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Our Favorite Winners from iF DESIGN AWARD Night 2018 in Munich

Tue, 2018-03-20 18:57

At the center of this month's Munich's Creative Business Week, Germany's largest design event offering 9 days of design discussions, exhibitions, and networking opportunities is the iF DESIGN AWARD 2018 celebration honoring 75 outstanding professional design projects of the past year. 

The awards ceremony grand entranceThe event took place in Munich's massive BMW Welt buildingA look into the awards ceremony

The projects featured as winners in this year's iF DESIGN AWARD demonstrate not just the design work of value in the present, but how design work of today will transform our vision of the future. While in Munich celebrating the awards, we chose a few of our favorite 2018 winners we saw while we were there:

Lumi Personal computer

Bringing together the world of furniture and technology, the Lumi personal computer disguises itself as an elegant desk lamp while actually having the ability to a project an interactive computer screen onto your workspace or a large video projection on the wall or ceiling. 

Pixel flexible furnishing system

The Pixel modular furniture system by Bene opens up the possibility of your workspace turning from static workspace to dynamic creative studio capable of reconfiguration at the drop of a hat. 

DPT-RP1 Digital paper

Technology inspired by the analog, the DPT-RP1 was designed to mimic the feeling of putting pen to paper.

Bosch Gluey Glue Gun

Use a glue gun? Well, you've never seen one quite like this. The Gluey by Bosch not only is sleek and ergonomic in a way that allows for precision, it also accommodates a number of different color and glitter glues to bring your crafts project to a whole new level. 

Loop Luminaire

The Loop wall light shines thanks to its flexibility according to your task. Whether you use it to highlight a piece of art on the wall or next to your bed as a reading light, the lighting panel can rotate a full 360 degrees in on swift motion. 

DreamWear Full Face Mask CPAP

Clunky CPAP machines for those with sleep apnea are well overdue for a second look, which is why this DreamWear mask from Philips is a welcome redesign. The innovative element of this machine is its airflow that is reallocated to the top of the mask instead of the front, making for a less obtrusive build.

BionicCobot Pneumatic robot

As robots enter the mainstream, it's hard not to see them being a bit awkward and, sometimes, clumsy. This BionicCobot with its pneumatic arm that allows for the most delicate or forceful of handling proves this perception as being totally wrong. Designed by Festo AG & Co, this robot was specifically designed not to replace us, but as human support helping us perform tasks with a machine that might otherwise be impossible to perform by hand. 

Mr. Pip Board Game packaging

A past Core77 Design Awards winner, we love the clever configuration of Pip Tomkins studio's packaging for their Double Cross game redesign.

VR. Ulm flying experience! 

Imagine being able to fly! Thanks to the VR Ulm Experience designed by Demodern for Interactive Media Foundation, you don't have to. This interactive VR experience allows you to tour the city of Ulm, Germany is an entirely breathtaking new way.

Gaggenau Restaurant 1683

The Gaggenau restaurant pop-up restaurant, constructed in Manhattan and design by eins:33, is part-epicurean foray-part-epic storytelling experience. In a short press description, it explains what it felt like to dine in this fully immersive culinary environment: "The experience starts with a trip 333 years back...the guests step through a curtain to see a waterfall which encircles them as they pass through a corridor of mirrors. The guests find themselves midst of a Black Forest setting, with the sounds of water and chirping of birds." 


As designers continue to tackle the issue of women's health in developing countries, we are given a number of clever and innovative new technologies; this includes IDEAfree x Havas Korea DREAM Ring. The innovative factor of this menstrual cup is its construction made from silicone and disposable sugarcane vinyl, which not only makes it body-safe but also eco-friendly.

Wearable Harness Two-Way Radio (71)

This two-way harness radio by Motorola Solutions allows for workers in high-risk working conditions situations to communicate hands-free with ease, which is not only convenient but also in emergency situations can be life-saving.

High-Risk Pregnancy Toolkit, Philips (72)

This set of birthing product solutions for high-risk pregnancies by Philips Design are low cost and allow for participation from both the mother and the healthcare provider. The most interesting part of the kit is the redesigned, battery-less stethoscope allowing the mother to hear in while the healthcare worker checks the heartbeat. 

WOODIEHamburg prefab student dormitory (75)

This student dormitory uses the pre-fab model to construct a building consisting of 371 apartments. The individual wooden modules were designed so that they can be connected in all kinds of ways according to the most appropriate usage scenarios.

Congratulations to all this year's winners!

Learn more about the iF DESIGN AWARDS here and how you can apply for the 2018 awards cycle

Meet Julia Liao, the Winner of This Year's Core77 x A/D/O Residency

Tue, 2018-03-20 18:57

After reviewing a number of fantastic submissions from Core77 readers, we've finally chosen the designer who will be spending 3 months in the A/D/O space working on a number of their dream projects. 

Without further ado, here's a short chat with our chosen resident Julia Liao, who will be working on creating various inclusive and accessible design solutions throughout her 3 month residency at A/D/O.

Tell us more about what you're going to work on during your time at A/D/O.

I will be working on a variety of projects that are centered towards creating inclusive and accessible design solutions during my residency at A/D/O. I have previously designed a MetroCard Swiper for OSL that assists a wonderful young woman who has paralysis in her arms to swipe a NYC MetroCard so that she is able to commute around the city independently. During the residency, I'd like to further develop the product with improvements so that it could potentially be produced and distributed to a wider population who have a similar disabilities, such as people diagnosed with ALS, Parkinson's Disease, Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

I will also be working on developing clothing fasteners and hardware specifically for people with limited mobility and dexterity. Everybody has to put on and take off (the official terminology is donning and doffing) clothes everyday, and redesigning clothing hardware to accommodate a different range of motion can make this essential task easier. A person with a disability, injury or symptoms of aging might need better access and more frequent donning and doffing due to having urinary catheters, prosthetics, diapers or orthopedic casts attached to their bodies. Being able to dress yourself is not only about physical ability, but also about having control over your own privacy and independence. I hope that by easing the experience of dressing, I can also help improve the quality of life of people with disabilities on both physical and emotional levels.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background in design?

