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Announcing the Winners of the 2020 Core77 Design Awards Community Choice Prize

Core 77 - 16 hours 3 min ago

The votes are in! It's time to announce the winners of the 2020 Core77 Design Awards Community Choice prize.

One grand prize winner and 17 category winners have been chosen by the Core77 audience as their favorite awarded design projects of 2020, with the grand prize winner taking home a special prize of $500 cash.

And the 2020 Community Choice winners are...

Grand Prize Winner: Kissa Kahani

The grand prize winner of this year's Community Choice is Kissa Kahani. The project is a Design Education Initiative Runner-Up in this year's awards, created by Ci3 at the University of Chicago, Ramya Ramakrishnan Design, and StratComm Consulting. Designed in response to the lack of sex education available to youth in India, Kissa Kahani, which translates to "anecdotes and stories," is a uniquely designed, evidence-based intervention that provides information about sexual and reproductive health to Indian adolescents through storytelling, multimedia, and innovative research.

Congratulations to Ci3 at the University of Chicago, Ramya Ramakrishnan Design, and StratComm Consulting for their win and a job well done!

2020 Community Choice Category Winners:

Brilliantly Designed Adaptive Tableware for the Visually Impaired

Core 77 - 16 hours 3 min ago

"Dining is something that we usually take for granted," writes Singapore-based industrial designer Jexter Lim. "However, for the visually impaired, simple tasks like eating and pouring can be extremely challenging.

"For the visually impaired, they cannot gauge the amount of food picked up with a spoon, and much uneaten food is usually left scattered around the plate. Furthermore, misalignment of the spout to the cup while pouring water and cutleries falling into a hot bowl of soup are the worst experiences to deal with without proper vision."

Lim worked with visually impaired people to observe how they ate, then drew up a list of pain points:

He set design criteria:

After prototyping different designs and testing them with the subjects, he eventually created an adaptive tableware set called Eatsy. And it's freaking brilliant.

Eatsy is a set of multi-functional tableware consisting of a plate, bowl, cup, and utensils. Each of them has a unique feature with subtle details that avoid stigmatization. They are universal, applicable for children, elderly and even people without special needs. Eatsy is user-friendly for both left and right-handed users, and they can be stacked up for easy storage.Each piece has a distinctive spot to provide sensory cues for the visually impaired.

The Eatsy cup has a well-thought design which features a food-safe silicone flap which indents inward to secure the spout for pouring.

The Eatsy plate features a raised corner and slope to trap food. The curvature of the plate acts as a guide to direct the spoon to the corner for scooping. The corners also serve as a spot for drinking and pouring.

Cutleries can also be hooked onto the sides of the plate to prevent them from slipping.

You can see more of his prototyping and development process, as well as video with his test subjects, here. The videos in particular, where he shows comparisons of the subjects eating with ordinary tableware versus Eatsy tableware, are particularly illuminating.

I think this is kick-ass design with great usage of materials. My hat's off to Lim!

Is "The Far Side" Back? Gary Larson Posts New Work in a New, Digital Style

Core 77 - 16 hours 3 min ago

After years of retirement, last year Gary Larson finally started posting "Far Side" archives online. Now it appears he's got an itchy sketching finger: While he won't say he's coming out of retirement in full, he has started messing around with a digital tablet, and yesterday he posted a few pieces online. "The 'New Stuff' that you'll see here is the result of my journey into the world of digital art," Larson writes.

There are copyrights on the images, so I can't cut-and-paste any of the three he's put up so far. So I'll try to entice you with a screenshot of a caption to one of the images, and hope you'll click over to his site:

Text: Gary Larson

Luno Products: Making It Easy to Turn Your Car Into a Mobile Campsite

Core 77 - 16 hours 3 min ago

Hardcore campers want to hike to their sites with everything on their backs. But the larger market is the casual camper, someone who might not prefer to pitch a tent, and/or who wants the convenience of "car camping;" families with small children, people with mobility issues or folks who don't want to fully "rough it," for instance.

For this market there's Luno, a company that enables you to turn your car into the tent. After studying a variety of car interiors, the company designed a range of air mattresses that cover some 1,800 different vehicle makes, whether hatchback or SUV (a selector at the link above lets you match the mattress to your car).

Unlike ordinary air mattresses, these are shaped to fit around wheel wells, giving you more surface area for your shoulders (you're meant to sleep with your head towards the front of the car). They self-inflate; you just plug the compressor into the cigarette lighter, and can release air to dial it down to your softness setting using a valve.

