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Tools & Craft #103: How Drawbore Pins Work


Since we introduced Ray Iles's draw borepins last fall, we've gotten a ton of questions about why real ones such as these work better than concentric tapered pins - that is, pins that are sometimes misconstrued as drawbore pins but really are just tapered drift pins. Drift pins are just tapered rods, which from any angle look like cones.

Traditional drawbore pins, on the other hand, look like drift pins in one dimension, but if you rotated the pin 90 degrees, one side would becomes straight and the other more tapered. A section of the drawbore pin at any point is a circle, but geometrically the shape is what's known as an "oblique cone."

Now, why is this shape better? When you put a drawbore pin into a partially assembled mortise, it will contact the joint at some point shown in the first drawing. Where the point of contact would be exactly would depend on the taper, the thickness of the joint, etc., but the pin will engage somewhere. If it engages with the joint with the vertical side of the cone touching the left side of the joint (as the joint is drawn in Fig 1) and isn't symmetrical, turning the drawbore pin and letting it sink down will make it go deeper into the joint. At some point it will be engaged, and then when you turn it, the oblique part of the taper forces the joint tighter. You can actually see this in use. 

Now you may say, "Well, doesn't a regular pin do this, except you have to pull it towards the joint to push it out?" That's a good question. And the answer is yes - but not so much. Since you don't know the actual geometry of engagement, it's hard to make sure to tilt to the right degree, neither too much nor too little. The real issue is leverage. There is some mechanical advantage of the fulcrum between where a tapered pin will hit the top of the mortise and the inside of the tenon against the length of the entire drift pin. But with a real drawbore pin, the leverage you get by tuning an oblique cone is significantly greater. So when you use real drawbore pins, you can actually sometimes see joints being pulled together, squishing bits of detritus of the joint out of the way.

Drawbore pins are also hardened so they don't bend and have welded bolsters for added strength.

In the old days, their common use was in doors, although they make pulling any mortise and tenon joint together easier. It's also easy to use them for test-fitting joints. A critical use for them was on wooden buildings,to align beams and pull wooden joints together. To this day, a modern version of a drawbore pin with even more offset is used on steel structures to pull steel beams into alignment. (Our product description of the drawbore pins shows an example of this). They work better on hardwood; with very soft woods, there is so much force in turning the pin you can distort the hole in the tenon.


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.

Michael DiTullo on Why Designers Shouldn't Limit Themselves to a Single Product Category


This interview is part of a series featuring the presenters participating in this year's Core77 Conference, "Now What? Launching & Growing Your Creative Business" , a one-day event aimed to equip attendees with tangible skills and toolkits to help produce and promote their products or services.

Throughout his professional career, seasoned industrial designer Michael DiTullo has put an emphasis on designing everything instead of pigeonholing himself into a single category. This mentality has not only led him to work for companies like Nike, Frog and Sound United, but it has also exposed him to exciting side projects, like designing custom cars with ICON Motors. Michael has also been a key member of the Core77 community since the very beginning, moderating our discussion boards, contributing articles and even producing sketching tutorials to help our audience learn and grow as designers. In 2017, Michael took a leap he's been waiting to take for years by opening his own design studio, Micheal DiTullo LLC, where he is already hard at work on a variety of exciting opportunities.

We sat down with Michael, who will be leading a workshop at the 2018 Core77 Conference called "The 20 Year Plan", to learn more about how to set goals and stick with them and when to deviate from your career plan:

How did your interest in design begin?

When I was a kid, we used to get this thing called the Sears Catalog that was like Amazon as a book. It came once a year and was just this massive catalog. I was probably 10 or 11 years old, and pretty much every day when I would come home from school, I'd get out the Sears catalog and open it to a random page. Whatever was on that page, I would try to imagine what the future of that object would be and draw it. I think what I do is really connected to who I am because that's just something I was innately doing. 

I didn't come from a family that really knew anything about art or design per se—we're pretty middle class. When my parents asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I said I wanted to draw stuff from the future. I still think that's probably one of the most digestible descriptions of what I do.  

