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Industrial Designer Perfectly Translates the Design Cues of Classic Cars Into Toys

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Julian Meagher was obsessed with classic cars from a young age. After gaining his degree in industrial design and spending six years at an ID consultancy in London, he started his own company, Playforever, which pays homage to his childhood obsession. What's notable is that Meagher and co. have perfectly nailed the design cues of the cars they represent.


From classic Porsche 911 Targas, Plymouth Fury cop cars, Ford Thunderbirds and Dodge Chargers to race car forms from 1920s Indy cars to present-day Formula One, Playforever's toys are the result of "decades of researching and studying technical car design and automotive styling," the company writes. "Our collection of Midis, Minis and Mavericks is an eclectic mix of art, fashion, traditional design and modernism."

Meagher's love of classic industrial design in general is also easy to spot, by the objects in the background of the product shots.

I absolutely love the way Meagher and his team have distilled telltale classic automotive lines into simple 3D forms that instantly read as the source material. To me Playforever's creations are the perfect balance of style, restraint and homage. Check out their collection here.

Gaming Dice Made from Human Bones

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Artisan Dice is a Texas-based outfit composed of craftspeople who make "rare, exotic and over the top" gaming dice "from the finest and most exotic materials available."

As extreme examples, bison horn, Jack Daniels whiskey barrel staves, lignite coal and even moose poop (shown below, respectively) are all raw materials that they create dice from.


Their Memento Mori dice, however, utilize their most hardcore material yet: Human bones.

"Memento mori" is essentially Latin for "Remember that everything eventually dies." Here, someone has gained the unique opportunity to both die and become a die.

"These macabre D20 are crafted from human bones sourced from retired skeletons once used in medical universities," the company writes.

"Due to state export and import laws, we are unable to ship Memento Mori dice to the following states: Georgia, Tennessee, and Louisiana."

An Interesting Idea from France: Phone Charging Lockers

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Back when we could go to bars and cafes, it was common to see a pile of customers' phones behind the counter, all being charged as a courtesy. France-based café owner Sébastien Cardi did this for his customers--and one day accidentally spilled coffee on a customer's phone. In search of a way to provide charging service without being responsible for customers' phones, he subsequently developed Welock.


Welock is a wall- or bollard-mounted system of small charging lockers. The idea is that bars, gyms, restaurants, etc. pay to have them installed and provide them to their customers as a free service (presumably to draw foot traffic). Customers get a code or a key, then lock their phones inside as they charge.

The Welock lockers are already a hit in France (the company has been around since 2016):

The question is, do you think something like this would fly in the 'States? Public-use lockers in train stations are a common sight in Europe, Scandinavia and parts of Asia, but I feel like we Americans rarely interact with lockers outside of gyms (or Amazon drop sites), and I wonder if Yankee uptake would be as robust.

The Santa Beard Face Mask

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According to the news, millions of Americans have traveled for Thanksgiving, ignoring CDC advice to stay home. Well, if Christmas is a holiday you celebrate and you plan on traveling again on that day, at least do it wearing one of these:

Ah, who'm I kidding--this thing doesn't advertise offering any actual filtration anyway, and some of these photos are clearly Photoshopped (does the moustache go over the nose or not?). But maybe it'll at least be harder to lose. Even in my small town, the parking lot of the local supermarket often features discarded masks just lying on the ground.

Obscure Vintage Car Design: The Lutteral Comahue

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My scout came across this very peculiar automotive design:

That's the Lutteral Comahue, an Argentinian performance car from the early 1970s with an unusual parentage. I'll briefly summarize how this car came to be.

Directly below is a 1965 Rambler American. (I know this car well, because my buddy had one in high school. Three-on-the-tree shifter, and we both survived an accident in it.) Styled by industrial designer and Art Center grad Dick Teague--no relation to Walter Dorwin Teague, by the bye--the Rambler was produced by AMC as a compact alternative to the dominant Fords and Chevrolets of the time.

