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Five Design Trends for 2023

Core 77 - Tue, 2023-01-31 12:42

Sustainability will be the dominant trend driver in 2023. We have heard this before, and it is true, but what does this really mean? What are the practical, specific examples of how and why sustainability will drive trends into 2023 and beyond? Great design has the ability to condense five hundred pages down to three by simplifying the complex. Here are some specifics of sustainability as trend-driver through the eyes of designer Scott Henderson.

The global pandemic has affected us all profoundly in one way or another. This is reflected not only through its obvious impacts, but also in ways our innate human resilience has pushed what to make of it to the back of our minds, where its effects still linger. However, the night is always darkest before the dawn and profound events like the global pandemic will drive exciting and positive trends in the world of consumer goods with long lasting benefits.

Supply Chain, Tech-backlash, Romance and Mud One of the countless disruptions resulting from the global pandemic has been a halt to the relentless armada of cargo freighters that crisscross our oceans – all grinding suddenly to a watery, carbuncled-encrusted stop. This pileup on the seas may not sound like a driver of new trends but it couldn't be a greater one. Consider this: Before the pandemic, there were 6,000 container ships zipping across our vast oceans at any given moment, with a combined capacity of about 24.6 million TEU's (twenty-foot equivalent units). Translated to plain language, that is quite a few air fryers and coffee makers. These ocean going freighters burn some of the lowest forms of fossil fuel – a corrosive, sticky and dirty goo called Bunker Oil – generating a whopping 1.2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide – equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from over 205 million cars. These legions of ships release more toxins into the air than many small countries do. While we may feel pride in turning down a disposable grocery bag as we gallantly struggle with nestled bundles in our crooked, tired arms – even sacrificing the occasional dozen eggs for the warm, fuzzy knowledge that we're saving the planet – we may not be considering that there are bigger forces beyond the horizon that are crushing our efforts like June bugs. Hence:

TREND ONE: Make it locally

Supply chain disruption equals sustainability and a greener planet. Making your product locally eliminates ocean freight costs and lead times, port duties, insurance, very high minimum order quantities resulting from manufacturing runs being tied to ocean container capacities – but perhaps the greatest benefit to making your product locally is the positive environmental impact it has when the container ship stays in port.

TREND TWO: Workbench-made

Design is often tied to technology, and to quote my friend and colleague Gabriele Chiave, Design Director at Marcel Wanders' Studio in Amsterdam, "technology makes designers look like magicians". We have seen improbable shapes emerge from the world of Computational CAD. The latest in computer-generated-design that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to think well beyond the human mind's ability to process three-dimensions, leading to intricate, lattice-like forms that resemble seahorses and deeply layered industrial spider webs – coiling up and around corners, curves and bends. As is the irony of life, however, just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

Take a look at the hydration market for example. Dial back ten years and reusable water bottles were overflowing with design – with their double-molded silicon grips, non-skid bases, retractable spouts and flip-tops. Today, the market leaders have proven once again that keeping it simple is by far the winning strategy. Today's must-have water bottles offer nothing more than a jar and a cap. From S'well bottle to Yeti, less once again triumphs more. To be able to see at a glance how something is made – and more importantly – to imagine it being made on a workbench in a dimly lit shed on a hill at dusk, is to experience its craftsmanship, its authenticity and its desire to de-clutter our lives and minds.

TREND THREE: Return to Classicism and Tradition – with a fashionable twist

The Super Soaker is dead! As an industrial designer, when I am asked to design a new line of home goods for a leading consumer products manufacturer, I never limit myself to research only within that specific market segment, but instead I look at all products, markets, architecture, culture and even art for inspiration. Recently, I was asked to design a series of professional tools – things like tape measures, drills, and hammers. Immediately, I realized that the entire tool market looked like the exaggerated Super Soaker water guns that my kids used to squirt each other with on the patio all summer. Excitedly, I went to work on my "moods boards", mixing together photos of actual Super-Soaker water guns with those of real, professional power tools – and it was impossible to tell the difference between them at a glance.

How about the motorcycle industry? Dial back 15 years to 2007 and have a look at the Kawasaki Ninja – basically a Super-Soaker on two wheels. In contrast, on today's Brooklyn streets, you can't walk ten feet without spotting a Triumph T-120 – a classic motor bike reminiscent of the Bonneville – updated with design improvements that stem more from the world of fashion than that of transportation design. Classicism with a fashionable twist has arrived and the era of facets, triangles, vector shapes and crystals – otherwise known as the Super Soaker aesthetic – is as dead as Julius Caesar.

TREND FOUR: Misty Forest Romanticism (The Wet Look)

Starring at our four walls, our cats and bobble-heads during the pandemic is a formula that has us craving wide open spaces. It's not just any outdoor space we crave though – we want them muddy, foggy and damp – probably related to our fears of a dried up, cracked and dusty planet baked relentlessly from global warming. Enter the mist-covered forest as a backdrop for powerful inspiration. The trend resulting here will be designs that evoke thoughts of water and the well-hydrated- sparkling purity that symbolizes health and vitality. Fresh from the pool, ocean or lake – the wetter the design looks, the better it will sell. Back to my tool design project: While working on these implements, I didn't imagine them on a contained construction site surrounded by perfectly framed lumber, plywood, and random stacks of sheetrock leaning into the scene. Instead, I found myself conjuring images of the steep, jagged, evergreen lined mountainside – with flannel shirts and knee high rubber boots on the workers that would wield them – wet sawdust and 2-cycle engine oil caked on their well-used sides.

When we think of cast iron cookware, imagining these heavy pans on an expensive professional range next to a sub-zero refrigerator and granite countertops is so yesterday that I'm asleep while I write, whereas imagining them over a roaring campfire on a mist-covered beach with mini-pitons cutting through the foggy surf is so much more intriguing. The complimentary colors of the orange flame contrasted against the blue-gray fog vibrate in our minds as we aggressively click the add-to-cart button, eyes welled and brimming. Today we want to brave inclement elements with the goal of warming up afterwards – cupping our mug of soup with both hands as the lactic acid tingles in our limbs. It means the planet is working and there are elements out there to brave in the first place. The pan we buy will last forever and therefore command the unheard of price point that we will happily pay because we recognize sustainability through its timeless quality. The next time you design a product or experience think about mud and rain instead of sun and palm trees, and watch the dollars wash up on your own rocky cove.

TREND FIVE: Nature and the universe as guidance

Designers often think of geometric shapes as being man-made, while classifying shapes found in nature as organic. The truth is that any shape the human mind is capable of contemplating stems from nature. Consider the bubble: This is a pure circle no matter how you slice it, and its sole reason for being is to house the maximum amount of internal volume using the least amount of surface area to do it. The bubble is perfection in design, and its form definitely follows its function. Consider the hexagon: This six-sided shape must be the product of the draftsman and not the hand of God, yet it is everywhere in our terrestrial world in form of honeycombs, insect eyes and lake beds, and in our extra-terrestrial world in the shape of perpetual storms on the pole caps of Saturn. Consider the mountain stream awash in radiant sparkles, universally thought of as beautiful through its connotations of health and purity – and the reason we all like shiny things. Nature will guide design trends in 2023 as it always has, but will do so consciously rather than subconsciously through of our awareness of it and our desire to replicate its genius.

Sustainability is a broad term that is very loosely used. Like all great design however, God is in the details. Scott's definition of sustainability-as-design-trend-driver for 2023 will be wet, classically artisanal, informed by an understanding of our natural world, and locally made.

Scott Henderson is an Industrial Designer based in Brooklyn with a wide range of Fortune 500 clients and a long history of successful products. With over 100 patents in the U.S. and Europe for projects as diverse as housewares and home accessories to consumer electronics, and furniture, his work has been widely recognized in exhibitions, awards programs and in the press.

This article first appeared on the blog of the Messe Frankfurt Ambiente Trade Fair.

A "Great Wave off Kanagawa" Desk Organizer

Core 77 - Tue, 2023-01-31 12:42

Someone over at Karv Design, a Thailand-based CNC fabricator of plywood objets d'esign, loves the famous "Great Wave off Kanagawa" woodblock print. So much so that they translated Hokusai's work into, of all things, a desk organizer:

And if you're wondering what this bit, which does not appear in the print, is…

…here's your answer:

While the shape admittedly does not lend itself well to the object it's trying to be, it did make me smile.

Process Shots of Making Enlite's Wooden Eyewear Frames

Core 77 - Tue, 2023-01-31 12:42

Greek eyewear brand Enlite makes these Supernatural eyeglasses and sunglasses out of wood:

Specifically, they're made from multiple layers of Cherry veneer, with a polymer finish applied for durability.

To produce the frames, Enlite turned to Athens-based CNC fabrication firm Kkervvit. On the latter's website, we found these process shots of the frames being cut by their five-axis CNC, which were fun to look at. The frames are actually cut from both sides, requiring flipping the workpiece and moving it from a convex to a concave jig halfway through. It's not visually clear how they do the indexing, so if any of you know, please comment:

Prices for the Supernatural line run €270 to €350 (USD $293 to $380).

Busting the Myths about the Future of Manufacturing

Design News - Tue, 2023-01-31 10:02
Don’t buy the misperceptions. Manufacturing jobs are coming back and those jobs are not dumb, dirty, or dangerous.

Price Cut Boosts Mustang Mach-E

Design News - Mon, 2023-01-30 15:20
Ford cuts Mustang Mach-E prices with an eye on much higher sales.

Find Engineering Inspiration at IME West

Design News - Mon, 2023-01-30 14:49
D&M West, MD&M West, ATX West, WestPack, and Plastec West will pack the Anaheim Convention Center with engineering solutions February 7-9.

Uniting Engineers and Marketing Teams During Product Development

Design News - Mon, 2023-01-30 13:00
A well-aligned team can deliver elegant designs, which involves both user-centered design as well as manufacturability. Learn more from Principal Industrial Designer Olivier Currat of Plexus Corp., who will be speaking at IME West.

Atim's Disappearing-Furniture Hardware Solutions

Core 77 - Mon, 2023-01-30 11:00

Based outside of Milan, Atim is a manufacturer of innovative aluminum "furnishing solutions," in the company's words. In practice that means drawer slides, hinges and guides that do unexpected things. As an example, Atim hardware allows surfaces to deploy from, or disappear back into, a cabinet. Like so:

Dining Table 1

Bar Top

Prep Surface


Dining Table 2

Dining Table 3

Ironing Board

Note that these videos are Sugatsune-branded but that Sugatsune is the distributor, not the manufacturer. All of the hardware you see is by Atim, and you can explore their solutions here.

Flat vs. Wok: Concept for a Morphing Stovetop Heating Element

Core 77 - Mon, 2023-01-30 11:00

Because woks are domed on the bottom, they don't jive well with a flat stovetop. For that reason, there exist wok-specific induction stoves, both standalone and drop-in, where the heating element is concave:

The problem is that if you cook with both woks and conventional flat-bottomed pots and pans, you give up a measure of flexibility by committing to either type of stovetop. Thus Seoul-based industrial designer Myung-Nyun Kim designed this Amphi concept for a stovetop with a morphing heating element:

The idea is that each concentric circle of the rightmost heating element would be able to move:

"Each of the circular parts stay in plane when heating a [flat-bottomed] pan," Kim writes. "When heating a wok, the heating elements extend downwards to fit the wok like an amphitheater." Hence the concept name.

In the image below, you can see a metallic strip on part of the circumference. "During the use of the wok, in order to mix ingredients, people move the wok intensely," Kim writes. "Therefore this particular part was designed with a metallic cover for protection, [at the spot] where the wok would continuously hit."

Interestingly, Kim envisions the knob that controls the temperature as being magnetic and removable, as per user preference. Users would still be able to control the temperature without the knob as the surface below it would be a touch-sensitive dial.

And while there's no word on what type of mechanical magic would be required to get this to work, Kim does address one glaring issue: "The drawback of movable, sliced heating elements is that ingredients would fall through the spaces in between," he writes. "For a solution, heat-resistant silicone packings would go between each piece to prevent ingredients from falling, without affecting the up-and-down movements."

Well, it is concept work after all.

A Case for AI's Creative Potential: The OP-Z Stable Diffusion Synthesizer for Teenage Engineering

Core 77 - Mon, 2023-01-30 11:00

There's been much talk lately about ChatGPT and its uncanny ability to mimic human prose. Burning questions inevitably start to gnaw away at us as we learn more: will we eventually need human writers at all? Have we created something destined to replace us?

That's why it's refreshing to see examples that remind us AI can help us enhance and highlight our own creativity. Take for example in late 2022, when Teenage Engineering, hybrid think tank-design studio MODEM, and creative studio Bureau Cool collaborated to create a visual experience powered by AI. The result aims to accurately reflect the visual experience of synesthesia, based off of published theories by scientists Richard E. Cytowic, M.D, Stephen Palmer, and Olivier Messiaen. The teams used Teenage Engineering's OP-Z Synthesizer and connected it to Stable Diffusion to generate live images and colors in reaction to music.

The OP-Z Stable Diffusion setup works by responding to key elements of the music such as pitch, key density, tempo and notes. Each element is associated with a color scheme according to synesthesia theory, i.e. high pitch matches with bright tones, low pitch matches dark tones. The music determines this script and creates "prompts", which are then delivered to AI image generation program Diffusion Cloud API to build an image based on the prompt. These responses converge to create a complex light show of image and color that undulate with the music, something generated by machine that maintains an emotive, human feel.

A visualization of how the OP-Z Stable Diffusion software model works and responds to musical directives.

While the current model works off of pre-determined image and colors prompts, it's not hard to imagine how this could be "hacked" by artists with a desire to generate their own imagery to accompany music. It's near impossible to explain the feeling of synesthesia to someone who hasn't experienced it; but what if you could offer this technology up to any artist to toy with, regardless of skill? The creative potential is endless.

This project is an interesting one to highlight for its optimistic perspective on how AI can serve the creative process. MODEM co-founder Bas van de Poel describes his biggest takeaway of the project being this sense of potential for future technologies to aid in the "augmentation of human capability." I can't think of a more hopeful way to describe the relationship we're beginning to form with artificial intelligence. "I think the role of creative people is shifting more towards a curator," van de Poel describes. "Where instead of generating all the final images yourself, you're selecting the ones that fit best."

AI is a powerful tool for creating new media, as it can draw on millions of existing data points to generate new content. However, it's important to remember humans still have an essential role to play in the realm of creativity. "Machines don't know what a good picture is," van de Poel mentions. "And maybe at some point, from a technical and aesthetic point of view, they're able to define what a good picture is. But it's still based on [the best examples out there], so it's not able to create new trends." For now, humans remain the true creative trailblazers.

Industrial Design Duo Invent All-Terrain Wagon Towable by Hand, Bike or Car

Core 77 - Mon, 2023-01-30 11:00

Industrial designers Bryce Gibson and Kurt MacLaurin invented the Mule, an all-terrain wagon that can be pulled by hand, towed by a bicycle or mounted in the hitch receiver of a car.

While it was initially designed for their own families to use while camping, beachgoing, cycling, adventuring, etc., Gibson and MacLaurin realized they were onto something and set up a company, Earth+Kin, to Kickstart production. (It succeeded wildly, landing $100K+ in pledges.)

Beefy 16" pneumatic tires and a sturdy frame give it a 100-pound weight capacity. Volume-wise, it can swallow roughly 120 liters.

The "Kin" part of the company name has an obvious source. As for "Earth," the Mule is made from aluminum (which is of course recyclable), 100% post-consumer recycled fabrics, and no plastic.

"Built with hardened 6000 series aircraft grade aluminum, zero single use plastic, and the desire to never hear 'Dad can you fix this?' again. This thing is a beast. It has no moving parts (well, wheel bearings and wheels), interchangeable and removable roll bars, 100% recycled GRS Certified fabrics and surprising attention to detail. When a $.05 plastic nub would suffice, EARTH+KIN opted for an exponentially more expensive custom CNC'd aluminum attachment point that can be replaced if needed."

And it breaks down for storage:

Their old Kickstarter video is the only one I could find that shows the Mule in action:

The Mule runs $200.

NVIDIA Webcam Filter Fakes Your Eye Contact for Video Chats and Presentations

Core 77 - Mon, 2023-01-30 11:00

Imagine having a face-to-face conversation with someone who will not, or cannot, make eye contact with you. Trust, a sense of connection and the certainty that you're even being listened to are vastly diminished. Yet we've all grown used to Zoom calls where no one is making eye contact, as webcam locations don't jive with the screen, and we've come to accept it as a limitation of the technology. Has our trust and confidence suffered as a result?

The engineers at Nvidia think so, and thus have been hard at work on a feature called Eye Contact. This is a filter that uses an AI-based algorithm to essentially re-render your eyes as if they're pointed directly at the camera.

If you turn your head or look far enough away, the software knows better than to leave your eyeballs floating in space; if your eyes cross the "successful gaze redirection" threshold, the software lets your eyes move with you, and smooths out the transition "to mimic the typical motion of human eyes."

And obviously, the feature can also come in handy if you're recording a presentation and are reading off of a teleprompter.

The feature's full name is NVIDIA Maxine Eye Contact. Developers can download an SDK here (Windows and Linux), and the feature is already available for those who use the NVIDIA Broadcast App.

via petapixel

Is Machine Vision Surpassing the Human Eye for Accuracy?

Design News - Mon, 2023-01-30 04:27
Artificial intelligence in machine vision provides a level of precision that is equal to, and in some cases, even better than human inspection.

Rezvani Motors' Aggressively-Styled Bulletproof Off-Roader

Core 77 - Sun, 2023-01-29 09:41

If you're in the market for a bulletproof vehicle, I'd think you'd want it to look low-key. But Rezvani Motors, a California-based manufacturer of such vehicles, begs to differ. The company contracted ex-Lamborghini transportation designer Samir Sadikhov to design their Rezvani Tank, an intimidating-looking off-road vehicle that comes in both a base model ($175,000) and a bulletproof Military Edition ($259,000).

Here are Sadikhov's concept sketches and renderings:

Here's the real deal rolled out by Rezvani:

Aesthetically, they're as if the FJ Cruiser had an older brother who did eight years as a Navy SEAL. And the aggressive, unapologetically muscular geometry hides an absurd amount of features, from protective to technological to antipersonnel:

- Bullet proof glass and body armor- Underside explosive protection- Smoke Screen- Military Runflat Tires- Thermal Night Vision System- Reinforced suspension- Electromagnetic Pulse Protection- Ram Bumpers- Optional explosive device detection- Optional continuous video recording- Electrified Door Handles- Siren and Horn Options- Strobe Lights- Blinding Lights- Intercom System- Magnetic Dead Bolts- Gas masks- First Aid kit- Hypothermia kit- Pepper Spray Dispenser

I didn't know electrified door handles was a thing! Sounds like something I'd forget to turn off, and would pay the price for later.

Sadhikov, by the way, has interesting range for a transportation designer: He's currently a Senior Designer for Hyundai's Genesis brand at their design studio in Frankfurt.

Rail: A Modular, Trestle-Based Extendable Table System

Core 77 - Sun, 2023-01-29 09:41

Rail is a clever design for a modular table system. It's based on trestle legs that can slide along the length of the table's underside, thanks to rails and grooves.

This means that you can slide a pair of legs out to the edge of the tabletop, and connect either a short extension or an entire other table. A cam lever secures the connection.

Both rectilinear and trapezoidal shapes are offered for the tabletops, which are available in Oak or American Walnut.

The podium-like desk in these photos might be confusing…

…but it's a separate add-on that can be placed atop the trestle, between two tabletops. The assembly video below makes it a bit more clear than the photos do:

Rail was designed by Studio Kaschkasch and is in production by furniture manufacturer Zeitraum.

A Bag Clip with a Built-In Pouring Spout

Core 77 - Sun, 2023-01-29 09:41

Flour, sugar, coffee, and in some countries cereals are often sold in paper bags. The paper is more sustainable than plastic, but the bags provide a bit of a UX hassle for dispensing and are often decanted altogether into an additional vessel. This Twixit Seal & Pour invention, from housewares manufacturer Linden International, lets you avoid that.

The polypropylene object is essentially a bag clip with a built-in lidded spout. It seals the bag, but lets you more easily pour from it. It's also dishwasher-safe.

Here's how you use it:

Honda Moves on from VTEC

Design News - Fri, 2023-01-27 14:05
Honda’s signature VTEC variable valve control system is heading for the sunset, as the company has introduced its first naturally aspirated V6 without it since the ‘90s NSX.

Using AR and VR to Train Workers in Manufacturing

Design News - Fri, 2023-01-27 10:11
A panel at IME West will take a deep look at how augmented reality and virtual reality improve manufacturing processes.

DesignCon Is Finally Here!

Design News - Fri, 2023-01-27 09:31
Industry’s leading show and conference for high-speed communications and system design starts Tuesday in Santa Clara.