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Today's Urban Design Observation: Trash That Tells Tales

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-02-18 21:41

You reckon someone came home, and found their things by the curb after their live-in partner discovered infidelity?

Or maybe someone just threw a bunch of stuff out and someone wrote on it after the fact, I don't know. By the looks of it, this stuff has been here a while (note the coffee cups deposited there by thoughtful passersby) and has probably already been picked over. If there was more telltale stuff, maybe I'd have a better picture.

What are the Amenities Like Inside the Olympic Village?

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-02-18 21:41

To an Olympian, it must feel like a version of Freshman Orientation where everyone is super physically-fit: For roughly two weeks they'll stay in a purpose-built dorm-like Olympic Village, meeting (and frequently hooking up with) fellow athletes from around the world. Entertainment and training facilities are provided; there are gyms, recreation rooms, massage chair facilities, lounges, medical and dental facilities, and even a McDonald's.

McDonald's aside, all other meals are provided in a massive 24-hour cafeteria.

"It is a food court like no other," according to Korea's Yonhap News. "It has a variety of dishes, drinks and snacks, but is aimed at offering the world's elite athletes healthy, hearty food at all hours. Some 180 chefs, including 30 halal cooks, are working in the kitchen to prepare 180 dishes every day. The menu changes every seven days with a total of 406 dishes."At its peak, the athletes' village kitchen will serve 7,000 meals daily."

To keep the athlete's heads clear, media and press members are strictly barred from the village. (They're housed in a separate Media Village.)

Anyways, so here's what it's like being there: You land in Seoul, then get whisked to Pyeongchang via high-speed rail.

Then to the completed village. There are actually two villages, one in Pyeongchang proper and another in nearby Gangneung. (Basically if your sport involves skates, you're staying at Gangneung near the ice facilities. Everyone else shacks up at Pyeongchang.)

South Korea spent two years getting the Olympic Villages built.

Here's a walkthrough of the rooms after completion, prior to the Olympics:

The rooms might look Spartan, but those shots are of the rooms before they're decorated. Here's Team Great Britain snowboarder Aimee Fuller giving you a look at the Brits' dressed-up digs, some of the swag (yes, they get to keep those comforters) and the all-important dining hall:

Tour of facilities and rooms by Team Ireland:

A Canadian skeleton coach for Team Australia runs down his suite. Look for the nifty pop-out smartphone stand in the bathroom around 5:41:

This magic fob grants you free access to all drinks in the vending machines.This thing that puzzles him in the video is next to the toilet and built into the bathroom wall. It's a pop-out smartphone stand.

There are also thousands of journalists on hand, from around the world. The Media Village has a less splashy dining hall than the athletes get but it offers a similar selection. Also cool to see that they separate and recycle everything:

I keep coming back to the food because I'm impressed by the logistics of it. Food & Wine reports:

What exactly does it take to keep the world's best bodies in competition-ready shape? The dining hall—which will be open 24/7—has a hefty 18-page menu full of options. A sampling: Fresh veggies and a whole range of protein options (duh), a pizza and pasta bar, regional Korean fare, halal food, and even McDonald's. (You'd think that each athlete would have a finely tuned nutrition regimen, filled with adaptogens and supergreens—but if downing a pizza topped with anchovies and ranch dressing helps you win, the Olympic committee is not going to judge you, it turns out.) And for breakfast, there's a selection of pastries or dry cereal.

I looked through the menu and it's insane. It makes me wish I was a competing Olympian rather than an out-of-shape design blogger.

With a 24-hour cafeteria, the athletes have no need to prepare their own food back at their suites. In fact it'd be impossible--all of the kitchen surfaces and appliances are sealed in plastic.

Why? Because building Olympic venues ain't cheap, and the South Korean government has reportedly spent nearly $13 billion. To help offset the cost, the Olympic Village units have already been sold--yes, all of them--as condominiums. After the athletes move out, the kitchens get unwrapped, and families move in.

Some of the athletic facilities themselves will continue to fulfill their functions after the Games have left, but to date they can't figure out what to do with the $120 million speed skating oval. "A local company," CBS News reports, "did say it would be a great place for storing frozen fish."

Jon Wye on Digging for Information, Designing Custom Machinery and Managing Freelancers

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-02-18 21:41

#IMakeaLiving is a series of free, traveling events powered by FreshBooks that focuses on bringing together an eclectic group of small business owners for a lively, candid, and often hilarious, conversation. In light of the series' second year, we're interviewing business-owning designers on how they brought their companies to the next level. 

For the past 14 years, Jon Wye's eponymous company has been designing and manufacturing belts, dog collars and other leather goods in Washington DC. Often featuring original artwork from freelance artists around the country, his eye-catching products attract an international audience of people who live life on the quirkier side. Wye's rise to success wasn't easy, though. The self-taught businessman spent years developing sales and marketing skills to match his design ones, all while living at home with his parents to save money.

Jon Wye

Wye took a break from manufacturing to chat with us about the process of starting and operating a small, creative business. In this interview, we discuss Wye's "aha" moments while starting his company, how to go about building your own machinery and tips, tricks and reminders for designers looking to start their own business ventures. 

Core77: We can all read the more polished version of your business story here, but what don't we know about how you started your company, Jon Wye?

Jon Wye: Well, when I was first starting the company, I had no idea what I was doing. I just liked making things. I lived at home until I was 31 just so I could get the company going, and every dollar I made went into it. There weren't many investors, but for me what I did get, which I know a lot of people don't have, is parents that were willing to let me live with them rent free. I was working on stuff, so they were happy that I was pushing forward with something. I owe them so much just for that.

I remember this very clear moment when my dad came into my bedroom, which is funny when you're 28 years old, and he said, "Boy, you know you really love making this stuff, but you hate selling it." Of course I responded with something like, "You don't know what you're talking about, dad. I've got to refine the product, and I've got to do this and that"—just spewing excuses. He walked out of the room saying, "Yeah, yeah. Sure, sure." And I just remember my heart sinking, and realizing, "God, he's right."  

It took years to develop myself as a salesman and figure out where to sell my products and what to do. But within days I signed up for a local flea market. It was literally just a table at Eastern Market in DC with someone hustling behind it selling things. That was really the start, but there were a lot of other anecdotes along the way of just learning to communicate with people and selling myself and the brand.

Straight Stripe BeltZombies in Space BeltKoi BeltDo you have any advice for people in similar situations now—starting their own businesses from a strictly design/maker standpoint?

