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Designs for Better Boozing: Hip Flask With a Built-In Collapsible Shot Glass


A hip flask is a great way to tote booze around, but nothing makes you look like more of a degenerate than when you purse your lips to wrap them around that tiny spout. To sip your swill with class, what you need is one of these:

The one in the video is Jameson-branded, so we assume they ordered up a bunch and handed them out at the company Christmas party. But you needn't work for them to get one; these are sold on Amazon under the BarMe brand.

I like that the product copy describes the flask as "a conversation starter." It surely is, but maybe not for the type of conversation you'd like to have. The one where you end it by saying "Mind your own business--I could quit anytime I want to. I just don't want to."

The Beecosystem: A Modular Indoor Honeybee Hive With Outdoor Commuting Tube


Ant farms are lame because the ants don't really do much, other than walk around showing off how much weight they can carry. Wouldn't you rather have an indoor beehive, where you can see the little buggers making honey?

"I sure would," you say, "but I don't want to get stung everytime I let them out." Of course you don't! That's why entrepreneur Michael Zaengle developed the Beecosystem. This hexagonal-shaped viewing case features a transparent tube that "vents" outside of your window for ingress and egress.

The hives are modular, so you can add more hives as needed, with an entryway between the two.

Zaengle has also designed a sort of crumb tray on the bottom, so you can remove discarded beeswax caps (or cigarette butts, if your bees smoke).

Take a look:

I was curious as to how you harvest honey from the thing, since they didn't show it in the video. I dug through the instruction manual and it turns out that the harvesting part needs to be done outside. You're meant to pop a hive off of the wall bracket, put that bomb technician suit on and carry the hive outdoors where you can open the back up and commit your honey burglary.

Zaengle mentions an IndieGogo in the video. The video went live yesterday but oddly I can find no link to any IndieGogo campaign on his website nor under the video itself, so perhaps it's still in the works. Maybe he just wants to generate some…buzz.

Safehaven Marine's Bad-Ass Rescue/Military Boat is Uncapsizable, Fast and Lethal


The UK's Safehaven Marine makes specialty watercraft for SAR (search and rescue) and military applications, and their latest design is like something out of a spy movie: The XSV 17 Thunder Child, kitted out with stealth technology that makes it nearly invisible on radar, night vision camera systems, HyperSpike acoustic devices that you blast to deter opponents, a gyroscopically-stabilized remote controlled 12.7mm machine gun that pops up out of watertight hatches, two 1,000-horsepower Caterpillar engines and ROSY.

ROSY (a nickname for Rapid Obscuring System) works like this:

That video above was a demonstration of ROSY, not the actual Thunder Child. She looks like this:

In the video below she demonstrates her special trick--an inability to remain capsized, should she turn over in rough waters:

The boat's prow is designed to cut through waves taken head-on, to minimize slamming up and down in rough water. For both that and the uncapsizing trick, the crew sit in shock-mitigating seating designed with built-in suspension systems:

But one thing they can't do, I'm guessing, is prevent me from vomiting every time the boat goes over.

A' Design Awards & Competition: Last Call for Entries


About A' Design Award & Competition

A' Design Award & Competition, the world's leading international annual juried competition for design, is wrapping up the entry period for its next cycle. Every year, projects that focus on innovation, technology, design and creativity are awarded with the A' Design Award. Designers worldwide are called to take part in the accolades by entering their best works, projects and products.

Enter your designs by February 28 here.

Judging Process

Entries will be judged by an international jury panel of scholars, professionals and media members. Unlike other awards, A' Design Award and Competition follows a peer-review process with anonymous voting and evaluation of entries.

Past Winners:

The A' Design Accolades are organized in a wide range of creative fields to highlight the very best designers from all countries in all disciplines. To give an idea of projects that are eligible to apply to receive an A' Design Award, we've put together a list of some projects that won last year:

Vehicle, Mobility and Transportation Design

Home Appliances Design

Digital and Electronic Devices Design

Furniture, Homeware and Decorative Items Design

Packaging Design

Architecture, Building and Structure Design

View all of the awards categories here.

Benefits of Winning

There are many benefits to winning an A' Design award, including:

Awards Trophy, Extensive PR Campaign, Inclusion in Yearbook Publication, Winner's Certificate, Gala-Night Invitation, Feedback Notes by the Jury, Exclusive Interview, Designer of the Year Nomination, Winner Badges, Newsletter Announcement& more.

Learn more and Register Your Work

To have an opportunity to get your design published, featured and promoted on Core77, remember to submit your work before the entry deadline of February 28. We will be publishing a selection of award winners on April 15.

Submit your best design projects here.

Skeleton Sleds Go 80 M.P.H. and Have No Brakes. Here's How They Stop--and Why They Never Show It


A Core77 staffer brought up a great question at yesterday's editorial meeting: How do luge and skeleton riders come to a stop? These things max out at 80, 85 miles per hour and have no brakes.

So I looked into it--and apparently it's different for luge and skeleton riders. The first part of stopping, for either of them, has to do with the course design and gravity:


Bobsled/luge/skeleton track designers always introduce a sweeping turn towards the end of the track, so that the final stretch goes back uphill to scrub off a little speed. After the athlete rockets past the finish line, there's a short uphill run. Luge riders can then sit up to add wind resistance, pull up on the front of the sled to dig the runners in, and put their feet down to add drag. (Here's footage of luge riders coming to a complete stop.)

As for skeleton riders, The Seattle Times had this to say: "Skeleton sleds…have no brakes; racers slow them by sitting up and putting their feet down on the ground over the course of the finish area, which runs back uphill toward the starting position to allow slowing by gravity."

