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  • 12/01/18--19:55: Reader Submitted: Alcyon
  • Alcyon is a student-project, realised at the Dessau Department of Design under the supervision of Prof. Manuel Kretzer and in cooperation with German car manufacturer AUDI. The project considers the future of mobility and how upcoming technologies, such as autonomous driving, might affect the relationship between driver and vehicle. Arguing that a car's interior will dynamically shift in between different usages and occupations, such as working, relaxation or meeting/ communication, the students propose a vision of a new type of middle console; a hybrid in between a living creature and a functional object. Derived from the latin word alcyoneum (coral), the project's name is vicarious for both its distinct - computationally generated - shape and materiality. The prototype, which is roughly 60 x 60 x 30 cm, was 3D printed form a novel biodegradable algae filament. In addition to practical aspects, such as its use as a table or tray, the complex structure also forms the base to grow reindeer lichen (cladonia rangiferina) – an organism consisting of algae and fungi, living in symbiosis without the need for human intervention. Lichen in this case are used as bioindicators for air quality while the algae provides oxygen through photosynthesis, impacting and improving the indoor climate and thus generating a better working and living environment. Alcyon creates a piece of nature inside the smallest urban space and decelerates everyday life through its haptics, looks and its liveliness both emotionally and visually.

    View the full project here

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    There's something charming about creating your own fire pit or fire ring with pre-cut blocks or natural stone:

    But if you're interested in something more designey, Ben Uyeda shows you how to create your own shapes by injecting some digital fabrication into the process. Uyeda CADs up his desired forms and 3D prints them, then creates a mold in which he can cast inexpensive concrete.

    We give him extra points for leaving an initial mold mishap in the final cut, as that's something we could totally see happening to a lot of people:

    Also note that you don't need a 3D printer to do this; as Uyeda points out, you can form or carve your own shapes out of whatever material you have handy, then make a mold from those. But if you do want to go the 3D-printed route, Uyeda's made the 3D files available for free here.



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    Here's a fun bit of infrastructural engineering adapted to a humble domestic application. While your home doesn't generate the seismic activity that civil engineers worry about, there is one culprit that vibrates and makes a racket: Your washing machine. Few among us have the inclination to monitor and rebalance laundry loads, and if you've got sensitive downstairs neighbors--or short hose lines--a "dancing" washing machine presents a problem.

    An Italian start-up called Elmac has devised a solution by using Active Vibration Control, of the sort that engineers use to make buildings earthquake-safe. Look at the difference with Elmac's AVC system off, then on:

    In addition to the obvious benefits of less noise, the company claims their device will save energy on the spin phase, and prolong the life of your washer through less wear-and-tear on the parts.

    At about fifty bucks per unit--and a stunningly cheap two units for $60 total--the device seems inexpensive enough to be worthwhile.

    It's not clear if this one will make it over the finish line: At press time the Kickstarter campaign had $7,818 in pledges on an $11,349 goal. There are still 22 days left to pledge.


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    As a student, it can be difficult to convince yourself to invest money in something related to your professional career such as an awards program, let alone investing in a turkey sandwich for lunch. Though it may seem difficult to envision what applying to something like an awards program gets you, winning one offers several hidden benefits that could help your design career in the long run.

    For any students wavering in whether or not they should apply to awards programs this year, our Core77 Design Awards team put together a list of some honest points to consider before you submit to any awards program:

    You can get international attention before you even graduate

    And that's great for your future job hunt. With an award, not only have you proven that your ideas have merit in the real world, but it also gives you an opportunity to seek press, which helps refine your image as an expert in your field.

    2018 Core77 Design Award Furniture & Lighting Student Winner "LIGA" by Matthieu Muller & Pierre-Alexandre Cesbron

    Winning an award can help with Artist's Visas

    An O1 Artists Visa is for individuals who display excellence in the fields of science, athletics and art, and an application for getting one is reliant on official documents such as awards certificates to prove your work is, well, award-worthy!

    It's a great thing to mention in grad school applications

    A project in a portfolio is one thing, but one from your undergrad that was recognized and honored by well-respected designers in your field? That take things up a serious notch.