That same lesson I learned is what I rail on other people for. I do these informational interviews with young people and I'll ask them what they're working on so far. The moment someone starts telling me they're designing their website and they have someone doing their business cards, I think, "Cool, great. You are really excited for the idea of doing a business."

But it's a trap because from the outside world that seems legitimate. Of course you've got to have business cards. Of course you've got to design a logo and do all these things. But that's the stuff everyone does, and those are the knowns. I still barely have a standardized business card. I heat stamp a piece of leather and cut it out on scraps, and people love it. They'll say, "You're giving me a one inch piece of leather? Real leather?" And in my head I think, "Yeah, whatever. It's scrap."

"Consumers can't see half of the imperfections that you can see—they're primarily satisfied with the fact that you're striving to make it better each time."

A lot of people get wrapped up in business for the sake of business, and they forget that they just need to get out into the world and fail, go sell stuff and stop trying to think of what they're making as a perfect product. Consumers can't see half of the imperfections that you can see—they're primarily satisfied with the fact that you're striving to make it better each time.

I have customers that bought my belts 10 years ago, and when I look at them, I can't believe I ever made a belt like that. But they tell me that my belts have gotten so much better—they're stronger, and they've lasted longer. I look at it like the product is just your ambassador. You only get one other chance, which is if the customer is lucky enough to communicate with you, to then solve that issue. The product has to be amazing, especially if you don't have a huge marketing budget. So I've always just made sure that the product is doing the silent work for me.

I'm wondering if your mindset versus the young designers' mindset is a generational difference. In other words, do you think the internet and crowdfunding platforms have given us an excuse to put less focus on the product and more focus on overall branding and aesthetics?

If I have to see one more video of some artisanal dude wearing the right kind of roll up jeans with the right kind of Red Wing boots, with the right kind of music in the background... 

It's exactly what you said, generational. In fact, I'm still learning from young people, now that they've fully gone through the internet, about how I need to present better in the online space. But you put that kid next to me at a sales event, and I'll crush them any day.

Math Cat Leather Guitar Strap

Young people have forgotten that the primary focus is their product or whatever it is they need to sell. And yeah, sometimes I look up other leather people online, and I see their videos and think, "You're charging what for what?" I'm at heart, a manufacturer. I'm a small manufacturer, but I like to consider myself a manufacturer because my goal is to grow a business and to make it sustainable.

I think with these two mindsets, there's a way to bridge the two—the world of that guy toiling away with the right haircut and the right music in the background and then the guy toiling away so that he can keep manufacturing in the United States and make a product as good as handmade but in mass. And with a system, and with eyes on growing economy and providing jobs.

On another note, you work with a lot of freelance artists who design the artwork featured on many of your products. Do you have any advice for successfully managing freelancers?

I'm sure this goes back to managing people 101, but of course I never read those books. It's kind of the basic stuff—just be so darn clear about what you can actually offer and what you expect. I think one of my big lessons came early. My first website was a friend from college helping me make it for free. It was such a grueling experience to drag it out of him because he was doing it for 20 minutes a day when he had time while he was trying to build his own career. You can't really lay that on your friends and people—you can only get so many favors.

I couldn't get anyone to work with me in the beginning because I just was no one. And I'm still small potatoes, let's be honest. But what I've found in the art community is every single artist has a story of someone not paying them or someone telling them, "I could have drawn that." No you couldn't have. So you develop a reputation where, "Oh, it's Jon—he can't pay the highest amount, but he always pays you."

"There's always going to be disagreements, and I've found that people just need to be heard sometimes when they have a grievance."Waffle Belt Buckle

Then some artists want royalties. I don't have a big enough system to deal with royalty payment and tracking inventory, especially when it's all made to order. So I tried that here and there, and finally I just said, "Here is who I am. This is what I can do. This is the maximum I can pay. I own the rights to the artwork," for example. Some say I can't do that, and then you find many more that can. There's always going to be disagreements, and I've found that people just need to be heard sometimes when they have a grievance. I've experienced colleagues that might just shut the door and say, "No. No. You were wrong here." Sometimes just letting them speak and trying to find a resolution is very helpful.

Circling back to the topic of putting product first and foremost, I've heard that you actually make and/or tweak a lot of your own machinery...

Yeah, in the beginning a lot of it was custom made because there was nothing out there for the base stuff that I needed. Then some of it from back in the day was refurbished. And then a lot of stuff past that has been a lot of custom tooling—taking things that exist and tweaking them by going to machine shops and telling them what different parts need to do. It's maybe 25% custom and 75% stock machinery with customizations.

Without a ton of previous knowledge on building machinery, how did you make that happen?

My mom's a general contractor, so I grew up around materials. At 13 I was looking at the difference between this aluminum grade and that aluminum grade and what types of welding techniques are needed for this and that. It's a lifetime of absorbing information and then knowing where to go to talk to people and having just enough information to be the glue in that scenario.

I have a lot of friends that are engineers, programmers—people that when I have a question can tell me who to go talk to. So if anything I've been more the glue, and what I've discovered is that overall sense of how projects are supposed to play out. I've often found that if my spidey senses are tingling, I should listen to them because sometimes even the professional machine shop guy will tell me we have to do things a certain way that doesn't make any sense.

If you don't know something about materials or grades or steel, you can look it up in the McMaster-Carr catalog, read their descriptions and prices, and then call the metal stockyard. This is getting really hokey here, but everybody wants to feel valued. If I'm calling with a grade school level of inquisitiveness and asking some dude whose job is nothing but to sell steel and aluminum plating and ask what the difference between this and this is—people get excited about that. Maybe their job is kind of boring if all they're doing is selling aluminum plate all day, but then they have someone call in and ask them what they know. Then from there, you cross reference that with information online. You find an answer.

A look inside Jon Wye's workshop, located in Washington DC

I'm thinking of a particular heat press that I built. Heat presses are extremely expensive, and I built a one by six foot heat press with full digital control and all that. It still works and is 10 years old. I just dusted the moth balls off, put some new nematic shocks on it for opening and closing it, and now it's going to be the heart of my new synthetic dog collar line. I'm already developing the next generation of it. I've started sketching that out because I need to make the dog collars even more efficient.

But at that time I did not know how to build a heat press. It was just asking questions and noticing details along the lines of, "What does this heat press look like? They put a rubber on the bottom that for some reason, doesn't melt. There's an adhesive that adheres it to the steel plate." So you have enough observational knowledge to put into Google: Rubber that withstands 400 degrees. I remember when I talked to the metal guy I asked, "How thick does my aluminum need to be over a span of one foot by six feet to not warp under its own weight?" He responded by doing the math for me on the spot, and in my head I thought, "Holy crap." Then I asked, "What do I need if I'm going to be joining the two surfaces together? What do I need on the steel plates?" Then he told me that I needed a Blanchard grind on the steel. I didn't know what a Blanchard grind was, but I needed this Blanchard grind so that the two pieces would fit really snugly together. 

