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Smart Design: The Tumbler Diamond Rolling Knife Sharpener

Core 77 - 13 hours 44 min ago

Remember that elaborate Ixi Ruixin Pro knife-sharpening rig?

In contrast, look at how simple and elegant the design of this Tumbler Diamond Rolling Knife Sharpener is:

The magnetic block offers a 15-degree angle on one side, and a 20-degree on the other.

The rolling sharpener is also dual-sided: The continuous surface is diamond-plated, meant to do the initial sharpening. The spiral surface is stainless steel and meant for the final honing.

These go for $98—when they come back into stock. Due to high demand, Tumbler says, new orders won't ship until December 16th.


Making Urban Scaffolding Beautiful: Urban Umbrella

Core 77 - 13 hours 44 min ago

When I left NYC several years ago, scaffolding looked like this:

Now it's been upgraded, at least in places. A company called Urban Umbrella has wisely designed a more attractive scaffolding system, and even convinced the city to allow them to use the color white (standard regulation is Hunter Green).

Typical scaffolding requires ugly X-bracing...

...whereas Urban Umbrella's design uses graceful struts:

Gone are the caged outdoor lights of typical scaffolding systems; Urban Umbrella uses slender LEDs instead.

Their system also allows customizability.

As you'd expect, Urban Umbrella's system is more expensive than standard scaffolding—three to four times as much. Company founder Benjamin Krall told CBS News that he typically pitches the retailers, who can then sway the landlords who have to foot the bill. "We are at least going to give your ground floor retailer a shot to stay in business," Krall explains, "because one in five retailers exposed to traditional scaffolding will go out of business."

As someone who's looked at ugly scaffolding for most of my life, I'm stunned at how good Urban Umbrella's fixtures look.

Krall, for his part, is modest. ""We are improving a product people still hate," he says. "They're still happy when it comes down."


This Finnish Company Molded the Industrial Designer's Name Into the Product

Core 77 - 13 hours 44 min ago

In looking up Orthex, which we called "the Muji of Finland," I came across this interesting tidbit in Finnish newspaper Ilta-Santomat.

The company's most successful product, released in 1995, is called Jäänalle, and it's still sold today. It's what the Finns call a "freezer box," or what we'd call a food storage container meant to withstand the rigors of freezing. Some 70 million of them have been sold to date; Jäänalle "can be found in more Finnish homes than any other object," the paper writes.

It seems like a simple design, but Ilta-Santomat's interview with industrial designer Laura Huhtela-Bremer reveals that a lot of thought went into it. "My starting point has always been that you have to think about the user. I'm an industrial designer by training, and it's in our DNA," Huhtela-Bremer says.

"Jäänalle differed from its predecessors in many ways. Huhtala-Bremer started her work by thinking about what kind of freezer box she would not want to use."

"Jäänalle's corners are rounded, which makes it easier to spoon out the contents of the box than with sharp-cornered predecessors. Thanks to the rounded corners, the content also freezes more evenly and faster. The matter was even tested in the laboratory."

"The lid of the box is recessed so that the bottom of the other one fits well. The boxes are easy to stack on top of each other, but there is still enough space between them to allow cold air to flow in the freezer. The boxes also easily fit inside each other but do not stick to each other."

"Stiffness ribs go around the top edge of the ice cube, thanks to which the box keeps its shape, even when hot juice is poured into it. The recesses in the upper corners can fit a thumb, which can be used to easily click the cover open. Earlier models had a flap on the lid for opening. However, it was often too small. The bigger one would have snapped off like ice."

Here's what blew me away: The company saw to it that the Jäänalle molds—which cost "tens of thousands of Euros"—had Huhtala-Bremer's name debossed into the bottom.

Image credit: Pete Aarre-Ahtio / Ilta-Santomat

You expect that for a Vignelli, a Starck; that the company did it for a then-young designer of a pretty humble object is admirable.

The steel molds, of course, wear out and have to be replaced after four or five million cycles. Sadly, somewhere along the line the company omitted Huhtala-Bremer's name from the new molds.

In an echo of Carolyn Davidson's story—she's the designer of the original Nike logo—Huhtala-Bremer was paid a lump sum for her work, not a royalty; she did not financially benefit from the wild success of the product.

That's par for the course, for most industrial designers. But at least Huhtala-Bremer received some recognition, and it must feel good to know your name is on the most commonly-owned object in the entire country.

The Muji of Finland: Orthex

Core 77 - 13 hours 44 min ago

Muji, Rubbermaid, Umbra, the Container Store: These are the companies I might start with if doing research prior to designing common household goods. But another company you should check out, and which you've probably never heard of if you're not Nordic, is Orthex.

It's perhaps not fair to call Orthex the Muji of Finland; Muji was only founded in 1980, whereas Orthex has been cranking out household basics since 1956. But an article in Finland's Ilta-Sanomat newspaper acknowledges that the company is "almost unknown in the rest of the world," while in Finland, 9 out of 10 households have Orthex food storage containers in their freezers and Orthex buckets in a closet.

The company has subsidiaries in nearby Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Germany, and through their three brands—Orthex, SmartStore and GastroMax—they produce storage items, kitchenware, tableware, bins, buckets, baskets, tubs, plant care objects, and most recently a line of green containers made from recycled fishing nets.



The way their website is laid out, it's difficult to see their entire product range at once; but if you know what specific category you'd like to dive into, you can start here. (Click on "Products" at the top left of that link; the website's configured in such a way that I cannot provide a direct link to it.)

Ergonomically Superior Rotating Nail Clippers 

Core 77 - 13 hours 44 min ago

This attractive, functional Griff rotating nail clipper was designed by Yoshita Handi-Design Studio, a firm founded by Japanese industrial designer Yoshita Moritaka.

I figured it was commissioned by a manicure/pedicure supply company, but I guessed wrong. "This was a request from a knife manufacturer in Seki City, Gifu Prefecture," Yoshita writes. "The basic concept of a frame made of aluminum extrusion molding and a rotating blade structure had to be reduced to a concrete form. We studied the design while creating a model that could actually cut nails, not just an image. It was a simple and time-consuming process, but the solid response was very encouraging."

In a Facebook post, Yoshita points out that the tool's large size means it can be operated without having to hold it (see photo below). Thus it can be used "even with a weak grip," he writes. The popularity of the tool has made Yoshita "realize that there are more people than I expected who are worried about their weak grip and difficulty moving their fingers. [Knife manufacturer] Kosaka Hamono Seisakusho, which has been manufacturing nail clippers for many years, listened to many people's concerns and devised a system that rotates the blade part."

A question none of you may have the answer to: I get that prior to the invention of nail clippers and files, people probably just nibbled their fingernails away; but how do you reckon we handled toenails? I wonder what those remote tribes in the rainforest do about them.

LG's Strange, Flippable Monitor with a Handle

Core 77 - 13 hours 44 min ago

Here's a strange product that might make sense for a minority of users. LG's 27" Libero display has a built-in base that also serves as a handle and hanging bar.

One long edge of the monitor is lined with a soundbar, and the monitor can be used with the handle at the bottom, serving as the base, or inverted, with the handle hanging from the included hooks (as from a cubicle wall).


The monitor automatically detects which way is up and flips the picture accordingly. Additionally, there is a port both top and bottom that a companion webcam can be plugged into, so that it always sits atop the monitor, no matter which way it's oriented.

I suppose these might make sense in a flexible-office hot-desking arrangement, or perhaps in a work-from-home situation where space is highly limited (i.e. your kid's bedroom becomes your office when they go to school).

If anything, the design might be ahead of its time. If in the future monitors become entirely wireless (gosh how nice that would be), it might make sense to have one with a handle that you can easily move from site to site.

In any case, I'm always impressed when a corporation as large as LG is willing to release something as weird, experimental and outside-the-box as this thing is.


Tesla Manages to Design World's Least Ergonomic Drinkware

Core 77 - 13 hours 44 min ago

This absurd $75 three-piece tchotchke is not attributed to any designer, but is sold by Tesla as their branded "Sipping Glasses."

It consists of two 1.5-ounce, 3.5" tall glasses that cannot stand on their own, and are seemingly designed to be impossible to wash by hand. A highly polished extrusion of an unspecified metal serves as the base.


There is only one way to correctly orient the glasses into the base, and the glasses must touch if they are both to fit within it.

The design of the set is of course inspired by Tesla Tequila.

A Toaster That Also Works on Its Side

Core 77 - 13 hours 44 min ago

I would've guessed this was an ID student concept. A kitchenware company with the unlikely name of Ninja Foodi makes this bizarre countertop contraption: The Flip Toaster is essentially a stand-up toaster, but one that can be rotated onto its side if you need to toast something horizontally (i.e. a mini pizza).

It comes with a detachable door/tray to manage items in the horizontal "oven mode."

As you can see in the demo video, the device is considerably larger than it looks in the photos:

I like how she said "Flip the oven down to unlock Oven Mode." We're playing it a bit fast and loose with the tech terms, no?

I probably could've used something like this when I was in college, when pizza bagels were a valid meal. (Though as a poor design student, I wouldn't have been able to come up with the $130 to buy one.)


