Last year we wrote about the Knee Defender, a pair of plastic gizmos that an airplane passenger can use to prevent the person in front of them from reclining. We wrote it up in utter dismayed fascination at a product directly designed to increase one's comfort while inconveniencing another; we called it the "Me-first" approach to product design.
Now it's in the news, after a flight was diverted and a man and woman tossed off the plane for arguing over the thing. On Sunday United flight 1462 was en route from Newark to Denver when a fortysomething woman tried to recline her seat. She could not; the fortysomething man behind her, using his laptop on the seatback tray, had deployed the Knee Defenders. United officially bars their use, and this is what happened next according to the AP:
A flight attendant asked him to remove the device and he refused. The woman [whose seat was barred from reclining] then stood up, turned around and threw a cup of water at him, [a law enforcement official] says. That's when United decided to land in Chicago. The two passengers were not allowed to continue to Denver.
USA Today subsequently interviewed the inventor of the me-first device. Unsurprisingly, he passed the buck:
"Sometimes people do things they shouldn't do on airplanes, but as far as I know this is the first time anything like this has happened," involving the Knee Defender, said Ira Goldman, the man who invented the device in 2003 and continues to sell it online.
"United could make seats that do not recline, but they have not chosen to do so," said Goldman. "In the meantime, the Knee Defender says right on it: 'Be courteous. Do not hog space. Listen to the flight crew.' Apparently that is not what happened here."
What do you guys think, is this an irresponsible product design, or do you have the if-you-design-a-car, someone-will-use-it-to-rob-a-bank, it's-not-my-fault attitude about it? And do you think we'll see more me-first product designs in the future? One popular NYC pet peeve is guys who sit on the subway with their knees spread wide open—what's the ID fix for that?
Posted by core jr
| 26 Aug 2014
Photography by Jeff Enlow for Core77
Once again, we were thrilled to support NYC's fledging Bike Cult Show as an official media partner and offer exclusive coverage of the late-summer exhibition that is shaping up to be the region's premier handbuilt bicycle show. The second year delivered on its promise to be bigger and better than the first as organizers Harry Schwartzman, Benjamin Peck and David Perry upgraded to the massive Knockdown Center event space in Maspeth, Queens, for the event that took place over the weekend of August 16–17.
As with last year, we showcased a handful of the exhibitors in the weeks leading up to the show—Bryan Hollingsworth, Brian Chapman, Mathew Amonson and J.P. Weigle—who were happy to share their stories and talk shop about bicycles and much more. And in case you missed it, last year's builder profiles included several of this year's exhibitors as well: Johnny Coast, Jamie Swan, Rick Jones and Thomas Callahan and the late Ezra Caldwell (to whom the show was dedicated).
» View Gallery
Bike Cult Show 2014 Builder Profiles:
» Bryan Hollingsworth of Royal H Cycles on Saying "Yes" to Clients, the Decline of the Fixed-Gear, and More
» Brian Chapman Shares the Eight Secrets to Making a Living As a Custom Framebuilder
» Mathew Amonson of Airtight Cycles on Avoiding the G Train, Seeking a Master Framebuilder, and More
» J.P. Weigle Reflects on 40 Years of Framebuilding - A Photo Essay
Posted by Coroflot
| 26 Aug 2014
The Bose Design Center in Framingham, MA is a vibrant and growing team of industrial designers, model makers, and rapid prototyping experts. They are looking to hire a Junior Industrial Designer to help support the continuous success and global growth they've been experiencing. This is a tight-knit group that believes in a motto: Better products. Better sound. And a better way to work.
Working at Bose is about doing whatever it takes to solve problems--then seeking out new challenges to take on. This is the attitude they're looking for in a creative, passionate addition to their team. With anywhere from 0 to 2 years of work experience, exceptional sketching and rapid visualization skills, plus conceptual engineering abilities to design assemblies/mechanisms for prototypes, you could be the perfect person for this job. Apply Now.
When you think of knockout sci-fi concept designers, you probably think of Syd Mead and/or Doug Chiang. Between Blade Runner, Tron, Terminator 2 and the later Star Wars films, both men have gotten their due. Their names also ring a little sweeter to us because both majored in Industrial Design, Mead at Art Center, Chiang at CCS. But for fans of this genre, there's another man whose name you may not know and whose work you should look at: Jean-Claude Mézières, whose background was not in industrial design but in illustration. And if you have seen the original Star Wars trilogy, you have seen the largely uncredited influence of his work (further down in this entry are the most egregious examples).