In the 1960s, Argentinian automobile manufacturer IKA (Industrias Kaiser Argentina) wanted to produce a local version of the Rambler. They struck a deal with AMC to use the Rambler's underpinnings, and hired Italian styling house Pininfarina to give the car a more European look. The result was the IKA Torino, first rolled out in 1966:

Image: Sergio Miller and Mr. choppers, CC BY-SA 3.0

The car was popular enough, but an entrepreneur named Juan Carlos Lutteral, who owned a car dealership and was a race car driver on the side, wanted to sell a more exciting version. Lutteral--something like an Argentinian analog to Caroll Shelby--upgraded the mechanicals and added an air suspension, as well as an unusual fastback. His small-batch version of the Torino was called the Torino Lutteral Comahue, and it came out in 1968:

The fastback was made of fiberglass, and featured a split-window like that seen on the 1963 Corvette. (ID students who paid attention in Production Methods and History of ID classes should know that it was impossible to produce glass with compound curves in the '60s, hence the window had to be split into two to produce the desired shape.)

I find the design both bizarre and fascinating, because it looks so different depending on the shot. For instance, in this profile photo, the midsection of the B-pillar-less car reminds me of the mid-'60s Ford Mustang:

But seen in profile with the rear window up, breaking the line between the A- and C-pillars, the mid-section reads like an '80s BMW 5-series to me--with an '80s Porsche 924 hatch:

From the front, it looks like a '60s Dodge Charger where someone sat on the clay model and it went into production:

Yet from this angle, we can see that the hood doesn't sag, but protrudes forward in the center:

And while the fastback looks acceptable from some angles…

…it looks ungainly from others:

Here's a video look at the car (and, for you Spanish speakers, more background info on its development):

The Comahue remained in production until 1977, though the models released that year were called the Comahue 1980. Why? The "1980" was meant to sound futuristic. Prior to '77, the Comahue interiors looked like this…

…but in the "1980" model, it got this crazy digital upgrade:

Five years before "Knight Rider," no less.

There are more great shots of the car over at Petrolicious.

Alternative Design Approaches for Slicing Cheese: European Rotary Slicers

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In America, cheese slicers look like this:

In Europe, there are alternative design approaches, starting with the type of slice you'd like to produce. For instance if you'd like to serve your cheese in delicate rosettes, there are cheese curlers like this sold under the brand names Boska and Grande Girolle:

Swiss manufacturer Tête de Moine AOP makes an industrialized version, the Rosamat, for restaurant-paced production:

If you want regular slices, this model (manufacturer unknown) handles that with a wire slicer that rotates:

Better understood in video:

I'm super-curious to know how this one works. Do you reckon the slice depth is set by the threading on an unseen rod inside the spindle? If so, dooes one order separate threaded rods for thick or thin slices, or is it one-slice-fits-all? And what happens when you get down to the bottom?

That slicer was spotted in Denmark. If any of our readers are in the part of the world and know who the maker is, please let us know in the comments.

Business of Design Discussion: Is Polarization a Good Design Strategy?

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"Polarization" is a word you hear a lot these days, often in reference to politics, where it has taken root worldwide. But the binary love/hate mentality has also crept into product design, where objects with divisive aesthetics spark everything from online forum debates to "WTF, did you see this?" text messages.

In this video, industrial designer Michael DiTullo takes two controversial designs--the Tesla Cybertruck and the Sony PlayStation 5--and rather than evaluating them on their merits, asks the intelligent question: Is polarization a good design strategy? And if so, what are three reasons why?

French Company Develops a Transparent Stand-Up Paddleboard

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The visual design of stand-up paddleboards can be pretty garish. Some of the stuff on the market looks like it was designed to be sponsored by Mountain Dew.

Perhaps the thinking is to make them well visible from overhead, should a rescue plane need to come looking for you. But Loeva, a company out of Biarritz, France, where the water is clear, took a different approach with their boards. Their Le StandUp is made from an unspecified crystal-clear polymer that allows you to see the ocean floor below.



The aluminum-framed board also has LEDs on the underside, for those paddling out at night.

They won't say what type of plastic it is, just that it's "almost unbreakable."

The company plans to have Le StandUp in production by 2021.

Socially Distanced Shopping Center Santas to be Enclosed in Plastic

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People who play shopping center Santas are, by definition, in the high-risk category for COVID: Elderly and overweight. Combining them with a parade of children waiting to sit in their laps seems undoable. Yet a survey cited by outdoor goods retailers Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's found that "three in five parents [are] comfortable taking their kids to see Santa with safety protocols in place," and in this economy, the Santas can surely use the work.