If you can build it, I can build it—once I figure out how. I think for me it's a desire to convince myself that I can do anything.


Interested in listening to more start-up stories? #IMakeaLiving Powered by FreshBooks will be hosting their next event on February 21st in LA (Learn more and register here), and you can also listen to the #IMakeaLiving podcast here.

So Cool: The Olympic Media Village Has Roaming Mini Robots That Serve Drinks, Project the Weather and Clean Floors

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-02-18 21:41

I'm curious about the design of the Olympic Village's facilities in Pyeongchang and am developing a post on the subject. Still working on it but just came across this footage of the robots wandering around in the Media Village and had to share:

The Olympic Village has baby robots that project the weather on the floor.

What a time to be alive.

?? @jeffmetcalfe pic.twitter.com/wBlQGjp4DN

— SB Nation (@SBNation) February 8, 2018 " contenteditable="false">

I love that it looks like a rice cooker; I expect the top to pop open and passersby can help themselves to steaming scoops of rice. (That's not a racist joke, I'm Asian, get off my back.) 

Here's a closer look at Rice2-D2, along with a larger 'bot that keeps the carpets clean:

And this video ends with a 'bot that serves drinks:

How Should Apple Have Handled the HomePod Ring-Staining Issue?

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-02-18 21:41

Years ago as a freelancer, I was working on a countertop pump bottle for a client. I'd observed that in my own home, the liquid soap pump bottle on my bathroom sink left a dirty ring beneath it; this was because water from your wet hands slowly dripped down the bottle's surface, gathering dust as it went before settling around the base. I suggested to the client we pursue a new design to prevent this. The client didn't care and looked at me like I was crazy. I suppose that's the curse of being an industrial designer.

I thought of this as the recent brouhaha has unfolded with Apple's HomePod speaker. For those unfamiliar, the speaker is designed with a silicone base that, through simple gravity, forms a seal with whatever smooth surface it's placed upon.

This purposeful design feature creates better resonance for the bass, and The Wirecutter has called it "the best-sounding smart speaker we've ever heard." Pocket-Lint wrote that the HomePod "sounds great wherever we've put it. Up against the wall, in a corner, in the middle of the room all produce the same performance." So Apple nailed the sound.

But they nailed the sound at the expense of something else. Silicone does not react well with certain finishes on wood, and both The Wirecutter, Pocket-Lint and a crapload of people on Twitter have noted that the HomePod produces a seemingly permanent white ring on their finished wood surfaces.

#homepod left rings on my wood furniture in less than 20 minutes of use. Thanks #apple I am glad a paid $400 to make perfect etched circles on my more expensive furniture. Guess I can not move it now to cover up the mark. Evil geniuses you are. #applesupport pic.twitter.com/u47xImwQQt

— Guy San Francisco (@Guyinsf415) February 10, 2018 " contenteditable="false">

Apple admits HomePod may leave white ring on wood surfaces, recommends using elsewhere https://t.co/5XnZUQQLIN by @iPeterCao pic.twitter.com/eiLeoSpkMU

— 9to5Mac ? (@9to5mac) February 14, 2018 " contenteditable="false">

So some HomePods are staining wood tables, leaving a white ring behind.

Apple's official response: "We recommend placing your HomePod on a different surface"

If that isn't CLAASIC Apple, I don't know what is ??
https://t.co/bwEda4qK1r pic.twitter.com/Eb0gKYEwVi

— Marques Brownlee (@MKBHD) February 15, 2018 ">

Look, guys! It's the Olympic Rings! Made out of #HomePod ass drippings! pic.twitter.com/6Y5sCBOLOV

— Phil Nickinson (@mdrndad) February 14, 2018 ">

iDevice accessories manufacturer Pad & Quill quickly capitalized on the furor, releasing a $20 Leather HomePod Coaster:

That, however, is not a good idea. Pocket-Lint noted that when they tried using a coaster between the speaker and the surface to prevent leaving rings, "That then caused a drop in the quality, presumably because it doesn't resonate as effectively."

Whether you're familiar with woodworking or not, at some point you've surely placed a hot drink on a wooden surface and caused a permanent ring. I have a vintage sidetable that the previous owner ruined by leaving a potted plant atop it. The only way to remove rings like this is to re-sand the surface and re-oil it, which is a huge pain in the ass. Woodworkers know this, it's the reason coasters were invented, and we are careful with what we place on our finished surfaces.

Your average consumer, however, is not a woodworker. The layperson cannot be expected to know that silicone reacts with say, Danish oil. If they purchase a $350 object, it's reasonable for them to expect said object would not mar a piece of furniture just by sitting on it. So the first thing I wonder is how this missed Apple's attention during the design and testing process.

Years ago we wrote up Apple's anechoic audio testing chamber. It looked like this:

Apple built a new one to test the HomePod out in. It looks like this:

As you can see, they've got it on a wooden table. I can't say with certainty but I'm assuming the tabletop had to be finished. Assuming it was, it means either a) No one noticed the ring left by the speaker, which I have a hard time believing, or b) whoever did notice the ring didn't think it was an issue. I also find it hard to believe they did not do any real-world testing, where someone surely would've noticed the ring issue.

In short, Apple screwed up. I don't think this is another BS "bendgate," I think this is a legitimate design flaw. How should Apple have responded? After the ring story started circulated, they updated their HomePod support page with the following:

It is not unusual for any speaker with a vibration-damping silicone base to leave mild marks when placed on some wooden surfaces. The marks can be caused by oils diffusing between the silicone base and the table surface, and will often go away after several days when the speaker is removed from the wooden surface. If not, wiping the surface gently with a soft damp or dry cloth may remove the marks. If marks persist, clean the surface with the furniture manufacturer's recommended cleaning process. If you're concerned about this, we recommend placing your HomePod on a different surface.

It seems obvious that they're not going to change the design--gods only know how much money they've invested here--and they're certainly not going to do a product recall.

Apple haters aside, I recognize that Apple draws extra fire because we have high expectations of them; they used to get so many things so very right. Unfair as it is, I hold them to a higher standard because I became spoiled when they were masters of UX; I remember when their product ecosystem worked seamlessly for me, at a time when PC's stymied me.