However, when I looked for footage of this, I couldn't find any. Maybe I was looking at the wrong videos, but this morning I pored over footage from Pyeongchang and Sochi and never saw a skeleton rider coming to a stop. Then I found this video from Vancouver's 2010 games, and a couple of frames flashed by where I saw something weird. I had to freeze-frame it:

Uh, what the eff was that?

I scrubbed through the video carefully to isolate each moment of this, then cut it back together and uploaded it. Here's what I came up with:

Looks like a thin but long sheet of foam that they throw in front of the rider, like they're trying to catch a wild animal in a net. Talk about inelegant, it's no wonder they never show it.

Designers, let's hear some counter-suggestions. I'm thinking the rider deploys drag racing parachutes or slides into a Giant Bungie Net, which has huge comic potential.

Who's Got the Best Skeleton Helmet at Pyeongchang?

Yun Sung-bin, South Korea
Yun Sung-bin, South Korea

Ice dancers, snowboarders, figure skaters, skiers and others all have plenty of opportunity to exhibit style and flair during their performances. Not so for skeleton riders, whose sport is performed by adjusting their bodies mere millimeters at a time. Thus their helmet graphics are the only place to display any kind of differentiation. Who's got the best one at Pyeongchang?

Yun Sung-bin, South Korea
Barrett Martineau, Canada
Hiroatsu Takahashi, Japan
Akwasi Frimpong, Ghana
Joseph Luke Cecchini, Italy

Honorable mention from previous years:

Katie Uhlaender, U.S.A. (2014)
Eric Neilson, Canada (2014)
John Fairbairn, Canada (2014)

Lastly, our favorite:

Jeff Pain, Canada (2010)

SVA and MoMA Wholesale are Giving Designers a Chance to Learn Traditional Japanese Crafts in Japan


Made in Yame is a new SVA Destinations program that will take product designers to Japan to study traditional Japanese crafts and design contemporary products using those traditional tools and techniques. Product prototypes will then be shown to MoMA Wholesale with an opportunity to have them licensed and distributed globally.

The School of Visual Arts has for years provided artists and graphic designers the opportunity to study abroad in the Summer through its SVA Destinations programs. Now, SVA has added product design to its roster with Made in Yame: Traditional Craft and Contemporary Product Design in Japan. Anyone can apply to SVA Destinations programs regardless of any affiliation with the school. 

Made in Yame will take designers to Yame City, Fukuoka City, Arita and Kyoto to learn over a dozen traditional Japanese crafts and guide them through a design process toward a contemporary product using those traditional tools and techniques. We have seen similar programs in the past, but what sets this one apart is its partnership with MoMA Wholesale.

"The SVA MFA in Products of Design is in its fourth year of partnering with MoMA Wholesale, and so far they have licensed and manufactured a dozen or so of our students' designs," says Products of Design faculty member and Made in Yame program coordinator, Sinclair Smith.

Gabrielle Zola, MoMA's Manager of Business Development & Wholesale, Retail added, "MoMA has a soft spot for rediscovering traditional techniques and applying them to modern designs. We're thrilled to extend our partnership and look forward to the results of Made in Yame."

According to the website, prototypes by the participants will be flown from Japan to MoMA where buyers will have the option to license and produce the designs for global distribution. So you get to see Japan and its incredible craft traditions, and you might even get your product manufactured by one of the most reputable names in contemporary design. Not bad.

Visit madeinyame.sva.edu for more information and to apply.

Steven M. Johnson's Bizarre Invention #64: Rotating Desktops

Telescoping Airtight Food Storage Containers


This is one of those product designs that sounds like a great idea, but which also makes me curious to see how the UX plays out long-term. A company called Botto has designed this 1/2 Smart Storage System, which consists of compressible storage containers that have a one-way valve in the cap. As you press the top half down it not only squeezes the air out of the vessel, but shrinks to the precise height of its contents:

The part I found hilarious was them boasting about how the "crystal-clear transparent body provides 360-degree clarity." As if other manufacturers of transparent food storage items skimp out and only give you 340-degree clarity.

What I'm curious to see is if it grows annoying to use over time and/or actually confers a benefit that people are happy to avail themselves of. In any case, at press time 704 backers had kicked in $63,505 on a measl $10,224 goal, so there appears to be strong demand. I did a double take when I saw that one unit costs $118, before realizing that's in Hong Kong dollars; for us yanks it's USD $15.

Tools & Craft #85: Understanding How Chisels Work, Part 1 - Bevel Angles


Take a sharp chisel and pare some cross grain of a board. Work at the end of the board and you will find it's easy to pare end grain. Then try cutting the same cross grain but not at the end of a board. It's impossible, isn't it? The reason is that the amount of force needed to cut the cross grain is pretty small but the amount of force needed to push the wood out of the way of the chisel bevel is pretty huge.

With a mallet of course we can easily go pretty deep before the forces get too great and the chisel jams. There are several solutions to this: Use a narrower chisel - less force is needed so for the same effort we can go deeper. (Fig. 2) Use a shallower bevel angle. That helps a lot and for the same force the section of wood we have to push out of the way is less so we can go deeper. The problem is that a narrower chisel doesn't give us the clean cut lines we need and a chisel with a lower bevel angle has a weaker and less-long-lasting cutting edge.

The correct approach is a compromise between penetration and edge longevity. It also turns out to be a compromise between control and precision and edge longevity.

Before we tackle the first set of problems there is also an additional problem to consider. As we chop down into the wood the bevel bears again the cut and tries, successfully, to push the chisel past the initial cut line (fig. 3). This is most annoying, it means that when we chop out the waste from a dovetail by putting the chisel on the scribe line we will go below the baseline and ruin the fit of the joint.

While the first set of problems are annoying, the baseline problem is critical. So let's look at the base line problem first. If we reduce the bevel angle of the chisel we can reduce the lateral force on the chisel to reduce how far it moves, but it will still move.

