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Converse Enlists Tinker Hatfield for New "Star Series": Here's a look Inside the Design Process

Core 77 - 8 hours 18 min ago

In 2003, Converse celebrated its 95th anniversary, and Nike acquired the brand for $305 million. Annual sales grew from $200 million to $2 billion, and now the brand represents one of Nike's fastest growing segments. The latest release from Converse, the Star Series, is a collection of three shoes designed in collaboration with none other than athlete and architect turned Nike design legend Tinker Hatfield, marking a true connection between the two brands. The series includes the Star Series BB, Star Series RN, and Star Series UT; a basketball shoe, running shoe, and utility inspired chukka that aim to blend the lifestyle versatility of Converse and the performance features that Nike brings to the table.

Merging the benefits of two distinct footwear brands into just three shoe designs posed an exciting challenge for Hatfield. "Converse's design language to me is very egalitarian. Simple, straight, horizontal," says the designer. "The uppers tend to be humble materials. I think there's a beauty in that, so we wanted to design products with performance features but honor the design language." After reflecting on sport culture today, Hatfield imagined a family of products that nod to Converse's design history but also experiment with both function and aesthetic.

The first in the series, and most statement-making from a design history standpoint, is the Star Series BB. We all know the Chuck Taylor All Star as the original basketball-turned-lifestyle shoe, but its design has stayed almost identical since 1920. The introduction of the lifestyle Star Series BB (along with the performance All Star Pro BB shoe also recently released) marks a re-emergence in the competitive basketball performance and lifestyle shoe segment.

Production Model: Star Series BB

The BB's silhouette is made with an open tongue construction, complemented by a diamond-textured midsole, which references the original All Star's toe bumper. The silhouette notably features a nylon ballistic mesh upper for breathability and durability, marking one of the most obvious deviations from the traditionally canvas All Stars.

Prototype: Star Series BB

The Star Series RN is the most versatile in the collection, as its straightforward design combines performance elements of runners with the materials and colors of a total lifestyle shoe. The silhouette borrows design details from archival runners from both Converse and Nike and combines them with the design language of the Star Series BB, including a similar rubber outsole and the Converse Star Chevron logo in the foam window.

Production Model: Star Series RN

"Evolving the RN from prototype phase to final was a similar approach," says Jimmy Manley, Senior Director of Footwear Innovation at Converse. "After initial flex testing of the silhouette, we removed some of the rigidity across the shoe, particularly in the forefront. It also added dimension to the overall design aesthetic, allowing for multiple blocking options, which enabled us to explore a range of colors and materials in future expressions."

Prototype: Star Series RN

The final shoe in the pack, the Star Series UT is a runner's take on the lifestyle Chukka. The mid-cut Cordura upper features a runner's notch for easy wear and to draw an extra connection between the three shoes. "Evolving the UT was a matter of obsessing material and fit. The UT is reminiscent of a classic chukka design," says Manley. "The beauty of a chukka is its simplicity, which also makes a true design challenge. How do you create incremental improvement, but still maintain the essence of the original?"

Production Model: Star Series UT

"Our objective was to bring the classic chukka design into more of an athletic zone," continues Manley." We quickly realized that transitioning to a ballistic mesh upper from suede would help us achieve that. From here we had to solve a fit challenge, so we added in a medial overlay, which gave more support on the rear sides of the upper, and cushioning in the heel."

Prototype: Star Series UT

The Star Series pushes the boundaries and connection between Converse and Nike, remaining true to certain details of Converse's past while adopting new design details and materials from Nike's design language. It's been over 15 years since Nike acquired Converse, and nearly a century since the original All Star debuted. This collaboration with Tinker Hatfield marks a shift from lifestyle to technical product for the company and a commitment to making updates to their designs. What do you think of the collection? Do you believe Hatfield and the Converse design team fulfilled their brief?

The Star Series BB and Star Series RN will be available for purchase on May 28 via the SNKRS app, priced at $75 for the BB and $95 for the RN. The Star Series UT will launch in late 2019.

Chen & Kai Romance Stone Into Elegant Furnishings at New York's Casa Perfect

Core 77 - 8 hours 18 min ago

Set inside Casa Perfect, a historic West Village townhouse spiraling into lavish rooms filled with furniture from contemporary design gallery The Future Perfect, Brooklyn-based designers Chen Chen & Kai Williams present their latest exhibition Romancing the Stone. Calling on the beauty of the ordinary stone, the designers transformed the ordinary material into unexpected forms, such as flowers, mirrors and plant stands. Like a lover, the hardened object becomes soft and vulnerable in the eyes of its beholder.

The collection includes the Geology Table and the Stone Rose light fixture, both built from stones that have either been found or excavated. The Geology Table bares a composition of split stones, revealing minerals otherwise hidden, assembled like puzzles atop a steel framework of legs. To achieve this, the designers worked with a bridge building company to cut 4 inch thick slices from a 1 ton boulder using an 80" blade.

Carl Jung once described the stone as the symbol of our simplest and deepest human experience. For millenniums, humans have been drawn to rocks because they reflect our own sedimentary core, unaltered through time and weather. The Stone Rose fixture, an exemplary addition to the show that speaks to both the delicacy and resilience of the artists' material, proudly displays translucent petals sliced thinly enough to emit light. "For the Stone Roses, we used a small slab saw used normally to cut geode slices," explains the duo. "We made some experiments with the thickness, there are a few where the slices are thinner, but we found that for the most part those were too delicate, so the thickness we arrived at was the thinnest we could make it without losing too many petals in the process."

Romancing the Stone is available for viewing by appointment until August 1, 2019. Make an appointment here.

View the full gallery here

Design Job: Gear Up: Icon Motosports is Seeking a Motorcycle Accessories Designer inPortland

Core 77 - 8 hours 18 min ago

Have you always dreamed of becoming a motorcycle gear designer? Portland-based Icon Motosports is looking for a Product Designer to join their industry leading motorcycle equipment design team. Their in-house product design department needs an individual who will collaborate with the entire design and development group in pushing designs to the next level, and of course, "motorcycle riding experience very desirable".

See the full job details or check out all design jobs at Coroflot.

Looks Like We Might Be Catching Helicopters Instead of Cabs in the Near Future

Core 77 - 8 hours 18 min ago

Today at the GreenTech Festival in Berlin, Skyports and Volocopter announced plans to build the first physical, mobile "Volo-Port" (electric take-off and landing system) for their air taxis. The overall design and renderings of the system were created by Brandlab. It's absurd to think that helicopter taxis might become somewhat of a norm one day, but this idea has actually been brewing for quite some time—we even had the chance to sit inside a prototype model during CES in 2018.

Even so, the idea of actually taking air taxis instead of ground ones has never felt feasible due to the logistical challenges of facilitating timely and cost effective electric take-offs and landings. As seen in the photos above, however, the prototype has been tested by real humans, so the next phase will be to design a system around the new transportation model—starting with the mobile landing pads and stations.

The proposed station will be completed in Singapore by the end of 2019, which makes sense judging solely by the exaggerated information we know about Singapore a la Crazy Rich Asians (I mean, check out that one guy's Eames lounge chair and floor to ceiling window ratio in the renderings).

In order to operate an air taxi system within a crowded city like Singapore, though, Volocopter and their partners definitely have some kinks to work out (please refer to the rendering of an air taxi landing directly on a train station?), but the physical system in Singapore will aim to address most concerns. According to Volocopter reps, the system will allow for, "real-life testing of the full customer journey, showcasing of planned customer services (pre-flight checks, passenger lounges and boarding procedures), practical testing of ground operations and services (including battery swaps and charging maintenance), and the opportunity for authorities and industry regulators to interact with the infrastructure and provide feedback before they are asked to approve the final design." It's unclear whether the Volo-Port will be located near a train station or airport, but we are assuming that is the case based on convenience.

Once implemented, Volo-Port stations will be the only physical infrastructure required for Volocopter's air taxis to operate. "Each individual Volo-Port is designed so that it can stand alone or connect to other ports in numerous formations, enabling rapid deployment and scalability," says Duncan Walker, Managing Director of Skyports. "We have analyzed the available spaces and movement dynamics in city centers across the world and recognize that infrastructure is a key enabler for the emerging UAM market." From the renderings, it appears as if the modular system is adaptable based on location needs (coast, roof and apparently highway?) and roof structure.

There are still many unanswered questions, but for all the skeptics out there, Volocopter is assuring that this is the new reality of transportation. "Once regulation comes through on the aviation and city level—and this will be sooner than most think—we will be ready to take off," promises Volocopter Co-Founder Alex Zosel. So the real question is: would you test ride one of these?

View the full gallery here

Currently Crowdfunding: New Tools to Soothe Tired Muscles, Help You Conserve Water, and More

Core 77 - 8 hours 18 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:

This DIY cardboard smart speaker is specially created for kids, who'll have to assemble the Raspberry Pi-powered robot before they can program it to perform a wide range of tasks, from texting grandma to creating an interactive story time. Unlike Alexa, Chatterbox prioritizes privacy, so it never collects data and will only listen when the yellow button on its friendly head is pressed down.

These drum pads are super portable, wireless, and connected so you can practice anywhere (without waking anyone up!) or even add them to an existing drum kit to take it to another level.

Here's a pneumatic compression wrap that promotes healthy circulation throughout the body. A useful tool to help tired athletes recover faster, it's also a good idea for those who have to sit or stand for extended periods of time for work.

Made using the traditional Japanese bentwood technique known as Magemono, this bread tray is made of coniferous woods which, due to their porosity, are able to control humidity so you won't have to deal with that icky condensation build-up that occurs when you put freshly toasted bread on a plate. Instead, your toast will stay perfectly crispy until you're ready to dig in! The campaign is also offering insulated tumblers, including one made specifically for beer, with an unglazed surface that promotes foam.

Aguardio is an easy-to-install sensor that will track the amount of time you're spending in the shower and give you gentle reminders to encourage more mindful water consumption.

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.


Reader Submitted: This Compass Features a Familiar Mechanism Similar to Camera Apertures

Core 77 - 8 hours 18 min ago

Iris is a new tool for drawing and measuring circles. Simply rotate the rings to open and close its captivating aperture mechanism. Iris' concept came from conversations with our Kickstarter Community. Our supporters said that circle drawing tools lacked innovation and were difficult to use. These tools were unreliable and short-lived. So, we set out to completely redesign the circle drawing tool.

As amateur photographers, we noticed that camera apertures were reliable mechanisms and were surprised that they had not yet been developed for other purposes. In response to this observation, we designed an instrument that brings the quality of the camera aperture to your desk.


View the full project here

Design Job: Put Your Game Face On: Nickelodeon is Seeking a Designer in New York, NY

Core 77 - 8 hours 18 min ago

As a Nickelodeon Partner Strategy, Positioning & Presentation Designer, you will gain insight into how one of the most successful entertainment companies operates while designing engaging trade marketing presentations based on Nickelodeon’s content, capabilities and target audience. They are seeking a designer with animation skills and an understanding of print, digital and video production so if you're a jack of all design trades, catch this job opportunity before it's too late.

See the full job details or check out all design jobs at Coroflot.

Reader Submitted: A Communal Table Made From Up-cycled Construction Aluminum

Core 77 - 8 hours 18 min ago

As part of an ongoing effort to transform public perception regarding waste and its potential for reuse, Bee'ah, the leading waste management company in the Middle East, commissioned designer Ammar Kalo to develop a communal table for Dubai Design Week 2018.

View the full project here

The Dissatisfied Designer

Core 77 - 8 hours 18 min ago

A young designer asked me this question during the Q&A session after one of my talks at a conference: "What is the most important skill to have as a designer?" After pausing for a beat, it dawned on me that the most important skill to cultivate as a designer isn't sketching, modeling, research methodologies, leading workshops, or presenting—it's dissatisfaction. Getting into the state of having just the right amount of dissatisfaction is the glue that holds all of my work together. It is something that was taught to me from the very beginning in school, and it is something I hold onto today.

At RISD we practiced what they like to call a "critique culture" where students were encouraged to look critically at the world around them and discuss those criticisms. This practice is meant to help you do two things: first, to look for opportunities all around you that you can work to improve and second, to turn your critical gaze onto your own work to try to improve it. If you didn't follow through on the second, a fellow student would be sure to bring it up in a critique of your work in front of the professor. Everything was subject to be questioned, from major design concepts to an instructor asking why your print was hung 5 degrees off level, or why a corner was dog eared, or why all of your tacks were not the same color. What we learned was that the only wrong answer was not to have one. To have not thought critically about your own work and how you presented it was a major faux pas.

If you are happy with something the way it is, you may not find the motivation to search for a better solution.

Later in my academic studies, I took an exchange semester at the Cleveland Institute of Art. The program there offered a bit of a different spin on RISD's critique culture. Their students were encouraged to walk around to see what their classmates were working on and to ask if they could do an "overlay" where they took a clean sheet of paper and quickly ideated their feedback and thoughts on your project. This practice built a strong sense of camaraderie and taught us that getting to the best idea was the most important thing—not our egos. By pushing our egos to the side, we opened ourselves up to the ideas of our classmates.

Whatever your creative output is, you have to have a measure of dissatisfaction to work on a problem. If you are happy with something the way it is, you may not find the motivation to search for a better solution. Sometimes creative people get a bad reputation for having a bit of an attitude, but this might be because we are constantly identifying everything that is wrong with the world around us.

If you have too much dissatisfaction, however, you may find yourself in a state of paralysis. Having overloaded on dissatisfaction, I know it can lead to a bad place where nothing feels good enough to show anyone. It has taken a long time to learn how to control that emotion and find the right amount of dissatisfaction.

When I am in that perfect state of dissatisfaction, I feel like the ideas and iterations flow more freely. I'm able to look at research more objectively and create patterns out of insights. I'm able to review work in a constructive way, and I'm able to receive feedback with the assumption that the person I'm talking to can help me make the solution better. I remember when I was working on the Air Jordan XXI PE I, was showing an early prototype to Gentry Humphrey, who was the head of product line management for footwear at the time. I was working on a complex lacing system that hid most of the laces under a second tongue for a very sleek look that differentiated the product from the production AJXXI. There can be a bit of tension between product line management and designers, and Gentry very carefully suggested that perhaps there was a little too much white space in the composition and that a molded lace keeper at the top of the tongue would add that extra bit of polish. He was surprised by how much I lit up with my response as I said, "that is exactly what it needs".

If you have a critical mindset to your own work, you find that good ideas can come from anywhere. When you ask other people to look at your work, they will give ideas to you. You have to apply that same critical thinking to the feedback you have gotten. You have the hard task of deciding what bits to leave behind and what nuggets can be turned into insights.

In my professional career, I've tried to hone that critical gaze into a healthy level of dissatisfaction. When people ask me what project I love the most that I have worked on in the last 20+ years, I tell them the real question is what project I dislike the least. I've learned something with every project—I see the mistakes, the learnings, the battles lost, and I love that. To me it means I have grown and that I could do even better now.

If you can take a critical gaze at your surroundings as you walk through the world, you will never be at a loss for work. There are so many solutions that we take for granted because they have persisted for so long. They are waiting for a dissatisfied designer like you to come along and make them better.

Design Job: Apple is Seeking a Senior iOS Engineer in Austin, TX

Core 77 - 8 hours 18 min ago

Imagine what you could do here. At Apple, new ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring passion and dedication to your job and there's no telling what you could accomplish. Join Apple's Corporate Systems Engineering group as a Sr. iOS Engineer to build innovative applications and custom solutions that serve all Apple Corporate Employees.

See the full job details or check out all design jobs at Coroflot.

The Design Principles That Make Land Rover Successful: Excerpts from a Talk by Gerry McGovern, Director of Design

Core 77 - 8 hours 18 min ago

In 2008 Land Rover was in flux, having just been acquired by Tata Motors (along with now-stablemate Jaguar). Tata wasn't exactly a household name, and Gerry McGovern, Land Rover's Director of Design, told Alloy + Grit of his reservations at the time:

"For me, when Tata bought Jaguar and Land Rover, there was a bit of concern. What do they know about the premium automotive business? They were first to admit they knew nothing about it. But [they said], 'That's why we bought you. You're the experts. You run the business in the way you see fit.'"

However, there was one very significant change made by the new owners. At the time, Land Rover was structured the way that a lot of car companies are: The design group reported to the engineering group. But fortuitously for Land Rover, Ratan Tata, who was then Chairman of the Tata Group, wasn't your average businessman; he held a degree from Cornell in Architecture and Structural Engineering. In other words, he was trained in both design and engineering, and understood what the relationship between the two ought to be.

Thus Tata had a question for Land Rover: "Why does Design report to Engineering?"

From then on the arrangement was swapped, to the betterment of the company, as we saw here. "We're all in it together," McGovern said, "but they do the engineering better than we can, we do the design better than they can. So we respect each other, and we make sure we get it in the right order."

We're at a press event for Range Rover's new Evoque, where the car's high sales figures are being touted. McGovern takes the mic and turns the talk towards design. "Of course volume is important to us, and business is important, but more important is that we create vehicles that our customers love for life," McGovern says.

"Design leadership and engineering integrity is at the top of the bar no matter what vehicle it is. That hasn't always been the case at Land Rover--in the past they looked the way they did because of what they did. But what we've tried to do, over the last 10 years or so, is give them a good dose of design in order to make these vehicles more universally desirable without them becoming generic. That has certainly made a difference. And we're doing it without in any way undermining the engineering, because the two can be reconciled if you've got the right attitude."

McGovern then goes into detail about his and Land Rover's design approach, their design do's and don't's, how they harness design to create an emotional connection and more. Here are excerpts from that chat.

A Modernist Approach to Design

"For us it's about being reductive. It's about being 'less is more,' it's about reduction of clutter. We believe that's absolutely right for a Range Rover, which is a sophisticated vehicle."

Desirability

"Let's face it--people don't actually need luxury Range Rovers. I said it. They don't actually need luxury watches, luxury homes, luxury holidays. They don't need them, but they desire them, and that's the difference. If people can feed that desire with products and services that are morally sociable, responsible and sustainable, and in the process feed lots of families and keep people in business, there's nothing wrong with that."

Three Elements of Using Design to Form an Emotional Connection

"That emotional connection is something that only the best, in my view, achieve. Whether it's a car or anything else, to me it's down to three things:

"Visceral: When I look at it, do I desire it, do I want it?

"Behavioral: When I've got it, does it work, does it do what it's supposed to do? And last but not least,

"Reflective: Once I've used it, experienced it over a period of time, do I still desire it? Does it still do what it's supposed to do? And am I building a lasting relationship with it, which reinforces why I bought it in the first place?

"Now these aren't necessarily all equal, sometimes the product can over-index on the visceral and not on the behavioral, but overall still be very successful--they vary, it's like a graphic equalizer. But for me, that's the absolute core of emotional design."

Not Looking at Competitors

"In Land Rover we tend to work a slightly different way to some of our competitors. I know and have talked to most of the design leaders all around the world, and I don't tend to look at their designs too much, because I think that can subconsciously affect what you do, and I encourage our designers not to do the same either. We're cognizant of what's going on, in terms of being competitive and the latest technology and all those things. But when it comes to design, we've got our own DNA."

Design First

"In the studio we [designers] create the tangible asset, we create the volumes, the proportions and the basic layout of the vehicle and the packaging. And once we've signed it off, then we ask our brilliant engineers to come in and deliver and get us as close to that design as possible. A lot of studios work the other way round. I believe that's dangerous because the horse has bolted and you end up with what's called 'styling,' which is reinforced by volumes and proportions that don't look right.

"If you look at a Range Rover, it's very elegant: Long wheelbase, bit of a boat tail, short front overhang, that's the body relationship. It's a very well-considered, proportional design. That's not even talking about the surfacing, just the volume and proportion. Now if we did it the other way round [by starting with the engineering], there's a danger it could end up looking [quite wrong]. This isn't having a go at Pete [Bingham, JLR Chief Engineer] and his fraternity--we're all in it together--but they do the engineering better than we can, we do the design better than they can. So we respect each other, we make sure we get it in the right order."

On Chaotic Design

"We are starting to see in the marketplace more and more of this approach to design which I call 'Zorro,' [as in] the fencer--all the lines all over the place. And to me it creates visual confusion."

Refining Vs. Rebooting

"There's this preoccupation in the automotive industry that ever time you do a new car, it has to be completely different. Why? When it comes to a new vehicle that we haven't produced before, that's our opportunity to be radical. But if you've got something that's established, that people love, [I'd rather] refine it. Look at the evolution of the 911, it's a very good example. Or the evolution of the Range Rover. That is our approach."

Defender of Design

Yes, we know what a lot of die-hard Land Rover fans most want to hear McGovern talk about: The Defender, that iconic and discontinued British 4x4, which Land Rover will shortly be resurrecting. The new design is cloaked in secrecy, and at the press event, after teasingly joking that he had one out back to show us, all he would say is this:

"Our design strategy, or our brand architecture: Land Rover is still a master brand; Range Rover is our family of luxury vehicles that talk to refinement and sophistication; Discovery talks to versatility. And I think when Defender comes, this strategy will all make sense. It will be the absolute polarization of Range Rover, to give you a clue."

We're waiting!


Reader Submitted: A Chair Inspired By Repetitive Thoughts

Core 77 - 8 hours 18 min ago

Shook is the first in a series of lounge chairs inspired by the repetitive nature of an obsessive mindset. The viewer is invited to recline while contemplating the thoughts trapped in their head.


View the full project here

Meet 5 Textile-Focused Dutch Designers Exhibiting at Ventura New York

Core 77 - 8 hours 18 min ago

This year, Ventura exhibited their Dutch Edition at ICFF for the first time, venturing into new territory from their typical WantedDesign Manhattan takeover. In the center of the massive furniture fair, a booth filled to the brim of work from 15 different Dutch designers brought a bright, joyous and material-focused perspective to NYCxDesign. One of the main trends we noticed from the show-within-a-show was a focus on textile innovation, with five of the 15 projects centered around finding new creative ways to work with both traditional fabrics and even unexpected ones like Colback. Below is an overview of the five textile-focused works, which are all on display at ICFF until tomorrow, May 22:

The Composition Table by Creative Chef

Creative Chef combines product design and food to create meaningful dining experiences. Keeping with their mission to bring everyone together over food in unexpected ways, the designers decided to transform one of the most common dining accessories: table linens.

At first glance, the textiles appear to be just a colorful, visual treat, but their pattern is actually scannable sound waves, which when scanned create a musical composition to listen to over a meal. The idea is that the phone with the scanning app can be passed around the table, and each time a guest scans their placemat or section of the tablecloth, a new sound is added to the piece.

Kaumera Kimono by Nienke Hoogvliet

Nienke Hoogvliet's goal is to find ways to make the textile industry more sustainable, with a specific focus on working with pollution and starting a movement against fast fashion. For her exhibiting project, Kaumera Kimono, the designer created a new material from wastewater that can be used during the dyeing process.

Hoogvliet discovered that Kaumera, an alginate like material derived from wastewater, actually makes textiles absorb dyes better. So, in turn, less water is needed in the dying process. To add color to the textiles, she used two natural dyes extracted from wastewater: Anammox and Vivianite. Kimonos are garments that, unlike fast fashion pieces, are passed on for generations, so Nienke decided it would be the ideal garment to apply her research to.

BLOCKO Cushions by Aleksandra Gaca

Aleksandra Gaca's 3D woven textiles, aptly called Architextiles, have already been seen in the fashion and automotive worlds as cozy, sound dampening pieces. But the process to bring this technique to a point in which it can be manufactured for use in the industry did not come easy. In fact, Gaca has been working to develop this technique for around 20 years—working to refine both the design and manufacturing process (now she is able to produce them by machine instead of by hand).

At ICFF, the designer is exhibiting a step into the home decor world with a series of cushions using her sound absorbent fabrics. The cushions provide a visual, tactile and auditory experience with a surprising gradient color effect as you move them around in your hands.

Colback Table by Rick Tegelaar

Rick Tegelaar discovered that Colback, the same material dryer sheets are made from, can be 3D printed, so he decided to customize the FDM printing process to accommodate yarns made from the material. The designer also developed a method of adhering the printed yarn over non-woven Colback material to create reinforcements, add rigidity and create tensional strength.

To make the table on display at ICFF, Tegelaar used this same technique to create a graphic layer on non-woven Colback to enhance the appearance of a material we all know from our laundry supplies.

Cafe´ 6116 Coffee Table by Ruben van Megen

In many portraits painted by 17th-century Dutch masters, Persian carpets are often seen being used as tablecloths because they were thought to be too beautiful to put on the ground. As a new take on this tradition, Ruben van Megen is exhibiting a table that features a tabletop made from a real Persian rug covered in resin, thus preserving both the beauty and the scars of the carpet.

There's still time to visit Ventura Projects at ICFF—the fair runs until tomorrow, May 22.

Design Job: Teague is Seeking a Senior Interaction Designer in Seattle

Core 77 - 8 hours 18 min ago

The Senior Interaction Designer is responsible for leading design projects by utilizing their conceptual skills, industry experience and imagination to bring creative excellence to our client's digital products. This is a position that will require exceptional problem-solving skills, a drive to innovate and the ability to come up with innovative

See the full job details or check out all design jobs at Coroflot.

Visibility's "Under the Office" Focuses on the Grind of Running a Product Design Studio

Core 77 - 8 hours 18 min ago

Mapping out our five year plans, rarely do we foresee the obstacles and challenges that will someday confront us along the way. The daily things: broken pencils, missed train rides, or a popped wheel. Function is never without failure. Even rarer is the notion of celebrating those failures when so much of audience-facing content is in praise of superlatives or how we got to the finish line rather than the journey. Sina Sohrab and Joseph Guerra of industrial design office Visibility commemorated the uncertainties as well as the milestones that propelled them through 5 years of their practice this past Wednesday, with the opening of their exhibition Under the Office.

All photography by Blanca Guerrero

Known for their conceptual products as well as furniture pieces, Visibility took this as an opportunity to exhibit a quirky archive of past work and prototypes of objects such as chairs, light fixtures, household appliances—with some alluding to failed pitches and killed projects throughout Sohrab and Guerra's years of working together. "I think the idea of failure is a difficult one to define when you're starting out. In a general sense you think of it as a negative that something didn't work out, but more often than not it's these projects and shortcomings that service the next in a more meaningful way than you'd expect," says Sohrab.

Since quitting their day jobs to focus on their design office and building their clientele, the co-founders have been on the cover of Monocle, have launched a stool for Matter as well as their first electronic appliance, and built a team of like-minded people—but their accomplishments were not without a set of strong lessons, particularly in a field where creative profiles are saturated online that the pressure to stand out is high. "Hard lessons are plentiful when you're baptized by fire," explains Guerra. "A lot of designers out there strive to hone their craft and hopefully the cream will rise to the top. Making money takes creative thinking as well, but everyone wants to make it look easy. Places like Instagram are not a real place for meaningful conversations."

The need to be visible or to please is a secondary priority for these visual technicians, despite their competitive industry. What's more important is shaping our environments in a way that show up as authentic, particularly in our common interactions with the material—whether it's with baby strollers, spray bottles, or corkscrews. There can be big lessons in small objects for all of us, whether we always see it or not.