I am a recent graduate from Parsons School of Design and just starting out (and loving it!) as a Junior Industrial Designer at Leadoff Studio, a product design consultancy based in New York. In addition, I am very involved in supporting the R&D effort of Open Style Lab (OSL). OSL is an incubator and non-profit organization dedicated to creating stylish and functional clothing and accessories for people with disabilities. I love working on a diverse range of products and am passionate about creating insightful, tangible items that bring intuitive, joyful and meaningful experiences to people.

What aspects of being in the space at A/D/O are you most excited about?

I am most excited about having the facilities to develop my own prototypes as well as being part of a collective of like minded creatives. I am also excited about having the designated space to get work done (real estate is expensive here!) as well as for the invaluable events and exhibits.

It's also exciting to be working in a designer's co-op, which is very unique to major cities like New York that have a prevalent design industry. I am originally from China where designated co-working spaces for designers don't exist yet.

What are you hoping to get out of this experience?

I feel super grateful to be given this opportunity to get to work on self-driven design projects with the resources and support from Core77 and A/D/O. I hope to use this opportunity to develop innovative products that can benefit people in need while improving and developing my own voice as a designer in the real world.

Julia will be working within the A/D/O space through the spring and summer seasons. We'll be keeping up with her to learn more about the project she'll be working on as the months roll by—so stay tuned!

And if you're interested in learning more about A/D/O and how you yourself could work in this design space, visit their website at a-d-o.com/workspace.

Keyboard Geek-Out: Explaining the Tactility of Different Types of Mechanical Keys

Tue, 2018-03-20 18:57

Amidst all the techy-tech at the World's Fair Nano in San Francisco was an unassuming display of an anachronistic, but popular, series of objects: Mechanical keyboards. At Kono Mechanical Keyboards' table two self-professed keyboard geeks, one of them Reddit Senior Designer Michael Farrell and the other Kono CEO Andrew Lekashman were, well, geeking out over the pressure, tactility, clicks and materials choices of a variety of keys.

I followed their chat as best I could but it was all g(r)eek to me. However Kono's design branch, Input Club, has a website with helpful descriptions of the different key types they were raving about:

Tactile Clicky Keyboard SwitchOptions: Light, Medium or Heavy Actuation ForceThe tactile clicky switch often referred to as the "blue" switch due to the color of the slider makes a click sound as the switch is pressed. Generally this switch has a pronounced tactile bump right before it clicks. Blue Switches have a two-part slider mechanism that produces the loud click.Tactile Keyboard SwitchOptions: Light, Medium or Heavy Actuation ForceLegend has it that the Tactile Quiet or Brown Mechanical switch was developed as a quieter alternative to the Tactile Clicky Blue switch that could be used in corporate workspaces. The primary feature of the Tactile Quiet switch is its tactile bump, which provides this wonderful feeling when you have successfully pressed down a key. There is still a slight noise that is produced, so it is not entirely without audible feedback, but this switch is more about the feeling at your fingertips than anything else.Linear Keyboard SwitchOptions: Light, Medium or Heavy Actuation ForceThe linear keyboard switch has been around for a long time. It has no tactile or audible feedback for the user which means that the user has to either bottom the switch out every time to ensure they are past the actuation point or the user needs to learn where the actuation point is over time and become accustomed to it.

Kono's programmable, customizable offerings--"you can set any key…to do anything you want," the company writes--include the minimalist Infinity Keyboard

The WhiteFox Mechanical Keyboard, which can be had in DIY kit form;

The K-Type Mechanical Keyboard, which features RGB backlighting; 

And the Infinity ErgoDox Mechanical Keyboard, for those who desire a split unit.

If you're interested in diving in, you can mess around with Kono's Keyboard Configurator.

I was also impressed with the case each keyboard comes with; the fabric and the zipper pulls felt high-quality and the case was suitably sturdy.

"I gotta warn you," Farrell said to me at Kono's table, "if you get into these things, it's a real rabbit-hole."

When a guy who works for Reddit tells you something is a rabbit-hole, you know it's a rabbit-hole.

Getting Wearables Right: Motiv's Smart Ring Should be a Lesson for Product Designers Seeking to Launch a New Product

Tue, 2018-03-20 18:57

In the last entry we looked at the Talon gesture control ring, whose public reception will, we feel, be hamstrung by poor presentation. In contrast we think another smart ring we saw at the World's Fair Nano in San Francisco, called the Motiv Ring, is going to do well for both the value it offers to end users and the clear way the company presents its product; the company's approach ought be studied by any designer hoping to debut a new product on the market.

What is it?

The titanium Motiv Ring is a fitness, heart rate and sleep tracker ideal for those who'd like to run/swim/spin/do yoga/work out without having to bring their phone along on an armband or wear a smartwatch. The Motiv contains both sensors and two days' worth of memory, allowing you to leave your device in the locker while you get your sweat on; once the Motiv is back in proximity with your phone, it automatically syncs the data it's stored via Bluetooth. It's also meant to be worn overnight as a sleep tracker.

What does it do?

Motiv's development team has also done a far better job than Talon's in presenting what the product does and how, precisely, it would fit into your life. In fact, this might be one of the best presentations of a new product we've ever seen. First off, the teaser video, so that potential customers can quickly decide whether they're even interested in the first place:

Motiv Ring + App from Motiv on Vimeo.How do I actually interact with it?

The ring is presented in context along with some snippets of its attendant apps. If the viewer is interested enough to learn more, a better look at the app is presented in short, easy-to-digest snippets. This demonstrates the Activity Detail feature:

Activity Detail from Motiv on Vimeo.

That shows you precisely what data is captured and presented to you, and how you'd interact with it. The following vid shows the Sleep Detail feature:

Sleep Detail from Motiv on Vimeo.How does it work?