    2018 Core77 Design Awards Consumer Product Student Winner Abidur Chowdhury's inhaler prototypes and sketches.

    Winning an award can be a great motivator

    While winning in an award isn't the sole way of validating an idea, it can help boost your confidence. Even just the act of creating a submission works as a real-life exercise in learning how to convey your design ideas in a clear and compelling manner. 

    It can help start a conversation about your work with professors 

    Having healthy dialogue and discourse with faculty outside of the classroom is super important to professional development, as these people are often some of your first connections in your desired work field. Applying for an awards program is a great jump-off point for establishing a working relationship with faculty you admire; you can get an honest opinion from someone you trust about your most impressive projects, and crits can help you write out a well-balanced application.

    Students always get the best discount pricing

    Once you're out of school, prices go up for awards applications, so it's great to take advantage of these spoils while you can!

    Advice for applying

    Ask your school for financial help

    If you feel you can't afford to pay to submit, ask your school if they'd be willing to sponsor your submission—winning awards looks just as good for your school's design program as it does for you! :)

    Buy your English major friend dinner in exchange for editing your application

    If you can avoid it, never send an awards submission in without having someone else read over what you wrote. Awards programs commonly receive write-ups with incorrect spelling and less-than-desirable sentence structure.

    2018 C77DA Student Packaging Winner Lovisa Boucher did a great job of identifying a mood for her product photography that supported her project.
     

    Don't forget about images (including process!) and being selective with what you include

    This is where those annoying process photos that are oh-so-easy to forget to take come in handy. Awards programs want to learn a little bit about how you got to the final form of your project, so getting documentation amidst the design process helps further illustrate this journey. And of course, your final images make a big difference on the impact they'll have with the judges, so make sure they're as pro as possible.  Think about lighting; what kind of lighting will contribute to the mood of your project? Does it call for something straightforward (like for a tech product) or something more creative and subdued? 

    Lastly, don't bog judges down with a million photos! Only pick your best and most helpful images to include. 

    The 2018 project "No Fixed Address System" by Chih Chiu of Royal College of Art took away several awards last year—we can't help but think their super original video had something to do with that.
     

    Make a compelling video

    Come up with an original idea for a video that gets the message of your project across within a matter of a couple of minutes; if done correctly, it can make a huge impact. 

    Seize the moment

    If you have a project that's super topical to big real-world issues from the past year, this can help up your chances of getting attention from the judges. Seize your moment by applying. Finally, pick a category that's spot-on in relation to your project, and you'll be set for success!

    ___________________________________________________________________________________________

    The 2019 Core77 Design Awards will be open for entry starting January 9, 2019! Get yourself prepared now so you can save during the Early Bird entry period (lasting through January 31).

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    Two furniture trends we've been seeing:

    1) Mid-century modern knockoffs,

    2) Upstart designers attempting to make things that are different, just for the sake of being different.

    So it's a breath of fresh air to see industrial designer Leslie Montes' back-to-basics Kumiki furniture collection.

    Here's why we like it:

    It uses real wood. The wood is not pretending to be something else. The wood is not dressed up to prettify it in an artificial way. The material is allowed to be beautiful in its own right.

    It's flatpack and knockdown, i.e. practical for a younger buyer who will eventually move house. But there are no metal or plastic fasteners and their attendant hex keys, wrenches or ugly exposed fasteners. Instead it relies on simple joinery, in this case Japanese-inspired, that allows it to be put together with your bare mitts. Though maybe you could take an unused, rolled-up CB2 catalog and use it to whack in the wedges.

    It's minimalist. These pieces are not trying to scream at you from across a crowded expo hall. Where a lot of modern furniture is insecure and loud, these pieces are confident and silent. Less is more here; the simple design equals longevity to us, as there are no telltale flourishes that will make the pieces look dated in ten years or twenty.

    If people are a product of their experiences, so too is the furniture they design. Reading up on Montes' bio, it's clear that these pieces didn't just come to her in a flash. Rather, they are the culmination of a long-term and multinational focus on industrial design that has spanned three continents:

    Montes began her education by acquiring a BFA in Industrial Design from the University of Kansas. She broke the four-year program up with a study-abroad year at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Madrid, Spain--and also spent a summer at Japan's Doshisha University in an intensive Japanese language program. With her Bachelors in hand and a good grasp of Nihongo, Montes applied for, and scored, a Japanese-government-sponsored MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) research scholarship, which allowed her to pursue a Masters Degree in Design Strategy at Kyushu University.

