egg-beater-style hand drills were usually used. With small brace bits - say 1/4" - 1/2" you don't really need a lot of power but running the handle round and round in the 10" diameter circle of a typical brace is slow. Our ancestors wanted to speed things up, especially since drilling 1/4 - 1/2" holes in furniture is a very common operation.

    The solution was a "Quick" brace, which is simply a smaller sweep version of a regular brace, ratchet and all. The Stanley brace shown above at left has only a 3" throw for a total of a 6" sweep, and with it you can drill a lot faster.

    Interestingly enough, while an English Ultimatum brace is underpowered for drilling large holes, it has a pretty fast stroke for drilling average sized holes found in traditional joinery. If you recall in part one I mentioned that the American braces drove the English off the market - by 1900 houses had plumbing, and early electrical wiring, all which needed pretty big holes drilled, and not too many drawbore joints where you just needed a small 1/4" hole. I wonder if there is a connection?

    In the picture above the braces are ordered by sweep. Starting from the left is a 6" Stanley quick brace. Then comes an English Ultimatum brace with a 7" sweep, and a very lovely Scotch brace with a 9" sweep. Finally, the standard 10" American braces, which were mostly bought for house building not furniture.

    If you come across a 6" quick brace, grab it!


    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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    As data continues to indicate that spending all day on your ass isn't good for your health, there are exciting opportunities for workstation and seating designers. Standing desks, treadmill desks and funky chairs may fade in and out of popularity, but we like seeing the weird permutations and risks that designers are willing to take in their quest to find the "correct" solution.

    View the full content here

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  • 06/06/18--21:03: NYC x DESIGN: ICFF 2018
  • Another year, another trek into the mayhem that is ICFF at the Javits Center. And year after year, even in the midst of this madness, we always manage to come up for air with a number of fantastic new furniture, lighting, and home goods finds we're super excited to share. The interesting thing about an event as large as ICFF is its ability to present in one concentrated space what's going on collectively in the year of design, and this year's fair was no exception—we saw a number of bold colors at play (yes, you'll see some hints of millenial pink at play, but that's not all!), an emphasis on organic forms, and a hard lean toward simplicity and softness. But don't just take our word for it—have a look at our 2018 gallery to get a better look into what's happening this year in design.

    aceteam Berlin - Handmade in Germany
    This wooden bicycle was built by Eberswalde aceteam along with support from the university for Sustainable Development. The bike's electric drive is both resource conserving while also sourced from local wood.
    Photo credit: Core77
    aceteam Berlin - Handmade in Germany
    This wooden bicycle was built by Eberswalde aceteam along with support from the university for Sustainable Development. The bike's electric drive is both resource conserving while also sourced from local wood.
    Photo credit: Core77
    GolfQuant - Handmade in Germany
    This slim mobile vehicle strongly resembles some type of scooter, but it is actually a golf caddy. Inside the slim caddy resides a surprising piece of tech: a noiseless engine.
    Photo credit: Core77
    Backbone by Oliver Budd - New Jersey Institute of Technology
    This chair both resembles a human spine and considers the user's spine in its form to increase comfort levels.
    Photo credit: Core77
    The Animal by Kyle Ralli - New Jersey Institute of Technology
    Have you ever wanted to sit on a Boston Dynamics robot? Boy have we got the chair for you.
    Photo credit: Core77
    Bermbach Hanfcrafted
    Each Bermbach Handcrafted hand woven children's rattan bed takes several days to make and comes with its own bespoke accessories.
    Photo credit: Core77
    ECMH + UDB Design for Vulnerability
    Two Salvadoran design schools came together for a second year in a row to address the shortage of clean drinking water in many parts of the world. In their imagined scenario, people would first purchase one of these more delicate, minimally designed water filters.
    Photo credit: Core77
    ECMH + UDB Design for Vulnerability
    For each purchase of the first water filter, these more utilitarian water filters would be distributed to places in dire need of clean drinking water.
    Photo credit: Core77
    ECMH + UDB Design for Vulnerability
    Photo credit: Core77
    Strand by Bhanderi Grishma - UIC's Material/Immaterial Exhibition
    The storage options with this piece are endless - you can even store papers and booklets upright between the string openings.
    Photo credit: Core77
    View the full gallery here

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    Last week industrial designer Eric Strebel demonstrated digital vs. analog rendering. This week he drills down into the latter: "[This video] talks in detail about the rendering process," Strebel writes, "the set up of the lighting, why chrome is easy if you add blue, how a simple isometric view needs a line to anchor it to the page and how to show the glass refracting the colors of the environment to create a convincing render."

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    I hate the imperial measurement system, and can confidently say that anyone who doesn't recognize the superiority of metric is a freaking idiot. How nice it must be for you Aussies, Germans and Koreans to drill an 8mm hole, realize you need it a smidgen bigger, and yell down the ladder for a 9mm bit. Versus us Yankees drilling a 7/32 hole, then having to do an equation in your head to calculate if you need a 3/16 or a 1/4.