Mézières' background is as wonderfully confusing as it is interesting: Born and raised in Paris of the 1930s and '40s, entered an art academy at the age of 15. After graduation he did two years in the French army, seeing action in Algeria, and briefly worked as an illustrator upon his discharge. Then he became so fascinated by the American West that he hitchhiked across America in the 1960s to fulfill his lifelong ambition of becoming an actual working cowboy in Utah.
After wrapping up his cowboy gig and American adventures, Mézières returned to France—and started an influential science-fiction comic book, at a time when sci-fi was about as popular in France as being a hitchhiking cowboy was.
I've solved the wallet thing for myself, I've got the perfect wallet for me. So whenever someone comes out with a new ultraslim wallet, I'm unmoved. But I just gave the Silo Mesh Card wallet a gander and am impressed at the thinking that went into it:
When most folks think of improving the design of a flashlight, they think of making it brighter or smaller. It's easy to overlook the average flashlight's central flaw: They emit a limited, circular patch of light that doesn't really jive with human peripheral vision.
On a trip upstate last year, I was looking for my runaway dog in the woods at night. While my LED flashlight was powerful enough to cast a far beam, having to trace that small circle of light over a wide swath of trees felt like painting a battleship with a toothbrush.
I'd have done better with a Morphalite flashlight, created by product developers Frank and Gary Wall. They've figured out how to create a lens that effectively refracts light into a 180-degree arc, enabling the user to scan a large patch of horizontal darkness in one go. Alternately one can rotate it 90 degrees and send the spread vertical, to better illuminate a trail one's walking down, for instance.
The Walls' DIY video below is, well, DIY quality, but that doesn't detract from the cleverness of the product's design, and their logic is unassailable:
Interestingly enough, engineer Frank discovered how to create the lens purely by accident. You can read the tale here.
Posted by erika rae
| 25 Aug 2014
Although the trophy itself is but a symbol for the prestige of the award, the statuette certainly provides a covetable physical artifact for those in the television industry. While you may not be interested in actually watching the broadcast tonight, you might appreciate the craft that goes into making the trophies everyone seems to gush over for a few days each year. After seeing the handiwork that goes into them, you might find yourself gushing, too.
Maybe it's the exclusivity that comes with winning one of the golden gals, but I've always had this image that includes a super secret lab and the rarest of materials when it comes to the trophies. So it's refreshing to see the number of people involved in the process. While only one person gets to take home the statuette for good, there sure are a lot of hands that are put to work on each trophy, from ladling molten metal into the molds to final assembly and quality assurance.
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 25 Aug 2014
If you care about the power of free information, you may have heard of Outernet, an ambitious new project aimed at ending information inequality, eliminating censorship, and bringing data to distant places. The world may be well into the Information Age, but less than 40% of the global population has Internet access! That's bad for democracy, bad for innovation, and bad for business worldwide. What Outernet proposes is to take the heart of the Internet—free information—offline, and deliver it to anyone with a satellite dish using small cheap satellites, the existing geostationary satellite network, and simple hardware. It's a lot like a radio-transmitted library. As they put it, they offer "information for all from outer space. Unrestricted, globally accessible, broadcast data. Quality content from all over the Internet. Available to all of humanity. For free." For more details, check out LA Times' excellent infographics.
To get out of technical start-up talk and into people's hands, Outernet reached out to Code and Theory to help them level up. Why would an international humanitarian tech project work with a digital agency on prototyping? It's a good question, with an I.D. twist. To learn about building the Outernet satellite receiver and how Code and Theory helped, I spoke with Geoff Baldwin who heads their new but busy Industrial Design group.
Core77: Tell me about what you do at Code and Theory
Geoff Baldwin: I'm the director of Industrial Design. Code and Theory is known for its long history of doing digital design and interactive experiences. In the last 5 or 6 years we've become more known for digital agency of record for major brands, for doing social campaigns, and different digital advertising-ish things, so the idea was to build an Industrial Design team inside of this existing digital creative culture to do everything at once. To be able to design the thing, the interactions around it, and the story about it all from the same point of inspiration.
Posted by Moa Dickmark
| 25 Aug 2014
A few months ago, I was contacted by an organization called Women Engineers Pakistan, which introduces girls to the field of engineering and technology. Just reading the name made me curious. For those of you who don't know, I'm an architect, and I come from a family full of engineers and tech-heads. In other words, my choice of becoming an architect has never, at any point of my life, ever been questioned. I went to a technical high school in Uppsala, Sweden, always with the support of mom and dad, brothers and sister, my grandmother, aunts, uncle and most of all my wonderful grandfather. With 26 boys and 5 girls in my class, the male-to-female ratio was rather high, but my knowledge and competence was never questioned by anyone of the male gender. Not by teachers, nor by fellow students.