Here's an explanation of how the company tracks active minutes, as opposed to "empty steps:"

Active Minutes from Motiv on Vimeo.Sizing

Okay, so up to this point, everything looks fine and dandy; but how would you actually get started? First off it's a ring, and all of us have differently-sized fingers, so how does that work?

The first thing the company does is send customers a sizing kit and have you try the following:

Motiv Ring Sizing 2017 from Motiv on Vimeo.Set-Up

Once your appropriately-sized ring has been delivered, this is how you set the thing up--and note the very clever design of the charger:

ONBOARDING FINAL from Motiv on Vimeo.

I say the design of the charger is clever because being gravity-based, there's no doubt as to whether your ring has formed a good connection. If the magnets were not engaged, the ring would fall off. Smart.

The Design Approach

That the company has taken all of these steps to present their information is a testament both to their thoroughness, and the fact that they "get it" when it comes to explaining a new and unfamiliar product. Unsurprisingly the design of the ring itself started with a user-focused approach, as explained here by Motiv co-founder Curt von Badinski; he points out that he started with the UX and forced the technology to fit it, rather than the other way around:

2017_05_31_Craftsman_Final from Motiv on Vimeo.The Customer Service

And, if this video is any indication, the company's customer service appears to go above and beyond:

Thank You Motiv! from Motiv on Vimeo.The Takeaway

Motiv's approach really should serve as a lesson to designers seeking to launch a new product. It's not enough to just have a good idea and overcome the physical challenges of getting it manufactured; you need a team of people working together to think through every aspect of the user experience, from mulling over whether they want to buy it or not, to how they'll first engage with it, then how they'll interact with it on a daily basis. My hat's off to the guys and gals who made this product happen.

A Modular TV Stand Designed for the Samsung QLED TV

Tue, 2018-03-20 18:57

When decorating an interior, you have an endless amount of possibilities. As a result your environment is unique to you; a reflection of your personality and style. For the TV to truly to become a lifestyle product, we must first create choice. With this choice you can tailor your product to your lifestyle. Driven by this goal, we have created a modular design consisting of three simple parts; enabling the buyer freedom to configure their TV stand in a way which reflects their personality.

View the full content here

Design Job: STEL is Seeking a Visual 3d Designer to Create Amazing Product Visuals in Santa Barbara, CA

Tue, 2018-03-20 18:57

STEL is seeking top talent to create amazing product visuals. You are an independently-minded, creative person with a passion for design. You have an Industrial Design experience or relevant profession with work examples in the consumer electronics space, sports design, and outdoor category. You're self-motivated and aspire

View the full design job here

Reader Submitted: Earplugs that Resemble Fine Jewelry 

Tue, 2018-03-20 18:57

By combining an acoustic channel and filter for natural sound in eight hot colors, Loop earplugs let wearers avoid hearing loss without looking like a dork.

View the full project here

Clever Reference Guides that Double as Packaging Tape

Tue, 2018-03-20 18:57

Kickstarter is often used with the intention of launching products that will eventually lead to full brands, but what if the crowdfunding platform were to be used for quick, one-off experiments? Product designer and Kickstarter expert Oscar Lhermitte is toying with the latter concept through a series of projects appropriately dubbed "Quickstarter." According to Lhermitte, each project in this series needs to meet the following requirements:

1. The whole process of designing, prototyping and manufacturing should not take longer than 3-4 months

2. The product has to be launched on Kickstarter

3.  The campaign has to be under 30 days

4. The funding goal has to be under £1,000

5. The rewards have to be under £20

6. The video has to be shot in just one day with a smartphone

The first object in Lhermitte's Quickstarter series to release is Tape Stickers—rolls of packaging tape with various types of reference guides printed on them. Two different varieties are available, one with rulers and protractors and the other with formats and sizing guides. The campaign's video explains how each roll is actually able to take on several different uses based on context:

From Oscar Lhermitte on Vimeo.

Here's a closer look at the different sections in each roll:

Ruler and Protractor: Metric and imperial ruler and protractor. The pattern has 132 repetitions in total. Formats and Sizes: A formats, Arial sizes, line thicknesses, bolts/spanners sizes, tap sizes, radius gauge. The pattern has 132 repetitions in total.

You can reserve one of each Tape Stickers rolls for a collective £10 on Kickstarter here. And if the other projects in the Quickstarter series are going to be anything like Tape Stickers, we're excited to see what's next. 

World's Fair Nano Coverage: More Wearables with a Tale of Two Rings, Part 1

Mon, 2018-03-19 17:50

Most of you own one or more devices that go into or over your ears, and some of you own smartwatches. The ears and wrist are two prime locations for wearables. The fingers, however, have yet to have a winning product take advantage of that on-body real estate.

At the World's Fair Nano in San Francisco, we saw two "smart" rings, one whose chances we feel are pretty good, and another that we're iffy on due to poor execution--not necessarily on the design side, but on the design presentation side. Discussing this misstep might prove helpful to you entrepreneurs hoping to launch your own project, and we're going to write the iffy one up first.

The object in question is the Talon smart ring, designed by a company called Titanium Falcon. 

To understand what it does, take a look at this video:

Talon - 1st Motion Control Gaming Ring from Juan on Vimeo.

So that's actually their crowdfunding video--from two years ago. The campaign flopped, and badly, garnering just $2,591 towards a $300,000 goal, meaning it came in at sub-1%.

Let's look at why. First off, the opening of the video actually did grab me, because there are countless times when my hands are wet/dirty (cooking, cleaning, repairing one of my many sewing machines) and I'd love to be able to answer a phone call or advance a podcast without having to stop and wash or dry my hands first.

But rather than provide details on how the operation they illustrated actually works, they skip ahead to a guy shutting off a light, a guy controlling a drone, someone playing videogames, all things that don't interest me. And presumably others are interested in those things but not the wet application. So when you have an object that can do a lot of different things and you're trying to cast a broad net, the presentation challenge is to spend enough time focused on any particular area in order to convince folks interested in that area that those details have been worked out, and the product will deliver.