    View the full content here

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    I'm a member of ZipCar, which I love for the convenience. But one thing that always reminds you that you're in a shared car is the state of the interiors. I've experienced the following in a ZipCar: Sticky steering wheels, candy wrappers and potato chip bags shoved into various orifices, stained seats, liquid stains on the dashboard, and--three times!--cigarette ashes on the dashboard/console/seating.

    People are animals, and that they treat shared surfaces like shit shouldn't be a surprise. On top of that these cars receive less cleaning between changeovers than an airplane interior. If self-driving Teslas and Ubers stop killing people and autonomous car-shares do become a thing, the materials inside them will probably be different than what's in today's non-autonomous cars.

    At a recent future materials conference hosted by auto industry media company Wards Auto, experts drawn from the automotive supply industry revealed their awareness of this fact.

    A division of Continental, Benecke-Hornschuch focuses on hard and soft materials such as artificial leather and woodgrain and curved touchscreens for the auto industry. On the safety front, Benecke-Hornschuch has developed for instrument panels a series of soft-touch textile variants, such as Acella and Xpreshn, that are lightweight, durable, cleanable, sewable and require no scoring for airbag deployments, [Vice President of R&D Erhard] Barho says.
    … Autonomous cars and taxis could be shared by dozens of people every day, which means flooring and other materials will need to be more durable, while also being stylish and able to muffle noise.
    [Supplier Auria Solutions] is preparing to launch a new product, Armorlite, a heavy-duty industrial material that can be used for flooring and patterned to look like – among other things – carbon fiber, wood planks, marble, camouflage and diamond plating.
    "Whatever you can print, we can do it," Allison says. In Taber abrasion testing, conventional non-woven and tufted automotive carpet lasts about 2,000 cycles. In the same testing, he says Armorlite can endure 15,000 abrasion cycles.

    Developing new materials like these is expensive and resource-intensive. Who'd have thought the sector would be driven by human slovenliness?

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  • 06/08/18--10:22: Back to the Drawing Board
  • When was the last time you heard someone say "Back to the drawing board" as a euphemism for reformulating plans? In this age of digital sketching, having an ergonomically slanted surface for drawing on paper no longer seems desirable, at least to mass manufacturers. But French designer Benjamin Benais still sees the merits of drawing boards, so has begun designing and producing his own.

    Benais' design (which has the unfortunate and infantilizing name of "My Drawing Board" etched across the bottom) is a simple one, made from two pieces of 19mm plywood and a quartet of metal hinges. A magnet holds the drawing in place--anyone remember having to keep their fingernails long to undo drafting dots?--and allows the paper to be rotated as needed.

    You can ignore the dated bit about Kickstarter--the board was successfully Kickstarted last year, and Benais is now selling them for €179.00 (USD $210) a pop.

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    For every Silicon-Valley-VC-backed product design startup, I wish there were 100 people like Lynn Fisher. "I am a painter and Art teacher in New Jersey," Fisher writes, "and about fifteen years ago I came up with an idea to use old pieces of leather to make journals and sketchbooks for my friends as Christmas gifts. Everyone seemed to like them and a few suggested that I teach my students how to make leather books."

    Six years ago Fisher began selling them online, and to date has sold 3,000 of them. The sketchbooks are refillable, making these lifetime purchases, and she's also expanded into leather pencil rolls, brush rolls and aprons.

    Fisher continues to teach her students how to make the sketchbooks, and perhaps they'll grow up to be maker-entrepreneurs too.

    Check out her stuff on Etsy, Amazon and her website, Zenfish Leather.

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    I think carpet is a terrible idea. It seems perfectly formed to trap dirt within the pile, it's a nightmare to clean and it's made out of synthetic fibers. And when I saw this furniture object that incorporated carpet, I wondered what the designer was thinking:

    Then I saw what the designer was thinking:

    Okay, I get that some people enjoy the feel of carpet under their bare feet. And I respect any designer who creates something for themselves as a one-off. But from a hygiene perspective, this is totally gross.

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    Of all the ridiculous arguments you'll overhear on the NYC subway, most are not worth your time to listen in on; it's obvious that St. Mark's Place is not within "the Lower East Side" and everyone knows that Kanye West does not have a degree in architecture. But this one was too good for me not to surreptitiously lean towards: A woman insisting that those giant head statues on Easter Island actually have bodies below the earth's surface, and her male companion dismissing this as a myth.

    View the full content here

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    After another challenging year of jury review, we've finally reached a consensus of winners in the 2018 Core77 Design Awards! Stay tuned next Thursday morning, June 14th, when we'll be revealing honorees on the Core77 Design Awards site and right here on Core77. 

    Fun fact: the Core77 Design Awards trophy makes infinite trophies for you and your team!

    Our professional and student honorees will be awarded in 14 separate categories and one project this year will be awarded the Covestro Materials Prize, which will be presented to the project this year that took the most thoughtful, sensitive and intelligent approach to using polycarbonate and/or polycarbonate blend materials. 