    Montes capitalized on her time there. "During my three years at Kyushu University's Graduate School of Design," Montes writes, "I conducted on-site research with several artisanal furniture companies in the southern island of Kyushu to uncover the mindsets, approaches, and techniques that they used to incorporate sustainability into their products.

    "By speaking in Japanese to furniture company owners, woodworkers, material providers, and other people involved in the creation of artisanal furniture, I got an inside look at their mindset and how they approach their role as creators of quality wooden furniture.

    "After concluding my research and identifying sustainable techniques common to many artisanal Japanese furniture manufacturers, I incorporated some of these techniques and approaches into my own furniture collection."

    "My experience living in Japan made me realize how environmental differences can impact a culture's views on design."

    Congratulations to Ms. Montes for executing a long plan that has culminated in a simple, sturdy and attractive line of furniture. We look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

    Want to read about another designer with a long and effective game plan? Check out "How Michael DiTullo Designed His Way to Success."


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    "Most young children first encounter digital money in video games, where they can acquire coins to spend at will in the game environment," Filippo Yacob says. "There's no real accountability; there's no real learning. So they associate digital money with money that isn't real."

    But Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies are quickly becoming some of the realest elements of 21st-century financial literacy. As an inventor and a dad, Yacob worries that parents—many of them confused about blockchain themselves—have very few resources to help teach their kids about these topics.

    So his team at Primo Toys started working on Pigzbe, a "piggy wallet," and a dedicated cryptocurrency called Wollo that aim to familiarize families with the money of the future. The Pigzbe wallet—live on Kickstarter now—is a tactile toy that will let kids see, touch, and play games with digital-currency allowances and gifts from approved relatives and friends. Families can choose whether to keep the exchange in a walled test environment or convert the funds into actual, spendable money, by going through standard Know Your Customer and Anti-Money-Laundering checks.

    The goal is to bring all the abstraction of cryptocurrency into real-world, everyday play. Yacob's background with Cubetto, a screen-free wooden robot that teaches kids to code, and his co-founder Jon Marshall's experience creating Kano, the computer "anyone can make," taught them that simplifying complicated subjects for kids really just comes down to putting them in practical, hands-on applications.

    From left, co-founders Jon Marshall, Filippo Yacob, Adam Amos, and Richard Williams.

    "Pigzbe is a physical home for something digital," Yacob says. "In the same way that you can touch, feel, pick up, and shake a piggy bank, you can have this lovely kinesthetic interaction with Pigzbe. What I learned doing Cubetto—and what John learned designing Kano—is that these physical objects become really powerful portals into these digital experiences."

    "Children learn by doing, they learn by touching things."

    Yacob thinks that educational tools that aim to explain every aspect of financial transactions miss the point. Pigzbe is designed to teach families the essentials of cryptocurrency without getting bogged down in the minute details. "We think that anybody can learn about managing money in the digital world. They just need very simple, fun, and engaging tools that involve the whole family," he says.

    "Do you know how SMS works? No. You just know that you can send and receive messages. Do you know how your bank works? You don't. You just know that money comes in and out. We focus our message on the usefulness of a product, on how fun and how engaging the product can be. So we decided to focus on this interaction between family members around pocket money and allowances and what they can do with it."

    He's seen the potential of this product firsthand, from watching how his own family interacts with money. "My son was talking to his grandad on Skype about how he had been pretty good that day—he's a little devil sometimes—and my dad was showing him a one-pence coin, saying, 'I'll come and give you this because you've been good. I'll give it to you next month.'

    And, you know, every five-year-old has the attention span of a fly. So the lesson there was lost. He got excited for a reward that he never got. And the good behavior or the drive to be better got lost," says Yacob.

    When he looked into what it would take to send small amounts of money across international borders in real time, he was frustrated by the limited options. "I do my banking on my phone; I pay in shops using Apple Pay. Money's already digital. Why can't my dad send my son a one-pence coin? That was when I realized the opportunity. All of the other digital money boxes out there are run by banks: they're expensive, they have fees, and they don't let you transfer small amounts across international borders. They don't allow us to connect in that way."

    And digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, he found, are still slow, unreliable, and expensive. "We settled for creating our own token and a brand that's associated with family financing, something that is built specifically for the use case of 'piggy banking.'"

