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A Look at the Amazing Expandable "Wax Trucks" of National Ski Teams


Countries with competitive ski teams have something like Formula One pit crews for their skiers. Teams of technicians apply different types of waxes, powders and chemicals to the bottom of skis to compensate for ever-changing snow conditions, all seeking the perfect balance between grip and glide. The Norwegian team even hauls a 2,000-pound grinder around so they can etch different patterns into the undersides of the skis.

At Pyeongchang each country's wax teams are operating out of on-site cabins provided for them. But when competitions are within driving distance of the home country, each country's ski team fields their own wax truck. Sweden first came up with the idea in 2008 with this beast:

Inside is a workshop kitted out with an air ventilation system:

The sides of the truck expand to create a roomy and well-lit workshop:

When rival Team Norway saw what Sweden had done, they developed their own truck to one-up them. It expands sideways, backwards and upwards, creating a second level. The workshop is downstairs, and upstairs is a freaking observation deck and a lounge for the athletes:

Photo by Noah Hoffman
Photo by Noah Hoffman
Photo by Noah Hoffman
Photo by Noah Hoffman

Here's a tour of the downstairs. Sadly they don't show us the lounge:

In 2013 Team Canada wanted in on the action, so they purchased Sweden's original truck and gave it a new paint job:

Here's a tour inside the now-Canadian truck:

Sweden upgraded to a newer model that I couldn't find exterior shots of, but here's a tour of the interior of their wax truck 2.0:

The U.S. Ski Team finally got a wax truck last year. And for once, we Americans actually went small.

Image by Matt Whitcomb

"The Team US one went to cost around 600,000 U.S. dollars," writes the Daily Skier website (based in Germany, to explain the odd English), "and, while quantum leap for the US team, it is a relatively modest affair compared to the others in use. Some models are reputed to be much, much more expensive."

I think we can all agree that Norway wins this one.

Steven M. Johnson's Bizarre Invention #53: The Closet Car

Looking for a Valentine's Day Gift?


The clichéd gifts for Valentine's Day are always flowers and chocolates, but things have been changing in this holiday business for a while now (Galentine's Day, for example).

This year, enter Racket—a grassroots organization aimed at de-shaming menstruation and providing hygiene products to women in need, have written, produced, and launched a pair of parody videos that you've got to check out. And they've got a design trick up their sleeves.

The "bouquets" are artfully constructed from tampons and pads—not botanicals.

Arguing that the clichéd gifts of flowers and chocolates may not cut it anymore, Racket wants you to forward one of these videos to the menstruators in your life. And they are so funny and entertaining that you may just want to do that.

And the trick? The "bouquets" are artfully constructed from tampons and pads—not botanicals. 

The first video features Phillipa Soo (from Hamilton!) and Celia Keenan-Bolger receiving customized bouquets specific to their preferences. The second features Margo Seibert (Rocky!) and Drew Gehling as he desperately tries to #knowtheflow of his girlfriend and gift her something special.

Check them out, please forward the links to the menstruators in your life, and learn about the design backstory here

Materials Forecast 2018


2018 marks a new year in materials. Last year saw significant high-tech advances as super-materials such as graphene take one step closer to becoming a commercial reality and also meaningful explorations of craft in a contemporary context – Luzie Deubel's Tannin Coat made from paper waterproofed using an ancient Japanese technique as an alternative to plastic, for example.

Material development will continue to drive design innovation, creating compelling narratives that enable products to stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Of course, sustainability lies at the heart of it all: the key question will not be Is it sustainable? but rather How is it sustainable?

In this article, the members of Chris Lefteri Design's team share their thoughts on which materials will have the biggest impact in the coming year.

Gaia Crippa: Rather than suggesting a specific material, I have a resource in mind. The most abundant resource on Earth is waste: unwanted, unusable entities or by-products. It is available everywhere, from landfills to ocean shores. In the last few years, designers and artists have begun to produce new raw materials from waste while companies have pioneered circular economy strategies by utilizing by-products from existing waste streams. For 2018 I see even more large material manufacturers adopting this approach for production on an industrial scale. The world is ready for it!