    Best of luck to all of those who submitted this year! Tune in again next Thursday morning to see who's taking home the bacon. 

    Check out last year's winners here!

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    For Princess Traveller Studio, Mango developed new travel products on a continuous basis. As with most designs by Studio Mango, we aim to solve problems small and large by adding valuable features and user experiences.

    In this case a personal annoyance of a Studio Mango team member was presented as a concept sketch to the client. The annoyance being losing or not knowing where you have left your flight ticket and passport during the numerous of checks while traveling. This is a stressful situation for most people, even without having to keep track of your documents and valuables.

    View the full project here

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    For this year's Core77 Design Awards, we conducted 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.

    Joe Hebenstreit is at the forefront of an exciting new product that changes perceptions of augmented reality from an entertainment tool into a viable, highly useful product. As the CEO of Shaper Origin, "the world's first handheld CNC machine" as they've dubbed it, he's helping lead the example for how AR technology can drastically change people's day to day lives. Recently we spoke with Hebenstreit, where the Core77 Design Awards Commercial Equipment Jury Captain shared more about his background in the field of engineering and AR as well as his thoughts on the innovations that will truly influence our future.

    Can you tell me a little bit about your background and how that led you to Shaper?

    I started my career as a design engineer in the automotive industry and at some point in time I realized I had certain ambitions outside of just being strictly pigeon-holed within the automotive industry, and I inched to move more into product design to get a lot more general exposure. My time spent at frog design was really quite formative and provided a good opportunity for me to see a huge range of projects at different stages of development. It allowed me to move from just having exposure to the design and engineering side of products to also getting a lot better insight into the overall business impact to our clients. So, I think that was really a pretty formative step in my background and my career.

    As an engineer and as a technologist, I developed a reputation at frog for being able to really help the designers pull off the stuff that they wanted to do. I was pulled into Amazon Lab 126, their hardware division, in the early days of Kindle development. Between my experience at Amazon and my experience at Google, I stayed in this area of being able to pull tricky technology out of a lab space and into more peripheralized settings, like actually applying to products.

    The Shaper Origin

    But, bringing it back to Shaper, I'm also a really hands-on builder, designer, maker and this has really been an interesting opportunity and very exciting to be able to pull together all of these previous experiences. For example, a lot of years of experience with user interactions and consumer electronics and bringing it into a product that really leverages quite complex technology that allows people to pull off things that would've otherwise been impossible to pull off.

    In what phase of Shaper development did you jump onto the team?

    I jumped into the process soon after I'd seen a much earlier version of a prototype, and that's where I got involved in the conversation with Alec in particular and kind of developed a relationship where he's picking my brain over steps to commercialization, since both of the founders came from more academic backgrounds and didn't really have any experience. So that's exactly where I got involved.

    But the challenges of going from that to getting to a product that is now manufacturable and actually shipping to people today, it's obviously a really huge jump. And I'm sure that the Core 77 audience is probably quite aware of all the challenges that exist of bringing any kind of complex, connected device to commercialization. But Origin was especially challenging—it's effectively a handheld precision cutting robot that's quite complex electromechanically, and also along the software side. This thing is entirely powered by computer vision, so a lot of stuff coming together.

    But, one thing I'll point out that's pretty interesting, and I think especially relevant to things like new commercial equipment, where innovations are defining new product territories, is that there were a variety of hurdles including even understanding classifications for regulatory certifications. So, for example, is what we're building a computer? Or is it a power tool? I mean, it's actually both, but before this point, that kind of category or classification didn't really exist, so we had to work really hard with regulatory agencies to figure out how to develop it, how to test it, how to make sure that it was safe for consumer applications, so... That's a pretty big challenge to take on, but one worth doing.

    Yeah, you're carving out a new, totally new section of the industry. No pun intended.

    Exactly. Yes.

    Also, I think it's worth mentioning that Shaper has done an excellent job just in terms of the branding and look of the product—it's certainly something new for the power tool industry. It seems you found a way to find your audience very quickly.

    Yeah. Thank you. That's certainly something that we worked really hard at and it's really important to us. And I think it just does come back to really thinking about where we want to be positioned as a company, but also really what kind of relationship we want to have with our user and how we want our user to be able to approach our tools. We wanted this to certainly be as or more capable than existing professional power tools, for example, but quite approachable and not intimidating and really, really speak to the idea of instead of somebody looking at our tools and thinking, "Wow, I need to go learn how to use this thing." We really wanted people to just grab it and start using it and that's how you do it.

    Right. Exactly. The look of some power tools make you feel like, "oh, I have to be part of some special club to know how to use this," you know?

    Totally. Very off-putting and uninviting. So much our company and the people within it are mission focused, which has been very important. But I give a lot of credit to our designers who really challenged the status quo. I think the easy thing would be looking at a product in this industry and being like, "Okay, this is what tools are supposed to look like, so let's rinse and repeat this." But I give a lot of credit to our designers for not doing that. There's a fine balance between completely alienating people who would use power tools.