I also think the stilted delivery by the engineering team didn't help. There are times when you want to hear a word of two from the behind-the-scenes people, and times to get someone with on-camera presence reading a good script.

In short, very little useful, concrete or convincing information is presented in the video, so it's not a surprise to me that the campaign flopped.

Good on the developers for sticking with it, though. In the two years since the campaign they've continued developing the product.

Sadly, however, I don't see them having a good chance at success, again for the same communication problem. Take a look at these more recent videos they posted showing the Talon's usage:

"Mobile VR Experiences:""Multiplayer Gaming:""Swiping:""Clicking:"

Are you kidding me? A bunch of people moving their hands around in the air? These videos provide absolutely zero useful or convincing information. It is as if someone on the team said "Hey, we need to post videos" so they purchased a couple of colored backdrops, messed around for 30 minutes and came up with what you see above.

They did post one potentially compelling video that shows how the Talon might be practically used:

That appears to be the only video done in that style. If they had a dozen more videos like that, that also described how the user sets the device up for each application, I'd give the product a better chance of generating consumer interest.

The company seems to me to be completely engineering-driven. With tech products like this, you need to hire at least one industrial designer. You need someone who "gets it," the person who is going to say "Hey, design isn't just about designing the product, it's about telling the story," communicating to end-users how this object would fit into and improve their lives.

Absent that, you've got a bunch of engineers in a room busting their butts for a product that might never make it, for lack of communication.

Please, folks, hire a designer.

Next we'll look at a smart ring that we think has got a better shot.

World's Fair Nano Coverage: More Wearables with Rowkin's Assortment of Self-Charging Wireless Earbuds

Mon, 2018-03-19 17:50

In the previous post on wearables seen at the World's Fair Nano, we looked at Ashley Chloe's Helix Cuffs vs. Apple's AirPods. This time we'll look at Rowkin's offerings, which are much more similar to Apple's product than the Cuffs, but have some minor differences in UX.

Rowkin displayed their three versions of wireless Bluetooth headphones: The Bit Stereo, Bit Charge Stereo and Micro products. Each consist of wireless earbuds that "live" in a little charging case, just as the AirPods do, with some minor differences.

MicroPrice: $130

The diminutive $130 Micro's case holds enough juice for four charge cycles providing three hours of battery life each, meaning the user is carrying around 12 hours' worth.

Bit StereoPrice: $110

The Bit Stereo's chief physical distinction is that the designers have opted for a cylindrical case resembling a lipstick tube:

These are more casual-use earbuds, as the battery life contained within the charger only provides two charging cycles that each provide "up to 3 hours of talk time and up to 2 hours of music playback." The key benefit seems to be that the cylindrical form factor takes up a minimum of space.

Bit Charge StereoPrice: $130

Although priced the same as the Micro, the larger Bit Charge Stereo provides a whopping 15 charging cycles or can completely charge an iPhone 7, the company claims. Clearly designed for the power user, the battery case comes in at just over 3.5 inches tall.

In short, the Micro is similar to Apple's AirPods in form factor, minus the aesthetic differences. (I'll let the technophiles argue over which sound better, as we're only concerned with the role of the industrial designer here.) But Rowkin offers the customer more choices with their light-duty Bit Stereo and power-user Bit Charge Stereo.

Time will tell whether Apple's one-size-fits-all approach, which undoubtedly streamlines their manufacturing process versus Rowkin's requisite multiple factory lines, proves to be the winning one. With wearables, it's still not clear whether one type of design will "win" and dominate the category, or whether these will continue to be, like eyeglasses, wristwatches and other on-body devices, ruled by fashion rather than function.

World's Fair Nano Coverage: Analyzing the UX of Wearables with Helix Cuffs vs. Apple's AirPods

Mon, 2018-03-19 17:50

At the World's Fair Nano in San Francisco, multiple companies were hawking their wearable wares. The diversity in the category indicates that wearables are still unsolidified as a product category: Each company seems to be wondering "Should the design be led by technology/function, the user experience, or aesthetics?"

In the next few entries we'll cover some of what we saw on display. Let us know your thoughts on the practicality, desirability and/or usefulness, if any, of these items. First up:

Ashley Chloe's Helix Wearable Cuffs

These are a pair of stereo earbuds connected to each other by a cable. At the midpoint of the cable hangs the controller. The earbuds do not physically connect to your phone/device, using Bluetooth instead.

The earbuds are designed, when not in use, to be stored within a compartment in the attendant bracelet. 

The bracelets come in a variety of colors.

So the key distinction of this product appears to be that the earbuds are always conveniently (if you like bracelets) on hand--assuming you don't find the process of inserting or removing the buds into the bracelet a hassle:

What consumers have to decide:

An obvious competitor to the Helix is Apple's AirPods ($159 vs. Helix's $149), which have no cables and are stowed in a little pillbox when not in use. The different approaches taken by each product necessitate some decisions on what type of user experience the wearer wants to have:

- Do I prefer the physicality of the button control on the Helix, or the tap interface on the AirPods?

- Do I want a cable connecting the earbuds or not? Do I want the weight of a separate controller, however light, attached to a cable?

- Do I prefer to store the earbuds in a bracelet around my wrist, or in a pillbox which must then be stored in a pocket or bag?

- When I need to hit "pause," do I want to physically remove an earbud from my ear, as I must do with the AirPods, or tap a button on the Helix controller, allowing the earbuds to remain in place (and both hands to remain free)?

- The bracelets are visible on the body. Do I want to make a fashion statement?

Assuming the sound quality and noise-canceling technology between both platforms are equal, which product do you find superior? I suspect it all comes down to personal preference, with there being no one "right" answer. Which is what makes wearables such a tricky category to tackle.

