Articles on this Page
- 12/31/18--10:32: _2018's Best Self-Te...
- 12/31/18--10:32: _Our Favorite Urban ...
- 01/01/19--04:10: _From Nostalgia to B...
- 01/01/19--12:05: _Design Job: New Yea...
- 01/01/19--12:05: _Our Favorite (Weird...
- 01/01/19--12:05: _Our Favorite (Cleve...
- 01/02/19--09:04: _Our Favorite Old-Sc...
- 01/02/19--09:04: _Notable Furniture D...
- 01/02/19--09:04: _2018 Best of "Hell ...
- 01/02/19--09:04: _Design Job: Johnson...
- 01/02/19--10:09: _Reader Submitted: T...
- 01/03/19--10:19: _2018's Best of DIY ...
- 01/03/19--10:19: _2018's Best of DIY ...
- 01/03/19--10:19: _Design Job: Step To...
- 01/03/19--10:19: _2018's Best Sustain...
- 01/03/19--10:19: _Tools & Craft #...
- 01/03/19--10:19: _Steven M. Johnson's...
- 01/03/19--15:05: _Currently Crowdfund...
- 01/04/19--11:18: _Design Job: Designw...
- 01/04/19--11:18: _2018's Best Materia...
- 12/31/18--10:32: 2018's Best Self-Tests for Designers
- 12/31/18--10:32: Our Favorite Urban Design Observations of 2018
- 01/01/19--12:05: Our Favorite (Weird or Unusual) Designs from 2018
- 01/01/19--12:05: Our Favorite (Clever and Useful) Designs from 2018
- 01/02/19--09:04: Our Favorite Old-School Furniture Designs Spotted in 2018
- 01/02/19--09:04: Notable Furniture Design Innovations (Both Good and Bad!) from 2018
- 01/02/19--09:04: 2018 Best of "Hell in a Handbasket" and "Yea or Nay" Design Debates
- 01/03/19--10:19: 2018's Best of DIY - Workshop
- 01/03/19--10:19: 2018's Best of DIY - Studio and Domestic
- 01/03/19--10:19: 2018's Best Sustainable Design Developments and Trends
- 01/03/19--10:19: Steven M. Johnson's Bizarre Invention #94: Two-Person Toilets
- 01/04/19--11:18: 2018's Best Materials Stories
Never mind those silly online quizzes that tell you what your spirit animal is. Here are some online tests that measure useful abilities designers should have, like visual acuity, memory recall, the ability to eyeball and more. (Most are from 2018, but we've thrown in a few from earlier years.) Try not to brag about your scores.
The "Bitten Biscuits" Puzzle: Can You Figure Out How to Arrange These Three Pieces to Form a Symmetrical Shape?
This year we continued our popular Urban Design Observations series (which has become a bit harder for me to write now that I live on a farm). Here's a selection of streetside-spotted oddities and improvised solutions from 2018:
2018 is coming to a merciful close, and as we reflect on this past year, a few overarching design trends come to mind. Below is a list of 6 trends we feel truly embody the madness that was 2018 and will simultaneously help define a foundation for the new year ahead of us. A few of these trends we hope will continue and others we hope to leave behind, but either way, we want to welcome 2019 with warm arms and an open mind for what's coming next.
It's ironic that during a time when technology is pushing so forward, we've become so obsessed with design relics from the past. The best possible case study of this phenomenon is the return of the "dad shoe" in 2018. Loosely inspired by the original Nike Air Monarch (pictured above, this classic also made an epic comeback this year), sneakers like the Balenciaga Triple S and the adidas Yeezy Boost 700 Wave Runner took mainstream markets by actual storm. Perhaps in an era of extreme change people are seeking comfort in objects from, to put it lightly, simpler times.
Following close behind the dad shoe craze comes deep tech nostalgia for iPods, OG Japanese emoticons and retro gaming systems. What nostalgic items will people choose to obsess over in 2019? We're guessing blank VHS covers:
VR & AR AS ACTUAL DESIGN TOOLS
Even just last year VR and AR felt too futuristic to be a useful tool for industrial designers, especially those working under the umbrellas of larger corporations. However, after many independent designers began experimenting with VR software such as sketching program Gravity Sketch, it already feels as though more corporate operations are starting to catch on that these tools are part of design's future. In the auto industry, Byton VP of Design Benoit Jacob told us in a recent interview that this year, he brought on a younger designer specifically to master Gravity Sketch in order to educate the rest of his team on how sketching in VR can enhance their daily workflow.
The Gravity Sketch team sees their momentum continuing into the new year: "The realm of possibilities that VR has for design is almost limitless," says Gravity Sketch Co-Founder Daniela Paredes Fuentes. "VR sketching is only the first step to transforming the way in which creatives make. We envision co-creation as a big element of designing in VR; from designers working together, to engineers figuring out manufacturing constraints, to clients having real-time iterations of the products. We'll see design ceasing to be a linear process and becoming far more collaborative in nature, both remotely and worldwide, that will speed up design cycles and allow for better and more interesting products, buildings, games and movies to become reality."
Design firms like Michael Graves Architecture and Design are also beginning to incorporate VR into their client presentations as a way to make communicating to non-designer clients more digestible and efficient. Once someone's standing next to a virtual version of a designer's work to scale, it's harder for them to be confused and easier for the designer to respond to questions and make adjustments on the fly.
USING THE DESIGN PROCESS AS A MARKETING TOOL
The design process really came to the forefront of the public's eye this year, but certainly not in the way we expected. Similar to how Instagram made everyone a photographer, brands are now allowing everyone play a role in the design process, pulling back the curtain on what was once a much more mysterious process. Nike's customization opportunities offered inside their two new experimental House of Innovation retail locations (Shanghai and NYC) and a sleek robot that makes $7 burgers are just a few examples of how design was heavily used as a retail marketing tool in 2018.
While many customization options out there still don't let customers completely design their own burger, sneaker, etc., the options keep getting more and more detailed over time (Think Nike ID online versus a Nike ID-like experience in real life), which makes us wonder if and how long it will take for every step of the process to be in the hands of the consumer.
DO IT FOR THE GRAM
We watched with fascination as many industrial design-focused micro brands like Myro (designed by Visibility) and Billie went on an extreme rise this year, many of them taking the form of subscription services. The subscription model works well for brands— assuming customers are satisfied with the product, they will be back for more. This trend also speaks to just how much the population craves convenience—once you give these companies your address and credit card information, you don't need to think about re-purchasing ever again.
While many subscription-based brands promise a more sustainable approach to buying necessities (i.e. refillable cartridges, replaceable razor heads, etc.), we're hoping that in 2019 these brands figure out a way to cut down on the excess packaging that houses said replacements as they make their way to consumers' doorsteps.
This year we noticed a focus on designing full health environments. Lab100 is a research lab designed by Cactus that aims to declutter and simplify the doctor's office experience by incorporating new technologies and updated interfaces. On a similar note, Alma is a therapy co-practice space that focuses on humanizing the anxiety-provoking process of finding a therapist and attending therapy appointments.
Other companies chose to focus on product ecosystems, specifically ones designed de-stigmatize once "taboo" health areas. Sex essentials brand Maude designs products to make sex objects more intuitive and less, well, male focused. Think vibrators that don't look like dildos and lubricant you wouldn't be ashamed to accidentally leave out on your nightstand.
A rise in CBD fascination has also sparked an influx in new product offerings, presumably resulting from people anxiously waiting to hear which state will legalize marijuana next. Products range from beauty to food and beverage, and with plenty of offerings comes plenty of design variety. It's clear companies are still trying to decide how to design for the rapidly expanding market, but we're excited to report that many of the products fall on the
high elevated side of the design quality spectrum.
"Blanding" is one of our favorite trends from 2018, simply because it's so damn easy to make fun of. Earth to the design community: A brand without branding CAN NOT EXIST. Even the bold colors and blocked off product descriptions found on Brandless brand products is branding. What started with logo redesigns has now transitioned into full brand rollouts, simplified text replacing illustrated icons on skincare products and blown up photos of cookies gracing the covers of cookie boxes. Circling back to the nostalgia trend: for better or for worse, people want simplicity.
That being said, blanded products sure do look good in your pantry, on your nightstand and in your bathroom. We certainly aren't debating that fact. A few of our favorite examples from this year include Dr. Jart+'s packaging designed by Pentagram, Target's Smartly, Urban Outfitters' Ohii and Clare's paint and paint accessory packaging. Pocky even tested out blanding this year with limited edition packaging we wish we could've gotten our hands on.
We are looking for You! If you are an experienced product designer who is able to execute a research, state clear findings, set up a project vision and create new and innovative ideas. After presenting the ideas to the client, you will translate the ideas into conceptView the full design job here
How's your NYE hangover going? If the room's stopped spinning and you can stand some brain-benders, here are some fine examples of outside-of-the-box design thinking.
Here are the most clever designs we've come across in the past twelve months. These are just as outside-the-box as our favorite weird/unusual designs from 2018, but have the added benefit of being extremely practical.
A good industrial designer learns as much by looking backwards as forwards. Here are some of the best old-school and vintage designs we saw in the past year:
The established furniture forms have been around for centuries, but that never stops designers from messing about with them. Some innovations are useful, others are gimmicks intended to boost soft sales, others are experiments from artistic types, still others aren't innovations at all, but feature elements brought back from the past. Here's a list of what jumped out at us from the past twelve months, and we'll leave it to you to tell us what was good and what was…un-good.
As longtime Core77 readers know, our "Hell in a Handbasket" and "Yea or Nay" installments are really sibling sections.
An HIAH post is triggered when some design "innovation" blatantly reveals something terrible about our society, whereas the YON posts are where I can't decide whether it's dumb design or something people will actually find useful. And getting to read thoughtful Core77 reader feedback on the YON posts in particular is one of the pleasures of writing for this site. More often than not, a YON commenter will bring up something I hadn't thought of, so thanks for that.
Anyways, here's what made the cut for 2018. (If you've got more to add on each topic, we'll be reading.)
Yea or Nay: Are These "Space-Saving" Transforming Furniture Designs Valid, or Do They Miss the Point?
A Pocketed, Conductive Curtain Liner That Lets You Use Tablets and Phones in the Shower. Yea or Nay?
Hell in a Handbasket: As Accidental Selfie Deaths Rise, U.S. National Library of Medicine Recommends Implementing "No Selfie Zones"
The Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices (JJMDC) Industrial Design and Human Factors (IDHF) organization is seeking an exceptionally talented, multi-faceted, user-centered Assistant Industrial Designer who is passionate about improving the quality of people's lives through compelling design experiences. This position is based in Cincinnati, OH. JJMDC isView the full design job here
A customizable and comfortable garment athletes can wear to ensure a safe landing. By using 3D printing technology, the Safe Landing Garment SLG garment will ensure that users with different needs perform with good landing mechanisms.
When it comes to New Year' resolutions, few of us say "I'd like to spend more money this year." So for 2019, see if you can make your shop more efficient without laying out much cash by incorporating some of these DIY tips from last year:
In the past 12 months we've seen some incredible DIY contraptions--and at least one killer laundry tip--that make life easier around the house, yard or studio. Whether you're looking for the functionality of expensive camera gear, trying to get a door to stay open or looking for a convenient place to store your headphones, chances are somebody's come up with a good way to rig something up.
Guy Uses a Dremel to Modify an Electric Toothbrush Into an Effective, Easy-to-Use Lockpicking Device
An Easy Way to Build Retaining Walls: Leave the Concrete in the Bag, Stack Like Legos, Wet With a Hose
Position Summary: Assist the Design team in creating innovative and unique product that meets the needs of the Men’s, Women’s and Kid’s Global Value Channel consumer and embodies the Brand Purpose and Creative Vision. The Associate Designer will be responsible for applying seasonalView the full design job here
This year we've seen a lot of environmental rollbacks in the U.S., the result of a government that isn't terribly concerned with sustainability. So it's more important than ever that designers, researchers and scientists continue developing new solutions to extend the life of our planet. Here are some of the best sustainable design developments we've seen in the last 12 months, some of them quite quirky, but all of them green in some way:
Now that woodworking is no longer regularly taught in schools, young people as a group have a distinct disadvantage compared to the youth of bygone eras when it comes to skills and equipment. (Yes, I know this doesn't apply to everyone. Many customers come to our showroom with their kids, and some of them, even those under 10, have some serious skills.) Fortunately furniture making doesn't have to be off limits to folks (young or old) without a lot of tools or accessories. In Part Three I hinted at some ideas about the future of furniture making without a giant shop. The concept isn't new. Many writers and designers going back to the 1930's basically had the same idea with different solutions. Two books that we stock and another three from my personal collection address this very issue. In chronological order:
My favorite of the bunch is "How to Construct Rietveld Furniture," which we stock. (The first edition came out in 1986; this is the later second edition.) It's still in print and still great. Gerrit Rietveld, like Gustav Stickley and other Arts & Crafts proponents, wanted to design furniture that anyone could make. Unlike Stickley, Rietveld used construction grade lumber, dowels, screws, nails and paint. Nearly a century later his pieces still look fresh and modern. We offer classes in building a version of the Zig Zag chair.Seventy years after it was first introduced the chair looks as modern as ever and isn't a very complicated build. All the designs in his book are like that. The original zig zag chair was made out of solid wood, in the class we use Europly, which is simpler to use. We also use modern equipment for cutting and joinery. Unfortunately most beginners don't have access to that sort of equipment in their home. The original chair was bolted together, and like most of Rietveld designs basically require some sort of handsaw, some sort of drill, and simple fasteners.
Enzo Mari's "autoprogettazione?" originally published in 1974, also wanted to make a visionary's work easy to make. Like Rietveld, Mari used solid wood and common fasteners to hold it all together. Popular Woodworking recently did an article on how to build one of Mari's dining room tables (October, 2018). The tools here are also pretty simple. Mari mostly used solid material so a saw and a drill are the key tools.
I think we have to add in some sanding equipment, which could be as simple as a sheet of sandpaper and a block of wood, to make Rietveld and Mari furniture. A chisel or two might be handy but not essential.
"Designer Furniture Anyone Can Make" by William E. Schremp (1972) isn't a very good book. There are no photographs to convince me that anything was ever actually made from this book. The designs are less a copy of designer pieces, and more a silhouette of the original design. The book is interesting to look at because essentially everything is reduced to a square of plywood, joined using glue and screws. Schremp does talk a little bit about the mechanical considerations of making a sturdy piece but he totally glosses over the details. All of the projects are made out of sheet goods - plywood, and you are stuck with the problem of cutting plywood cleanly unless you have a good power saw of some kind.
"Ridiculously Simple Furniture Projects, by Spike Carlsen is a book we stock. There is a plywood chair project in it that I built and it was a few hours of cutting apart a sheet of plywood. I was impressed. The book unfortunately is mostly about smaller projects and not enough projects to furnish a house, but the author's instincts are good. The chair I built from his plans used a portable circular saw and a jig saw, but I could have done it only with the latter. For the solid wood projects, a handsaw and a drill might be all you need.
Finally, Clement Meadmore's "How to Make Furniture Without Tools" (1975) has a great concept, but I don't think it is practical the way the author describes it. The basic premise is that the book includes cuts lists and layouts for all the projects, and all you have to do is take the plan to a lumberyard and have them do all your cutting. While I don't think any lumberyard can cut wood as precisely as you might need, the idea that all you need to do is glue everything together and paint it shows that the author in the 1970's understood that the urge to build something useful way exceeded the skill level of most people. I don't think just gluing the materials together as the author recommends would last. But the basic idea of the book - namely that outsourcing might be a realistic approach for the future of furniture - is something that is worth discussion, and I plan to explore the idea in a very practical way in the next installment of this series.
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.
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:
PrintBrush XDR is a color inkjet printer for smartphones that allows you to print directly onto almost any surface with the wave of your hand. Ditch paper to print on tables, t-shirts and more—because why not?
After seeing mostly knitwear sneakers on crowdfunding platforms for quite some time, we were excited to spot Wado on IndieGogo. These classic leather sneakers inspired by the 80s are made from materials like recycled clothing, chromium-free leather and cork, and two trees are planted for each pair purchased.
The first issue of UNICA Mag, Ceramics | Sharing Food, examines the close relationship between ceramics and sharing food through stories, photographs and art. If you live in NYC and pledge $20 or more, you receive a ticket to UNICA Mag's launch party.
If you have a horrible track record with growing plants and herbs, aspara is for you. The smart indoor garden system practically grows plants for you, requiring little to no thinking on your end. The result is fresh veggies, herbs or flowers that look like they came straight from your local produce stand.
Whether you're documenting a crazy storm or a crazy driver, Dride Zero is here to protect you. The discreet dashcam can capture those events and more with its ability to film vivid footage day or night. It also features a share button and app for editing footage.
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.
Designworks is an award-winning rapid product design and manufacturing business with experience across a range of sectors. We love delivering innovative products, building meaningful brands, and bringing game-changing experiences to life. We are looking for an Industrial Designer with a true passion and demonstrable talent forView the full design job here
In this age of bioplastics, nanolaminates and leather grown from mushrooms, now is an exciting time to be a designer (assuming you've got the juice to spec materials). The trend for researchers to develop stronger, cheaper and/or more sustainable materials for us to make stuff out of is a positive one, and one that we as designers are uniquely in a position to help promote. Here are some of the best materials breakthroughs we saw this year: