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Updated: 8 hours 31 min ago

Good Design: Carpet-Based Orientation Cues in a Confusing Space

8 hours 31 min ago

When backpacking through Scandinavia, I took the cheapest method then available to get from Stockholm to Helsinki: An overnight berth in a cruise ship's steerage. I was in a shared interior cabin on the bottom level, below the waterline and obviously with no portholes. Navigating those lower levels was well confusing, and after you got turned around a few times, you couldn't even tell which way the front of the ship was.

That was in 2005, and cruise ships have since upped their orientation game. Here's a shot of the Norwegian Bliss, which was launched by Norwegian Cruise Line in April of last year:

Image credit: Ben/u/blp9

"The fish in this carpet pattern swim towards the bow of the ship," explains Ben, who captured the photo.

"For slightly more context, the photo was taken in 2018 on the Norwegian Bliss, but the carpet pattern is used throughout their fleet. When you are on an interior passageway where the passenger cabins are, the left and right sides are mirror images, so you need some point of reference to orient yourself."

Sure it's a bit cutesy, but I still think this is good design. Props to the person(s) who came up with the idea, and thanks to Ben for capturing the shot.

Thrifty Material Use: A Solid Wood Door Made When Times Were Tight

8 hours 31 min ago

As I'm learning here on the farm, there are a million things that need fixing or replacing in an old house. But one great thing about an old house is that the interiors have nice, solid wood doors. For reasons of insulation (both noise and R-value) a solid wood door is always better than the cardboard-web-containing hollow-core doors common in modern homes.

However, when times were tight--think of the Great Depression, or World War II--even solid wood might not be easy to come by. Thus we see this 1940s DIY door example by an unknown thrifty craftsperson, captured by UK-based photographer Rich Sayles:

Image credit: Rich Sayles Photography, Facebook, Instagram

Those are solid wood strips sandwiched between two layers of thin plywood, providing the desired mass. I want to believe that these are cut-offs from some factory process, primarily because I shudder to think of someone taking the time to mill each piece to fit. And while it was undoubtedly time-consuming to assemble, I still think this is a better use for cut-offs than if they'd gone up the chimney.

It's worth noting that the UK's WWII-era motto was "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."

Uber & Lyft Reduce Drunk Driving--and Increase Overall Alcohol Consumption

8 hours 31 min ago

Unintended consequences of technology: A new study by economists Jacob Burgdorf and Conor Lennon of the University of Louisville, along with Keith Teltser from Georgia State University, reveals that "Ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, reduce intoxicated driving. However, ridesharing may also have negative health effects by increasing alcohol consumption."

Photo by Yutacar on Unsplash

Interestingly, their study shows that boozing was actually declining in areas before ridesharing arrived--and once it had been established for a couple of years, started steadily ticking upwards, yielding "a 9% increase in the prevalence of heavy drinking." And that's where mass transit exists.

"When we focus on areas with relatively weaker public transit options, we estimate UberX is associated with a 17.5% to 21.8% increase in instances of binge drinking."

So while ridesharing services have undoubtedly saved many people who'd have been killed in drunk driving accidents, we humans would still like to harm ourselves, and are compensating by abusing our livers.

"I'm not going to put my shirt on, nor dry my shorts, before getting into that Lyft." (Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash)

The real winners are the bars:

"UberX is associated with a 2.4% increase in employment and a 2.3% increase in total earnings at drinking establishments."

Photo by Eaters Collective on Unsplash

The next study I want to see: What is the rate of people vomiting in the back of an Uber or Lyft?

Peter and Calvin, feeling good at 7pm (Photo by Donovan Grabowski on Unsplash)

Peter and Calvin, 2am in the back of an Uber (Photo by tobi feder on Unsplash)


The Weekly Design Roast, #28

8 hours 31 min ago

When archaeologists dig up a bench from ancient Chinese or Roman times, you can recognize it's a bench. When they dig this thing up in a thousand years, they're going to assume it was the result of a manufacturing defect.

"My design cleverly prevents you from pushing the chair against a wall. This way the chair takes up more space, which will become important as more of us move into crowded city apartments."