So: How do you think Apple missed the rings, and what do you think they should do next?

Design Job: Get a First Hand Look at the Challenges of Medical Product Design as ID Co-Op at J&J

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-02-18 21:41

The Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices Industrial Design & Human Factors (IDHF) organization is seeking multi-faceted, exceptionally talented, Industrial Design Co-ops who are passionate about improving the quality of people's lives through remarkable user experiences. Positions will be based at our Cincinnati, OH, Raynham, MA, or

View the full design job here

Video: Completing the Design of the Tucker Excelsior Pickup Truck Concept

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-02-18 21:41

Responding to our auto design sketch challenge to complete an unusual pickup truck from Preston Tucker's archives, industrial designer Eric Strebel went the extra mile and produced a narrated video on his process.

"This week's video is more design oriented than many of my making videos," Strebel explains. "I explore and redesign the 1940s Tucker Excelsior concept truck. I update the design while keeping its functionality and some of its style intact. My design uses an all-electric platform while adding the functionality of pocket doors in the side of the bed along with an additional crew cab. I also discuss how to build up a sketch render on Grey paper using markers and colored pencil."

Here it is:

Auto Design Sketch Challenge Results: Completing Preston Tucker's Split-Cab Pickup Truck Concept

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-02-18 21:41

Earlier we showed you a sketch for an unusual pickup truck from Preston Tucker's archives, and asked you to complete the design. Here are the results, in alphabetical order by last name, with captions from those who provided them:

By Michael DiTullo:

"A quick side cab sketch to get this party started."

DiTullo also recorded his sketch process, so you can see how it all came together:

By Steven Madsen:

"3/4 view from the other side. Threw in a small crane for lifting heavy loads."

By Thomas Parel:

"Doodles of an electric Tucker work truck."

By Adan Schubart:

"As the original struck me as completely utilitarian, I went with a very boxy shape to allow every facet to be opened for easy access.

"As this seemed like a truck for the city, it is electric and features driver access from the front to minimize street incursion.

"I also had the thought of polymerized 'rubber' body panels for durability."

By the bye, Schubart, I flipped the tones on your sketch to see how similar it would look to the original:

By Eric Strebel:

"Totally got inspired by Michael's sketch! Gonna be this week's video as well. Thanks Michael! I went old school of course, colored paper, markers and pencil, like they would have done in the '40s. I made it electric modern and a Crew Cab (sort of) so you can take a buddy along to do your dirty work for you LOL! Sides slide down into the body and the ends both fold down. Glass moon roof too!"

Strebel also created a video of the process providing voice-over and details.

Thanks to all who participated. If anyone wants to add more, I'll happily update this entry.

Why are Olympians Being Given Stuffed Animals, Rather Than Medals, After Their Events?

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-02-18 21:41

If you've been watching the Olympics in a bar with the sound off, or catching snippets on your phone, you may have been puzzled by this sight: After each event's conclusion, the three winners line up in the snow, and are very ceremoniously handed…a small stuffed animal. No medals are produced.

So what's going on here? First off that stuffed animal is a white tiger named Soohorang, the Pyeongchang Olympics' mascot.

In Korean folklore, white tigers (which, historically, may have wandered into the area from Siberia) represent sacred guardians. Soohorang's name loosely translates as "protective tiger." And some graphic designer or illustrator has been contracted to work him into the branding.

Amusingly, the folks dressed as the mascots have trouble getting through certain doors.

??? ?? ?? ??? ??? pic.twitter.com/Yu42UdDVqS

— ?? (@xmfkdbap) February 9, 2018 " contenteditable="false">

In any case, at the Summer Olympics individual winners are usually medaled right after the event, whereas traditionally Winter Olympians are given flowers. This year flowers were foregone in favor of stuffed Soohorangs (which makes me cynically think that someone on the IOC has a relative who owns a stuffed animal factory).

The flowers/Soohorangs are just a placeholder; with the Winter Olympics, the medal ceremonies are held en masse and at day's end, indoors, where it's warmer.

Thus far I've only been posting photos of Team U.S.A., but I wanted to show some love to our one Canadian reader. Go Team Canada!

How to Create the Perfect Core77 Design Awards Entry

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-02-18 21:41

Receiving an Honor in the Core77 Design Awards takes a little more than just an exceptional design project- it requires turning that exceptional project into an entry that will grab the jury's attention. With Regular pricing coming to a close on March 8th, there is still plenty of time to submit your best work in a way that thoroughly impresses the jury and helps you stand out from your competition.

View the full content here

Design Job: Galison Mudpuppy Is Seeking a Senior Graphic Designer Who's Ready to Embrace Their Inner Child

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-02-18 21:41

Galison Mudpuppy is seeking an experienced Senior Designer to join our in-house creative team! Lead product and package design projects as assigned by Art Director, utilizing commissioned, licensed, and in-house developed artwork. Assist Art Director in trend research and conceptualization of seasonal product stories and new formats, as well as artwork commissions as needed.

View the full design job here

Today's Urban Design Observation: Three Different Types of Rolling Security Shutters, Three Different Results

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-02-18 21:41

I typically take my dogs out for their first walk well before most people wake up. So we pass a lot of shuttered storefronts. Although NYC's crime rates have dropped precipitously in the past several decades, rolling security shutters are a must for storefronts; when the Michael Kors store was on Prince Street it lacked them, and I passed the glass front door after it had been shattered by thieves at least three separate mornings.

Here are three common types of security shutters I see:

Type 1Type 2Type 3

They all yield different results.

Type 1 allows passersby to see into your store, so there's always a chance they'll spot something that will entice them to come back.

Type 2 allows only the very curious to see into your store, if they're willing to get up close and peer.

Type 3 permits no visibility and though it contains more raw material, is certainly the cheapest to produce; the other two designs require more manufacturing steps. Whether the extra material used here offsets the manufacturing cost savings, I don't know.

However, Type 3 is certainly the ugliest. Not on its own, but because it is suitable as a canvas for graffiti. The other two designs do not take graffiti well due to their reduced surface area and thus taggers avoid them.

Materials Forecast 2018

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-02-18 21:41

2018 marks a new year in materials. Last year saw significant high-tech advances as super-materials such as graphene take one step closer to becoming a commercial reality and also meaningful explorations of craft in a contemporary context – Luzie Deubel's Tannin Coat made from paper waterproofed using an ancient Japanese technique as an alternative to plastic, for example.

Material development will continue to drive design innovation, creating compelling narratives that enable products to stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Of course, sustainability lies at the heart of it all: the key question will not be Is it sustainable? but rather How is it sustainable?