Timemore's Fancy Precision Coffee Grinder

Core 77 - 13 hours 44 min ago

Look at this bonkers modernist coffee grinder, by Chinese brand Timemore:

That's the Sculptor 078 electric coffee grinder, designed in-house (of Timemore's three co-founders, one is an industrial designer and another is a mechanical designer).

Created to produce the coarse grinds desirable in pour-over, drip or French press coffeemaking methods, the three rows of milling burrs have been designed to minimize fines. The dial allows you to set the RPMs to your liking, and the little magnetic cross on the base is a slick touch to add that bit of magic.

The machine is relatively new and at press time I couldn't find a U.S. distributor, but the UK's Sigma Coffee is selling them for $609.


A Simple, Elegant Design for a Monolithic Wooden Watch Stand

Core 77 - 13 hours 44 min ago

No, these won't charge your smartwatch. These non-wired Leaf wooden watch stands, created by Japanese carving company Mimatsu Craft, have the shape of a leaf presented in the negative space of the removed material.

A small disc of stainless steel weights the base, and a synthetic rubber ring up top provides enough friction to keep your watch from sliding off.

Available in Walnut, Maple or Cherry, they come in two sizes, for both men's and women's watches.


Each runs ¥5,500 (USD $40) regardless of size.


Artist and Structural Engineer Designs "Risky Playground"

Core 77 - 13 hours 44 min ago

New-Zealand-based Mike Hewson has an unusual blend of skills: He holds degrees in both visual arts and structural engineering, and has a background in "heavy-civil construction," his website reads.

A project of Hewson's recently gained some press, and criticism on social media: Rocks on Wheels, a playground created for the city of Melbourne, has been purposely designed to look like a dangerous environment.

"Rocks on Wheels is a sculpture park playground consisting of 24 large monolithic bluestone builders on domestic-scale furniture dollies," Hewson writes. The pieces are connected by ropes, twisted pieces of metal and in one case, appear to be propped up by nothing more than a stack of HDPE buckets.

The installation drew Tweets like the following, from a local news radio host:

It's worth noting that Hewson isn't a child-hating maniac; the boulders are in fact held in place by unseen steel rods, and though the ground looks like stone, it's in fact "bouncy bluestone (rubber flooring)," he reveals. In an interview with the Guardian, Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp defended Hewson's design and reinforced that it's safe. Furthermore, the installation has reportedly been mobbed by children since it opened this month, and no one has been crushed by a rolling boulder.



Hewson's website explains his motivations:

"[I work] to prove we can in fact do things that are considered untenable in a public setting. Each project aims to catalyse fresh conversation about how the bureaucratic and managerial aspects of power are shaping our public lives, asking if we like that shape or if we'd like to consider other options."


Download Free Nordwerk MC 302 Cardboard Chair Plans, with a Request to Donate to Ukraine

Core 77 - 13 hours 44 min ago

This eye-catching MC 302 Cardboard Chair was designed by Nordwerk, a German-Canadian sustainable architecture and design firm.

It's designed to be made from pieces of 10mm-thick cardboard, with the pieces either cut digitally or (carefully) by hand.

We're a bit late to this, but earlier this year Nordwerk CEO/CDO Maximilian Hansen released the fabrication files, for free, with a request: Before downloading the plans, please make a donation to support Ukraine, whose people continue to suffer from the invasion.

Hansen has provided links to three organizations that are offering assistance:

https://donate.unhcr.org/int/en/ukraine-emergency

https://crisisrelief.un.org/t/ukraine

https://www.icrc.org/en/donate/ukraine


Heat-Deformed PVC Tubing as Connector?

Core 77 - 13 hours 44 min ago

We've written about industrial designer and researcher Cui Zhihua before. Lately Cui's Instagram has been populated with new experiments he's been doing with what we think is PVC and a heat gun.

Here's what he landed on--he appears to be working out a low-tech connector for dowels. The only text description is "Industrial craft - connectors."

Cui was invited to present the work at this year's Paris Design Week, but I can find no press covering these connectors (at least, searching in English I can't).

I'm very curious to see where this could go. Cui, if you're reading this: Please send us a description of this project and your goals!


New Abarth EV Plays a Guitar Riff When You Accelerate

Core 77 - 13 hours 44 min ago

Abarth has launched their new, all-electric 500e EV in Europe. And instead of messing around with the spaceship sounds other EV makers have installed for safety, the 500e's Sound Generator simply reproduces the sound of a gas engine. "The New Abarth 500e is the only small car," the company writes, "which provides an immersive sound experience for those who want to drive electric without giving up on the famous and unmistakable Abarth roar, which has accompanied generations of passionate drivers and always been synonymous with power and performance."