    If you feel hesitant about turning your family into a microfinancing network, rest assured that the Primo Toys team has built certain safeguards into their platform. "You would never find yourself interacting in the Pigzbe app with anyone who you didn't specifically allow into your system," explains Yacob. It's a closed network until the family opts to use the Wollo card and start spending the digital currency out in the world—that's when the Know Your Customers and Anti-Money Laundering checks kick in. And Primo Toys has already started building interest in the Wollo currency through a successful ICO (initial coin offering) earlier this year.

    Yacob recognizes that "when things are new, people don't understand them and are scared." But he sees Pigzbe as part of a healthy tide of products and services that will help people get more comfortable with blockchain-enabled currencies. "I think we're just going to see more real companies coming on, building really useful products with blockchain, and behaving with the same regulations as traditional companies.

    "You can bring something out of the screen and give the digital world a new dimension," Yacob says. "That's the promise of IoT, that you can imbue life and connectivity and magic into the inanimate physical objects that surround us. You can turn anything into a magical surface. We love physical devices, especially for kids and for learning—and for adult kids as well. We don't really stop playing just because we've grown up."

    Pigzbe is live on Kickstarter through January 25, 2019.

    —Katheryn Thayer


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    Moving from New York City to a remote farm has taught me a lot about consumerism.

    For the previous 20 years I lived in SoHo. Anything I might want--food, coffee, clothes, kitchen goods, consumer products, electronics, tools, hardware, raw materials from wood to upholstery foam to plastics--from any brand was within a few blocks.

    On this 47-acre farm, my initial impression was that nothing was within a few blocks. If I needed something, that meant driving towards the interstate and a Walmart. I spent a lot of money here acquiring necessary land-taming tools--a mattock, a billhook, a lopper, a riding mower, etc.--and subsequently tried saving money on raw materials by using what was available on the farm.

    That's because I realized my "nothing is within a few blocks" statement was incorrect. The previous residents of this farm left numerous junk piles on the property, as well as multiple outbuildings filled with stuff. Much of it was garbage, but I've found a bunch of buckets (infuriatingly) filled with good hardware mixed with rusted junk.

    I have been painstakingly sorting through the bucket contents to weed out the junk and organize the treasure trove of usable fasteners. Carriage bolts, framing nails, finish nails, ring-shanks, screw-shanks, panhead screws, deck screws, sheetrock screws, on and on. Separating them requires a sorting system. In the city I'd have walked over to Chinatown and bought two dozen cheap plastic takeout containers. With no such option here, I have been saving tin cans*.

    Even if you open a tin can by cutting through the complete periphery of the lid, it leaves that little jagged shard at the start/end point of the cut. I sliced my finger open on it once, before forming the habit of removing the lid, then running the can opener back and forth on the shard to flatten it. This works well.

    Before (ouch)
    After (nice and smooth)

    Performing this act put can openers in my consciousness, and because all computers can apparently read your brain these days, I was fed a can-opener-related video on my YouTube feed. In this video I learned that I "have been using the can opener all wrong!"

    Well, I must be some kind of jerk. Because I think if your can opener successfully opens cans, you haven't been using it "all wrong."

    That being said, I think there is one merit to using a can opener sideways. I've got your standard OXO can opener…

    …and my only gripe with it is that the cutting wheel, which dips into the product, is difficult to clean.

    Soaking it in soapy water simply makes the handles more difficult to separate. Every so often I go at the cutting wheel with a toothbrush but it's time consuming.

    Following the above video, YouTube's algorithm fed me this one. It's for the Kuhn-Rikon Auto Safety Lidlifter can opener:

    The design is clever and well-considered, and it doesn't leave a little shard you need to go back and forth over, and if I was a design juror I'd give this thing an award. And if I didn't already have a can opener, sure, I'd buy one because it's available at Walmart for just $17.95. But I do have a can opener, and it works fine, even if I'm using it "all wrong."

    I'm almost finished sorting the fasteners. I'll eventually be driving them into the lumber that has been abandoned in piles up at the stables, which I intend to build shed shelves out of. That lumber previously existed as the structure for some sort of animal shelter, and much of it is covered in the remnants of feces, but I'd rather clean it off than go buy new lumber. I'm not an anti-consumerist yet--there are still tons of tools I want to buy--but I'm getting there.