There are several solutions to this problem that are in general use:

1. Cut away all the waste that the chisel bevel will push against. This is a pretty common modern method and it works. You use a fretsaw or a coping saw to saw out the waste so that when you put the chisel on the scribe line there is nothing blocking the body of the chisel and it goes straight down. With the waste removed the cut is like paring end grain and it works precisely. But it's one more step and requires another tool. It does mean that with the waste removed you can put the chisel exactly on the scribe line and the chisel will track true.

2. In Lonnie Bird's dovetailing video he uses a narrow chisel to remove all the waste by chopping. He starts at the edge of the boards and nibble his way to the scribe line bit by bit. I don't know of anyone else who teaches it this way but the method works.

3. This is how I was taught: Place the chisel in the waste a little bit in front of the scribe line and mallet the chisel until the chisel moves to the scribe. Then hold the chisel bevel up and smack it into the end grain, removing a chip the depth of the chisel cut. Once the first bit of waste is removed the chisel has a wall at the scribe line and additional chiseling won't move the scribe line back. You repeat the process until you have removed as much waste as you want. Halfway through I flip the work and work from the other side. This technique works great but you have to move the chisel in your hand, and possibly use a different size chisel for chip removal. There is also no support for chiseling on the flip side.

4. Frank Klausz demonstrates dovetailing using a technique similar to what I learned, and the first step of chiseling (just before the scribe line, until the chisel is forced back to the scribe line) is the same. Once the scribe line is defined by the chisel he backs off a little and chops out a wedge of waste. He uses a chisel a little narrower than the joint so that he doesn't have to switch chisels and he also doesn't have to flip the chisel over or change position. This method is really, really fast and how I currently do it. He then repeats the operation, chiseling at the scribe line and going deeper, and then chipping out a larger wedge. Halfway through he flips the work and works from the other side. This method also gives better support for the waste on the flip side.

In part 2 we will address the issue of bevel angle - trying to find a compromise between edge retention, force, control, and there are a couple of tricks we can use that make stronger edges without increasing the first needed to make the chisel work.


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.

The Typographic Design Elements Hidden in the Pyeongchang Olympic Medals


Last night, another thrilling spectacle at the Olympics as longtime archrivals Canada and U.S.A. faced off for the gold in women's hockey. But before I can get to that, let's talk about the interesting, largely unseen design elements of the Pyeongchang events' medals.

First off, you've probably seen the medals on TV only from this frontal angle:

The striations appear to be random and fanciful. But if you were up close and could see the edges, a different story emerges. Industrial designer Lee Suk-woo, who established his own ID firm in Seoul just over a decade ago, was tapped to design the medals and wanted to incorporate the Korean alphabet, Hangeul, into the design. After going through 10 iterations, Lee and his design team settled on a version where "Pyeongchang Winter Olympics" is written in Hangeul along the edge, and the characters were then extruded in CAD along the obverse (a fancy word for the front of a coin) to create the striations:

The reverse of the medals contains the name of the event:

The Paralympics medals were designed with additional textures representing elements of nature local to Pyeongchang, as well as "Pyeongchang 2018" written in braille:

Here's a video of Lee explaining him and his team's design process on this project:

On to the hockey! The rivalry between the Canada and U.S. Women's Hockey Teams has been going on for years, and these women really don't like each other. While checking is technically illegal in women's hockey, apparently no one told these two teams. Here's footage of them clashing and discussing the rivalry.

The Canadians have bested the U.S.A. in four out of their last five meetings at the Olympics. When women's hockey was first introduced to the Olympics in 1998, U.S.A. won gold; but Canada has handily defeated the U.S. in every Olympics since, taking home the gold each time. Sochi in 2014 was a particularly painful loss for the U.S. (video summary here) that treated the world to a sight we know most of you like to see: Weeping Americans.

The anticipation for last night's game couldn't have been higher, and once the women took the ice it was clear this was going to be a nail-biter. At the end of the third period it was 2-2, and when the game went into overtime, the Canadians nearly put it away--but had to contend with our brilliant goalie, 20-year-old Maddie Rooney, who kept us in the game with this one:

Overtime expired with no goals and the two teams went into a shootout. Viewers got to see why these two are the best women's hockey teams in the world: Take a look at this ridiculously skillful shot by Canada's Melodie Daoust:

The U.S.A.'s Jocelyne Lamoureax-Davidson answered with some fancy stickwork of her own:

With the shootout at 2-2, it call came down to Team Canada's best player, Meghan Agosta, versus Rooney:

It drives me nuts that NBC is making these videos unembeddable, but you can watch the re-cap of the game here.

Congratulations to the U.S. Women's Hockey Team! And don't worry, Canada, we know you'll be back.

Susie Wise Says Traditional Education Deserves a Design Revolution


For this year's Core77 Design Awards, we're conducting in-depth interviews with each of our jury captains to get in a glimpse into their creative minds and hear more about what they'll be looking for in this year's awards submissions.

For 2018 Design Education Initiative Jury Captain Susie Wise, design thinking in the realm of education is a topic she practically lives and breathes. Following an impressive breadth of career experience, including founding Stanford's K12 Lab Network, Wise has recently focused her energies primarily on a project bred from the K12 Lab—School Retool, a professional development program rethinking education by incorporating design thinking into curriculum planning. We recently spoke with Wise about the early days at the Stanford d.school with David Kelley, how lesson plans should be redesigned to give students an active role in the formation of their education, and what "design thinking" really means.

Starting off, can you just tell me a little bit about yourself and the work that you've been engaged with over the years?

I went to college thinking that I would be in politics and work on Capitol Hill. As I was finishing up school I thought, "you know, I don't think I want to go to Washington D.C. and just be trained in the protocols of how the Hill works." I came out to the Bay area, and I started working in education with a bunch of different educational non-profits. Kind of trying to find my way.

