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A New Design Concept Store From Artist-Led Fort Makers

Core 77 - 2 hours 41 min ago

To celebrate its tenth anniversary, artist-run design studio Fort Makers opens its first store and exhibition space in Manhattan today. The shop at 38 Orchard Street will feature a wide range of objets d'art, furniture, home goods, jewelry, and exclusive collaborations that exemplify the Fort Makers aesthetic: "colorful and bold, and often ingeniously tactile, inspired by a nostalgia for American crafts."

"We created Fort Makers under the Bauhaus model—a core group of artists focusing on crafts and useable art," said founder and creative director Nana Spears. "After ten successful years of studio practice, we're excited to open a store downtown, and join the creative community around the Lower East Side."

Artist Noah Spencer's process he calls "beaver gnawing" is particularly apt in this riff on the classic Adirondack Chair. He chisels, saws and scrapes away at the wood to create furniture "that looks like it could be found in a forest or in a prehistoric bedroom."

The various elements in Spencer's shelving unit can be recomposed.

The 2,000 square-foot space will transform every couple of months with new installations curated by Spears. The inaugural exhibition is called The Blue Room and features a debut collection comprised of seating, lighting, glassware, ceramics, and painterly textiles inspired by Yves Klein's International Yves Blue. There's Naomi S. Clark's hand-painted sofas and chairs, ceramic vases by Shino Takeda, and playful ceramic cars made by Keith Simpson. The standouts for us are the furniture pieces by Noah James Spencer: an interchangeable stack shelving unit, a glass coffee table with geometric oak legs, and a sculptural take on the Adirondack Chair.

Design Job: Stop Phoning It in at Your Current Job—Be a Designer at ROOM in New York, NY

Core 77 - 2 hours 41 min ago

We’re here to make room for people in the modern workplace. We create thoughtful designs that inspire new ideas, fresh perspectives, and a better way to work. Our first product is a soundproof phone booth for the open office. We deliver directly from factory to business and keep prices low so that our clients can invest in bigger ideas down the road. We rethink and refine every step of the customer experience to offer thoughtful, modular solutions that grow with the business, leading the way to better Mondays and a brighter future. As we begin to expand our product offering, we are looking for a rockstar product designer who lives and breathes user-centric design, is passionate about sustainability, and has the skill to ensure our products remain the most attractive ones on the market. The ideal candidate is a Product Designer with experience driving consumer and furniture products from concept through production on time while championing the voice of the customer.

View the full design job here

The Weekly Design Roast, #16

Core 77 - 2 hours 41 min ago


"Yes, it is a little difficult to install. But trying to get the bike in and out will make that seem easy in comparison."


"I wanted to design a bottle opener that could possibly kill you if you tripped and fell while carrying it."

This is one of those things that a policeman sees in your apartment and it instantly gets you added to a SUSPECTS list. "I'm telling you, Chief, I got a feeling about this guy...."

I am impressed. By how many different people had to be on cocaine in order for this to go into production.

"It's part of my 'Mid-level Eastern European Crime Boss' collection."


"I wanted to create arbitrarily asymmetrical flatware featuring a difficult-to-clean crevice. Also, removing material from the knife blade makes the act of spreading butter delightfully challenging."

"Traditional tape dispensers are too easy to handle. I wanted mine to be smaller and fiddly, with no obvious way to grasp it while dispensing. I also curved the cutting blade, because I think most people hate it when tape has straight edges."

"New trend we're starting: 'High Plants.'"

"I wanted to combine my passion for Taoism with my love of inefficient storage space."

"Our new glass rectangle now comes with three glass circles!"

Reader Submitted: Design to Empower the Female Farmers of India

Core 77 - 2 hours 41 min ago

Designing products for multinational corporations and their alluring target markets, and designing products for low-income, rural consumers are two very different worlds. Jordan Westerberg, industrial designer with social venture development firm Factor[e], has worked in both. Through a recent project to re-imagine a solar conduction dryer for Indian farmers to better preserve and profit from their produce, Westerberg cautions against being drawn to the simplistic, feel-good product solutions – especially when designing for social impact.

View the full project here

Currently Crowdfunding: A Watch Inspired by the Moon, a Game to Shift Our Ideas About Failure, and More

Core 77 - 2 hours 41 min ago

Brought to you by MAKO Design + Invent, North America's leading design firm for taking your product idea from a sketch on a napkin to store shelves. Download Mako's Invention Guide for free here.

Navigating the world of crowdfunding can be overwhelming, to put it lightly. Which projects are worth backing? Where's the filter to weed out the hundreds of useless smart devices? To make the process less frustrating, we scour the various online crowdfunding platforms to put together a weekly roundup of our favorite campaigns for your viewing (and spending!) pleasure. Go ahead, free your disposable income:

Featuring a 3D topographic map of the Apollo 11 landing site as its face, the SVPER11 watch was designed to remind you that the impossible can be achieved every time you glance at it. But it's the precise machining and attention to detail that really gets us excited about this timepiece.

If you prefer a desk clock, this one also has the potential of becoming your next favorite distraction. The Ferrofluid Clock has magnetic "liquid arms" made from a prototype rocket fuel, so you can play around with them using a magnet, then watch the mesmerizing liquid fall back into time-telling position.

It's not surprising that Shhtickers were developed by two, work-from-home parents. Fed up by the piercing sounds of their kids' electronic toys, they created these transparent, food-safe adhesive disks that make playtime a little more peaceful. Once applied over a toy's audio port, they measurably decrease the volume of the sound—and the parents' stress levels.

For slightly older kids (6 and up), The Failure Toy caught our eye for its ability to spark a challenging yet vital dialogue about the concept of failure—something even adults can benefit from. Designed around two player roles—builders and supporters—this game asks teams to work together as they strive to build balanced structures. It's pretty straightforward at first but has some twists along the way that are intended to progressively shift our relationship with failure in a more productive direction.

Made through a combination of CNC milling and hand finishing, this wavy knife rack is simple yet modern enough to look good in any kitchen.

Do you need help designing, developing, patenting, manufacturing, and/or selling YOUR product idea? MAKO Design + Invent is a one-stop-shop specifically for inventors / startups / small businesses. Click HERE for a free confidential product consultation.



What's Up with Caning in Furniture Design, and Why is it All Over My Social Media Feed?