Sketching at the 2017 SQ1 conference

I've always fought against being pigeonholed. I think working on everything helps inform you and make you better. I remember when I interviewed at Nike, one of the people that interviewed me said the hardest thing about Nike's environment for me would be that there are so many designers. He could tell that it wasn't enough for me to design the shoe. I wanted to work on the branding, the ad campaign, the retail installation and everything. I just tried to never lose that, and I really do think it's fun to work across all those categories. I've tried to do that over my whole career.

That falls in line with your advice to make a 20 year plan versus a five year plan. Was planning your career so thoroughly something that happened naturally, or was it a very deliberate move?

I've always been really fascinated by designers like Raymond Loewy and Eliot Noyes, the first corporate design VP at IBM, because of their broad range in careers. I wanted to chart a course for myself where I could eventually make this studio happen. I thought, "What are the things that I need to do before I start the studio so I can have confidence in myself and feel like I could walk into a room and add value?" 

I started my career at a really small five-person firm. It was really similar to what I'm doing now. I loved it. Then, going to Nike at the time, there were 300 designers. It was really easy to feel lost there. You get this sense of, "if I don't come in this week, does it even matter?" Scott Patt, who is now the VP of Design at Cole Haan, sat next to me at the time and told me that I should create a career map for myself and pitch it to John Hoke, the VP of Design at Nike, to see what he says. I had been thinking about a lot of these things, but I had never really put pen to paper—or clicks to illustrator in this case—and really mapped it out. 

Leucadia Custom Knives Layer Knife
"The way I look at it, people don't pay you for what you want to do. People pay you for what they know you can do."

I shared it with John, and he told me he had never seen anybody do this before. He said, "The weird thing is that you have it as this converging reality and in actuality, it will be the opposite. It will be diverging. The more things you do, the more things you can do, so the more discerning you'll need to be to figure out the things that really align with who you are." I've been adjusting that map over the last 15 years. I've been adjusting that mental vision for myself and making sure to control my own definition of myself because it's really easy to accept other definitions that people put on you.

Olympic torch proposals

So this is an ongoing process for you—it's never totally over?

No. No. The window keeps moving. Reality keeps happening. Different things come along the way. When I left Frog, I was considering starting my own studio, but the opportunity came up to go to Sound United and it was an opportunity to, in effect, create my own studio within an already existing company. I thought this would be an amazing additional experience. That was an example of an adjustment—I gave myself a five year window in which to extend what I wanted to do. 

While you were at larger corporations like Nike, how did you balance those projects with diversifying your portfolio? 

In that effort to never be pigeonholed, I've always been running my own projects on the side. I also just get bored easily. When I went from consulting to working at Nike, once in a while a project would come my way that wasn't competitive in any way, shape, or form. 

One time ICON Motors approached me about doing a project, so I checked in with the leadership at Nike to ask them if they would mind if I worked on the project. Their response was, "Well, technically you can't do it, but in actuality, we know you're just going to do it anyway, so just keep letting us know about these side projects so we are aware." I ended up working on probably 15 or 16 different ICON vehicles. In fact, the first one that ever went to production, Nike asked if they could have it shipped to the campus so that it could be on display there.

With an ICON Dog CJ3b Michael helped design
"I think for creativity to flourish, you need that trust—you need that little bit of room to be able to go off on your own a little bit to explore."

The way I look at it, people don't pay you for what you want to do. People pay you for what they know you can do. While I was at Nike, I didn't want to be pigeonholed as a footwear designer. Instead, I was trying to do everything I could within the Nike system—collaborating with guys that were working on watches and eyewear, working on branding, etc. 

By working for ICON, I was trying to get experience outside of the Nike, where I could build my portfolio as well as become practiced in getting contracts drawn up and getting payment terms in place. All of that really accelerated when I went to Frog because I had the chance to experience what that's like on a big scale, a 500 person firm. Then going to Sound United and bringing a lot of similar tracks to production. That gives me confidence to walk into a room and be able say, "Well, I've worked on something like that—let me tell you what worked and what didn't work." 

Do you think it's important for everyone to have experience working at different types and sizes of firms before going out on your own?

The Ride Radiant E-Bike

It works for me. That's what I needed, but I think everybody is different. If you look at Hartmut Esslinger who founded Frog in the late '60s, he did that right out of college. There are different paths for different people. For me, that diverse experience has been tremendously helpful. I think that working in the field for 20 years has helped me not only in terms of experience, but I've also had a lot of time to improve myself. I've made a good amount of connections over the years, and that really helps because people trust you. I think for creativity to flourish, you need that trust—you need that little bit of room to be able to go off on your own a little bit to explore. 

Since starting your own firm, what have been some of the most exciting projects you've worked on?

We've only been in business for about 19 months, so unfortunately I can't talk about a lot of the projects we've worked on. I think one of the most exciting projects that I can talk about was a new Transformer we worked on that was released at Comic-con. It was a childhood dream project. I had the 80s version of that toy, and then we were given the chance to define what that character looks like for this generation. It was incredibly exciting.

The very first project we signed isn't built yet, but it's an architectural project—a redesigned, down to the studs, rebuild of a mixed use building that's actually going to be a couple of blocks down the street from our studio. To work on an architectural project right out of the gate was really fun. 

Sideswipe Transformer unveiled at Comic Con

We've also been doing a lot of what we call 'future of' work, for example working with some Chinese car companies on what the future of the automobile is. The work that really excites me is complex or forward-looking. I think we excel at helping companies figure out why are they making something, what the future of that something is, and figuring out how to make something that will help their industry produce something memorable.

What the main misconceptions people have about starting your own studio?

I think one of the interesting things about starting your own studio is that it forces you to work on yourself and really think about not only what kind of work do you want to do, but what kind of person you want to be. What kind of boss do you want to be? How do you want to run your team? What kinds of people do you want on your team? You also have to decide how you want to run your business. Is your business just about paying billable hours or selling widgets, or is it about something bigger? What is that something bigger, and how are you going to build it?

"If you want to be successful, the first thing you have to do is define what success means to you."
Reviewing student work at CIA

Those things for me, have been fun to think about and work on. When you're working somewhere, you can easily assign blame to everyone else if you're not having a good time. When it's your company, whether it's your own studio or your own brand, it's all you. If you're not having fun, you have to sit down and think about, what what you're doing and what you need to change.

For me, it's important to stay small. We turn down probably 50% of the projects that come to us, and of that 50% that we don't turn down, we don't get all of the projects. I would rather stay below five people and only work on the right projects for us than just say yes to everything so that we can staff up and get bigger. I want this to be meaningful. So the most unexpected thing is that if you want to be successful, the first thing you have to do is define what success means to you.


You want to start a creative business. Now What? Come to our 2018 Core77 Conference to learn more about launching & growing a product line or design studio of your own, October 25th, in Brooklyn!

Buy "Now What? Launching & Growing Your Creative Business" Tickets here.

If you'd like to learn even more about Michael's design career, head over to this recent interview.

A Portable, Convenient, Swappable Renewable Energy Source: Honda's Mobile Power Packs


With their Mobile Power Pack, Honda's got a brilliant plan to make renewable, zero-emissions energy super-convenient. To see if their plan will work, the company is beginning trials this year in heavily-populated, heavily-polluted Indonesia, the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

Indonesia is the world's third largest market for motorcycles, most of which run on gasoline. So this December Honda will be trialing electric motorcycles there, powered by their Mobile Power Packs, which resemble electric jerrycans.

The idea is that rather than having to plug in and wait while their bikes top off, end users can simply stop at a Honda charging facility, pull a nearly-empty battery out of their bike and swap it for a freshly-charged one.

These Mobile Battery Packs would be charged from four different renewable energy sources: Solar, wind, water power or biomass.

Should the trials show promise, it's not difficult to imagine these battery packs replacing gasoline generators as emergency domestic power backup sources, in addition to powering small vehicles. Everyone from motorcyclists to disaster preppers to campers could benefit from these.

The Digit, a Retro Mechanical-Keyed Calculator


Hong-Kong-based Design firm Lofree came out of nowhere last year, quickly racking up three six-figure crowdfunding successes: $744,199 for their Dot Keyboard, $183,618 for their Four Seasons Keyboard and $185,499 for their Poison Speaker. In this age of hard-looking glass rectangles, the company's tactile, geometric, soft-radii-sporting retro-styled objects seem to have struck a chord with consumers.

Their new crowdfunding campaign is for the Lofree Digit, a "Retro Mechanical Calculator:"

Though there's still 29 days left in the campaign, the Digit has already reached critical mass, garnering $17,764 in pledges on a $1,273 goal. Buy-in starts at $29, and the device is expected to retail for $49 when it comes out later this year.

Women's Pockets Really Suck


Last month at the DMV, I was switching my driver's license over to my new state of residence. The clerk showed me a screen where I could double-check my data, and I saw that she had accidentally listed my gender as female. "Can you backspace over that," I asked, "or do I have to get the operation?"

Aside from said operation, I think the biggest hassle of switching from male to female would be adjusting to women's clothes. Especially the lack of carrying space. The notion that female should be bereft of usable pocket space and forced to carry a dedicated, expensive storage object--whose fashionableness is meant to invite judgment from others--seems crazy to me.

"There are few things more frustrating than collecting your belongings only to realize that the pockets in your pants are too small to hold them," writes designer Jan Diehm and journalist-engineer Amber Thomas. "Or worse, the fabric designed to look like a pocket is merely for decoration and doesn't open at all." The pair decided to get to the bottom of shallow women's pockets using data: "[We found] complaints and anecdotes galore but little data illustrating just how inferior women's pockets really are to men's. So, we went there."

In an article in The Pudding, Diehm and Thomas created visualizations based on studying pockets from men and women's pants from 20 popular-in-America brands. By overlaying the pocket shapes of 80 pairs of jeans, they revealed the following:

They also created an interactive to show how some commonly-carried items do (or don't) fit into each gender's pocket:

We don't want to steal all of The Pudding's images, and there are plenty more that we recommend you read on their site: Skinny jeans vs. straight, front pockets and rear pockets, a breakdown by brand and more.

"Pockets, unlike purses, are hidden, private spaces," the pair concluded. "By restricting the space in which women can keep things safe and retain mobility of both hands, we are also restricting their ability to 'navigate public spaces, to carry seditious (or merely amorous) writing, or to travel unaccompanied.' If you think this idea is outdated, think about the last time a woman asked her boyfriend/male friend/anyone in men's pants to carry her phone/wallet/keys on an outing.

Read the full article here.

Sketching Up a Tesla Tank


This week industrial designer Eric Strebel's got a sketching video up. "I recently visited Norfolk, Virginia and was inspired by all the military hardware on display in the area," he writes. "You can see some of the amazing ships in the beginning of the video. This got me to thinking about why today's military hardware is not electric or even hybrid.

"I decided to sketch up a light infantry concept vehicle for the brave men and women of the Armed Forces. It's a sketching tutorial as well. I rough in the form of the vehicle with a 10% grey marker to work out the proportions, then switch to a Hi-Tec C pen to flesh out the details of the tank. Finally I use a series of darker values to add more form to the craft."


Design Job: Sick of This Heat Wave? Help Timeship Design Cryogenic Human Pods for Future Reanimation


A vertical cryogenic storage vessel design has been developed to produce a variable temperature environment using a pool of boiling liquid nitrogen as the refrigerant. The successful candidate will be responsible for the further design and implementation of TCV cooling system components

View the full design job here

This Mobile Interface Aims to End Your Phone Addiction Through Simple Design


"Trap OS" won a Notable award in the Interaction category of this year's Core77 Design Awards.

TrapOS is a productivity and performance driven mobile operating system designed for simplicity and ease of use across cultural and physical boundaries. It is intended to be a truly universal global interface where users of all abilities and locales can have the same high-quality experience.


TrapOS is a productivity and performance driven mobile operating system designed for simplicity and ease of use across cultural and physical boundaries. It is intended to be a universal global interface where users of all abilities and locales share the same high-quality experience.


When phones have an extremely low battery level, they can go into what is called Battery Trap Mode. This auxiliary mode can only support rudimentary operations with very low processing and power needs.

The goal was to create a complete operating system that could run entirely in Battery Trap Mode; hence the name TrapOS.

Though we may never achieve a fully functional OS in such extreme conditions, the pursuit is noble. There is always a premium on performance and battery life.

Gains in performance and battery life can improve existing devices as well as resurrecting devices that were once obsolete. Product life cycles are extended and older devices are relevant again – potentially having a positive environmental impact.

This could also lower the entry price point for smartphone ownership, putting technology in economies where it was once out of reach.


We realized very early that creating a universal operating system would require us to remove any branding and other potential biases.

Luckily, most branding was removed in our text-only system –omitting any branding via app icon artwork.

Roboto Monospace was our chosen. Roboto because it is readily available on most Android devices Monospace was critical because all characters are equally spaced. This removes any spatial bias between characters – ensuring that any offenses or misinterpretations are merely coincidental.


Many people don't consider text as technology but there are many benefits to using a text only system. Here are a few to consider:

1. Text on a black background has far fewer illuminated pixels and much lower power consumption.

2. Rendering text takes less processing power than graphics. As a result, TrapOS has better performance and increased stability.

3. White text on black has the highest contrast ratio possible. This maximizes legibility for all users.

4. Apps are ordered alphabetically. This method of organization is used by many cultures and has withstood the test of time.

5. Text scales uniformly with no customization to base Android. Its supports users of all visual needs.

6. Localization is standard on all text in Android, making translation effortless.


By switching to a text-only system, we realized that we had an opportunity to simplify the architecture of the apps as well. Currently, smartphones use an arbitrary system or a most-frequently-used model. We felt like a single alphabetized list was the most simple, intuitive, and democratic strategy.


As a prototype, we explored removing all graphic elements including system navigation and status bar iconography. This proved to be problematic because controls, percentages, and fractions do not translate into text elegantly. We realized that if we retreated a bit from this hardline text-only stance that it would actually be more intuitive and reduce cognitive load.


The use of a single alphabetized list for apps with system iconography for status and navigation proved to be the most elegant compromise for text and graphic delineation.


An unexpected result of TrapOS is that users are required to be more deliberate in their actions – freeing them of visual traps and improving digital health. This is a delightful revelation in the face of cognitive hijacking and unwanted digital addiction.


People who prefer simplicity - Kids who are addicted to their phones - Adults who worry about digital health - Software engineers who like text UIs - People who are productivity driven - Anyone who need increased legibility - People who use many languages - People who are not tech savvy - Work devices, not social devices - Low cost devices


Visit the Core77 Design Awards website to view the 2018 Interaction Honorees

Volkswagen's Spektrum Program Offers a Whopping 40 Different Color Options


This is my car. There are many others like it but this one is mine.

Following my "A Designer Buying a Car" saga, yes, I purchased a 2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. I've logged 2,500 miles and am super happy with it--except the color; I wanted it in silver, but VW doesn't offer it, so I went with this dark grey.

The Alltrack is only offered in seven fairly boring colors, because us station wagon buyers are a bunch of squares. But folks who purchase VW's sporty hot hatch, the Golf R, are a lot more image-conscious…

…so Volkswagen has made the seemingly crazy decision to offer the 2019 Golf R in 40 different colors:

Their color initiative is called the Spektrum Program, and some of the colors are classics: The "Viper Green Metallic" is from the third-generation Europe-market Scirocco; the "Mars Red" graced the first-generation GTI; and the "Ginster Yellow" last draped the 1997 Driver's Edition GTI.

A builder tool will soon be added to www.vw.com, where customers can test out all 40 different colors, manipulating the vehicle with a 360-degree colorizer. Also on its way to all dealership showrooms is a color sample kit, which will allow customers to view each of the 40 colors duplicated on paint shop-quality color cards. To order, customers should visit their local dealer. After submitting an order, the build and delivery time is approximately two to four months.

Price tag: $2,500. Which makes me wonder: Is that cheaper or more expensive than taking it to a custom paint shop?

Adding a Simple Design Improvement to Chopsticks


After you get the hang of 'em, chopsticks are pretty darned handy; and once you've eaten a salad with them, particularly a messy one, you'll never go back to using a fork and knife.

Because the design is so simple and thousands of years old, you'd figure there's nothing you could do to improve upon them. But dining goods company AltGalley is trying. Their Hover Chopsticks are made out of carbon fiber, which is admittedly overkill; they claim the materials choice offers better grip for both your hands and the food you're picking up with the business end.

But the one smart thing they have added is angled tips, meaning when you set them down on a table, you don't have to make that little paper chopstick rest to keep the tips off of the tabletop.

Angelpoise Releases "Mini Mini" Version of Their Iconic Task Lamp


By now you've surely absorbed our must-read series on the Angelpoise, the classic task lamp invented by a 1920s freelance car designer. The iconic design has been put into service by everyone from architects to Pixar, and now the company's producing a half-size version that can be toted around--and plugged into your laptop, as it's powered by USB.

Offspring of the ever-popular 1970's Model 90, the 90 Mini Mini has all the versatility and personality of a classic Anglepoise® lamp wrapped up in its tiny form. At half the size of a standard desk lamp it's designed to fit just about anywhere - perfect if you're working on the go or in a low-lit coffee shop. The 90 Mini Mini is powered by USB for enhanced portability and has a dimmable integrated LED for focused light for up to 20,000 hours.

At press time the lamp was only showing up on Angelpoise's UK website, and appeared absent on the American site. Are we Yanks being punished for our "bigger is better" mentality?

Hideaway Solutions' Brilliant Fold-Out Kitchen Stairs


A Rhode-Island-based company called Hideaway Solutions has designed the Step 180, a clever and compact stepladder that seamlessly integrates into one's kitchen:

The seemingly simple device has a host of well-thought-out features:

Amazingly, it only takes up 1.5 inches of width within your base cabinets.

It might be a pain to retro-fit, but for the height-challenged among you who are currently renovating your kitchen or planning a new one from scratch, this looks like a must-have.

Design Job: Flood Is Seeking Enthusiastic Designers Ready to Mix Strategic Thinking with Big Creative Ideas


are you a superstar designer with a reputation for mixing solid strategic thinking with big creative ideas? at flood, you will work on everything from startups to big global brands and everything in between with the opportunity to be involved from start to finish. join us and

View the full design job here

Here's How They Mill Handrails That Are Already Curved


I'd always assumed that curved wooden handrails were first milled, then steam-bent into shape. Turns out that's not always the case. German power tool manufacturer Scheer has modified their HM 17 router to work on square stock that's already been steam bent:

The SCHEER handrail-router FG 308 ist used for precise, fast milling at the handrail. Especially for curved handrails a must-have. The machine is powered by the SCHEER router HM 17.

The set-up, known as the Handlauf-Fräsgerät FG 308, will run you €1,690 (about $1,930).

How to Make Your Own Mini Miter Saw, Jigsaw, Drill and More


Here's one of those channels that makes you thankful YouTube exists. The anonymous craftsman behind Easy HomeMade Projects shows you how to DIY all manner of unlikely objects, the most impressive of which are in the small power tool space. Wanna see something crazy? Check out his small-scale DIY miter saw:

Or this jigsaw:

And a drill made from a toy gun:

He's got dozens of videos up, going back a couple of years. Check 'em out here.

"Ask an Expert" & You Could Win a Ticket to Our 2018 Conference! 


The success of this year's Core77 Conference "Now What? Launching & Growing Your Creative Business" hinges on the advice coming from seasoned creative entrepreneurs and consultants to help answer the question that will be on every attendee's mind: what does it take to run your own creative business and help it thrive? 

Before this one-day information bonanza begins, we wanted to give our readers a chance to ask some of our presenters some of their burning questions around the topic in our "Ask Me Anything" social media contest! If you write in a question, not only will you potentially have your question answered by one of our presenters, you'll also have a chance of winning a free ticket to our 2018 conference!* We're giving away two tickets in the contest, to be announced in two weeks.

Here's how the contest works:

1. Think up a real good question for one of our many "Now What?" presenters (check out the full list here). It could be about production, tips for success, marketing, crowdfunding... anything related to starting a creative business venture is fair game!

2. Post your question either a.) on Twitter with the hashtag #c77con2018 or b.) in the comments section of this Instagram post while also tagging a friend (Instagram comment must include both in order to win).

3. Post as many questions as you'd like! The better your questions are, the better your chance is of winning that ticket.

(See full terms and conditions to learn more about the contest rules)

On September 7th, 2 winners will be announced alongside a video of one of our conference presenters answering in full your pressing question!

Pretty easy right? You have until September 3rd to send in your questions, so make 'em count! We can't wait to see what you've got brewing.

Haven't seen our full roster of amazing speakers yet? Check out our conference site and secure your ticket to the 2018 Core77 Conference today!

*ticket win does not include travel & accommodations 

Foscarini and Studio Natural Introduce Versatile Wireless, Rechargeable Lamp


Foscarini recently introduced CRI CRI, a wireless lamp with an internal rechargeable battery designed in partnership with Studio Natural. The more casual, functional addition to Foscarini's product lineup is made to thrive both indoors and outdoors, ideal for 'glamping' or dinner on the backyard patio.

CRI CRI's handle allows easy lantern-style hanging, and the silicone body collapses for easy storage. 

Sketches by Studio Natural

The light can turn on in both the collapsed and upright states, as seen in the image below.

Hanging twelve or so of these up around a campsite would be quite lovely and easy to manage, except each CRI CRI retails for around $567 (talk about cray cray).

How Car Design Works Part 2: Types of Projects


This article was originally published on Automotive Designer Matteo Licata's blog, Roadster - Life.

In my time, I've been part of many projects and designed pretty much everything, so in this second installment, I've decided to summarize the process of your average car design project.

Saying "I'm a Car Designer" may sound almost too glamorous for its own good, but what it means, after all, is an office job. You check in in the morning and check out in the evening, much like most people in the world, except you have to have a sticker covering both of your phone's cameras. It's what you do in your office hours that is different and very rewarding—at least most of the time.

In my time I've designed engine covers, bumpers, grilles, rear view mirrors, many exterior design proposals... The lot! But I have to admit I've never had the chance to fully develop an exterior up to production or thereabouts, something I happen to have done quite a few times on interiors instead.

For this reason I'm going to write mostly about the design process of a car interior: the place where the customer passes most of its time yet often gets nowhere near the attention managers tend to give to exteriors during development. This isn't always a bad thing because an interior is a more complex object than an exterior, being made of a greater variety of parts and materials. It is also much more difficult to "destroy" with a single sentence for the mostly unqualified (in design terms, obviously!) company CEO at a big design presentation.

Of course this doesn't mean you can do your job less than perfectly: it simply means the feedback you'll receive will probably be more nuanced, and any non-design-trained upper manager eventually present at the presentation will throw less random "suggestions" and thus interfere less with your own good work.

Exterior designers often aren't so lucky: because everyone experiences cars in their daily life in one way or another, seemingly everyone feels eminently qualified to pass judgement on a design team's several month's work!

At such high-level presentation, the role of the Design Director is very important as a "buffer" between the design teams, which take huge pride in their work and often take things personally. But I digress...

Normally the interior design sketching phase starts a bit later than the exterior's one, to give time to the exterior team to at least give the new car some semblance of a shape. How many different alternatives may be sketched and how many "filter" presentations the material goes through may vary according to different OEMs and even according to the time constraints of the single project.

Once one or more designs are selected, more detailed drawings are made to support the first 3D modeling phase, where we encounter one of the figures that never get any publicity but has become the true backbone of car design projects: the digital modeler. In the car design field, two-surface modeling softwares are mainly used: Alias® by Autodesk and Icem Surf® by Dassault. Which software is best between the two is an ongoing argument that's far from settled and goes far beyond the scope of this post.

Anyway, with the package measurements for the new car loaded into the 3D software, plus eventual carry-over components, plus all the needed drawings and sections made by the designer (or designers) present and accounted for, digital modeling can begin: that's a phase that will be closely monitored by the designers involved, making sure the digital model will look exactly "right".

Remember this is still early stage, so not everything will be 100% feasible just yet, but it is nevertheless a first "reality check." Given that most production cars are made on shared platforms that can last more than one model cycle, the big hard-points for our new swanky interior will already be there. The steel carrier upon which the dash and its systems are attached is likely to be already designed and present, as will the HVAC unit, which is the climate-control system—a big, costly component that's always much bigger than the designer wants it to be and it is destined to survive many model cycles.

Positioning of the passenger airbag is also an issue, as its positioning is crucial for it to work properly and usually can't be changed all that much! Steering column positioning is also a given, together with the "envelope" of the various positions the assembly "steering wheel plus stalks and column plastic cover" will take in each of its possible adjustments: of course no interference is permitted! Seat frames are another hidden high-cost component that the manufacturer tries to reuse for as many model cycles as possible, so it's likely to be carried over and only the foams and exterior trim will be redesigned... As it's often the case for the steering wheel as well: the main steel core is usually retained while the exterior is redesigned. It's a bit like a bakery that brushes some molten chocolate upon yesterday's croissants to sell them off... But the end result can often be much "tastier", if the designers make their job properly!

By the way, from the 3D data the design models, or styling "bucks" will be milled, usually in clay parts fitted to a steel structure made according to the package measurements of the car. Two or three styling "bucks" will likely be presented, upon which the management will hopefully pick one favorite... Or, as often happens, demand to merge two proposals into one! Interior bucks at this stage are usually limited to the front seating area, where most of the design work is initially concentrated: dashboard and front door panels. At this stage, steering wheel and seats may still be off-the-shelf production items, put there just for show.

Needless to say, there is no such thing as a scale model of an interior: there's simply no way to properly evaluate an interior design without seeing it in life size and actually sitting on it, contrary to what happens with exteriors, which can be milled at quarter scale for an initial screening.

No matter how much virtual reality technology has improved, in my humble opinion there's no real substitute to looking at the models in the real world: not only gives me a kick every time, but it allows to properly judge how some styling features "work" in reality. For all the experience one may have, 3D software may still lead to overestimate the aesthetic impact of a certain surface change, chamfer or the like, because software are designed to visually magnify them to help you spotting eventual mistakes or defects. The clay phase is also very important because it gives the designer the opportunity to phisically modify the design buck, trying out some solutions or improvements that weren't considered or not even thought about during the digital phase.

Once a direction is chosen by the management, whatever that is, the buck is scanned and on that base the design team gets back to work repeating the process all over again, but in greater detail and concentrating more resources on the chosen design direction: one "lead" (a senior designer that's responsible for the overall result) will oversee the work of the junior designers that are helping out on a lots of issues while keeping track of the 3D modelling, dealing with engineering and manufacturing issues and how the eventual late additions of features that weren't originally planned (like a wireless phone charger or a bigger screen demanded for marketing reasons) end up impacting the design.

Depending on how each OEM is structured, there will be more presentations and the model will get more detailed as time goes on, up until a full seating buck that looks and feels like the real deal can be made. Such bucks take a lot of man hours to make and can become very, very realistic if so desired: I've seen people breaking door handles on them because they thought it was real and used it to open the "door". As time goes on all changes to the design become smaller, going into the details, the quality of the 3D model gets better, from C (styling in progress) to B then to A ("master" surfaces, used for making the production tooling).

Another aspect in which how OEMs are organized may differ is the presence (or not) of specialized "components" departments: I remember that ten years ago I was drawing all kinds of stuff needed for "my" design proposal myself, from radio faces proposals down to the graphics of the dials, while in a more recent project the opposite happened: despite being the "lead" of the interior project I couldn't even dare to pass judgement on stuff like steering wheel or gear knob proposals, as those were made by the "components" department... Heaven forbid if I encroached into the "component" boss's territory... You know, big companies have their own internal structures and politics! As you can see, there are many people involved and many decisions being made in what is quite a long process, so it's incorrect to state "this designer did this or that"... And yes, there will be a part three, stay tuned!

Design Job: Igloo Products Is Looking for a Designer to Create Cool Food Storage/Hydration Products


The Product Designer will be responsible for the design and development of products from high performance, leisure and lifestyle hydration to hydration accessories, food storage items and various other products. Providing innovative design solutions to support the company strategy and the team’s goals and

View the full design job here

This "Floating" Backpack Stays Level While You Run, Conserving Energy


Here's what I don't miss about the city: Running to catch the subway or beat the light while wearing a backpack full of stuff, the contents crashing up and down with each step. Heavy loads jostling around on your back is unpleasant and makes running awkward.

A company called Lightning Bags has designed this fascinating HoverGlide Floating Backpack, which uses a frame and bungee cords to keep itself in place even as the wearer is bouncing up and down:

The pack "eliminates the accelerative forces that cause injuries and reduce mobility," the company writes. "Using a patented pulley system, the pack reduces the metabolic energy requirement by 40-80 watts, allowing a wearer to carry 8-12 extra pounds 'for free.'"

The company has been working on this technology for over a decade, and has recently announced plans to launch models for sale on Kickstarter. We'll keep you posted.

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