10 Breakthrough Futuristic Military Technologies to Watch

Design News - Fri, 2019-05-24 14:30

Over the decades a great deal of technology developed for the military has found its way into the commercial market. From duct tape, to GPS, and even a little thing called the Internet, military tech has a way of influencing not just the lives soldiers but eventually society at large (because duct tape fixes everything!)

So what's next? What's being worked on today that will be the hottest technologies on the future? In honor of Memorial Day, we're talking a look at 10 of the coolest technologies currently being developed by the US military today. Most are connected to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the US government's big R&D agency, but in addition to saving lives on the battlefield, don't be surprised if you see some of these technologies in your daily life some time in the near future.

Click the image above to start the slideshow.

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

 

Meet Pentagram's Newest Partner: Information Designer Giorgia Lupi

Core 77 - Fri, 2019-05-24 12:25

For the first time in nearly a decade, Pentagram New York has brought on a new partner: interaction designer and 2013 Core77 Design Awards honoree Giorgia Lupi. In addition to being the co-founder and design director of Accurat, Lupi is also known for co-authoring Dear Data. She's worked with clients including IBM, Google, Starbucks, United Nations, and the World Health Organization among many others. Her work is part of the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Cooper Hewitt, and in 2018 she was named one of "Fast Company's" 100 Most Creative People in Business. At Pentagram, Lupi will continue to expand her practice and explore ways of integrating data visualization into our daily experiences.

For the XXII Triennale di Milano, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival, Lupi and her team created the "Room of Change," a data-tapestry illustrating how multiple aspects of our environment have changed in the past centuries, how they are still changing, and how they will likely continue changing.

Lupi first got a masters of architecture but she wasn't interested in building buildings as much as she was in mapping and uncovering new dimensions about the built world. Soon after graduating she began working for two different interaction design firms in Italy, where she worked on information mapping projects and interactive installations. "I progressively discovered that data can be an incredible lens to find and build stories and ideas, and at the same time a creative material we can use to visually narrate it, I simply fell in love with this world and the realms of possibilities it opens," Lupi told us in a recent interview.

For Lupi, data isn't just a cold set of hard facts, it's a way of revealing new details about human nature. When expressed with nuance and in a visually engaging way, information design can "re-connect numbers to what they stand for: stories, people, ideas."

Lupi's humanist design manifesto

In 2011, she founded her data-driven design firm Accurat, with offices in both Milan and New York. In addition to her own expertise, part of what Lupi will bring to Pentagram is her extensive network. "At Pentagram I'll be working in continuity with my past experience, building my in-house team and maintaining the relationships I built over the years and creating opportunities to collaborate with the people I have been working with for such a long time," she noted. "I'm very close to this team and I look forward to opportunities to work together under the Pentagram umbrella."

In 2018, when Starbucks opened its first store in Milan, Lupi and her team designed an augmented-reality-enabled wall depicting Starbucks' history and coffee-making process.

Having led her own company for nearly a decade, Lupi took her existing creative freedom under consideration when deciding to join Pentagram. "Most of all I value variety and to see my work applied to different worlds and fields, and I also love to have the freedom to make my own calls on what to take on and which risks to take. With this premise, the Pentagram platform is really exciting for me because of the scale and the potential impact of projects that Pentagram can take on is unmatched."

Lupi's winning Core77 Design Awards entry was part of a project her team worked on with the newspaper Corriere della Sera. This visualization explores Nobel prizes and laureates from 1901 to 2012, analyzing the age of the recipients, the level of education and degrees of the laureates, and their university affiliations and hometowns.

At Pentagram she'll work on a wide range of quantitative and qualitative projects, from brand identities and campaigns to environmental graphics, exhibitions, events, reports and interactive experiences. "If you see data the way I see data, data can be a lens, or a filter to parse the stories of a brand, of an institution, of a community of people, and then as a design material for communication design projects of different kinds. In this sense, I will work with data that clients might have already gathered, as well as exploring new types of data that can be unearthed to tell more hand-crafted stories."


Polymer Films Conduct Heat Instead of Trapping It

Design News - Fri, 2019-05-24 05:00

Polymer materials typically are natural insulators, which makes them well-suited for applications that need to trap heat inside them, like sleeves for coffee cups or oven mitts.

However, polymers also are used in electronic devices, which can cause overheating and possible device failure if the heat isn’t somehow dissipated.

Heat Conducting Polymers

Researchers at MIT now have solved this problem by modifying the natural reaction of polymers and creating polymer films that conduct heat rather than trapping it, an ability normally associated with metals.

A team of engineering researchers built upon previous work to fabricate thin films of conducting polymer by untangling the usual mess of molecular polymer chains in the material, which typically makes it difficult for heat to flow through.

“Common polyethylene has randomly coiled and tangled chains,” Yanfei Xu, one of the researchers on the project and an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told Design News. “These chains look like spaghetti tangled up on a plate. These entanglements and voids, etc., act as defects that scatter heat-carriers, and results in polyethylene as thermal insulators.”

In experiments, researchers found that the films they created—which are thinner than plastic wrap—conduct heat better than ceramics and many metals, including steel, they said.

Xu and her colleagues achieved these results by building on previous work from 2010, in which they fabricated thin fibers of polyethylene 300 times more thermally conductive than normal polyethylene, and about as conductive as most metals.

By mixing polymer powder in solution to generate a film that they then stretched, MIT researchers have changed polyethylene’s microstructure, from spaghetti-like clumps of molecular chains (left), to straighter strands (right), allowing heat to conduct through the polymer better than most metals. (Image source: MIT)

Heat-Conducting Films

However, the fibers alone wouldn’t be useful for applications such as electronics and computer core processors, the makers of which became interested in the work for this purpose. Researchers knew they would have to create polymer films of the fibers if the technology would be applicable, they said.