Hearing about an organization like this and its origins was inspiring, and it takes more then a bit of willpower and skin on the nose (Swedish expression) to start something as groundbreaking and controversial in a country where female students are told that they should reconsider their choice to study engineering and start studying something more suitable for women...
In this interview, I've had the great pleasure of talking directly with Ramla Quershi, the co-founder of Women Engineers Pakistan. She recently moved to the U.S. to study engineering on a full Fullbright scholarship. So even though she's busy with the big move and getting her bearings, she set aside some time for this interview. I hope you get as inspired by reading this as I did from writing it.
Core77: Tell us a bit about the organization and the thoughts behind it.
Ramla Quershi: The organization is a budding startup, which looks to increase participation from Pakistani women in Pakistan in engineering. Women have always been by and large in domestic and agricultural jobs in Pakistan, and their participation in science and technology has been minimal. We realize that women make over half the Pakistani population and we're working to prevent that potential talent for technical prowess from going to waste. We're working with young girls at high schools to encourage them towards science and math
When did you start working on getting Women Engineers Pakistan up and running?
It started with a Facebook page last August. But it's wasn't until six months ago that we started working as an organization.
Why did you decide on starting WEP?
Throughout my engineering degree, I felt a nagging lack of women in this field. We were often discouraged by our professors that engineering is a 'big boy' area. It was disheartening to realize that there weren't many role models set out for us. So I created this organization to give women engineers a platform to represent themselves.
When the professors talked about it being a "big boy" profession, how did your fellow male students react to those sort of comments?
My fellow males knew that I was good at my studies, so they would often turn up for a group study option and ask me to explain things to them. So they had found out that the women in their class were just as good (some even better) engineers. Barring a few, many were courteous and encouraging. However, there were some 'go make a sandwich' sort of comments—but not many.
There must have been many ideas/incentives to make it go from an concept into reality, what were they?
Oh yes, there were. Initially it was just a Facebook page, but then it started getting attention, and I realized that I had hit a niche. We were contacted by the U.S. Embassy through the Facebook page for meeting with a NASA engineer coming to Pakistan. And i thought, 'Oh wow, not much representation for the women in engineering crowd.'
Posted by Carly Ayres
| 22 Aug 2014
Illustration by Ian Stevenson
Designer Célia Esteves first fell in love with the Portuguese tradition of rug weaving at an exhibition in her hometown of Viana do Castelo, in the north of Portugal. There she met—and got a tutorial from—an artisan who was creating rugs on a hand loom. Esteves left the exhibition smitten with the technique and determined to find a way to continue working with the traditional handcraft. "I found it so exciting and promising that I immediately wanted to share it with some of my illustrator friends," she says.
Luckily, Esteves has some very talented friends. She asked illustrators like André da Loba, Marta Monteiro and José Cardoso to create designs to be translated into woven rugs, and worked with the weaver she met at the exhibition to realize the project. The result is Rug by GUR, a remarkable pairing of contemporary illustration and traditional Portuguese rug weaving.
Illustrations by Marta Monteiro (left) and Joao Drumond
Ilustration by Joana Estrela
"The technique is very specific, and it can also be limiting," Esteves admits. "Sometimes it is not possible to do exactly what is designed." One of the challenges is the grid system required of the weaving, making it difficult to create continuous lines. Another is the material used, raw tirela, which is made of rags from used clothing, limiting the colors to what is available from nearby factories.
It rains a lot in the Pacific Northwest, which sucks if you're outside and are trying to write something on paper, as loggers once needed to. So in the 1920s, well before ruggedized tablets were invented, a guy named Jerry Darling created waterproof paper and sold it in notebook form to the logging industry.
Today the company Darling started has evolved into Rite in the Rain, which manufactures all-weather writing paper. Here's how it stacks up versus regular paper:
Posted by erika rae
| 22 Aug 2014
Let me just start off by saying that I don't condone illegal forgery or theft—but I do think that someone who can put the art world in a tizzy with his own look-alike art without breaking any sort of law deserves some major props. Mark Landis is that man. And we're not talking paint-by-numbers, either. Landis's work may not follow the original mediums of his source material—he even mentions using colored pencils where a Sotheby's expert would cite chalk—but his work has been displayed in buildings around the country. Disguised as a philanthropist, Landis spends his time making obscure donations to organizations in order to have his work displayed.
That's all good and well, but here's where it gets really interesting: Registrar Matthew Leininger caught on to Landis's trick and starting following his moves. While the eccentric forger's story is well-documented—Google his name and you'll get results from the likes of the New York Times and the The Daily Beast—a new, Kickstarted documentary presents the cat-and-mouse dynamic between the two as Landis convinces 46 museums in 20 different states to display over 100 pieces of his work. Art and Craft has the makings of a real-life manhunt thriller—think Catch Me If You Can sans the DiCaprio/Hanks draw and fewer costume changes. Check out the trailer:
We gave you a brief look at this awesome Lego Calendar project earlier in the year, but this is worth a closer look. The UK-based design studio formerly known as Vitamins (now called Special Projects) devised a physical calendar for their studio made out of Legos. Sounds simple, right? Been done before, yes? But here's the thing—this one can be synced to your iCal, Google Calendar or what have you. Check it out:
Since the syncing is one way—which is to say, moving a physical brick will eventually result in the online calendar being updated, but not vice versa—you might think that's a detriment. But Special Projects points out that it actually has an organizational benefit:
We're... working on what happens when someone remotely wants to change a date, perhaps they're abroad and need to modify something. Well the next time somebody in the studio uploads a photo of the calendar, they will get an email back immediately, asking them to actually move the bricks that have been modified. It sounds crazy, but this way you actually notice when something has changed, and you need to physically find a place to put the bricks you have removed—rather than a digital square quietly vanishing in the background on your computer screen.
The team—Adrian Westaway, Clara Gaggero, and Duncan Fitzsimons with the assistance of Simon Emberton and Julia Eichler—invented the clever system in 2012, and were hoping to be able to release the software earlier this year. "This is taking a little longer than expected," they write, but Adrian and Clara are still chugging away on the project. If you'd like to get updates, you can sign up here.
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 22 Aug 2014
We're sad to note the passing of bold designer Deborah Sussman, who died on Wednesday at the age of 83 after a long battle with cancer. Sussman was a Brooklyn-born artist of many interests, known for colorful large-scale design work that often included whole built environments. Growing up in an artistic family, she was encouraged to explore many disciplines, attending Black Mountain School during the summers, and later studying painting and theater at Bard College.
Sussman first heard her calling "like thunder" at age 22 in the Eames' studio, where the refined combination of drawing and physical creation immediately attracted her. Her own work must have made a positive impact too - she worked for Eames for the next several years. As their Art Director her projects at the firm spanned graphics, print, exhibition layout, showroom design and film. She cut her teeth on both internal work and designing for clients like the Ford Foundation and IBM at the 1964 World's Fair.
Posted by core jr
| 22 Aug 2014
Last day of the semester at SVA, photo by Jeffrey Zeldman
With the start of the fall term just around the corner, the smell of freshly sharpened pencils (er, stylii?) is in the air. While there's no denying the excitement of new classes, spaces and professors, not to mention old friends and hangouts, we know that you're really looking forward to getting your hands dirty and making those spaces your own over the course of the semester. After all, it's these signs of life—of being inhabited and used—that truly mark a time and a place in memory.
With that in mind, we're looking to feature your photos from bygone years. Whether you're a rising sophomore, a recent grad or a nostalgic alum, we want to see candid shots of you and your classmates in deep D-school mode. We want to know what your cafeteria looked like, how you hacked your dorm room, where you met your bestie, where you snuck cigarettes—and, of course, what the studio looked like the night before (or should we say morning of?) a deadline. You can even send us pictures of an awesome campus bathroom if you've got 'em.
Here are a few examples of the kind of thing we're looking for:
The engine room at Pratt Institute, photo by George Estreich
The Nature Lab at RISD, photo by Emily Hummel
Posted by Coroflot
| 22 Aug 2014
littleBits is looking for an energetic, creative and talented Design Intern to work with them in New York, NY. The right person for this opportunity is a superstar maker with a great sense of aesthetic and experience with concept development and prototyping. The ability to convey the littleBits brand is a must as is being well versed in Adobe Creative Suite. This isn't just a go-get-coffee internship - it's your chance to get in on the ground level with a stipend and a chance at full time employment.
If you have an undergraduate or Master's Degree in, Industrial Design, Physical Computing, Product Design, Architecture, Mechanical Engineering and are very well versed in the design process, from brainstorm to iteration to final product/project with a focus on user experience, Apply Now.