Shahar Livne - Lithoplast

Sanghu Lee: Transparency in materials may exist on a functional level e.g. for looking outside or in, but can also be used to create unexpected outcomes. I would describe these as being 'between existing layers' where new visual effects can be achieved, such as by adjusting the level of transparency, layering colours over one another or even distortion through a transparent 3D form. It also brings a sense of playfulness when applied to materials that are usually opaque: transparent aluminium possesses the qualities of both metal and glass yet could offer further visual possibilities than either on its own.

Raw Color – Hue Boxes

Daniel Liden: I hope that 2018 will be the year when design with plastics will really break out of the confines of injection moulding. There are so many wonderful plastic materials out there that cannot be injection-moulded that I look forward to seeing used in more products, such as warm and beautifully translucent cellulose acetate, as well as composites like heavy and cold Corian in the playGo entertainment home hub, or thin and lightweight carbon fibre composites in the Jaguar I-PACE.

Jaime Tai: Living organisms will be integrated into our lives in increasingly complex and thoughtful ways, improving well-being while offering more sustainable choices in our consumption of resources. Recently, researchers have found a way of printing living cyanobacteria and circuitry onto paper - the resulting material can function as a solar panel, bio-battery or environmental sensor in the form of wallpaper. Surfaces like these could transform our homes and workplaces – what about microbial layers instead of antimicrobial ones? I'm excited to see what new biotech developments will be revealed this year.

Cyanobacteria wallpaper– Imperial College, University of Cambridge & Central Saint Martins

Young Jin Ko: Consumer electronics are subject to various restrictions in material application while designs that are extremely slim and sleek are now more sought-after than ever. Materials in this industry need to be cost-effective, functional, human and environmentally friendly yet also have an emotionally endearing and premium visual appearance. Metal is a popular material that provides great performance in terms of protection, yet one of its greatest drawbacks is its weight. Microlattices on the other hand offer the opportunity to create products that are unibody in form from solid block metal yet exceptionally lightweight.

Microlattice - Boeing

Mike Bond: Last year we saw consumers boycott prominent brands such as Lucozade and Pringles due to media coverage on the difficulties of recycling their packaging. Although sustainability has been a recurring theme, I believe increased access to and influence of social media will provoke businesses to develop sustainable packaging alternatives in 2018. Ooho, the biodegradable and edible packaging solution created by London start-up Skipping Rocks Lab is a great example of innovation in this area. Made from plants and seaweed, these bubbles were designed as an alternative to single-use bottles – I'm expecting to see more solutions like this materialise in the months ahead.

Bangzheng Tan: Advancements in material technology mean that our environments are likely to be filled with smart artificial materials. At the same time, consumers are seeking a deeper connection with nature to rest, relax and recharge one's senses. Organoid Decorative Coatings, for example, contain natural raw materials which provide a multi-sensory haptic and olfactory experience.

Today's Urban Design Observation: Three Different Types of Rolling Security Shutters, Three Different Results


I typically take my dogs out for their first walk well before most people wake up. So we pass a lot of shuttered storefronts. Although NYC's crime rates have dropped precipitously in the past several decades, rolling security shutters are a must for storefronts; when the Michael Kors store was on Prince Street it lacked them, and I passed the glass front door after it had been shattered by thieves at least three separate mornings.

Here are three common types of security shutters I see:

Type 1

Type 2

Type 3

They all yield different results.

Type 1 allows passersby to see into your store, so there's always a chance they'll spot something that will entice them to come back.

Type 2 allows only the very curious to see into your store, if they're willing to get up close and peer.

Type 3 permits no visibility and though it contains more raw material, is certainly the cheapest to produce; the other two designs require more manufacturing steps. Whether the extra material used here offsets the manufacturing cost savings, I don't know.

However, Type 3 is certainly the ugliest. Not on its own, but because it is suitable as a canvas for graffiti. The other two designs do not take graffiti well due to their reduced surface area and thus taggers avoid them.

Design Job: Galison Mudpuppy Is Seeking a Senior Graphic Designer Who's Ready to Embrace Their Inner Child


Galison Mudpuppy is seeking an experienced Senior Designer to join our in-house creative team! Lead product and package design projects as assigned by Art Director, utilizing commissioned, licensed, and in-house developed artwork. Assist Art Director in trend research and conceptualization of seasonal product stories and new formats, as well as artwork commissions as needed.