In this article, the members of Chris Lefteri Design's team share their thoughts on which materials will have the biggest impact in the coming year.

Gaia Crippa: Rather than suggesting a specific material, I have a resource in mind. The most abundant resource on Earth is waste: unwanted, unusable entities or by-products. It is available everywhere, from landfills to ocean shores. In the last few years, designers and artists have begun to produce new raw materials from waste while companies have pioneered circular economy strategies by utilizing by-products from existing waste streams. For 2018 I see even more large material manufacturers adopting this approach for production on an industrial scale. The world is ready for it!

Shahar Livne - Lithoplast

Sanghu Lee: Transparency in materials may exist on a functional level e.g. for looking outside or in, but can also be used to create unexpected outcomes. I would describe these as being 'between existing layers' where new visual effects can be achieved, such as by adjusting the level of transparency, layering colours over one another or even distortion through a transparent 3D form. It also brings a sense of playfulness when applied to materials that are usually opaque: transparent aluminium possesses the qualities of both metal and glass yet could offer further visual possibilities than either on its own.

Raw Color – Hue Boxes

Daniel Liden: I hope that 2018 will be the year when design with plastics will really break out of the confines of injection moulding. There are so many wonderful plastic materials out there that cannot be injection-moulded that I look forward to seeing used in more products, such as warm and beautifully translucent cellulose acetate, as well as composites like heavy and cold Corian in the playGo entertainment home hub, or thin and lightweight carbon fibre composites in the Jaguar I-PACE.

Jaguar – I-PACE

Jaime Tai: Living organisms will be integrated into our lives in increasingly complex and thoughtful ways, improving well-being while offering more sustainable choices in our consumption of resources. Recently, researchers have found a way of printing living cyanobacteria and circuitry onto paper - the resulting material can function as a solar panel, bio-battery or environmental sensor in the form of wallpaper. Surfaces like these could transform our homes and workplaces – what about microbial layers instead of antimicrobial ones? I'm excited to see what new biotech developments will be revealed this year.

Cyanobacteria wallpaper – Imperial College, University of Cambridge & Central Saint Martins

Young Jin Ko: Consumer electronics are subject to various restrictions in material application while designs that are extremely slim and sleek are now more sought-after than ever. Materials in this industry need to be cost-effective, functional, human and environmentally friendly yet also have an emotionally endearing and premium visual appearance. Metal is a popular material that provides great performance in terms of protection, yet one of its greatest drawbacks is its weight. Microlattices on the other hand offer the opportunity to create products that are unibody in form from solid block metal yet exceptionally lightweight.

Microlattice - Boeing

Mike Bond: Last year we saw consumers boycott prominent brands such as Lucozade and Pringles due to media coverage on the difficulties of recycling their packaging. Although sustainability has been a recurring theme, I believe increased access to and influence of social media will provoke businesses to develop sustainable packaging alternatives in 2018. Ooho, the biodegradable and edible packaging solution created by London start-up Skipping Rocks Lab is a great example of innovation in this area. Made from plants and seaweed, these bubbles were designed as an alternative to single-use bottles – I'm expecting to see more solutions like this materialise in the months ahead.

Ooho! – Skipping Rocks Lab

Bangzheng Tan: Advancements in material technology mean that our environments are likely to be filled with smart artificial materials. At the same time, consumers are seeking a deeper connection with nature to rest, relax and recharge one's senses. Organoid Decorative Coatings, for example, contain natural raw materials which provide a multi-sensory haptic and olfactory experience.

Organoid Decorative Coatings

Looking for a Valentine's Day Gift?

Core 77 - Sun, 2018-02-18 21:41

The clichéd gifts for Valentine's Day are always flowers and chocolates, but things have been changing in this holiday business for a while now (Galentine's Day, for example).

This year, enter Racket—a grassroots organization aimed at de-shaming menstruation and providing hygiene products to women in need, have written, produced, and launched a pair of parody videos that you've got to check out. And they've got a design trick up their sleeves.

The "bouquets" are artfully constructed from tampons and pads—not botanicals.

Arguing that the clichéd gifts of flowers and chocolates may not cut it anymore, Racket wants you to forward one of these videos to the menstruators in your life. And they are so funny and entertaining that you may just want to do that.

And the trick? The "bouquets" are artfully constructed from tampons and pads—not botanicals. 

The first video features Phillipa Soo (from Hamilton!) and Celia Keenan-Bolger receiving customized bouquets specific to their preferences. The second features Margo Seibert (Rocky!) and Drew Gehling as he desperately tries to #knowtheflow of his girlfriend and gift her something special.

Check them out, please forward the links to the menstruators in your life, and learn about the design backstory here

Olympics’ USA Luge Team Builds a Better Sled with Additive Manufacturing

Design News - Fri, 2018-02-16 05:00

When the United States luge team had exceptionally unique needs, it turned to additive manufacturing and 3D printing.

Luge is the only sliding sport timed to one thousandth of a second. Milliseconds can make a difference between medaling and merely finishing in a sport that can reach speeds of 90 mph. The US luge team was seeking to build a better, faster sled, recalls David Dahl, Applications Engineer for Stratasys, and they wanted to do it in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics currently underway in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

 “The luge team was walking past the booth and noticed that we had examples of 3D-printed composite mold tooling on display,” Dahl told Design News. “We began discussing the limitations with their current process and the need for customized sleds that could be manufactured very quickly. We decided the next step was to have their technical team visit our facility in Minneapolis to have a brainstorming session with our team of expert engineers to discuss what could be 3D printed.”

Interestingly, the US luge team makes their sleds in-house with layers of carbon fiber fabric and resin to make the composite sled. Current sled production is accomplished by traditional mold tooling, which is done by machining metal or shaping foam blocks to produce the carbon fiber composite parts for the sled. The most difficult component to make with traditional tooling methods is the racing team’s “doubles’ tower,” a composite structure located at the front of the sled that’s used to accurately position riders’ legs during a race. Proper athlete “fit” is critical for performance, but the component is extremely cumbersome to fabricate using traditional methods due to complex, trapped-tool geometry.

Stratasys suggested to the team that the company’s fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology could be used to 3D print the molds for sled creation. The speed of additive manufacturing would allow the team to quickly iterate on designs, customize the sled to the shape of the athlete, and test the designs on the track. In addition to enabling faster design and prototyping, the FDM technology could also be used to solve the problems of complex geometries and cavities that were plaguing the creation of many of the sled’s components, including the doubles’ tower.

