Industrial Design News
March 26, 1987 brought us one of the most infamous sneakers in history—the Air Max 1. While Air Max technology was originally introduced eight years earlier in the Tailwind, the Air Max 1 was the first time the air technology was made at a larger scale and visible from the outside. Since its debut as both a function and fashion staple with the Air Max 1, air technology has been through quite the evolution. With its countless appearances in coveted collaborations with athletes, brands and sneaker stores like Atmos, to its key role in various sneaker silhouettes, Nike's air technology has made itself a staple in just about every sneaker collector's closet.The original Air Max 1
Yesterday, Nike hosted events celebrating Air Max's big 30th birthday. While other countries celebrated in their own ways, here in New York City, we had a go big or go home mentality, as per usual. Celebrations were hosted in multiple locations throughout the city, each with their own surprises. Here's a taste of what went down during the big birthday bash at our three favorite locations:The Nike Air Vapormax
Before getting into specific locations, it's important to note the star of yesterday's show: The Nike Air Vapormax. This brand new silhouette takes Nike's air technology to the next level with a sole that incorporates huge air pockets that make the Air Max 1's visible air tech look like nothing. With previous Air Max models, you're walking on a sole with air as a small buffer, but with the Vapormax, you're basically just walking on air.Sneakeasy at Nike Clubhouse
At the Sneakeasy exhibit tucked away in Nike's Clubhouse, Nike product specialists walked visitors through the history of air technology and explained Air Vapormax features."The Nike Air Vapormax is the lightest, most high performing, most flexible Air Max we've ever created, weighing at just 8.8 oz in a men's size 9 and with a range of motion similar to the Nike Free RN."
There was also a chance for visitors to customize their own pair of Vapomax sneakers in an ultra fancy Nike id room, a room dedicated to the history of Nike's air technology and a small exhibit centered around this year's Vote Forward contest.The first sneaker to incorporate air technology! Notice it's not visible in the sole yet.A cool display featuring inspiration for the Vote Forward contest.Cool display Pt. 2Nike id options
The third floor of the exhibit had a few more surprises—my favorite being a wall of custom Air Max sneakers designed by Alex Lee and Ava Nirui. Their cheeky designs all play on the name 'Air Max' in different ways:"Food Processair""Horticultair""Erasair""Air RC"Nike Soho
Nike's new multi-level retail complex in Soho was the hub of the celebration, housing multiple installations, interactive activities and most importantly, a ton of free stuff (no complaints). My favorite display was a huge wall of different Air Max models accompanied by a giant movable screen. As you move the screen across the wall, different descriptions pop up over the sneaker you're looking at.One of my favorite Air Max's—the Air 180 Easter Eggs!Up close and personal!NikeLab 21 Mercer
NikeLab released three very special sneakers, all incorporating the Vapormax sole. The most exciting release—and I'm guessing you'll agree—is the Marc Newson x Nike NikeLab Air Vapormax. This isn't the first time the Industrial Designer has collaborated with Nike (remember these?), and I certainly hope it's not the last:At NikeLab 21 Mercer
A very limited number of the funky sneaker-moccasins were released yesterday. Unfortunately, the smallest size released was an 8 men's, and I'm a 7. Purchasing was out of the question, but that didn't take away from the nerdy moment I was able to enjoy. I have to say, they're very comfortable and fun to wear—the Vapormax sole is extremely light and easy to move around in.I wish you were mine.
Air Max Day was a fun time all around. I always enjoy sneaker events because of the pure enthusiasm fans and collectors have about shoes—maybe because it justifies my obsession. There's nothing like seeing or being a sneakerhead in a sneaker store, on a sneaker holiday—except maybe seeing or being a kid in a candy store the day after Halloween (when all the candy is half-priced, of course). Till next year, Air Max Day!
We've all had this problem: Sometimes you want to electrocute a lot of people all at once, and a single taser gun won't cut it. So you think, "Wouldn't it be great if I could hose all of these bastards down, like with a fire hose? Well, water conducts electricity, so what if I could hose them down and electrocute them at the same time?"
The Tactical Systems department at Mega Engineering Vehicles, a producer of specialty military and police vehicles, might have the solution. First off, Mega produces the friendly-looking riot control vehicles you see here. This first one looks like a school bus full of whoop-ass:
These ports on the side can be opened to allow officers to fire outside of the vehicle. Technically I suppose they could also be used to dispense lollipops in times of peace.
Then there's this beast, which would have no problem getting out of the driveway after a snowstorm:
That fun-looking red thing up top is a hose. It's also equipped with cameras, powerful lights and loudspeakers. (Every protestor's wish: "Say it, don't spray it.")
Even more fun is that a "Foam Pro" console inside lets the operator dial in the foam and water levels. I'm guessing you can start with a gentle pulsating massage, then ratchet things up as needed.