So what's the solution? Plastic.

"Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's is proud to invite families to the beloved tradition of visiting Santa Claus in person this holiday season, with a reimagined free Santa's Wonderland experience inside all its destination retail stores back by popular demand. Through an innovative contactless visit with Santa and a variety of health measures, Santa's Wonderland will prioritize everyone's safety while allowing kids and families to share their Christmas wishes directly with Santa Claus."

In the video, Santa's wearing a face shield. I guess those Santa beard face masks aren't catching on.


Optical Illusion: Are These Circles Moving or Not?

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Just when you think you've seen it all in optical illusions, comes this one:

The only motion happening here is that the circles are rotating. They're not growing and shrinking, nor changing position. "The human brain is so simple," writes the original poster on Twitter, "that it can be confused by arrows."


Crowdfunding Smash: Desktop Injection Molding Machine Killing It on Kickstarter

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A Colorado-based company called ShopBotix has created a desktop injection molding machine. Ten inches deep, and 34.5 inches wide and ten inches tall, the MicroMolder plugs into a regular 120V outlet on a 15-amp circuit, and can crank out parts as either single-shot or in an AutoRun mode; just load the hopper with nurdles and go.

The MicroMolder can use molds that you 3D print yourself (SLA or PolyJet), or you can use aluminum molds. As for materials, at press time the company confirmed they've successfully used "Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polystyrene (HIPS), Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), Acrylic, Polycarbonate (PC) and Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) and we have more plastic types scheduled for testing."

Injection molding plastic over a 1/4-20 bolt to create a thumb screw fastener.


You're undoubtedly wondering "How big of a part can I produce?" Their answer:

"We get this question a lot and it's an important one. Unfortunately, part output size is dependant on too many factors to quantify an x.xx" long by x.xx" wide by x.xx" tall answer. Tooling material, plastic type, tooling geometry, tooling cavity volume, sprue diameter, sprue length, runner diameter, runner length, etc. will all factor into the maximum size output. Furthermore, what works on one tool design won't always work on the next.

"Our mantra with MicroMolder is injection molding is more an art than a science. The more you work with tooling designs and go through iterative trial and error processes the more competent you will become. The largest volume of space we have injected into successfully with MicroMolder is ~1oz or 1.73^3. This was done with PE plastic into a 3D printed tool. For reference this is about a 1.21" cube of space."

At press time the MicroMolder, which starts at $3,599, was killing it on Kickstarter with $120,660 in pledges on a $35,000 goal, with 25 days left to pledge. They expect to start shipping in June of 2021.


Ford Almost Had Their "Flat" Logo Redesign--in 1966, by Paul Rand

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Recently multiple automakers have updated their logos to the "flat" aesthetic…

…but one company resisting the trend is Ford. In fact, their logo has remained remarkably consistent over the years:

But as it turns out, they almost got their flat logo redesign…way back in 1966, by none other than legendary art director Paul Rand. Ford commissioned Rand to redesign their logo in the 1960s, and here's his proposal:

Ford obviously rejected it, though we don't know what their reasoning was. What do you think--ought they take it up today?


Getting Accepted: Here's What USC's Iovine & Young Academy Looks for in Prospective Students' Applications

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This post is part of our "Getting Accepted" series, a guide to prepping portfolios and getting into the best design programs across the United States. For our next feature, we're focusing in on University of Southern California's Iovine and Young Academy, which offers an undergraduate degree as well as two Masters of Science programs. Their Masters of Science in Product Innovation has an upcoming application deadline for their 2021 program on January 15.

True to the ideologies of innovators in California's Silicon Valley, USC's Iovine and Young Academy doesn't just search for students aiming to disrupt the industry, they demand the very same of their own program and faculty. The Academy aspires to offer curriculum that distinguishes the program itself as a disruptor within the design education system, offering refuge to designers looking for a new mode of learning. Started in 2013 by Beats co-founders entrepreneur Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young (also known as rapper Dr. Dre), the program itself has a reputation synonymous with leaders known to take a risk or two in order to achieve success.

Iovine and Young Academy Dean Erica Muhl carries the philosophies of these two founders through by helping to organize curriculum that gives equal weight to the practices of design, technology, business and communication. "We don't just look at those disciplines in silos, we literally look at where they work with each other, how they catalyze each other, the natural synergistic points between them," Muhl says. "And a lot of our graduates learn that that actually creates a whole new disciplinary expertise, and one that utilizes design as a pretty powerful problem solving methodology."

Iovine and Young Hall's Mixed Reality Lab provides state-of-the-art motion capture technologies

So who is this program for? As the Academy sees it, a knowledge of design and business go hand in hand—if you're a designer with an interest in entrepreneurship or graduating with a experience-based knowledge of industry workings while also having the tech-forward, human-centered design skillset you need to evolve with the changing times, the Iovine and Young Academy could be a great fit for you.

We recently chatted with Erica Muhl to hear more about what it takes to get into USC's Iovine and Young Academy and what students can expect to get out of their time there.

Core77: What kind of industries do your students often go into after graduating from the program?

Erica Muhl: The really fun and interesting thing about a degree from the Iovine and Young Academy is that it is kind of career agnostic. Because the problem solving methodologies we teach can literally be pointed at anything. So we have students going in lots of different directions, some of them you might expect, they're moving into big tech as product designers, product managers, but also as strategists and consultants. They're moving across the creative industries, arts, media and entertainment, to be able to think about the future of content, and the future of delivery of content as well.

We have a lot of students who are founders as well, and are founding their own companies that are, in particular, looking at solving problems for various populations in the world. Some of those are for-profit models, many of them are nonprofit models; our students are very interested in social impact. And so a lot of the work they're doing both for existing companies or in their own companies, is directed at social change or social good. In addition to that, I can add health and medicine, I can add sustainability, I can add homelessness. So again, the industries are wide open, because the student brings with them their own passion, their own background, their own area of expertise. And what the Iovine and Young degree does is it fuels that passion and expertise, with very powerful skills as applied to an equally powerful thought process.

The Iovine and Young Academy was founded in 2013 with a visionary gift from entrepreneurs Jimmy Iovine and Andre "Dr. Dre" Young

Are there opportunities within the program for students to go into the industry before they graduate, like internships or collaborations with other studios or companies?

Yes, Young Academy believes very strongly in real world experience, and therefore real impact. First and foremost, it's a part of almost every class at the academy that they will at some point be working on a problem specific to an industry or an area or a field. And experts from those industries or areas are brought into the classroom to critique work by students and to be able to make that work more relevant for the real world.

Beyond the classroom, we have an extensive program we call Curriculum Plus that provides students opportunities through something called Industry and Impact Labs. And Industry and Impact Labs are actually large scale projects undertaken with industry partners, or partners from the nonprofit sector. Students are actually put into the position of working as strategists and consultants on a problem brought to them by the partner.

So far, those have included six different projects with Adidas, including one that recently concluded focused on human performance in extreme conditions. At Volkswagen Audi, students were working on the future of mobility, and especially how mobility may be influenced by artificial intelligence or machine learning. We've worked with Mattel on the future of play, and with Samsung on the future of habitation. Right now we have two projects going on one with Harvard Business Review, looking very deeply at the possible advancements to online learning—not just online learning environments but content for online learning. And we have a project with the Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine looking at how to utilize smart environments to advance cancer patient research and care.

You can imagine this real world experience working with companies of that caliber on projects not just meaningful to those companies, but projects that are meaningful also to their users and society in general is a type of collaboration that is extremely beneficial for our students. They gain incredible hands-on experiences, they gain connections. And those companies, as you can imagine, tend to tap back into our studio for internships and jobs. So many times, those projects lead to very concrete outcomes for our students. But they're also tremendous experience builders and resume builders.

And by the way, beyond the companies we partner with on those Industry and Impact Labs, a lot of companies have found Iovine and Young students are the perfect combination of mindset, meaning, specifically creativity and a creative focus on problem solving, as well as those powerful tools in tech and business. So we have regular partners who come and recruit with us, including Apple, Ernst & Young and other companies that are finding they want to hire more than just one of our students. And so we have good strong relationships across industry and are able to provide strong networking for our students in that way.