    So when you started at Shaper, what drew you in the most? 

    I've always been, I mentioned, very hands-on and kind of a maker, builder, house remodeler, whatever. Tinkerer, machinist, welder, all that stuff. And I think, no doubt, my various experiences of my past converged [with Shaper]. I think especially my experiences with working on [Google] Glass forced me to spend a lot of the time thinking about augmentation and what that really means for human performance. So, I would maybe consider it a zeitgeist of where my mind was at when I met Alec and Ilan, who are the founders of Shaper.

    For me personally, I've never been all that excited about the prospect of, for example, a Starbucks ad being served up into my eyeball at the just the right time when I'm walking down the street. That's not necessarily my ideal state of human augmentation, but when I ran into these guys at a tech conference, I was immediately floored by the concept quite honestly. Not necessarily floored by the fact that it is a woodworking router, but I could very, very clearly see that this is the beginning of something that is inevitable. This intersection between humans and machines; there really isn't a solid line anymore. It's not like the robot sitting over in the corner and it's over there doing his or her thing. It's really this symbiotic relationship between humans and machines. I got really excited about that and it's really what's driven the vision of where we're going. 

    Yes, Shaper is one of those rare products where you think about AR and it serves a real functional purpose, whereas a lot of technology companies using augmented reality at the moment just use it for fun. It's not so practical.

    Right. The industry, in general, is still at this preliminary stage where people are trying to figure out, almost painfully, how do we apply AR to whatever we're doing and what does it mean? But for us, it's very clear.

    The most useful [augmented reality] applications will be those where the user can actually impact their physical reality with digital information that's presented or applied at the exact right time and at the exact right place or space.

    It's interesting because we see a lot of noise and hype around AR or mixed reality, but this is exactly what we're doing with this product and I think that this is the area where it's best utilized. The most useful applications will be those where the user can actually impact their physical reality with digital information that's presented or applied at the exact right time and at the exact right place or space.

    I think that's the really exciting thing and, of course, there is a huge range of opportunities. Entertainment is one that we see...This is definitely what's powering our machine and kind of where we're redefining the intuition-based user interface between what would have normally been a very complex precision cutting operation and making that quite simple for anybody to use within minutes of approaching the tool.

    Right. So I'm glad that you mentioned your work in the Amazon 126 lab because you were talking about bringing these technologies that are really complicated into a viable product. How do you strike a balance between bringing something that is really progressive into the world while still making sure it's commercially successful, and what design elements should designers keep in mind when developing something like this?

    This is always a huge, huge challenge. When cool, new technology arrives, and you have a team of engineers who are excited about bringing a cool technology to market, I think what's get lost a lot of times is actually the user. So the one overarching principle I like to apply is to always place the user first. And I think it is cliché by now, particularly with Core77 audience in general, but really any time you're working on new stuff the goal should be for the radical new technology to basically just disappear, to be invisible to the user.

    If we're doing our jobs right, nobody should really care, for example, that Shaper Origin is powered by computer vision, augmented reality and all of those words. Really what people should care about is that "Wow, I just approached this thing. It was very intuitive, natural. I picked it up. I presented it this view of my workspace and I'm just going to start cutting and I kind of know what to do next because it's obvious what to do next." So, for us, Shaper's core mission is to make precision cutting easy and accessible, so we just keep looking for areas of user friction and existing processes and then we aim to reduce that friction.

    The formula that we apply is when something is easy, it is used more frequently. It becomes the go-to solution if users are inclined to do it. Is it easy? Great, they're gonna use it. And so, if we are solving real problems for real users, then commercial success will follow.

    What technological advancements as of late are you particularly excited about?

    Pretty heavy question! There have been so many things obviously. I think we're obviously in a special time where things are quickly converging and moving rapidly. The really obvious standout ones are things like autonomous vehicles, how that will reshape the landscape of what our road looks like.

    Personally, what I'm most looking forward to, especially in industrial scale and applications, is really the convergence of digital design information and the physical world. I really get excited about this concept of bits to atoms and atoms to bits, and having this very fluid loop between those worlds. So I'm very excited about innovations and things like reality capture and innovations, and being able to manipulate physical matter and to be able to, like I mentioned, very quickly move back and forth between these worlds so that it's much more seamless than it has been in the past. I think that's gonna be really important to a lot of industrial applications, whether it's very large-scale, architectural-scale buildings or personal fabrication project.

    Right. It's interesting because it seems the role of designer is probably going to change in the future just by the fact that a lot of processes will be more intuitive and now your job is not as much about figuring out all the math as it is finalizing the vision.

    Yeah, it will be especially important for designers to just remain focused on end user. I keep coming back to that because I just think it's so important.