Now, the problem with electrocuting people via hose is that water tends to break up into a spray, dispersing the electricity. With that in mind, "Tactical Systems was experimenting with additives (salt and additives to reduce the breakup of the stream into droplets) that would allow electricity to be conducted through water," the company writes. "They have demonstrated delivery from a distance of up to twenty feet (6 m), but have not yet tested the device on people."
I looked for the sign-up sheet to volunteer for the testing, but couldn't find it on their website.
The design of the sign was such that Ikeda needed to leave out the "d" in "closed." But now designer Matt Harrison, inspired by Ikeda's work, figured out how to add the missing letter and perfect the sign:
It's one of those super-clever solutions that seems so obvious in retrospect, and our hats are off to Harrison. He's posted the updated design (and gave a shout-out to Ikeda, which we always appreciate) on Thingiverse.
A Driverless Car Competition About Everything <i>Except</i> Cars, a Family Friendly Maker Festival and More
Jumpstart your week with our insider's guide to events in the design world. From must-see exhibitions to insightful lectures and the competitions you need to know about—here's the best of what's going on, right now.MondayThe 'ABC' Party of Autonomous Vehicle Competitions: Driverless Future Challenge
This unique challenge seeks proposals that actively shape the city's response to driverless cars. It's not about the cars themselves, but everything else: from parking solutions, to new uses of roadways, intersections, and sidewalks. Participants in the challenge will pitch concrete solutions, and Blank Space will help the winning entries turn their proposals into real companies and products.
Online competition open through April 6, 2017.TuesdayResidential Forum: Designing the Glass Ceiling
Explore some of the issues faced by designers of color and cultural diversity at a time when inclusion leads the conversation in the design community. The women that make up the panel for Designing the Glass Ceiling: Shattering the Status Quo are at the top of their game, and their journeys have shaped still-evolving careers.
New York, NY. March 28, 2017 at 6:00 PM.
Industrial Design is the combination of technological knowledge and artistic creativity. The TechINK Industrial Design Student Competition is in line with the end goal of Industrial Design, which is to create products that are functionally useful and aesthetically pleasing. This year, TechINK Award calls for outstanding ideas that will refresh our definition of "smart home." Good luck, students!
Online competition open through April 7, 2017.ThursdayBasically Design Summer Camp: Hello Wood
Hello Wood is a combination of several traditional events. There are the typical elements of architecture camps, art workshops, conferences and professional symposia, and then there are also organized events like concerts, lectures, and performances. Through the balancing of these two event styles, Hello Wood offers an opportunity for professional development and networking at the same time.
Budapest, Hungary. Applications open now. Actual event is July 1-9, 2017.FridayBring the Kids but Go for Yourself: AETech: Adventures in Art + Technology
ARTech is a two-month long pop-up activity center comprised of STEAM-based experiential workshops, installations, and interactive moments for school age children and their accompanying adults. Bonus: it's free and open to the public, just make sure you RSVP first.
New York, NY. On view through April 29, 2017.Saturday/SundayMakers Unite: Maker Faire UK
Maker Faire UK is a two-day family-friendly festival of invention and creativity. It brings together over 300 hackers, crafters, coders, DIYers and garden shed inventors from across the globe—people who love to make stuff and who want to share their passion with the public.
Bristol, UK. April 1-2, 2017.Check out the Core77 Calendar for more design world events, competitions and exhibitions, or submit your own to be considered for our next Week in Design.
The PlayJam Gamining Console is a portable gaming system. There are two components in the PlayJam system, the handheld controller and the Puck, which is a small remote device which plugs into any display/TV. Portability and ergonomics were the key driving factors in the design. The eyelet on the controller is used to clip both the puck and controller together and then attach them to a backpack or clothing. the controller design is the result of an in depth study into extended game play use.View the full content here
A startup company claims to be developing Hushme, a product that's something like noise-canceling headphones for your mouth. If you need to take a call and there's no privacy available, you whip this thing out...
...and wrap it around your yap:
The device can reportedly be operated in one of two ways. The first is that it uses noise cancellation to muffle your voice outside of the microphone, so that those around you cannot hear what you are saying. The second operation mode is rather bizarre: You can choose to have the device emit external noises to muffle your voice, choosing from the sound menu below.
Shockingly the device, or at least the development of the device, appears to be real. The developers appeared at CES this year and are preparing to launch a Kickstarter campaign for it this coming May.
