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The Ultimate Designer-Approved Gift Guide — Add Ideas and Win Prizes

Core 77 - 18 min 23 sec ago
Fifteen years after bringing the art form known as "gift guide" to the Internet we are reaching into our back catalog for a classic edition to remix. In 2012 we introduced *The Seven Designer Phenotypes* to the world both online and in a pair of pop-up stores. Now, we're turning the original idea over to our community of designers for an updated take on these classic archetypes. Recognize yourself among these? Then add those items that meet your standards for designer-to-designer gifting. Thank View the full content here

Today: NY Auctioning Off 188 Pairs of Rare Sneakers Seized in Drug Bust

Core 77 - 18 min 23 sec ago

New York State's Office of General Services is responsible for eBaying government surplus items: Office furniture, filing cabinets, school buses, et cetera. But today they're posting some rather atypical items, according to the Daily News: "188 pairs of highly sought-after sneakers and 14 pieces of sports memorabilia seized by State Police as part of a drug bust on Long Island."

"Collectors can make an offer on an Air Jordan 7/6 Retro "Golden Moments Pack," featuring two pairs of Michael Jordan-inspired basketball shoes that typically sells for over $500. Also up for grabs will be a pair of Nike Jordan Ultimate Gift of Flight, size 10.5, that are still in the original box. The shoes often sell for upwards of $650 online."

For this auction only, the OGS is making an exception to their "pickup only" rule, and they're willing to ship each pair of kicks. They'll begin posting them today to their eBay page, and more info is available here.

Cybershoes Let You Walk Around in Virtual Reality

Core 77 - 18 min 23 sec ago

Virtual reality began with a headset to fool the wearer's vision. Next came hand-operated controllers, giving VR users some agency in the virtual world. The next barrier is how to allow VR users to walk around whilst in-world. We were thinking 360-degree treadmills, but a startup called Cybershoes feels VR footwear is the way to go.

By having the bulk of the user's weight supported by a tall, rotating stool, the sensation of perambulating can be somewhat awkwardly replicated. It's at least as goofy-looking (but presumably as effective) as any other piece of VR kit:

The next logical step is to safely get the user into a standing position. I think what's needed is a version of this for grown-ups:

All jokes aside, the Cybershoes have been successfully Kickstarted, and there's still 36 days left to pledge.

From France, a Bicycle Ambulance

Core 77 - 18 min 23 sec ago

French eco-mobility company Ecox Enterprises is launching the Emergency Bike, a two-wheeled ambulance that allows first responders to slice through city traffic. Designed to deal with Parisian rush hour, the electric-powered cargo bike features an insulated box for carrying medical supplies and is kitted out with the lights and sirens of an ambulance.

The design, produced by cargo bicycle manufacturer Urban Arrow, was developed with input from Urgences Médicales de Paris (an emergency medical association) and is reportedly ongoing: "Emergency Bikes is a mobile medical practice in constant improvement," writes technology consultancy Wunderman Thompson, which came up with the idea. "Since its launch with the doctors of the [Urgences Médicales de Paris], Ecox has already received dozens of requests from other emergency services to create new Emergency Bikes tailored to their needs."

The Socially-Awkward, Pre-Vaccine Way to Ride in Elevators?

Core 77 - 18 min 23 sec ago

No less than three anti-COVID vaccines are on the horizon, though approval--and more importantly, distribution--will take time. Access will differ by region and country.

Until V-Day arrives worldwide, office building managers have a problem: We need to get the economy going, but how do you pack a tall building with workers who would rather not die when the cure is so close? Elevators are the big problem, as they're a great way to breathe someone else's air. That's why a hospital in Thailand has been asking people to ride elevators in this odd-looking manner since March:

Image: Brent Toderian

Unsurprisingly, sticker companies are capitalizing on the practice:

Lazada Stickers

Lazada Stickers

Lazada Stickers

Lazada Stickers

Social Distancing Stickers

Social Distancing Stickers

Social Distancing Stickers

Social Distancing Stickers

It's a lot cheaper for building managers to slap these stickers on than to retrofit expensive ventilation/air purification systems. And if I had to ride in an elevator I'd adhere to this--even though there are no published scientific figures on how much protection this confers.

Heck, I can name at least three socially-awkward acquaintances who would probably prefer to ride elevators this way, even after the pandemic is over.

KFC Rolls Out Autonomous, Roving Food Trucks

Core 77 - 18 min 23 sec ago

This is like a nightmare of mine: I'm trying to lose a couple of pounds, then a fast-food chain develops an autonomous, roving kiosk that follows me around, wafting that cooking oil smell in my face and daring me to buy something.