I would think a lot about how I wanted to become a teacher, but I found that I really liked working with programs that went into schools. I did some work in HIV and AIDS education, and that led me to work at the Exploratorium—it was there that I really started to recognize the role of design. After that, I started working in game design and was super intrigued by some of the early multimedia of the CD-rom era. At a certain point, I got tired of making multiplication games for third graders, the kind of "drill and kill" games, so I started working for SFMoMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) leading the interactive educational technology group. 

The way that I got connected more formally to an understanding of human-centered design and design thinking was when I went to Stanford to do a doctorate in a program called Learning Sciences and Technology Design. I took my first classes with David Kelly, in what at the time was called the Joint Program in Design. I wasn't enrolled in that program, but I took a lot of those classes as part of my doctorate. This was prior to the d.school being created, but I was there right at the time when David Kelly and George Kembel, who would become the first executive director of the d.school, were investigating and prototyping their way towards what would become the d.school. I was involved in that early work and stayed involved. I was the only person all these product designers knew who was in the school of education, so I got to play this kind of interesting bridge role. 

This led me back in 2007 to create what is called the K12 lab at the d.school. This was the entity where we really investigated what design thinking could look like in K12 education. We did this by working with folks in K12 education, but also by teaching graduate level courses related to it. After early prototyping, we found that introducing the design process to educators really reconnected them to their own creativity. In many cases, that's why they were teachers to begin with. Most of the work of the K12 lab over the subsequent years has been focused on introducing educators to the power of using design thinking as a process. 

More recent work, like a program we have called School Retool, introduces just three design mindsets to school leaders to help them start to change their schools and turn them into more equitable institutions. Those key design mindsets that we introduce are a bias towards action, starting small, and failing forward to learn—those underlying pieces of what designers are particularly good at. [School Retool] really helps educators, whether they're classroom teachers or school leaders or system level leaders, start to notice and work with their own creativity to build their creative confidence.

You've led me into my next question about School Retool, a project focused on the idea of deeper learning. I'm curious to hear, which aspects of education do you personally believe need to change in this modern era?

Right now is such a critical time—we have an opportunity to help everyone see that school can be different. We need to be able to do that in partially immersive ways. We have a little bit of a legacy problem due to the fact that everyone's been to school and has a relationship to school that has already existed. It makes it hard to get to innovation.

"I think the power of bringing design thinking into schools as a toolkit that both educators and also students directly use is just an approach to creative problem solving and opportunity seeking. It is one of the things that can allow young people to have a process that they reliably know they can use when faced with unforeseen challenges. That's what our future is."

How do we help schools be much more student-centered so that the work that students are doing feels relevant to them and they are actually driving their own learning? Finding that relevance so you can drive your own learning is what sets you up to know how you learn and, therefore, be able to learn things as our world continues to change.

The power of bringing design thinking into schools as a toolkit that both educators and students directly use is just an approach to creative problem solving and opportunity seeking. It can allow young people to have a process that they reliably know they can use when faced with unforeseen challenges. That's what our future is, right? There's so much we don't know about what is to come. We need to move much more into not the what, but the how of learning. I think that's a really powerful place where design plays a critical role because design is a process of learning.

Design is a process of encountering your world, seeing what is needed, and creating from there. I have a deep belief that it's a thing that humans kind of already know how to do. But we also need to build processes so that people have mental models for how to approach it. If students are working on a crisis that's happening in their community, or a topic that they really care about on the other side of the world, that one project builds their momentum and motivation to learn what they need in order to do it. It's also a chance where they're continuing to practice design. The design becomes a through-line for students to practice being in the world and learning from the world, which I think is really powerful.

One of the big hurdles we have to get over now is the obsession with learning a bunch of content knowledge, as opposed to learning how to work through a challenge and discover an opportunity. That's the critical shift I am looking to see. I think a program like School Retool is very much about those outcomes which are creative, critical thinking, communicating, and knowing who you are as a learner. Being able to adopt a learning mindset which says, "I am a learner and I can engage in this community by learning." Those are the outcomes of deeper learning that are really powerful.

"One of the big hurdles we have to get over now is the obsession with learning a bunch of content knowledge, as opposed to learning how to work through a challenge and discover an opportunity."

What we find in working with educators in the context of School Retool is that we don't actually give the adults and our system much opportunity to learn that way—to actually have a structure that gets them to an unknown outcome, which is what learning really is. Just getting to an outcome that wasn't pre-prescribed. With all the devices and content repositories that we have, we're all very aware now that the actual just "knowing" stuff doesn't matter nearly as much as getting to it and figuring out how to actually use it.

School Retool is a cool program because it is really for school leaders interested in starting on the path to change in their school. Sometimes you go to an exemplary school, like a high-tech high, and it looks like magic. These students are so engaged in these projects, they're reading their own work. They're giving the tour of the school and engaging us and these really interesting learning protocols. [Most schools] could never do that because of x, y or z. They don't have this building or this funding or whatever. School Retool really says "You're right. You don't. What uniquely can you do in your school with your existing resources to start on the path? There are some great things that we know work in the world of education that you might want to work towards."

We really work on introducing school leaders to what we think of as some of the levers of design that are actually theirs to use but they don't often think are theirs. Often times you find leaders who think that the way to influence change is to send emails about a new plan. It's a planning-centric approach. The more design-centric approach says "Gosh, you have all these levers that can help you build school culture. You could design space. You can design roles. You can design rituals. You can design incentives. You can design communications and process and time." In fact, the school leader, a principal has all of these things [at their disposable] in a way that a classroom teacher doesn't. It becomes really powerful for them to see that these are all actually levers of design that they can pull.