U.S. Citizens and Permanents Residents Only Many applicants apply; please only apply for this position if you meet the minimum qualifications. INDUSTRIAL DESIGNER Graduate to Intermediate Job Description: Responsibilities and Qualifications • Proficiency with 3D modeling and draftingView the full design job here
Wow! La Fabrique DIY creates an Arduino-based LED stick that can "paint," with light, 40-pixel-wide images:How to Make Bödvar's Viking Helm
Bob Clagett uses his prop-/costume-creating skills to make this Viking helm from videogame Brawlhalla:Super Bright Tunable LED Light Panels
Ever wanted to build your own dimmable, light-temperature-controllable LED light panels? Here Linn from Darbin Orvar shows you how:DIY Candles with Concrete Bases
Ben Uyeda shows you how to use discarded water bottles to cast a concrete base, then molten wax right on top along with a wick to create your own candles:DIY Home Gym In A Box
Another from Ben, who manages to design a home gym that hides away inside a leather-topped bench:Making A Wooden Computer Desk
John Heisz designs and builds a multi-part, multi-level desk to serve as his editing station:Woodworking with Lego
A short, humorous one from Chris Salomone, who recreates a George Nelson bench out of Lego:
How to Make an Ultra-functional Leather Tool Vest, Build a Table Saw Sled for Cove Cuts, Create a Coffee Pod Hopper & More
A short video from Jimmy DiResta this week, who gets to try out a new toy: His Torchmate 4400 CNC plasma cutter.Blower Impeller Design Experiments
Matthias Wandel uses his building skills and some science to compare three different blade styles for a blower impeller:How to Build a Table Saw Sled for Cove Cuts
This is wicked: Izzy Swan shows you how to build a table saw sled specifically for doing cove cuts (in addition to building a regular one first).Office 2: Repurposing a Custom Storage Unit
Frank Howarth is switching locations for his domestic office, and here he turns a wall-mounted storage unit into separate bookshelves:Building Front Porch Steps
With a scheduled knee surgery, April Wilkerson's dad was having trouble getting up and down the steps to his home. Here she rips out the too-steep stairs and creates a new set with deeper treads:DIY Kitchen Organization: K-Cup Coffee Dispenser
Just as I was contemplating building a coffee-pod dispenser for my Nespresso machine, Steve Ramsey makes one for his Keurig. At the end he discovers a design flaw, which I am trying to figure out how to correct for:Tool Vest Updates And Revisions
Years ago we posted about the Samurai Carpenter's awesome DIY leather tool vest. Here he gives it a ton of functional updates and improvements:Pool Cue Shadowbox Display | Tribute to Dad
David Picciuto recently lost his father, a skilled pool player, to cancer. Here he builds a beautiful tribute to him with a display case holding his sticks and the winning orbs of his games of choice, 8-ball and 9-ball:
Jacquard by Google has teamed up with Levi's to create a smart denim jacket, specifically with bike commuters in mind. The collaboration has been going on for quite some time—back in 2015, Ivan Poupyrev, technical program lead at Google's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) division and Paul Dillinger, vice president of global product innovation at Levi Strauss & Co spoke at our conference about the initial stages of the project. Now, two years later, the jacket is a reality and is set to release this fall.
At first, the result of the collaboration just looks like a Fitbit sewn into a jacket sleeve, but the making of video reminds us that Jacquard by Google's mission is to seamlessly integrate tech into textiles. And their mission doesn't stop at concept—below you can see the surprisingly traditional methods used to construct the conductive yarn:
The smart tag on the sleeve serves as a middle-man between the tech infused threads and the user's mobile device. Its easy removal allows the jacket to be washable like regular, non-robotic denim."Jacquard yarn structures combine thin, metallic alloys with natural and synthetic yarns like cotton, polyester, or silk, making the yarn strong enough to be woven on any industrial loom."
Yeah, the tech is cool, but I'm most interested in how the indigo dye will fade on the one wrist the wearer will frequently be rubbing. It's slightly unfortunate the other wrist won't get any love. You heard it here first—if you have any form of OCD, consider rubbing both wrists from the start.
Denim is a textile with rich history, a history that its hardcore fans take very seriously. Does adding technology to the mix take away from this? In a way, yes. However, it's tough to argue that Jacquard by Google and Levi's are completely disrespecting denim culture. At least they're remaining as traditional as possible when it comes to the manufacturing and the jacket's silhouette.
A Cringe-Worthy Video, Apps Drawn as Anime Characters, a List of Services that Support Creative Projects & More
The Core77 team spends time combing through the news so you don't have to. Here's a weekly roundup of our favorite finds from the World Wide Web:
Botnet, self driving trucks, facial recognition... This article on breakthrough technologies in the MIT Technology Review sounds like a checklist for an episode of Black Mirror.
How all those live-action Disney remakes are actually made.
6 everyday objects we really know nothing about.
Can they work this out so that we don't need to, er, stop for bathroom breaks?
The first truly intelligent machine will be humanity's last invention.
Looks like things are about to get interesting.
The March Madness of sneakers—except you decide who wins the bracket.
NY Mag explains the social media phenomenon in design that is "Millennial Pink."
If you've ever wanted to travel to Westeros...
Remix 2007 forever with the Magipod.
Electric Planes: Interesting idea, and I wonder what it would sound like. Electric power aside, it would still have turbines, no?
A new drone-car hybrid from Airbus—autonomous flying cars!This artist draws apps as anime characters.Hot Tip: Check out more blazin' Internet finds on our Twitter page.
After reviewing a number of fantastic submissions from Core77 readers, we've finally chosen our design residents who will be spending 3 months in the A/D/O space working on a number of their dream projects. And given the pool of applicants was so great, we couldn't pick just one!
So without further ado, here are two short chats with our chosen residents: design studio byjimmi, who will be working with a large format 3D printer they've recently developed to create a number of different hand tools and products (all the while hoping to collaborate on projects with our A/D/O residents as well), and Casey Doran Lewis, an accomplished designer who just recently took a leap to form his own freelance practice in New York.Harrison Tyler & Evan Roche, byjimmi Design Studio
Tell us more about what you're going to work on during your residency at A/D/O.
We recently built a large format 3D printer and it has a couple unique features—one is that it has a build area of 1 meter cubed and the other unique feature is that it has a large nozzle size, which is 0.25", so those two things together give us some new tools we can use to explore 3D printing on a slightly more macro scale. During the residency, we'll be using the printer and exploring different use cases for what can be printed on the machine. We'll also be working towards a small collection of printed objects that really take advantage of the advantages provided by the machine.
We're really interested in seeing how the printer can be used in conjunction with other fabrication methods. To get the results we need, it's not really as simple as just pressing a button and letting it print. It's more using a 3D printer at this scale as one tool amongst many, so we'd like to see how we can integrate plastic welding, for example, or heat bending around jigs in conjunction with 3D printed parts.Can you tell us a little bit about your background in design and engineering as well?
Harrison and I both went to school for sculpture at MICA and that's where we began exploring digital fabrication, so 3D printing and CNC milling, and since then we've been working in a variety of capacities also relating to digital fabrication. Initially, we had a series of workshops where people build 3D printers with us and then we got into 3D bio-printing and engineering our own machines for bio-printing reasons. So it's kind of been a long legacy of different projects and in many ways we're self taught as engineers although we do have a design education.What aspects of being in the space at A/D/O are you most excited about?
Lots of stuff. It's an awesome community there so I"m really excited to be able to work on that project and collaborate with other people. Also having the project be visible I think will be really exciting, just because it is such an exciting thing to watch. It's funny when you're printing on a small scale because it's small and kind of private, but as soon as it becomes larger on a more architectural scale it really just inherently invites a lot of collaboration and engagement. So for me, I'm just super excited to be at A/D/O and meet and collaborate with other people and be able to share what we're working on.What are you hoping to get out of this experience?
I think one of things we want to get out of it is an idea of next steps. These first applications [we've envisioned for the printer] may be good applications for the machine but it would be cool to leave the residency with even more specific and exciting applications. Originally we were thinking about creating tools that we could use for ourselves, but now I'm thinking it'd be cool to create tools that could be useful in the A/D/O space for other people. Maybe other people could take part in helping to ideate what those tools might be. Ultimately, I would be excited to find some application that would be valuable for someone else or an idea of a real problem that could be solved [with the printer].Casey LewisCan you tell us a little bit about your background in design?
I graduated from design school in 2009 and am now an Industrial and Space designer based in New York. Prior to setting up my own freelance practice, I designed under Yves Béhar at fuseproject in San Francisco, trained under Dror Benshetrit in New York, Form Us With Love in Stockholm, and Smart Design in New York and Barcelona.Why were you interested in applying for this residency?
After nearly 9 years of working under various designers, I decided recently to venture on my own. When designers go solo, you typically don't have access to the machinery and materials that were once readily available. I was happy that Core77 and A/D/O seemed to be interested in sponsoring this leap that can sometimes be a difficult one.Lewis worked on this project for Herman Miller under the direction of Yves Béhar—the project was designed "to support fluid interactions and spontaneous conversations across the entire landscape, keeping the office in a state of flow and allowing people to move freely between collaborative and individual modes of work."What aspects of the A/D/O are you most excited about utilizing?
I think the connection with other designers is going to be pretty key for me, being able to collaborate with other people and start hopefully integrating into the New York design scene. I lived here for a couple years from 2009 to 2011, moved to San Francisco and Stockholm and I just moved back. I've been out of the New York design scene [for a while] so it'll be nice to get back in and kind of start collaborating with people. And then also the 3D printer, CNC machine, all of those bigger machinery I don't have access to I think will be really valuable. Also, if there are new ways to manufacture or create—I saw the work Assemble was doing with clay extrusions at their A/D/O residency and I'd love to explore [processes like that].What do you hope ultimately to get out of this experience?
I'd like to be able to be in a space where I'm able to collaborate with people, make connections, and come up with a good product. And hopefully gain some traction and publicity to be able to sell an idea I come up with in the space to manufacturers. [What I ultimately make] may be a one-off piece, but I want to keep it open to being manufacturable as well.byjimmi and Casey will be working within the A/D/O space through the spring and summer seasons. We'll be keeping up with both residents to learn more about the projects they're working on as the months roll by—so stay tuned!
And if you're interested in learning more about A/D/O and how you yourself could work in this design space, visit their website at a-d-o.com/workspace.
The process of prototype fabrication is really a series of problem-solving exercises. Slot A suddenly refuses to accept Tab B, the beautiful CAD model reveals monstrous qualities when it emerges from the 3D printer, the Arduino code refuses to compile. We always find ourselves doing lots of just-in-time self-education, reading product manuals and watching YouTube HOWTO videos.
In brief, here are some of the most valuable lessons learned from our summer design sprint:Vacuum Forming PolycarbonateSo many bubbles! This bassinet is meant to be transparent.
Vacuum-forming clear quarter-inch thick polycarbonate sheets isn't for amateurs! We milled molds out of stacked sheets of MDF (medium-density fiberboard), both to accommodate the limited z-height of the ShopBot CNC and to machine vacuum-channels in the middle layers. Before vacuum-forming, we had to bake the heavy polycarbonate sheets and the mold in a brick oven, or else it would develop thousands of little bubbles that made the material cloudy (see above). Unfortunately, the MDF molds took a beating from the hot polycarbonate, and after a few pulls, the polycarbonate started tearing chunks out of the mold. No mold lasts forever--even the hardened steel tools that LEGO uses for injection molding eventually wear out. Next time, we might skip MDF and instead cut a tool from the more expensive but more robust renshape.Cleaning 3D Printed Parts
Parts from the 3D printer often come out of the machine with scratchy surfaces or other imperfections, for example marks left by the "raft" or other support material. We've learned that if you plan to sand the part to make it smooth and more aesthetically appealing, you are essentially committing to covering the sanded part with bondo and finishing paint. Sanded parts, especially those made from light-colored PLA, just seem to magnetically attract grubbiness. It might be skin oil from handling, smudgy whatever from dirty surfaces, but the part soon looks dingy. If you don't have the time to sand, bondo, prime and paint, we recommend you remove the unwanted material with a chisel, blade or other scraper rather than sandpaper.Working With Nichrome WireEnter the bare metal butt crimp
The Otter prototype was an opportunity to learn a lot about nichrome heating wire. Here's the challenge: you want to establish an electrical connection with a wire that immediately heats up when you introduce a current. Soldering this kind of wire won't work (solder melts when it gets hot). Automotive crimp connectors, which have plastic housings, don't work (think: melting plastic). In the end, we learned that the best connectors involve mechanical clamping, for example a bare metal butt crimp (which sounds like an awesome band name), or a screw terminal.Powering Arduino With A Buck Converter
We've powered countless little Arduino projects either (1) directly from the computer through a USB cable, (2) with a rechargeable lithium cellphone powerpack and a USB-B connector (Arduino Uno) or micro-USB connector (Arduino Micro), or (3) a 5V alkaline battery pack wired to the Vin pin.
For the Otter prototype, we needed the Arduino to control a relay that was sending 24V to the heater wires. It was easy to generate 24V using an off-the-shelf AC adapter power supply, but how could we also get 5V to power the Arduino without using a second power supply? Enter the humble and amazing buck converter--an inexpensive component that can efficiently generate an output of 3-12V given a 24V input. Presumably this is old hat to any electrical engineer. There exist countless varieties of "DC/DC step-down" or buck converters (ie Adafruit), so you ought to be able to find one that's a perfect match for your project.Cloud-Based CAD File Sharing
Autodesk's cloud-based CAD server, called A360 (aka the web interface for Fusion360), is an amazing collaboration tool. We were able to generate CAD models on the big ThinkStation P910 desktop machines in the DtM studio, and then instantly open the same files on our ThinkPad P50 laptops when we were working at the CNC machine. Hooray for a cloud-storage system that actually works as advertised!DON'T SHAVE THAT YAK!
Any kind of production rush can easily devolve into fun adventures in "yak shaving": you were supposed to be testing the prototype thermal control system, and two hours later you find yourself wandering the aisles at Home Depot in search of T-handled allen wrenches.HOWTO replace a lightbulb
This "Design Experience that Matters" series is provided courtesy of Timothy Prestero and the team at Design that Matters (DtM). As a nonprofit, DtM collaborates with leading social entrepreneurs and hundreds of volunteers to design new medical technologies for the poor in developing countries. DtM's Firefly infant phototherapy device is treating thousands of newborns in 21 counties from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. In 2012, DtM was named the winner of the National Design Award.
Jonah Becker, Fitbit's VP of Industrial Design, is nothing short of a design veteran. Shortly after graduating from the industrial design program at California College of the Arts, Becker co-founded the industrial design agency One & Company. During his time at One & Company, he worked on numerous projects with major companies, including Burton, HTC and Under Armour. After over a decade of working as an independent design agency, Becker and his team sold One & Company to HTC and were acquired by the mobile phone manufacturer.
Becker's transition to Fitbit's VP of Industrial Design yielded an even wider range of design wisdom for the industry native. For Becker, the career move was an opportunity to "build a design team from scratch and help make design an integral part of the culture and future of a business"—a challenge he was ready to face.
We sat down with Becker to talk about his diverse work experience, what we can expect to see from the world of wearable technology in the near future and his advice for young designers.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Core77: You used to work at One & Company/HTC, which involved working with a wide variety of brands and products, but at Fitbit, you're instead honing in on one product line. What was it like for you transitioning from working on a diverse number of projects to one line of very specific products?
JB: There are pros and cons to every type of creative design situation. Something I've always enjoyed is gaining category expertise. As a designer, you're expected to go in and identify and understand the issues your team is trying to solve. How can we apply a design process to come up with the best solution? I also think—often as a consultancy—your relationship and role with the client can vary with how you are involved in central decision making and things of that nature.Fitbit Charge 2
At Fitbit, I report directly to James Park, the CEO. I get to work intimately with all the engineering teams and our advanced process development team, which puts me in tune with all the different manufacturing processes. I'm able to build those relationships and understand how we can work best together and learn over time, as opposed to in a consulting model, sometimes you'll do one project and then you're off to a different industry.
I also think it's important for designers to feel uncomfortable and continually challenged. Sometimes that can come from integrating new technology, finding new materials or developing a new process working within a different type of organization. But it's also being exposed to different types of products. For example, I don't think of Fitbit as a wearables company. We started with wearables, but I think at the core is, "How can we get information from humans, real people, about their physiology and their behaviors, and provide real health guidance, so they can hit their goals and achieve the health outcomes they want?" So that does not, in my mind, restrict us to wearables.
Can you talk about your design aesthetic for Fitbit and how you've developed it over time?
In some ways, I see a couple distinct generations of products to date. There's the original designs—Flex, and Charge, Charge HR and Surge. In many ways, their design language symbolizes the early days of what it meant to have a connectivity tracker—very simple from a form standpoint. There was this period of time when people started doing the, "Hey, I got one, I'm part of this movement" thing.Fitbit Blaze
The next generation is where we are today, which is products like Blaze, Charge 2, Alta and the Alta HR. I think these are inspired a little bit more by geometric forms as opposed to the early generation. If you look for example at Charge 2 and Alta, they're built on a hexagonal form that's extruded and wrapped around the wrist. It thins where it becomes the band, but it's continuous form breaks where the body or brain of the product is.Fitbit Blaze
What's interesting about this geometric form language is that it's something people are very familiar with. When you take those forms and apply them in three dimensions, you also infer a little bit of a jewelry aesthetic. There's a balance of these strong, structural elements, but it also looks a little bit like an emerald cut stone with faceted edges. The design weaves in an out of functional and fashionable aesthetics to fulfill multiple needs. When you're going out to dinner it doesn't feel out of place, but when you're going to the gym, it feels like it takes on a slightly different character.
What do you see being the most important design features to take into account when designing wearables for the future?
I think we're wrapping up this early adopter phase in wearables, where people were sort of that loud and proud, "Hey, I got one." Part of it is moving beyond advertising the technology or advertising that you have the technology. How do we more seamlessly integrate it into a person's everyday life? The answer is through material selection and color palettes but also through the overall ecosystem supporting the product. We've been focused on building accessories for our products as well—so you can change their character implementation.Fitbit Charge 2
In terms of designing for the future, I think taking inspiration from things people are already comfortable wearing all day every day, sleeping in, and spending all their time in is important—things like eyewear, which you can change over time and can change by getting a new product or with accessories. These pieces add a little bit of character, personality, and elegance to what you're wearing but at the same time are not these huge statement pieces.At times, there's a tendency for industrial designers to think about the museum—the white pedestal, displaying your product and all its intricacies and beauty. But thinking about your product in the context of the entire body and what people are wearing across different occasions is critical.Fitbit Alta HR
When I went to HTC, I thought of the mobile phone as this unbelievably personal thing. Certainly it is—they're in your pocket, you put them up to your face, and phone calls are very personal interactions. But they're still disconnected, right? I could take my phone out of my pocket and leave it on my desk. Whereas a wearables are more attached. The next big step is ingesting or embedding technology, which some people are starting to do. Investigating how personal technology can become and that boundary between the person and the technology is important—it's getting closer and closer together. For example, [one of] my favorite Fitbit features is the heart rate monitor. The more I use it, the more I learn about myself. Heart rate is something that used to just be measured at the doctor's office, so I think it's also interesting to see the healthcare space and consumer space start to move in different ways.
What do you think young designers should focus on now to prepare for the their futures?
A few things. I would say thinking beyond the borders of your expertise is important. Look for the right solution for the problem you're trying to solve—it may not always lie within your area of expertise, or it may require collaboration with other disciplines that may not even be design related.
Following a passion and thinking of it as continual learning is also important. There are a lot of opportunities to pay off student loans quickly, and I think they are not always in the best service of your growth as a designer. I would encourage designers to consider those first five years or so out of school like graduate school. There's just so much to learn and explore. Find opportunities that are best for your long-term career and for your passion.
When you become too comfortable with something, it's good time to think about shifting your role, career or focus. If too much of your day is spent with, "yep, I've done this. I know how to do this, I know how to do that..." then you're not growing and learning.
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Currently, most of the attention on autonomous vehicles is focused on the technology that lets cars drive themselves. However, in the near future, the industry will need to broaden its focus to include what is arguably just as important: the passenger. At Intel, we've been working on technology platforms that will allow cars to actually drive themselves for some time. More recently, our UX team has turned to designing, prototyping, and testing a number of experiences for how passengers will operate autonomous vehicles, how passengers will feel safe and confident during a trip, and how these automated systems will communicate clearly, so passengers will understand what an autonomous vehicle is doing, and why.
Much of this work has led us to spend quite a bit of time inside vehicles—incorporating new technologies and new interactions to understand what should be optimized on our platforms—and in this process, we've started thinking about the ways in which the physical interiors of autonomous vehicles may need to change. So I'd like to share a few initial thoughts as we begin to form hypotheses about what will be important in these new physical interiors.
One aspect of car ownership we often take for granted is the relationship between driver and passenger. With the exception of picking up a hitchhiker, a driver knows his or her passengers—family members, friends, co-workers, acquaintances—and because of this, there's a familiarity that lets people share such a small space. And even with taxis and ride hailing services, a front seat/back seat separation exists between driver and passengers, where passengers who share a ride almost always know each other. However, with ride hailing services introducing reduced-rate "pool" options, strangers are now riding in the backs of cars together. And with driverless "mobility-on-demand" services likely to be one of the first ways autonomous vehicles enter the market, we will likely see an increase in the number of passengers who don't know each other, sharing rides regularly in vehicles without a driver.
Of course, most people have experience sharing rides with strangers. Buses, subways, airplanes, and trains are just some of the ways we travel together. But although we're often shoulder-to-shoulder, the relatively large interiors, and larger number of people traveling together, make it easy for us to assume a certain degree of anonymity. It's easier for us to keep to ourselves in the midst of the crowd. But with autonomous vehicles, the interiors are much smaller and hold far fewer people. It's the closeness of the space—the intimacy— that will be a significant challenge for designers. These interior environments will need to address a number of competing needs. How will they accommodate groups of strangers, and also groups who know each other? How will they provide space for being social and for keeping to oneself? How will they create experiences that promote sharing while also safeguarding individual privacy? And all of these situations will undoubtedly be heightened with no human driver to help set context or mediate interactions.
So, the intimate nature of autonomous vehicles will most likely lead to a significant rethinking of vehicle interiors, prompting car companies to innovate in a variety of ways. But when it comes to designing how people will share these close spaces with each other, we've identified three general challenges that seem particularly important for designers to tackle first:· Being together & being apart.
From one ride to the next, we see an ever-shifting need to be social or private. Some people will want to sit side-by-side, others across from each other, still others will want to sit in a small circle to share or socialize—all while other passengers may want their own more private, personal spaces. All of this means that seating will have to become much more changeable, flexible, and adaptable. How might seats be combined or separated? Can they be brought out or stowed away, to create more or less space? In what ways could seats be reconfigured into individual or shared seating?
In such intimate spaces, the pressure to have some sort of social interaction with other passengers, even a brief hello, may be substantial. In some contexts, passengers will want to engage, but in others they may want to keep to themselves. Currently, people use headphones or stay heads-down in a book to signal that they are "unavailable" for conversation, but physical aspects of the interior might also be designed to help create discrete spaces. How might partitioning be incorporated into the environment? Could lighting be used to signal a need for privacy? What interior layouts will let passengers use their mobile devices without someone looking over their shoulder?
If one of the main value propositions for autonomous vehicles is to free up driving time for other activities, then passengers will likely use their mobile devices for chatting, texting, watching content, or being productive. This means that vehicle interiors must account for the various needs we have with our mobile devices. What physical areas (device "cup holders"?) will enable us to charge, view, and use our devices hands-free? How will the space accommodate the bags, cases, power cords, stands, headphones, and other peripherals we bring with our devices? And how will the space make it easy for us to remember our devices, so we don't leave them behind at the end of a trip?
Again, these three challenges look at the interiors of autonomous vehicles as shared environments, much like taxis or ride-hailing vehicles, where passengers may or may not know each other. Many in the industry believe that autonomous vehicles will first hit the market as fleets of "robot-taxis". This is likely because the value propositions of autonomous vehicles seem familiar and well-aligned with the current "anytime, anywhere" promise of ride-hailing services. For personally-owned autonomous vehicles, other interior design needs will arise, and many aspects of the above challenges may not apply at all.
It will be interesting to see all of the ways these interiors will come to be, as the industry marches on and autonomous vehicles become a reality. In a few short years, we might take a ride, if we're confident they are safe and trustworthy. And we might continue riding in them, if the interiors are designed with our needs, comfort, and privacy in mind.
Further Reading: IDEO's take on passenger experience and shared transportation environments.
On a late-night dogwalk I passed these display tables in the window of a store on Crosby Street.
I was struck by the unusual design of the legs, which flare out in both the X- and Y-axes to meet the apron:
Surface B wraps around to blend into surface C, as shown in the crude sketch below, which was what I envisioned in my head as I was looking at the table.
There's two sketches because I wasn't sure what surface A would look like if the top were removed. To find out, I crouched down to get a look from underneath and found a couple of surprises:
Surprise #1. The plywood corner braces. No metal hardware here, just simple strips and triangles. You can see the dots where they've been attached with a pin nailer. I expected something more elegant, so here was a reminder that if the customer's never gonna see it, it doesn't matter what they look like.
Surprise #2. The center support appears to be solid wood. (You can see edge grain and I doubt they veneered it.) Given that this part will never be seen, I'm surprised they didn't use less expensive plywood. While a single piece of 3/4" plywood might sag over the span, I think if they doubled it up it would do fine. There must be some production reason why it was more economical to use solid wood.
Surprise #3: Now that I could see that the legs are actually shaped like sketch 2 above, it surprised me to see that they were actually one piece of solid wood, not some composite pieces that had been veneered. The telltale is the change in grain on sides of the legs perpendicular to each other. In the image below, you can see it's going from face grain on surface D to edge grain on surface E. (It was quite dark so I've lightened the photos artificially in an effort to reveal detail, sorry for the poor quality.)
By crouching down a bit more I found the true giveaway that these legs were solid wood: At the undercut, you can see endgrain.
Now I corrected myself: There's no way that these legs would be fabricated from a single piece of stock, as in sketch #2 above. To remove that much material, in that cleft on the inside of the legs, would be inefficient. So I looked for some proof that they were made in some other way, and I found it here:
Now you can see a very faint line bisecting the leg:
In other words each leg is made from two pieces of stock, an X-axis side and a Y-axis side, mitered lengthwise at a 45-degree angle and then joined at the miter (the dotted line in the sketch below).
That makes much more sense.
In any case, the store is the New York outpost for Mud, an Australian handmade ceramics brand started by designer Shelley Simpson. I did a little research on them and they have stores all around the world, and for their displays they all use the Vitsoe 606 Universal Shelving System designed by Dieter Rams. In other words Simpson or whoever designed the store has a taste for high design.
The tables in question, different sizes but all the same design, show up in photos of other Mud stores around the world...
...but I was unable to determine who the designer is. If anyone knows, please do comment.
Update: Special thanks to Sarah, who has revealed that these are the Home Table by Barber & Ogersby.
If you live in New York and want to check the tables out, the store is on Crosby between Prince and Spring.
After being presented at this year's Maison d'Object in Paris, Riluc has rolled out their new collection of designs as odd as they are inviting. The series was designed by Toni Grilo, whose previously released Bibendum Chair has caught a lot of eyes with its chrome. This set of seating takes some small cues from earlier work, incorporating bold chromed structural bars, and not much else.
The Anel seating collection simultaneously off-putting and inviting. Grilo is an enthusiastically materials-forward designer, and I enjoy his continued use of slightly jarring stainless steel elements posed against softer and more organic shapes. It's less bold, but also much easier to imagine sitting on an Anel Sofa than his edgier Line chairs.
The majority of the visual weight could easily have been carried by the steel accent, but the lumpen forms do a smart job keeping the interest distributed. The mix of cushioning appears almost like casually assembled parts, like napkins rolled and futzed with over after dinner drinks, and more modular than they actually are.
The combination of cozy and austere seems ideal for an executive office or design studio that trades in expensive discomfort.
The high-low Anel chair feels like a plush update to the regularly rehashed modernist plank seats. And the small and tall stools drive home the updated-'80s bar stool feeling, with proportions and shapes just off enough from common to be perplexing.
Pair any or all of these with the Grilo-designed Swing Sofa and a smokin' Patrick Nagel print and I'd be happy to come by your loft.Swingin' sofa is right