"Once I learned that fiber optic cables are not recyclable, I figured I'd do my part to fuck the planet up and designed these curtains out of them. They offer none of the functional benefits of fiber optic cables, yet will ultimately do the same damage to the planet. Winning!"

"Square tables have four legs and four sides, meaning even small ones can accommodate up to four people. I don't like that kind of flexibility, so my design dictates that this table is only for two."

"The thing I hate about removing books from shelves, is that the shelves remain so stable. I'd much rather they swing a bit during loading and unloading, so I designed this. Also, I don't own many books but want to look like I do, so I needed a way to take up a lot of space with very few copies."

"To be honest I don't know what the fuck this is supposed to be, but I hear that 'modular' is hot, so I just went for it."


"Our design research shows that people want furniture-like geometric shapes that can be configured in different ways. If you want useful functions, go talk to someone else--I'm a designer, not an engineer."

"I wanted the structural support provided by connecting the backrest to the front legs, but without the comfort provided by a usable armrest. Also, critics said these would never sell, and they were wrong--I'm already selling them to Tesla Cybertruck showrooms."

"I designed this chair to allow you to surprise-tickle the sitter from behind without the backrest getting in the way."

True story: The words in quotes were written by another design blog who "loved these" wire tables. "For small objects that might otherwise wobble or fall between the gaps"--you know, exotic things like drinking glasses or coffee cups--you can buy "a series of zigzag-bottomed solid wood plates and trays [that] enable you [to] use them."

Following that thinking, I'm going to design some drinking glasses with razor-sharp rims, and the only way you can drink from them is if you attach an additional grommet I'll design. Eff you, Design World.

A New Milestone for 3D-Printed Construction is Reached in Dubai

8 hours 31 min ago

3D-printing startup Apis Cor recently completed its latest claim to greatness: the "world's largest" 3D-printed building to date. The 6,889 square-foot, 31 foot-tall structure was built in Dubai—where the goal is to 3D print a quarter of new construction by 2030—and will serve as a government facility.

According to Smart Cities World, the structure was built floor-by-floor and directly on-site in an uncovered area. The company created a printing mixture consisting of sand, cement, gypsum, and "other proprietary components." One of the main challenges with this type of construction is in finding the right blend of materials to withstand the local climate. "The Dubai climate is very harsh—temperature and humidity change significantly even within a day," says Apis Cor founder and CEO Nikita Cheniuntai. "The material has to behave the same way all the time, despite the changing environmental conditions."

The company's 3D printer was repositioned around the site and used to build the walls, but traditional construction techniques were used for the foundation, adding rebar, windows, and roofing. They say it took three weeks to complete the project.

In 2017 Apis Cor announced that they had completed a tiny home near Moscow in only 24 hours and for $10,000 but recent reports show that it actually took four months. 3D-printed construction is a promising field and advances are no doubt being made, but companies have a tendency to inflate their capabilities to appeal to investors. At least for now, we should take any lofty claims about affordability, speed, and structures being "entirely" 3D-printed, with a grain of salt.

Rocket Steel

8 hours 31 min ago

Earlier this fall I had an opportunity to head down to a windy piece of land near the Mexican border to tour the Starship Mk1 This is the first of many prototypes that will one day become the ship that carries us to the moon and Mars and back. Seeing the gleaming 165-foot high rocket at night, standing at the end of the lonely nondescript Texas State Highway 4, seemed at once like a Hollywood movie set and the world's greatest manifestation of optimism. It was also just beautiful.

Starship is 30 feet in diameter and will extend its height to a remarkable 387 feet when supported by the Falcon Heavy booster that will hold up to 37 Raptor engines, with a force necessary to push Starship out of Earth's gravitational pull, and into far orbit. Starship will be refilled with methane and liquid oxygen in orbit and so will be able to carry 100 passengers and 150 tons of cargo to the moon and also, as part of SpaceX's plan to develop a self-sustaining colony, onward to Mars.

I used to write a regular materials science blog for this magazine years back, and so the thing about Starship that lingered with me is this: The decision to build Starship using steel. Musk and his SpaceX engineers intended to build the rocket with carbon fiber but then last year the team switched to steel, a decision that Elon Musk described as maybe his "…best idea ever." And during his public presentation of Starship on September 28, he proclaimed, "Honestly, I'm in love with steel."

The first reason for this is its thermal properties. Steel isn't brittle at extremely cold temperatures and it won't melt at extremely high temperatures. But recently I mentioned this quality to a few industrial engineers and they responded skeptically insisting, "steel cannot maintain stability at extremes." These structural engineers were steel experts, so I needed to figure out what I was missing.

The first thing we need to be clear on is that SpaceX is using stainless steel. And this makes a huge difference. As most of us know, steel is used everywhere and there are many kinds. Steel isn't just steel. Steel is an alloy, a combination of iron and lots of other elements like manganese, sulphur and carbon. And if you add elements like nickel, titanium and specifically chromium you can really alter steel's properties.

Stainless steel has more chromium than other steels (requiring a minimum of 10% chromium), and Starship is using stainless steel 301. This has 17 percent chromium and 7 percent nickel. It remains solid until 1,500 degrees Centigrade which allows it to handle the insane heat of re-entry, without a heat shield. And this makes Starship much lighter.

On the other end of the temperature spectrum stainless steel has higher cryogenic toughness due to the nickel content—meaning that at crazy low temperatures (i.e., -150 to -273 degrees Celsius) it has high ductility and high tensile strength, so it can be stretched thin without snapping. In fact, at cryogenic temperatures the tensile strength of stainless steel is higher than at ambient temperatures. This is the underlying secret. If you rely on basic steel manuals that assume relatively normal ranges in temperature, you might miss the magic of stainless steel. At cryogenic temperatures 301 stainless steel is as strong as any other advanced composite or aluminum-lithium.

Additionally it is less corrosive, easier to maintain, with a zero need for paint and with its brilliant mirror-like sheen steel is very attractive.

Most stainless steel alloys have excellent resistance to corrosion in normal conditions. Stainless steel alloys tend to possess a strong and thin layer of oxide that prevents rusting, hence the name "stainless" steel. Starship is evidence of this corrosive resistance, as it was welded with no factory protecting it. The crew of engineers build it outdoors by the highway, with a strong salt wind constantly whipping.

The chromium in the alloy forms a self-healing protective clear oxide layer. Even if the material surface is cut or damaged, it will self heal and corrosion resistance is maintained. This is why I love materials science…it's pure magic!

Carbon fiber is considered to be ideal for industrial applications because of its strength-to-weight ratio. But it is expensive. Turns out this stuff is a major pain in the ass to make. Before carbon fiber becomes carbon fiber, it starts as a base material—usually an organic polymer with carbon atoms binding together long strings of molecules called a polyacrylonitrile. Which brings us to the coup de grace: carbon fiber is $130K per ton while stainless steel is $2.5K per ton. For a company that is paying its own way to Mars this detail is a game changer.

Like so many breakthrough discoveries stainless steel was an accident. In the early 1900s Harry Brearley explored different alloys for gun barrels and he noticed that some never rusted. These were the combinations with higher amounts of chromium. Brearley went on to use these in cutlery and in the 1920s Sheffield become world famous as the birth place of mass-produced cutlery. And now rockets!

The speed at which SpaceX plans to iterate on Starship Mk1 seems impossible, with a plan to have Starships Mk4 and Mk5 built in about six months. And the aspirational goal is to head to Mars (without humans) by 2022. Crews will follow in 2024.


Design Job: Exercise Your Material Skills as a CMF Designer for Peloton in NYC

8 hours 31 min ago

As a Color, Material, and Finish (‘CMF”) Design Lead - at Peloton, you will be responsible for leading CMF strategies and projects for all hard products in our core line. You will be working hand in hand on the ID team in collaboration with Engineering and Sourcing to develop a CMF strategy for our long term road map.

View the full design job here

Currently Crowdfunding: Stay Fresh With an Eco-Conscious Cooler, Turn Your Smartphone into a Microscope, and More

8 hours 31 min ago

Brought to you by MAKO Design + Invent, North America's leading design firm for taking your product idea from a sketch on a napkin to store shelves. Download Mako's Invention Guide for free here.

Navigating the world of crowdfunding can be overwhelming, to put it lightly. Which projects are worth backing? Where's the filter to weed out the hundreds of useless smart devices? To make the process less frustrating, we scour the various online crowdfunding platforms to put together a weekly roundup of our favorite campaigns for your viewing (and spending!) pleasure. Go ahead, free your disposable income:

Smart material choices (like swapping conventional polyurethane foam insulation for natural wool) make this cooler completely recyclable. Couple that with its sleek design and convenient features (there's a built-in cutting board!) and the Wooly Mammoth Cooler looks like a perfect companion for your outdoor dining adventures.

Already near its funding goal with just under a month to go, the Altered Shower employs a patented "dome technology" to rotate water at a high speed so you can enjoy a normal shower while using 75% less water.

A modular lunch box/food storage solution that checks off all the right boxes: it's leak-proof, shatter-proof, easy to open, keeps food hot or cold, and made of PBA-free recyclable plastic.

We all have a camera in our pocket, but what if you could use it to explore the world around you in microscopic detail? DIPLE is an add-on kit that will kick your smartphone camera up quite a few notches with its 1000x magnification capability.

Made of bamboo and aluminum, Ice Mouse is designed to stay cool to the touch no matter how many hours you work with it.

Do you need help designing, developing, patenting, manufacturing, and/or selling YOUR product idea? MAKO Design + Invent is a one-stop-shop specifically for inventors / startups / small businesses. Click HERE for a free confidential product consultation.



This Police Motorcycle Can Transform Into a Towing Vehicle

8 hours 31 min ago

I was once stuck in NYC's Holland Tunnel in a traffic jam behind a mid-tunnel car accident. With both lanes of cars backed up, there was no way to get a tow truck through in the direction of travel; they eventually sent one in from the other end, driving backwards, to clear the mess.

In the UK, they've got at least one solution for rapidly getting a tow vehicle on-site--and it's a motorcycle. Since the cars driven in the UK are generally smaller than what Americans drive, it's a viable option. Check out their modified Honda Goldwing "Retriever" model:

Incredibly, Autoblog reports that the thing can tow 5,500 pounds!


Good Design: Airline Seatback Designed for Smartphone and Tablet Viewing

8 hours 31 min ago

(This new "Quick Hits" series of posts will be short 'n sweet examples of good design. Debates welcome.)

The airline carriers have to be thrilled that people now travel with their own screens. It's got to be cheaper for them to install this folding smartphone/tablet viewing shelf in a seatback than an actual monitor:

Image credit: Chesires Shadow, on a Hawaiian Airlines flight

I also love how the charging point is right next to it. It's better than fumbling for that plug beneath the seat.

Good Design: Cup Shelf Next to Office Entry Keypad

8 hours 31 min ago

(This new "Quick Hits" series of posts will be short 'n sweet examples of good design. Debates welcome.)

Back when I worked corporate, all departments were silo'd off with tap- -to-enter badge reader pads. Other companies use keypads, like this Swedish office--where someone has thoughtfully anticipated that you may have a coffee cup in one hand and something occupying the other. Hence:

Image credit: "Ryder"

At my company, the badge readers were all mounted at a particular height. The "hack" everyone came up with was: You clipped your badge on your clothing at the right height, and performed a weird motion at the badge reader. Depending on your height, this resembled everything from a sideways hip-hump to a chest bump or shoulder-check. If you combined them all you could come up with an office dance routine.

Pablo Escobar's Brother Now Producing and Selling a Foldable Smartphone

8 hours 31 min ago

I'm not sure how this isn't April 1st, but apparently Roberto Escobar--Pablo Escobar's brother and former accountant--has produced a foldable smartphone. Called the Escobar Fold 1, it runs on Android and retails for $349.

Looking at the company's video of it, it's hard to believe this is a real commercial for a real product:

I mean, what is with the voiceover and monologue contents? "Apple boy Steve once looked into space. He saw Pablo Escobar with a phone beyond anyone's imagination." Uh--what?

Okay, that's about as far as I'm comfortable with, in terms of questioning or possibly insulting the brother of the formerly most powerful drug lord on Earth.

Here's the phone in use:

But as I watch yet another promotional video…

…I can't help but feel I'm being punked by 1990s Maxim magazine.

Anyways I should point out two things:

1) The phone can apparently be ordered here, and

2) Design bloggers are trifling individuals that really aren't worth sending hitmen after.


This Cool Programming Tool Idea Helps Designers Incorporate Coding Into Prototyping

8 hours 31 min ago

"blokdots" is a Student Winner in the Tools & Work Award category of the 2019 Core77 Design Awards. The 2020 Core77 Design Awards will be launching in just over a month on January 7th! Stay tuned for more details.

Olivier Brückner was studying industrial design when a fellow student asked him for help. It was crunch time, and she needed an LED to flash in response to a button being pressed. Her idea was great and formally, the product was very interesting—but she lacked the programming knowledge to make it actually function.

Brückner had an epiphany. For designers of all disciplines—interaction, industrial, the like—their prototyping efficiency was suffering because they didn't always know how to connect the dots between designing a product, and the electronic engineering and programming that so often makes it work.

The solution, for Brückner, became blokdots.

blokdots is a professional tool that provides simple programming for prototyping design products that incorporate electronic elements. Easy to use, its main blok – the brain – incorporates pre-soldered components and outlets that accept all types of cables (familiar to even non-designers through headphone and cell phone plug-ins). Small printed circuit boards are already set up, to where the whole preparation process is done within minutes, even without any knowledge of electrical engineering.

The second, smaller blok – the interface – contains a minimal knob that allows for testing, even without a computer. With the help of an application, components are selected and connected and then can be tested in the highly familiar "if this, then that" manner.

Brückner developed blokdots even further for those who are more engineering-inclined to take their prototyping to the next level. There's a "Live View" available that dictates connectivity so that factors can be manipulated and results easily and immediately monitored, allowing for adjustable tests for effectiveness.

blokdots isn't meant to teach people how to code; rather, it facilitates ideas being brought to life. It's accessible, easy-to-command, and a succinct method for people to realize fallacies or misdirection early on in the development process, and from there to continue prototyping with more intention.

Ultimately, blokdots grants designers autonomy over their processes so they can make their visions a reality. So next crunch time, when you're down to the wire, dream of plugging into blokdots – and outputting your perfect prototype.

Read more about blokdots on our Core77 Design Awards site of 2019 honorees

The 2020 Core77 Design Awards will be launching in just over a month on January 7th! Sign up for our newsletter on the Core77 homepage to stay up to date on awards deadlines.


Design Job: Start Your Career as a Junior Graphic Designer at Snow Joe in Carlstadt, NJ

8 hours 31 min ago

Are you ready to GO WITH JOE? Snow Joe + Sun Joe has an immediate opening for Junior Graphic Designer at our Carlstadt, NJ corporate headquarters. We are looking for a dynamic Junior Graphic Designer who is self-motivated, performs at a high level and capable of juggling multiple assignments. The Junior Graphic Designer would work and report directly to the Creative Director to grow and develop the Snow Joe + Sun Joe brands.

View the full design job here

This Rain-Catching Panel Could be a Solution for Drought-Stricken Urban Areas

8 hours 31 min ago

With a shifting climate, it's going to become increasingly important for architecture to evolve to have a more symbiotic relationship with nature (some have started referring to this as the forthcoming Symbiocene era). Designer, researcher, and recent Design Academy Eindhoven grad Shaakira Jassat has been exploring how urban design can create opportunities to harvest water sustainably. As part of her graduate project exhibited earlier this year, Jassat developed a rain-catching panel designed to integrate with architecture in dense urban populations.

Made of stainless steel in order to resist rust, the panels that make up Jassat's Aquatecture project feature a pattern of funnel-shaped perforations that catch rainwater and condensation and divert it to a building's grey-water system. Jassat tested various forms and designs before she settled on this one for its efficiency. The next step for the young designer, who recently founded Studio Sway, will be to test the design on a building facade.

The project is driven by aesthetics as much as functionality. "Aquatecture makes water conservation both visible and engaging," she says.



More Package Design Deception: Signal Snowboards Ships Theirs Disguised as Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Thu, 2019-12-05 15:26

First we saw Dutch bicycle manfacturer VanMoof printing flatscreen TVs on their shipping boxes, in hopes handlers would treat them more gently. Now we've learned that California-based Signal Snowboards is pulling a similar shipping-damage-avoiding trick with their snowboard packaging:


My only fear is that, as more people cotton to this trick and shippers eventually catch on, it'll just be a matter of time before they're tossing real TVs and lightbulbs out of the truck and onto the concrete. Boy who cried fake package design?

The Car, Gadgets, and Tricks Used to Drive From NYC to LA in 27.5 Hours Without Getting Caught

Thu, 2019-12-05 15:26

Taking turns driving, two men have broken the speed record for driving from NYC to LA, the so-called Cannonball Run. As Road & Track reports, Arne Toman and Doug Tabbutt made the 2,825-mile trip in a blistering 27 hours, 25 minutes. (Previous record: 28 hours and 50 minutes, set by Ed Bolian and Dave Black in 2013.) Their average speed was 103 MPH. Their top speed was 193 MPH. And yes, all of it was highly illegal.

I had some questions, all of which were answered by the R&T article and a video I came across, which I'll embed below. My first was:

What the heck kind of car did they drive? What kind of vehicle has LeMans-like endurance at that speed, and is unflashy enough not to draw police attention?

The answer: Toman's silver 2015 Mercedes E63 AMG with upgraded turbos and intercoolers. To help disguise it, he removed the emblems; painted the red brake calipers grey; and most cleverly, used dowdy silver vinyl to cover the carbon-fiber trim and disguise the shape of the taillights, making the car's rear end resemble an older Honda Accord. He also added kill switches to the brake lights and taillights.

Left: Honda Accord. Right: Toman's AMG sleeper.


At speeds of up to 193 hours in the middle of hunting season, how did they not hit a deer?

In the video, the team reports that during the drive they saw "probably 50 deer, dead on the highway." One reason why it wasn't 51: In the back seat of the car was a third person, spotter Berkeley Chadwick, operating a roof-mounted thermal scope on a gimbal. This was "great for seeing deer" at night; during the day they removed the scope because it was too conspicuous. (You can see it in the photo below.)

How did they avoid cops?

A combination of technological and human help.

For starters, two radar detectors, a laser jammer and a police scanner. And Chadwick, in the back seat, used gyro-stabilized binoculars to scan for cops ahead.

As for the additional human help, the team managed to recruit some 18 spotters all across the country, who scouted out their route ahead of them to warn of police. During the last leg of their trip, they were led by a spotter on a BMW motorcycle kitted out with super powerful headlights: This driver flew ahead of them, flashing motorists out of the fast lane to clear the way.

For those of you with more questions, the mini-doc below tells the whole tale.



How to Start a Community Movement, According to an Expert

Thu, 2019-12-05 15:26

In anticipation of "A Conversation with Women in 3D Printing" a talk series led by Women in 3D Printing at A/D/O in Brooklyn on Thursday, December 12th, we spoke with the evening's keynote presenter Diana Verdugo, Partnerships Lead at Formlabs. In our conversation, Verdugo gives us insight on the topics of 3D printing trends and ways to engage and build within communities where you are most invested. 

Can you tell me more about what you do at Formlabs?

I lead partnerships and community at Formlabs and I've been there for a little over three years—we created this position together called Partnerships. The goal of that was to work on special projects with ecosystem players that weren't related directly to our product.

What initially got you into the world of fabrication?

My background starts to make a little bit more sense when I share the background. I'm from Detroit, so, manufacturing city born and raised—and then I studied Industrial and Operations Engineering. From there I started working on factory floors for a bit, and I really loved the parts of it related to the tangibility of what was happening and the continuous process improvement in manufacturing that didn't relate to the old school "This is how we've done it for 40 years" type of thing.

I was thinking I'd become a manager or along the Operations path, but I had an opportunity pop up where I was doing a side hustle [running a] jewelry company, with my twin sister. That's when I got into making stuff and bringing things to market. We were looking for new processes that were not really part of the jewelry industry yet, and one was 3D printing.

Earrings from Verdugo's jewelry line, Gemela, designed using CAD and 3D printing

My sister actually gave me a Makerbot 3D printer one year for my birthday. Little by little, I started inching my way into using the printer and then ultimately we were putting it into this part of our business. We were customizing our signage or doing jewelry design with it, we were even doing pop-up shops in New York and putting the printer in front. I remember going to meet up groups [on 3D printing] and tapping in. I thought surely in New York City I could find people who would be able to teach me or share their tips and tricks about 3D printing. But I just didn't find that. I bought my own printer and all my knowledge just didn't add up to where it should be—I thought, "I need to know more. How can we make this more accessible to people?" And so at that time my sister and I were like, we love jewelry but we love telling process stories more than anything else. If we're going to put this to sleep again, it's going to be for going towards the values, the pillars of our business, technology and sustainability.

And then that's when I opened up conversations to all the 3D printer companies that I knew that I admired. Formlabs was the one that was a standout. I thought they were really hitting a need in the market and filling this gap at a time where the quality before them was quite low. And if this could bring value to a company like mine, I can only imagine where it can bring value to somewhere like GE or Apple or Tesla. So from there, that's when I started this position of partnerships, which was this ecosystem enabler.

What are some future-forward 3D printing trends going on you're most excited about exploring and sharing within the 3D printing community right now?

I'm excited to see progress in inclusivity, both from a technical and human perspective.

Technically, we're seeing a race for companies to make digital workflows more accessible. Traditional professional tech tools that used to have the price point of a car are becoming closer to that of a laptop. Design software like Fusion 360, Onshape and generative design tools and desktop printing like Formlabs' Form 3 3D Printer are getting more accessible and easier to use.

A piece made on Formlabs' Form 3 3D Printer

On the human side, as 3D printing adoption expands, we're seeing increased participation and incredible impact created from those who used to be outliers in ethnicity, gender, age, educational background and geographies. Like the father who helped his son walk by creating custom orthosis for his son with cerebral palsy with his home Formlabs printer in Slovenia. Or the female-founded company Dame in NYC, bringing vibrators to a market that has sizable barriers to entry due to informal regulations and undefined user needs. They're transforming the industry through rapid prototyping and user testing, only possible with affordable desktop 3D printing. I'm proud to work for a company that prioritizes accessibility to digital fabrication so that anyone can make anything. Keep an eye out to see even more of this from us in the coming year. The industry has its work cut out for itself, but we're blazing a path forward printer by printer, user by user.

What advice would you give to people who deliberately want to start building a community from the ground up?

1. Start small. One on one conversations and small group gatherings are the best way to start defining community values and shared goals. Test often to see what resonates most with them and build off of their feedback.

2. Identify your biggest heroes. At Formlabs we call them 'Super Users', they're power users and industry experts. Actively listen to them and celebrate them. They are your core resource and an extension of your team. Don't make assumptions, let them tell you what their dreams, ideas and pain points are and start creating solutions together that support those. They will be the ones catalyzing your community growth to eventually bringing on more people with your shared interests and values.

3. Meet them where they're at. Digitally or IRL, engage with your community where they already are and resist easier options that require them to create new habits. Are they on forums, using slack, or prefer a bar meetup? Create a place that gives them a voice, like a forum, and not just one to many communication, like a newsletter.

4. Lead with your passion in everything you do and make sure the world knows about it. Your passion is your compass and fuel for whenever you veer off track or face a setback and the more people who know about your mission the more support you will receive.

Do you have any go-to resources for learning more about how to build relationships and communities?

Books:

Get Together: How to Build a Community With Your People People & Company This was actually recommended by Christina Perla. Its practical and inspiring case studies quickly turned this into my community bible. It prompted me to start a book club with my Partnerships + Community team, starting with this one!

The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters. Priya Parker Bold, thoughtful and helpful for navigating any form of human gatherings from office meetings, dinner parties, to conferences.

"Get Together: How to Build a Community with Your People"

IRL meetups found online: Comb through digital event platforms for local gatherings that resonate with your mission or ask an industry friend what groups they're already part of and join them at the next event. No matter the country I'm in, my go-tos are the usual eventbrite, meetup, where I've discovered gems like creative mornings, women in 3D printing, local tech and design meetups.

Learn from brands, organizations + leaders you admire. For me, it's Women in 3D Printing, for doing an incredible job empowering their ambassadors to lead monthly local community meetups across the globe, Autodesk for actually building physical spaces around the world for their users to use the latest and greatest in digital design tools and Glossier for turning to their digital community to name, review and co-create products.

What are a few things you're hoping to discuss during your keynote at the Women in 3D printing event?

I'm looking forward to discussing how to get the most out of both buckets of community participation - as 'the builder' and 'the member'. From active to passive, no matter if you're along for the ride or forging the path for others, there are things big and small to do to make the most out of your participation. I'm also excited to learn from our incredible speakers - Kat Ermant, Jocelyn Desisto, Schweta Thapa, and Victoria Ball on their own highs and lows of why and how they've built their own communities.

What people don't always realize is that community builders are simply enthusiastic community members. We are all members of some type of community group - formally or informally - and all have the power to be community builders no matter the resources at hand. You don't need a lot to do a lot.

Get your ticket for "A Conversation with Women in 3D Printing", featuring keynote Diana Verdugo, at A/D/O on Thursday, December 12th from 6-9 PM.


Gift Like It's 1999

Thu, 2019-12-05 15:26

The 90s are back—here are a few gifts that have lived on since that golden age of AOL and boy bands.

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Playing With Loose Parts

Thu, 2019-12-05 15:26

As someone who has not occupied a single apartment for more than 2 years in the last decade, I lament to say that I've never had a meaningful relationship with a piece of furniture. This may be an indictment of my own capriciousness, but it is likely not a unique condition for the university student, young professional, nomadic millennial, etc. Mobility appears to be the condition of many professionals today, which can lead to unsavory furnishing practices, namely the impulsive purchasing and disposing of products that are of low build and materials quality (had I dollar for every IKEA floor lamp I've seen amid New York trash heaps...). In consideration of ecological crisis, and an ill-devised recycling infrastructure, the relationship between an individual and the material of their living space is in desperate need of reexamination.

Loose Parts wants users to both consider the needs of their space, and to play with the material that fills their home. Loose Parts is a modular assemblage system that offers people furniture for the home that lives, grows, and changes, as they do. The product comes as both fully constructed furniture, as well as deconstructed parts of a self-assembly kit. The Loose Parts system avoids unnecessary material complexity by using only wood, recyclable aluminum. Yet its modular design invites the addition of found parts and objects. What is perhaps most compelling about the Loose Parts design is that it expects its users to be unique individuals. It doesn't seek to impose itself upon one's living space, but empowers the user to assemble it to fit their needs.

Asking how we assemble objects to fulfill our needs, is how Jennifer June, designer of Loose Parts, began to develop the system. In June's studies at Parsons School of Design in New York, the city itself invited her to consider ad hoc moments of design. "From the street vendor to the subway busker ordinary acts of re-purpose, appropriation and re-imagining call into question assumptions about how objects and space should be used." says June. Loose Parts provides a creative space between the user and the designed object, one that is rarely found in furniture design for the home. This fluidity of Loose Parts constructions can ease the process of seeking affordable yet well-designed furniture for the home.

This past week, Loose Parts hosted a workshop at their pop-up store in Manhattan, where people could come and build their one furniture using the Loose Parts and found objects.

This process can have a wide-reaching impact when one considers the material we cycle through to arrive at the perfect furnishings. The system's "Parts" are deliberately fashioned for flexibility in the living space. The wood rails are FSC-certified, are sourced from regional suppliers and come in 5 different lengths: 72, 30, 24, 18, and 12 inches. The lengths were determined by June's research of "historical furniture design, ergonomics and architectural norms," so that the user can get the most out of the material given to them, "better materials mean a longer life both of the product and natural resources of the environment." says June. It is with these durable and lasting materials that the parts can be constantly rearranged and reused.