The program also empowers the student and shows that they have agency in their own education as well, which I feel like is something missing from a lot of normal curricula, at least in the United States.

I think that you hit the nail on the head there, right? Student agency is the critical piece. So much of more traditional historical schooling has been disempowering. The sit and get model. I'm going to fill you with knowledge as opposed to, what are the structures that we together can create that are exciting to you and get you moving in the world to create change?

This year, the Core77 Design Awards' Design Education Initiatives is trying to open up this category into other fields. Of course, it's important to create change within the realm of schools, but what are you hoping to see in submissions that are outside the box?

One of the things I think is really powerful is, how is design a catalyst for learning across the community? Can design be used as a process that helps people to work across difference? Some of the things that we've been working on in the K12 lab have been at the intersection of design thinking and equity consciousness. I'd be so excited to see submissions really approaching that intersection of thinking about how the design process can help more people have their voices heard in a community around a topic that really matters to them. That I think is empowering for young people who are students, but also for professionals looking to engage in their community in a new way.

Design as a process can be used, if done with a great deal of consciousness, to help people work together and collaborate across difference. I'm super interested in projects that are really looking at co-design and that are looking to help communities work together to create prototypes and try things out. I think prototyping becomes a powerful way of working in design that helps to break down some of the structures that limit different people from participating. Once you're working on a prototype, everyone's experience of that prototype becomes equally valid. I'd be really excited to see submissions that are looking at how design can be used for community challenges, and how design can be used to help people work together that might not traditionally do so.

One last question I can't help but ask. Design thinking is a term that's been so hyped up within the design world and especially outside of it. It's often widely misinterpreted. How would you define design thinking in a way that feels true to its original intention?

I'll say a couple of different things on that front. One is, we found that we focus less now on design thinking as a process. The d.school has the hexagon, but I'm super interested in introducing people to a process that leads them to some bit of understanding of who you are, first of all, because I think you need to have consciousness of yourself as the designer. Who are you? Who is it that you're trying to work with? What's your relationship with them going to be? Are you pushing towards co-design? Or, are you really trying to just get to know some folks who understand the space in which they're working or struggling and what the classic needs are? How do you move from a human-centered perspective, and then to a bias toward building and prototyping?

"If I would say what is not design thinking, it's 'I have an idea and I want to try to validate it.'"

In some ways, it's like the empathy and the prototyping, it's just back and forth, back and forth. What I care about more than I do explicit steps of a process is really a sense for those underlying mindsets of trying to be human-centered and having a bias towards action that enables you to learn. That learning might be, "gosh am I really working on the right problem or not?" It might be, "is this thing really working?" But it's not just to validate an idea. If I would say what is not design thinking, it's "I have an idea and I want to try to validate it."

I think there are contexts in which that might be the way you need to go, but that's not design thinking to me. Design thinking is deeply human-centered. That's both consciousness of who you are, and with whom you're working in order to uncover what is a really interesting opportunity space to work in. Then using that bias towards prototyping to both understand if you're on to something, but even more importantly, to understand if you framed the challenge correct to begin with. It wants to be informed by a real experience of the world.

The Core77 Design Awards Design Education Initiative Jury

2018 Design Education Initiative Jury Captain Susie Wise will be joined by these designers for the awards selection process:

Tom Maiorana, Assistant Professor of Design, UC Davis

Kareem Collie, Creative Director, The Hive, the Claremont Colleges

Juliette LaMontagne, Chief Learning Architect, Bionic Solution

Thinking of submitting to the Consumer Products category in the 2018 Core77 Design Awards? Submit today—Regular Deadline ends March 8th!

Unique Furniture Design: Tables Featuring Urban Maps Finished with Photoluminescent Resin, Resembling Cities at Nighttime


In an older post we looked at Mike Warren's unusual technique of filling voids in wood with photoluminescent resin to create this striking-looking table:

In a different post we highlighted the work of Lake Art, a family business that produces laser-cut maps:

Independently of these, Poland-based Maciej Kozerski has combined these two techniques to create eye-catching pieces of furniture: Coffee tables and side tables with maps of world cities etched into them that, when the lights are turned out, glow like a real city does at nighttime.

While the map you see here is of Warsaw, Kozerski also offers Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, London, Munich, the southern half of New York City, the northern half of New York City, and Paris. You can check 'em out here.

This Video of an Automated Factory Producing Lasagna at an Industrial Scale is Mesmerizing


Years ago I was walking through my neighborhood (New York's Little Italy) and stopped to wait for the light to change on the corner of Grand and Mulberry. Suddenly I heard a voice coming from above: "Hey mister! Mister! Hey mister!"

I looked up to see a middle-aged Italian woman in a house dress, rollers in her hair, unabashedly leaning out of the window. It was straight out of an old commercial, and I felt certain she was going to ask me if I knew what made her Alfredo sauce so creamy.

Instead she said "Can you throw these in the box?" and dropped a rubber-banded bundle of letters two stories down to me. I caught it, looked around and deposited it in the mailbox on the corner. "Thank youuuuu!" she called, and shut the window. I found it kind of disappointing.

Why am I telling you this? To explain that I have been conditioned, by watching the commercials of my youth, to believe that Italian food products are handmade by warm-hearted people with ebullient personalities. It's a total stereotype of course, I have no idea if that woman even knew how to cook.

Anyways I thought of this as I came across this video. It's footage of pasta company Roma Prince's automated factory in Costa Rica producing lasagna at an industrial scale:

As mesmerizing and artfully-shot as the footage is, I found it depressing that human beings don't even show up until the end. I also found it sad to watch because I'm trying to quit processed carbohydrates, which I love. But that's another story.

This hulking monstrosity has rollers but doesn't know, nor care, what a house dress is.
It's like a car wash of delicious carbohydrates.
I found myself glumly wondering what this woman's dreams in life are.