    *Unrelated pro tip for dog owners who feed raw. My guys eat raw meat, and I rotate fish into their diet for both the variety and the fish oil. The cheapest source of fish I could find is canned mackerel, which I purchase in bulk on Amazon. A 24-can case runs $25 to $30. My two 25-pound dogs each eat one can's worth as a daily meal in the winter, half a can each in the summer. That's about 50 cents to a dollar and change per meal. And by rinsing out the cans, you get 24 free metal containers.


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    With a background in industrial design, a good portfolio and some luck, you could land a job as a digital set designer for Hollywood. Their job involves, among other things, rendering cityscapes through which green-screened actors might run, fly or have car chases. But while the actors won't be replaced by computers yet, the days of designers specializing in cityscapes might be numbered.

    That's because researchers at NVIDIA have managed to harness the power of AI to render not just single scenes, but entire urban environments, and everything you might expect to see in one:

    "This is the first time we can do this with a neural network," said Bryan Catanzaro, Vice President of Applied Deep Learning at NVIDIA. "Neural networks – specifically – generative models are going to change the way graphics are created.

    "One of the main obstacles developers face when creating virtual worlds, whether for game development, telepresence, or other applications is that creating the content is expensive. This method allows artists and developers to create at a much lower cost, by using AI that learns from the real world."

    You can learn more about the technology here.



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    Editor's note: Although this is not sponsored content, the subject, Xometry, is an advertiser at Core77.

    Earlier we wrote up Xometry, the online, on-demand manufacturing platform that gives industrial designers instant quotes. With an existing network of producers equipped with machines that can do Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Stereolithography (SLA), Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), and PolyJet, they've got digital fabrication pretty well-covered. But in an effort to be as comprehensive as possible, they've recently added yet another process to their offerings: Multi Jet Fusion.

    "HP Multi Jet Fusion is an advanced technology that offers a variety of advantages for prototyping and production relative to other 3D printing technologies including faster print speeds, higher part quality, greater material variety and voxel-level design capabilities including new color options. Xometry will offer Nylon 12, Nylon 12 glass-filled, and custom material options at launch."

    Check out Multi Jet Fusion's possibilities here.



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    Remember Ori, the mechanized transforming apartment system designed in a collaboration between Yves Béhar and MIT Media Lab? It caused a stir (okay, a design blog stir) when the concept debuted in 2016, and we gave them a Core77 Design Award in 2017. But selling an entire apartment system is a tall order, and now the company is marketing individual components as standalones; if we had to guess, this is to make market uptake easier.

    First up is the Ori Pocket Closet, a sort of collapsible walk-in closet with a form factor that will be familiar to librarians and archivists:

    Some impressions:

    1. One potential issue is with installing that floor strip along the wall; from the variety of apartments I've lived in and visited (in New York City at least), very few had perfectly level floors.

    2. Another potential problem: There's a niggling safety feature that prevents you from "accidentally" crushing your roommate inside the closet after they've won your latest passive-aggressive Post-It note battle.

    Ori has also posted a standalone video of their Cloud Bed, which is pretty stunning in its effect:

    Some impressions:

    1. That's pretty nifty.

    2. I don't know if you caught it, but the back support for the couch actually doubles as the headboard for the bed. I realize I'm in the minority here, but I don't like the idea of sleeping with my head near a surface that has indirectly come into contact with subway, bus and taxi seats.

    3. I'd raise the question of apartments that lack perfectly plumb walls, but I suppose the installer could shim the supports.

    4. I'd also be uneasy about attaching this to a partition wall, particularly in a city like New York where landlords often play fast-'n-loose with regulations (i.e. 1/2" sheetrock on studs that are a lousy 24" on center).

    In any case, I don't mean to sound like a negative Nellie; Ori's furniture system is a wonderful idea that solves the persistent issue of urban living space, if you make enough to afford the pieces.

    The Pocket Closet will start shipping in Spring 2019, with prices starting at $2,650, plus $299 shipping; installation is free. Prices and an official launch date for the Cloud Bed have not yet been announced, but you can keep abreast of the situation here.