Core 77 - 2 hours 41 min ago

In terms of interiors, we are living out the halcyon days of caning and wicker. The rattan-based weaves are in the limelight and the hotspot: blogs, Instagrams, and Pinterests are flooded with the straw-like seat covers, headboards, ottomans, decor and objet galore. Despite its clear maneuvering into the mercurial throes of "trend," perhaps this surge in visibility for the classic furniture material is creditable to two main factors:

- The age of the image

- The accessibility of its interiors products through (more) mass market retail designs from the likes of CB2, Industry West, and even Ikea

Of course, explaining the relationship between these factors and "trendiness" could leave us toggling for days between chicken and egg. Regardless of the origin of its mass resurgence in popularity, what's important to acknowledge is the "re" aspect of the -surgence: caning as a technique and an aesthetic preference has been around a lot longer than our glorified-boho-chic interiors social feeds may let on.

Image courtesy @mrcigar, featuring Marcel Breuer's Cesca chairs (1928)

Image courtesy Loko Loko, a Spanish design team and inspiration blog

Image courtesy @viktoria.dahlberg, featuring pieces from Urban Outfitters' home collection

Materiality

The actual material used in caning comes from rattan, a slender-stemmed, vine-like palm that's native to Southeast Asia (namely Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia, as Wikipedia graciously reveals). To retrieve the weavable material that we recognize today in furniture caning, the vines are stripped of their bark. It's this malleable bark that then becomes material for seatbacks, headboards, and the like.

Depiction of a cane chair weaver, illustrated by Paul Sandby (1759) [source]

Image courtesy The Chair Repair, a custom chair restoration company based in Seattle. This design is a "hand-caned Scandinavian Captain's chair from the late 18th/early 19th century," with a ruptured seat in need of urgent TLC! [source]

Design History

The actual design process was pioneered before the turn of the first century. As interior design website Apartment Therapy has reported, Tutankhamun was buried c.1323 BC beside a caned furniture artifact; and hundreds of years later, a Peruvian princess was disinterred in a caned coffin, dated c. 750 AD. Additional decorative artifacts, tools, and more have been cataloged from thousands of years ago, helping illustrate the ways that people related to their land, its natural materials, their vocations and their home spaces. Likely evolved from basketry techniques developed across Africa and Asia, it wasn't until about a thousand years passed that caning reached Europe, and then finally the Americas. This was, of course, due to the complicated grasp of colonialism on places, people, practices, and products.

A caned look decorates the exterior seatback of this lush swivel chair, which Marie Antoinette would sit in on the grounds of Versailles for her beauty team to work their magic on her hair and makeup (c 1787). Image courtesy Getty.edu.

Excuse the drastic elision of time here, but moving into the 16th through 18th centuries, the Dutch and British were firmly establishing their trade routes and colonial control around and across Africa and Southeast Asia (complete with childlike pushes-and-pulls for colonial and maritime ownership, in part creditable to the respective, volley-like spoils of the Anglo-Dutch Wars). This is when caning's process, material, and aesthetic began trickling into the design work of Europeans and their schools – and it continued to infiltrate the looks attributed to some of their other colonized countries. As researcher and writer Sneha Mehta and collaborator Mallika Chandra note in their book Play Fare on Indian colonialism through food and food spaces – to this day, private social and sports clubs "seem to have frozen in time in 1947 [when the British left India]: the cane furniture, the wood panelling, the archaic rules of a civilised people and the scent of elitism."

Photograph by Mallika Chandra of a caned chair at Bombay Gymkhana, a private club in Mumbai, India. Featured in Play Fare (2019).

Contemporary Design

Insanely popularized by the Thonet Bistro chair in the mid-1900s, this casual caned design migrated its way into commercial and hospitality centers across Europe and America. Not too long after, Bauhaus and other midcentury design entities and players concretized caning into the modern aesthetic, yielding master makers like Marcel Breuer and his Cesca cane chair, or Hans Wegner and his fleet of woven, woodworked chair designs.

The No. 14 Chair, or the Bistro Chair, was designed by Michael Thonet and introduced to market in 1859.

Hans Wegner Armchair, 1949. Image courtesy MoMA. As the Dutch master designer once stated: "A chair is only finished when someone sits in it."

It's from these modern articles of furniture caning that today's saturated aesthetic has primarily derived. Whether it's a fleeting, interior design flight of fancy, whether it's because of a market run by knock-offs, or whether it's simply due to the inherent, wildly reiterative nature of our current image-driven age, the caning trend is present. And it's harmless. And, you know what, it's pretty, so let's enjoy it while we appreciate its history and predecessors alongside it.

Furniture retailer Industry West recently presented its new Cane Collection, which it distinguishes as a "contemporary reinvention of a well loved midcentury design." [source]

PowerUp Paper Airplanes Are Fun First, STEM Second

Core 77 - 2 hours 41 min ago

Shai Goitein has always loved airplanes. As a little boy he built hobby models; as a teenager he took up paragliding; and when he joined the Israeli military, he started a 15-year career as a pilot.

He missed that aeronautic rush when he went back to civilian life and became Kodak's lead designer, overseeing industrial design at six different R&D centers around the world. He started teaching STEM classes around aeronautics, and soon launched a runaway-success Kickstarter campaign that brought those models to kids and classrooms worldwide.

Now, he's getting ready to produce his fourth model, a smartphone-controlled rig that can make just about anything—a sloppily folded paper plane, a piece of lettuce—capable of autopiloting, tricks, and onboard analytics.

After going corporate, Goitein rerouted back to aeronautics

"My day job was fun, but at a certain point I got bored of it and started looking for something more meaningful," he says. "My wife, a social worker, convinced me to volunteer, and I created this STEM class. This was way back in 2006. I worked with underprivileged kids about 15 years old and taught them rocketry and aerodynamics."

He enjoyed the teaching, and he learned quite a bit himself: "I saw that there was a lot going on in this area of miniaturization and flight control." He started developing planes for the class, and they were so fun he wanted to share them more widely as a weekend product.

Goitein developed a product called PowerUp 3.0; it's an electrical add-on that turns folded paper airplanes into smart flying machines, offering a lesson on the interplay between yaw, thrust, and speed.

Goitein reviewing telemetry in the PowerUp app.

Scaling the idea up, up, and away

In 2013 Goitein launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring his idea to a wider audience. It drew in more than 21,000 backers, allowing him to quit his job and build his own family-owned business.

That business is taking off. Hundreds of teachers are now teaching aerodynamics with PowerUp planes and sharing their lessons on Workbench, alongside lesson plans for other esteemed STEM products like Sphero and Makey Makey. "Everybody's doing coding—we're a hands-on, really experimental platform," Goitein says. Still, he observes what works for those other products and what resonates with teachers, tweaking his offerings to emphasize features like the telemetry stats dashboard for quantified feedback: "Teachers love data."

All the while, his team purposefully plays down the educational element. "We market it as a fun toy," Goitein says. "Our mission is all about making things that are fun and inspiring. I think once you get kids inspired—adults as well—it empowers them."