Today's Urban Design Observation: A Laundromat's Space-Saving Free Entertainment Solution for Customers


This laundromat in Chinatown/Little Italy offers free entertainment to waiting customers. When it's warm enough out they'll sit in one of two chairs provided outside the facility.

Against the window on the left is a free library of books. They look to be Chinese versions of steamy Harlequin romance novels.

Not sure if you can tell from the photos, but these books are outside, not inside, the glass. 

To hold the books in place, a shelf bracket holder has been attached between the glass and the tracks for the roll-down security shutters. That way, at night when the shutters are rolled down, no one can steal the books. And by leaving them outside they don't need to take up space with a display shelf inside.

Parley's Cyrill Gutsch on Why Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Is Invalid & How to Stop Designing with Plastic

Thumbnail image via Eric White; Image above via Ami Sioux 

Cyrill Gutsch talks about plastic use the way doctors talk about drug addiction. In a way, he's not far off. Although wildly harmful to the environment, plastic has become engrained into the worlds of design and manufacturing as a go-to material that simply gets the job done. Cyrill Gutsch and his company Parley are on a multi-faceted mission to end this mentality by ridding the world of plastic—entirely.

Starting as a small design form in 2012, Parley made the switch to environmental organization after an eye-opening meeting with environmentalist, Paul Watson. The designers were shocked to learn that our oceans are on the verge of extinction and decided it was their duty to take action. Parley's goal is not to shame companies, governments and individuals for designing with plastic but to instead act as an agent of change, helping them create multi-step action plans to slowly end their use of plastic altogether. 

Nobody explains Parley's structure better than Gutsch himself, so we sat down with the designer/environmentalist to learn more about Parley and how designers at all levels can take actionable steps to avoid touching plastic during the design process:

Can you describe Parley and a few of your projects for readers who may not be familiar?

Parley is a new form of environmental organization where we don't focus on protests—we're not demanding change without looking into solutions. It's more about inspiring key companies, organizations, governments and individuals to explore new ways of making product. We're using harmful substances that damage our environment and our own health, which we simply can't afford to do anymore. We are coming into an urgent material revolution where we will recognize this and start changing how we make things. 

In the beginning, around 2012, we were looking at plastic in a time where plastic was not seen as such a large environmental threat. We were growing up with the idea, especially in Europe, that recycling is an answer. You have these recycling symbols on every product, but you don't even differentiate if the product is recyclable or already recycled. You think, "Oh my god, it's all okay. Somebody takes care of it. It's this place where things go when I've used them."

"[Plastic] is a design failure—just alien matter that shouldn't be on this planet."

Then suddenly, you realize that there is no place where these things go. Even if they get recycled, on the way there they're leaching a lot toxic substances, and they're creating harm. It's a permanent journey of destruction that these materials cause. We understood at Parley that materials like fossil fuel-based plastic are not fit for an idea of a circular economy. Plastic itself is a design failure—just alien matter that shouldn't be on this planet. 

From outside, the ocean surface has always looked the same, but nobody really puts their head in the water to relate to everything—all the life that's down there—and sees the beauty, the horror, and the destruction. It's very difficult to make people understand that the oceans are dying at a rapid speed. We felt like we needed to ask ourselves,"Is this the legacy of our generation? Is this what we want to leave behind?" I personally couldn't live with that idea that the oceans would die, and I didn't do anything about it. I couldn't forgive myself, and that was the moment we started Parley for the Oceans. 

How did you even begin to approach this large-scale environmental problem?

If we are able to destroy the environment, then we're able to create and we're able to change. We just need to come to the point where this huge trend happens where people start redefining and redesigning materials and redesigning the idea of products. We felt like if we created a lot of awareness, and we created trends, and we picked one battle—focusing on plastic and making that a super trend—then we could learn from that and apply it to other segments, other issues. 

When you see something horrible happening, it overpowers you. You feel unequipped to confront it because it is so complex, especially when you look at standard technologies, standard materials, and tech materials like plastic. Then you switch off—you don't want to be frustrated all the time and face something that is seemingly unchangeable. We felt like if we turned this around and got very positive about it by saying, "Yes, there is a tragedy happening, but let's use this as an opportunity to design something new and positive." This approach gives hope and inspires others to follow, rethink how they are doing things and come up with solutions for other problems.

How does Parley's creation of ocean plastic play into this structure?

That whole idea of designing something new was the mentality behind the creation of ocean plastic. It was really the idea to create a material that is made from marine debris, marine litter, and plastic that you find in coastlines where it would have a negative impact on sea life. Having a purpose in the material is the new luxury—it's not about what this material is made from anymore, it's the intention of why this material is made and what it supports. 

To be very frank, ocean plastic doesn't make plastic ocean-friendly. It's still plastic, but it's a vessel with which we can communicate the problem with marine plastic pollution. Through it we can show that there is a temporary solution that everybody can choose, but it's not solving the problem long term. Recycling is not the answer—at least not for plastic.

What fascinates me about Parley's model is that you don't ask companies to quit using plastic cold turkey, you develop action plans with them.

Exactly. I don't believe in cold turkey. I am a perfectionist as a designer, but what I learned at Parley is that you have to allow things to be incomplete, and you have to allow yourself to pivot all the time and say, "Yes, I know where I'm going to be in seven years, but I don't know how I'll get there, and I'm going to be very, very aware that there are going to be a lot of crossroads where I have to make a lot of new decisions." That means you have to start somewhere, and I think that this beginning of this process of change when we work with a partner is that we need a commitment. We need a commitment—a wild commitment—where a brand says they're going out of virgin plastic first. We don't want to contribute to the production of new material, new plastic. 