Design Job: Bundle Up! The North Face Is Seeking a Footwear Designer in Alameda, CA

Mon, 2018-03-19 17:50

The primary responsibilities of the Designer are to provide design work of innovative and technologically advanced products that meet the needs of the company’s end users and which in turn drives company image, sales and profits. Accountable for the creative production of designs that drive the product category.

View the full design job here

La Shirl Turner Says the Key to Designing a Timeless Car Lies In Color and Materials

Mon, 2018-03-19 17:50
For this year's Core77 Design Awards, we're conducting in-depth interviews with each of our jury captains to get in a glimpse into their creative minds and hear more about what they'll be looking for in this year's awards submissions.

La Shirl Turner's work revolves around the details of automobiles that don't always receive as much glory but are arguably some of the most important facets of them. As the Head of the Exterior and Interior Color and Materials at Fiat Chrysler, or FCA for short, Turner's design work incorporates not only color and personality into a vehicle, but also a sense of comfortability through careful material selection. In our recent interview with Turner, who will serve as this year's Core77 Design Awards Transportation Jury Captain, we discussed her favorite parts about the job and why she wants to help inspire young girls to pursue careers in automotive design.

How did you find yourself going into the profession of automobile design?

Wow. How do I make this story short? I am from Detroit, so basically I grew up around cars and this whole automotive industry world. So actually, growing up I was all about looking at cars in magazines, I was attracted to the colors of the cars on the covers. You know, where a lot of my female friends were all ripping pages from fashion magazines, and I was the total opposite.

I was always into textiles and weaving, so going to college for creative studies I actually focused on textile design. At one time I thought I was going to be a fashion designer—I was making dresses out of garbage bags for my sister for her birthday. So, I was in that design world until I landed where I really wanted to be. I later had the opportunity to go into the automotive world, learning about how to draw those interiors and exteriors of cars. So it was kind of like I got to merge two worlds together.

Can you tell me a little bit more about what you do on a daily basis?

Sure. My design team is called Advanced Color Materials for FCA. We're responsible for all the vehicles for color and materials, so everything from exterior paint to wheels and finishes, to the bright work on the exterior. Then when you get to the interior, we're responsible for everything from headliner down to carpet, leather, fabric. Anything you can see or touch in a vehicle, we've had our hands on it. 

"We're more influenced by what's going on in the environment; the turnover for "what's happening now" is quick. If there's a new red color that's popular, that could change by the time we produce a vehicle." We initially found you because of your designs for the Jeep Renegade, and thought that the color combinations were really interesting. I had never seen anything quite like that before, so I was curious where you find your inspiration for colors and materials.2015 Jeep Renegade

First, I'm really excited that the Renegade caught your attention. I can actually say that was one of the vehicles and products that we had a lot of fun working on. That was a palette where we actually got to be really expressive, and try different things as far as color and materials. Especially the finishes, as well as the exterior color combination.

My team and I, depending on the brand and the product, we try to draw our inspiration now from different cultures, different environments. We always do the traditional designer inspiration route where we're looking at fashion, architecture, apparel, sneakers, lots of products. So, we try and mix a lot of that, but we're more influenced by what's going on in the world and in the environment. Because as you know, products and apparel are so trendy, and the turnover for "what's happening now" is quick. If there's a new red color that's popular, that could change by the time we produce a vehicle. 

Interior of the 2015 Jeep RenegadeIn what part of the production process do Colors and Materials come in?

We start our work when the project is kicked off, when the design and engineering teams start. We begin our homework as far as what kind of story are we going to tell, because we always say that we tell a story through our color and materials. We set the mood and the environment. So, we do a lot of homework. We research competitors. We are in it from the start to the finish.

Because in our world, we make the color and material proposals. We also work with a lot of suppliers to develop the leathers and fabrics. We have our hands in working with the engineering teams to make sure that the materials that we select are feasible. So there's a lot of behind the scenes work that goes on, before materials are even selected to put in a vehicle.

What's your favorite part of the entire process?

I like all of it. I like the research, the challenges that come with selecting a material that may not have testing. You know, how can we get this to work? How can we work through the challenges or the struggles? I like that part of it, because then let's say something makes it into the vehicle, and you look at it. It's at the auto show and you know what it took to get that there.

And I also like the final part of the process. I guess we never really stop, but just even sometimes hearing the feedback. You know, anything we do in the design world, there's going to be that group who really love what you're doing, and there's always that group who has that, "Oh, why did they select that kind of …?"—you know, that sort of moment. And I actually enjoy both of those, because when you hear some of the feedback, people saying, "Why did they choose that paint color?" or, "Why is that leather material there?" It makes you want to work even harder on the next project.

Absolutely! So I'm curious since you've been working in the automotive world, what part of your work has seen the biggest shifts?

As far as the color and material world ... For me, I can say that I've been a part of the whole growth and change. I see a lot of different materials come and go. A lot of enhancements to the basic materials like leathers and vinyl and things like that. I think for us, we try and evolve through our color and materials selections as the suppliers are changing and technologies are so enhanced. [Colors and materials] are part of that wave also. As new technologies come aboard we ask, how do we incorporate that into materials that do pass automotive testing? I think that's the biggest part of this whole evolution for us.

What do you mean by automotive testing for materials? 

We go through a process. Let's say if there was a new material type or technology that we've never used in a vehicle, we work through it with our Materials and Engineering team to do automotive testing, to make sure that the material is feasible. It'll trim on a seat, it won't shred, it's sewable. It'll live in that environment.

There are different testing processes for all the materials we select. We have different groups within the corporation in Materials and Engineering that work on seating. You know, different IP, flooring. So, we work with a large variety of teams.

Based on the work that you do, in what ways do you think our concept of transportation is going to change in the future?

Of course, I'm going to answer this from a color and materials perspective, right? I think even with the autonomous world going on, the materials are always going to remain important. Whether they're simple, clean, I think they will always still have to have durability. They will have to last within that environment. 