To fabricate the thin films of conducting polymer, researchers started with a commercial polyethylene powder and then set out to untangle the molecular chains. To do this, they dissolved polyethylene powder in a solution that prompted the coiled chains to expand and untangle.

Researchers then built a custom flow system to unwind the molecular chains further, and then spilled the solution onto a liquid-nitrogen-cooled plate to form a thick film. In a final step, researchers used a roll-to-roll drawing machine to heat and stretch the film until it was thinner than plastic wrap.

The result was an impressive heat-conducting thin-film material, Xu told us.

“Our engineered polyethylene film [conducted heat] around 62 watts per meter per kelvin, which is two orders of magnitude more thermally conductive than most polymers, and also more conductive than steel and ceramics.,” she said. “Ceramic measures about 30 watts per meter per kelvin, and steel, around 15.

Compared with [these] traditional heat conductors, our polymer films are lightweight, corrosion resistant, and easy to process.”

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Applications for these films range from heat-dissipating materials in laptops and mobile devices, as well as cooling elements in cars and refrigerators, Xu added. The team published a paper on its work in the journal Nature Communications.

Researchers aim to continue their work to dissipate heat more effectively in any direction, as currently, the polyethylene film conducts heat only along the length of the fibers that make up the film, Xu told us. “So we’re looking into better heat conduction in all three dimensions,” she said.

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.

 

Drive World with ESC Launches in Silicon Valley

This summer (August 27-29), Drive World Conference & Expo launches in Silicon Valley with North America's largest embedded systems event, Embedded Systems Conference (ESC). The inaugural three-day showcase brings together the brightest minds across the automotive electronics and embedded systems industries who are looking to shape the technology of tomorrow.
Will you be there to help engineer this shift? Register today!

 

Siemens Unveils Simulation Tool for Testing of Autonomous Vehicles

Design News - Fri, 2019-05-24 04:00

Siemens AG last week rolled out a simulation tool that could help automakers reduce the vast number of physical test miles required for the validation of autonomous vehicles.

Known as PAVE360, the new tool allows developers to design and test an autonomous vehicle system-on-chip (SoC) and its surrounding electronic components in a completely virtual environment. “We don’t just model the analog or electromechanical systems,” noted David Fritz, global technology manager for Siemens AG. “We actually model the silicon itself, and then go from the silicon to the ECU, and from the ECU to multiple ECUs, and then through the network, all the way out to the entire vehicle. And we do that within a virtual representation of the world.”

PAVE360 simulates the performance of an autonomous vehicle’s silicon and its electronic components in a virtual representation of the world. (Image source: Siemens AG)

The new product performs its simulations by combining virtual real-world scenarios with virtual models of cameras, radar, LiDAR, processors and other components. In essence, it sends the virtual data from the “sensors” to the silicon, enabling the SoCs to be tested under any “what-if” types of conditions, including the presence of rain, snow, ice, sunlight, darkness, traffic, and moving obstacles, such as a deer, or a pedestrian pushing a baby buggy.

“What we’re talking about is moving toward a test bench, a platform, that can be validated against a physical vehicle that may not even exist yet,” Fritz said. “And doing it in a formal way, with a formalized methodology.”

The ability to do so is critical for automotive engineers, many of whom are now testing real-world scenarios by driving physical miles on the roads of California, Arizona, Michigan, and elsewhere. The problem with such techniques is that they don’t allow for so-called “scenario closure’’ – that is, scenarios that haven’t been imagined yet, Fritz said. “Right now, Tesla is driving millions of miles, Waymo is driving millions of miles,” he told us. “But we learned a long time ago, that’s only going to get you to 80% or 90%. It’s going to take forever to get you through that last 10%, to the ‘five nines’ (of reliability) that you’re looking for.”

Siemens engineers want to address that issue by creating a foundation that allows developers to show an equivalence between a virtual platform and physical platform, thus setting the stage for more testing and validation through simulation. In some cases, they might also use the simulation tool to run initial test scenarios, which could subsequently be carried out and completed on a physical test track, Fritz said. “It’s a better approach than driving forever and keeping your fingers crossed that there are no casualties,” he said.

To a large extent, PAVE360 is the result of $12 billion in acquisitions that Siemens has made over the past decade. By combining products from such companies as Mentor Graphics and Tass International, among many others, the industrial giant was able to assemble the pieces needed to simulate the behavior of an entire autonomous vehicle in a real-world environment.

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Siemens is targeting the product at automotive OEMs. The goal is for PAVE360 to serve as a foundation, onto which the automakers could overlay software models of the brakes, steering, engine, or other components provided by the OEMs’ Tier One and Tier Two suppliers. In that way, automotive manufacturers could build up an all-encompassing simulation package to model the electronic performance of an entire vehicle and all its sub-systems.

“Up to now, the methodology that’s been used to validate autonomous vehicles hasn’t been the most rigorous,” Fritz said. “The alternative is to use high-fidelity models that are repeatable, deterministic, and that can be applied with rigor in an engineering environment. That’s what we’re offering.”

Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 35 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and auto.

 

Drive World with ESC Launches in Silicon Valley

This summer (August 27-29), Drive World Conference & Expo launches in Silicon Valley with North America's largest embedded systems event, Embedded Systems Conference (ESC). The inaugural three-day showcase brings together the brightest minds across the automotive electronics and embedded systems industries who are looking to shape the technology of tomorrow.
Will you be there to help engineer this shift? Register today!

 

People Don't Want Your Product Design. They Want the Outcome It Provides

Core 77 - Thu, 2019-05-23 12:14

McDonald's had a mystery on their hands. While seeking to boost milkshake sales, they were analyzing franchise data in a particular region of the U.S. when they discovered four peculiar statistics:

- 50% of all milkshakes were sold before 8 a.m.
- Customers buying the shakes were always alone.- The milkshake was the only item they bought.- They never drank the shake in the restaurant.

This was pretty strange behavior, so they engaged a consulting firm to find out what was going on. This obsession with data, by the way, is pretty much a core McDonald's trait. Way back in in 1940, Dick and Mac McDonald painstakingly developed the optimal oil temperature (360 degrees) and cooking time (3.5 minutes) for the perfect French fry. The brothers' modus operandi was to measure everything, then iterate all processes to arrive at innovation. By optimizing their menu options, their customer service, their operations, et cetera, they arrived at their biggest win of all: Time, enabling them to put an order in a customer's hands in 170 seconds. And despite the takeover by Ray Kroc in 1961, McDonald's remains true to its data-driven roots.

Back to the milkshakes. The consulting firm staked out several franchises like detectives, approaching and questioning milkshake-bearers as they departed. "Excuse me, but what job does that milkshake solve for you?" A strange way to frame it, but the consultants were using a formal innovation methodology, popularly referred to as Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD).

The idea is that people don't want the product itself, but rather the outcome the product provides. The marketer and Harvard professor Theodore Levitt summed it up perfectly: "People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill [bit], they want a quarter inch hole."

Photo by Simon Caspersen on Unsplash

Although the JTBD framework has recently received a huge boost in recognition from Clay Christensen, the business consultant known as one of the godfathers of modern innovation methods, the process originally emerged over 20 years ago with the less catchy title, Outcome Driven Innovation (ODI).

As innovation expert Tony Ulwick, the founder of ODI describes it, "Customers are not buyers, they are job executors. Competitors aren't companies that make products like yours, they are any solution being used to get the job done."

Here is the useful thing about using JTBD lens for your designs and your products: Solutions change a lot, but the jobs don't; they tend to be stable over time. Consider music. We still love listening to music on the go, but in the last 25 years the tool we used to do that has profoundly changed, from the Walkman, to the iPod, to Spotify.

So in our mystery at McDonald's, what "job" is the milkshake addressing? This is what customers told the consultants: They needed something to do during their long morning commute; something that would fill them up, keep them awake, and allow them to have one hand free. Apparently the McDonald's milkshake, with its viscosity, calories, and coldness executed that job better than the competition. Competitors included a cream cheese bagel (messy), a banana (requires two hands to peel) and a snickers bar (too much guilt).

Once McDonald's leadership saw their milkshake through the JTBD lens, they were able to improve upon it using a completely different strategy than they had originally planned. They offered a pre-paid card and moved the milkshakes closer to the cash register so customers could dash in and go. Sales increased sevenfold.

In Ulwick's framework, there is an important distinction between a "solution" and an "outcome" – for instance in the milkshake example, the solution is the milkshake but the outcome is that the commuter has something to occupy his time until 10 a.m. Ulwick and Christensen have found that winning products are those that help customers get to a desired outcome better or more cheaply than other solutions.

In order to leverage JTBD, the innovator must first break the job down into an underlying process, then measure two variables from the customer's point of view:

1) How important is the job? 2) How satisfied are they with the current solution?

All of this is anchored in the customer's overarching desired outcome, and the best solution is the one that helps them reach it.

There's at least two things that designers, or companies hiring designers, need to bear in mind here. One is that the solution might have nothing to do with the company's existing product designs or form factors. Two is that the answers given in interviews may not be straightforward and will require a particular type of questioning.

I'll give you an example. Consider Cordis Corporation, a company that manufactures the angioplasty balloon, a tool enabling cardiologists to restore bloodflow in a blocked artery. In 1993 Cordis leadership used the JTBD process to better understand what outcome cardiologists wanted, as well as the series of jobs necessary for that outcome. The idea was to iterate on their current product designs.

To gather data, they conducted dozens of interviews with surgeons, nurses, and hospital administrators. JTBD interviews are an important part of this process – and tough to do correctly. The first step is to have the participant describe their process or "job" in detail; however, participants will often describe solutions or products. For instance, surgeons would say "I use a balloon that is smooth and easy to maneuver." In order to get to key insights, the JTBD interviewer followed up with, "Why?" Surgeons said, "I need to move quickly through tortuous vessels." The JTBD team translated this into: "Job is to minimize the time it takes to maneuver through a winding vessel."

When framed in this light, Cordis realized that they didn't need to iterate on the angioplasty balloon at all; they needed a completely new tool that minimizes surgical time.

Once the JTBD team completes a sufficient number of interviews, they rate the needs and outcomes on two measurements: The importance of the outcome and the degree of satisfaction with the current solution. These ratings are then prioritized via an algorithm to provide an accurate idea of potential opportunities for product development.

For the Cordis team, the rating algorithm revealed a surprising insight: the most important job with the least satisfying solution was to stop an artery blockage from recurring. Armed with this information, Cordis went on to develop the coronary stent, which became the fastest-growing product in medical device history, delivering $1B in revenue during its first year. The company's revenues doubled within two years. Three years after the JTBD interviews, Johnson & Johnson acquired Cordis for $109 a share.

The striking point illuminated by the JTBD methodology is that it is not the solution that's important; the product is the method that customers use (or "hire") to reach their ideal outcome. Once we embrace the idea that a customer's desired outcome is what we ought to focus on, innovative design can become predictable and powerful.

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Further Reading:

- More info on the Cordis case study here.

- Here's a PDF link where you can learn more about ODI and JTBD.