“The mold tooling for the sled was printed with ASA thermoplastic,” Dahl told Design News. “The mold used to make the doubles’ tower was printed with ST-130, which is a Stratasys proprietary material that was developed specifically for sacrificial tooling such as this -- it can be dissolved (literally washed away) when placed in a water-detergent bath solution.”


The “doubles’ tower,” a composite structure that sits at the front of the doubles luge sled, was created using tools 3D printed by Stratasys’ fused deposition modeling technology.


In a prototype run with the Stratasys Fortus 900mc 3D printer, team designers were able to 3D print the mandrel, layup and cure the composite structure, and wash-out the tooling material – all in less than a week. With this success, the team used FDM technology to 3D print the entire sled body layup tool. The result was a more cost-effective method of building and testing customized racing sleds that could be tailored to each athlete’s body. Because the sled body layup tool created with FDM technology has a removable middle section, the new process allows for sleds to be tailored to each athlete, which in turn provides better comfort and increased aerodynamic efficiencies.

“Competitive luge racing is an extremely demanding sport where fractions of a second are the difference between winning and losing,” said USA Luge Technical Programs Manager Jon Owen. “Our riders depend on comfortable, aerodynamic sled designs to win races. In teaming with Stratasys, we’ve become much more competitive on the world stage – continuously adjusting designs and running them on the track much faster than traditional processes. Additionally, we’ve balanced both comfort and performance by tailoring the sled to each rider’s body, while minimizing fabrication cost and time.”

For the 2018 Winter Olympics, the doubles luge team of Andrew Sherk and Justin Krewson have been using a sled that was created using Stratasys’ FDM technology. Dahl says that composite tooling is an obvious first step, but that additive manufacturing has much more to offer the sport (as well as other sports). The luge team’s success with additive manufacturing for elite sports equipment will help spread the message that 3D printing is safe for critical equipment. (In other words, if you can trust it on an ice sled that carries humans at 90 mph, it’s safe for the power button on your new coffee pot design.) The next logical step is 3D printing the sleds themselves, which Stratasys and the US luge team say is a goal for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

“We are already developing new ways to use 3D printing on and off the sled for future races,” Dahl told Design News. “Since making each mold for the sled is time- and cost-prohibitive and making changes can be even more difficult, most sleds have a generic shape. This isn’t ideal for a sport in which speed and control are the goals, since most human bodies do not have a generic shape, and one size doesn’t fit all.”


The Winter Olympic luge events took place from February 10th to 15, 2018. First-time Olympians Justin Krewson and Andrew Sherk placed eighth for the US in doubles luge with a combined time of 1:32:652, .955 seconds behind the gold medalists, Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt. Chris Mazdzer of team USA won a silver medal in men's singles luge.


Material Developed That ‘Feels Pain’ for U.S. Army Research Lab

Design News - Fri, 2018-02-16 04:47

The human body is a remarkable machine. When it’s damaged, it sends pain signals (“ouch!”) to the brain as a kind of damage report. In response, we engage in “maintenance” by attending to the injury before it worsens. Imagine being able to transfer that kind of sentience to machines to boost the power of preventive maintenance.

Preventive maintenance is an important step for ensuring continued productivity and safety of most machines. Nowhere is this idea more important than in aerospace, where components such as helicopter rotors are routinely replaced before they show sign of wear and tear. It’s a way to prevent expensive and life-threatening breakdowns, but it wastes a lot of money. Often, the components being replaced are perfectly operational and have life left in them, but their unique composition and the job they’re expected to do make it impossible to tell whether the part is still good. Most helicopter operators would be unwilling to take the risk and simply swap out the part.

Aircraft components and the composites they’re built from need to be as light as possible (while still able to carry out their role). These components often carry high loads, and their lightweight nature mean that even small flaws can lead to failure. Testing for flaws is essential, but needs to be carried out in a non-destructive way, which limits the testing options. As a result, the military actively seeks new ways to carry out non-destructive testing (NDT). One of the most promising new methods uses smart materials.

Clemson University associate professor Oliver J. Myers and graduate assistant Brandon Williams have developed one in a three-ply “skin” that can sense damage and report it to operators in real time before the damage causes a problem. (Conversely, it can also report when it’s still in operational condition and doesn’t need to be replaced.) The research could lead to composites that not only “feel pain” but can show operators where it “hurts” in the same way a human’s nerves tell the brain where damage to the body has occurred. Used in composite materials on aircraft, the potential for the material is extraordinary.

The U.S. Army Research Lab in Maryland is interested in the skin. Indeed, it has provided Myers and Williams with a nearly $1 million grant to apply the material to military aircraft components. The research could help the Army save money on rotorcraft maintenance, said Asha Hall, the lead co-principal investigator and Prognostics and Diagnostics acting team lead in the Mechanics Division of the Vehicle Technology Directorate at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.

“We’re trying to extend that maintenance-free operating period,” she said. “The big, big impact is to reduce sustainment costs for the Army.”


A magnetorestrictive sample in the grips of a mechanical testing machine. The device’s magnetic pickup/driving coil sensor records the changes in the magnetic flux of the sample while a tensile load is applied. Photo credit: David McNally, Army Research Laboratory/Public Affairs Office


The skin is a thin layer of magnetostrictive film sandwiched between two sheets of carbon fiber reinforced polymer, or CFRPs. (Magnetorestrictive materials, in this case Terfenol-D, an alloy comprised of terbium, dysprosium and iron, are those that change their dimensions and shape when they undergo magnetization.) Essentially, the material “feels” physical stress by sensing changes in the magnetic field, and relays this information to operators, who can then evaluate the structural integrity of the composite materials.

“The embedded magnetostrictive material is sensing the problems or damage in the composite structure, whether it is matrix cracking, fiber breakage, or delamination,” Professor Myers told Design News. “This would be useful for military applications as various composite systems are being utilized for only a specified period of time and disposed without performance testing.”

The smart structures would be manufactured using the layered composite as one unit rather than as a retrofitted part. The composite material is lightweight and requires no power. As a bonus, it’s also able to operate in harsh environments.

Monitoring the health of structures with real-time sensors isn’t new to the military, but current systems require the sensors to be retrofitted after manufacturing, which presents practical limitations. While the military is the first in line for the smart skin, there could ultimately be applications for consumer vehicles, as well. It’s a way to move away from the current process of “destructive evaluation” to attain a state of non-destructive real-time structural health monitoring of aircraft. Think of it like a human patient wearing a heart and brain monitor.