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    I keep telling myself: Drama is relative. If I experience a setback at work, that doesn't compare to a coal miner's bad day at work. When my car is giving me trouble, at least I have a car to give me trouble and I don't have to hitchhike. And while I find health insurance dismayingly expensive, there are sick people in developing nations who would gladly devote the same percentage of their income to have access to a network of medical professionals.

    The part I have to keep reminding myself of is that this goes the other way, too. Technology-loving folks with more disposable income than me also have their problems. One such problem is that, according to LG, for every 66 times the average family opens a refrigerator, they only retrieve items 34 of those times! Meaning there's 32 times they open the refrigerator, letting all that cold air escape, and find the contents so dissatisfying that they don't remove anything at all. What a waste!

    "A window," you think. "They could solve this by putting a window in the door." Sure they could--but why not a 29-inch touch-enabled transparent LCD that only reveals the contents when you want it to, preserving an otherwise sleek look?

    The LG InstaView ThinQ Refrigerator also has a built-in Bluetooth speaker and comes with Alexa. As for release date, the company only says "Coming Soon."



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    Well, this just stinks.

    Furniture designer/builder Timothy Wilmots is the guy who invented the incredible transforming shop cart we looked at last year. He maintains a YouTube channel in which he reveals both his creations and his workshop efficiency tips.

    Shortly after posting the videos on the shop cart, his posts came to an abrupt stop. During the ten months of radio silence, fans like me hoped nothing had happened to the guy, and his in-box had a reported 10,000 unread e-mails.

    This week we've received the terrible news that he's quitting furniture making altogether, and closing down that gorgeous shop:

    If you're at work and can't sneak the video onto your screen, there's a print explanation for his unexpected retirement here. Long story short, his father is retiring and Wilmots needs to take over the family farm. On top of the fact that Wilmots is a new father himself, farming is a full-time gig that leaves no hours in the day for the furniture-making business. But there is one bit of positive news:

    "I do…intend to go out with a bang," Wilmots writes, "and do something to transmit to others the knowledge I built up through the years, especially in terms of making goldsmith work benches. Which I was careful about not to show too much of in the past to protect my livelihood."

    We'll keep you posted of any updates on that front, and we'll also begin mining his archives for useful shop tips and such.

    And to Wilmots: Best of luck on your new journey!



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    ___________________

    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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    Poppin is looking to add a Production Manager to our growing Product Design team. This position will be responsible for accomplishing technical design specifications using Solidworks (3D modeling), testing procedures, and best practices for all new furniture products. The Production Manager will oversee and continuously be improving the cost, schedule,

    View the full design job here

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    Whether you're an industrial designer, an ID student or a homeowner with a less-than-perfect house, learning how things are put together is of paramount importance. One way to learn this is by taking things apart. Disassembling something, then successfully reassembling it, will sear construction methods into your brain in a way that classroom learning cannot achieve.

    If you take apart enough pieces of furniture, it becomes obvious that here lies a plug whose sole purpose is to conceal a screw. You'd be surprised by how many laypeople don't even notice the plug, let alone know what it's for.


    You can exploit this ability for financial gain or to prettify your own home. For instance, if you're an ID student interested in furniture, go to a flea market and look for vintage furniture in lousy condition--something that would be desirable if it wasn't broken. You ought be able to scoop these unwanted pieces up for cheap. Then take them apart and see if you can repair them. Maybe you ruin the first few pieces, but once you start learning from your mistakes and perform a successful repair, if you've chosen your pieces well you ought be able to resell them at a steep profit.

    Minneapolis-based Dashner Design & Restoration maintains a YouTube channel where the owner documents his numerous fixes in a step-by-step way. Here's an example:


    Most of his repairs require very basic kit--a rubber mallet, utility blades for scraping, sandpaper, glue, finishes, some clamps. If you come through his archive of fixes you'll learn, for instance, that it's easier to scrape the finish off of a flat surface, but when it comes to curves, applying a chemical stripper is easier. 

    Build up enough of these tips, put in some elbow grease and you'll be cranking these out in no time. You'll also, if you intend to go into furniture design, gain an advantage over your fellow students.



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    Here's a great example of how learning to create or fix things can be translated across multiple design genres.

    The city of Florence, Italy began erecting their massive cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore, in 1296. The construction work started and stopped multiple times because building things took forever, and architects and laborers had the annoying habit of dying in the middle of projects. One hundred and twenty-two years later, after more than a half-dozen architects and at least one plague, the thing was almost finished--everything except the dome.

    "We forgot something"

    The problem was, the dome was supposed to be YUGE, and nobody knew how to build it. Maybe one of the previous architects did, but they apparently forgot to upload the CAD file to the server before they uploaded themselves to heaven.

    My Renaissance Italian is rusty, but in 1418 one of the city council members said something to the effect of "Cathedral without a dome ain't shit," another council member yelled "Word" and so they decided to hold a design/build competition for it.

    The architects who entered must've all had crappy ideas, because no architect won the design competition. Instead first prize went to Filippo Brunelleschi, who wasn't an architect at all, but a freaking goldsmith. Master Goldsmith, fine, but still a dude whose main gig was making small, expensive metal things that you hide when your shady cousin comes over. He had no architectural training, but had been dabbling in it since winning a design competition for a set of bronze doors in 1401.

    Obstacles to creating the dome:

    - Inventors of the time were too lazy to invent tall cranes, so there was no way to get heavy materials up there

    - There was no way to build a central support for the top of the dome, meaning the sides had to be self-supported

    - The dome had to be octagonal, not round, because the base of it was already finished in an inconvenient octagonal shape

    - The finished octagonal base was janky and irregular, with no true center
    Nice job, idiots

    There were many more obstacles than this, but Nat Geo's got a succinct animation explaining how Brunelleschi figured it out, designing not just a dual-dome structure but also the hoisting machines and support tricks that made building it possible. Watch the video to understand the goodness:



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    Industrial designer Eric Strebel recently got his hands on a vintage Wire-O Punch for spiral bindings. Using that and an acrylic pour technique, he shows you how to make custom sketchbook covers with a trippy effect:


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    Brought to you by MAKO Design + Invent, North America's leading design firm for taking your product idea from a sketch on a napkin to store shelves. Download Mako's Invention Guide for free here.

    Navigating the world of crowdfunding can be overwhelming, to put it lightly. Which projects are worth backing? Where's the filter to weed out the hundreds of useless smart devices? To make the process less frustrating, we scour the various online crowdfunding platforms to put together a weekly roundup of our favorite campaigns for your viewing (and spending!) pleasure. Go ahead, free your disposable income:

    We have nothing else to say about Studio Cult Co's Photo Shop Picture Frame besides that it's everything we want in a picture frame and more. 

    Salty is a lovely vessel designed for passing salt around the table and cooking. It comes with an accompanying magazine that goes in depth about the history of salt and explores how salt still connects us today.

    LUNEdot is a candle holder that features a spring inside of its tube. As the candle burns, the spring pushes the un-burned candle up, creating the illusion of an "endless" candle.

    Unlike many kids bicycles on the market, Monkeycycle grows with your child from 9 months to 6 years old. With its 8 different ride modes it can transform from stroller to bike and more. 

    Marmals are vinyl figures that aim to create a community and enhance storytelling. Once you customize your own Marmal, you have the opportunity to connect with a whole Marmal community online!

    Travel brand Vasco is back on Kickstarter with two different sets of their packing cubes. One set is marketed as for men and the other for women, but when it comes down to it, selecting the right one for you just depends on what you typically bring with you during travel. One set is made from leather and the other from nylon.

    Do you need help designing, developing, patenting, manufacturing, and/or selling YOUR product idea? MAKO Design + Invent is a one-stop-shop specifically for inventors / startups / small businesses. Click HERE for a free confidential product consultation.


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    Aside from Japanese manufacturer Toto, toilet design is an area that gets little attention. To us in developed nations, toilets are something we take for granted, and a subset of us that are wealthy can buy fancy ones with heated seats and guided spray nozzles for arse cleaning.

    For people in developing nations, toilets could mean the difference between life and death. When people have no alternative but to crap into the waterways that they drink from, disease and sickness follow. What's needed is a toilet designed to work without a sewage system, and that's precisely what the Gates Foundation's Reinventing the Toilet Challenge was meant to do.

    We last reported on their progress here, and sadly the response was muted. We get it. No one wants to talk about shit. So maybe what's needed to build awareness is to send the Daily Show's perennially cranky correspondent, Ronny Chieng, to interview Bill Gates by opening with "What the fuck is wrong with you?"



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