"You have to allow things to be incomplete, and you have to allow yourself to pivot all the time and say, 'Yes, I know where I'm going to be in seven years, but I don't know how I'll get there.'"

Accepting that plastic is a design failure and deciding to switch to recycling is step one. Then comes deciding to go out of production and not support that there's more plastic on this planet, even if you don't know how. adidas is a good example of that. They committed to going out of merchandise before they even knew they could do it. And that's okay—it actually shows courage and it creates pressure. We all need deadlines, we all need to have these benchmarks. It shouldn't be in 20, 30 years, it should be close. It should be in the near future. 

adidas x Parley

You need to commit to your game plan while also understanding that on the way to that success you will have a lot of changes. You will have a lot of failures, and that's something I feel is okay now. That's something that in the past was not okay. A company would go out and say, "I only present what is already ready, is tested for years, is ready for the market," and I think that's a mistake. I think we can allow ourselves to go out and say," We're testing this. We are trying hard." It encourages people, and it creates a very positive challenge, a competition really.

That leads me to your redesign of the once celebrated "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" model, "Avoid, Intercept, Redesign" (AIR).

Who can remember the trick to Rs if you're not a total nerd? Reduce, reuse, recycle—what does that mean? You need something that really clicks with you, and I think AIR is a strategy you can easily break down. We need air to breathe, we're destroying our air by polluting it, and we are destroying the oceans that create the oxygen in the first place. Up to 80% of all the oxygen we breathe comes from the sea, from life in there. When you go down into it, the three pillars of AIR, A, I, and R, is a model you can break down to every household, business, and government.

Avoid plastic is simple, you just try not to use it. Then you intercept, which means that if you use it, at least don't use new material—use recycled material and do whatever you can to take plastic out of the environment. And then the third pillar, which is the actual solution and the really visionary part of it—re-invent. Redesign the material and create a climate of change where it feels interesting and lucrative to invest money and time into development.

So what are your main qualms with Reduce, Reuse, Recycle?

It says, more or less, that the material is totally fine if you just use it and recycle it, which is not correct because plastic can't be contained even if you follow a proper process. Even if you had the perfect cycle for all plastic materials and not just some of them, which I doubt that it can ever happen because we had enough time to try that, I believe that the material itself is not fit for use. 

"The concept that things have to live forever is something we have to let go of, and same with the idea of throwing away. Everything is interconnected, there is no 'away'."

Of course, we can try to spend another million and billions into recycling systems, but isn't it easier just to rethink the material itself and follow nature, where packaging is solved in such a smart way? Look at a grapefruit or a coconut. The packaging is perfect—it only exists as long as it needs to exist. Then it falls apart and goes back to become a nutrition value for a plant. I think the concept that things have to live forever is something we have to let go of, and same with the idea of throwing away. Everything is interconnected, there is no "away". 

Can you tell me a little about the beach cleanups Parley has done recently?

Yes. Even if you go to the most remote areas, and you go on the beach, you find a plastic bottle. Instead of collecting shells, you find little artifacts from a very destructive time we are living in—even paradise is under such strong attack. Then you understand that something drastic has to happen. This is the beginning of an investigation, a beginning of being suspicious around materials we thought of as necessary.

We just started a partnership with the Maltese where we formed an alliance with 109 collaboration partners, including the president's office, the environmental office, the education office and even a lot of luxury resorts. We convinced the luxury hotels to phase out plastic straws and move to paper ones and to phase out bottled water and build refill stations in every resort and put the water in glass bottles that you can reuse all the time. So this is stuff that you can do and it has a very strong impact, not only on the local business, but also on all these tourists that go to these prime locations that travel and go home and feel like they could also implement these changes in their own lives. 

Then we have a program called Parley Ocean School. We're going to bring in all 227 schools in Maltese, where the kids first learn to dive and learn to see what surrounds them—that their country is not only these pieces of land that are above water, but that there's also a huge landscape underwaterSuddenly they understand that it's really a treat, a treasure. And then we turn these schools into recycling stations where the parents bring their plastic and the plastic gets counted and weighed and whatever, and in the process of bringing it there, they're reflecting on the materials.

For us, somebody who collects plastic on a beach is not a trash picker—they're an ambassador who can go home and educate their communities and can work their mentality way up into other jobs. We want them to be educated, we want them to get paid fairly, and we want them to have insurance because they're doing and confronting themselves with a situation that is intense. For the schools, we will give them points and rewards, like new computers or soccer courts, for the successful implementation of AIR.

And then you make sure this material gets processed in the country—that means you bale it, and in some places we also flake it, and then it gets sent to other recycling processors, a network of supply chain partners that are our Parley partners and they are certified by us. Finally, it gets turned into yarn or it gets turned into pellets that you can use for blow molding or injection molding. cleanups are a full effort that we built pretty much globally now.

There are a bunch of smaller design firms, even here in New York, who are probably wondering how to stop using plastic. Do you have any immediate advice?

There is this new generation of clients who say, "Help me change my company." And they're looking towards designers because designers often have the opportunity to introduce change. The easiest thing they can do is stop using new virgin plastic and to find ways to make that financially lucrative by promoting it or by looking into the supply chain and saying, "Where else could we save money to compensate the costs that we're spending for higher raw material prices?"

"You cannot just replace things one by one, you cannot just say, 'Oh, I'm turning a switch,' you have to kind of use your brain and develop new concepts."

How much does it really cost, though? What is the difference when you're looking at a kilogram of virgin plastic versus a kilogram of recycled plastic? How much is the difference when it comes to the final product? It's not a lot. We need to be able to say, "We'll find a way to make it affordable—to use more expensive materials that are better from the start." It's a pure question of how you structure the calculation of your product.

adidas x Parley

And then it comes down to things that everybody can do. When you look at Apple, for example, they're switching step by step—nobody even notices. Suddenly you don't get plastic bags anymore, and they have this highly engineered new cord on their paper bag that looks like fabric, but it's actually paper. It's like knitted nearly. It's really amazing. You cannot just replace things one by one, you cannot just say, "Oh, I'm turning a switch," you have to kind of use your brain and develop new concepts. 