The research team developing the skin is currently conducting coupon (smaller sample) mechanical loading (tension, compression, bending, twisting) testing on the structures they’ve built.  They’re then able to read the magnetic signature from the magnetostrictive material that indicates an area of concern. In the future, similar materials may be able to not only sense damage but take some steps to heal itself in a similar manner to an organic body.

“The magnetostrictive material has actuation (shape changing) and energy harvesting capabilities when excited by a magnetic field or high vibration environment,” Professor Myers told Design News. “However, much research and variational approaches would be required for that transition.”

Continued research into the viability of the technology would be necessary to bring the costs to more affordable levels (the magnetorestrictive material currently costs about $20 per gram). Going forward, the research team plans to conduct lifetime fatigue analyses of the structures, continue to develop real-time structural health monitoring capabilities and implement the skin on larger scale systems. 

A Look at the Amazing Expandable "Wax Trucks" of National Ski Teams

Core 77 - Thu, 2018-02-15 20:26

Countries with competitive ski teams have something like Formula One pit crews for their skiers. Teams of technicians apply different types of waxes, powders and chemicals to the bottom of skis to compensate for ever-changing snow conditions, all seeking the perfect balance between grip and glide. The Norwegian team even hauls a 2,000-pound grinder around so they can etch different patterns into the undersides of the skis.

At Pyeongchang each country's wax teams are operating out of on-site cabins provided for them. But when competitions are within driving distance of the home country, each country's ski team fields their own wax truck. Sweden first came up with the idea in 2008 with this beast:

Inside is a workshop kitted out with an air ventilation system:

The sides of the truck expand to create a roomy and well-lit workshop:

When rival Team Norway saw what Sweden had done, they developed their own truck to one-up them. It expands sideways, backwards and upwards, creating a second level. The workshop is downstairs, and upstairs is a freaking observation deck and a lounge for the athletes:

Photo by Noah Hoffman Photo by Noah Hoffman Photo by Noah Hoffman Photo by Noah Hoffman

Here's a tour of the downstairs. Sadly they don't show us the lounge:

In 2013 Team Canada wanted in on the action, so they purchased Sweden's original truck and gave it a new paint job:

Here's a tour inside the now-Canadian truck:

Sweden upgraded to a newer model that I couldn't find exterior shots of, but here's a tour of the interior of their wax truck 2.0:

The U.S. Ski Team finally got a wax truck last year. And for once, we Americans actually went small.

Image by Matt Whitcomb

"The Team US one went to cost around 600,000 U.S. dollars," writes the Daily Skier website (based in Germany, to explain the odd English), "and, while quantum leap for the US team, it is a relatively modest affair compared to the others in use. Some models are reputed to be much, much more expensive."

I think we can all agree that Norway wins this one.

Zach Kaplan Says the Future of American Manufacturing Will Thrive at a Micro Scale  

Core 77 - Thu, 2018-02-15 20:26
For this year's Core77 Design Awards, we're conducting in-depth interviews with each of our jury captains to get in a glimpse into their creative minds and to hear more about what they'll be looking for in this year's awards submissions.

Our 2018 Open Design Jury Captain Zach Kaplan, founder of Inventables, a company manufacturing economically (and geographically) accessible 3D carving technology. With his work, Kaplan hopes to inform future generations on how to design and make the objects that surround them while also empowering designers to find independence through the production of their own designs. We spoke with Kaplan about how the commercialization of fabrication tools will change how we produce in the future as well as what he hopes to see in this year's Open Design awards entries. 

Can you tell me a little bit more about your company Inventables and its mission?

Sure! The purpose of our company is to bring out the maker in all of us, and for our mission, we are trying to build accessible tools and community for the maker journey. We think about the purpose and the mission a little bit differently, like the purpose is sort of like why we come to work every day and the mission is what we're trying to accomplish.

And you make tools, like the X-Carve, as well as software—tell me a little more about both of those.

We're trying to build a new part of the manufacturing economy. Some people talk about it as distributive manufacturing or independent manufacturing—"indie manufacturing"—but the theme is that today consumers are being presented with more choice than ever before. 

With 20th-century manufacturing it was all about getting scale—that's how you drove out cost. Think of the assembly line as the key driver of that or even injection molding. You pay for the tooling and then we can make this accessible by making a million units. What we're doing is like 21st-century manufacturing. It's less about scale and more about customization. There's no additional cost for complexity with our X-carve or Carvey tools, so we're able to give our customers basically a tool where they can then make custom products for their customers extremely cost efficiently.

The Inventables Carvey Desktop 3D Carver tool

Because of that, we see this whole new section of the manufacturing economy coming up that's all about customization, really special niche goods and they're not distributing them or selling them through big-box retailers. They're selling them online through places like Etsy, Kickstarter and Shopify, and even sometimes Instagram. 

They're not buying TV ads like big companies used to do. They're using social media and they're not selling in a big store, they're selling online. Our tools are a way that they can actually design, make and produce their products. So from a Core77 perspective, I find this really exciting because it's putting designers in a position where they can kind of control the whole experience.

"We're not going to go back to lighting up General Motors-size factories in America that's more cost-effective than in China. It's just not going to happen."Another part of Inventables that I am aware of is that you provide machines to libraries and institutions, and so part of your mission is also making sure technology is accessible to the masses, right?

Definitely, yes.

Can you explain how you bring your products to different communities and why that's important to you personally?

Yeah. Because we're trying to build this new section of the manufacturing economy, indie manufacturers, we need to start educating people about what this new type of manufacturing is, and I personally believe this is our country's chance to be relevant in the next century from a manufacturing perspective.

We're not going to go back to lighting up General Motors-size factories in America that's more cost-effective than in China. It's just not going to happen. But we do have an opportunity to make distributive micro-manufacturing facilities. So I think if we're really going to compete nationally or globally we need to start teaching students and kids and people in the community in accessible ways. It used to be you got the job and then they did on the job training. Well, if you're running a one-person company there is no on the job training.

Inventables' tools are used by students and professionals alike source: Las Vegas Review Journal

We need to start getting kids, designers, people in the community excited in places that they are—so schools, libraries, maker spaces and community centers. We're partnering with them and we've made [our hardware compatible CAD program] Easel so it is the most accessible software to get started with because it's free and you don't have to download anything. You can just do it in the browser. Then if you go to Inventables.com/50states we show where all the publicly accessible machines are in schools, libraries and maker spaces. You can zoom into wherever you live and find the one that's closest to you.

That's awesome. I want to open the conversation up more generally to open design because you're going to be the Open Design Jury Captain. I'm curious, what do you think has been the most significant change or development in open design in DIY in the past few years?

