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Posted by erika rae  |  24 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

Kaleidoscope-Inside.jpg

Shipping containers have been becoming a lot of things lately—homes, churches, a Subway sandwich shop... the list goes on. We've got another one to add to the list: a larger-than-life kaleidoscope that you can actually walk into. The effect is much the same as a house of mirrors. Designers Masakazu Shirane and Saya Miyazaki are responsible for this psychedelic project, titled "Wink Space." At first glance, the structure comes off as a blinding beacon of mirrors—catch it at the wrong angle you'll be seeing sunspots instead of symmetry—but step inside and you'll find that Shirane and Miyazaki have a few surprises for you.

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My favorite quirk has got to be the fact that the entire kaleidoscope is constructed with zippers—meaning various 'windows' can be unzipped and revealed from the inside. The designers call this "the world's first zipper architecture." Staying true to the quick assemblage/breakdown nature of shipping containers, they wanted this sentiment to translate in Wink Space. "A thin and light material was demanded to build the zipper architecture," Shirane and Miyazaki explain. "Therefore I referred to origami, which is a traditional game in Japan that can be made both light and strong only by folding. In other words, this polyhedron is built by folding one plane of 15m×8m."

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Posted by Jeri Dansky  |  24 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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A number of my clients now collect compostable materials, either for their own outdoor composting, or for city curbside collection bins. While a home recycling station might include a compost collection section, that's far from the only way to go.

If you're designing a kitchen, you may want to consider having something like the BLANCO SOLON compost system built into the countertop. Shannon Del Vecchio, an interior designer, LEED AP, says that "this useful feature is well on its way to becoming standard issue for new kitchens and renovations in the [San Francisco] Bay Area."

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But there are also interesting designs for end-users who don't have the built-in option. The OXO compost bin follows the common approach of not being airtight, to avoid anaerobic conditions and the resultant odors. The lid detaches for easy emptying when the bin is taken outdoors. This bin is designed to be used without a liner; all parts are dishwasher-safe.

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One way to control the odor (and the flies) is to freeze the compostable scraps. Scrap Happy from Full Circle, made of flexible silicone, has a wire rim to attach to a drawer, so end users can easily push scraps into the bin. It then goes into the freezer until it's time to use it again—or empty it, by pushing on the bottom. Again, this is a dishwasher-safe product.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  24 Jul 2014  |  Comments (3)

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This is a true story. Descriptions of companies, clients, schools, projects, and designers may be altered and anonymized to protect the innocent.

Editor: This True I.D. Story comes to us anonymously, from an up-and-coming designer ready to hit the trade shows. All he needed was a little manufacturing help...


I'd been working on this one [tabletop item] design for a while, I think Core77 even covered it. After a long development time, I finally got it to a point where it was time to industrialize it, get somebody else making it. Before that point I'd just been cranking out prototypes myself, with my little shitty little Craftsman router table—in other words, I was not set up to do any kind of real production.

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So I'm looking around for someone who can get the job done and I hear about this one older dude, I'll call him OPG for Old Production Guy. He's a friend of a friend of a friend, within an hour's drive of my shop, and is by reputation a fantastic woodworker. He came highly recommended with years of experience in the furniture industry. The word was that he'd eventually moved on into a tangential field related to woodworking machines, but was now reportedly itching to make stuff again. With all of his experience, he sounded like a good fit, and having worked in the industry, he presumably knew all about the importance of deadlines.

So I pay him a visit, and this dude has a gigantic warehouse with access to like every woodworking machine under the sun. Table saws, bandsaws, router tables, shapers, planers, joiners, and all of these crazy contraptions for performing multiple operations at once. He grabbed some scrap wood and demonstrated the tolerances of some of the machines for me and they were pretty impressive. You could tell by the way he handled the wood and the machines that he'd been doing this his entire life.

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I figured with a warehouse full of equipment like that I might be too small-potatoes for him—I just needed a small run of these [objects] that I could bring to a trade show—but after I pulled out my drawings to show him, he seemed excited by my design and eager to make it, and my low numbers didn't faze him. I got the vibe that he just wanted to make sawdust again.

So he asked me to bring out two prototypes, as I had designed both a smaller and larger version and he wanted to see them both. I brought them out there and we had lunch and talked about it while he looked the prototypes over. At the end of the meeting he goes "Okay, why don't I try to make a couple of these and we'll see how it goes? And then we'll go from there."

I was like "Wait, don't you need like a deposit? Or to like, give me a quote?"

"Nah, don't worry about it, we'll just test it out," he says. And I'm like "Oh, sweet!"

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So this was my first misstep.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  24 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Using sheets of acetate, some markers and his phone's built-in camera, the artist known as Hombre_Mcsteez creates brilliant animations that overlay his drawings onto the environment. Mcsteez, a.k.a. Marty Cooper, refers to the clips as "Aug(De)Mented Reality," and a more accurate description isn't possible to create:

Cooper regularly updates his Instagram page with both still shots and mini-videos, like this update on the classic videogame Frogger:

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Posted by Coroflot  |  24 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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How often during a year, or perhaps a month, do you find yourself frustrated or underwhelmed by a tool, system or product you use regularly? Better yet, how often during those moments do you think to yourself, "If only it worked this way instead..." If you've ever dismissed the viability of these ideas because they would be too difficult/costly/complicated/inconvenient to manifest, then the third installment of the RKS Sessions is for you.

On August 5, RKS Sessions presents The Transformation of an Idea into Mass Success, featuring Craig Hickman, creator of the easy-to-use paint program Kid Pix. Hickman saw how frustrated his own son would get trying to use early computer drawing programs and turned his own "why doesn't this work better..." moment into the iconic easy-to-use paint program that encourages children to use computers.