I think materials might become even more important due to the fact that autonomous cars will be even more about comfort. The vehicles won't be as much about driving as it will be a living space, or a space to get from one place to another.

Yeah. I think it kind of goes back to what I said about keeping things a little bit more simple. I think within the autonomous world, the customer is still going to want a simple, clean environment. Something that meets their needs, for whatever vehicle type that is going to be within an autonomous world. I think for us, the color and materials will always still be predominantly the same. I mean the same with regards to how we make our materials selections, but we're just changing what we're selecting for that vehicle.

You found yourself in one of these occupations that's not just slightly, but overwhelmingly seen as dominated by men. I'm curious about your experience in the automotive industry as a woman, and also the kind of advice you would give to female designers or students who are aspiring to enter the transportation field.

Well, it's funny because we are a team of 21 right now, and I can actually tell you that I feel that I have the most diverse team within the design office—we have female employees, people from around the world. You know, when I first got into this, it was predominantly a male environment, but I can also say that I've been a witness to how it's changed. There are more females within automotive, not just in Color and Materials, but also designers. So, I think there's a great opportunity for females in automotive.

Our studio does a lot of visits to high schools and middle schools teaching other kids about the automotive world. Because for me, I notice that a lot of girls don't even know that there is a career in Color and Materials. Or they don't even know that, hey, I can be a car designer. So, I think it's about getting that message out to females or young women, that there is a career path in automotive that's just not engineering, you know?

The Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, another design project Turner was involved in

1Right. Yeah. It's not profiled as much, all of these women designers who are behind the scenes, so it's good to get more faces out there.

Yes. That's why I really like reaching out to the high school students, and even the lower grade levels, to let them know that there is a career path out there. A lot of them don't know. Even when I was in college, I didn't know. I was in textiles. I didn't know that I could merge drawing interiors or exteriors into a career. I thought, okay, if I'm not going into fashion or something else, what am I going to do? Am I going be a starving artist? I don't know. But it's all about the message. Getting that message out there that there is a career opportunity. Especially for women.

Final question: you're judging the transportation category, so I'm curious what you're hoping to see in terms of the submissions. What will you be looking for 

I think what my team and I will be looking for is someone who is presenting a project or portfolio that has personality. Something that's not traditional and has a real wow factor. I mean, I know a lot of the categories, or a lot of the things that may be presented may be things that have been seen before. But what did they do with that? If there's a new bicycle design, what did they do with the materials on the bicycle design? Is it just a traditional bicycle design? So, just looking for things that are outside the norm.

And then also, of course we will be a little color and materials biased, but how are they using those materials? Are they using new and unique materials in a different way? The materials, are they placed on a form, or whatever project that they're presenting? I'm kind of excited. I think it's going to be really cool.

I also think the most attention-getting products will be the ones that clearly tell a story—ones where you can get an understanding of what they're trying to tell on the first glance. It's all about the story for me.

The Core77 Design Awards Transportation Jury

2018 Transportation Jury Captain La Shirl Turner will be joined by these designers for the awards selection process:

Meredith Gannes, Design Manager, FCA US (left) and Shady Elias, Senior Designer, FCA US (right)Jun Ryu, Design Manager, FCA US (left) and Kasia Lys, Lead Senior Designer, FCA US (right)Thinking of submitting to the Transportation category in the 2018 Core77 Design Awards? Submit today—Regular Deadline ends March 8th!

Crave's Build-Your-Own-Vibrator Workshop Demonstration, and an Explanation of the Design of the Duet Pro

Mon, 2018-03-19 17:50

As we mentioned earlier, Crave's Pleasure Tour is a traveling build-a-vibrator workshop housed out of a restored Airstream trailer. Here industrial designer Ti Chang, Crave co-founder and VP of Design, walks you through the build process for their Duet Pro vibrator.

While the split-tip design may remind males of the Millennium Falcon, here Chang explains why it's designed that way:

Want to bring the workshop to a town near you? You can support the crowdfunding campaign for Crave's Pleasure Tour here .

Design Job: Autonomous Flight Is Seeking an Industrial Designer to Join Them in Developing Britain's First eVOLT Aircraft

Sun, 2018-03-18 17:01

We are looking for an ambitiously driven Industrial Designer to join our dynamic founding team working to solve city transportation challenges by way of creating and delivering Britain’s first eVTOL (Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing) aircraft. Founded by leading serial entrepreneur who has set the task of building a world-class

View the full design job here

Video of the 2018 Detroit Autorama Hot Rod Show

Sun, 2018-03-18 17:01

The 2018 Autorama is a car show held in Detroit and dedicated to hot rods. The next best thing to attending wouldn't be to see a video of it; it would be to see a video of it shot by an industrial designer, because they're going to focus on and geek out about the same things we'd look at. Here Eric Strebel takes a look at the paint finishes, the material one clever displayer used as underlayment, the vehicles' colors/stances/gestures, explains how a turbocharged + supercharged engine works, et cetera.

Strebel urges you to watch until the end to see his favorite picks, and while I didn't see everything at the show, based on what I saw in the vid I have to agree with his #1 (though that absolutely evil-looking Charger at the end gives it a good run for its money):

Starchitect Richard Meier Accused of Pattern of Sexual Misconduct, Takes Leave of Absence

Sun, 2018-03-18 17:01
By David Shankbone - David Shankbone, CC BY 3.0

Richard Meier is one of the world's most celebrated architects, a member of the original New York Five whose works include the Getty Center, the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art and the Paley Center, among countless others. The Pritzker Prize winner, now 83, has been so prolific that he built a 15,000-square-foot museum in New Jersey housing models of projects he created during his five-decade career.

Now, disturbingly, it appears he'll be remembered for doing something other than minimalist architecture over a long period of time. Five women have come forward with accounts of Meier exposing himself to them, groping them, asking them to undress so that he could photograph them naked and, in one woman's account, forcefully pulling her onto a bed.