View the full design job here

How to Create the Perfect Core77 Design Awards Entry


Receiving an Honor in the Core77 Design Awards takes a little more than just an exceptional design project- it requires turning that exceptional project into an entry that will grab the jury's attention. With Regular pricing coming to a close on March 8th, there is still plenty of time to submit your best work in a way that thoroughly impresses the jury and helps you stand out from your competition.

View the full content here

Why are Olympians Being Given Stuffed Animals, Rather Than Medals, After Their Events?


If you've been watching the Olympics in a bar with the sound off, or catching snippets on your phone, you may have been puzzled by this sight: After each event's conclusion, the three winners line up in the snow, and are very ceremoniously handed…a small stuffed animal. No medals are produced.

So what's going on here? First off that stuffed animal is a white tiger named Soohorang, the Pyeongchang Olympics' mascot.

In Korean folklore, white tigers (which, historically, may have wandered into the area from Siberia) represent sacred guardians. Soohorang's name loosely translates as "protective tiger." And some graphic designer or illustrator has been contracted to work him into the branding.

Amusingly, the folks dressed as the mascots have trouble getting through certain doors.

In any case, at the Summer Olympics individual winners are usually medaled right after the event, whereas traditionally Winter Olympians are given flowers. This year flowers were foregone in favor of stuffed Soohorangs (which makes me cynically think that someone on the IOC has a relative who owns a stuffed animal factory).

The flowers/Soohorangs are just a placeholder; with the Winter Olympics, the medal ceremonies are held en masse and at day's end, indoors, where it's warmer.

Thus far I've only been posting photos of Team U.S.A., but I wanted to show some love to our one Canadian reader. Go Team Canada!

Auto Design Sketch Challenge Results: Completing Preston Tucker's Split-Cab Pickup Truck Concept


Earlier we showed you a sketch for an unusual pickup truck from Preston Tucker's archives, and asked you to complete the design. Here are the results, in alphabetical order by last name, with captions from those who provided them:

By Michael DiTullo:

"A quick side cab sketch to get this party started."

DiTullo also recorded his sketch process, so you can see how it all came together:

By Steven Madsen:

"3/4 view from the other side. Threw in a small crane for lifting heavy loads."

By Thomas Parel:

"Doodles of an electric Tucker work truck."

By Adan Schubart:

"As the original struck me as completely utilitarian, I went with a very boxy shape to allow every facet to be opened for easy access.

As this seemed like a truck for the city, it is electric and features driver access from the front to minimize street incursion.

I also had the thought of polymerized 'rubber' body panels for durability."

By the bye, Schubart, I flipped the tones on your sketch to see how similar it would look to the original:

By Eric Strebel:

"Totally got inspired by Michael's sketch! Gonna be this week's video as well. Thanks Michael! I went old school of course, colored paper, markers and pencil, like they would have done in the '40s. I made it electric modern and a Crew Cab (sort of) so you can take a buddy along to do your dirty work for you LOL! Sides slide down into the body and the ends both fold down. Glass moon roof too!"

Strebel also created a video providing voice-over and details, which we're going to file separately in our ID Tips section. Stay tuned!

Thanks to all who participated. If anyone wants to add more, I'll happily update this entry.

Video: Completing the Design of the Tucker Excelsior Pickup Truck Concept


Responding to our auto design sketch challenge to complete an unusual pickup truck from Preston Tucker's archives, industrial designer Eric Strebel went the extra mile and produced a narrated video on his process.

"This week's video is more design oriented than many of my making videos," Strebel explains. "I explore and redesign the 1940s Tucker Excelsior concept truck. I update the design while keeping its functionality and some of its style intact. My design uses an all-electric platform while adding the functionality of pocket doors in the side of the bed along with an additional crew cab. I also discuss how to build up a sketch render on Grey paper using markers and colored pencil."

Here it is:

Design Job: Get a First Hand Look at the Challenges of Medical Product Design as ID Co-Op at J&J


The Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Industrial Design & Human Factors (IDHF) organization is seeking multi-faceted, exceptionally talented, Industrial Design Co-ops who are passionate about improving the quality of people's lives through remarkable user experiences. Positions will be based at our Cincinnati, OH, Raynham, MA, or

View the full design job here

How Should Apple Have Handled the HomePod Ring-Staining Issue?