Posted by Jeri Dansky
| 21 Aug 2014
Being an organized traveller involves packing just the right stuff—and for most end users, that involves electronics. After deciding which devices to take (laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.) the end-user also needs to decide how to keep them charged.
If the travel is international, that often means packing one or more adapters. For those who are traveling to multiple countries and want an all-in-one adapter rather than individual ones, there's this universal travel adapter from Kikkerland, which works in more than 150 countries. At 8 × 5 × 0.6 inches, it's flatter than any other such converter. And at 2.4 ounces, it's very lightweight. The two downsides: The two parts both have projections that could snag something else in the luggage. And while the converter comes with instructions showing you how to make it work in each country, they may be too complex for some end-users. But some end users have noted with delight that using this adapter felt like playing with a Transformer toy.
The 4-in-1 adapter from Flight 001 is notable for its use of color-coding; the colors of the adapters match to a list of 150+ countries, and to a map. This will be less attractive to colorblind end users—but the parts are also labeled (EU, UK, etc.), and the color-coded list also allows for matching by shape. The adapter is small, measuring just 2.25 x 2 x 1.5 inches, and it weighs just 4 ounces.
When we first wrote about Twelve South's PlugBug back in 2011, a commenter said, "Great product but does me no good when I travel to Europe." Well, that's been fixed with the new PlugBug World. As with the older version, the PlugBug World attaches to a MacBook power adapter, converting it to a dual-charger for both the MacBook and an iPad or iPhone—and it will charge that iPad faster than the factory-supplied charger. But the PlugBug World also has five attachments which allow it to work around the world. It measures 2.44 x 2.57 x 1.14 inches, and weighs 3.5 ounces. One minor quibble: An end user noted that the U.S. adapter plug isn't retractable like the Apple adapter plug is.
Posted by Ray
| 21 Aug 2014
When it comes bicycles, we're often inclined to say nay. Call us snobs/cranks/grouches or what have you, but we are generally of the opinion that you don't go reinventing the proverbial human-powered two-wheel conveyance. Here's a new one that (if nothing else) offers a new approach to an integrated locking mechanism.
Starting with the notion that any lock can be broken, Juan José Monsalve, Andrés Roi and Cristóbal Cabello have designed the "Yerka," a bicycle frame that features an integrated lock—i.e. the bike cannot be ridden if the lock is severed. Where many of the past Oregon Manifest entries (for which a lock is required per the brief) explored concepts that were integrated into the main triangle of the frame—Tony Pereira's version was deemed worthy of first place in 2009 and 2011—the Chilean engineering students have opted to build the shackle into a main tube. I don't condone locking to trees, but kudos to the team for developing a working prototype:
Last week, we published a piece on the Bottlass packaging design in which I was critical of the concept. We were since contacted by Kyung Kook, the Vice President of Bellevue-based Innovative Design Service Inc., the company that produced the design. In his response, Kyung rebuts several of the points made in the original entry, and has included photographs showing that the Bottlass is, in fact, in production. Kyung's response is printed below.
Frankly, I was very excited to see the [Core77] post about our design, "Bottlass" and am pleased that someone was interested enough to share his take on our design. I believe this is a valuable opportunity to look at our design from a different perspective.
First and foremost, the design phase I of Bottlass is actually being manufactured and sold in South Korea at this moment.
The product based on our design was made available to the public in Korea since April of this year. The material used is called eco-zen, a type of enhanced plastic.
Secondly, I am aware that opening the container may cause a bit of hassle. But this can be easily fixed. If we print instructions on the container, informing the drinker to set up the container before holding it in place and pulling off the seal, this should bypass the inconvenience. It may take a bit more steps than the conventional bottles or cans, but the excitement and satisfaction gained from Bottlass's unique design will do more than justice.
So your kid draws all over your expensive carpet with a handful of Sharpies. You're so infuriated that after giving him a time-out, you need to go outside to carve some sand patterns in your Zen garden just to cool off. Well, if only you had access to the designs of Yuta Sugiura, a professor at Keio University's Graduate School of Media Design, you could cleanly ameliorate both situations.
Sugiura headed up the research team that produced "Graffiti Fur: Turning Your Carpet Into a Computer Display." Three clever devices can put images that you've either drawn or captured onto a plain ol' carpet, Sharpie-free and completely reversible:
Sugiura's team—which was comprised of researchers not only from Keio, but from the Nagoya Institute of Technology and The University of Tokyo—presented "Graffiti Fur" at this month's SIGGRAPH in the Emerging Technologies & Studio Collaboration category.