The earliest allegation dates back to the '80s, while the most recent date from 2009, when Meier was 75 and his accusers were 22 and 24. The former spoke up and received a $150,000 settlement, while the latter told the Times that "The incident felt shameful and embarrassing, even though I knew I hadn't done anything wrong…. I was worried about my co-workers and what would happen to their reputations if Mr. Meier's behavior was exposed. Speaking up didn't feel like an option."

The latter woman did, however, tell management.

She was subsequently laid off.

The full list of allegations is here.

Following their publicity, Meier has said he will take a six-month leave of absence from his firm.

Few's Arlton Lowry on How to Work Remotely and Manage People in Other Time Zones

Sun, 2018-03-18 17:01

#IMakeaLiving is a series of free, traveling events powered by FreshBooks that focuses on bringing together an eclectic group of small business owners for a lively, candid, and often hilarious, conversation. In light of the series' second year, we're interviewing business-owning designers on how they brought their companies to the next level.

Some businesses start on a whim after days spent dreading a desk job, while others grow organically based on a successful side project. The latter is the case with Few, a design agency co-founded by Arlton Lowry and David Hudson. The pair met in Little Rock, Arkansas during Made by Few, a design conference run by Lowry at the time. After deciding to work on multiple projects together, turning their efforts into a company a couple years later was only natural. Today, Few's client list includes everything from Ritz Crackers to Wells Fargo, and the 11 team members are spread across almost five different time zones.

Traveling and adjusting to new environments is nothing new to Lowry, so we sat down with him and discussed the realities of managing employees while working remotely and how he's able to minimize distraction while abroad:

Core77: Can you tell us a little about Few and how you guys came to be?

AL: Few is a design development agency. We mainly focus on building products and on large-scale enterprise websites. We've worked with a number of startups but also with large organizations, including Budweiser, Ritz Crackers, 7-Eleven, Nebraska Furniture Mart and Wells Fargo. It kind of runs the gamut. We also build out internal products that we're really interested in and we really enjoy using. We are heavily focused on community engagement and being active in our own community. Clients come to us looking for solutions around problems or ideas that they want to explore, and we build those out for them.

We started Few in 2014, and this month is actually our four year mark. I started with organizing a conference called Made by Few in 2012. The intention of the conference was encapsulating entrepreneurship, development and inspiration with a heavy focus on design. The conference quickly expanded and gained more attendance, and during one of the events I ended up meeting my co-founder, David Hudson. We hit if off very well and started working on projects together. He helped me out with some of the developments on the Made by Few website, and we really enjoyed working together. 

Made by Few Conference

At the time, we were both working for companies outside of the state remotely. I was working for a company out of Denver, and my client that I was focused on was in Vancouver. I was organizing a conference, working full time and teaching web design at University of Arkansas, Little Rock. The company David was working for was out of Dallas, and I think the company that he focused on was in Philadelphia or something.

The right opportunity to quit our day jobs and start this company eventually presented itself. We took a big leap doing so because, honestly, our jobs were pretty comfortable. There's so much you can learn by starting a company, but even through all the ups and downs, here we are, four years in.

What are some examples of more interactive projects you've worked on?

We've done kiosks for Nebraska Furniture Mart where users can choose the different things they want to fill their living room, kitchen, etc with to see what their space could look like. We also worked with Wells Fargo on an interactive kiosk on the streets of Philadelphia called Smiles Program. If you smiled at the kiosk, it donated a dollar to a local library. It recognized your whole face, and you were able to interact with it—it was like you were floating through a virtual world. I was actually just in Singapore, and while I was there I saw two kiosks of a similar nature. In the future, there's only going to be more and more of those kinds of interactions when it comes to advertising. 

What would you say is the main difference between working with large enterprises versus startups?

There's definitely a different dynamic at play when you're working with large organizations versus a startups. There's a different mindset and different objectives. Sometimes when you're dealing with startups, there's a lot more fluidity and flexibility with projects. Typically, with more corporate projects, it's very rigid—there's already a process in place and you follow that process. Not to say that there isn't some kind of flexibility or creativity and decision-making, but it's more challenging.

With startups, you're able to mold it a little bit more and really build up the idea, occasionally even from scratch. Sometimes clients come to us not necessarily knowing what they need or what they're wanting, and we're able to take those ideas and help them figure out exactly what they want to do. It's definitely a different process, but no matter who the client is, there's obviously going to be a strong rapport back and forth.

Since you met your co-founder at your own conference, do you have any advice for interacting and meeting people at large events?

I think the after parties can actually be the most helpful parts of these events. At the parties, you're able to engage with these entrepreneur and startup individuals face-to-face versus hearing them talk from a distance. Those kind of interactions are pretty important, and you don't necessarily get them during the day at the actual event.

From what I've read, your team is based in different locations all around the world. Can you tell us a little about why travel is so important to you?

Within a month or two, our company will be spread over five different time zones, all over the world. We use contractors and we use other individuals, depending on the project. I've been quite a bit of places, but this year, traveling is a passion of mine. I love new cultures, being in new environments and meeting new people. I know this sounds very lovey-dovey, but there's something beautiful about having all those different backgrounds, all those people from different cultures and ideologies in one place and being able to share ideas and feel like there's a common thread between us all. Having a connection with people that may not happen otherwise is something I really enjoy about traveling.

How do you manage to run a business where everyone's working remotely and on their own? Isn't that overwhelming?

There's no way you can run a business like this with people in multiple time zones with just a phone call or an email. If it wasn't for software solutions, we wouldn't be able to do what we do. We use different software for everything. Let's see, we use FreshBooks, Quickbooks, Slack, Gusto and Zoom. These softwares are what allow our company to actually be remote. 

Maintaining a connection with your team is important, and you don't want to lose it. It's very important for company culture and morale to know the people you work with and have a good understanding of what their interests are, what they're into and if they are having a bad day. If it wasn't for the ease and use of this software, we wouldn't be able to do that.