That's a great draw. And I can only imagine every student will eventually have a leg up when they participate in those projects.

You know, I really believe in affordability as regards to college education. And I think there's things we can do on the front end, as far as affordability is concerned—you know, addressing tuition costs and other costs for college education. But there's also more we can do on the back end. And that is to make the power of the degree these students are earning greater and more long lasting, and actually more adaptable. As these students move through careers, change, jobs, change focuses, they can take these types of skills and actually transfer them or refocus them in new areas. And so it just makes the value of the degree much greater.

What the typical backgrounds of your students are, and who are you looking for when you look through applications?

The typical background is not typical. By that, I mean we are looking for a lot of different capabilities, interests, and as much diversity as we possibly can get in every cohort we bring into the Academy.

We are committed to diversity in every sense of the word, including, obviously background, culture, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identification, but also, perspective, viewpoint, life goals, because we believe all of those things work inside the team-based environment of the academy and the strong collaborative environment that we insist on for our students to drive better ideas, better solutions.

If you can look at something with a very diverse array of viewpoints, there is no doubt the solution will be stronger, and it will also be more inclusive. And so we look to create that first, then we look for a good dispersion of abilities across design, the visual arts, creativity, but also technology, business communication, leadership.

AR Playdates, an interactive platform that helps long-distance family members play together. (Photo courtesy of AR Playdates)

There's something we think about in our environment, which as I mentioned is very collaborative, And that's "followship". Can you lead a team, but can you also be a good team member? If it's not your idea that is moving forward, can you dive in and be an effective propellant for anybody's idea? So we look for a lot of different things.

There's no doubt about it every application is looked at very individually and on its own merits. But we also are building a cohort with every intake of applications. And so we also look very carefully at how the cohort will shape up in terms of its effect on the students who are going to be part of it. Because the cohort model is really one of the strongest things we do. And students have told us many, many times over the course of the eight years we've been in existence that one of the strongest effects they take with them out of the Academy is the relationships they have built in the cohort. And the fact that the cohort is now a source of information of knowledge of support, and of course, networking for those students.

What are the type of skills that accepted students should expect to come in with in order to excel and then what will they learn there they might not know already?

The skills we're looking for are many and varied. We do look for a certain comfort in the design disciplines, however, if somebody does not have specific training or education in design, but they are in a related area, we will work with that student to be able to fill in some of the more traditional gaps they would have gotten from a design, undergraduate degree, or work they might be doing as design professionals. Because we are, as I mentioned earlier, looking to round out the design knowledge with other areas of expertise. And so sometimes a student might present a really interesting background that is less strong in design, but it's stronger in other areas that are going to fuel design. So we have the ability to be somewhat flexible in terms of looking at people's backgrounds, and want to amplify what they are bringing with them, but also assist them in filling in some of the some of the areas they might not have had experience in yet.

We're going to look for a cross selection of certainly design, but also students who have backgrounds in business, students who have backgrounds in engineering, and students who may have already founded a company and learn some of those things on the ground. So it's an interesting mix of talent we're looking to bring into the program.

How would you define what makes for a successful grad student and you know, what does students who get in need to do in order to excel in the program?

I don't think I can differentiate between what makes a successful grad student and what makes a successful student in general. I think to be successful, a student has to be self-directed. That means with all of the teaching we are going to do, all of the guiding and mentoring we are going to do, the student has to be proactive about their own experience and their own learning. Everything the academy offers is focused on advanced levels of entrepreneurship. And by entrepreneurship, I don't necessarily just mean business, but I do mean making connections, taking ideas and moving them forward. It's about identifying, as Jimmy Iovine likes to say, what's "the crack in the wall" you can go through that nobody else has identified, or they don't have the skills or the mindset to go through it?

Launched by an Academy graduate student, Ready Teddy is a VR tool that prepares kids for an MRI.

One of the things we like to say about Academy students is they have grit and determination, which gives them resilience when things don't go perfectly at first, or they don't go as expected. We see every momentary failure as an opportunity to learn big and go forward boldly into exploring, what is the next iteration of that idea? Or, what is the next idea you're now going to be able to do because you had a momentary failure?