Years ago as a freelancer, I was working on a countertop pump bottle for a client. I'd observed that in my own home, the liquid soap pump bottle on my bathroom sink left a dirty ring beneath it; this was because water from your wet hands slowly dripped down the bottle's surface, gathering dust as it went before settling around the base. I suggested to the client we pursue a new design to prevent this. The client didn't care and looked at me like I was crazy. I suppose that's the curse of being an industrial designer.

I thought of this as the recent brouhaha has unfolded with Apple's HomePod speaker. For those unfamiliar, the speaker is designed with a silicone base that, through simple gravity, forms a seal with whatever smooth surface it's placed upon.

This purposeful design feature creates better resonance for the bass, and The Wirecutter has called it "the best-sounding smart speaker we've ever heard." Pocket-Lint wrote that the HomePod "sounds great wherever we've put it. Up against the wall, in a corner, in the middle of the room all produce the same performance." So Apple nailed the sound.

But they nailed the sound at the expense of something else. Silicone does not react well with certain finishes on wood, and both The Wirecutter, Pocket-Lint and a crapload of people on Twitter have noted that the HomePod produces a seemingly permanent white ring on their finished wood surfaces.

If that isn't CLAASIC Apple, I don't know what is ??
https://t.co/bwEda4qK1rpic.twitter.com/Eb0gKYEwVi— Marques Brownlee (@MKBHD) February 15, 2018 ' contenteditable='false'>


iDevice accessories manufacturer Pad & Quill quickly capitalized on the furor, releasing a $20 Leather HomePod Coaster:

That, however, is not a good idea. Pocket-Lint noted that when they tried using a coaster between the speaker and the surface to prevent leaving rings, "That then caused a drop in the quality, presumably because it doesn't resonate as effectively."

Whether you're familiar with woodworking or not, at some point you've surely placed a hot drink on a wooden surface and caused a permanent ring. I have a vintage sidetable that the previous owner ruined by leaving a potted plant atop it. The only way to remove rings like this is to re-sand the surface and re-oil it, which is a huge pain in the ass. Woodworkers know this, it's the reason coasters were invented, and we are careful with what we place on our finished surfaces.

Your average consumer, however, is not a woodworker. The layperson cannot be expected to know that silicone reacts with say, Danish oil. If they purchase a $350 object, it's reasonable for them to expect said object would not mar a piece of furniture just by sitting on it. So the first thing I wonder is how this missed Apple's attention during the design and testing process.

Years ago we wrote up Apple's anechoic audio testing chamber. It looked like this:

Apple built a new one to test the HomePod out in. It looks like this:

As you can see, they've got it on a wooden table. I can't say with certainty but I'm assuming the tabletop had to be finished. Assuming it was, it means either a) No one noticed the ring left by the speaker, which I have a hard time believing, or b) whoever did notice the ring didn't think it was an issue. I also find it hard to believe they did not do any real-world testing, where someone surely would've noticed the ring issue.

In short, Apple screwed up. I don't think this is another BS "bendgate," I think this is a legitimate design flaw. How should Apple have responded? After the ring story started circulated, they updated their HomePod support page with the following:

It is not unusual for any speaker with a vibration-damping silicone base to leave mild marks when placed on some wooden surfaces. The marks can be caused by oils diffusing between the silicone base and the table surface, and will often go away after several days when the speaker is removed from the wooden surface. If not, wiping the surface gently with a soft damp or dry cloth may remove the marks. If marks persist, clean the surface with the furniture manufacturer's recommended cleaning process. If you're concerned about this, we recommend placing your HomePod on a different surface.

It seems obvious that they're not going to change the design--gods only know how much money they've invested here--and they're certainly not going to do a product recall.

Apple haters aside, I recognize that Apple draws extra fire because we have high expectations of them; they used to get so many things so very right. Unfair as it is, I hold them to a higher standard because I became spoiled when they were masters of UX; I remember when their product ecosystem worked seamlessly for me, at a time when PC's stymied me.

So: How do you think Apple missed the rings, and what do you think they should do next?

So Cool: The Olympic Village Has Roaming Mini Robots That Project the Weather and Clean Floors


I'm curious about the design of the Olympic Village's facilities in Pyeongchang. Still working on it but just came across this footage of the robots wandering around there and had to share:

I love that it looks like a rice cooker; I expect the top to pop open and passersby can help themselves to steaming scoops of rice. (That's not a racist joke, I'm Asian, get off my back.) 