The truly clever bit of design that set these apart are the Base Extenders, which "fill the footwells of backseats to provide additional head support and increase mattress length by a whopping 15 inches." This means that, assuming your car interior is long enough, the mattresses will accommodate someone up to 6'3" (1.9m).

Although the mattresses look like two separate units in the photos, they're actually one unit, with a split down the middle. Each side inflates independently, the idea being that each sleeper might prefer a different firmness, and that one sleeper won't feel the mattress rock every time the other sleeper shifts.

To keep your stuff close at hand, Luno's also designed a seatback organizer where you can store a water bottle, your phone, a headlamp et cetera.

It's also got a small detachable pouch you can use for toiletries and such.

With people suffering from cabin fever and the pandemic still leaving travel uncertain, I suspect car camping is going to rise in popularity. You don't have to worry about the cleanliness of the lodging, and there's less of a barrier to entry than with tent camping. I think Luno is going to do well.

This Speculative App Concept Aims to Highlight Gender-Coded Verbal Silencing in the Workplace

Core 77 - 16 hours 3 min ago

Upbraid took home the Student Runner Up Speculative Design Award in the 2020 Core77 Design Awards competition.

If you're a woman in a workplace with a number of men and feel that your voice isn't always heard, there's research to support that hunch. According to a study from George Washington University, research showed that men interrupted 33 percent more often when speaking with women than when they spoke with other men. Behavioral patterns embedded in culture can be tough to change, but is it possible they can be overcome using design?

This was a dilemma designer and School of Visual Arts student Stephanie Gamble wanted to solve. Her speculative solution to the problem is Upbraid, an app that highlights practices of gender-coded, verbal silencing in the workplace. "Upbraid is one project in a larger suite of projects designed as part of a thesis exploration into gender, voice and power," Gamble writes. "The aim with this work was to provoke conversations around the 'mundane' or daily ways that women verbally experience misogyny and sexism."

Example of onboarding screensScreens 2 - The Idea Behind Upbraid

Upbraid is an app that creates space for women's voices in the workplace by adjusting the verbally dominating behavior of male colleagues during meetings. Upbraid is intended as a tool that businesses implement at the corporate level and integrate into employee onboarding processes and performance reviews. Individuals set up a profile with a voice recognition sample and avatar that are linked to their corporate employee ID, email and phone number. Upbraid is used on the employee's smartphone since it is a ubiquitous and easy tool in most corporate workplaces. Once a session is created, each team member in attendance is prompted to "join" the digital meeting space. This step visually places the avatars of each team member into one screen environment.

How Upbraid Works

Using voice recognition, the app tracks the talk time of different employees and visualizes the state of a conversation in real time by scaling up or shrinking the size of the avatars based on their talk time. If a male team member begins to dominate the talk time, his avatar will grow in size and become mean and villainous, visibly squashing the avatars of the others into the corners of the screen. If the behavior persists, Upbraid highlights the offender on the screen in red and sends warning "nudges" via text message reminding him to let others speak.

At the end of each session, Upbraid sends the team and managers a recap including each member's talk time, number of interruptions and decibel level. Upbraid also sends each member a letter grade for their participation in the session; offering critical feedback and suggestions for improvement going forward. If a male team member does not improve over time and chooses to ignore Upbraid's corrective suggestions, the platform adds consequences and begins withdrawing money from his paycheck. The funds are then redistributed to the female teammates he silenced.

Context illustrationWhy Designing to Challenge Verbal Silencing Matters

Gamble interviewed a variety of subject matter experts during her design research phase to gain insight into the state of gender, voice and power today. During these interviews women often mentioned the workplace as a space where gender power dynamics were most present and fraught in their lives, especially in male dominated fields. Meetings, work sessions and boardrooms continue to be challenging spaces for women to make their voice heard. When women want to be heard in the workplace they are told to "speak up," "be assertive," and "speak louder." These prompts are problematic because they perpetuate the qualities and values of traditionally masculine coded behaviors and characteristics. Rather than exploring how office culture can change to be inclusive of differences in how all genders communicate and participate in the office work space, these prompts problematically ask women to change how they might normally use voice in these spaces, placing the burden on change on them as opposed to the offending group.