That's not quite how KFC's roving meal 'bots work, but they might as well. In these photos on the outskirts of Shanghai, a Twitter user reports that these unmanned vehicles were making sales outside of a train station:

Payment is handled via QR code, and the vehicles aren't KFC-only (you can see an alternate-vendor-branded one on the left of the photo above). They're leased out by Neolix, the Chinese startup that produces them. Here's the vehicle in action, and conducting transactions:

Surely it's just a matter of time before these shift from moving fried chicken to fried end-of-day office workers.

Plug With a Hook: Pre-Berlin-Wall Example of Good East German UX Design

Core 77 - 18 min 23 sec ago

Germany is a design powerhouse today, so it's weird to think that just 30-something years ago, the country was bifurcated, and that the eastern half was living under communist austerity.

You can't kill a history of design just by ripping a country in half, so East Germany, a/k/a the German Democratic Republic, still had designers with good instincts and an awareness of UX; they just didn't have a lot of resources. My assistant came across this quaint example in the online Plug Socket Museum, a Holland-hosted website:

Image: The Plug Socket Museum / Peter W. Martin

So what's going on here? According to the site:

"According to strict DDR [German Democratic Republic] regulations, newly built homes had bathrooms with one, dual socket. One outlet for the washing machine, the other for the centrifuge. If you wanted to use an outlet for other purposes (shaver, hair dryer etc.) you had to take out one of the plugs. Inevitably plug and cord fell on the ground, usually out of reach behind the washing machine."The plug-in hook was designed to avoid these daily irritations. Cords of washing machine and centrifuge had a ring, close to the plug. Cords of machines not in use were attached to hook and were always within reach, while the other outlet was available for other purposes."Many thanks to Peter W. Martin for plug and background story."

Mercedes-Benz Explores Making Car Parts From UBQ's Recycled Household Garbage

Core 77 - 18 min 23 sec ago

It sounds like an unlikely team-up: Leading car luxury brand Mercedes-Benz, and Israeli household garbage recycler UBQ.

But it's happening, in large part because UBQ is no ordinary recycler. As we wrote in an earlier post, the company has cracked the hardest part of household garbage disposal: How to recycle the unrecyclable stuff like food waste, contaminated paper, used diapers. UBQ's proprietary process is able to recycle 100% of household garbage, converting it into injection-moldable, plastic-like nurdles.

Since we last looked in on them, the products made from UBQ's eponymous material has grown:

And their lineup is apparently set to grow again--this time into cars. Following an exploration with Mercedes-Benz that began in February, and which yielded unspecified "advanced developments," M-B parent company Daimler has paired UBQ up with an automotive supplier of theirs, Motherson. "Motherson is currently testing and evaluating the incorporation of UBQ™ in the production of a range of interior and exterior automobile parts," UBQ writes.

Here's a video covering the team-up, which is part of an innovation incubator called Startup Autobahn:

Bizarre Objects: The Desktop Swag That Pharma Reps Once Used to Bribe Doctors

Core 77 - 18 min 23 sec ago

Until fairly recently, it was common for pharmaceutical representatives to visit doctors to flog their company's latest drug. These pharma rep visits, called "detailing," were often thinly-veiled bribery attempts with nice dinners, trips, gifts and/or straight-up cash given to the doctors.

Detailing is now frowned upon, and even pre-pandemic, face-to-face visits between reps and doctors were in decline. But when the practice was in full swing, through the '90s and mid-2000s, the reps would often show up with hilariously cheesy promotional gifts for the doctors. You can still find these objects on eBay, and here are some examples:

Vicodin Candy Jar

Pen to Promote Anti-Psychotic Tablets

Muscle Cell Ceramic Mugs to Promote Diabetic Medication

Fun Pack of Breath Mints, Sharpies, Magnets, Nametag Holders, Rubber Inhaler Holder/Lanyards and Plastic Bags for Pulmonary Medication

Fentanyl Pen & Stapler Set

Liquid-Filled Tape Dispener to Promote Lidocaine Patches

Refrigerator Magnet Clips to Promote Opioid Tablets

Liquid-Filled Paperweight/Business Card Holder Snow Globe to Promote Opioid Tablets

It seems hard to believe that tcotchkes like these led our country into an opioid epidemic. But these gifts were only part of a larger "incentivizing" operation run by big pharma. It should also be noted that the gifts may have had more perceived value when delivered by attractive people:

A former Eli Lilly representative told a legal assistance network that "he was the only member of his team with a background in science, and that the majority of his coworkers were 'former cheerleaders and ex-models.'"If you're interested in this subject, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study called "Association Between Academic Medical Center Pharmaceutical Detailing Policies and Physician Prescribing" in 2017. That study is available here, and the same year Vice referenced the study in an article on the subject.

Crash Baggage: Damaged-Look Luggage from Italy, for Peace of Mind While Traveling

Core 77 - 18 min 23 sec ago

You know when you see a new product, and you can't tell if it's meant to be a joke or not? An Italian company called Crash Baggage produces suitcases that look like they've had the hell beaten out of them, straight from the factory. "What's the first thing we think of when we buy a new suitcase?" the company writes. "We are afraid that it will [be damaged]."

To that end, the company produces ABS and polycarbonate suitcases with dents molded right into them. It would be hard to make these look worse. "Our 'Handle Without Care' travel philosophy," they write, "exalts freedom of movement and action where and when you want, without worry."

The company makes three different sizes: Carry-on, Medium and Large, as well as a sort of fanny pack that you can wear while you do martial arts or yoga.

My favorite shot from their lookbook is this very stylish woman using her Crash Baggage to transport bruised bananas.

Dive into their collection here.

Crowdfunding Smash: A 3D Printer That Can Print Pieces of Infinite Length

Core 77 - 18 min 23 sec ago

Creality has developed what they call an "Infinite-Z 3D Printer." By tilting their nozzle at a 45-degree angle that prints onto a conveyor belt, rather than a fixed bed, their 3D Print Mill can theoretically print to any length.

Of course, in reality you'll be limited by outfeed, but the development team has successfully printed in lengths up to six meters (about 20 feet). "All in one piece," they write, "produced by a machine only 66cm (about two feet) long."

The Kickstarter funding is bonkers; they were seeking just $13,000 to get production going, but at press time they had $947,760, with 24 days left to pledge.

Soap Dispenser Woes: Wall-Mounted vs. Countertop Designs

Core 77 - 18 min 23 sec ago

Ever since I was a kid working in restaurants, I've loved wall-mounted soap dispensers. From a UX perspective, I consider them an almost perfect design: You can clearly see when they need to be refilled, refilling them is easy, and the button is easy to press with knuckles or the back of your hand when your fingers are covered in messy stuff.

They take a little work to mount, particularly if you're drilling through tile, and I wouldn't recommend the double-stick tape they often come with. But once installed, a well-built unit works great.

The problem is, I can't find a well-built unit anymore. I deeply regret leaving two units behind in my New York apartment as they worked flawlessly. Every replacement I've bought since, has leaked. It is incredibly frustrating to find liquid soap all over your sink or countertop in the morning, the dispenser above dead empty. Every single unit you see for sale on Amazon, even the ones with 4.5-star review averages, leaks. Click on the one-star reviews to read the tales of woe.

I was intrigued to see there is an alternative form factor that is guaranteed to be leak-proof--because the nozzle is on top.

This is designed specifically for sponge applications, i.e. doing dishes:

OXO makes a slightly fancier version:

There are two things I don't like about this design approach. The first is that loading it looks like a minor hassle. With the wall-mounted, you pop the cap off and fill, you don't have to unscrew anything.

The second is that this design lives on the countertop (space is scarce on mine). If I can think of a stable-enough way to wall-mount this, without the constant pressing tearing it off of the wall, I may give one of these a go.

Yea or Nay? The Portable International City Radio Box

Core 77 - 18 min 23 sec ago

I'm always torn when I encounter objects like this: On the one hand they don't need to exist, but on the other, I see the appeal of the concept.

The Portable International City Radio Box allows you to stream live, local radio stations from your choice of 18 cities: Athens, Barcelona, Beijing, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Havana, Istanbul, Jakarta, London, Moscow, Nairobi, New York, Paris, Rome, Sao Paulo, Sydney, and Tokyo. You choose nine of the 18 buttons to install, then pre-program the device so that pressing a button cues up the city.

That idea is alluring. However, the device is little more than a wireless Bluetooth speaker; it doesn't work unless you download the CityRadio app to your smartphone and pair it. In other words, it's your phone that's doing most of the work, and if you've already got a wireless speaker, here you'd be plunking down $120.95 for the experience of pressing a physical button.

On top of that, the physical design of the device can only be described as "basic," bordering on first- or second-year ID student work.

While I do see the appeal of the concept, particularly for anyone who's lived in several of these cities, I find it hard to justify the production costs. If design is about delivering experiences, the experience promised here can be had without this object altogether.

What say you? In your opinion, would the experience of using it justify its production?

This Compact German Semi Truck Divides Into Two Separate Halves for Long Loads

Core 77 - 18 min 23 sec ago

My county has a robust timber industry, and you constantly see the logging trucks going back and forth. These trucks are massive when loaded, and massive when empty.

In Germany, however, they've got a very different vehicle for logging: The Ratioplus, manufactured by Doll Fahrzeugbau.

Headed to the jobsite, it looks like this:

Once on-site, the driver hops into the seat for the onboard crane.

He then unloads the truck's little buddy riding on the back.

Then he grabs a log.

As he lays the first one down on the little buddy, he simultaneously remote-controls it to drive away from him, essentially setting the length that the truck will take.

Then he loads up the rest of the logs.

Once done loading, he lashes the logs together with this manly pink chain.

Then he folds the crane back up...

...and drives off.

The configuration allows him to tackle windy roads with ease.

Here's a video look at the process:

A Murphy Bed That Turns Into a Gym

Core 77 - 18 min 23 sec ago

At first I thought this was a really dumb idea. But the more I think about it, the more this seems a good solution for dedicated gym rats. The Pivot Bed is a Murphy Bed (made of steel) that converts into a home gym.

The thing that turned me around is, the footprint taken up by your bed is a huge waste of space for the sixteen hours or more that you're not in it. For someone who lives in a small apartment and really does go to the gym every day, specifically to pump iron, that footprint would be truly useful for siting bulky equipment like a squat stand and bench press. (To be clear, it comes with the squat stand, but not the bench; that's up to you to provide.)

At £999 (USD $1,323) this isn't a casual purchase; it really only makes sense if you're a disciplined weightlifter. (And one who doesn't mind sleeping in a room that stinks of your own sweat.)

It's up on Kickstarter right now, but whether it will make the cut is anyone's guess. At press time they had $101,501 in funding towards a $265,523 target, with 20 days left to pledge.

The Opposite of Radiant Floor Heating: A Ceiling & Wall-Based Heating/Cooling System, With No Visible Vents

Core 77 - Wed, 2020-11-25 05:44

When the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Italy needed a stretch ceiling, they turned to French manufacturer Barrisol.

Housing precious Ferraris aside, Barrisol, who bill themselves as the "world leader of the stretch ceiling," has developed a revolutionary application that their competitors have not: A way to use their ceilings to heat and cool a space, without the end user ever needing to see a vent. Call Barrisol Clim, their proprietary system does away with grilles and in-room heating/cooling objects altogether.

Here's how it works: Their stretch ceiling is installed (minimum 10cm) below the existing ceiling, creating a plenum, or shallow chamber, above. A vent from the existing forced air set-up is fed into the plenum, seen below at left. Air blows through the vent and across the plenum.

The ceiling then acts as a membrane, allowing the blown-air temperature to radiate downwards into the space.

In addition, the air blown across the top of the ceiling hits the wall opposite the duct, then waterfalls down the wall through a slit.

The air current rides along the floor, back towards the originating wall. Finally, it climbs the wall and is reabsorbed into the plenum for another run.

With this cycle formed, "A natural flow of air develops throughout the space inside the room," the company writes, "at speeds so low they are barely perceptible."

The method is the same for both heating and cooling, and the company claims less energy is required than with conventional heating and cooling systems.

The Clim system eliminates the need for visible vents, a plus for interior designers seeking minimalism. The only visual giveaway that the system is in place is the slightest of reveals where the wall meets the ceiling:

And the system still works with ceilings interrupted by lighting fixtures, whether integrated or suspended:

For those interested in investigating the system, Barrisol has certified installers on all continents.

Here's a more detailed explanation of how the system works:

Interior Design Possibilities: Stretch Ceilings

Core 77 - Wed, 2020-11-25 05:44

When I was a kid, my cousins lived in an old colonial house in Connecticut. On a visit, one of them told me the ceilings of the house were made out of canvas. I didn't believe him. He grabbed a broomstick and pushed the tip against the ceiling. It moved upwards, like fabric. Then my uncle walked in and yelled at him (apparently canvas ceilings are very expensive to fix).

Fabric ceilings have evolved a lot since colonial days, gaining both illuminating functionality and greater aesthetic options. One of the leaders in the space is a UK-based company with a distinct competitive advantage: Like Xerox and Kleenex, the company's name is what laypeople refer to the entire product category as, Stretch Ceilings.

The company, which primarily targets commercial clients, sells systems that can incorporate lighting and graphics. They produce a variety of extruded plastic or aluminum tracks that are installed around the perimeter of a wall or otherwise suspended below the existing ceiling, and a lightweight PVC fabric is attached to the track.

The resultant stretched ceilings can then be dotted with canister lighting, as seen in this residential application…

…but the larger opportunity is to use the ceiling itself as a light fixture. Since the PVC fabric can be produced as thin as 0.2mm--offering light transmission around 75%--the entire ceiling surface can be made into a massive lightbox.

Alternatively, designers can get creative with the shapes of the lighting.

The fabric can also be printed upon.

With a more complicated supporting structure, the fabric can also be curved, albeit with limitations.

Lastly, the fabric serves as a vapor barrier, making it an ideal ceiling surface for spaces subject to humidity.

You can check out more applications for stretch ceilings here.

Designers! Add Your Ideas to the Core77 Ultimate Gift Guide – and Win.

Core 77 - Wed, 2020-11-25 05:44

Fifteen years after bringing the art form known as "gift guide" to the Internet we are reaching into our back catalog for a classic edition to remix. In 2012 we introduced *The Seven Designer Phenotypes* to the world both online and in a pair of pop-up stores. Originally populated by our editors and illustrated by Tony Ruth, the guide was a hit. Now, we're turning the idea over to our community of designers for an updated take on these classic archetypes.

Recognize yourself among these? Perfect, then add those items that you'd want to receive – those that meet your standards for designer-to-designer gifting. Do it by December 17th, 2020, and your name will be entered into our prize raffle.

Go to the 2020 Core77 Ultimate Gift Guide

illustrations by Tony Ruth

How it Works

Anyone who adds a gift suggestion or upvotes a published gift item will be added to a grand prize gift raffle:

1. Go to our Ultimate Gift Guide homepage and choose a designer type to see their gift guide. 2. Click the button at the top of the individual gift guide page that says "Add Your Item and Win!" 3. Enter the information for your suggestion. Make sure to include an image! 4. Click "Submit for Consideration" when you're done—once the product is published online, your name will be enter into our grand prize raffle!

You're allowed to suggest as many products as you like (1 product listed = 1 entry in our raffle), so go wild. You can also be entered into the raffle by simply upvoting an existing entry. However, in the case of voting, you will only be entered once into the raffle regardless of how many votes you make.

What You Can Win

What are the prizes you might ask? We've got some great ones this year. Enter to win, and you'll have the chance to win great prizes! Our two grand prize winners will win one of two gift options, including a Zip Zip multipurpose bag + pencil set for designers provided by Atelier Yul or a product bundle provided by Areaware!

Submissions are open until Thursday, December 17th, and winners will be announced the following day on Friday, December 18th.

Start making your gift suggestions!:
The 2020 Core77 Ultimate Gift Guide

Cool Tools: Crescent Makes an Adjustable Wrench With a Vise-Grip-Style Locking Handle

Core 77 - Wed, 2020-11-25 05:44

Years ago I had a roommate who was a carpenter, and I copied a habit from him: Anytime he came into a little extra money, he'd use it to buy a specialty tool that he didn't immediately have a need for, but anticipated he might someday. If you chose carefully, he explained, one day that tool would save your bacon. (Tools I can vouch for in this category are an air shim, a band clamp and a long, ratcheting Bahco driver with an articulating handle.)

The next tool I'd have to put in this category is this cool 10" Locking Adjustable Wrench by Crescent. It's got the convenience of a vise-grip-style locking handle with a more hex-friendly jaw configuration:

These are about $25 on Amazon.

Photographer Documents Everything a Soldier Had to Carry From the Year 1066 to Modern Day

Core 77 - Wed, 2020-11-25 05:44

London-based photographer Thom Atkinson fastidiously documents "people, objects and places," according to his bio. His work "is characterised by a gentle and observational approach, a natural and honest quality, and a care for the craft of picture making."

Atkinson's "Missing Buildings" is a photo book documenting the titular subjects in London, all removed by the Blitz during World War II. Also on the subject of war, and brilliantly told through "everyday carry"-like photographs, is his "Inventory" series. This carefully documents everything the soldiers of a particular conflict, place and time had to carry with them. Some examples:

Huscarl, Battle of Hastings, 1066, by Thom Atkinson

Mounted Knight, Siege of Jerusalem, 1244 by Thom Atkinson

Trained Band Caliverman, Tilbury, 1588 by Thom Atkinson

Continental Army Private, Battle of Brooklyn, 1776 by Thom Atkinson

Blackfoot Horse Raider, Montana, 1875 by Thom Atkinson

US Army Paratrooper, Operation Market Garden, 1944 by Thom Atkinson

Royal Marine Commando, Falklands Conflict, 1982 by Thom Atkinson

Close Support Sapper, Royal Engineers, Helmand Province, 2014 by Thom Atkinson

Atkinson has way more photos in this series, visible in their high-res glory, here.