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Regular Deadline is Here! Enter the 2019 Design Awards Before 9 PM EST Tonight

Core 77 - Tue, 2019-03-12 12:39

The 2019 Core77 Design Awards Regular Deadline has finally arrived! The good news? You have a few more hours to work on your entry and get it before that happens.

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This is What Thorough Design Attention Looks Like: Details of the Icon Duesey

Core 77 - Tue, 2019-03-12 12:39

In Part 1 of this story, we covered how Jonathan Ward's Duesey project came about and how he executed it. Ward tackled the design both as an industrial means of self-expression, and to correct what he saw as unconscionable design lapses in other objects in the category. Here in Part 2, Ward walks us through the design details of the finished product, revealing both his signature attention to detail and the extreme lengths he'll go to for the sake of holistic, aesthetic satisfaction (see: Packaging). Folks, this is what thorough design attention looks like, and the lessons learned here could be applied to virtually anything within the realm of industrial design.


In the previous installment, Ward discussed the importance of the purity of design intent. Inspiration is required here, and the Duesenberg SJ, an early supercar designed during America's Roaring Twenties, was a marvel of engineering and design that provided Ward with plenty of fodder. "I geeked out on the car's details--the way the hardware attaches, the fenders to the body, that's represented in the shape of the watch. The radiator cap inspired the radius and the shaping of the case."

"I designed my own rotor, the perlage, the machine-turned finish, everything."

"I struggled with this initially, but ended up laser centering ICON into the backside of the crystal. So if you're face-on on the watch, you usually don't see it…."

"…unless you have an odd angle of incoming light; then it shows up but is subtle, it doesn't interrupt, doesn't disturb the aesthetic flow."

"The face is natural Onyx stone, laser cut, EDM'd, then hand polished."

"I spent many hours on the crown. I find often they may look great, but suffer ergonomically. Alternately, they can be good ergonomically but bland by design. I spent many hours designing and refining this crown to strike the proper balance. It's known as a "squashed onion," it's a popular style from the 1920s and '30s."

"The band is Italian calf leather, and stitchless; there's no visual interruption for the pricking stitches. It's all super detailed, skived, hand-formed and heat-creased around the edges."

"We used two different grades of titanium. A key client and friend is allergic to the more popular titanium used; it's a rare allergy but it exists. So it's T2 and T5 titanium. T5 is WAY harder to machine. The T2 used for the polish section gets a much higher quality polish to it than other varying alloys of titanium."
"The silica finish you see below is traditionally never used on a classic-style watch, but I think it gives it a neat tweak. Technically that finish is considered self-healing because of the finishing manner, which I think is kind of bullshit. Though it does hide shit more."


Earlier Ward mentioned that the project took much longer than anticipated, and that he was largely to blame. Here he explains why. "In a storage attic here at the shop, I've got tons of different watch boxes. Almost regardless of the watch's price point, sometimes it's a cardboard box. A five digit watch and it comes in this cheesy generic box with a stamped gold foil logo. Lined with the 'hyde' of the elusive Nauga beast. Just no consideration.

"Or it's something like a Patek, with gorgeous handcrafted inlaid hardwood, but it's…a box. It's that big"--here he uses his hands to trace the size of a chessboard--"for one watch, and once you take the watch out, it's useless. What are you going to do with it? It's a boat anchor.

"So I geeked out on the case, and that turned into a shit show. I went through three different suppliers until I could get what I was envisioning, done right."

Here's what Ward came up with:

"We found a piano finisher in Austria who could do the true black lacquer on hardwood to the spec that we wanted…"

"…and then design these blind elbow hinges and the laser cut stainless perimeter.

"The box was fun to do. The idea was, I wanted it to remain relevant and to maintain its utility. So initially it's a presentation box, and your watch is "Ta-da…."

"….But then you remove the ta-da tray and it's a five-pillow watch box."

"So it has value daily and keeps the brand in front of the client's face. And then hopefully, as I continue to develop and release more watches, it inspires him to fill up the rest with ours."

"$250,000 watches don't have this level of consideration in the packaging."

"And then we did that spun pewter lizard that we use on Icon vehicles' horn buttons. He's inlaid on the top deck of it."

Another opportunity to take things all the way came in the form of the owner's documents.

"I developed my own typeface for the watch, and it's consistent everywhere on the watch," Ward explains. "So I realized, shit, if I've gone that far, that font's got to be on all the care-and-feeding instructions in the watch box. And if I'm going to do that, the outdated press-printing and blind foiling and all that is a super cool lost art. So then I found a supplier who still does it that way."

"I find that with a lot of watch packaging, with the typeface and art direction, there's just no consideration. Or you buy a high-end watch and it'll have directions for shit that isn't on the model you bought, that kind of stuff. So this isn't anything crazy, it's just a personal welcome letter to each client and the ownership docs, but it's really thought through."

"The owner card is the same as the ID cards, which are military placards, that we use for marking Icon's production models. So I took the same thing and just changed out the art."

"The headings are the same font that was designed for the watch. I changed the body text for legibility and differentiation, but the kerning and everything's fucked with. I love this font, it came out really cool. It was such a fun project."

Ward produced just 50 Dueseys. Watch 01/50 is on his wrist. A further 37 were sold. 39/50 thru 50/50 are waiting patiently in those cases, and Ward can't wait for them to go: "I already have the two next designs locked and loaded, but my wife [Jamie, Icon's COO] is far more prudent than I, so she won't let me start on the next one until the remaining 12 are sold. But I'm chomping at the bit."


Up Next: How Ward got into the position to design whatever he wants, without compromise, and the other areas of design he'd like to see Icon expand into.

5 "Quickstarter" Crowdfunding Tips from the Man Who Started the Movement

Core 77 - Tue, 2019-03-12 12:39

A crowdfunding platform doesn't have to exist exclusively for grandiose projects that require tens of thousands of dollars in order to be realized. No one is in bigger favor of smaller projects taking to crowdfunding than designer Oscar Lhermitte, proven most recently in his latest project, a simple corkscrew launched in the form of a "Quickstarter". Lhermitte coined the Quickstarter movement himself in conjunction with Kickstarter in an effort to encourage designers and creatives to launch something, well, just for fun.

The aim of his latest project remains true to the intent of a Quickstarter in that it is a simple design fix for the often overcomplicated corkscrew. As written on Lhermitte's campaign page, "this product comes from a frustration of not being able to find [a corkscrew] that is simple in its design while at the same time functional. There are all sorts of corkscrews available online and they come in all shapes, sizes, materials, finishes and qualities. To my surprise, finding a simple one that just does the job is surprisingly difficult." In an attempt to correct the unavailability of simplicity on the market, Lhermitte launched a two-week Quickstarter to fund his idea.

In case you aren't familiar with the format, a Quickstarter has just a few rules and is open to any designer interested in trying out an idea. The criteria are as follows:

- Designing, prototyping and manufacturing should not take longer than 3 months.
- The campaign should be under 20 days.
- The funding goal has to be below £1,000 (~$1,300).
- The reward has to be offered under £20 ($26.42).
- The video has to be shot in 1 day.

Lhermitte's corkscrew certainly fits the bill and looks easy, right? But then again, Lhermitte makes it look easy as he is a master of the Quickstarter game. So we asked him: What are your top tips for people who are interested in doing their own Quickstarter campaign? Here's what he told us:

1. Keep your idea humble

"A Quickstarter is by definition small, so it's a great place to test a small idea or manufacture a small product that will not cost a lot and that does not have large Minimum Order Quantities. Keep the more ambitious ones for a proper campaign."

2. Don't shoot yourself in the foot with shipping

"If it's a product, keep it small in size too. The shipping can be a killer. Especially if it becomes more expensive than the product itself."

3. Don't underestimate the merits of a good video—and perhaps more importantly, the audio

"The video is always very important and actually the sound quality tends to be more important than the video quality. Film with an smart phone and record the sound with an external mic."

4. Get feedback

Share your campaign with others before launching. Even for the small campaigns, you are too close to it to see the obvious mistakes.

5. Put the product in action

"Have some context in your photos and video. It's always helpful and nice to see hands or a body next to the your project, it gives a sense of reality and an idea of scale."

Happy quickstarting!

Lhermitte is not only a crowdfunding expert, he is also this year's jury captain of the new Core77 Design Awards Crowdfunding category! Do you have a crowdfunding project that was successfully met its funding goal in 2018? Submit it for consideration here.

5 Techniques for Accelerating Engineering Development

Design News - Tue, 2019-03-12 08:00
(Image source: qimono on Pixabay) 

Whether its a parts company, software supplier, or all the way to system integrators and even consultants, no one seems immunte to the ideas of decreasing costs and faster time to market, while improving product quality. 

Probably ninety percent of all engineering vendors rely on these sorts of coveted, and often overused, marketing phrases. But any hyperbole aside, it touches on a reality of human nature. We want to do more at the same or better quality level, while also decreasing the resources we use to achieve our end goals.

That is not to say this is an impossible goal. In fact it's quite obtainable. In many cases it all comes down to engineering development time and costs.

Here are my top five techniques for accelerating engineering development. These five techniques are just a few examples of low-hanging fruit that companies and developers can consider when trying to accelerate engineering development. I’ve found that both myself and my clients have been able to use these techniques to considerably decrease the time we spend developing products, and I’m sure that they can work for you as well.

1.) Master Your Defects

Embedded software developers on average spend 20 – 40% of their time debugging their software. That sounds outrageous, but if you look at the Aspencore 2017 Embedded Survey results or speak to developers at embedded systems conferences you’ll find that figure is accurate! If 20% of a work year is spent debugging, that’s nearly 2.5 months  in the most optimistic case. Businesses and developers who want to accelerate engineering development need to focus on mastering their defects and put in place the processes to prevent defects and techniques to catch them as soon as they occur.

2.) Have the Right Tools for the Job

If you want to go fast, you need to have the right tools. I have a client that I have worked with for over 10 years who steadfastly refuses to invest in a quality debug probe. The probe that he uses was purchased for $75 dollars a decade ago. That seems like a great investment of just $7.50 a year, but the problem with this probe is that it allows just two breakpoints. One breakpoint must be free when loading the application from the IDE, otherwise a resource error occurs and the debugging process must be restarted. The process probably takes two minutes to do from clicking the debug button to, “Oh you don’t have breakpoints left, try again.” Once the program loads, there are still only two breakpoints that must be constantly toggled on and off based on what is being looked at during the session.

A quality probe might cost $700 (about $70 a year over a decade). How much extra time and effort was spent over that decade in order to save $62.50 a year? Having the right tool for the job cannot only speed up engineering development, but also save in overall costs.

3.) Focus on Your Value; Outsource the Rest

For engineers (and any business for that matter), it’s important to recognize what value you are bringing to the table. I see quite a few companies that have a vision and a value they are bringing to the world, but they get caught up in production line details, or developing drivers, or some other thing.

We all have limited resources and by focusing time and effort on the non-value add, it dilutes the value of the business or the engineer. You want to recognize what your key skills and value are and focus on those. Outsource everything else to someone whose value proposition is to provide those things. By doing so, you can focus on your differentiators while the low-level engineering is done elsewhere.

4.) Leverage Existing Software Platforms

Back in the day, starting a new project meant that we were going to be spending months learning the innards of a new microcontroller and developing drivers to get it up and running. Once that was done, we could then start to focus on our actual application. Today, we have the opportunity to leverage existing drivers, middleware, operating systems and libraries from not only the microcontroller vendors but also from third-party companies that specialize in various software technologies. Leveraging existing software platforms, even ones that are certified, can dramatically accelerate engineering development.


5.)  Leverage Existing Hardware Platforms

It really amazes me that all of today’s solutions didn’t exist just a year or two ago. For many embedded products, the core hardware features tend to be the same. There’s a processor that is surrounded by memory that communicates to some interface, samples sensors, and then controls something. It’s a pretty generic way to look at things, but after having designed systems for automotive, medical, military/aerospac, and space systems, I’ve found that there is a lot of commonality between embedded systems.

In fact, probably 80% is the same or similar guts and the remaining 20% is where companies differentiate. So, if there is an opportunity to leverage existing hardware why not do it? It can easily remove not just the development effort but also time and costs to maintain the system once it is in production.

Jacob Beningo is an embedded software consultant who currently works with clients in more than a dozen countries to dramatically transform their businesses by improving product quality, cost and time to market. He has published more than 200 articles on embedded software development techniques, is a sought-after speaker and technical trainer and holds three degrees, including a Masters of Engineering from the University of Michigan. Feel free to contact him at jacob@beningo.com or at his website. You can also sign up for his monthly Embedded Bytes Newsletter.


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