The social and cultural barriers women face in being heard are perhaps the most challenging. C-suites and boardrooms are traditionally and historically considered male-coded spaces of dominance. Several women Gamble interviewed called out "male entitlement" as a significant challenge in these spaces. One interviewee stated that she was always "fighting against male entitlement" and that men were accustomed to feeling and acting like they were the smartest ones in the room and disregarding the voices of others.

A number of interviewees mentioned that "male cluelessness" to the challenges women experience was another significant challenge and felt that men simply did not recognize when they were engaging in these silencing practices.

Gamble saw an opportunity to design a service that would make visible the verbal challenges that women in the workplace experience to callout men and demand that they address the ways that they knowingly or unknowingly silence women's voices. The service is designed in a way that is intentionally harsh as a means of provocation.

The use of a financial consequence is employed as a means of adding heat and gravity to the situation. With Upbraid, the responsibility of corrective action and the consequences for failing to change are placed on men; a direct reversal of the current dynamics in office environments where women suffer the consequences of not acting more like their male colleagues. It is aimed to promote discussion about what the consequence should be, if any? What is the motivation for changing existing gender power dynamics? How do we engage men in this conversation in a way that does not try to protect their interests over women's interests? How valuable is a woman's voice?

The importance of a product like Upbraid lies, for one, in the data it provides: unchecked misogynistic behaviors are codified and quantified for both parties to see. The financial aspect is one factor that allows for lasting change. "In this service, I am suggesting a reframing of values where women's voice and contributions would be prioritized and given value over the future earning potential and upward mobility of their male colleagues," Gamble says. "Because the work of being heard shouldn't fall solely on women."

Read more about "Upbraid" on our Core77 Design Awards site of 2020 honorees

New Manufacturing Partnership Lets You Quickly Move from Small-Batch to Mass Production

Core 77 - 16 hours 3 min ago

Let's say you designed and have started selling some 3D-printed widget, in small batches, Etsy-scale. But suddenly demand for your object goes off the charts, and you need to move into mass production, quickly; Walmart puts in an order and sets a deadline, and if you can't meet it, your opportunity evaporates. What do you do?

Fictiv, the company that Forbes called "The AirBNB of manufacturing," has teamed up with Jabil, itself a large manufacturing services company (100 plants in 28 countries) to provide a solution for the situation described above. Their collaboration is meant to "connect and streamline 3D-print prototyping through to mass-scale production using an innovative digital thread," Fictiv writes in a press release. "Designed to de-risk and streamline the supply chain through quality, speed, transparency, and flexibility, the thread ensures a supported customer experience from quote to completion."

"The unique collaboration provides seamless handoff from prototype and low-volume production orders with Fictiv to full-scale mass production with Jabil. Through this unified lifecycle, products reach consumers at faster speeds, more efficiently, and with unprecedented agility."

What initially puzzled me was that they're calling this an "agile 3D printing collaboration," yet they also used the term "full-scale mass production," which to me means injection molding or similar. I had to hunt through the release a bit to confirm they didn't mean going from small-batch 3D printing to large-batch 3D printing--where would the time/cost savings be there?--and found this sentence:

"Beyond the 3D printing of parts, Jabil can now leverage Fictiv's precision service model to offer industry-best volume manufacturing, data, packaging and on-time fulfillment to end-customers with less risk." So assuming they mean they can get you from 3D printing to injection molding, I think they should change the name of the collaboration, as it's confusing.

That quibble aside, here are what I found to be the most relevant bits of the press release:

- "The move from idea to volume consumption is hard – no matter how solid the products are," Jean Olivieri, Fictiv COO said. "Our goal is to add speed and agility to the manufacturing supply chain to enable new product introduction without the risk. Our digitally enabled ecosystem facilitates efficient flow of data and materials, while our collaboration with Jabil supports end-to-end product lifecycle; prototyping to production, for the benefit of our mutual customers."- "Accuracy, speed and agility are vital to success in volume manufacturing," said John Dulchinos, VP of Digital Manufacturing for Jabil. "Fictiv's commitment to data accuracy, combined with Jabil's investment in lean manufacturing, reduction in business systems and overarching digital infrastructure, enable fast, nimble production ramps."- "The use of a quote-to-order platform makes sourcing and the supply chain less vulnerable to disruptions, as it leverages a global network of certified collaborators," said Jan Burian, Research Director, Manufacturing Insights EMEA for IDC. "And, thanks to cloud-based technology, shifting and sharing data loads within the manufacturing network makes the whole system very flexible and efficient."