(You can hear the sound in the video below, but first read the next paragraph.)

That's all fine and good, but weirdly, they've also programmed the Sound Generator to play a freaking guitar riff every time accelerate past a certain point. "The first time you exceed 20km/h, a 'strumming guitar' reflects the transgressive and unconventional soul which is inherent in the genre and in the Scorpion's cars."

Here's what it sounds like (I've cued it up to the right spot, you'll hear it twice within seconds):

I'm not sure if I'd want the words "tasty licks" to enter my head, unbidden, every time I get the car going, but it certainly is a novel feature.

Probably what they should've done is used a riff from a song by the Scorpions.

Perhaps in the future, savvy musicians (or let's be real, their labels) will start licensing riffs to drivers or brands. A Mustang Mach-E will blow past you in the parking lot and you'll think "Do I hear Jimmy Page?"


An iPhone Case Inspired by the Ferrari Modulo

Core 77 - 13 hours 44 min ago

Remember the Pininfarina-designed 1970 Ferrari Modulo concept car? (If you don't, you should check it out; we wrote it up with tons of images of here.)


Well, a startup luxury brand called Inkar has partnered with Pininfarina to design a Modulo-inspired iPhone case.

Pininfarina designer Paolo Lugaro was tasked with adapting the car's form into something that fits around an iPhone Pro 13 or 14:



This being a luxury brand, the copy is laden with the usual tripe:

"Each case is fully customizable and has a serial number engraved to record its rare existence. Materials are selected with highest quality, including the sustainable solution of using dead-stock leathers of renowned Pininfarina automobiles. For customization, there are 5 colors, 2 lens leathers, and 10 plates made of leathers, natural wood, carbon fiber, and aluminum, available for customers to select from."

"The cases are carefully crafted one by one in Italy, at one of the finest factories that produces luxury goods using the latest technology."

Oh boy.

Unsurprisingly, these will be limited edishhh, with just 99 made. They go up for sale on December 1st, with prices "starting from" $10,000. I'll probably pick up a half-dozen or so for friends, family, neighbors.


AAA Takes Aim at Underperforming ADAS

Design News - Fri, 2022-12-02 14:53
Automakers’ marketers are writing checks that their ADAS systems can’t cash.

A Liquid Atomizing Spray Nozzle Is Spotlighted by Supplier News

Design News - Fri, 2022-12-02 00:07
We’re also looking at differential pressure sensor technology and carbon-neutral virgin polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resins.

Engineering Plastics Are Becoming Sustainable, Attaining Circularity

Design News - Thu, 2022-12-01 20:22
Renewable and recycled engineering plastics with mechanical performance as good as fossil-based polymers are now real. But they may represent only a drop in the ocean of global plastic waste.

Mecha-Like Walking Excavators Go Where Other Machines Can't

Core 77 - Thu, 2022-12-01 20:19

New Atlas put together a brief history and demo video of walking "spider" excavators, which look more like anime mecha than real-life machines.

These incredible feats of engineering use wildly articulated legs and a combination of wheels and claw-like stabilizing feet.


The hydraulic arm can be fitted with a bucket or other attachments; this one here appears to have a jackhammer.

The operators of these machines definitely walk with a swagger and drink lots of Mountain Dew.

They're manufactured by competing industrial groups Kaiser and Menzi Muck. Interestingly, the origin of the machines began with an act of IP theft, which you can read about at the NA piece.

Take a look at what they can do:


Festool to Release a Cordless Portable Table Saw

Core 77 - Thu, 2022-12-01 20:19

Festool has announced the CSC SYS 50, a cordless jobsite table saw that runs on two 18V batteries. Portable, the design actually fits into one of their Systainers, and the company says the two batteries are enough to turn the motor at up to 6,800 RPM. It weighs 15kg (33 lbs.).

The saw allows rip cuts at a maximum width of 280mm (11") and can cross-cut pieces up to 450mm (17 3/4") in width. The maximum blade height is 48mm (1 7/8") at 0°; the blade can be tilted from -10° to 47°, and you can make miter cuts up to 70°.

It comes with a dust collection bag that attaches to a dust port; alternatively you can hook it up to a dust collector.

While setting the fence is up to you, the blade height and angle are set digitally, using a dial.

Here's the saw in action:

The saw will be released in February, at least in Europe; the listed price in the UK starts at £1,532 (USD $1,853). Adding the underframe seen in the photos below bumps the price up to £1,833 (USD $2,216). There's no word on a U.S. release date.

It's worth noting that Festool's parent company, TTS Tooltechnic Systems, acquired SawStop in 2017. However, the CSC SYS 50 does not appear to contain SawStop's safety technology.