I think it's just how accessible it's become. I remember Nike talking about this 10 years ago. All of the ways that you could do open design back then were very modular or cookie cutter, where today, technology has gotten to the point where the consumer or the user of the product really can have a lot of control over reshaping their experience. It's partially because our phones are, just the computer technology is so cheap. LEDs are so cheap and accessible. It's just become easier.

Right, I agree. It's definitely become more available to the masses in a way that it hasn't before.

And in ways that as designers we weren't thinking about 10 years ago. Back then I feel like everybody was trying to design these mass customization experiences and now there are just more tools available that make it possible for designers to imagine. So because of the availability of this stuff, it's just made it more interesting.

What do you think is the greatest misunderstanding about open design and DIY?

That it's for kids. People are almost a little dismissive but I believe the hand-made, small-scale business market is not something to take lightly.

When they say "DIY" they're thinking of yarn and craft projects, but like our customers, we have a huge number of them that are running quarter million dollar businesses off the machine. I know when Etsy started it was one of more crafty, yarn-oriented projects, but it's evolved and I think people's impression has not evolved as quickly as the market has.

"Design ideas used to get watered down and it was almost comical because you had to design to the lowest common denominator where these open design products are now making it so you don't. You can really design for the individual and I think that's bringing out a whole richness."So where do you see something like open design having the biggest impact in the future?

From our perspective, I think it's all of these tools, these digital manufacturing tools that are enabling people like individuals or teams of one or two people to do design and manufacturing in a way that was only done by Fortune 500 companies, big companies before. These people are coming to market, designers are coming to market with products that are super interesting and compelling. As someone who worked with Fortune 500 companies before, a lot of the ideas and designs that people are bringing to market now [in a corporate environment] would get cut in those brainstorms and meetings because they weren't for the masses.

All the ideas used to get watered down and it was almost comical because you had to sort of design to the lowest common denominator where these open design products are now making it so you don't. You can really design for the individual and I think that's bringing out a whole richness. It's like the Brooklyn of manufacturing.

How do you think customization will come into play in terms of manufacturing in the future?

I think because the customization is inexpensive, you're just going to see a lot more of it. We used to only see customization as high end. Now you're going to see it at every price point.

I'm literally sitting in our phone booth room next to this really beautiful unique lamp that's a one of a kind, and 10 or 20 years ago that would have essentially been unaffordable for a startup to have this one of a kind lamp. Now it's not unrealistic because the tools are inexpensive and accessible.

It's true. It's definitely becoming much more possible to just envision a product in your head and realize it fairly quickly.

Yeah. People don't want to have the same stuff as everybody else, you know? You know when you go into an apartment and it's all IKEA, and you're like, "oh yeah, I've seen that"?

Oh definitely.

What we're seeing now more is like people are mixing IKEA stuff or West Elm stuff with custom stuff, which is kind of what happens with a high-end home where everything isn't custom, but they sort of mix in a bunch of custom things with non-custom things so it makes it feel special and unique. I think that's where you're going to see some really compelling stuff happen.

Absolutely. So, final question bringing it somewhat back to the awards, what are the most important design considerations you look for when evaluating either your own or someone else's project when it comes to open design or DIY?

I would say it's sort of three things I think about. One would be enchantment, another would be accessibility and the last would be functionality. By enchantment, I think about: is it enchanting? Is it drawing me in? That sort of hard to put your finger on, emotional thing where you see it and you know it. It's just "wow"….That's enchantment.

Accessibility means, is it an order of magnitude more accessible than its predecessor? Most of the things in this category probably exist in some form, but you're bringing this new version. Is it easier to use? Is it drawing more people in? Is it changing the game on what, who can participate? That's what I think about accessibility. 

Finally, there's functionality: does it do what it says it's going to do, but more importantly, does it do it really well?

The Core77 Design Awards Open Design Jury

2018 Consumer Products Jury Captain Zach Kaplan will be joined by these designers for the awards selection process:

Jason Busschaert, Director of Industrial Design, Stanley Black & DeckerCarl Bass, former CEO of AutodeskPorter Whitmire, Senior Director of Product Development & Innovation Management, Techtronic IndustriesThinking of submitting to the Open Design category in the 2018 Core77 Design Awards? Submit today—Regular Deadline ends March 8th!

Hardcore Industrial Design: How Burton Developed Their Step On Boot-to-Binding System

Core 77 - Thu, 2018-02-15 20:26

Yesterday, Olympic snowboarding fans again witnessed an awesome spectacle: Two frontrunners going at it, the U.S.A.'s veteran rider Shaun White versus Japan's incredible Ayumu Hirano. Hirano appears to have been born strapped into a snowboard; Burton has been sponsoring him since he was in the 4th grade. Now just 19 years old, he's battling for gold with the more experienced 31-year-old White.

Now for some design talk. Both White and Hirano are sponsored by Burton, so no matter which of them took gold, Burton would be the true winner. 

So here we're going to highlight a design project Burton has spent years developing, their Step On binding system.

The dominant method of attaching boots to bindings is via straps. From a UX perspective, straps work well during riding but are a bit of a hassle to get on and off. It would be far easier to simply step onto the board and have the boots magically connect. That's why in the '90s numerous manufacturers, including Burton, attempted to design "step-in" boot-to-binding systems, but none of them could get it right; the riding performance was compromised with every design. It seemed impossible to design a step-in system that performed as well as straps, and thus the latter prevailed.

Three years ago, however, Burton decided to take another crack at it. "A strapless boot-to-binding system that doesn't compromise comfort or performance sounded like a tall order," the company writes, "but we pulled together our best developers and set them to work."

This is the classic industrial design process here. Ideation, experimentation, improvisation, testing, testing, testing. Using the hell out of an SLS machine for rapid prototyping. Getting user feedback, solving engineering problems, and having that willingness to fail and learn, fail and learn over and over again:

I love seeing the things they have to build that end users never think about, like the improvised GoPro rig for real-world observation, and the snowblowing rig to clog the binding with snow.

Now back to the Olympics! Japan's Ayumu Hirano, who's known for his amplitude (i.e. he gets crazy air) is no joke: He won silver at age 14 at the 2013 X Games, making him the youngest X Games medalist in history. At 2014 he again took silver while Shaun White, a two-time gold medalist, did not make the podium at all. Here's Hirano's run yesterday:

Hirano's 95.25 beat White's earlier 94.25--but White had one run left. Here's White's final run:

Click here to watch the original HD video of this epic run, which NBC has made unembeddable, to better understand what's happening. Watch it!!!