    As the Commercial Equipment jury captain I think it's important to talk about the idea of designing things for people, and commercial equipment is often about creating something that maintains the safety, comfort and efficiency of operators in a difficult work environment. What are the most important elements of keep in mind when designing for users in this space?

    Again, this comes back to the user side. The most important aspects to keep in mind are actually designing for the user in these cases instead of designing machines and then asking users to conform to them. Using Shaper as an example, we are really rethinking concepts around precision cutting. Very frequently when people within the industry think of precision cutting, I think people naturally think of CNC, and CNC is a very powerful concept. Computer control is a very powerful concept applied to a lot of commercial, industrial applications. I would consider it the invisible key-enabling technology behind that drives just about everything that's manufactured.

    So, CNC is such a hugely powerful concept, but it's this behind the scenes thing that few people outside a very specific industry know about, or necessarily even need to care to know about it. But the basics of how it operates really hasn't changed since it was developed in the early '50s to manufacture airplane components in very repeated, in large quantities. So I think that's a really good example of something where equipment is very complex and processes are complex. For somebody to be very proficient in CNC it usually takes a lot of years of experience, a lot of knowledge, a lot of trial and error, a lot of just training, right?

    And that's a really good example of the way things were done originally, where the user was forced to mold themselves to that environment, so learn the equipment. Learn the complicated interface. Learn the complicated workflow. This was how it had to be. I think that what we're doing at Shaper is turning that around and saying user first and how can we bring the tools and the interfaces to the user to something that would be more natural and intuitive, and kind of change the thought process behind how this is done. That's a driving force.

    I think that that is one of the most important elements to keep in mind when designing for users in this space, especially in a commercial environment where, as you indicated, so many things are really on the line. This is certainly, potentially much more high-stakes impact, whether it's a medical device or a big piece of commercial equipment in a steel plant or something like this, where workplace safety would be important.

    The winners of the 2018 Core77 Design Awards will be announced this Thursday, June 14th at Core77.com. To check out all of the winners from the 2017 awards, click here

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    Dating all the way back to Neolithic times, the mortise and tenon is the oldest wood joint known to mankind. While the specific provenance of the joint is unknown, I'm willing to bet the inventor wasn't a virgin. In the thousands of years since, craftspeople have developed an almost absurd variety of joints, some of which you learned in the ID shop at school, some of which you've never heard of, and that one that you can always see in your head but have forgotten the name of.

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    [Editor's note: Popfoam is an advertiser with Core77]

    As a designer, you can probably picture a finished product in your mind long before the specs are finalized. But even if that mental image is crystal clear, significant questions linger regarding how it will all come together—not the least of which being what materials you should use.

    In my 30 years of designing products, I've found that choosing the right material is one of the most daunting processes I deal with. Luckily, materials are a lot more versatile than they used to be. What was once impossible can now be achieved with relative ease. Additionally, surface treatments have a huge impact on the user experience, and even three decades ago, our options were much more limited. Today, we can print onto almost any material and produce graphics with amazing quality and complexity.

    Photo via Popfoam

    But with fewer limitations also come more difficult decisions. Beyond simply sorting through all the amazing surface treatment options available, I have to balance multiple concerns at once: designing the proper product features, while creating an appealing aesthetic, as well as ensuring that the ultimate cost of goods can support all these design decisions. The right material to accomplish one of those goals may actively work against another.

    So in an ironic twist of events, the process of deciding on materials has actually become more complex. But it's also one that many designers love—myself included. Picking the perfect materials is tricky, but when you get it just right, almost nothing compares.

    Drilling Down on Materials

    Rather than talking about material selection generally, I want to explore it in the context of a specific material: Ethylene Vinyl Acetate—or EVA—foam.

    Historically, it's been used only in the footwear industry, but its applications have expanded rapidly in recent years. This is largely because EVA foam excels in impact and vibration absorption, water resistance, and chemical resistance. It also floats, is highly durable, and comes in many different durometers and colors.

    Photo via Unsplash

    Part of what's driven the popularity of EVA foam is its versatility in terms of surface treatments. This material is suitable for a number of techniques, including cubic dip printing, flatbed 3D printing, laser etching, silk screening, pad printing, molded-in textures or logos, and co-molding. That wide range of options gives designers a lot of flexibility. With all the available options, how can you know which direction will perform best on your product?

    While EVA is a great material with lots of great attributes, that doesn't mean it's ideal in every application. That decision is ultimately the designer's call, and the way to narrow down options is to think about the end consumer—the person who'll ultimately pick the product off the shelf.

    The Elements of an Eye-Catching Design

    Consider that the surface of a product is often the first thing a shopper sees. And with a quick scan, most shoppers will assign a value to the products they see. Ultimately, it doesn't matter whether their assessment is accurate—shoppers' snap judgments often guide their purchasing decisions.

    The first thing to determine is how the product will look. If the design is meant to appear innovative or upscale, the graphics must reflect that. The same is true of products that command a high retail price. You must choose materials and graphics that project the value of the product.