Here's a closer look at Rice2-D2, along with a larger 'bot that keeps the carpets clean:

Jon Wye on Digging for Information, Designing Custom Machinery and Managing Freelancers


#IMakeaLiving is a series of free, traveling events powered by FreshBooks that focuses on bringing together an eclectic group of small business owners for a lively, candid, and often hilarious, conversation. In light of the series' second year, we're interviewing business-owning designers on how they brought their companies to the next level. 

For the past 14 years, Jon Wye's eponymous company has been designing and manufacturing belts, dog collars and other leather goods in Washington DC. Often featuring original artwork from freelance artists around the country, his eye-catching products attract an international audience of people who live life on the quirkier side. Wye's rise to success wasn't easy, though. The self-taught businessman spent years developing sales and marketing skills to match his design ones, all while living at home with his parents to save money.

Jon Wye

Wye took a break from manufacturing to chat with us about the process of starting and operating a small, creative business. In this interview, we discuss Wye's "aha" moments while starting his company, how to go about building your own machinery and tips, tricks and reminders for designers looking to start their own business ventures. 

Core77: We can all read the more polished version of your business story here, but what don't we know about how you started your company, Jon Wye?

Jon Wye: Well, when I was first starting the company, I had no idea what I was doing. I just liked making things. I lived at home until I was 31 just so I could get the company going, and every dollar I made went into it. There weren't many investors, but for me what I did get, which I know a lot of people don't have, is parents that were willing to let me live with them rent free. I was working on stuff, so they were happy that I was pushing forward with something. I owe them so much just for that.

I remember this very clear moment when my dad came into my bedroom, which is funny when you're 28 years old, and he said, "Boy, you know you really love making this stuff, but you hate selling it." Of course I responded with something like, "You don't know what you're talking about, dad. I've got to refine the product, and I've got to do this and that"—just spewing excuses. He walked out of the room saying, "Yeah, yeah. Sure, sure." And I just remember my heart sinking, and realizing, "God, he's right."  

It took years to develop myself as a salesman and figure out where to sell my products and what to do. But within days I signed up for a local flea market. It was literally just a table at Eastern Market in DC with someone hustling behind it selling things. That was really the start, but there were a lot of other anecdotes along the way of just learning to communicate with people and selling myself and the brand.

Straight Stripe Belt
Zombies in Space Belt
Koi Belt

Do you have any advice for people in similar situations now—starting their own businesses from a strictly design/maker standpoint?

That same lesson I learned is what I rail on other people for. I do these informational interviews with young people and I'll ask them what they're working on so far. The moment someone starts telling me they're designing their website and they have someone doing their business cards, I think, "Cool, great. You are really excited for the idea of doing a business."

But it's a trap because from the outside world that seems legitimate. Of course you've got to have business cards. Of course you've got to design a logo and do all these things. But that's the stuff everyone does, and those are the knowns. I still barely have a standardized business card. I heat stamp a piece of leather and cut it out on scraps, and people love it. They'll say, "You're giving me a one inch piece of leather? Real leather?" And in my head I think, "Yeah, whatever. It's scrap."

"Consumers can't see half of the imperfections that you can see—they're primarily satisfied with the fact that you're striving to make it better each time."

A lot of people get wrapped up in business for the sake of business, and they forget that they just need to get out into the world and fail, go sell stuff and stop trying to think of what they're making as a perfect product. Consumers can't see half of the imperfections that you can see—they're primarily satisfied with the fact that you're striving to make it better each time.

I have customers that bought my belts 10 years ago, and when I look at them, I can't believe I ever made a belt like that. But they tell me that my belts have gotten so much better—they're stronger, and they've lasted longer. I look at it like the product is just your ambassador. You only get one other chance, which is if the customer is lucky enough to communicate with you, to then solve that issue. The product has to be amazing, especially if you don't have a huge marketing budget. So I've always just made sure that the product is doing the silent work for me.

I'm wondering if your mindset versus the young designers' mindset is a generational difference. In other words, do you think the internet and crowdfunding platforms have given us an excuse to put less focus on the product and more focus on overall branding and aesthetics?

If I have to see one more video of some artisanal dude wearing the right kind of roll up jeans with the right kind of Red Wing boots, with the right kind of music in the background... 