The latest launch taking off

The latest model, the PowerUp 4.0, combines many of the elements that have been popular in previous iterations. Autopilot mode, tricks at the push of a button, a twin motor architecture, gyro and accelerometer sensors, and night flight mode with LED lighting make for dependably thrilling flights.

"We took the lessons, the pain points, and we learned the key areas that customers are really looking for. They're flying in windy conditions, they don't know how to fly, they don't know how to launch, they want a sturdier platform because they're making airplanes from more than paper—paper, foam, there are many different ideas."

The PowerUp 4.0's sensors smooth out flights in windy conditions, give you data to inform how you make and fly your planes, and create enough stability to get experimental materials off the ground—in their Kickstarter video, for instance, the team features an airplane made from a lettuce leaf.

As always, Goitein's top priority is making sure that the PowerUp 4.0 is infectiously fun to play with; all the high-tech features achieve that aim while also teaching increasingly complicated STEM lessons. "We're not going to solve the world's problems with paper planes," he says, "but maybe the next engineer for Mars exploration will be a kid who first made a paper plane with his grandfather as a weekend project. We're adding a whole new set of tools that turn it into something much more exciting, interesting, and educational."

PowerUp 4.0 is live on Kickstarter through November 1, 2019.


Reader Submitted: R.A.S.P. Remote Access Surgical Pod

Core 77 - 2 hours 41 min ago

Basic surgical care is a luxury afforded by fewer than you would think. My project centers around the idea of giving those less fortunate a chance at life. This lack of surgical care often results in chronic disabilities that make productive employment impossible to almost certain death in other cases. In short, I believe the answer to this global medical epidemic lies within the realm of remotely accessible surgical technology.

FrontLabeledPatient loadingDa Vinci SPContextContext 2Context CoveredView the full project here

Design Job: Drill down to a new career as an Industrial Designer for Epiroc Rock Drills, in Örebro, Sweden

Core 77 - 2 hours 41 min ago

As a member of the creative, motivated and talented team you will be a vital part of the process to develop new products which are used in the global mining industry. We need our designers to be versatile and passionate and to take on new problems as we continue to push technology forward. We are looking for one multi-disciplinary individual who can work with new development and design, support continuous improvements activities within the Industrial Design team and collaborate with the Epiroc R&D development teams. One of your missions is to provide cutting edge product design with ergonomic focus and always striving to make our products better for our customers.

View the full design job here

A Look at the Upcoming Biomaterials On Show at London Design Fair

Core 77 - 2 hours 41 min ago

I recently learned something pretty disturbing, told to me in confidence, and I'm trying to figure out how to describe it to you without getting anyone in trouble. So please forgive my vague language.

I know someone within or connected to a major corporation, a household brand name, that produces a popular product that contains a lot of an environmentally-unfriendly material. It is popularly believed that this material can be readily recycled. But when the company looked into the actual rates, they discovered far more of it is being disposed of in a damaging way and even worse, that they are producing more and more of it each year. In other words, they are making the problem far worse.

That part of it is not surprising. What I found distressing is that the company has concluded that the problem is intractable, and that no alternative material is viable; so, to avoid consumer backlash, they've chosen to purposefully distract us with publicity campaigns touting some positive (but statistically-insignificant) recycling initiative they've achieved. This achievement was selected for publicity because it contains some specific positive imagery that polls well with consumers. The campaign is not in itself a lie, but it's like saying "Look at these two delicious berries!" on a plate of food that you're eating that consists primarily of poison.

And I get it. The number one reason corporations exist is to generate profits, not save the planet. That recent mass pledge of CEOs on corporate responsibility aside, all corporate leadership is compelled to pursue profit above all else, and if they don't, they'll be deposed and replaced by someone who will. No corporation will social-responsibility their way out of existence.

People will never stop buying the product I'm so obliquely discussing here, and the company will never stop making it. The only viable course I can see is that we'll have to material-science our way out of the problem. This will be, in broad strokes, a two-step process. Step One, developing the stuff. Step Two, doing careful research to see if, long-term, the new stuff actually is better for the environment than the stuff it's replacing (more on that at the end).

On the Step One front: This year's London Design Fair kicks off on September 19th, and they've already announced their Material of the Year, which isn't a singular material at all, but all biomaterials in general. To highlight the category, at this year's exhibition the LDF "will show four brilliant examples of work by designers with a keen awareness of the environment. Using a range of by-products, these designers have created functional and aesthetically pleasing designs [that] will be presented at the Fair's Second Yield exhibition."

Here we'll give you an advance look.

Material: Corn husks
Fernando LaposseTotomoxtle is a new veneer material made with the husks of heirloom Mexican corn. An important part of traditional Mexican gastronomy, the country's native corns range in colour, from wonderfully deep purples to soft yellow creams. Sadly, owing to globalisation, the number of native varieties of Mexican corn are under threat. The only real hope of saving the heirloom species lies with Mexico's indigenous people, who plant the corn in accordance with tradition. Working in partnership with the community of Tonahuixtla in the Mexican state of Puebla, Totomoxtle is helping to regenerate traditional agricultural practices and establish a new craft that generates income for impoverished farmers.





Since 2016, Fernando Laposse has been collaborating with a group of families in Tonahuixtla. A Mexican product and material designer, Fernando works between Mexico and London. His approach is to take a natural material that is often considered waste (such as corn husks), and with extensive research, transform it into a refined piece of design. As a designer, Fernando is concerned with sustainability, biodiversity, disenfranchised communities and the politics of food. His work is informed by a material's location, and encompasses both cultural and historical narratives.Material: Potato waste
Chip[s] Board Co-founded by Rowan Minkley and Rob Nicoll, Chip[s] Board is an innovative biomaterial company that turns food waste into high-value circular economy materials. By utilising those resources that are currently available, instead of continually processing virgin materials, Chip[s] Board can create a sustainable, circular economy model.

As the world's largest manufacturer of frozen potato products, McCain—a family-owned company with a number of sustainability projects—supplies Chip[s] Board with its raw materials. Chip[s] Board has produced several innovative and sustainable circular economy materials using potato waste, including Parblex™ Plastics: these translucent pure or fibre reinforced bioplastics can be used in fashion and interior design. With material waste deemed a global concern, Chip[s] Board has been successful in both national and international grants and competitions, as well as attracting attention from global brands. The company's next course of action is to scale up its production, moving a step closer to replacing toxic polluting plastics with responsible alternatives.
Material: Palm leaves
Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven Based in the Netherlands, Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven is a product design studio with a difference: Tjeerd Veenhoven designs value chains, from initial production to the overall consumer experience.

The areca betel nut is a staple ingredient of Indian cuisine. The nut grows on the areca palm tree, found throughout southern India and other regions. Like most trees, these palms shed their large leaves every year, beginning in October. The areca palm tree produces an abundance of beautiful, unused palm leaves—around 80 million square meters yearly. Considering this natural waste, Tjeerd Veenhoven created a way of putting the leaves to use. Employing simple, natural ingredients and processes, Tjeerd was able to permanently soften the dry, hard and brittle palm leaf, giving it a leather-like quality. Known as PalmLeather, this project was established in 2010 and has been growing ever since.

During the past eight years, Tjeerd has set up several small producer-owned factories in India, the Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka, to manufacture PalmLeather and products made with the material. Both Tjeerd and others have designed various products that are locally produced and sold by craftspeople, under fair working conditions. One such product is the PalmLeather interior rug. Made with softened palm leaves that are cut into strips and placed vertically, the rugs have beautifully creative patterns. Owing to their natural state, each rug is unique. These rugs are produced on commission in the Dominican Republic, in various sizes and patterns.
Materials: Hemp, tobacco and pomace
High Society Founded in 2015 by Johannes Kiniger and Giulia Farencena Casaro, High Society is a sustainable design company, located in the heart of the Dolomite Mountains in northern Italy. By employing a compression moulding technique, the brand creates plant-based lighting from post-industrial waste. This waste includes: hemp leftovers, pomace, the pulpy residue that remains after wine production, and the discarded leaves and stalks from tobacco cultivation. Each light sold by High Society supports initiatives against drug dependency, in collaboration with Forum Prävention in Bolzano, a city in north-east Italy.


High Society produces three lamp variations: Highlight Hemp, Highlight Wine and Highlight Tobacco. To make the Highlight Hemp pendant, High Society uses industrial hemp leftovers, cultivated without pesticides. For the Highlight Wine pendant, pomace is collected from a local organic winery in South Tyrol. And to make the Highlight Tobacco pendant, leaves and stalks discarded during tobacco cultivation are collected from a supplier in the Venetian region of Italy. Each unique lamp variation is made using compression moulding with an added bio-based binder, followed by the application of a natural wax coating—this provides a shiny surface and protects the lamp from humidity. Minimal and elegant, the pendants are ideal for both commercial and residential use.

__________

As I wrote earlier, once the difficult Step One of developing a biomaterial is realized, the perhaps-even-more difficult Step Two of investigating its long-term effects should be pursued. By now you've probably read about those "eco-friendly, compostable" fiber bowls containing harmful chemicals, and as writer John P. Kazior pointed out, "with almost all bioplastics, if they end up in the ocean they will typically breakdown into microplastics and at that point are actually no better than fossil-fuel produced plastic." You can learn more about that here.


Spare Some Room for a Hedgehog?

Core 77 - 2 hours 41 min ago

Our species takes up a lot of space. All over the globe, cities are expanding to house our growing population, but where does that leave the multitudes of other beings trying to live alongside us? What chance is there for a swallow or a butterfly to adapt to these intricate spaces that we have so specifically developed for human habitability? In this global competition for room, finding safe spaces for nesting and reliable food supplies will only get more difficult for almost every other species. Unless they get a little bit of help, that is.

Designing habitable spaces for birds, lizards, bats, butterflies, and all sorts of other creatures is exactly what Thomas Hauck, landscape architect, has spent his time doing for the last few years. In his efforts to design interspecies habitats, Prof. Hauck has developed an ongoing research project called, Animal-Aided Design. The goal of which, is to establish a set of standards that architects and designers can use to integrate animal habitats into urban developments. On rooftops, in courtyards, and in all the little spaces of buildings that are otherwise under-utilized, Prof. Hauck has found space for some of our more compact animal friends.

Detail from "Animal-Aided Design"

As great as it is to design a striking birdhouse, just building physical enclosures for animals is not quite enough to make sure that they will be happy and healthy in their human-made homes. Designing a space for another creature also comes with the task of ensuring that the animal has a supportive ecosystem; food-sources, nesting places, areas for breeding, and other species-specific amenities. To help designers to better understand the needs of urban animals, Prof. Hauck has worked with biologist Wolfgang Weisser from the Technical University of Munich to develop over 40 species-specific profiles as a part of the Animal-Aided Design project.

In cities like Ingolstadt and Munich, housing and architecture companies have already begun to implement Animal-Aided Design into their projects. Buildings have included designs to help species like European hedgehogs, house sparrows, and red admiral butterflies.

Detail from "Animal-Aided Design"

Designing for other species is nothing new of course, in recent years the decline of the honeybee (a still pressing issue), has led many designers to approach apiary design in new and innovative ways. Similarly, recent studies revealing the shocking decline of insects in Europe, has inspired many to try their hand developing designs for "insect hotels". The movement for non-human design appears to be growing, and the principles that Prof. Hauck and Prof. Weisser continue to develop, are helping to elevate animal focused design to a more serious level of discourse. Animal-Aided Design is a step towards helping designers address growing biodiversity issues that are plaguing urban environments, where ecosystem services for both animals and people are suffering dramatically.

Insect hotel (source) photo by Tony Hisgett

Whether you personally like animals and insects, or you find some of them weird and gross, the decline of biodiversity is bad for everyone. Across the planet, the acceleration of extinction is a growing crisis, in the US, the weakening of protection for endangered species has made the issue even more dire. For designers, by merely acknowledging that we live in an ecosystem with other species, as Animal-Aided Design does, we can begin to shift design practices towards more environmentally healthy practices.

So perhaps, as you find yourself working through your next project, be it a sound system, an apartment building, or a pair of boots, you might consider the hedgehog, or the butterfly, or the black bear. You might consider that perhaps whatever you're creating, at some point will likely interact not just with the human user-group you designed it for, but with another species entirely. It is the opportunity for the designer to make that interaction a positive one.

(You can find out more about Thomas Hauck's Animal-Aided Design here. )

Title image is of a European Hedgehog, Photo by kallerna (source)

Why We Don't See the Same Reality

Core 77 - 2 hours 41 min ago

You may remember one of the most viral internet memes of the decade, known as the dress. On February 26, 2015 a faded photograph of a dress went vertically viral, meaning its popularity went well past the typical bell curve virality. A galvanizing debate flew across the globe: Some said the dress was white and gold was others swore it was black and blue. Viewers were adamant that their perception was factual reality. No one was exempt, Kim Kardashian saw it as white and gold, her husband Kanye and his frenemy Taylor Swift saw it as blue and black. Within one week of posting on BuzzFeed the article received 37 million views. The dress, purchased by Cecilia Bleasdale at Roman Originals for a wedding in Scotland, is in fact blue and black. But the actual dress was not at issue, it was the photo that launched the debate, and it was the photo that everyone either saw as one color or the other.

The original photo of "the dress."

As designers it is worthwhile to understand how people perceive objects. And to understand why no one perceives the same object the same way.

It turns out that reality and fact is tied to perception, and perception is linked to the way an individual brain receives information. And it is within visual illusions where we get an idea of just how differently we can perceive the very same thing completely differently.

And this when we become obsessed, and unnerved. As Taylor Swift tweeted when she heard about the dress debate, "I feel like it's a trick somehow. I feel confused and scared." It is scary when we learn that our reality is not shared. It behoves us as artists and designers to understand that everyone brings their own individual view to everything they perceive, and we need to keep that fact in mind as we create. In line with this, we need to respect that others will hold their point of view as reality. As the saying goes, "seeing is believing." So what is really going on when we perceive?

The first thing we must know is that our perception of the world is not accurate nor factual. There is a lot we cannot sense. For instance, we can only detect part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

It used to be thought that things in the world present themselves to our brain as they are, but in fact our perceptions are made of conclusions that our brains construct. Meaning, we bring our experiences and thoughts and selves to the moment of perception just as much as the object does. This might remind you of the age old question, "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?" We do know that color doesn't exist without someone there to see it. What seems real is in fact something our brain constructs based on prior experience.

In many ways the brain learns to understand its environment much in the same way machine learning--artificial intelligence--does. That is, the brain makes best guesses about an object based on its prior experience as well as the sensory inputs coming to it. If the guess is wrong, the brain corrects itself and stores that new knowledge. This is why our prior life experience is so influential and important -- it literally helps us predict and construct our current realities.

So, instead of objects--their color and shape--reaching us as sensory input that we then absorb, we are constructing a prediction of the object within our brain first, and then quickly judging or perceiving the object. There is a terrific example of how this works, noted by Anil Seth in a recent Scientific American article. Take a look at the image here.

You might see random black and white patterns.

Now look at the photo near the bottom of this article.

Now you will see that the black and white pattern is an object, a toddler. The sensory input (i.e., the black and white image) is exactly the same but the way the brain sees it has changed dramatically. The brain is now making a different set of predictions about what is causing the pattern. As Seth notes in his article, "All that has changed are your brain's predictions about the causes of these sensory signals. You have acquired a new high-level perceptual expectation, and this is what changes what you consciously see."

Some scientists and experts refer to this theory of perception as "controlled hallucination" and Seth also notes our reality might be what happens when we agree on our hallucinations. We generally consider most things in our worlds as being "real" even if they are constructions (hallucinations) created by our brain. In order to function normally in our day to day we have to regard things and people as "real."

And this is precisely where we get tripped up. We assume that our reality is everyone's reality. And when a visual illusion like the dress comes along we are suddenly thrown into the realization of just how differently we see things. And how closely our perception is tied to our past experience. According to Seth, the explanation for the dress debate is that those who spend more hours in sunlight see the photo of the dress as white and gold, and those who spend more time awake at night under artificial lights experience the photo as black and blue.

Photo credit (includes black and white photo above as well): Teufel, C et al. Shift towards prior knowledge confers a perceptual advantage in early psychosis and psychosis-prone healthy individuals. PNAS; 12 Oct 2015

I think recognizing that we hold onto our individual realities tightly because they are a part of our own personal experiences will help us acknowledge and respect the idea that people will not always perceive things the same way as we do.

_______________________________

Header photo credit: Fiestoforo - Own work, CC. The contrasting colors of the header image give the illusion of motion.


Wendell Castle's First Posthumous Show Connects His Early and Late Works

Core 77 - 2 hours 41 min ago

The first posthumous exhibition dedicated to Wendell Castle opened at Friedman Benda last week, offering a rare opportunity to see the sculptural masterworks in person. Wendell Castle: A New Vocabulary is comprised of rarely seen work from the first and last decades of Castle's 60-year career, a curatorial focus that creates fascinating connections between his earliest and final works.

The show brings together formative examples such as Walnut Sculpture (1958-59), seminal works such as Environment for Contemplation (1970), and new works that have never been shown before. The selections highlight his stack lamination process, a technique he was first introduced to as a teenager. Notably, Wendell never shied away from new technologies, and he embraced the possibilities of more efficient and accurate production through 3D scanning and CNC milling in the latter part of his career. He even affectionately nicknamed the six-axis CNC milling robot in his Scottsville, New York studio "Mr. Chips."

"My vocabulary has always been organic; sometimes I think of it as actually growing from a seed or idea," he reflected in 2017. This constant reinvention allowed him to continuously "produce furniture that makes life an adventure." As design critic and contributor to the Wendell Castle Catalogue Raisonne Glenn Adamson says, his ability to invent new formal vocabularies and find ways of actually bringing them to life "in the seemingly restrictive context of furniture design makes his achievement all the more remarkable."

A New Seeing, 2015

By focusing on the early and late work, the show juxtaposes "the two extended moments in Wendell's career where he's employing essentially the same techniques and essentially the same methods of making, but the outcomes are very different philosophically, technically, and formally," gallerist Marc Benda explained to Architectural Digest. "Showing the vastness of Wendell's thinking from two very specific periods should make everyone pause and realize just how big a contribution he made over 60 years."

"Wendell Castle: A New Vocabulary" will be on view through October 12, 2019.

Design Job: Put your best foot forward as a Senior Design for Lacrosse Footwear in Portland, OR

Core 77 - 2 hours 41 min ago

LaCrosse Footwear, Inc. is looking for a Senior Designer to join our creative team to produce and oversee digital and print creative projects. This person will need experience creating all forms of graphic design: digital/online, print and in-store, creative concept and campaign ideation, and the ability to move from big ideas down to detailed production executions. Part of this role will be to ensure that high quality creative pieces are on-brand and delivered on-schedule. Candidates should have a passion for what our brands represent: quality, craftsmanship and a life outdoors. This person must have prior experience working within a team, understanding the balance of internal needs and third-party vendors to deliver creative visual strategies and successful projects. A pro-active nature and willingness to bring new ideas to the table are vital.

View the full design job here

How GMC's Combination of Design, Technology and Engineering Makes Trailering Safer and Easier

Core 77 - 2 hours 41 min ago



We recently covered an event in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to evaluate the trailering capabilities of GMC's new light- and heavy-duty Sierra pickups.

The event started with an accident.

GMC's designers and engineers have developed a clever, comprehensive camera system to help avoid accidents--but they can only help if you're using them. Prior to the group briefing on how to use these features, one of the automotive journalists wanted to try towing a massive camper trailer that was already hooked up to one of the trucks. He misjudged his spacing and made contact with a building, damaging an awning.

This didn't bode well for me. As we lined up to be assigned a truck, a GMC coordinator asked me "How much trailering experience do you have?"

"Zero," I said. Meanwhile, the journalist who had had the accident was a truck owner who did have trailering experience. What hope would I have of safely trailering the multi-ton loads on hand, up and down the narrow mountain roads around Jackson Hole? I was pretty damn nervous.

They paired me with David Ames, the Assistant Chief Engineer for the ten-speed Allison transmission in the Heavy Duty Sierra AT4 we hopped into. (Allison makes well-regarded medium- and heavy-duty transmissions that you'll find in buses, fire engines, construction vehicles, military vehicles, et cetera.) While I'd be the one driving, David would walk me through using the camera system.

For this first drive, I was trailering this thing:

That's a 14,000-pound camper, and the first thing I had to do was get out of the campgrounds we were in, down a narrow, unpaved road lined by landscaping features and rental cabins. As luck would have it, another pickup truck was coming down the road towards us. This was going to be a very tight fit.

Ames hit a button on the screen in the center of the dash, pulling up the cameras. (Because I could not take photos and drive at the same time, I'll use stock photos here to illustrate how I was able to use the system.)

First off, when sitting in the driver's seat of a vehicle with such a large hood, it can be difficult to judge exactly where the nose and sides are. The "overhead" view--which software cleverly stitches together from footage shot by multiple cameras located in the nose and side mirrors--made it easy to guide the truck within tight confines. As the approaching vehicle nosed towards me, I could see it in the overhead view, too, and thread the needle with confidence.

For terrain features that don't show up well in overhead view--for instance, a shallow ditch that would be a big problem to drive into with a trailer attached--Ames showed me this split-screen side view, which provides a more detailed angle.

As the oncoming truck and I began to pass each other, I realized the trailer we were towing was a bit wider than the truck, presenting a potential problem. Ames showed me the following camera view, which allowed me to see backwards down both sides, so I could course-correct:

You can even choose to see two views at once:

Finally we reached the T-intersection to pull onto the main road. Ames explained that with a trailer this long, I wanted to pull straight forward until the truck touched the double-yellow line (which was perpendicular to us), then turn the wheel sharply to enact a 90-degree turn. This would give the trailer enough clearance to make the corner. For safety, I could check using this camera view:

There really is no substitute for being able to see things clearly from all angles, and I was grateful for the technology.

Once on the road, the truck's DuraMax diesel engine had no problem getting up to speed. In fact after we'd cruised for ten or fifteen minutes, uphill most of the way, you could even forget there was a trailer back there--which Ames warned me was, of course, dangerous. The irony of producing a truck powerful enough to pull something that heavy, without struggling, is that it can lead to complacency, so the driver must remain vigilant.

From a sensorial perspective, there were only two things that made me aware we were hauling this 14,000-pound thing. The first is that, since we were using what's called a gooseneck or "fifth-wheel" trailer, it's attached to a connection point anchored in the center of the pickup bed itself, not the ball hitch. So when you go over bumps at speed, the truck's suspension absorbs it for the truck, but the trailer bounces up and down a bit. That transmits a temporary, residual juddering into the bed of the truck, which reminds you that you're attached to something.

The second thing is that whenever you come to a complete stop, or take off from a stop, you feel a definitive "CLUNK" as there's a little bit of play in the hitch connection. I found it initially jarring, but Ames assured me it's normal, and after a while I simply welcomed it as a haptic reminder of our load's presence.

The 10-speed transmission was remarkable, and I'm not just writing that because the guy who helped develop it was in the truck with me. The shifting is smooth and practically imperceptible. It never struggled or shifted abruptly, but always seemed able to find the correct gear, even uphill or when I gave the accelerator a little extra, and it never wanted for power.

Then we got to the downhill part. Ames pressed a button on the dash marked "Exhaust Brake." As we cruised downhill, he asked me "Do you feel that?"

Planted firmly in the driver's seat, I tried to detect whatever sensorial anomaly he was referring to. But I didn't feel anything different in the road feel, steering, braking, et cetera. "No," I said.

"Exactly," he said. "In a truck without Exhaust Brake, going downhill like this, you'd really feel like this 14,000-pound trailer is pushing the truck downhill, and you'd be riding the brakes pretty heavily."

I could imagine that, but had no such sensation; the braking didn't appear particularly challenging. "What does Exhaust Brake do?" I asked. Ames explained how the feature forces exhaust gases back into the engine, and followed with a detailed engineering explanation, but: Long story short, it uses the power of the engine, rather than the brakes, to slow the vehicle down. The result for the end user is that it doesn't put a greater load on the driver or the brakes when going downhill.

Next we come to my almost-accident, which was entirely my fault.

The mountain roads we were driving up and down were two-lane, meaning one lane running in each direction. A fair amount of the traffic is large tractor-trailers or trucks towing stuff. Because of the weight and the road curves, these heavy vehicles are often driving at or below the speed limit. To allow zippier cars to pass them, the road periodically sprouts a short-run second lane on the right. Heavy vehicles are supposed to pull into this right lane, so that cars can pass on the left.

Ames had pointed this convention out to me, but at one point I became so engrossed in our conversation that I failed to notice one of these extra lanes had appeared. By the time I realized it, and turned my blinker on to get over to the right, an apparently impatient driver--whom I had not seen behind me--had unwisely decided to try passing on the right. Completely in my blind spot.

So here's what happened: I turned the right blinker on; the camera view--which is linked to the turn signals--automatically switched to the right rear camera view, presenting a clear view of the blind spot. Where I was alarmed to see that a Subaru wagon was about to accelerate around the right rear of the trailer just as I was drifting into that lane.

The Subaru driver backed off and leaned on the horn angrily. As I completed the transition into the right lane, the Subaru whipped around on the left, accelerating quickly to draw even with my window. The woman driving the Subaru rolled the windows down and spent, I'd say, ten seconds yelling some unprintable things at me. I tried to apologize but she wasn't having it. She zoomed off.

The woman was furious, and I get it. She was angry because she'd been frightened, my fault for not remaining vigilant that I'm towing around a potentially deadly amount of weight that could knock a car right off of the road. I told Ames I'd pay better attention and that I hadn't even realized the car was behind me. While there was a camera mounted to the back of the trailer, which gives you the option to drive with this view on screen…

I had been driving instead with the side-rear view on-screen…

…so that I could ensure the trailer wasn't wiggling outside the road lines.

Ames pressed another magic button, showing me this view:

That's called "Invisible Trailer," and as you can see, it renders the trailer functionally transparent. Pretty darn brilliant.

I made it back to base camp without further incident. Overall I was impressed at how manageable this combination of design and engineering elements--the truck's power and transmission, the camera array, and the all-important UX that tied it all together--had made this daunting task so manageable for a first-timer like me. Having no prior experience with trailering, I cannot imagine how people do it without the situational awareness conferred by GMC's system.



Can Apple Use Its Latest AI Chip for More Than Photos?

Design News - Fri, 2019-09-13 05:00
Apple says the A13 outperforms other leading smartphone chips. (Image source: Apple) 

If anything can be taken from Apple's latest iPhone announcement it's that the company clearly views photos as the killer app for any iPhone. Apple said its latest smartphone chip has been optimized for machine learning, but right now much of that technology looks to be applied to image capture.

In addition to a new dual camera setup, Apple's latest iPhone, the iPhone 11, is coming with upgraded chip hardware that Apple is calling the fastest to ever appear in a smartphone. The new A13 Bionic is a combination CPU and GPU (along with Apple's proprietary “Neural Engine”) that is design-optimized for running machine learning applications. It is also the second generation of Apple's A-series chips to use a 7-nanometer manufacturing process – cramming in 8.5 billion transistors that Apple said are engineered to cater for performance and power.

The CPU component contains machine learning accelerators and is capable of running up to 1 trillion operations per second. The A13 is designed so that machine learning models can be scheduled across the GPU, CPU, and Neural Engine depending on the needs of the application. At this week's 2019 Apple Event the company said this allows for optimized efficiency in terms of both processing and power across applications such as natural language processing and image classification.

Better Machine Learning...For Better Photos

Though the company touted the power of the new A13 and talked about the potential for developers to leverage its capabilities, there was limited demonstration of the chip's power at the Apple Event. A glimpse at an upcoming game titled Pascal's Wager demonstrated the graphics capability of the A13's GPU, but didn't give those looking for a comparison to other hardware out there much to go on. Following the event however, Gokhan Avkarogullari, a software engineer at Apple, who managed the iOS, tvOS, and watchOS Graphics Driver Teams at Apple, took to Twitter on his own to elaborate further on the advancements made with the A13's GPU and how the GPU's new API – MetalAPI – fits in with that.

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The second mention of the A13's abilities was more of a proof-of-concept as Apple talked about an upcoming feature for the iPhone called Deep Fusion that leverages machine learning to improve image quality in photos. The iPhone 11 takes nine total photos and analyzes them pixel by pixel – combining the best of each image to create a single image that has been optimized to have as much detail and as little noise as possible. Apple called it “computational photography mad science,” to cheers and applause from the event audience. Rather than a live demonstration of Deep Fusion however, the Apple Event only offered a look at a photo that Apple said was taken using the technology.

With claims that the A13 outperforms other leading smartphone chips such as the Snapdragon series offered by Qualcomm, seeing the chip applied to such a specific use case should be disappointing to those who aren't strictly photography enthusiasts or iPhone filmmakers. Certainly, however the chip will also lend itself to improvements with Apple's virtual assistant Siri as well as augmented reality features in the iPhone that may rely on object or facial recognition.

Is It Time for a New Product?

Rumors have circulated for years at this point that Apple could be developing its own virtual reality or augmented reality headset. But the company has never announced any formal plans or even hinted at them at any of its events. However, chip hardware like the A13 could make an ideal fit for some sort of mobile VR or AR headset. Facebook's Oculus Quest headset, for example, runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 – two generations removed from the latest Snapdragon 8 series chips and far below the performance claimed of Apple's A13.

Since its release of the A11 Bionic chip to coincide with the iPhone 8, Apple has made a point to highlight the machine learning and graphics capabilities of its smartphone chips. Time will tell if the A13 is just another iterative step or part of a longer road in Apple's strategy. But even at this phase, if Apple's claims are to be believed, the chips seem much too powerful to be confined solely to the worlds of smartphones and photography.

The iPhone 11 comes at a time when Apple investors are looking for the company to unveil its next big innovation. Customers are holding onto their iPhones for longer, creating a decline in iPhone sales. Analysts see the iPhone 11 as Apple's chance to reverse that trend. Speaking to CNN, David McQueen , an analyst at ABI Research, said it's going to take a big change for Apple to recapture customers' imaginations. "Apple tends to perform well when it changes the design of the iPhone in a drastic way," McQueen told CNN. "However, it cannot do this every year."

Chris Wiltz is a Senior Editor at  Design News covering emerging technologies including AI, VR/AR, and robotics.

Friday Funny: The Mysterious Life of Developers

Design News - Fri, 2019-09-13 04:30

These developers can be defined by the fluids they consume while coding, and they extent of their joy in a debug win.

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 19 years, 17 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

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Printing Flatter Polymers Improves Conductivity, Optical Properties

Design News - Fri, 2019-09-13 04:00

One of the aims of material scientists is to find new polymer materials that are conductive—or at least to invent ways to improve the electrical conductivity of existing polymers.

Now scientists have discovered a novel way to achieve the latter using polymer printing. A team at the University of Illinois developed a new method to stretch and flatten the molecules in conductive polymers so they can conduct electricity better, researchers said.

The team worked with what are called conjugated polymers, which are formed when molecules rich in electrons meet along a backbone of alternating single and double chemical bonds, they said.

While this union allows electricity to travel very quickly through a polymer—making it a good fit for electrical and optical applications—the polymers themselves tend to contort into twisted spirals when they join, significantly limiting this conductivity.

Researchers realized that if they could solve this issue with these materials, conjugated polymers could be used for electrical applications at a range on par with silicon materials, Professor Ying Diao, who led the research, said in a press statement.

“The flatness or planarity of a conjugated polymer plays a large role in its ability to conduct electricity,” said Diao, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the university. “Even a slight twist of the backbone can substantially hinder the ability of the electrons to delocalize and flow.”

Professor Ying Diao, left, postdoctoral researcher Kyung Sun Park, seated, and graduate student Justin Kwok have found that twisted polymers can be flattened via the printing process to make them better at conducting electricity. (Image source: L. Brian Stauffer)

Accidental Discovery

There currently are ways to solve the problem, but neither of them are optimal for performance or utility, and both are labor-intensive, Diao said. An enormous amount of pressure can do it, as can manipulating the molecular structure of the materials. However, “there really is no easy way to do this,” she said in the press statement.

It was members of her research team--postdoctoral researcher Kyung Sun Park and graduate student Justin Kwok—who discovered something key to the new method to print the polymers, Diao acknowledged. While running printing experiments and flow simulations in Diao’s lab, they noticed another phase that polymers experience during printing in addition to the two phases already known--a first phase that occurs when capillary action pulls on the polymer ink as it begins to evaporate, and a second that is the result of the forces imposed by the printing blades and substrate.

“Park and Kwok uncovered another phase that occurs during printing in which the polymers appear to have vastly different properties,” Diao said in the statement. “This third phase occurs in between the two already-defined phases, and shows the polymers being stretched into planar shapes.”

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Smoothing the Conductive Path

In this phase, the polymers are stretched and flattened, which serves to smooth the path of conductivity, she said. But, more importantly, they remain in this state after precipitating out of solution, Diao said. This latter state enables researchers to fine-tune printer settings to produce conjugated polymers well-suited for biomedical devices and flexible electronics, she said.

“We are discovering a whole zoo of new polymer phases, all sensitive to the forces that take place during the printing process,” Diao said in the press statement.

Researchers published a paper on their work in the journal Science Advances.

The team envisions further exploration of these new phases of polymers during the printing process to optimize conjugated polymers for a range of new applications, Diao said.

This research “will ultimately translate into new conjugated polymers with exciting optoelectronic properties,” she said in the press statement.

Elizabeth Montalbano is a freelance writer who has written about technology and culture for more than 20 years. She has lived and worked as a professional journalist in Phoenix, San Francisco and New York City. In her free time she enjoys surfing, traveling, music, yoga and cooking. She currently resides in a village on the southwest coast of Portugal.

 

 

Harvard's Wyss Institute Explores Biology's Influence on Design and Tech at the Cooper Hewitt

Core 77 - Thu, 2019-09-12 21:35

Twice a year the Cooper Hewitt stages an installment of its Selects series, for which various types of creators, from Ellen Degeneres to David Adjaye, are invited to curate a show from the museum's vast 210,000 object collection.

Intended to accompany the museum's ongoing Nature design triennial, the current Selects show was put together by the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Their theme looks to the early twentieth-century Futurists for inspiration as it aims to define a new, Biofuturist agenda for the future. Drawing from the museum's collection as well as some of their own projects, the Wyss Institute explores how artists and designers have long been inspired by natural forms and how biologically-inspired design might change our world.

Hanging, 1973, by Peter Collingwood. The piece combines rigid wefts (the horizontal element) with flexible warps (the vertical element) to create a textile that echoes tensegrity structures.

86T Rocking Stool, 1954; Designed by Isamu Noguchi and manufactured by Knoll Inc.

Don Ingber, the founding director of the Wyss Institute was the show's chief curator, joined by his colleagues Joanna Aizenberg, Jennifer Lewis, Radhika Nagpal, and Pam Silver. The institute was founded in 2009 and currently has more than 375 full-time scientists and engineers working in a broad range of disciplines who collaborate to develop "nature's design principles" into new technologies and solutions for healthcare, energy, architecture, robotics, and manufacturing.

Wall Sconce, 1996, by Dale Chihuly.

Vegetal Chair, 2009; Designed by Erwan Bouroullec (French, b. 1976) and Ronan Bouroullec (French, b. 1971); Manufactured by Vitra AG

The show unfolds over four thematic sections: Natural Forms, The Architecture of Life, Synthetic Biology, and Biofuturism. Natural Forms focuses on the spiral, a motif that has appeared in virtually every medium of art and design; Kenneth Snelson and Buckminster Fuller's tensegrity structures are interrogated in The Architecture of Life; Synthetic Biology takes a closer look at artistic objects that mimic biological forms; while the Biofuturism section looks forward to a future of biologically-inspired engineering that will go beyond mimicry to "seamlessly integrate with our bodies, restore lost functions, and even provide superhuman capabilities."

Flex-Foot Cheetah® Xtend Running Blade, designed before 2000, manufactured 2013, by Van Phillips. This prosthetic sprinting foot, which acts like a springboard, is based on the shape of the rear leg of a cheetah

Bioimplantable Device for Reconstructive Shoulder Surgery, 2004, by Ellis Developments Ltd. The embroidery on this implant mimics the natural fibrous arrays of ligaments and acts as a scaffold for new tissue growth.

"We hope that the broad range of objects that we have selected for this exhibition convey the potential of biologically inspired design to have an enormous impact on nearly every aspect of human life, and encourages people from diverse fields to look to nature for fresh ideas to both existing and new problems," said Ingber in a statement.

Robobee, 2012, by Kevin Y. Ma and Robert J. Wood. Inspired by the honeybee, this flying robot has potential applications for search and rescue missions and environmental monitoring.

Kilobots, 2012, by Radhika Nagpal, Mike Rubenstein, and the Self-Organizing Systems Research Group. These Kilobots demonstrate how thousands of simple robots, with no leader, can self-organize complex shape and behavior.

One of the highlights of the show is seeing some of the Wyss Institute's own projects, examples of which are also on display in the parallel triennial. These include Robobees (2012), an autonomously flying microbot system that's being investigated for a long list of potential uses, including crop pollinations, search and rescue missions, and environmental monitoring, and Kilobots (2012) an algorithm developed by Nagpal that studies self-organizing systems in simple robots.

Organ-on-a-Chip, 2009, designed by Donald Ingber and Dongeun Huh.

Perhaps most provocative is Ingber's Organ-on-a-Chip, which he co-developed with Dongeun Huh in 2009. Made of clear silicone rubber and no bigger than a thumb drive, the device has two channels cut into it that are separated by a porous membrane. The channels contain human cells from specific organs and essentially function like "living, three-dimensional cross-sections of whole living organs." They allow a way of modeling human diseases in vitro—drugs or bacteria can be introduced to test reactions—and may provide an alternative to drug testing on animals while also reducing the time and cost of bringing new treatments to market. The patented device (the patent is also on view in the exhibition) is now in the process of being commercialized.

"Through these efforts, the boundaries between living and nonliving systems are beginning to literally break down," Ingber writes in the exhibition catalogue. "As the methods used by artists, designers, engineers, and scientists converge, the Biofuturist palette that we have to paint the future becomes broader and deeper than ever before; it is up to us to decide what we make with it."

"Wyss Institute Selects: Works from the Permanent Collection" will be on view through March 8, 2020.


Design Job: Here's an Out of This World Job Opportunity at Cosmic Pet

Core 77 - Thu, 2019-09-12 21:35

POSITION SUMMARY: The Product Manager will be responsible for managing key aspects of product development work including coordinating and executing development plans, driving brainstorming and development activities, conducting market research and helping establish development goals, building and maintaining product development procedures and processes, managing timelines and collaborating with

View the full design job here