Sign up today to attend this presentation on Tuesday, August 5, 2014 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM in Santa Monica, CA, where you'll learn how Hickman incubated his idea into mass commercial success.

Posted by erika rae  |  24 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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We've written about Morpholio's powerful app-based design tools in the past (here and here), but you might not know that they also foster design students through an annual competition called Pinup. This year, I had the privilege of sitting on the jury team—along with a solid lineup of fellow design editors and writers from Fast Company, ArchDaily, Interior Design Magazine, Design Milk, Design*Sponge and more—and I want to share a few of the many impressive submissions that were honored in this year's competition. From a curvaceous 3D-printed mask to a safer ladder, the submissions hailed from across a broad range of design typologies and disciplines

Entrants had a choice of three categories: Emerging Talent (young professional designers), Future Voice (student designers) and Shapes Future (annual themed category, this year featuring 3D printing), but the entry guidelines are intentionally left vague, which added a nice element of surprise to the judging process.

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Perhaps my favorite entry came from San Francisco-based designer Jasmine Kwak. Her submission took on the idea of living within a community and how each separate "nuclei" of family units could be brought closer together—physically in day-to-day movements and activities—with her entry "Communal Living." "Traditional colonial housing models are designed for a single nuclear family. Hence, the houses are introverted, meaning all the activities, whether communal or private, happen within the four walls of a house," Kwak explains. "This project proposes that these existing houses to become extroverted by opening up the existing circulation and communal spaces. These spaces now become a semi-open and public space, encouraging any communal activities in a house to happen within the community scale."

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With the "Ephemeral Beauty" headpiece, Jiang Yuan has achieved a rare level of grace and refinement for a 3D-printed design.

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Posted by core jr  |  24 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

OscarZhaoYvesBehar.jpgOscar Zhao & Yves Béhar: "You had me at nihao."

Late yesterday afternoon, we learned that Beijing's BlueFocus Communication Group will be taking a majority stake in fuseproject, Yves Béhar's design firm. This marks the growing agency's first foray into the States; it first dipped its toes into Western waters in April of last year, with a 20% stake in Huntsworth PR group, followed by taking a majority stake in We Are Social (both based in the UK). Now, the Financial Times reports that "BlueFocus will pay $46.7m in cash for 75 per cent of Fuseproject, to be paid out over several years depending on performance." (Figures on the agency's net worth and remarkable ascendancy are available here.)

Where fuseproject is a household name in the design world, we (like most of you) hadn't heard of BlueFocus prior to yesterday's announcement. Make no mistake, they are by all accounts a juggernaut, not just among native Chinese companies but on the world stage as well. Founded by Oscar Zhao in 1996, BlueFocus currently employs some 2,800 people—it is reportedly the biggest PR agency in the world—and Béhar's 75-person team, will join the ranks of the ~700 others at companies in which BlueFocus has a majority stake. fuseproject will continue to operate independently; while its multidisciplinary portfolio and services (i.e. rebranding Paypal) may well complement and align with BlueFocus's long-term goals, the San Francisco-based company is ostensibly the first industrial design consultancy in the Chinese company's highly diversified holdings.

BlueFocus.jpgContrary to alarming AQI reports, BlueFocus invites blue-sky thinking at their Beijing headquarters (via Baidu maps)

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Posted by Coroflot  |  24 Jul 2014

Work for Skip Hop!

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Are you a quick-thinking, creatively driven, multi-tasking team player who loves tackling many projects at once?
Do you have product design experience that spans a wide variety of products?

The dedicated but easy-going creative team at Skip Hop wants you to help designing and developing the most innovative functional bags to help make parenting easier. This Bag/Product Designer role in Brooklyn, NY requires a specific combination of skills - product design experience plus fashion forward know-how. One without the other won't cut it here, but if you possess both, please don't hesitate to check out the rest of the job description and Apply Now!

Posted by erika rae  |  23 Jul 2014  |  Comments (2)

Coolest-Lead.jpg

If you could combine a cooler with another product, what would it be? A built-in ice crushing blender, a USB charging station, a waterproof bluetooth speaker, or a hidden cutting board? How about all of the above? These are only a few features of the portable icebox that raised close to six million dollars in the first week of its crowdfunding campaign. Now, I don't have a problem with the classic cooler, as inferior as it may seem next to the 'Coolest' cooler—I have many fond memories of get-togethers on the deck of my childhood house sprinkled with a rainbow of coolers filled with frozen treats for the kids and beer for the adults. But you would have to be a little out of your mind to argue that this isn't a significant upgrade to the original design (which dates back to 1954, history buffs).

Check out the video for more information on the frippery and flounce that the Coolest has to offer:

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Posted by Christie Nicholson  |  23 Jul 2014  |  Comments (5)

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In 2007, a student at the University of Tokyo brought a lump of a grey, sparkly mineral to his professor Tsutomu Miyasaka, with the hope that this material might have potential to make cheap and efficient solar cells. But it only converted 4 percent of the sun energy to electricity. Not that remarkable.

Now, however, things have changed. Seven years later the unremarkable lump of rock called perovskite is beating out most solar cells on the market, getting 20 percent efficiency. The progress has sped up because researchers around the world saw the potential in this mineral.

While the sun is pretty much a limitless source of energy for all of us, the cost to capture it remains the challenge. The typical residential solar roof might get about 15 percent efficiency in sunlight and provides electricity at 50 cents/watt. This is twice the cost of coal.

So it's got to get cheaper in order to pull ahead as our number one energy source. Right now the top-performing cells, made of gallium arsenide get a maximum efficiency of about 30 percent but are prohibitively expensive.

The cheaper options like copper indium gallium selenide (a flexible material) or cadmium telluride (as cheap as silicon) get only about 20 percent efficiency.

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