It's exactly what you said, generational. In fact, I'm still learning from young people, now that they've fully gone through the internet, about how I need to present better in the online space. But you put that kid next to me at a sales event, and I'll crush them any day.

Math Cat Leather Guitar Strap

Young people have forgotten that the primary focus is their product or whatever it is they need to sell. And yeah, sometimes I look up other leather people online, and I see their videos and think, "You're charging what for what?" I'm at heart, a manufacturer. I'm a small manufacturer, but I like to consider myself a manufacturer because my goal is to grow a business and to make it sustainable.

I think with these two mindsets, there's a way to bridge the two—the world of that guy toiling away with the right haircut and the right music in the background and then the guy toiling away so that he can keep manufacturing in the United States and make a product as good as handmade but in mass. And with a system, and with eyes on growing economy and providing jobs.

On another note, you work with a lot of freelance artists who design the artwork featured on many of your products. Do you have any advice for successfully managing freelancers?

I'm sure this goes back to managing people 101, but of course I never read those books. It's kind of the basic stuff—just be so darn clear about what you can actually offer and what you expect. I think one of my big lessons came early. My first website was a friend from college helping me make it for free. It was such a grueling experience to drag it out of him because he was doing it for 20 minutes a day when he had time while he was trying to build his own career. You can't really lay that on your friends and people—you can only get so many favors.

I couldn't get anyone to work with me in the beginning because I just was no one. And I'm still small potatoes, let's be honest. But what I've found in the art community is every single artist has a story of someone not paying them or someone telling them, "I could have drawn that." No you couldn't have. So you develop a reputation where, "Oh, it's Jon—he can't pay the highest amount, but he always pays you."

"There's always going to be disagreements, and I've found that people just need to be heard sometimes when they have a grievance."
Waffle Belt Buckle

Then some artists want royalties. I don't have a big enough system to deal with royalty payment and tracking inventory, especially when it's all made to order. So I tried that here and there, and finally I just said, "Here is who I am. This is what I can do. This is the maximum I can pay. I own the rights to the artwork," for example. Some say I can't do that, and then you find many more that can. There's always going to be disagreements, and I've found that people just need to be heard sometimes when they have a grievance. I've experienced colleagues that might just shut the door and say, "No. No. You were wrong here." Sometimes just letting them speak and trying to find a resolution is very helpful.

Circling back to the topic of putting product first and foremost, I've heard that you actually make and/or tweak a lot of your own machinery...

Yeah, in the beginning a lot of it was custom made because there was nothing out there for the base stuff that I needed. Then some of it from back in the day was refurbished. And then a lot of stuff past that has been a lot of custom tooling—taking things that exist and tweaking them by going to machine shops and telling them what different parts need to do. It's maybe 25% custom and 75% stock machinery with customizations.

Without a ton of previous knowledge on building machinery, how did you make that happen?

My mom's a general contractor, so I grew up around materials. At 13 I was looking at the difference between this aluminum grade and that aluminum grade and what types of welding techniques are needed for this and that. It's a lifetime of absorbing information and then knowing where to go to talk to people and having just enough information to be the glue in that scenario.

I have a lot of friends that are engineers, programmers—people that when I have a question can tell me who to go talk to. So if anything I've been more the glue, and what I've discovered is that overall sense of how projects are supposed to play out. I've often found that if my spidey senses are tingling, I should listen to them because sometimes even the professional machine shop guy will tell me we have to do things a certain way that doesn't make any sense.

If you don't know something about materials or grades or steel, you can look it up in the McMaster-Carr catalog, read their descriptions and prices, and then call the metal stockyard. This is getting really hokey here, but everybody wants to feel valued. If I'm calling with a grade school level of inquisitiveness and asking some dude whose job is nothing but to sell steel and aluminum plating and ask what the difference between this and this is—people get excited about that. Maybe their job is kind of boring if all they're doing is selling aluminum plate all day, but then they have someone call in and ask them what they know. Then from there, you cross reference that with information online. You find an answer.

A look inside Jon Wye's workshop, located in Washington DC

I'm thinking of a particular heat press that I built. Heat presses are extremely expensive, and I built a one by six foot heat press with full digital control and all that. It still works and is 10 years old. I just dusted the moth balls off, put some new nematic shocks on it for opening and closing it, and now it's going to be the heart of my new synthetic dog collar line. I'm already developing the next generation of it. I've started sketching that out because I need to make the dog collars even more efficient.