Now you've just got to put your nose to the CAD grindstone and design that widget.

The Merits of Sketching on Toned Backgrounds

Core 77 - 16 hours 3 min ago

In the pre-digital era, industrial designers had to keep a decent stock of colored Canson paper on hand for renderings. I still remember buying these as a design student; with little funds, I'd get no more than five at a time in random colors, at least one of them dark grey.

In this video, industrial designer Michael DiTullo discusses both the history and merits of sketching on toned paper, then demonstrates with a sneaker sketch:

Berlin Mass Transit Bans Deodorant, to Encourage Proper Mask Usage

Core 77 - 16 hours 3 min ago

Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe, a/k/a the BVG, is Berlin's public transport company, managing the U-Bahn, tram, bus and ferry services. They've got a wry sense of humor; the name of the company's official Twitter account is "Because we love you", and they use pro-mass-transit slogans like "Not even your mummy will pick you up at 04:30 in the morning."

Masks are mandatory on German public transportation, but BVG officials learned some riders were flouting the rules by wearing the masks loosely, according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. In response, the BVG sent out the following Tweet:

Loose translation:"You leave us no choice."Because so many people think that they can wear the mask under their noses, we are now putting on other strings."THE BVG CALLS FOR A DEODORANT BAN"Do you still want your nose hanging out?"

It's obviously a joke--how would they enforce it?--but the thinking is sound: If everyone stinks, you're more likely to strap that mask on tight.

Sony Now Selling a Wearable Personal Air Conditioner

Core 77 - 16 hours 3 min ago

Sony is now producing a portable, wearable personal air conditioner. Called the Reon Pocket, it comes with a dedicated undershirt with a pocket sewn below the nape of the neck; the smartphone-sized cooling unit sits in this pocket, and a "heat dissipation mechanism" sucks heat off of your body while a small fan blows it through the back of the shirt.

The wearer can dial the cooling level in using a smartphone app, and there's also an automatic mode that takes advantage of a built-in motion sensor; for instance, the device can detect if you're stationary or walking, and adjust the coolness to suit.

The functionality can also be reversed; the Reon Pocket can be used in winter as a personal heater.

Japanese-market only, at least for now, the device is being sold in retail stores in Japan and on Amazon Japan for ¥18,900 (USD $176).

"Blade Runner" Intro Re-Cut With Illegal Fireworks Show in L.A.

Core 77 - 16 hours 3 min ago

Blade Runner was set in 2019 Los Angeles, and last year Rob Beschizza recut the intro with footage of L.A.'s actual 2019 wildfires. It was an eerily good fit.

Last weekend KTLA News captured helicopter footage of L.A.'s decentralized and illegal Fourth of July fireworks celebrations. Video editor Mike Dent used the footage to re-cut the Blade Runner intro yet again, and this might be an even better fit:

An Experienced Industrial Designer's Tips on How Not to Get Ripped Off

Core 77 - 16 hours 3 min ago

After reading the story of how Swoon Foundations ripped off designer Simone Brewster, a reader chimed in with some helpful information for other designers, particularly younger or newer ones.

Top: Simone Brewster's design. Bottom: Uncredited production piece sold by Swoon Editions.

Industrial designer Hans Marvell has been in the product game for twenty years, and his roles in product development go well beyond design: Sales, supplier relations, project coordination and account management are all hats he's got hanging on the rack. His broad set of experiences has given him good knowledge of the potential pitfalls designers face, and we wanted to reprint his comments here to give them greater visibility.

Brewster's case "is sadly not at all uncommon," Marvell writes. "There was recently a high profile court case here in Denmark where a ceramic designer had her products copied and sold in a discount super-market chain. In the end she was able to take them to court and win."

"I believe that there will soon be a review of the European laws and regulations regarding design and copyright, but this will not benefit UK designers anymore due to Brexit. I have no faith in the EU agreeing on any real changes that will be appropriate or easy to implement."Designers face a minefield when trying to get work. There are so many ways in which they have to run risks when trying to share their work online, get publicity, get briefs and cover the costs of making a proposal. "One tip is to insist on always signing and dating all drawings. You should be making your own technical drawings anyway (or pay someone to do so for you) and know how to set up a drawings data sheet. 90% of the drawings I see aren't made to any standard, which is extremely frustrating."And no, 3D files aren't enough, they should always be backed up by 2D general assemblies and component drawings. 90% of the factories I work with in the wood processing and furniture industry don't have Solidworks, Rhino or the time to figure out poorly made drawings. This costs a lot of time and frustration in the sourcing and development process."At the company I have worked at for the last four years, we often had to charge clients for re-drawing products for production before we could even start to get a quote on making the furniture."I don't know what the correct name is for it in English*, but here in Denmark there is a public office where legal documents including production drawings can be independently signed and stamped with a seal, so when you send a scan or copy of these, then they bear an independently, legally binding confirmation that the work is yours and dated to a specific date. This is not that expensive. It sends a better signal than a NDA does that you are serious about the value of your work.[*Editor's note: The U.S. equivalent is a Notary Public.]"One interesting point I noted in the article was that Simone Brewster was asked to make her proposal in Swoon's layout template and without her name on it. 

Simone Brewster's drawing.

"This might actually be due to the nature of the product sourcing process. I don't want to defend Swoon's actions, just give a little insight in the sourcing and production process:"Usually there is a general NDA and solid agreement between a brand, any sourcing agent, and the producer they use. However, they need to send the proposals to several producers and sub-contractors to make the furniture at the right quality and price."In that process, the drawing material needs to be as simple as possible and without any hints of the final client's identity. If a factory Googles the name of the designer, and sees what that person or the brand's products retail for, they may very well put a higher charge on their services if they think they can get away with it."This is where the work of a good sourcing agent or product developer is important. That person has to evaluate each factory and have a thorough knowledge of raw material costs, labour costs, standard hardware components, packaging costs and transport. That's the sort of work I have done for many years and it has its own set of risks and game rules."Having said that, as many others have commented, you NEVER send production ready drawings to a client or factory with out a legally binding contract. I could go on, but fear my record for making the longest comments on Core77.com posts really is not one to be proud of. Good luck everyone."

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Feel free to go on next time, Marvell; we value hard-won experience, and we're happy that you took the time to share. Thanks!

Innovative Theater Combines Old Techniques With New to Design a Social Distancing Auditorium

Core 77 - 16 hours 3 min ago

Amidst the pandemic, Philadelphia's Wilma Theater has been trying to figure out how they'll stay afloat; how do you put on a play for 300 people in the age of social distancing?

After brainstorming with dozens of creatives and administrators, they've come up with a solution that combines both old and new techniques. The plan, spearheaded by set designers Misha Kachman, Sara Brown and Matt Saunders, and incorporating input from video designer Jorge Cousineau, is to go back to old-school (I'm talking William Shakespeare's Globe, circa 1599) theater design for their forthcoming Wilma Globe.

"Conjectural reconstruction of the Globe theatre by C. Walter Hodges based on archeological and documentary evidence." Source: Folger Shakespeare Library, C.C. ASA 4.0 I

The Wilma Globe, designed by Misha Kachman, Sara Brown and Matt Saunders

The Wilma Globe is an arena, surrounded by two levels of audiences-boxes, each separated from one another by wooden dividers, but open to the stage. Depending on the specific needs of the show, it can be reconfigured into a semi-circle, horseshoe, and more. This Globe can fit as little as 30 and up to 100 people, and will provide a higher level of safety and comfort to our audiences.

As for how to reach the same-sized audiences they were getting prior to the pandemic, here's where modern technology steps in:

Our full capacity used to be more than 300. How can we reach the same number of people? Our answer: Video-Streaming. Our plan, pending approval from our unions, is to approach streaming not merely as a technical solution but as an opportunity for artistic invention.

We hope to discreetly install about a dozen cameras inside the Wilma Globe, uniquely placed for each production. Some of these would take care of the big picture, while others could be as small and specific as a camera hidden on an actor's costume. As the director is rehearsing the show, a video designer would create a "video-script" of the production, allowing us to stream a high quality, artistically planned version of the play. This way we can open our productions to a much broader circle of potential audiences.

The Wilma adminstrators hope to have the Globe ready by late 2020. If you want to contribute, they're seeking advance ticket sales and donations here.

Industrial Designer Creates Concept for Copic Marker with RGB Slider, Design Blogs Don't Understand It's a Joke

Core 77 - 16 hours 3 min ago

"I'm learning KeyShot 3D," industrial designer Burkay Gursoy wrote in an Instagram post, "and I like trying interesting things while learning." Thus he rendered up a fanciful design for a Copic marker with RGB sliders:

Gursoy meant it as a joke, writing:

What's more hilarious is that other design blogs are taking the concept seriously, with one calling it "genius" and saying "it truly solves our woes," with another writing "from full to faded, you can shift the copic marker's red, green and blue sliders to find your perfect color."