    Photo via Popfoam

    If product cost is the most important factor driving the design, high-quality or more costly surface treatments are probably not an option. That doesn't mean that there aren't creative ways to make a low-cost product pop with a simple, low-cost graphic element. Sometimes, a beautiful, colorful pad-printed logo on a product can make all the difference. This is where you get to be creative!

    Performance is the final consideration. You want your graphic treatments to hold up under use, not wear off or fade. Some materials do a better job of preserving graphics than others. These days, there's no excuse for graphic treatments that don't hold up. Either the manufacturing process was poor or the wrong treatment was chosen for that particular usage and environment.

    Photo via Popfoam

    If you've selected the right materials and complementary surface treatments, your product will practically jump off the shelves and exceed expectations once it's out of the box. This all stems from an understanding of who that product is targeted toward and why. If you understand your target market's needs and desires, you can figure out all the design details.

    Selecting a Surface Treatment

    It's tempting to settle on a material and select a surface treatment based on just one priority, whether that's looks, cost, performance, or complexity. For a product to be successful, though, it must incorporate all those priorities and balance them carefully.

    Ask yourself the following questions to ensure you're not overlooking or underestimating anything:

    How bold do you want the product to look? 

    If the goal is to be as bold as possible, techniques like cubic dip or printed graphics could be a great option. The cost is higher, but the finished product really pops. For a subtler look, consider molded textures. They help products be distinct without being loud. Injection molded EVA foam is great with molded surface textures. It's an amazing contrast to have a soft material with a very detailed molded texture. You can have contrasting textures molded adjacent to one another in order to break up a surface or to provide better grip or tactile feel.

    How important are product graphics to sales? 

    Some products sell themselves based on looks alone. When this is the case, it's justifiable or even essential to invest in more expensive surface treatments. For example, you can use EVA foam in conjunction with another material to create a rich surface texture and product look. EVA can be designed to shrink around another material. It also bonds extremely well to certain plastics. These manufacturing options can create a stunning piece with color, texture, and even durometer contrast. That said, if the appeal is tied more to the brand name or product features, expensive surface treatments would likely just unnecessarily inflate costs.

    What unit volumes do you have to meet? 

    This does not mean the number of products in the initial run. It means the number of products necessary to produce for it to be considered a sales success. That figure reveals a lot about how total production costs change with more or less expensive surface treatments.

    How durable do the graphics need to be? 

    For products like toys or sporting goods, it's important for graphics to endure a lot of use. Techniques like molded-in graphics or laser-etched graphics are some of the most durable. Laser etching uses a laser to create a logo or other graphic onto the material, creating a nice tone-on-tone contrast that's both subtle and elegant. Molding graphics is great because it is free once the mold is made. Raised molded graphic can even be combined with pad printing to get color on the tops of the letters or shapes.

    What does your manufacturer think? 

    No one knows how well a material handles surface treatments better than the manufacturer of that material. Consulting with the producer reveals what is possible and where costs or savings exist. If and when you have questions about graphics, material manufacturers are the best source of insights and expertise. You must be very clear about how you want your surface treatments to look and perform. At the end of the day, as the designer, you're responsible for making sure you get exactly what you want. And if your manufacturer is unwilling to supply that information, it's time to work with a different manufacturer.

    It's very difficult to pick just the right material and just the right surface treatment, but it's very easy to identify the wrong choices—they're the ones that compromise quality, unnecessarily inflate costs, and disappoint designers and consumers alike. Ruling out the wrong options takes time. Once the process is complete, however, only the perfect option remains.

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    With a rich history and an incredible track record of success, the WantedDesign's Design School Workshop launched at the start of this year's New York Design Week, NYCxDesign, mixing and mashing students and mentors from all over the world to share, to collaborate, and to learn.

    The co-founders of Wanted Design, Odile Hanaut and Claire Piage, have always considered design education critical to the success of the design profession, and have once again put it at the center (and as the finale of the week) of their design event. Indeed, the initiative spanned both Wanted's—The students worked in the Wanted Brooklyn location in Industry City, and then researched and presented in Wanted Manhattan at the Tunnel.

    Hanaut was enthusiast about the result: "This year brought the biggest number of participating schools and students (and languages and cultural backgrounds), and certainly the richest in term of exchanges and conceptualization. It was a group of extremely motivated, skilled, curious, talented and enthusiastic students. And in listening to their final presentation, I felt that we can be reassured about the important role this new generation of students will play in envisioning and designing tomorrow's people lives."

    Led by James Meraz and Chiara Ferrari of ArtCenter College of Design, this year's them was "Future Heirloom." Here was the pitch:

    Students were tasked with discovering what constitutes the modern heirloom, and how we contain and display these heirlooms in meaningful and tactile ways that can be passed down from generation to generation. An heirloom may be defined as an antiquity or some kind of a social, cultural and family artifact, but the question needs to be asked, "What are the artifacts that millennials value?" What do they feel has equity, and are meaningful enough to pass on to future generations?

    Further, the workshop confronted a shift in the way we consider collection and preservation of "moments of meaning."

    While the object may continue to be important, it might now share its dominance or presence with the containment-display, or preservation of our evidence of the past. Craft, surface, textile and material conjugation will play no small part in this exploration. Design teams will explore outcomes that may have a digital and material conclusion, making connections through analog and digital fabrication modes. What is the hybrid Heirloom of the future? How will Nex-gen make connections to their past, present, and future?

    Added Maraz and , "The brief was devised to have a philosophical, even existential component, as well as challenging these young designers consider the "moments of meaning" that they would want to leave behind; what might they speculate around what we would value enough to pass on to future generations. I actually was not prepared for the depth of intellectual curiosity and passion that these 33 multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary students brought into the workshop every single day."

    At the final presentation, the Jury Committee chose their favorites, but there was a lot to get excited about, and a ton of Q&A during the presentation. The presentations went over an hour longer than they were supposed to, but nobody minded since the material was so fascinating.

    Here are the participants, and then on to the work!

    Participating Schools and Leads
    Centro (Mexico), Sebastian Ocampo
    Aalto University (Finland), Pentti Kareoja
    STRATE School of design (France), Cecilia Talopp
    Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, New York), Constantin Boym
    ArtCenter College of Design (Pasadena, California), David Mocarski, James Meraz, Chiara Ferrari
    The Strzemin´ski Academy of Art Lódz´ (Poland), Dr. Boguslaw Krzciuk Appalachian State University (Boone, North Carolina), Richard Prisco

    Allan Chochinov, Partner, Core77; Chair, MFA Products of Design
    Amy Auscherman, Herman Miller
    Tomek Rygalik, Stuio Rygalik

    Sponsors and Mentors
    The sponsors and mentors for the workshop were Lauren Slowik from Shapeways, Emily Howe from FilzFelt, Marwa Cupif and Valerie Cottereau from Artefacto, and Louis Lim from Makingworks.

    Core77 was once again the media partner, XL Airways was the airline partner, along with Strzeminski Academy of Art Lódz from Poland, participating with the support of the Polish Cultural Institute New York and KGHM Foundation.

    Let's get to the projects!


    Aliette Platiau, Strate School of Design
    Linda Xin, Pratt Institute
    Barbara Reszka, Strzemin´ski Academy of Art Lódz´
    Mason Hawkins, Appalachian State University
    Andres Zavala, ArtCenter College of Design

    Imprint is a smart wearable that transmits both the physical and intangible memories of your loved ones to future generations, acting as the surrogate of a loved one. The heirloom captures the physical embrace between two people through its cast brass form, expressing the details and folds of the skin in the final form. It is embedded with sensing technology that stores the history of a loved one through location tracking and heartbeat.

    Data capturing is activated when two loved ones engage in the same gesture—or "Imprint" moment. Location tracking and heartbeat are collected to indicate a connection to place. The "Imprint" is passed down from one generation to another, keeping the data of the original family member stored in it forever. When the device gets passed down to the next generation, the user feels gentle pulses of warmth whenever he or she passes locations where "memory" data was captured. "We imagine that IMPRINT can also be used to comfort users in times of need with its emotion-sensing capabilities," adds the team.

    "Ubiquitous computing and digital sensing give us the opportunity to capture memories and give life to objects in ways we haven't before. Imprint is a response to our generation's cultural shift, where experiences are more valued than objects within themselves. Our future heirloom is about passing down intangible experiences in a surrogate object, that lives and breathes with each generation."


    Tony Yau, Aalto UniversityHugo Artarit, Strate School of Design
    Marie Beaulieu, CentroAlynn Tergevorkian, ArtCenter College of Design

    Neo Heritage is a provocation that reminds the public that our trash is precious. What we are leaving behind will affect our future generations. According to Geyer Roland of Science Advances Journal (June 2017), as of 2015, approximately 6300 million metric tons (Mt) of plastic waste has been generated—79% has been dumped into landfills, 12% has been incinerated, and only 9% percent has been recycled. The team argues, "Plastic waste is the global heirloom we will inevitably leave behind for our future generations if current trends continue."

    "Our team is proposing a movement; inviting artists, designers, social impact and environmental groups to take part in repairing cracks and breaks in the city using the recycled plastic we mindlessly dispose of on a daily basis. Collection receptacles are placed in central locations of the city, acting as a beacon of change. This invites those who dispose of their plastic to follow the painted lines throughout the city which will eventually lead them to another receptacle, or a piece of the city that has been repaired."

    "An heirloom is something that leaves a trace behind for future generations. We want to leave behind the trace of being good ancestors."


    Jose miguel Ramirez, Centro
    Kartikaye Mittal , Pratt Institute
    Adrianna Pomykacz, Strzemin´ski Academy of Art Lódz´
    Sophie Randleman, Appalachian State University
    Eveliina Juuri, Aalto University

    Calla is a solar-powered felt lamp that records and reproduces the movement, temperature and intensity of sunlight. It relies on minimal, basic technologies that allow for it to last for decades, establishing and maintaining a dialogue with the surrounding nature.

    You can use CALLA as a freestanding or wall lamp. When you turn it on, the device reminds you of the natural lighting experience and encourages you to go out into nature "to become part of a universal heirloom. We were inspired by the phenomenon of phototropism, the growth of an organism in response to a light stimulus," offers the team. "Calla reacts to stimuli from the environment, and creates a sense of belonging to a larger ecosystem, while simultaneously strengthening the bond between individuals through a ritual and positive emotion. The information recorded by Calla acts as environmental indicators that will communicate the state of the environment in order to increase its protection and combat its degradation. It is the passing on of nature as a gift and the reminder of our place in it."


    Gabriela Barrera, Pratt Institute
    Lindsay Everhart, Appalachian State University
    Marta Wota, Strzemin´ski Academy of Art Lódz´

    Amalgam, the "family identity pattern generator," defines the future heirloom by building a unified connection between family generations. Using an algorithm, it decodes one's genetics, personality, and signature to produce an abstract pattern on a glass tile that is unique to that individual. Amalgam allows the user to then "layer their legacy" among those who came before them—much like a family tree.

    "Amalgam uses moments of meaning, such as weddings, to initiate the creation of a new tile for those involved to build emotional connection," explains the team. "The transparency of the glass tiles allows families to see the overlay of previous generations and highlight their similarities/differences. Light embodies the spirit of a person and can be used commemorate specific members of family during a time of celebration or difficulty. Using art as a medium, Amalgam merges science, technology and emotions to create a unique experience that can become a ritual for future generations to come."


    Markus Holste, Aalto University
    Valentina Villarreal, Centro
    Jeremy Silberberg, Pratt Institute
    Noah Howells, Appalachian State University
    Marta Grodek, Strzemin´ski Academy of Art Lódz´

    Kii is a portable device that users hold and interact with to control their environment in the AR/VR space. It is comprised of a series of linkages or "totems" that represent various categories that are indicated via tactile symbols on each link. Each totem is touch-sensitive, and acts as selection tool. Kii has two control pieces at either end of the device that function as the user's hands and are manipulated to move objects inside of AR/VR.

    "With Kii, users can create an infinite archive of virtually inhabitable memories," submits the team. "Kii features customizable totems that indicate landscapes, objects, and structures that exist in augmented and virtual reality. As users move these totems, their respective augmented and virtual representations are altered accordingly. Once the experience is complete, it is stored for future accessibility. The result is a collection of layered, personal experiences that can be shared with future generations to emphasize the intimate revelation of memory."

    MELIO (Collective Memory)

    Alice Hixon Kirk, Pratt Institute
    Agathe Baudin, Strate School of Design
    Miranda Lapour , ArtCenter College of Design
    Ryan Decker, Appalachian State University
    Martyna Piasciak, Strzemin´ski Academy of Art Lódz´

    Melio (Collective Memory) is an immersive AR/VR platform for collective memory. Users access a memory catalog of collective creation and curation with the personal Melio Stone—your key to the collective memory space. "The Melio Stone is the last physical manifestation of precious materiality that millennial nomads require," argues the team.

    "AR-capable glasses scan the unique profile of your Melio Stone to unlock an augmented world of collective memories. From here, you can upload images, video, or audio content to document what is unique and precious to you. You can submit your content to the collective memory database, and customize your visibility settings. Melio's dynamic interface allows you to immerse yourself in a private moment, or to share your favorite memories and artifacts in group scenarios and new research modalities. Become a part of our larger collective legacy by submitting your unique perspective to this interactive time capsule."


    Julia Popova, Aalto University
    Mitja Behnke, Strate School of Design
    Alberto Zinser, Centro
    Charlie Hodges, ArtCenter College of Design

    "An heirloom is passed from one generation to the next, carrying meaning and memory, while adapting to the needs of each new owner," offers the team. "Living in the Anthropocene means the environment is now our heirloom. But in a world of notifications, alerts, updates and interruptions, we are losing connection to this heirloom, to the moments that matter most. We wondered, if people could customize nature, would they care about it as much as they care about their social media presence?"

    "Root(S) is our solution. Using CRISPR technology, we can now put up to 100mb of data into cellular DNA without corruption or genetic mutation—an organic harddrive. Just as people have carved their initials into bark, Root(S) uses this technology to allow people to safely engrave their initials into the genome of a tree. Leaf samples collected from every visit become digital keys which—when scanned with a smartphone—enable access to archived videos, photos and songs from that day. Your growing tree becomes the backdrop for your life."

    ":We believe that personalizing a tree at a cellular level will engender a powerful bond between a user and their tree, creating a living heirloom that will extend across generations. It's time we allowed people to leave a permanent mark today that makes for a better tomorrow. "

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