But at that time I did not know how to build a heat press. It was just asking questions and noticing details along the lines of, "What does this heat press look like? They put a rubber on the bottom that for some reason, doesn't melt. There's an adhesive that adheres it to the steel plate." So you have enough observational knowledge to put into Google: Rubber that withstands 400 degrees. I remember when I talked to the metal guy I asked, "How thick does my aluminum need to be over a span of one foot by six feet to not warp under its own weight?" He responded by doing the math for me on the spot, and in my head I thought, "Holy crap." Then I asked, "What do I need if I'm going to be joining the two surfaces together? What do I need on the steel plates?" Then he told me that I needed a Blanchard grind on the steel. I didn't know what a Blanchard grind was, but I needed this Blanchard grind so that the two pieces would fit really snugly together. 

If you can build it, I can build it—once I figure out how. I think for me it's a desire to convince myself that I can do anything.


Interested in listening to more start-up stories? #IMakeaLiving Powered by FreshBooks will be hosting their next event on February 21st in LA (Learn more and register here), and you can also listen to the #IMakeaLiving podcast here.

What are the Amenities Like Inside the Olympic Village?


To an Olympian, it must feel like a version of Freshman Orientation where everyone is super physically-fit: For roughly two weeks they'll stay in a purpose-built dorm-like Olympic Village, meeting (and frequently hooking up with) fellow athletes from around the world. Entertainment and training facilities are provided; there are gyms, recreation rooms, massage chair facilities, lounges, medical and dental facilities, and even a McDonald's.

McDonald's aside, all other meals are provided in a massive 24-hour cafeteria.

"It is a food court like no other," according to Korea's Yonhap News. "It has a variety of dishes, drinks and snacks, but is aimed at offering the world's elite athletes healthy, hearty food at all hours. Some 180 chefs, including 30 halal cooks, are working in the kitchen to prepare 180 dishes every day. The menu changes every seven days with a total of 406 dishes.
"At its peak, the athletes' village kitchen will serve 7,000 meals daily."

To keep the athlete's heads clear, media and press members are strictly barred from the village. (They're housed in a separate Media Village.)

Anyways, so here's what it's like being there: You land in Seoul, then get whisked to Pyeongchang via high-speed rail.

Then to the completed village. There are actually two villages, one in Pyeongchang proper and another in nearby Gangneung. (Basically if your sport involves skates, you're staying at Gangneung near the ice facilities. Everyone else shacks up at Pyeongchang.)

South Korea spent two years getting the Olympic Villages built.

Here's a walkthrough of the rooms after completion, prior to the Olympics:

The rooms might look Spartan, but those shots are of the rooms before they're decorated. Here's Team Great Britain snowboarder Aimee Fuller giving you a look at the Brits' dressed-up digs, some of the swag (yes, they get to keep those comforters) and the all-important dining hall:

Tour of facilities and rooms by Team Ireland:

A Canadian skeleton coach for Team Australia runs down his suite. Look for the nifty pop-out smartphone stand in the bathroom around 5:41:

This magic fob grants you free access to all drinks in the vending machines.
This thing that puzzles him in the video is next to the toilet and built into the bathroom wall. It's a pop-out smartphone stand.

There are also thousands of journalists on hand, from around the world. The Media Village has a less splashy dining hall than the athletes get but it offers a similar selection. Also cool to see that they separate and recycle everything:

I keep coming back to the food because I'm impressed by the logistics of it. Food & Wine reports:

What exactly does it take to keep the world's best bodies in competition-ready shape? The dining hall—which will be open 24/7—has a hefty 18-page menu full of options. A sampling: Fresh veggies and a whole range of protein options (duh), a pizza and pasta bar, regional Korean fare, halal food, and even McDonald's. (You'd think that each athlete would have a finely tuned nutrition regimen, filled with adaptogens and supergreens—but if downing a pizza topped with anchovies and ranch dressing helps you win, the Olympic committee is not going to judge you, it turns out.) And for breakfast, there's a selection of pastries or dry cereal.

I looked through the menu and it's insane. It makes me wish I was a competing Olympian rather than an out-of-shape design blogger.

With a 24-hour cafeteria, the athletes have no need to prepare their own food back at their suites. In fact it'd be impossible--all of the kitchen surfaces and appliances are sealed in plastic.

