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COVID Reality: Entire High School Band Rehearsing Together in Individual Tents

Core 77 - Thu, 2021-03-04 10:16

Between the earlier threat of school shootings and now COVID, the current generation of students have really caught some lousy breaks.

The images in this Tweet below are probably a good solution--having a roomful of students blowing their hearts out amidst an infection that's spread via airborne transmission isn't viable without protection--but it's kind of heartbreaking to see:

At least the students pictured above, who are attending Wenatchee High School in Washington, sound good:

It would've been nice to hear what the students have to say.

Amazon Basics Knocks Off Peak Design's Everyday Sling--and Even Gives It the Same Name

Core 77 - Thu, 2021-03-04 10:16

In this day and age, do design thieves not know they'll be caught, or are they just trying to make as much money as possible before they get caught?

Amazon Basics has knocked off Peak Design's Everyday Sling, right down to the shape of the tag--and incredibly, they gave their copy the exact same name. This level of brazenness makes me wonder what the hell they're thinking.

Peak Design isn't taking it lying down:

The conflict, of course, is that Amazon sells Peak's product. What do you do when you're being knocked off by one of your main distributors? As the team at Peak writes:

"Amazon is one of Peak Design's biggest partners. We've been selling Peak Design products on Amazon for years, and we work closely with Amazon to remove counterfeit and copycat products from their marketplace. Hence, we were astonished when we found out Amazon had copied one of our bestselling bags. They call it the "Everyday Sling," which, funny enough, is exactly what we call our product."Amazon is a revolutionary service that we use and benefit from heavily. Also, Peak Design is not the first brand to see their products copied by an Amazon in-house brand. If we were really serious people, we might get on our soapbox and pontificate about the pitfalls of capitalism. But we're not really serious people. So we got some googley-eye glasses (thanks Amazon Prime!) and made this video instead."It's our goal to make the best things. If we tried to make the cheapest things, we wouldn't be us. Amazon reminded us of that. We appreciate the pep talk, Amazon."Know what we really appreciate? Our customers. Thank you for supporting intense, obsessive design that focuses on novel solutions to real problems. Thank you for supporting design practices that account for a product's lifecycle, and it's external impact on people and the planet."And if you want to know why Amazon just couldn't resist copying the Peak Design Everyday Sling, check it out for yourself."

Note: At press time, Amazon had changed the name of their knockoff to the Amazon Basics Camera Bag.

Swedish Inventor Creates Battery-Powered Ice Skates

Core 77 - Thu, 2021-03-04 10:16

Sweden in winter has plenty of frozen lakes, best traversed by snowmobile or ice skates. Inventor Simon Sörensen wanted to see if he could create a powered version of the latter, designing and building on the fly.

Unlike the sawblade bicycle, Sörensen's prototype actually works. Part of the fun of his process is watching him tackle setbacks--brittle plastic, flat parts that don't mate with curved ones, not enough traction--and methodically solve each of them, then learn how to stay balanced:

Trideo's Gigantic 3D Printer Has a Build Area of One Square Meter

Core 77 - Thu, 2021-03-04 10:16

Argentinian manufacturer Trideo makes a 3D printer so large, it comes on wheels.

The gigantic Big T has a build area of one meter square, making it large enough to print automobile rims, manufacturing jigs, foundry models for creating sandcasting molds of enormous parts, expansive cityscape models, a larger-than-life bust of Diego Maradona and more.

The huge build area would take forever to fill with a run-of-the-mill nozzle, so Trideo's developed the Typhoon, a high-flow nozzle "designed to extrude 2.85mm filament with a flow of up to 200mm³/s, almost 1kg/h," they write.

Here's a timelapse of the Big T printing a gigantic castle:

It's worth noting that even with the Typhoon nozzle, that thing took ten days to print.

Check out other things Trideo's made on their Instagram.

Bring-a-Trailer for Awesome '80s and '90s Cars: Rad for Sale

Core 77 - Thu, 2021-03-04 10:16

Radwood, the car collector gathering billed as "The premiere automotive lifestyle event celebrating the 80s and 90s," has launched Rad For Sale, a daily auction site. As you can guess, it's basically Bring a Trailer for awesome (and occasionally quite rare) '80s and '90s cars:

While the site launched this week, it's either crashed due to massive traffic or they're having technical difficulties; at press time it was still down. But you can get a peek at just a few of the upcoming auction listings here, and their Instagram is still working.

"Patented" Book: Industrial Design History as Told Through 1,000 Influential Patents

Core 77 - Thu, 2021-03-04 10:16

Designer, author and historian Thomas Rinaldi has compiled what looks to be a captivating book of 1,000 influential design patents. Called "Patented," the book is billed as "an unprecedented history, as well as an essential field guide, to more than a century of fascinating product and industrial design, told through 1,000 design patents."

As you'd expect, names like Raymond Loewy, Henry Dreyfuss and Harmut Esslinger appear; spotting their work will be part of the fun of leafing through the book. Here are some samples from a variety of sections:


Office Products


Published by Phaidon, the $40 "Patented" is available for pre-order and will be released this spring.

A Clever Flip-Top, Dual-Surface Workbench Design

Core 77 - Thu, 2021-03-04 10:16

In the last entry we looked at product designer Connor Holland's DIY hydroforming technique. If you watched any of the build videos, you probably spotted this workbench in his impossibly tidy shop (yes, that's his shop, not a kitchen!):

As you've maybe guessed by seeing the hinges on the side, he's designed the bench with two different types of worksurfaces:

The workbench features "Neoprene foam honeycomb tops for assembly and gripping onto sheet material," Holland writes. "The tabletops pivot on steel arms so I can use the plain side for painting/dirty work, and access secondary work surfaces inside the workbench, that can be modified for specialised tasks i.e a router table."

You can see more images of Holland's impressive workshop build here.

Connor Holland's Incredible "Inflated Steel" Product Designs, Made by DIY Hydroforming

Core 77 - Thu, 2021-03-04 10:16

With a degree in Product Design from Kingston University, UK-based Connor Holland has adopted that school's "Thinking Through Making" ethos. This led Holland to conduct backyard experiments in DIY hydroforming, with the goal of "discovering interesting new forms for inflated steel product and furniture designs."

The forms yielded by the experiments are gorgeous:

Applying what he learned, Holland then selected a repeating shape to create a vessel, which he named the Pagoda Vase:

Watching how he made it is fascinating:

He also created a Pagoda Lamp:

Building on the knowledge gained from creating the Pagoda objects, he then designed an additional two objects that can be made from a single piece: The Hydroformed Bowl and Lamp.

And lest you think Holland is a one-trick pony, be sure to check out the full range of his stuff on either his website or his Instagram. The man is a true artist, constantly experimenting with new techniques and designs.

5 Tips for Putting Together an Impeccable Design Awards Entry in Record Time

Core 77 - Thu, 2021-03-04 10:16

So you're thinking about entering the Core77 Design Awards this year, but getting the entry together feels like an uphill battle. We know how it goes—things get really busy, and before you know it, you're facing an impending deadline approaching fast. But not to worry! Our Regular Deadline for the 2021 awards arrives on Tuesday, March 9th and there's still plenty of time to get your entry together.

Wondering how to put an entry together quickly that also checks all the right boxes? Here are five tips to get you started:

1. Ask yourself: how would you elevator pitch your product?

First impressions are everything, and in the Core77 Design Awards, that first impression comes in the form of your entry's project summary. To get one together with maximum impact, have a go at writing up a summary of your product and why you created it in less than 300 words. Recite it to a friend, and get their feedback. Are they compelled and excited by the project after listening? Do they understand what your product is about after hearing this description and can relay a summary back to you? If so, then congratulations! Give yourself one final edit to cross t's and dot it's and you've got your entry's project summary ready to go!

2. Good images matter—make sure you've got yours in order.

When it comes to design awards, you're often presenting your work to juries full of industry-leading designers, which means visual presentation is top priority. Show us your best product photos within the entry, maybe along with some renderings, context, and process shots to give the judges a full idea of what your product looks like and where it's going to be used (But not too many! We'll get into that in a second...).

3. Edit, edit, edit!

Creating an amazing entry is all about balance—how do you present the right information to judges without overwhelming them? One great way to test whether or not you're getting your message across efficiently is to read your entry aloud and time yourself. Does your writing sound coherent when you say it aloud, and does it flow easily? Did you mention all the key points within the entry while keeping the recitation under 2 to 3 minutes?

Make sure you're following basic rules of editing too. Write in an active voice as much as possible, cut long run-on sentences into two shorter ones, and nix filler words like "that". This will all help with the flow of your entry!

And finally, don't forget to stick to the essentials when it comes to image sharing. Are there any photos included that, if deleted, wouldn't significantly affect a reader's understanding of the product? If the answer is yes, throw it out.

4. If you can include a helpful video, do it!

Videos are often a great way for judges to get an overview of the product in a succinct and engaging way. If you have any helpful videos you prepared in the process of creating your project, think about including it.

And if you don't have a highly produced and edited video, that's okay too! Even something like a product demo shot on your phone can be helpful if it feels relevant.

5. Make sure you are conveying crystal clear purpose and (bonus points!) future impact.

Judges love to see that you've thought a product through, and presented context as to why your product is important. Don't let the judges surmise themselves the significance, tell them straight up! Successful products often directly address very relevant cultural issues, so make sure to state clearly how your innovation relates to current events and phenomena. And if you're able to give evidence to show how you'll test its impact after launch, you'll be sure to leave a lasting impression.

Ready to get started on your Core77 Design Awards entry? Enter now, Regular Deadline arrives on Tuesday, March 9th!

Production Methods: Hydroforming Makes Complicated, Lightweight, Monolithic Metal Parts Possible

Core 77 - Thu, 2021-03-04 10:16

Hydroforming is kind of like blow-molding, except instead of air blowing into plastic, water is pumped at high pressure into aluminum or steel. As the water pressure increases, the steel part is deformed outwards, taking the shape of the mold it's inside of.

Hydroforming can be used for furniture and bike frames...

...but its biggest proponent is the auto industry.

The part shown above starts out as a mere tube, and its "journey" is pretty interesting. In this "How It's Made" video, we see how hydroforming is used to economically create a complicated part--in this case, the sub-frame for the suspension system on an Acura--that would not be feasible using more traditional methods:

We know that "affordable" for the auto industry means "Totally out of reach" for the independent designer. However, next we'll show you a guy who's been experimenting with DIY hydroforming. Stay tuned.

No-Contact Floating Holographic Keypads from Japan

Core 77 - Thu, 2021-03-04 10:16

We now know that COVID spreads via airborne transmission more than by hanging out on dirty surfaces, but the pandemic has made people obsessed with scrubbing surfaces clean. (For an example of the harm this excessive cleaning is doing to our health, check out Innovation Hub's "Has Coronavirus Cleaning Gone Too Far?")

Japan's Parity Innovations, a tech startup, has capitalized on the public's hesitance to touch things by developing a no-contact, floating holographic keypad.

Produced in collaboration with the Murakami Corporation, a manufacturer of optical systems, their "Floating Pictogram Technology" produces bright, high-resolution images and reportedly accurate finger-sensing technology out of a relatively compact device. The developers envision it being integrated with ATM machines, elevators, kiosks and even public toilets with bidet features.

This month Murakami released sample systems to hospitals and manufacturers for evaluation. The hope is to refine their designs based on user feedback, with the aim of getting these into mass production next year.

"One-Stop Shop" Rapid Prototyping Machine Builds a Drone That Then Flies Out of the Machine

Core 77 - Thu, 2021-03-04 10:16

Researchers from MIT's CSAIL (Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory) have built a multifunctional rapid prototyping machine called the LaserFactory. By hacking together a laser cutter, a picking arm and a nozzle that squirts molten silver, the LaserFactory can create complicated objects that require circuitry.

The demo video is compelling, presenting a use case where "a user has aspirations to create their own drone:

"They'd first design their device by placing components on it from a parts library, and then draw on circuit traces, which are the copper or aluminum lines on a printed circuit board that allow electricity to flow between electronic components. They'd then finalize the drone's geometry in the 2D editor. In this case, they'd use propellers and batteries on the canvas, wire them up to make electrical connections, and draw the perimeter to define the quadcopter's shape."

Check it out:

For next steps, the team is looking into refining the circuit-printing feature, which would allow for smaller/denser/more complicated electronics. They're also considering adding a traditional 3D printing nozzle.

"We're also thinking about how this kind of one-stop shop for fabrication devices could be optimally integrated into today's existing supply chains for manufacturing, and what challenges we may need to solve to allow for that to happen," writes CSAIL PhD student Martin Nisser. "In the future, people shouldn't be expected to have an engineering degree to build robots, any more than they should have a computer science degree to install software."

The Sharpie Ultimate Collection

Core 77 - Thu, 2021-03-04 10:16

I'll put this in the category of "Things no designer would buy for themself, but would be happy to receive as a gift."

Sharpie is selling an absurdly comprehensive Ultimate Collection of their signature markers. For 83 bucks you get 115 of them, featuring "40 fine, 42 ultra fine, 8 chisels and 12 twin tip coloring markers in unforgettable original colors, 5 luminous neon markers, and 8 shimmering metallic markers."

College kids who like to tag their drunken friends will delight in the color assortment. Profanity printed in boysenberry or tangerine brings a touch of novelty absent in most rush parties.

One letdown is the packaging, specifically the way the markers are stored. You'll probably toss the box, whose subdivisions resemble a cheap point-of-purchase display, in favor of a proper storage rack.

They also sell smaller 72-unit and 45-unit sets, but those sound pretty un-ultimate.

12 Months Later: How Consumer Tech Has Responded to the Pandemic

Core 77 - Thu, 2021-03-04 10:16

One year on from a wave of global lockdowns, consumer tech companies around the world are beginning to reflect on how well they adapted to seismic changes in customer needs.

Many of them had to pivot their offering overnight to address heightened concerns and values around hygiene, health, home and wellness. However, in the process, some have rushed down the path of developing solutions which address short term opportunities, rather than longer term needs.

This has led to product launches which champion style over substance –failing to realize the potential in how new technologies can enhance, rather than undermine, how we will live in the near future.

Last year, we noted that technology for the home which fosters our sense of comfort, wellbeing and community was still lacking in many respects. With a totally different landscape one year on, brands are being presented with more opportunities and challenges to integrate meaning into technology than ever before. We've collected a few examples of these below, with suggestions for how brands and developers can chart the best course forward.

Can robots really provide meaningful companionship?

The Samsung Bot Handy

The coronavirus pandemic has brought new urgency and weight to the other, often unseen, global pandemic: feelings of loneliness and isolation. Whilst many view tech as being part of the problem, the last 12 months have also seen an array of brands using AI and robotics to try and solve it – with varying degrees of success.

Samsung's Bot Handy, showcased at CES 2021, claims to provide a 'trusted partner to help with household chores' and can even pour you a glass of wine. But after we've all spent the best part of a year socially isolated, never more than an arm's reach away from a device, would our first choice of company really be a robot?

Similarly, UK robotics company Moley have launched a fully automated kitchen companion that creates personalized meals from scratch. It's a novel idea, but by outsourcing the seemingly mundane task of preparing daily meals, are we perhaps removing essential parts of the human and family experience?

The MOFLIN is an example of the cuddlier side of AI pets available today

On the other hand, we've also seen new examples of robots which provide essential care and companionship for when human contact is not possible. MOFLIN, an example of a growing category of AI pets, received a CES Best of Innovation this year. It combines tactile features that provide true comfort – texture, sound and movement – with an intelligent algorithm that learns from behavior. In this instance, robots are being used in place of human contact successfully to provide companionship and comfort, in an age where loneliness affects so many.

As the capabilities of robotics expand across all aspects of everyday life, their place in human culture and frames of meaning will diversify. As a result, it's critical that brands and developers properly interrogate which features will provide genuine benefit to human life and invest in solutions that dial up the human experience, not limit it. And while the pandemic has forced many physical experiences to go online, it's also made us realize that there are some interactions that just cannot, and perhaps should not, be digitalized so quickly.

How clean is too clean for our homes?

Toto's NEOREST NX toilet sterilizes the bowl using UV light once a day

The practices of sterilization, previously reserved for surgical and clinical environments, are increasingly being adopted in the home environment. The pandemic has increased consumers' awareness of hygiene and safety, with many brands responding with materials and technologies which elevate 'clean' to a new level. One place sterility in the home is being accentuated and more broadly accepted is in the expanding category of 'smart toilets'.

Toto's NEOREST NX toilet now incorporates Actilight, a feature which uses UV light reduce contaminants in the bowl once a day, relying on a combination of light, oxygen and water rather than harsh chemicals. In future products, Toto are looking to incorporate sensors into their toilets which collect data about usage and analyse deposits, informing health and diet recommendations through a connected app.

However, it seems to cross a line for some who view it as intrusive and unnecessary, with established concerns about big data and privacy driving rejection of the intimacy these 'smart' devices demand. Moreover, there is also a growing consumer understanding of the beneficial roles different microbes play. The colonies that live in our guts and on our skin have a huge positive impact on our physical health and mental wellbeing. Is 'sterile' too clean for our homes?

Product developers need to be wary of using technology for technology's sake and be careful to suggest the right applications for cutting edge solutions. Something more suitable for a hospital environment or diagnosis application needs careful consideration before it can find a lasting place in homes.

How can smart home devices intelligently support wellness?

Another intelligent toilet example, albeit with a less clinical approach, is Kohler's Numi 2.0, which advocates for an individualized experience in the bathroom. Although some might see the Amazon Alexa integration as a step too far, it does enable mood setting features which help create bespoke bathroom environments.

However, it's additional features which enable greater levels of hygiene - think touchless flushing – which have been especially well received in light of the pandemic and seem to strike the right balance between cleanliness and comfort.

The Kohler Stillness Bath

Aware that the pandemic has impacted our mental health as well as our physical health, Kohler also unveiled the Stillness bath. Based on the concept of Japanese forest bathing, the bath utilizes multiple features to provide a calming, spa-like experience in the home. CEO David Kohler described it as providing 'a point of relaxing and de-stressing in what's been a globally stressful year', empathizing the importance of wellness and cleaning rituals as an act of self-care, not purely a quest to disinfect oneself.

When it comes to our homes, it is crucial that the real need behind new smart tech is properly considered – how does this technology support or improve who we are at home? Does it protect our privacy and security when we're behind our front doors? Are the rituals that define family culture nurtured or abandoned in the name of progress?

Too many smart home 'solutions' wrongly prioritize data collection, speed and convenience, when slowing things down, adapting to real life contextual need and enhancing human interactions are often what we really want systems in our homes to do.

The full depth and meaning of the human experience of home must be far better understood if we are to unlock the kind of innovation that will resonate with people and endure change; products, services and systems that are not only bright, shiny and desirable but culturally and environmentally vital.

Despite the huge upheavals of the pandemic, brands need to strike a careful balance between addressing consumer's increased concern about hygiene and wellness, versus our essential need for a safe, calm and relaxing home environment that soothes, rather than heightens, feelings of fear, anxiety or isolation.

Guy Who "Can't Draw" is Actually a Genius Artist, Raises $83k for Charity

Core 77 - Thu, 2021-03-04 10:16

"Rubbish Pet Portraits" isn't a promising name for a picture book. But the UK-based guy behind them is obviously more of an artist than he lets on. Hercule van Wolfwinkle (God I hope that's his real name!) writes that last year he was making some "thank you" cards with his six-year-old son. "I just doodled a couple of pictures of our dog [on them]--they were really rubbish, I'm not an artist and have never really drawn in my life."

"As a joke, I uploaded the two pictures to my Facebook page with a jokey comment about Pet Portraits being for sale for just £299. No VAT."

The images got shared…and then actual requests started coming in.

Long story short, van Wolfwinkle took all comers, using it as an opportunity to raise money for a local homeless charity. His Facebook page, Pet Portraits By Hercule, features hundreds of illustrations. And I think the guy's a brilliant artist, with a fantastic sense of proportion, gesture and style that's intentionally clownish:

To date he's raised £59,554 (USD $82,894!) for the charity, and the book comes out this May. See more of his work here.

Love Hultén's Take on the Original Apple I Housing

Core 77 - Wed, 2021-03-03 05:50

The original Apple I computer that went on sale in 1976 was essentially a single PC board.

By ArnoldReinhold, CC BY-SA 4.0

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak had no employees nor design chops, so it was up to the end user to source a box to keep it in, and a keyboard and a TV to plug it into. Thus surviving examples of the I are pretty ad hoc:

By Ed Uthman

By Binarysequence - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Image source

By Cynde Moya - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

For his APLE project, Love Hultén re-imagines what the Apple I would've looked like, had he been the designer onboard:

I'm digging the pull-out drawer to access the board, but having those knobs and switches on the back of the monitor housing would drive me nuts.

Oakley Designs Facemask with Eyewear Channel to Prevent Fogging Your Glasses

Core 77 - Wed, 2021-03-03 05:50

If there's any object whose design has been significantly advanced by the pandemic, it's the facemask. But for all the crowdfunded and corporate-backed designs we've seen, none seems to have addressed the issue of fogging one's eyewear--except this design by Oakley.

Their MSK3 has been thoughtfully designed with an eyewear channel for glasses to nest in, and a silicon gasket that prevents your breath from drifting up beneath your eyewear.

Here's a video detailing the features:

As with most Oakley products, that level of design attention comes at a cost, in this case $60. Even so, the mask is so popular that it's currently sold out.

New Windowless Taco Bell On Stilts Design is Result of "Auto-Dominated Market Forces"

Core 77 - Wed, 2021-03-03 05:50

I used to live quite close to this windowless architectural oddity:

Image left: CC BY 2.0 / Image right: By Dhaluza at English Wikipedia, CC BY 2.5

That's 33 Thomas Street, a/k/a the AT&T Long Lines Building, located in Manhattan's Tribeca neighborhood. The window-free 55-story behemoth was built in the 1960s to house telephone line equipment in a highly secure environment. (Nowadays it's rumored to house TITANPOINTE, a secret NSA mass surveillance hub.)

Surprisingly, the use of windowless, visually impenetrable architecture to conceal equipment has now been taken up by…Taco Bell. As the pandemic has shifted many fast food chains to takeout-only, Taco Bell parent company Border Foods is betting that customers have grown to prefer it. Thus the new Taco Bell outpost in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, has no dining room, and is basically a windowless fast food factory on stilts:

"The building will have a contemporary look using architectural metal panels, glass, and block," reads a document submitted to the city's planning commission. "The building is designed to screen all the restaurant's mechanical equipment."

Upstairs, unseen workers will prepare the food, expected to be ordered via app. The bulk of the building's footprint at ground level is taken up by four drive-thru lanes. As customers pull up to the dispensing points, the food is delivered down to them via dumbwaiter. There is no human face-to-face contact.

However, one of the drive-thru lanes will be the traditional kind, with food ordered on-site through an intercom, and dispensed via a window by a human employee. Additionally, there is some allowance for car-free customers:

"Even though the building is responding to auto-dominated market forces, a person could easily walk or bike to the site to order inside."The first floor will have a small indoor counter for in-person walk-up ordering. There is no dining inside [nor outside]. A smaller kitchen will service this counter as well as the traditional drive-up lane."

It will be interesting to see if this pandemic-inspired, car-friendly type of architecture takes root. And I figure the bean counters will be thrilled to save on both Windex and uniforms; if no one can see the workers, perhaps they'll be clothed in branding-free, colorless, inexpensive but hygienic jumpsuits.

When MIT Engineers Design a Power Tool Accessory

Core 77 - Wed, 2021-03-03 05:50

Reekon Tools is a Boston-based company started by MIT engineers. Their inaugural product is the M1 Caliber, a measuring tool you're meant to clamp to a miter saw fence:

Here's how they envision the tool being used:

For repetitive cuts, I can't see this being faster than a stop block. For a series of non-repetitive cuts, I wonder how this would affect your average builder's workflow. For instance, the phrase "Measure twice, cut once" would not apply here, as there's no measuring and marking step; instead the builder would have to keep the number front and center in their mind as they make each cut--doesn't that mean they'd have to continually refer to notes or a blueprint, which might become cumbersome? I wonder if it truly would be faster and easier in the long run, versus having time set aside to mark, measure and double-check.

In any case, the demand for this device is apparently quite high: It was successfully crowdfunded by 25,286 backers, to the tune of $3.2 million. The device runs $130 a pop.