I think overall, we would say one of the things we're looking for is a student's ability to be able to get knocked down and get back up again, and then turn that into a success. Because the reality is, school is and should be something of a safe and protected environment for our ideas to be nurtured. You also have to prepare yourself for a world that is not always as gentle or not always as easy. And so, I love it when our students can show undaunted determination.

And by the way, that includes when you may have an idea, and nobody else gets it. You know, it's often the best and the most revolutionary ideas that receive the most early criticism, or the least understanding from the world, and so the ability to be dedicated to your own ideas in a way that will allow you to withstand the lack of understanding from others is also a really good trait for all students. But I think probably in particular, graduate students as they're headed toward the professional phase of their careers.

For everyone who is interested in the program and is thinking of applying next year, what should they be doing right now to prepare their applications and portfolios? And, you know, what are the types of projects you would be really excited to see from an applicant?

I think the best piece of advice I can give for a prospective applicant is to begin thinking about what is it going to be in your application or your portfolio that is going to differentiate your ideas. And what you hope to accomplish from from this degree, right? That will tell us the most about who you are as a human being. Because, great design isn't something you do in a bubble, it's something you do in the context of having learned more about the world, more about people, more about great art, great architecture, great technology, great business. And so I would suggest to any student, as they were preparing for any next stage of their career, be consuming information veraciously. But also, take that information and clarify how the information is really specific to what you want to do, and what you want to accomplish.

If you're in an undergraduate degree right now, I think it's pretty easy to look at our degree and decide, taking a course or two in certain subjects might be helpful, so I think that's sort of self evident. But beyond thinking about the disciplinary preparation, think about how you're going to present the type of thinker you are, not just to the Ivy and and Young Academy, but to any graduate program you would be applying for.

So just make sure you shine through in your application.

Exactly. We need to know who you are. As a human being, we need to know who you are as a creator, for sure. But we also need to know who you are as a human being,

I think that's probably a helpful reminder to a lot of designers who are looking at that task list of all the things they need to include and not really thinking about what's going to make you stand out as this person a program has no choice but to accept.

Yes, I think especially when you have an undergraduate degree in design, the tendency would be to focus on your portfolio. And while the portfolio is exceedingly important, we're just as interested in your story. You know, use what you know as a designer, as a business person, or as a communicator, or as an artist, or even as a technology, you use what you know about those areas to be able to define your story.

*

USC's Iovine and Young Academy is now accepting applications for 2021, with an application deadline for their Masters of Science in Product Innovation on January 15, 2021. Take what you've learned here to finish your application! Apply now here.

Read our other stories in the "Getting Accepted" series:

Tips for Acing Your Application to UPenn's Integrated Product Design Program

How to Be a Standout Applicant to SVA's Products of Design MFA Program

How to Impress in Your Application to Cranbrook's New 4D Design MFA Program

What ArtCenter is Looking for in Their GradID Industrial Design Masters Applicants


TAUR Wants To Make Your Morning Commute a Joy

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The world has gone mad for wheels. Since the start of the pandemic, many have opted to forgo tightly packed subways, trains, and buses for personalized transportation options, with car sales skyrocketing and bicycles now the de facto mode of urban commuting. Scooters are also experiencing a renaissance. Their easy-on, easy-off capabilities and lightweight design are ideal for crisscrossing city streets, and a new generation of electric models is transforming the playtime favorite into a sleek urban companion.

"There have been few products as pervasive as electric scooters in terms of their adoption by everyday people trying to get around cities," says London-based creator Carson Brown, cofounder and head of product at TAUR Technologies, which last month closed a successful Kickstarter campaign in support of its namesake electric road scooter. Brown, a trained mechanical design engineer, created TAUR alongside cofounder Richard Adey with a team of experts formerly of Tesla, Apple, and Ford, crafting a product that not only boasts enhanced steering capabilities but is light enough to fold up and take to work—and sturdy enough to handle even the most potholed streets.

Fresh off their success, this week the team launches TAUR.com, accepting pre-orders and offering a peek into the car-free metropolis of the future.

The "child's push toy" grows up

Many of us are more familiar with the rudimentary push toy scooters we loved as kids, explains Brown, who notes that though they provided hours of entertainment, they weren't exactly a blueprint for adult transportation. "The problem is that up to this point, these devices were an adaptation of children's push toys," he says, explaining that they not only weren't designed for adults, but were often challenged by even everyday road conditions.

In making TAUR, Carson and his team sought to reimagine a few critical structural re-designs, primarily the foot platforms that provide a space for the rider to stand, with one foot behind the other, hips at an angle. At over twice the width of a typical scooter, TAUR empowers users to ride with feet side-by-side, one on each platform and fully facing forward, enabling advanced stability, multi-directional steering, and maximum traffic safety. The wider frame also supports sturdier wheels—in this case, 12.5 inch, kevlar-reinforced, puncture-resistant tires—that can be removed and changed in under a minute. Another key feature is TAUR's front lighting, which directs a high power beam to illuminate the way, and rear light projection technology that lights the rider's entire back, essentially creating a safer experience for both riders and motorists.

Gaining a following

"Our design has resonated with people because we've improved not just the ride experience, but also the lifestyle that comes with owning an electric scooter," says Brown, touting TAUR's ability to easily fold away after a grueling commute. "The true advantage of scooters is the ability to show up on time, like a bicycle—minus the need for a shower. And, if you've spoken to urban cyclists, the prospect of taking it inside and not having to worry about when it's going to get stolen is a huge plus."

Sustainability was also a major focus. TAUR's frame, made from aircraft-grade aluminum alloy, is not only aerodynamic and lightweight but fully recyclable. "The most exposure scooters have received [on city streets] has been as rentals, but that business is completely flawed," explains Brown. "Rental scooters have a very short lifespan before hitting the landfill, and the environmental cost of shifting them around town in gas-guzzling trucks is high." He believes that by creating non-disposable scooters designed for ownership instead of rental, they can limit environmental impact. "Unfortunately, the industry is currently led by companies that operate on the build-and-forget model. We know that ownership goes well beyond the sale, and we have made sure TAUR is easily serviceable over the long term." Brown suggests that at some point, every product reaches its end, so he and the team have pushed to significantly reduce its use of plastics, choosing to design around aluminum due to its "infinite recyclability."


Born with a need for speed

"Personally, I've been designing and inventing products for a while, and as a creator, you don't really switch off," jokes Brown, noting that TAUR came from hours, if not decades, spent on the road, imagining a more sustainable transportation option. As a child, he was "obsessed with anything that moves," a fascination with cars later shifting towards more environmentally-sustainable options like gearless bicycle transmissions, electric unicycles, and, of course, scooters. But even after specializing in electric vehicles for years, it still took a certain amount of trial and error to get TAUR just right. "Scooters aren't like everyday household items, where you have decades of examples to learn from. You really have to unpick how people fit them into their lives," he says, explaining that the team found its most significant insights came from in-depth interviews with friends and others within their co-working space. "When you start something, you need to know that you can make an impact in that sector, and it took a couple of months of head-scratching to try to figure out what we could do that was not just different, but good different," he says. "The ultimate challenge as a team was less to create a capable model and more for TAUR to continually delight and make you think 'they thought about everything.'"

We all deserve a better commute

TAUR isn't trying to reinvent the wheel so much as it is attempting to smooth out its jagged edges. "We're seeking to appeal to those who haven't realized scooters are an option and haven't truly realized that they don't have to deal with a frustrating commute every day. That they can do something that is enjoyable, and that is aspirational or exciting and feels refined to the level that a lot of the products that they love are as well."

On a more personal level, Brown explains that he rode to work for years on electric devices, but that still doesn't make him an expert. "Not everyone's commute is the same, and not everyone's wants or desires are the same. TAUR wasn't designed for me. I'm a speed demon!" he jokes. "It was designed for all those things that you feel like you need on a day-to-day basis—and the freedom that comes with that is pretty cool."


—Laura Feinstein

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Sustainable Gifts for the Eco-Minded Designer

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Sustainable design gifts are getting ever-more popular these days as people become more aware of the harm products can do to the planet. Give a gift to friends and family that delights while also reducing their carbon footprint.View the full content here