Why? Because building Olympic venues ain't cheap, and the South Korean government has reportedly spent nearly $13 billion. To help offset the cost, the Olympic Village units have already been sold--yes, all of them--as condominiums. After the athletes move out, the kitchens get unwrapped, and families move in.

Some of the athletic facilities themselves will continue to fulfill their functions after the Games have left, but to date they can't figure out what to do with the $120 million speed skating oval. "A local company," CBS News reports, "did say it would be a great place for storing frozen fish."

Today's Urban Design Observation: Trash That Tells Tales


You reckon someone came home, and found their things by the curb after their live-in partner discovered infidelity?

Or maybe someone just threw a bunch of stuff out and someone wrote on it after the fact, I don't know. By the looks of it, this stuff has been here a while (note the coffee cups deposited there by thoughtful passersby) and has probably already been picked over. If there was more telltale stuff, maybe I'd have a better picture.

Design Job: Cannonball! JAKKS Pacific is seeking a Sr. Manager of Design in Santa Monica, CA


JAKKS Pacific, Inc., a leading designer and marketer of toys and consumer products, with a wide range of products that feature some of the most popular brands and children's toy licenses in the world, currently seeks an experienced, energetic, self-starter for the role of Sr. Manager of Design for the Seasonal Division. The job will focus on our licensed Play Structures (Ball Pits and Play Tents) and Kids Furniture businesses.

View the full design job here

Gala Systems' Clever Spiralift Design Turns Columns Flat to Create Disappearing Auditorium Seating


Auditorium seating might not sound like a glamorous subcategory of furniture design, but when it's done right, it really stands out. Previously the neatest system we'd ever seen was the Genya system, designed by Dante Bonuccelli and produced by Italian manufacturer Lamm.

Another nifty system is Ziba's Jumpseat Auditorium Seating, which won a Core77 Design Award.

With both of those systems, the seating surface seamlessly disappears into the backrest. The next level of design, however, is where the seating disappears entirely. Swiss company Gala Systems has created an incredible system that relies on spiral lifts that can move entire rows:

Here's the crazy thing: That spiraling column you see in the videos is not really a column. Meaning when it disappears into the ground, it's not sinking down into a cylindrical shaft, but is actually unspooling into a relatively flat space. What the engineers have figured out is how to turn a long, flat ribbon of steel into a column:

That's pretty darn brilliant.

Japanese Company Illustrates How Much Breasts Weigh by Strapping Animals to Men and Having Them Play Sports


Most of we men have no idea what it feels like to live with the persistent weight of breasts on the front of our torsos. And I couldn't imagine having to play tennis with, say, a fanny pack strapped across my chest. To illustrate what this weight is like, Japanese sports bra and undergarment manufacturer Wacoal Sports made this crazy commercial:

I hope all of the animals were treated humanely!

This Motorhome Covered in Solar Panels is Real, But has Accidentally Been Turned Into Fake News


German caravan manufacturer Dethleffs unveiled this e.home at the most recent Caravan Salon in Dusseldorf:

I saw it and thought, "Holy Cow. Imagine being able to cruise around the country and never have to pay for gas!" My misinformed reaction was further reinforced when I read what the GreenMatters blog had to say:

This motorhome is built for the open road, with a sleek design and head-to-toe solar panels so you never have to worry about finding the next charging station.
The motorhome would have a range just shy of 100 miles if it wasn't covered in solar panels, but it is. Those babies can make up to 3,000 watts of electricity for its 228-Ah battery. In other words, you're all good to just keep on going.

Then I looked into it further, and it turns out that the central premise of the two paragraphs above are not true. While the e.home does indeed generate a healthy amount of electricity from solar, and does have an electric drivetrain, the juice generated by the panels is not enough to drive the vehicle. Instead the electricity powers the interior living elements: Lighting, cooktop, heat, electric black-out windows, power outlets, et cetera. On the road, you'd still need to plug the vehicle in at charging stations to store enough electricity for the engine.

Why build this, then, if it's not technically fully-functional? Because, as Dethleffs explains,

"The development is unstoppable--it's only a matter of time [before we can have solar-powered campers]. That's why it's important for us to get into the topic of electromobility right now to be prepared for the future [even] knowing that the current state of the art does not yet meet the requirements for a drive of a motorhome."
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