"We really put emphasis on trying to attract the most talented people possible, no matter where they're located."

I was just at this co-working space in Bali, Indonesia called Dojo Bali. It was 24 hours, and there's no door—it's completely open, you just walk in. During the day, it's packed, and there are people there from all over the world. If this software wasn't available, if people hadn't created it, then there's no way this type of work environment would be possible. I think that's an interesting dynamic for any type of startup or company that does what we do.

It's also about self-management. I always use the phrase, "I am my own worst boss". Nobody is going to be harder on me than myself. That goes for being on time for meetings, making sure that the work I produce is in a timely manner and of the highest quality possible and making sure that communication is clear and concise. If you're unable to manage yourself very well, then you probably shouldn't do the type of work we do. 

What's your best self-management advice?

Well, I'm in Melbourne, and I've never been here before. It's a cool place, and there are a lot of really cool things I could do for fun. The area I'm staying in has tons of music venues—you wouldn't believe how many bands are playing here. There are a whole plethora of options. So I have that... and then I have work. Just like anywhere else, if I'm working from home, there has to be a strong balance. I can't just say, "I'm excited about this show, so I can leave early from work and push off that meeting."

You need to set boundaries and give yourself a strong understanding of a schedule to stay on. For instance, I'm going to get up and I'm going to start working at 5 am every morning, and I'm going to work at least 8 hours a day until around 2 pm. After 2 pm, I'm free to do whatever I want. That way you have time to be productive. Some people think the work we do can be done any time, anywhere. That's fine, but if you open the Pandora's Box of "any time," then there's no structure or consistency—it's just chaos.

It's interesting to imagine the future of all workplaces being completely remote and the possibilities that could create.

Yeah, and we're actually trying to push it even more for our employees. We're a small company, so we really put emphasis on trying to attract the most talented people possible, no matter where they're located. Designers and developers have a plethora of options—they can go to San Francisco or New York or basically anywhere they want to. They can work at a cool place and have a cool job working for a large company or organization.

So, how do we compete with that as a small company working out of Little Rock, Arkansas? We do so through culture, through our community engagement, and through the ability to work where we want and be very self-managed while doing so. We try to trust people and hire people that can manage themselves really well. That's how we're able to achieve this ability to work so remotely. Think about it. You're talking to somebody from Little Rock, Arkansas that's in Melbourne, Australia, who's been around the world and has a company of eleven people all over the place. Isn't that great? 


Interested in listening to more start-up stories? #IMakeaLiving Powered by FreshBooks will be hosting their next event on March 28th in Toronto. Learn more and register here, and in the meantime you can listen to the #IMakeaLiving podcast here.

Design Job: Nerf Dog Is Seeking a Junior Industrial Designer to Work on Puppy Products in NJ

Sun, 2018-03-18 17:01

Fast-paced, entrepreneurial Pet Products Company located in Secaucus, New Jersey is looking for a bright, self-motivated individual for a Junior Industrial Designer position to assist in our Creative Department. The successful candidate will work closely with lead designers, providing support in various graphic and design projects and day-to-day product

View the full design job here

Tools & Craft #88: Wallets and Furniture, When Exclusive Goes Mass Market

Sun, 2018-03-18 17:01

About 15 years ago I walked into Coach to buy a wallet. It was expensive, $70.00, but it was well made, and, an important selling point, it was made in New York. When the wallet finally wore out this year, I went back to Coach and a salesman showed me a $149.00 wallet that I didn't buy. It wasn't that I think I don't deserve a $149.00 wallet, it's just that it was made in China and nothing special. The reason for the change is that Coach, along with hundreds of other boutique manufacturers, was bought by investors who put a Coach store in as many higher end malls as they could find. Nothing wrong with that except in the process Coach went from being a boutique, high end manufacturer, with a exclusive brand, to an essentially mass market distributor that is only differentiated by the label. Their wallets might be much more expensive than a low end brandless wallet but they aren't substantially different. In the US over the past 20 years many exclusive brands names are no longer exclusive and are just trading on their old reputation.

What does this have to do with woodworking?


In the old days (25 years ago) if you wanted boutique, expensive, high end merchandise you had to go to a big city like New York or London, or Paris. Then exclusive brands became available everywhere, and they were no longer so exclusive. Now thanks to the Internet if you want something exclusive you can buy it direct from the maker, who can live anywhere. This is the premise of websites such as etsy.com. Lots of other small makers sell direct from their own personal websites. The mass marketing of formally exclusive brands has created a vacuum for new exclusive brands.

On the furniture side of things where thirty years ago there was a thriving industry of US made furniture that was sold as a once-in-a-lifetime purchase today mass market furniture is marketed by IKEA and it's competitors to be disposable.

The issue in fine furniture making on the professional level has never been about making the furniture. It's been about finding customers. There is opportunity here. I'm just not sure what it is. I do know that in my industry - woodworking tools, there are dozens of new, small hand tool companies earning a living and making a profit because the Internet is making it possible for the toolmaker to sell worldwide. For the high end seller marketing via Google adwords is usually a waste but with the Internet relentless self-promotion has never been easier. For the first time the thousands of rich people who CAN afford bespoke furniture can find you on the web, if not directly then through their decorators who are always looking for the NBT (Next Big Thing). All of these people are looking for interesting, well made furniture, that has a compelling story of craft behind it, and isn't something you can buy at the nearby luxury mall.

The trick is figuring out how to reach these potential customers them and that takes some imaginative thinking. Any thoughts?

P.S. My wife bought me a perfectly good wallet on sale for about 20 bucks. Case closed!


This "Tools & Craft" section is provided courtesy of Joel Moskowitz, founder of Tools for Working Wood, the Brooklyn-based catalog retailer of everything from hand tools to Festool; check out their online shop here. Joel also founded Gramercy Tools, the award-winning boutique manufacturer of hand tools made the old-fashioned way: Built to work and built to last.