That is the big opportunity for small companies and small design firms because they're able to think in directions where bigger design firms are not allowed to go. Bigger firms can't interrupt the process—they can't question their work because they would question the basis of their pure existence. 

What is next for Parley?

The next big chapter is future materials. Bio-fabricated materials will be a big, big killer in that next chapter for us, but also digital. How can we use digital to create a relationship between a buyer and owner of a product in this realm? How can we make it interesting and lucrative for the brand, but also for the user to be associated to something? By that I mean, if you have some relationship to a product, then you're not throwing it away easily. And if you do throw it away, you will be missing something. This should be an experience that's positive and rewarding— the end life of a product is very important, and I think tech can help us with that.

The next thing is for us is to scale up drastically. We made 1.3 million pairs of shoes with adidas last year, and we are making 7 million this year. We are working heavily on our partnership with Anheuser-Busch InBev, especially on the brand Corona, to get them plastic free in their secondary packaging. We're also developing a tool kit, which will allow companies, governments and individuals to implement AIR in an efficient way. Empowerment, scale, and full transparency and understanding how those concepts can help the oceans—that's the next thing we really want to achieve.


Editor's note: 2017 marked the first year of a partnership between Parley and Biofabricate to "call upon the world's leading designers, scientists, material innovators, and brands to participate in a Material Revolution and create the future of materials." Learn more about the exciting conference and partnership here.

Yo! C77 Sketch: Digitally Rendering a Shoe


To bring the fidelity of a sketch up just a little bit, I'll render it digitally. In this video I'll take a simple ballpoint pen drawing of a shoe and show you how I simulate color, form, and texture in Photoshop using a Wacom tablet. 

As always, if you have any questions or comments on the techniques shown, leave them in the comments below. What other techniques would you like to see?

Yo! C77 Sketch is a video series from Core77 forum moderator and prolific designer, Michael DiTullo. In these tutorials, DiTullo walks you through step by step rapid visualization and ideation techniques to improve your everyday skills. Tired of that guy in the studio who always gets his ideas picked because of his hot sketches? Learn how to beat him at his own game, because the only thing worse than a bad idea sketched well is a great idea sketched poorly.

The Design Process, Moldmaking and Casting of a Concept Vehicle


In this week's video, Eric Strebel casts a series of concept car models and reminds us that industrial design often involves a lot of bodies. Here he shows you his part of the process, which also includes designer Brook Banham, modeler Claas Kuhnen and Joe Fournier's Millennium Mold & Tool.

The project was done for the 2018 North American International Auto Show, and the object being made is "the Axalta Iris concept vehicle that was used to unveil their StarLite color of the year," Strebel explains. "All of this work was done in Michigan, U.S.A. Even the polyurethane resin used for the casting was from a Michigan company."

Explaining Why the U.S. Speedskating Team's Outfits are Designed That Way


More than a few viewers have been puzzled by Team U.S.A.'s speedskating outfits. They seem to be designed purely to draw one's eye towards their junk:

The uniforms were designed by Under Armour, and InStyle asked them about the crotch bling. Here's UA's statement:

"The contrasting material in the inner thigh (friction guards) has been commonplace for speed skate skins for decades, to reduce friction. The 2014 UA skin had one panel instead of two, but in testing the new skin, the addition of a second panel reduced friction even more—by 60 percent."

Okay, but why not make the inner thigh panel the same freaking color as the rest of the outfit?

"We tested a multitude of friction guard materials to find the material that reduces friction the most. Altering the color or using a material that comes in a different color would have rendered it considerably less effective. The athletes love the look of the skins and how they perform and are getting compliments from other countries."

I'd have thought that they could simply make the entire suit silver, but presumably each nation's predominant uniform colors are pre-agreed-upon to avoid on-rink confusion.

Still, when we look at other countries' thigh panels that are a different color…

…they don't appear to be quite as prominent, nor do they extend as far north as the American uniforms.

I understand function over aesthetics, but I can't help thinking "Who designed these, Borat?"

This Bridge is Cleverly Designed to Slice Ice Into 250-Meter-Wide Strips


Flight instructor Paul Tymstra was flying 7,500 feet over Canada's Confederation Bridge when he spotted this unusual site. Tymstra snapped a pic and Tweeted it:

Here's a closer look:

So what's going on here? The Confederation Bridge, which connects Prince Edward Island with the mainland, has been designed to mitigate the considerable lateral force presented by enormous floating sheets of ice. Rather than beef the piers up to withstand the force, which could require enough material to make the bridge unaffordable, the bridge's designers introduced a very clever bit of engineering. Look at this elevation view of one of the piers:

From "Confederation Bridge – An innovative approach to ice forces" by T.G. Brown, University of Calgary

The waterline is above the pressure panels, level with the beginning of that 52-degree-angle cone. When a moving sheet of ice contacts the cone, it has nowhere to go but up. This generates a bit of "ice rubble," and then a crack is induced in the ice, as the sheet simply breaks at that point under its own weight. 

From "Confederation Bridge – An innovative approach to ice forces" by T.G. Brown, University of Calgary
From "Confederation Bridge – An innovative approach to ice forces" by T.G. Brown, University of Calgary

The ice can then flow beneath the bridge in neat, rectangular sheets.

Also, to give you an idea of scale, those piers are 250 meters apart. So those ice floes are massive: You could lay the length of nearly two and a half football fields across their width.

Via Kottke

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