I can guarantee none of those writers have ever done a marker rendering. Exactly how do you mix red, green and blue to produce yellow or orange?

RGB, as Gursoy and every designer worth their wages knows, is a technique used for light, not pigments. RGB is how color televisions and monitors work. CMYK and tiny dots is how color printers work.

We should be thankful Gursoy's an ethical guy; if he held a Kickstarter for this concept, he'd likely gain millions in ill-gotten pledges.

As COVID Cases Rise in Texas, Female-Led Company Fights Back with Zipper-Mouthed Face Mask Design

Core 77 - 16 hours 3 min ago

While Texas has been slammed with COVID-19 infections, three Houston-area women are trying to combat the spread by encouraging people to wear masks. Jewelry designer Madison Herington, nutritionist Sarah Cordill and medical researcher Haley Manley teamed up to start Shut Your Mouth, a company that produces facemasks with a novel design feature: A zipper.

"Need to sip? Open the zipper! Need to hydrate? Unzip! We want to allow people to keep their faces covered, stay safe, be responsible," the company writes.

The $35 masks come in a variety of patterns, and judging by availability, have become a hit; a number of patterns are currently sold out.

You can see what's left here.

Here's a Variety of Responses to "7 Questions for an Industrial Designer"

Core 77 - 16 hours 3 min ago

A variety of industrial designers have been asked to post YouTube videos answering the same seven questions. Those questions are:

1. How did you get into industrial design?2. How do you explain your job to those who don't know what ID is?3. What inspirations have developed your ID style?4. Which company would you love to design a product for?5. What is your go-to industrial design program, and why?6. What do you dislike most about industrial design?7. What makes an industrial design good?

Videos came in fast and furious, and there are far too many to embed here, but we have put together a bunch of them in a playlist. Kicking it off is Sketch-a-Day founder Spencer Nugent:

There's currently 15 designers on the playlist (you can click that little icon at top right of the YouTube window to see if there's anyone you know) and we'll add more as they come in.

Husband-and-Wife Team Create Awesome, Affordable, Capable Off-Road Wheelchair

Core 77 - Wed, 2020-07-08 04:00

Zack Nelson of the JerryRigEverything YouTube channel is the DIY electronics repair guy, but he's also got inventing chops. And now, manufacturing chops. Together with his wife, Cambry, Nelson designed and built an off-road wheelchair/bicycle hybrid (Cambry is a wheelchair user)--and they've figured out how to produce them for less than half the price of other off-road wheelchairs.

Take a look at what they're calling the Not-a-Wheelchair:

Here they show you what it can do off-road (and just as importantly, what it can't do):

In addition to the cost savings, I love that they've designed it with maintenance and serviceability in mind by using off-the-shelf bike parts. And as they stated in the video, this is no Kickstarter announcement; they're ready to go into production, and you can place orders here for delivery as early as September.

Translating an Apology to a Designer For Stealing Their Work

Core 77 - Wed, 2020-07-08 04:00

After furniture company Swoon Editions got caught stealing designer Simone Brewster's work, and profiting off of it, Swoon Co-founder Debbie Williamson issued an apology. I can't imagine anyone actually falls for this kind of language, but thought I'd provide a translation anyway.

I'm sorry we've caused you distress.I'm not sorry we stole your work, but the "distress" part sucks.I can appreciate why you are angry.I have as much empathy as any customer service representative.We value your design work, and that of other independent designers, and of course you should be paid for it.I'll say we value it now, but won't mention that we didn't value it before. Then I'll explain how a basic business arrangement works.I would never intentionally do something untoward…It's not my fault...…but in this situation, our processes have fallen down, and need to be improved....it's the fault of those darn processes! They fell right over! Who put those processes in place? Who knows?!? I guess we'll never know! Moving on!We have two immediate priorities:Previously these were neither priorities nor immediate, but now that we've been caught, they're both!(1) to work with you to ensure payment and (2) to take steps to ensure that this never happens again including:In other words, we've decided to do what business ethics and common human decency say we should have done in the first place.1. Ensuring all designers have a contract to outline how they will be paid and when.Not giving out contracts doesn't work anymore, now that we can't get away with it.2. Providing clarity on the invoicing process.Because the previous system, where we hire you to do work, you send us an invoice, and we pay it, was WAY confusing!3. Following up to ensure the designer has invoiced.Our research shows that sometimes designers don't want to be paid and will purposely withhold invoices. You creatives! (Shaking fist)4. Ensuring payment has been made.I know, this one is crazy! We got the idea for this when we ate at a restaurant, and they had this process in place where the waiter checks to see if you've received the meal that he agreed to bring you. It was totally Six Sigma!5. Giving feedback on the progress of the design through the production process.See, prior to this incident, we thought "feedback" meant "Don't pick up the phone if she calls." Fixed!We should have paid you the agreed amount on time but we didn't and for that, I am truly sorry.I am stating what you already know, which is that we did not pay you. I was not sorry when we first didn't pay you, but with all of these people reading this, I will now express sorrow.We've reached out to you directly and via your lawyers to ensure payment is made, along with compensation. In the meantime, we've removed the designs from our website until we can resolve this.Actually, we didn't remove the product page from our website, but we did remove the photo of it and write "This Product is out of stock. Please try again later," so if enough time goes by, we might be able to rip you off again later.

Debbie,Co-founder, SwoonThis last part is true. My name is Debbie and I did co-found the company.

Swoon Editions Gets Caught Stealing Designer's Work, Must Now Pay Up

Core 77 - Wed, 2020-07-08 04:00

Freelance designers know the ritual of chasing down late checks. But imagine you submit a series of designs to a client, you do the follow-up work to get the designs production-ready, then they refuse to return your calls. Did the project get canceled?

And then, almost two years later, you look at their website and see that while they won't take your calls, they're selling your designs.

Furniture company Swoon Editions is a client who did this, to designer Simone Brewster. And thanks to social media, they've just been exposed.

Who is Swoon Editions?

Swoon Co-founders Debbie Williamson and Brian Harrison

Swoon Editions, founded in 2012 by Debbie Williamson and Brian Harrison, is a UK-based furniture company. As of 2018, Swoon Editions had an annual turnover of £20 million (USD $25 million), according to the BBC. The "Our Designs" statement on Swoon's website states that they "have a deep-rooted belief in the value of craft and work directly with the best artisans in the UK, Europe and the world to bring our designs to life."

Who is Simone Brewster?

Simone Brewster

Simone Brewster is a London-based designer with a degree in Architecture from the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, and an M.A. in Design Products from the Royal College of Art. In addition to designing furniture, objects and jewelry, she's given lectures on contemporary design, specifically on "the potential applications of architectural principals across the scale and spectrum of three dimensional design."

Here's Brewster's story: "I was excited to be asked in 2018 by Swoon to design a range of cabinets. I was told that for each design that went into production I would receive a flat fee. If the designs were unsuccessful I would unfortunately not be paid, but there would likely be another brief and another chance to get something through. I was never presented with a physical contract."I saw it as a great opportunity to expand my portfolio, and see how the big guys did things. Also, I was confident in my ability to design something worthwhile, so I said yes."I was emailed a brief and a document outlining the trends they were interested in tapping into. I came up with some initial designs and an in-person meeting was scheduled.

"There was some discussion of modifications, largely about re-sizing the pieces to sit in line with existing ranges and the use of technical production elements that employ existing techniques already in use as opposed to more costly production processes.

"A handover date was set. I would work on finalising the designs. Presentation templates were e-mailed over so as to ensure the handover was in the in-house style. I was not to put my name on anything directly."On 1st July 2018, I emailed over the final designs. I was told that I should hear back from them by close of business Wednesday 4th July, 2018."I didn't hear anything back. I phoned a few times to try and get some feedback but could not get through to anyone I'd had previous contact with. I eventually wrote an email on 9th July 2018 asking if there was any news, the brief reply: "Nope - nothing yet, I'll let you know if anything comes up.""That was the last contact I received from Swoon. I assumed the proposal was unsuccessful."In January 2020 I was surfing the internet and clicked a link that took me through to Swoon's site. Before I knew it I was looking at a real life manifestation of the designs I had handed over in 2018. The designs that didn't warrant a thank you email or a follow up call or any form of recognition.

Brewster's design

From Swoon Editions' website, Google Image cache. Swoon has since pulled the listing, sort of--see below.

"I was so shocked that they appeared to have totally disregarded my part in designing the pieces, denying both recognition and payment.

"I enlisted a lawyer who contacted Swoon on my behalf. After much to-ing and fro-ing, Swoon offered a settlement that would not have even covered my legal costs, and said they would not go any higher. If the case went to trial, not only would I have to find further money for my own significant legal fees, but could also be liable for up to £50,000 for Swoon's legal fees if I lost. I therefore agreed with my lawyer to take a different route.

"So I reached out to my network of friends and contacts within the design world to share my experience on social media. The support has been overwhelming and I'm very grateful for that. Hopefully through highlighting my experience others will become more aware of some of the poor practices within our industry, and will be forearmed to better handle these situations."

After Brewster posted her story, support poured in and awareness of the situation built. Swoon Editions was forced to respond.

Here's Swoon's bullshit, PR-speak apology, written by Swoon co-founder Debbie Williamson: Simone,I'm sorry we've caused you distress. I can appreciate why you are angry. We value your design work, and that of other independent designers, and of course you should be paid for it.I would never intentionally do something untoward but in this situation, our processes have fallen down, and need to be improved.We have two immediate priorities:(1) to work with you to ensure payment and (2) to take steps to ensure that this never happens again including:1. Ensuring all designers have a contract to outline how they will be paid and when.2. Providing clarity on the invoicing process.3. Following up to ensure the designer has invoiced.
4. Ensuring payment has been made.
5. Giving feedback on the progress of the design through the production process.
We should have paid you the agreed amount on time but we didn't and for that, I am truly sorry.We've reached out to you directly and via your lawyers to ensure payment is made, along with compensation. In the meantime, we've revmoed the designs from our website until we can resolve this.Debbie,Co-founder, Swoon

This is the webpage where Brewster's work was being sold without her knowledge. Note that saying"This Product is currently out of stock" sounds better than saying "We stole this design, have been selling it, and just got caught for it, so we pulled it down."



I'm glad Brewster spoke up, and am proud of the creative community for supporting her. Below is her original Instagram post, populated with tons of supportive comments:

And below is that Swoon apology post, where you can read the feedback they're getting (at least until they disable comments, which I imagine they'll do based on the comments I read):

The attention drawn by this social media storm will ensure Brewster gets paid, and will hopefully dissuade other companies from following similarly fraudulent practices.

VanMoof Bicycle Commercial Banned From French Television

Core 77 - Wed, 2020-07-08 04:00

Since bicycle ridership has thankfully been increasing during the pandemic, and because even cities with decent mass transit like Paris have created new cycling initiatives, you might wonder: Why would French authorities ban one of the first bicycle commercials scheduled to air on French TV?

Dutch manufacturer VanMoof created the spot to highlight their S3 and X3 e-bikes. Here's the commercial:

The commercial--which has aired in the Netherlands and Germany with no problems--is totally non-offensive, isn't it? Here's the ban rationale, from the ARPP (Autorité de Régulation Professionnelle de la Publicité, in English, the Professional Advertising Regulatory Authority) as reported by VanMoof:

According to the ARPP, certain shots of the car's reflections "discredit the automobile sector [...] while creating a climate of anxiety." It is notable that the ARPP rejected what would have been one of the first bike ads on French TV, despite recently pledging to reinforce the sustainability aspects of their policies.

Further down in the press release, we get to the bottom of it. First off the ARPP isn't a governmental body, but "a self-regulatory organisation supported by the private sector." And as it turns out:

The [banning] decision comes at a time when the French car industry is in trouble, with sales plummeting due to COVID-19 and widespread economic decline on the horizon. In a bid to support the sector – responsible for almost a third of the country's greenhouse gas emissions – the government recently introduced a recovery plan worth €8 billion.

Well, that stinks. At the very least, I'm hoping it'll give VanMoof some good publicity. Here's their response, by the way:

"It's puzzling that car companies are allowed to gloss over their environmental problems, but when someone challenges that situation it gets censored." Ties Carlier, VanMoof co-founder.

A Clever Design for a Folding Ladder

Core 77 - Wed, 2020-07-08 04:00

A frequent UX fantasy I have: I want occasional-use products to disappear when I don't need them. Ladders evoke this feeling often; we've got three on the property that we use regularly, and all three are a PITA to store and transport.

So after seeing this cleverly-designed Murphy Ladder, I covet it: